what I've been watching lately

My gf returned to a more normal schedule this past week after several months involved in her art project -- so our shared domestic life is beginning to return to something like its usual schedule too. One nice thing is that we've been able to go to the movies a couple times this week as well as watch some at home.
  • Open Water -- I'm not a big fan of horror movies -- but thriller/suspense is sometimes OK. You already know what's scary in this film -- and it's completely compelling. The whole scenario freaks me out to begin with (I'm way too claustrophobic and paranoid to do something like scuba dive) even before the sharks show up. But what's really interesting is that it's a relationship movie -- that's where its strength is. Whether you sympathize or are irritated with the couple, you understand them -- they are ordinary people in a relationship trying to be on vacation -- the sharks are, in a sense, just an literalization of the issues in their marriage. Bring your sweetie to the movie, though, you definitely need someone to hang on to in places -- the whole theater was filled with couples squinching closer and closer to each other.
  • A Home at the End of the World -- Read The Book. No, really. The novel (by Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours) is complex, emotionally subtle, a rich and full reading experience. It follows the intertwined lives of four individuals over three decades -- with chapters from each character's point of view, Cunningham deftly plays with your readerly expectations. It's also wonderful in its dealing with US cultural history, late 60s thru 80s -- largely through music, which is an important thread in the book. The screenplay was also written by Cunningham, so I can't do the usual "bitch against the adapter missing the point of the whole novel thing." In order to fit the story into film format, he had to cut out so much. All the emotional complexity of the book gets telegraphed in obvious dialogue and truncated to fit the Hollywood arc. It is a beautiful film -- and for me, who'd read the book, there were parts I enjoyed just to see them realized on screen. But the richness of the novel doesn't come through -- my gf, who hadn't read it, found the whole thing fairly flat. So, let me reiterate: read the book.
  • Sweet Sixteen (we saw on DVD) -- from Ken Loach. Good, if kind of bleak and depressing, focus on an almost-16 year old boy and his attempts to build a new life for himself and his mother, who's about to be released from jail. Note: we had to turn on the subtitles because the Scottish accents were so thick. Thank goodness for DVDs with those options.
  • The Magdalene Sisters (DVD)-- another sort of depressing movie, this one in Ireland. Based on true accounts, the film follows several women incarcerated at a Magdalene community. Many of these women were put there by parents after having a child out of wedlock. It's pretty horrifying -- especially to remember that this was in the 1980s. Not the 1880s.
  • Secret Window (DVD) -- Johnny Depp, John Turturro in a Stephen King thriller type of thing. Creepy in places but it had that short story feel to it ultimately.
  • I've finally gotten hooked on Queer as Folk after several friends kept talking about it. I'd watched disk 1 of first season maybe a year ago or more, and hadn't gotten into it. But I started again a few weeks ago and am totally hooked. I watch almost no TV in regular life (we don't have cable, so all we get are Fox, WB, and PBS) but I love being able to get DVDs of TV shows thru Netflix. Perfect for when I have too much work to watch for 2 hours; perfect for when you want to know that you'll have a satisfying viewing experience. (Unlike starting a film that turns out to be not what you expected.) Sure, it's a soap opera -- and that's why it's fun.