miscellaneous commentary

It’s not what I think, it’s what I see

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The title is a thoughtful line from “Bill Cunningham New York”, a wonderful documentary I watched earlier tonight. Cunningham has been a fashion photographer for the New York Times for something like 40 years or more. He stores his photos and negatives in dozens of metal filing cabinets in his tiny, cramped apartment in Carnegie Hall (he and other artists are being evicted to make room for a telemarketing business). He is over 80 and has never had a romantic relationship. He’s never had time for one. He spends his days and nights photographing people’s clothes. He doesn’t care if it’s a homeless person or a celebrity, all he cares about is what they’re wearing. He’s never owned a television and he doesn’t listen to music, aside from the music played at church, which he attends every Sunday. He wears a signature blue smock, the one worn by street cleaners, because it’s cheap and provides numerous pockets for his rolls of film. Like me, he doesn’t care much for dining at fancy restaurants: “I’m just not interested”. He rides a bicycle, donning an reflective orange vest, and comments that his latest bicycle is his 29th; the previous 28 have all been stolen. Bill Cunningham is a man who has dedicated his entire life, almost every waking moment of adulthood, to fashion.

Yesterday I went to College Square to see “Drive”. This is my kind of movie! It’s more of an art-house film than it is an action film, which is what it seems to be billed as. There are only a few car chase sequences, but they are all very well shot and edited, and a few other scenes of bloody violence. I loved the vibe of this film: the colors and the lighting, the pacing, the electronic soundtrack, the characters, especially the Driver (Ryan Gosling), a stoic lone-wolf type much like the lead from Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Samouraï”. The film is quiet and thoughtful, existential, much like last year’s “The American”. It also reminded me of “The Professional” with a smaller body count and only one scene with guns. Albert Brooks plays a very unfunny gangster with a nasty side — not the kind of guy I’d ever want to cross, or even do business with. “Drive” is not a movie for everyone because of its slower pace, but I really enjoyed it. The opening scene, where the Driver assists in a nighttime getaway, was perfect. One of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

So yesterday evening I took the plunge and rented two movies through the iTunes Movie Store: the aforementioned “Bill Cunningham New York” and “Cold Weather”, an independent film released earlier this year. It’s set in Portland OR, about a brother and sister living together. The brother’s ex-girlfriend goes missing and he, having recently dropped out of a forensic science program in college, puts his skills to the test with the aid of his far-too patient sister and his co-worker, a blue-collar type with an interest in Star Wars and Sherlock Holmes. The lead character was at times clueless and mildly insufferable, but I liked the supporting cast. The film only shows Portland in gray, cloudy and always on the verge of raining, which is not the Portland I experienced back in the summer of 2004. But I liked the movie nonetheless, and it was the perfect movie to watch in bed this morning while it was gray, cloudy and raining outside, as it has been almost this entire weekend.

I also saw “X-Men: First Class” this weekend. Meh. I don’t know what I was expecting when I rented it, I just wanted to be entertained. It kinda but not sorta did that for me. The acting was fine enough, but it didn’t feel as pleasurable as reading an X-Men comic book. Not as fun. Just a scattering of CGI effects. Oh well, that’s usually what we get from summer blockbusters.


Written by camcarlson

September 18, 2011 at 9:43 PM

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