Archive for the ‘Buy Me This!’ Category

The Real Star

August 25, 2021

Back when I was a wee sophomore in college, I developed this cherished ritual: maybe once a month or so, when my group of friends was going out or studying or something, I’d smoke *something or other* and head over our local outpost of the legendary (and much missed!) Kim’s Video.  There, I’d browse aimlessly through the selection and just pick a DVD or two, bring it back to my dorm room, and escape into another world.  Sometimes my selections were because I knew I was supposed to like those directors––like L’Avventura, or Hannah and Her Sisters––and sometimes it was based solely on the Criterion imprimatur.  More often than not, it was entirely at random.

I had surprisingly good success with this (“surprising,” because I wasn’t taking film classes and clearly had no idea what I was doing).  Even the notoriously judgmental Kim’s staff occasionally nodded in begrudging approval of my choices.  I still own a lot of DVDs I purchased then, and to this day, I count some of my filmic discoveries of that time among my favorite movies ever, including the terrifying Dutch-French thriller The Vanishing (which I’ve actually never quite had the stomach to re-watch) and Robert Altman’s atmospheric, hazy Three Women.  

But I had actually forgotten about one of the best finds of this era, Nicholas Roeg’s 1980 erotic thriller (kinda?) Bad Timing, until I fell down a mini-wormhole watching Criterion Closet Picks on YouTube (Ben Sinclair and Isabelle Huppert selected it)!  Bad Timing is the story of the beautiful, enigmatic Milena Flaherty, portrayed by Theresa Russell (who would later go on to marry Roeg) who seduces the clinical, controlling Dr. Alex Linden, an appropriately cerebral Art Garfunkel.  The two meet at a party and embark on an obsessive love affair, which eventually reaches a devastating, violent climax.  The film is set in Cold War Vienna, kind of the fifth main character here, which is depicted as equal parts decadence and paranoia, as evoked by alternating shots of paintings by Klimt and Schiele.

I could have sworn I had the Criterion DVD of Bad Timing, but I guess I lost it somewhere in the ensuing decade-plus because I don’t see it on my shelves.  Bummer, as it isn’t, even now, easy to find: the film’s distributor released it only briefly in 1980, calling it “a sick film made by sick people for sick people,” and it remained largely unavailable until Criterion released in the early aughts, which is around when I would have nabbed it.  (It’s now sold out on that site but there are some slightly-too-expensive copies on Ebay.)  But luckily for me, you can rent it on iTunes, so the other night I charged my card and settled in for an evening of nostalgia.

It was fascinating revisiting something that I remembered not only for itself, but for the particular reaction I had to it at that point in my life.  For example, I very much wanted to be glamorous and mysterious in exactly the way Theresa Russell was, so encountering her character was like locating a new icon.  And yet while watching it, I remember feeling like I had to consciously overlook one aspect of her character I found truly ridiculous: her HAIR!  Throughout the movie, Russell dons a truly baffling array of hairstyles, from the futuristic to the schoolmarmish.  Herewith, a compilation (incomplete):

This look is from the scene where Alex and Milena first meet, at a party.  It’s hard to tell from this picture, but her hair is in a bun towards the front right side of her head, and obviously curled throughout.  (Not clear if her hair is naturally curly or straight, based on other hairstyles.)  This is the first of a few times she opts for this front-of-the-head bun thing, to which I say: why?  Just, why?


Another angle.  You kind of have to see her in motion to get a sense of how hideous this is.

Final shot.  Sorry for the poor photo quality.


This is from the scene when she’s separating from her husband, played by Denholm Elliot, at the border of (then) Czechoslovakia.  This is one of my favorite of her styles: a kind of corporate hausfrau situation?  I’m sure there is a thesis written by an FIT student out there somewhere that explores the origin of this style.

Back view.

A similar look, from a scene where Alex Linden gives her a personality test.  (This photo is of Roeg directing Russell.)

Here is Russell in some classic Von Trapp braids, which were a specialty of mine in my early and mid-twenties.  (I could do my hair this way without looking in the mirror!)

Okay here is where it gets even weirder: after Alex asks Milena to move in with him, she goes back to Bratislava to have farewell sex with Elliott, and then does herself up nicely in this fancy rabbit fur situation and… some kind of space age hair wave?  This is truly confusing both on an aesthetic and practical level (meaning, how would one even accomplish this? Some kind of claw clasp)?

Really, why?!

And my absolute least favorite of the bunch: hair severely straightened and then put into a side-front bun, with a few loose baby wisps for added ugliness.  Mystifying! 

Aside from the styles I liked on this list, there are some scenes where she looks truly spectacular, mostly when her hair is wild and down or the little strands at the side are pulled back neatly with small clips., kind of like this, or in the bar scene where she makes out with a rando and is rocking an eagle t-shirt.  You’ll have to watch the movie to see those looks.


