Odious October 2022: Reading, Watching

Last month I rode nearly 700 miles. This month only a few hundred. Experienced a debilitating ringing in my ear, which I can thank the hardworking staff at Spruce Internal Medicine for doing absolutely nothing about.

Did not finish Ulysses this month. That was last month.

But I did start reading W.G. Sebald, for the first time. Hitherto a Sebald virgin. And Sebald turned me to “The Hunter Gracchus,” by Dr. K.

Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Once upon a time people simply used telephones …
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (ROTK), 40 pp.

Cars 3 (2017)
Another film that didn’t need to be made.
ROTK, finished Book Five

ROTK, 70 pp.

Point Break (1991)
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, and others.
— Finished LOTR: Return of the King

— NYRB on the metaverse, Xi Jinping, German Romanticism, Agatha Christie, “The Bear’s Kiss”, Jared Kushner, the former Queen Elizabeth, T.S. Eliot

Menace II Society (1993)
— Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and Other Stories, “The Intoxicated.” Meh.

Reading Shirley Jackson's short story collection "The Lottery and Other Stories"

— Jackson, “The Daemon Lover” “Like Mother Used to Make”
— Joe Gores, Spade and Archer, 25 pp.
The prequel to the Maltese Falcon. A fast, enjoyable read. But no Flitcraft parable.

— Jackson, “My Life with R.H. Macy” and 2 others
— Gores, Spade, 40 pp.

— Jackson, “The Witch” and others
— Gores, Spade, 50 pp.

Too Old for Fairy Tales (2022)
Viewed with my progeny. Waldek has one emotion. I suspect a piss poor overdubbing job. The part on types of lies was salient.
— Gores, Spade, 50 pp.

— Finished Gores, Spade and Archer
— Jackson, “Flower Garden” and others. Wrote about the former.
— NYRB on The Betrothed by Manzonni, Buster Keaton
One Week (1920)
Geoffrey O’Brien, writer of the NYRB piece “Keep Your Eye On the Kid“, loves this film and promptly convinced me to watch it. I think I’d seen it before, or at least parts of it. I guess I’m not convinced this is Keaton’s best, but I suspect I know less than O’Brien does (about this!).

— NYRB on medieval hair practices

Annihilation (2018)
Written and directed by Alex Garland, stars Natalie PortmanJennifer Jason LeighGina RodriguezTessa ThompsonTuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac
Had high expectations, yet doubts because the central character was played by Portman, who I surmise was ruined as an actress by starring in the Star Wars prequel series … but I haven’t seen Black Swan (2010), yet.
The film is interesting …

Elisha Cook Jr. and Humphrey Bogard in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon
Elisha Cook Jr. and Humphrey Bogard in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Having finished Joe Gores’ Spade and Archer, I decided to again watch this perplexing film. One of the things that stood out to me this time is the way Elias Cook’s character is double-crossed by the group. I suppose that forgets that he did kill at least one of the group.
W.G. Sebald, Vertigo, 30 pp.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for at least a decade, if not two. And it’s delightful. Started reading because of the NYRB on new Manzoni translation, which cites the novel. It was the first time I’d seen a reference to Vertigo (always to Austerlitz or The Rings of Saturn) and since I actually own the book it occurred to me that reading it might be a good plan.

— Sebald, Vertigo, 20 pp.

— Henry James, An International Episode

— Jackson, “Elizabeth”

— Jackson, “A Nice Firm”
— Sebald, Vertigo, 15 pp.
— Kafka, “The Hunter Gracchus”
Had I read this story before, I do not recall. It’s brilliant. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Sebald! And apparently cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian.

Il cacciatore nella selva nera

It (2014)
Have not seen the original film with Tim Curry nor have I read the book. Safe to say I was/am better for not having done so.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Been curious about this film for some time. It stars Michael Rooker, who is one of those actors that no one really knows, but he’s been in a lot of films, usually as one of the bad guys.
This film doesn’t involve the police whatsoever, a striking absence in comparison to almost any other film about serial killers. It’s not especially graphic (if that means bloody), yet the home invasion scene is somewhat hard to watch. It’s mainly suggestive. More than a few characters are dispatched via the broken neck, which I suspect is a purely cinematic trope: the people appear (for the camera’s sake), to die immediately, but I cannot believe that is actually the case.
Near Dark (1987)
Kathryn Bigelow, the director, is not very well known although she also directed The Hurt Locker (2008) and Point Break (1991), among others.
Did you know there are female directors in Hollywood?
This was an early film for her, starring a cadre of actors including the late Bill Paxton … Did you know that Bill Paxton was in The Terminator (1984)? That he played the inimitable Chet in Weird Science (1983)? The link here is James Cameron, Bigelow’s onetime husband.
It’s not Point Break. I find vampire films pretty tedious. But this is the first in which someone is healed of vampirism, so it’s got that going for it.
Check this out: Bigelow studied at Columbia with Vito AcconciSylvère LotringerSusan SontagAndrew Sarris and Edward W. Said! I say Gaddamn!
— Kafka, “The Hunter Gracchus”

Bill Paxton in the 1987 vampire film Near Dark
Bill Paxton in the 1987 vampire film Near Dark

Vito Acconci story:
Saw him speaking once. He happens into talking about urban camouflage for buildings after 9/11. Shows a picture of a building with a giant hole in it.
You know me. I thought that was pretty funny.

— Sebald, 15 pp.

Seconds (1966)
John Frankenheimer film starring Rock Hudson, about … well, you should probably just see the film. I had heard it described as a terribly upsetting film, but I didn’t find it so much. Apparently it caused Brian Wilson to stop seeing movies for some near 20 years, but I think that reflects more on him than it does the film.
I suspect there are interesting things written about this film and Hudson’s concealed homosexuality, but if there are, I have not found them.
— Sebald, 20 pp.

— Jackson, “The Dummy”
— NYRB on premonitions, B. Fuller, 1001 Nights, Rilke

Cover of the Samanta Schweblin novel Fever Dream
Cover of the Samanta Schweblin novel Fever Dream

Fever Dream, 50 pp.
— Jackson, 20 pp.

— Finished Fever Dream
— Jackson, 20 pp.

VHS box for 1987 buddy cop sci-fi thriller The Hidden
VHS box for 1987 buddy cop sci-fi thriller The Hidden

The Hidden (1987)
Sci-fi horror? Detective story? Does it matter?
This movie is so funny, but I had to be reminded by Clyde Folley’s article in the Criterion Channel’s online magazine Currents before I watched it. Again.
In essence, you have an alien landed on earth who is a criminal that likes to drive Ferraris, listen to heavy metal (probably just hard rock, really), robs banks, and kills people who get in his way. Another alien adopting the body of a supposed FBI agent, played by Kyle MacLachlan, is on his trail. Pathetic human detective Beck, played by Michael Nouri, is, I’m guessing, our human link to this story. But Beck is not merely as interesting as MacLachlan’s character. Nor is either as funny as the criminal alien, who assumes three different bodies.
The Fall (2019)
A short film by Jonathan Glazer, whose 2000 film Sexy Beast I treasure among films. ‘Tis haunting, if elliptical (and I do not use that word lightly). Must confess that I still have not seen his 2013 film Under the Skin, which the internet holds in such high regard.
— Acquired Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology from the Free Library of Philadelphia. I remember walking out of the building and leafing through the pages and being thrilled (sometimes I forget why I recalled books from the library).