Friday, April 30, 2021

And Now for Our Mugi Sacrifice

Happy May Day, everyone. As I often do, I watched 1973's The Wicker Man for it, this time while enjoying some wheat biscuit KitKats:

Who says KitKats have to be junk food*?

麦の恵みの translates to something like "The blessings of wheat", according to Google, so maybe it's not inappropriate accompaniment to The Wicker Man. 麦, or "mugi", is a word I've noticed tends to be used for wheat, barley, straw, or oats. A very popular, traditional tea is mugicha, with cha meaning tea, and in this case the mugi means barley. It's this ambiguity about "mugi" that's made it difficult to tell people what oatmeal is.

I normally watch the director's cut of The Wicker Man but my DVD is back in California. Amazon Prime is currently streaming the theatrical release so I settled for that and, you know, I think I actually kind of like the theatrical release. The director's cut fleshes things out more and there's more interesting detail about Summerisle--particularly good is the scene where Christopher Lee brings a virgin boy to Britt Ekland to break his cherry--but there's a narrative efficiency to the theatrical version that adds to the air of mystery while not allowing the viewer to become too comfortable. It's kind of intriguing, too, that we don't know anything about Howie (Edward Woodward) at the beginning. His appearance feels very abrupt and sort of gives a little credence to the idea that he's an arrogant interloper. However, I find the idea that Howie is a representative of Christian, white male evil holds no water. He's looking for a missing girl amid a populace that seems increasingly deranged, I don't think he oversteps in the slightest.

It's interesting to consider the movie in the context of the Manson murders which I suspect must have been somewhere in the filmmakers' minds. They both seem examples of hippie mysticism gone very wrong.

In addition to the great Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man features a dream team of British genre movie babes in Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, and Diane Cilento. They all have important roles but I kind of wish they'd had more time all together on screen.

Has anyone else noticed how often Christopher Lee wore houndstooth?

*This is still junk food.

A Bounty Hunter and a Bandit

Rape, particularly the rape of a child*, is such a despicable crime that it provokes strong feelings of disgust for the perpetrator. This feeling of disgust comes with a desire to see justice done, or as close to it as possible, so to falsely accuse someone of rape could be a powerful political tool, as it is in the 1967 Spaghetti Western The Big Gundown. Anchored by a cool lead performance from Lee Van Cleef as a highly skilled bounty hunter, the film has some nicely edited action sequences and genuinely clever, darkly amusing, writing.

Jonathan Corbett (Van Cleef) casually accepts the job of tracking down Cuchillo (Tomas Milian) from a railway tycoon (Walter Barnes). No bounty ever approaches being slightly difficult for Corbett so he seems to think nothing of offering to get Cuchillo gratis.

But very quickly, Cuchillo turns out to be a suspiciously elusive quarry. Tomas Milian went on to play Tepepa, another puckish Mexican revolutionary, and perhaps Cuchillo was one of the parts that solidified his perceived aptitude for such roles. Van Cleef is so cool in this film and Milian is such a goofball, there's almost a Batman/Joker dichotomy at play.

The film's comprised of several episodes in which it seems Corbett is just about to nab Cuchillo only for Cuchillo to narrowly escape, often taunting Corbett while galloping away; "You'll never catch me!"

In one episode, Corbett finds Cuchillo under the protection of some Mormons and the 12 year old girl Corbett thinks he's rescuing from statutory rape at Cuchillo's hands turns out to be the fourth wife of a middle aged Mormon. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle warned us about this sort of thing in A Study in Scarlet.

In another episode, Corbett finds Cuchillo at the mercy of a beautiful ranch owner (Nieves Navarro) whom Cuchillo spurned--so Corbett can also spurn her in turn. A big gunfight ensues.

With each episode, a grudging respect and even a kind of affection starts to develop between Corbett and Cuchillo, especially as they both react similarly to the hypocrisy of land owners and respectable citizens. The tension surrounding the question of whether or not Cuchillo committed the crimes he's accused of is absorbing but it's also great when that question is gradually answered in subtle ways.

