Steve McQueen, genius machine

mcqueen I am slowly becoming obsessed with Steve McQueen. He is pretty cool. I’ve been reading about him here and here. I still don’t really feel like seeing his first two features “Shame” and “Hunger” (they both seem way too indulgent and melodramatic for me), but “12 Years a Slave” is a work of art. I cannot recommend it enough. In one of the interviews, he mentions location scouting in Louisiana and running into Quentin Tarantino, who was in town filming “Django Unchained,” who says “I hope there is room for more than one movie on slavery.” When asked about Tarantino’s film, McQueen answers “you know, it brings attention to the issues and hires actors who normally wouldn’t work, so I can’t knock it” — which means, he does have some issue with it, and I want him to email and tell me what it is. I want to know!!!!

He talks about visiting the tree where he stages a lynching scene. It is a tree where African Americans were actually lynched, so he talks about asking permission from the spirits there to film, and all his stories just seem so wild.

gold finch

goldfinch-largeGold-Finch I found this novel so moving, I was tearing up every day on my way to work, regularly missing my train stop. It rattled me to the point when I watched a flash mob proposal at home depot on youtube, I choked up at my desk at work. (OH MY GOD SAVE ME PLEASE) After surviving a a terrorist attack at the Met and the unreal loss his mother during that museum trip, a 13-year-old navigates being tossed between different homes, guardians, fortunes, adults (some kind and perfect, others not so much). It’s definitely a post-9/11 story, about 9/11 and grief, but it becomes something else (some reviewers says it goes haywire and random; I will allow that). It’s its portrayal of loss that got me, and any book that makes me miss my subway stop, that is so absorbing that I look up from its pages and blink and wonder how an hour went by so quickly, gets a big thumbs up from me. Books like this make it worth it, dude.

oh the disdain

Mod_5_Supermarket_3_Before I was shopping for milk for the third day in the row (when you live with four people who drink milk, you have to shop a lot) and overheard one bagging boy talk to the other about a song that had come on to the sound system: “Oh my god, I walked in on my mom dancing to this song, it was the worst.”

His eyes could not roll farther back into his head, his voice was dripping with disdain, and I couldn’t stop laughing. (Oh no. I am that mom very soon. Poor teens-to-be. ) I overheard the Assistant General Counsel in Office say that her 13-year-old son can’t stand her. The very sound of her breathing drives him to intense irritation. She said she is counting the years till he moves out. Of course, I have a lot of experience with my parents getting on my nerves, but this will be new. Trouble ahead, people.


DCIM100MEDIA I read this word today in the Times “Nachas” is Yiddish for happiness or joyful pride in children. I think that’s rather sweet that someone felt compelled to invent a word that described that feeling. I remember that feeling with the first month with First Son. Right now, I can’t feel my face so it’s not like I feel much, but I will look back and enjoy my NACHAS….mmm nachos.

the giving tree

giving tree Ha ha, you know what’s funny about Facebook, when you comment on the status of someone you don’t actively speak to, people all ignore your comment and talk around you. It’s like you had an accident on the sidewalk and people all side-step you. ANYWAY, I got tagged to list your top moving titles, and I actually did it! I never participate! No one responded to my list, but maybe my list is too weird, but many responded to someone listing “The Giving Tree.” Ever read it? It’s a picture book where a tree (stand-in for mom) offers her son the apples of her tree, but he keeps needing more stuff, so what she gives keeps progressing til she has NOTHING left. Like he takes a bunch of branches to build a house, her trunk for his jacuzzi (course I’m making it up now), but the end concludes where she has nothing to give but her stump, so she lets him sit on her. This story makes people cry.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? How is this sick story of giving to the point where you are decimated okay? Seriously, this is disturbing portrait of a caregiver and I don’t understand which part of the story people find moving. As a caregiver, I’m like, dude, this book is bad news, you can’t give it all up. You burn out, you’re no good to anybody.

