March gladness continues here with this month’s edition of Things We Currently Love.
♥ In the last month I’ve fallen completely in love with Teuvo Tulio’s melodramas. Working in Finland in the 1940s and 1950s, he made a series of films so gorgeous and devastating that I legitimately can’t believe they aren’t well known and widely celebrated. As it is, discovering them feels like being inducted into a secret cult of exquisite suffering. Like many melodramas, Tulio’s films explore the lives of women caught in the strictures of a violently patriarchal society, and his stories are anchored in raw, astonishing performances by actresses like Marie-Louise Fock and Regina Linnanheimo. On top of this, the films are made with deliriously beautiful chiaroscuro lighting; masterful, often experimental editing; and an almost operatic use of music (particularly in Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit [The Way You Wanted Me], in which the plot is driven by the recurring melody of a Finnish folk song). I originally heard about Tulio from this amazing post on overlooked melodramas by visualtraining on Tumblr (via the ever-spectacular giallolooks) and now I can’t wait to explore the rest of the list.
March and November are two months I have no particular fondness for. I find them grey, dreary and endless, a strange stasis between seasons, bad bookends of winter. So to take the time to reflect on what makes me happy in this generally unpleasant month is a good thing.
♥ The Morrin Centre. Years after having first visited the Morrin Centre in my beautiful city, I am now officially a member. I spent a sleep-deprived, dazed Thursday afternoon there, the sun streaming through the beautiful windows, casting shadows on century old books and painted wooden statues of colonial heroes. So many French-speaking Quebeckers have never even heard of it, and since the Old City has become ghettoized by the Disneyfication of it all, so it remains a quiet hidden gem. It’s my favourite place to bring tourists when they come to my city!
I’ve already been 3 times in the month of March, and just discovered their amazing collection of graphic novels. I love their old shit, too. I shared some photos on my Flickr page here.
♥ Hazlitt’s The Arcade is quickly becoming the number one source of inspiration when it comes to which book i choose to pick up next. Prior to that, it had been Wachtel on the Arts (omg her interview with) I’ve never read Andrew O’Hagan’s fiction – I waded into the intense abandoned biography of Julian Assange but never finished it – but I don’t think that affects your potential appreciation of his discussion with host Anshuman Iddamsetty. The Arcade podcast is totally my fav. I relate to a lot of what Anshuman has to say about his relationship to poetry, which is extra intriguing to me given I am married to a poet. My poet is often put in a position where he has to defend, explain, rationalize his work and it makes me think a lot about the power of words. These two, the way they discuss, reminds me of the beauty of words, of explaining atrocities, of understanding the world through art. So good! But instead of reading my thoughts about it you should listen to it and then tweet at me about it.
♥ This music. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve still pretty much been listening to O Paon on repeat for the last month, but only one of her songs is featured in this mix. I have lost of the habit of really crafting music mixes, but made one for my wonderful friend Morgan’s birthday and remembered how satisfying it is to share my mixes online. I’m hoping to make a less dreary one come spring, but if you want to wallow in the endless winter you should make this your soundtracks.
♥ Heidi Julavits’ The Vanishers
With a renewed library card I’ve been trying to read more and more contemporary fiction. The results have been middling, and for the first time in years I’ve been giving up on a record number of books. It’s mostly me – I haven’t been in a mood to push through anything. Thankfully Heidi Julavits’ The Vanishers has caught me and I have no interest in letting go. I’m always impressed with world building, and Julavits has constructed a complex but deeply interesting one. What’s struck me the most, which also happens to be an intersection on all of my interests, are the titular vanishers. A company has created the option for people to abandon their lives. We’ve been told they’re given a new life, and with the constant referring to and leave nothing but a brief film explaining themselves. A filmic object that’s a sort-of-but-not-actually suicide note is something I’ve been constantly thinking about. There’s a lot more to Julavits’ work than that, but it’s struck a chord that I can’t shake.