The Big Gundown features some exceptional work from Ennio Morricone (two tracks were used by Tarantino) and is currently featured in a Morricone collection on The Criterion Channel.

*Yeah, fuck all the trigger warnings.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Blended Cheese

A blowhard truck driver gets caught up in a story of magic and martial arts in 1986's Big Trouble in Little China. A more finely aged chunk of '80s American cheese you'll never find.

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) actually comes off a lot like certain political YouTubers I've seen; he constantly complains and you sense he's not altogether as competent as he thinks he is. Well, you more than sense it in Jack's case--he's constantly at a loss, in one scene even knocking himself out at the beginning of a fight.

Sometimes the joke wears a bit thin because Kurt Russell does have charisma and Jack does seem like a basically decent guy so I'd have liked the bumbling toned down a notch.

The story is great fun, of course. What starts out feeling like some kind of spy thriller, where a girl is abducted at the airport, suddenly becomes a wuxia street fight film. And then there's electricity shooting from people's hands and some impressively grotesque monsters.

Director John Carpenter seems to have brought three sides of his personality to bear in this movie. There's the humour of They Live, the action/adventure of Escape from New York, and a little dose of Prince of Darkness fantasy horror. Also, I always like seeing Kim Cattrall. And she wears a groovy headdress in this one.

Big Trouble in Little China is available on Disney+ in many countries outside the U.S.

Twitter Sonnet #1447

Forgotten metal glowed beneath the lamp.
The night endures despite another dawn.
It's always time around another camp.
Let's sleep with Errol Flynn on Basil's lawn.
Electric proof commenced the rumble night.
Preserving lettuce broke the dark and strange.
Below the city, roots will fly a kite.
And coiled stoves'll roam the metal range.
But who decides the perfect flutes and drums?
A heavy butt collapsed the forest chair.
Beginning late, electric siren hums.
Or something short and little like a mare.
An em'rald dress adorned the lady's crown.
A giant truck was stuck beneath the town.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Rainy Day in Ghost World

Before I left San Diego, I boxed up all the books, DVDs, and Blu-Rays I couldn't bear to sell, which was quite a lot. I packed most of them in boxes a little bigger than a hat box, I think about fifteen such boxes in all. I left most of them with my parents and my sister but I took three with me when I drove to Tennessee and left them with my grandmother. Recently, she mailed me one that was filled with some of my comics, a couple spools of DVD-ROMs with various movies and TV shows, two of my Blu-Rays (Repulsion and Riso Amaro), my porcelain mermaid, and a stack of my comics.

I hadn't actually finished Black Hole so I guess it's a good thing that ended up here. If I'd had my choice I'd have wanted one of the boxes with my Shakespeare, Milton, or books on 17th century England but this may have been the more fortuitous choice. A few months ago, I was talking to one of the teachers I work with here in Japan about how I use manga to study Japanese. She wondered if it would be valuable to read English comics to better her English and I thought about what to recommend to her. I said I wished I had some of my comics with me to lend her something and now here some of them are. I'm not sure any of these are fit for the task.

My first instinct was to recommend the Jaimie Hernandez comics, which I'd been in the mood to read, anyway, but I'd forgotten how many big blocks of text there are in those, not to mention how confusing it would be whenever the dialogue switches to Spanish. Over the past couple days, I read Ghost World again, and in terms of dialogue to illustration ratio, it may be the more suitable work to recommend to an English learner. But in terms of culture and character . . . as I was reading, I found myself thinking Ghost World would either be totally incomprehensible to a Japanese reader or an extremely valuable insight.