On another note, for so many years after I stopped acting, I was wondering what my next passion job would be. I already have it: caregiver. DUH. I only realized it on the train ride home. It’s not the same as being a creative artist, but it is demanding, meaningful work that requires a great deal of patience, creativity, research, smarts, and….booze. Thank you.

old koreans, the mc donalds menace

mcd I just read this piece in the Times about Korean senior citizens who congregate at a local McDonalds and never leave. It’s causing McDonald’s angst since they are losing customers who actually buy food and leave, as opposed to these weisenheimers who buy a small coffee and linger for eight hours. They show up exquisitely dressed to gossip and hang out, and every time the cops are called, they leave…and come back after walking around the block. This Mickey D’s is actually near several senior citizens that have attempted to draw them by selling $1.09 coffees with cafe seating. Nope, these 80-year-olds keep showing up at the McDonalds, perplexing everyone. Um, am I not the only one who finds this story utterly charming?

Just goes to show you, you can’t force it. Communities, special places, whatever, you just has to happen organically.

12 years a slave

MV5BMjExMTEzODkyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTU4NTc4OQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_ I did not want to see this film. I have a low threshold for sad stories these days. Movies that feature models shooting zombies is what I crave, but it’s SAG awards season, and zombies are generally not nominated for awards. Pity.

So first, the parts, I can talk about. This film is a magnificent piece of art. There is mad skill all around this project – the director Steve McQueen, the writer, the actors, the use of music, the research. They all do a remarkable job. The lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, always compelling (see Dirty Pretty Things and Kinky Boots for completely different performances, but with those same amazing eyes) is English, as is most of the featured actors, who all perform in believable American southern accents. Sometimes, there are parts that have anguish or rage that seem fun to play. None of the parts of this film seems fun. To make the powerlessness and the toll of physical/emotional/psychological torture of being slave real, ack. To play any of the hateful, white racists, ugh.

I don’t whether the structure is from the script or the shrewd director, but there are a lot of clever moments/scenes near the beginning that foreshadow what is to become of our hero (both good and bad….though mostly bad). There are a lot of moments of stillness – breathing spots of stunning landscapes, thankfully, so you can catch your breath. There are amazing wordless scenes where you get to see characters experience realization or self-loathing sadistic-psyhchotic-alcoholic slave owner Fassbender plays feels after raping his favorite slave or this one funeral scene where Chiwetel is surrounded by fellow slaves where he almost gives into despair but then pours all of his anguish into singing along.

You need those moments, b/c damn, there are tough scenes. You see the heartbreak of families being broken up, rape as common place, and whipping – the director unflinchingly portrays the brutality in a way that your stomach roils. You see one young girl nearly lose her mind from the pain and fear, and later when her wounds are getting tended to, the camera stays on her devastated young back, every crevice of her wounds look quite real. You do not get to look away.

The European heritage of the lead actors and directors is a deliberate business decision – African-American stories do not tend to translate to the global market, and that’s where movies make their money these days. (I guess us Americans like to stay home and play WII and watch movies on Netflix.) I hope that works! Brad Pitt, the lead producer, appears as an aging hippie in the film, expressing what we 21st century people (should) think, but still freaks when the Chiwetel asks for help. That seemed real!

So that’s all. No more commentary on the tragic subject matter. There is a happy ending (see the title! I promise I’m not giving anything away!) but it’s not really that happy, because how can you be after all that?

Anyway, Husband and I give it a thumbs up.

daylight savings time

gty_pink_moon_thg_120406_wblog (1) When it was first daylight savings time and pitch black by the time picked First Son up from day care, he made this request:

“Mom, I want you to pull down the moon and put up the sun.”

That’s nice, I said. And I would really like it if you stopped sticking toys in your ears.

(We have so far found one googly eye, a portion of a mystery pink toy, and one of his teachers found him sticking his shoelaces in his ear. WHAT IS GOING ON.)

the Advantage of Being Korean

I saw this short film online and it features an actress with the most amazing cheek bones. She is caucasian and do you know how skinny white people need to be to show that part of their skull? That’s where I can win. Koreans show prominent cheek bones while still being a bit chunky, e.g., myself. Thank you.