So in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the re-watch, despite feeling occasionally distracted by the odd coifs.  On a more serious note, it was interesting to watch it now, knowing how sordid people thought it was upon its release––not that the denouement isn’t a terrible violation, but in the decades since, we’ve been subject to so much depraved behavior on screen––just to pick one example, anyone seen Antichrist? That was not a good day, for me––that it weirdly registers as anticlimactic, or maybe just not something that would induce a moral panic?  Or perhaps I felt that way this time just because I knew what was coming?  (Don’t cancel me, this is a purely academic consideration, obviously rape is terrible!) Oh and one last thing: anyone care to weigh in on whether Harvey Keitel is supposed to be like, an actual Austrian or an American expat who somehow got a job in the Austrian police? Anyway, the real moral of this story is a) buy me this DVD and/or b) figure out how to get me invited to do a Criterion Closets Pick.

Fashion Inspo

February 7, 2021

Recent fashion inspiration includes:

Claire Nivola’s illustrations in The Friday Nights of Nana (would seriously wear every dress in this book).

Florence Pugh’s outfits in Lady Macbeth. You can’t really get a good feel for it in this picture but she wears the most ridiculously amazing salmon-colored dressing gown thing.

Adorable, but…

August 24, 2020

Would children really find these fun?  And if the answer is yes, for how long?  Do Scandinavian babies have some kind of special gene where wood is endlessly mesmerizing to them, and American kids are born with a susceptibility to toys with garish colors and blinking lights and gratingly cartoonish voices?  Honestly just buy me this mushroom basket.

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Lego Auschwitz

March 29, 2020

Libera, Lego Concentration Camp

From the beginning, Konzentrationslager caused a huge sensation, with viewers split on whether it was an important work or a travesty. Depicting genocide with a toy made people uncomfortable. Some Holocaust activists saw the work as trivializing the experiences of survivors, while others disagreed. The Jewish Museum in New York City displayed the sets for several months in 2002 as part of an exhibit on Nazi imagery in modern art.

Even LEGO joined in the criticism, complaining that [artist Zbigniew] Libera hadn’t told the company what he was intending when it donated the bricks and that this contribution didn’t constitute sponsorship as implied by the packaging’s labeling. LEGO tried to get Libera to stop displaying the work, backing down from its pressure only after the artist hired a lawyer.

From The Cult of Lego by John Baichtal and Joe Meno

My Introvert Paradise

December 18, 2019

When I read the 2011 obituary of 104-year-old Huguette Clark, the reclusive heiress who had spent nearly two decades in luxury hospital suites by choice before she died, naturally my first thought was, “This bitch is my hero.”  Okay, so maybe I have no interest in collecting dolls, as the eccentric Clark did well into adulthood, and maybe I didn’t grow up in a 121-room mansion, but dreamers gotta dream!

When Clark died, she left behind three enormous properties, estates in Santa Barbara and New Canaan, Connecticut, and a palatial apartment on 5th Avenue, that she hadn’t set foot in since her hospital admission.  She kept people on staff at all three houses to ensure they would be in perfect shape lest she decide (?) to pay a visit.  (Side note: have considered writing a short story about the house manager at the Santa Barbara estate, a real Remains-of-the-Day type, who squashes a new hire’s mission to find out more about their mysterious employer.  Or something like that.)

Anyway, her properties were put up for sale after her death, including her apartment at 907 5th Avenue, which was originally two apartments combined so she could live with her mother.  Naturally I want to live there.  When the realtor put a floor plan up on the listing site back in the day, I printed a copy and marked what the layout would be if justice were real and I got to live in a mansion.  Herewith, my introvert paradise!

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From top left around in a clockwise circle moving closer to the compass:

Kitchen
Informal breakfast nook: no idea why I put breakfast in quotation marks but I’ve grown a lot in the last eight years
Dining room
Bathroom with clawfoot tub: basically all I want in life, other than a $22.5 million apartment, is a clawfoot tub
Bedroom: mine
Closet: not sure where I’ll be getting the money to buy clothes in this scenario but it’s my fantasy
Nonfiction library: where I store my collection of nonfiction books
Bathroom
Cozy TV/movie watching room: big couches, plush blankets, etc.
Closet
Nap closet: for when you’re on the other side of the house and you’re too lazy to walk back to your own bed to nap
Hisbodedut room: when you want to daven Breslov style
Craft room: a room for doing projects, a la Amy Sedaris
Billiards room: not sure why I chose this, because I don’t play pool, but maybe I was just running out of ideas?
Sculptor-in-residence’s room: this is where the sculptor-residence will live and, well, sculpt
SIR’s bathroom
Office: this is the only room in the apartment with WiFi
Fiction library: where I store my novels
Group therapy room: where I get together with a bunch of people and do some guerrilla group therapy
Soundproof destruction room: when you’re really angry you can come in here and break things
Pantry
Empty room with waxed floor for skateboarding, toy car riding and sliding around on your butt: self-explanatory
Phone booth #2: phone booth #1 is on the other side
Psychopath room: a padded room for when you want to lose your shit a little
Room I forgot to name: thoughts, anyone?
Ping pong and game room: foosball as well
Is this a room or a hallway?: I genuinely cannot tell
Knick knack closet: this is where I keep my knick-knacks
Crying closet: this is a room with a couch and lots of tissues in case you feel like crying in private
Art gallery: this is where I keep my pictures and display the SIR’s work
Phone booth
Supply closet: for paper towels and such