I've often heard people say that the Japanese don't have irony or sarcasm--even people who've actually been to Japan and interacted with Japanese people say that--but I can tell you it's definitely not true. Maybe it's more of an issue of irony itself not necessarily translating well. Sarcasm is easy enough to detect in the guys at school who, seeing English as a pointless subject, overenthusiastically scream "GOOD MORNING" at two in the afternoon at me.

What I don't think many Japanese people, or even many young American people, would understand about Ghost World is Enid and Rebecca's ironic/not ironic love for half-assed efforts. The "pathetic" comedian with the trendy shoes or the fake '50s diners. I always liked how Daniel Clowes connected this very adolescent '90s humour with a fairly simple story of two teenagers facing frightening, impending adulthood.

I kept thinking of the title "Ghost World" in San Diego in the few years before I left, as the homeless crisis became worse and more and more businesses I associated with the city were going under. Someone I worked with at J.C. Penney told me about how nice the department store had been when she started working there decades ago, how people in the food court used to send the employees free meals like they were part of a little community. The people who work there did still care about each other and I did feel like I was part of a community of sorts at J.C. Penney but I could remember how much more solid it used to be, how much more effort people felt they could afford to put into making things beautiful and pleasant for everyone else.

I suppose if I'd lived in Kashihara for forty years, I'd notice how things have changed here, in some cases, for the worse, too. I hear about how the shopping mall is driving smaller businesses into the ground, which is like deja vu from '80s America. I wonder if I'll leave Japan at some point and hop from country to country so that I can always see places for the good things that are new to me. But then, I have to remind myself that there's no massive homeless crisis in Japan, the country has an embedded respect for its elders, and all in all there's generally a feeling of solid earth maintained under everyone's feet. Though I guess this is changing. I spoke to one of the older teachers at the school I work at now and I mentioned how the deer at Nara park look like they're starving and she told me it's actually not only Corona behind this. There are now starving deer wandering into towns elsewhere in Nara prefecture because the older generation of people who lived in the forests are dying. These people who used to routinely chop down lumber, thereby creating new foliage for the deer to eat, are disappearing and their kids don't want these jobs. Japanese lumber is more expensive than imported lumber.

I think the transition from the world of school to the world of work may not be as rough on most Japanese people as it is on American kids. I've been in the buildings for the city water and for the city gas and I noticed all the people wear uniforms. Of course, they do in most of the sales jobs, too. For a lot of people, it must be just like trading one uniform and campus for another, except there's fewer pointless lessons. But I know a lot of these kids can dream big, too, so I don't know. Maybe it's always painful.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A Jason is Bourne

Well, I finally saw 2002's The Bourne Identity last night. It's a decent action movie. Maybe I'd have appreciated it more if I'd seen it when it first came out, before everyone imitated it. It has its own predecessors, of course. It kind of feels like North by Northwest on steroids with less humour.

Matt Damon looks so young. I hadn't realised how puffy his face has become.

He plays a mysteriously proficient amnesiac who wakes up on a fishing boat after having been dragged, unconscious, from the drink. The ship's surgeon finds a little laser pointer embedded in his hip that gives the location and password for a safety deposit box that later turns out to have a bunch of passports, money, and a gun. It never really becomes clear why things were set up in this way--was he planning to have amnesia and to be operated on by a trustworthy doctor? But it's an intriguing way to start a story.

The editing on the hand to hand fighting is really good and quick though not as effective as sustained shots of action--the corridor scene in the original Old Boy has aged better and the movies and shows that have imitated it look more impressive than the ones that imitated Bourne.

The car chase scenes are less impressive. Maybe that's partly because I recently watched Death Proof again. But the editing is strikingly limp, especially when it comes to matching reaction shots of the actors to action. This is exacerbated by some surprisingly conspicuous rear projection or blue screen shots in the car interior.

It's nice to see some romance in an espionage thriller, though, and Franka Potente as the love interest is pretty and has a low-key charisma. It does feel a little at odds with the main plot but romance subplots in such films usually were. Audiences simply used to be willing to suspend more disbelief in the name of experiencing a pleasant fantasy. Unfortunately, this is one of the pleasures audiences have lately been trained to abjure.

