Tag Archives: summer

Kicking off the summer

By Andreas

As you may have noticed, Pussy Goes Grrr has been a little quiet lately. The reasons for that can be summed up by the picture of Dustin Hoffman above. Namely: I’m in the middle of finals and preparing to graduate from college, while Ashley’s taking advantage of the lovely summer weather by going swimming. But don’t worry! You won’t be hearing the sounds of (blogging) silence much longer. By next week, we should be up and running again with pieces about The Graduate (of course), The Tree of Life, “Susie the Little Blue Coupe,” and more!

June should be an extra busy month, too, because we’ll be doing blogathons, guest posts, and plugs for our other projects. You can keep track of all this, too, by LIKING Pussy Goes Grrr over at our new Facebook page!

One last awesome note: Issue #12 of Paracinema Magazine is available for pre-order now. Head over to their website and, for only $7, you can read one fantastic article after another… including my thoughts on Derek Jarman’s post-apocalyptic punk movie Jubilee.

Wow, this summer’s starting off great, isn’t it?!

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Link Dump: #34

Kitties are generally cute—but since this kitty is from Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max, it’s cute in a depressing, oddball way. While I’m mentioning it, kudos to Elliot for making a black-and-white animated movie! That takes chutzpah. Especially when that movie is tragic and bizarre. And now I give you: links.

Not too many amusing search terms lately, but I did like “ζωο σεξ,” which is Greek for “animal sex.” I didn’t like “i got robbed and fuckin raped hard and i enjoyed it” because, um, NO. Somewhere between the two was “lesbiansim curiostiy killed the cat,” which combines non sequiturs and misspellings. Finally, I really like this pair of phrases, searched for simultaneously: “of course i do” “it was fucking awesome.” Of course I do! It was fucking awesome.

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One Hour Mark: Claire’s Knee

By Andreas

I’ve long considered Claire’s Knee to be the visual high point of Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales. Sure, it lacks the metaphysical intrigue of My Night with Maud, and it shares it gifted cinematographer Néstor Almendros (who won a well-deserved Oscar for Days of Heaven) with other beautiful Rohmer films like La Collectionneuse and Love in the Afternoon. But you can really feel the sun-kissed alpine setting of Claire’s Knee: the constant hum of wind, birds, and motorboats; the gentle motion of the trees and water. This place, like the film around it, is truly and palpably alive.

The image above, from 1:00:00 into Claire’s Knee, is from a rare shot that doesn’t showcase the stunning lakes and mountains of eastern France. Instead, it showcases all the film’s human youth and vivacity during a Bastille Day dance. On the far left is the romantic, fascinating Laura, dancing with the bearded, engaged protagonist Jerome (Jean-Claude Brialy); on the right are Laura’s icy sister Claire and her boyfriend Gilles. Conveniently, this shot’s composition sums up the film’s real conflict: Jerome is alluring to Laura, but he’s obsessed with the unavailable Claire.

You may have noticed that the sisters are in their teens. This makes Jerome seem pretty creepy, yes, but it’s also part of the film’s strange charm. Jerome doesn’t want to possess or have sex with these much younger girls—he just wants to touch Claire’s knee. The moral dilemma is whether or not he should. It’s such an ethereal crisis to build a movie around, but Rohmer pulls it off. His films (including his last, 2007’s The Romance of Astrea and Celadon) are lighter than air but never trifling or insignificant.

Whether or not to touch a knee may look like an absurd premise, but Claire’s Knee goes deeper: it’s about the underlying, often irrational desires that goad us on. It’s about Jerome’s moth-to-flame attraction to the luminous youth of these two sisters, and to the potentially immoral freedom he’ll never regain. As the song that’s playing comes to an end, Jerome says to Laura, “This isn’t a dance for me. I’m too old.” It’s not quite poignant, since he’s not actually old and is in the midst of playing all these selfish games, but it does get across what this scene (and to an extent, this film) is about. That is, Jerome’s fear of the mummification of marriage, and his incipient (symbolic) inability to dance.

It’s all in this frame, whose static top half is filled by the night sky and the colorful, carefully arranged lights, while the bottom pulsates with layers of bouncy, attractive party-goers. For Bastille Day, and for the summer, they’re alive. For now, at least, Jerome is too. Rohmer’s beautiful, nebulous films always have a built-in sense of mortality, with the knowledge that time will pass, flowers will wilt, looks will fade, and fiancés will get married. The sun rises, and my night with Maud is over. But tonight, we are beautiful—and tonight, we dance.