So!  That’s the goal, folks.  Let’s make it happen.  Coming up soon, the link to my GoFundMe––aiming for a cool $25 mill here, people, so don’t be shy!  Oh and I’m auctioning off the original of the above.  Just reach out to Siobhan: she’s lazy, but she knows how to cash a check.

Want To Read All These

December 12, 2019

Bernd Brunner (born May 27, 1964) is a writer of non-fiction and essays. His best known works are peripatetic explorations of the relationship between people and deceptively simple subjects, such as bears, the moon, and lying down.

SAD!

December 4, 2019

Not gonna lie, pretty bummed these ceramic peanuts are sold out.  (PS: having a bit of a consumerist moment over here!  Send help!). (PPS: I love fake food you can scatter around your house a laAmy Sedaris!)

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Put Me in Your Will, Mr. Waters

June 3, 2019

There’s a new article out about John Waters, which focuses on his art collection, one of my favorite topics.  You’ll recall, I’m sure, that many years ago I wrote him a note offering to be caretaker of his art collection when he dies.  I would probably strike a different tone now, but what’s done is done.

The new piece features a number of pictures of Waters’s pieces from my favorite “genre” of art, trompe l’oeil!  The toilet paper dispenser, light switch, olives, playing cards and pencil in these pictures are fake!  Basically my dream is to have an apartment riddled with fake things just to confuse my guests.

You Don’t Need That, Either

May 20, 2019

In the past few years, I’ve read myriad lists of what you NEED to buy for a baby, many written by people who claim expertise for one reason or another (they have kids, they write about having kids, or both).  This latest, by writer Emily Gould, attempts to once again be the last word on what you need when you have a baby, and she does a good deed by naysaying some of the things people believe are essential but aren’t really (like baby monitors, particularly if you live in small dwellings) and yet it, too, includes a number of things that are not necessary.  I know no one will read this, but allow me to be, once and for all, the most minimalist of all minimalist parents and tell you what you really and truly need:

  1. Baby clothes.  Ideally kimono-style onesies.  ZERO pairs of infant socks.  They will inevitably fall off.  Burn all the infant socks you get on a tiny bonfire.  Zutano-style booties are only option for infants.
  2. A baby carrier.  It doesn’t really matter what kind.
  3. A carseat
  4. A bassinet or crib.
  5. ZERO SLEEP SACKS OR SWADDLES OF ANY KIND.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  You can swaddle your baby in little blankets until they start fighting them, and then you can wean them off swaddles as early as four months.  I actually think these swaddles are doubly egregious as a “must have” baby item, because so many basically guarantee they’ll put your children to sleep and of course, no product is magical like that.
  6. You don’t need a baby bathtub.  Use the sink until they can sit, then use a regular bathtub.
  7. Some kind of seat for the baby: we have a Bjorn bouncy chair, and it’s great.
  8. NO BREASTFEEDING PILLOW.  Use a regular fucking pillow, it is the same thing. 
  9. Bottles.
  10. For mom: at least one pair of shoes you don’t need to bend down to put on or lace up.

THAT IS LITERALLY IT.  Don’t even make a registry.  You’re welcome.

New Fashion Inspo

February 18, 2019

The Amish have been fashion fodder before, but I’m going to do one better and declare that my new look this summer is MEXICAN MENNONITE.

Yes, there are Mennonites in Mexico, approximately 100,000 of them, mostly in Chihuahua and Durango.  They’re from Russia via Canada, the former of which might explain the cool headscarves these little girls wear.  Their clothes seem to differ from their Midwestern American counterparts in that the dresses are brighter and more often patterned, the hats are big, and the sleeves can sometimes be short.    The dresses look like Batsheva creations, jo?  Which, in truth, I’m not really that into.  I think I just like these hats!

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By the way, this obsession was brought on by watching Silent Light, a rather amazing film about Chihuahuan Mennonites in Mexico, starring a number of locals there.  Don’t you think there should be a name for movies featuring non-professional actors playing basically/borderline-themselves?  Like, autofiction, but for film?  Examples include: Menashe, Krisha, this film, and many others I don’t have the time to compile here.  If there is a term for this, please do let me know.