I'm not sure if I feel enthusiastic to move onto the sequels. I only ended up watching the first one because Netflix was the only streaming service I could get working last night for some reason. Criterion Channel keeps giving me this weird "Video cannot be played on an external monitor" error. Am I supposed to crawl inside my computer?

Twitter Sonnet #1446

Exclusive floss combined the special teeth.
A cobbled tusk commenced to clamp the cat.
A dizzy fly had crashed amidst the heath.
A letter sent arrived before the bat.
Excessive sweets combine to shake the earth.
The waiting coffee hugged the shadow man.
An empty ship arrived to fill the berth.
Amidst the colour strips they blurred a tan.
The districts sort a heat from colder reds.
A bubble swamp exists beneath the grass.
We rest as thoughtful hats in boxy beds.
Together, twine conducts a lively mass.
Forgotten felt returns to shape the head.
A bunch of scarves combine to make the bed.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Hearing the Unheard

I always remember it as one of the funniest episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but I guess, for many, the most noteworthy thing about season three's "Earshot" is that it didn't air when it was originally supposed to. The story involves a school shooter and shortly before its original air date the Columbine shooting occurred. I suppose it would have been insensitive considering the shooter plot ends up being misdirection for something sillier (but comedy gold), even though, within the episode itself, Oz (Seth Green) remarks on how school shootings are becoming so common they could be called trendy. And this was before they started to become even more common in the U.S.

Yet I always remember the episode better for the fact that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) temporarily gains the power to read minds. This leads to funny moments like when Cordelia's (Charisma Carpenter) thoughts turn out to be exactly what she says, indicating her lack of filter, while Wesley (Alexis Denisof), the scrupulous new Watcher, is struggling with his attraction to a high school student, Cordelia.

Now that I'm working in junior high here in Japan, and I so often hear about scandals involving affairs between teachers and students, it's a bit surprising to see how casually Buffy treats the relationship between Wesley and Cordelia. But, then, I suppose I should remember the age difference between Buffy and Angel (David Boreanaz).

They actually give Angel a joke in this episode, maybe as part of a way of gearing up for his impending spin-off. It's also conspicuous how much more common demons are getting to be on Buffy at this point. Some of the costumes and makeup on random demons Buffy fights in the cold opens are pretty impressive.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Man in Black and the Man in Brown

Johnny Cash guest-starred in one of the best episodes of Columbo I've seen, 1974's "Swan Song". He plays a gospel singer who murders his domineering wife played by Ida Lupino. I kind of wish there'd been more and juicier scenes between those two but, like most of the show's murder victims, she's not around for long. Cash is the central attraction, though, for his less professionally honed but fascinatingly raw performance.

Really, it overwhelms this typical Columbo plot so much that I suspect the writers, conscious of their inadequacy, made the story as simple as possible and let the performances suggest nuance all by themselves. A lot of the episode feels improvised, particularly a couple of odd scenes where Columbo (Peter Falk) interviews witnesses who ramble on about unrelated matters, not unlike the way Columbo himself usually does. He's amused when a funeral director insists on giving him an unsolicited sales pitch but seems more exasperated when a seamstress won't stop babbling about the prudence of ordering extra bolts of nylon.

Cash plays Tommy Brown, a gospel singer apparently famous for singing songs much more upbeat and religious than Cash was known for. Lupino's character is blackmailing him into giving all his profits to her church. She knows about his habit of sleeping with underage girls and has one of said girls ready to testify if need be. So Tommy kills them both by drugging them in his private plane--which he also pilots--and bailing out before it crashes into a mountain. In a couple days, he's already giving private, poolside concerts for bikini babes.