It is deeply Canadian of me to be so preoccupied with the weather, but the past few days have been gray gray gray. It’s unusual for the morning fog stay longer than a few hours, but it’s been here all day. I went for a walk along the lake on Sunday, and couldn’t even see the open waters next to me. With the weather a bit warmer, but not warm enough to bring people out in droves, the dreary gray that comes before spring is something to dissolve into. This mood has translated into everything else I do – my instagram has become gray, it’s all that I’m wearing, and I keep walking around my apartment thinking of where to put gray objects on prominent display. The sun might shake this mood, but I’m happy to be surrounded by it.
♥ Water, Wind, Dust (Amir Naderi, 1989)
This film is more along the taupe lines than gray, but I’m deeply interested in large areas of land that are inhospitable to humans. Naderi’s film is about a young man wandering around a desert as the winds beat at him, and everything about him. I was lucky to see it in 35mm, but the print was so old and scratched it was as if the wind in the film ended up tearing away at the physical film documenting it. Unintentional, but perfect.
♥ The Jean Desmet exhibit at EYE Amsterdam: I’ve been so excited about this: an exhibit built around the collection of Jean Desmet, film distributor in the Netherlands from 1906-1916. I had to wait far too long for time and money to visit, but have by now seen it twice, and will probably go again. The exhibit itself, which mainly focuses on Desmet’s film collection, is practically a work of art (and quite overwhelming), with a wealth of breathtaking shorts and fragments on show, as well as some fantastic posters other ephemera of the film distributing trade. Being a fanatic, I’ll probably be clutching the catalogue to my chest on my death bed, but I think people who are new to silent film would also do well to check out this look into the wildly inventive and entertaining world of early cinema.
♥ Parsifal: I’ve been communing with my favourite performances of my favourite Wagner opera, in anticipation (SO MUCH ANTICIPATION) of the Berlin premiere of Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production, which I’ll be attending soon. Parsifal is musically almost painfully sublime to me, and its story so convoluted, conflicted, and magical, that seeing one of my very favourite directors tackle it (with one of my mega fave singers in the cast and the legendary Daniel Barenboim in the pit) is… well, freaking me out. If you’d like to check out one of the greatest operas ever, I recommend Stefan Herheim’s Bayreuth production, which is so good that words actually fail me. Check out the prelude here: part 1 & part 2.
♥ Sometimes I’m the truly intolerable type of film hipster where once everyone sees and loves a movie I once loved, I’m sort of over it. Not the case with It Follows, which I was lucky enough to see in a test screening last year, and which will probably be one of my favorite films of 2015, as well as 2014, as it was recently released in theaters. Rarely have I been more excited about the hype around a film, since David Robert Mitchell’s film delves into the fear, paranoia, and intense panic around teen sexuality without being misogynistic or moralistic in the least. And unlike so many “social issue” horror films, It Follows is actually scary as fuck. Maika Monroe, also seen in another great 2014 horror film, The Guest, is my new favorite final girl, and I want her in whatever feminist horror film I make. She’s got the face of a young Catherine Deneuve, and kicks total ass, while also being a fine actress. I cannot recommend this film enough! Which seems to be the case all over, as it opened to unexpectedly huge box office takes in LA and NY. The film’s expanding over the coming weekends, so check it out if you are able! You can believe the hype on this one.
♥ The winter is very hard on me – I don’t leave the house (even less than normal), I have to wear clothes I hate (ugh sweaters!), everything is sad and cold and everyone is crabby. But being from the Midwest, when the weather gets to be about 45-50 degrees (Fahrenheit, natch), it feels like it might as well be summer. I am sure that as we speak, my father and brother in Wisconsin are unpacking their shorts from the back of the closet, in preparation for above-freezing temperatures. Even in New York, everyone gets happier, my dog is much more interested in being outside, and you start seeing girls in cute outfits again everywhere (style inspo!). While we’re not quite there yet – and NYC actually might get snow on Friday – I can see it in the future. The near future.
♥ I’ve been feeling the need to nest lately, to clean up my living space and get the dog and husband smells out, to put up cute posters and make the place feel like home, and not a den we have been burrowing in for the last four months. Clearly, this is related to the above point, but I’m investing in candles, incense, and sage for burning to do a spatial cleanse. That, and the actual spring cleaning I’m doing this weekend.