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Reading Neil Gaiman and enduring summer

So, I am back in Minnesota. Ashley and I are separate once more. Blogging may become more frequent, mainly because there’s so damn little else to do. And of course there’s still a lot to talk about – everything to talk about, that is. Ashley’s Internet still isn’t working, which is utter bullshit. Right now, there’s not a whole lot that feels very comforting or reassuring. In fact, I would go so far as to say we live in an inconvenient, uncomfortable, impersonal, unfeeling, and generally hostile world. And more evidence is added to the heap each and every day, unless you’re having some peculiar string of good luck.

It seems so far like every single part of life is a crossroads, splintering months or days into times when you can go in one of many directions, seeking out the lesser evil. I feel so consumed with tedium. I guess I just want to go forward and embrace what pleasant things life has to offer. What was I remarking about to myself earlier today? It’s hard to decide that what you care about in life is art, when that’s not what the rest of the world cares about, and they’re going to try to force you to stop caring by starving you to death if you don’t devote parts of your life to what you consider less meaningful. Like slaving at some pointless task that just happens to exist, quite possibly for inane reasons, and which someone is willing to pay you money to do. It’s so Sisyphean. Desperation takes hold.

I feel like I should talk or think a little about culture. Beautiful culture, able to carry me away from the gloom and heat of everyday life. Thank God for it. I haven’t yet been able to watch many movies, for one reason or another, but during my depressing bus ride back here, I did finish Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. I’ve had Gaiman on my mind occasionally, it seems, in recent weeks – after all, he’s dating Amanda Palmer, he wrote the stories for the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book, I’m halfway through his Sandman series, etc., etc. Gaiman is just a great (in all senses of the word) creative presence in the world today.

As for the WKAP book, it’s a very pretty multimedia explosion: all these photographs, from all over, all with Amanda Palmer, and she’s (almost) always dead. Often we’re left to wonder who killed her and why (the last page mentions that Gaiman himself is serving 20 to life in Sing Sing for her murder); sometimes the stories scattered throughout give hints, or more, as with the picture that shows AFP lying on a hillside, surrounded by groceries, with a typewriter on her head (one of my personal favorites). Some of the pictures are deeply creepy, such as the image of Amanda’s corpse with her eyes painted over her shut eyelids, accompanied by a villanelle that goes “We dine together every night…”

© Amanda Palmer

© Amanda Palmer

So in the end, what to make of the book? It’s a whimsically morbid little achievement, blending photography, short stories, poetry, and even music (the album lyrics are interspersed throughout); it’s certainly perfect for anyone who hasn’t yet had enough of Amanda Palmer and her death. I’m sure Ashley will have more to say about the book once her Internet starts working again. And, of course, the amount of nude photos here makes it a hardened necrophiliac’s wet dream. But I’m kidding. It’s equally sexy for those of us who prefer the living. (Incidentally, I happened upon this interesting review of a Q&A featuring Amanda and Neil.)

Ashley's Murky Turkey - appropriate for the occasion

Gaiman’s Fragile Things, meanwhile, was about as exciting a way as there is to spend a 30-hour bus ride. Makes me wish I’d had a novel or two of his, as well. The collection jumps all over the place: poems both humorous and sublime; stories about love and loss; and some very chilling horror. The best, I’d say, example of the latter was “Feeders and Eaters,” which is hard to summarize, except to say that it kept me in a very creeped-out state of suspense until just about the last few lines. Gaiman claims in the introduction that it was inspired by a nightmare, and I’d go so far as to say it’s probably inspired a few nightmares itself. My other favorite story would have to be “Keepsakes and Treasures,” all about an enterprising psychopath who calls himself Smith and his boss, the fabulously wealthy pederast Mr. Alice.

More than anything, Gaiman’s fiction makes me want to write, as it trades so heavily on the act of storytelling itself; his poem “Locks” repeats what Gaiman calls the closest thing to a credo he has – “We owe it to each other to tell stories” – and it’s this passion for spinning a yarn, creating fiction, bequeathing some nonexistent occurrences to posterity, this is what strikes me most about these stories and what they give to me (as, after all, my Digital Storytelling instructor Rachel Raimist said endlessly: a story is a gift). As I recall, in Sandman, Dream is repeatedly described as the lord of stories, and his realm even contains a library with all the stories never written, such as Alice’s Journey Behind the Moon. And in his own way, it looks, Gaiman is himself a lord of stories, a kind of meta-storyteller examining and reappraising the value of everything from the Alice books to Narnia, Goldilocks, and Sherlock Holmes. I’ve always rather wanted to tell stories, and this is a desire that reading Fragile Things has rekindled. So thank God for this multitalented inspiration who, unsurprisingly, last I heard resides around the Twin Cities.

I guess I’ll go now. I’ll eat a little, try to finish Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Gertrud and start something else. Maybe read, maybe write. These are desperate days. So I’ll probably spend a lot of them at the library.

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