An odd scene for Johnny Cash, to be sure. Yet he is kind of playing himself and the episode is oddly sympathetic to him. I feel like he improvised a lot, too--something about the way he keeps calling Columbo "Columbo" instead of "lieutenant". Cash himself, of course, was known for his sympathy with criminals and it comes through in the vulnerable fury he gives vent to between bitter laughs. Columbo seems stunned half the time watching him.

Columbo is available with ads on Amazon Prime.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Cap Wears No Cap

The finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier came last night with a few nice qualities but, overall, it left me feeling empty.

I like Sam's (Anthony Mackie) Captain America costume. The shoulder pads look cool and something about all of the white on it reminds me of Elvis Presley. I don't understand the open spot on the top of the head, though, particularly since, whenever I'd see Falcon flying around, I'd often think, "Shouldn't he be wearing a helmet?" It's weird that he'd cut out a part of the Captain America costume that seems like it would be especially useful for him.

I guess the suit was made in Wakanda. Yet another American product that had to be outsourced to overseas labour.

The action scenes were cool, though, especially when he was flying around the helicopter.

Still, it can't quite make up for the fact that the writing is a mess. I'm okay with the fact that Karli's (Erin Kellyman) goals weren't very clear--Sam even puts it to her point blank in the episode--what does she hope to accomplish? That's normal with terrorists. They know how to do big violence, but they're not so good at being constructive. But there's an overall vagueness about what's going on. It makes the speech at the end embarrassing--the senator points out how complicated the situation is and, to Sam's credit, he says the guy's right. So what was the point of his speechifying, though? He talks about how feeling powerless should give the senators perspective. That may be true but we really needed to see how that applied. We saw refugees but it was never really clear what their stories were.

Sam chides the group of officials for using the word "terrorist". Is "terrorist" politically incorrect now? Didn't we just use it in January to describe the Capital Hill mob? What do we call people who use violence for the purpose of inspiring terror, then? People Who Terrorise?

Sam actually mentioning that he's adopting the Captain America title without being a super soldier is a little awkward. It's hard to give him points for that when he's doing things that aren't humanly possible anyway. The normal result of putting a man between a jet engine and a falling van is not what we saw on the show.

I just to-day learned there was a whole pandemic subplot that had to be cut from the series due to its resemblance to Covid. I guess it may explain a lot of the sense of vagueness on he show. I'm not sure it accounts for all of it.

How does it help the old guy for Bucky (Sebastian Stan) to tell him that he killed his son while he was brainwashed? Maybe it grants some kind of closure, I don't know. It kind of felt like the Ben Horne plot at the end of season two of Twin Peaks, though, when it suddenly becomes clear that Horne's crusade to tell the truth at all costs isn't always such a good idea--and may be more about his own selfish need to feel good about himself. That said, it's kind of funny the final title card for the show says "Captain America and the Winter Soldier", honouring Sam's new identity but reminding us we're never going to let Bucky move beyond his past.

I feel absolutely nothing about Sharon (Emily VanCamp) being the Power Broker. Sharon herself never developed a strong enough hold on my interest and what, exactly, the Power Broker was up to was never terribly clear.

John Walker (Wyatt Russell) taking on the title of US Agent, used by his comic book counterpart, wasn't bad and I like that he remained a morally ambiguous character in the end. I wonder if the part where he quoted Lincoln was written before or after Lincoln was cancelled.

The series also suffers for me personally because I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier again last week. My God, what a tightly constructed, brilliant action film it is. And how refreshing it was to watch a movie that didn't assume I was stupid. How sexy is Black Widow in that movie? It's hard to believe that was only seven years ago. It made me reflect on how the MCU has diminished in quality since Disney bought Marvel. Thor: Ragnarok was great and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are good but Black Panther, Avengers Infinity War, Endgame, and Spider-Man: Homecoming were just okay. Ant-Man 2, Captain Marvel, the first Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man: Far from Home were completely dull and lifeless. Now The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is another one dead on arrival. I mean, as a TV show, it's okay, but it has the budget and expectations of a movie. I guess it's good on Disney they can experiment with that kind of money.

And I will say, in retrospect, I like the risks taken by WandaVision a lot more, even if there are still aspects of it I really didn't like. Hopefully the upcoming Loki will be more in that vein.

Wanderer in the Nightmare Image

I finally had a chance to read one of the new Sirenia Digests from last month. It contained a new story, "Untitled 45", but Caitlin R. Kiernan that starts off with a wonderfully eerie and desolate sequence of descriptions. The unnamed narrator traverses a beach and contemplates a sinister forest nearby. The imagery is so interesting and carefully described it's impossible not to picture it.

Dialogue happens when a figure emerges from the forest and it becomes a rumination on the narrator's feelings of guilt, or lack of guilt, or guilt at not feeling guilty. This section also has striking imagery its psychological suggestions are lovely and grim.

Twitter Sonnet #1445

The citrus clouds obscured the creamy field.
The trees and fruit invoked the fancy land.
The carpenter constructs a sign to yield.
He said the beach was still too full of sand.
The tyre sand obscured the twisting car.
A sudden drink began a lakeless night.
A mighty leg traversed the jelly bar.
A frightened thought requests another light.
Relinquished streams invest the growing pond.
As light dissolves in dust we push the shade.
Of lower clouds the short are passing fond.
With endless green the sod is strictly paid.
A chance replaced the station near the rock.
A foot contorts the black and purple sock.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Safest Car is the Deadliest

A few days ago, I noticed 2007's Death Proof was on Amazon Prime and I couldn't resist watching it again. I think it's been at least six or seven years since the last time I watched and, damn, has it aged well. Quentin Tarantino's most explicit ode to '70s exploitation films, it's really a blend of slasher films, revenge films, and car chase films, pulling some of the best qualities of all three together with Tarantino's singular voice.

Tarantino's movies have always given one the bracing sensation of seeing something the various scolds would insist you neither should see nor want to see. And I don't just mean moral scolds but also the voices that insist stories need to be structured a certain way to please an audience.

And I know a lot of audiences complained about how much dialogue is in this movie. There's no accounting for taste. I see this movie and I think it's glorious how these people sit around and talk with Tarantino's dialogue which is so brilliantly a mixture of the colloquial and poetic. The seemingly aimless quality of it is of course not actually aimless--little plot important things are embedded everywhere, like how Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) never drinks alcohol at the bar (but has a bottle of whiskey later), how Kim (Tracy Thoms) carries a pistol. But a lot of it is just plain character building for the sake of character building. Abernathy (Rosario Dawson) may be the most tightly wound of her group of friends or it may simply be an aspect of her personality exacerbated by their tendency to see her that way. It's easy to sympathise with her exasperation when the other three ladies don't seem to side with her on the issue of the guy who slept with another woman on Abernathy's birthday.

There's also the subtle arranging of morally interpretable chips in the first half. What does it mean that Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) may have beat up Pam (Rose McGowan) in high school? Should it mean something that Butterfly (Vanessa Ferlito) decided to give Stuntman Mike a lapdance, despite having been so wary of him?

I always found it curious that Tarantino gave so many of his own opinions to the villain. But that's normal for Tarantino--there's no villain in a Tarantino movie that doesn't have a few genuinely charismatic qualities--and very often they're possessed of insight. There are exceptions, like the villains in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, an especially interesting movie to contemplate in connexion with Death Proof.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood can almost be taken as an inversion of Death Proof. The old school Hollywood stuntman becomes the hero instead of the villain, and the gang of violent pretty girls become the villains instead of the heroes. I thought of this when Jungle Julia calls Rose McGowan's character a "dirty hippie", furthering my suspicion that Margaret Qualley's performance as Pussycat in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was influenced by McGowan's recent behaviour.

There are so many lovely little visual ideas in Death Proof too. I love the moment when Jungle Julia is trying to talk to someone on her cell phone and the jukebox next to her can be seen slowly but surely loading a new record. I love the closeups on Kurt Russell chowing down on Mexican food while the harmonica section of Pacific Gas And Electric's "Staggolee" plays on the soundtrack.

I can say all that and I still haven't mentioned the wonderful Zoe Bell, who translates her real life charm perfectly into a fictionalised version of herself, or the phenomenal car chase that occupies the last half hour of the film. It's hard to believe one film can have so much.

Death Proof is available on Amazon Prime.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Disaster Worse for its Ambiguity

What is the hell of urban life contrasted with the virtue of the provincial? More than a few movies on the topic have been made, including 1946's Crisis (Kris), the directorial debut of Ingmar Bergman. And trust Bergman like no other to plumb the depths of such a story.

I as expecting something far less interesting and psychological than his work beginning in the late '50s. And while it's not quite as interesting as Persona or Through a Glass Darkly or a dozen other of his masterpieces it's still by no means your run of the mill melodrama. It is, essentially, a film noir, fitting more neatly into a genre than Bergman's best known works.

18 year old Nelly (Inga Landgré) is beautiful and frustrated with life in her small town. She loves her foster mother, Ingeborg (Dagny Lind), but doesn't like how she forces her to spend time with Ulf (Allan Bohlin), a kind but dopey older man who rents a room from Ingeborg.

When Nelly's birth mother, Jenny (Marianne Löfgren), shows up and wants to take her back to live with her in the city, Nelly has to choose between the safe and quiet life and the excitement of the city.

Most other filmmakers would show the moral perils of the city as being excessive drinking, loose sex, gambling, etc. And Bergman nods to those things but he's much more interested in a difference in mentality. It's all explained succinctly by Jack (Stig Olin), Jenny's boyfriend whose affections start to drift to Nelly. Jack confides to Ingeborg that he doesn't love Nelly, exactly--he loves himself--but Nelly is more "real" than anyone he knows and he starts to feel less real in her presence and wonders at the worth of his "ghostly" life.

Are the people of the small village really morally superior? The gossiping neighbours? Ulf constantly trying to bargain for Nelly's love despite her exasperation? Even Ingeborg is shown at the beginning begging for money from her charwoman. Jenny may do indiscreet things like read Nelly's diary but she has an honest business in her beauty palour. But, like Jack, you can see in her what he means by "unreal". Her conversations with Ingeborg are almost exclusively made up of smiling manipulations, off-hand insinuations about how life with Jenny is better for Nelly than life with Ingeborg.

As the title suggests it comes to a crisis. But it's hard to say if the disaster leads to Nelly's salvation or condemns her to a comfortable prison.

Crisis is available on The Criterion Channel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Managing Snack Urges

This is one of the many springtime Kit Kat flavours around here. They also had parfait and wheat biscuit flavours. I limited myself to ume, or Japanese plum. They're good--very tart.

I've been in the mood to sample Japanese sweets again. On Saturday I also bought this Kimetsu no Yaiba snack.

It's youkan, a sort of jelly made from red bean paste, agar, and sugar. It's packaged in a green tube made to look like Nezuko's green bamboo bit:

It's good and, just like Nezuko's bit, it subdues hunger for human flesh.

Twitter Sonnet #1444

The whiny wheat was hushed to stock the mill.
Electric boards create an 80s band.
Another rose by pure and petty will.
And plastic flowers sank beneath the sand.
The lousy knees would fail a wire tray.
With walkers, ghosts contain the sculpted team.
Another time we showed the ancient bay.
The seas were dry as heavy puddles seem.
A giant's breath had passed the sleeping kids.
The speaking grass responds in silent waves.
The pots of shade would buck the wooden lids.
And other lights create the beasts of caves.
The brighter colours came to eat the moon.
We heard a song to suss the scarpered loon.