I'll start with Margin Call and say just a little: it's the story of the 2008 financial meltdown convincingly told with a sympathetic eye to the people closest to the problem. It really only served to reinforce my opinion that the stock market is nothing more than gambling with no relevance to any real value in the world. It was good, solid entertainment.
Martha Marcy May Marlene plays out largely in flashback: the tale of a woman indoctrinated into a rural cult. I think most people watch the film as a sort of horror/thriller, exposing the layers of lies, power, and brainwashing that get an otherwise reasonable person to embrace completely absurd notions. But I guess I come from a weird perspective, and saw it as a tale that compares two cults: one at a rural farm, and the other, American industrialized society. When Martha (a.k.a. Marcy May as named by the cult leaders, or Marlene when any of the women answered the phone) is reacquainted with her sister Lucy, she returns to Lucy and her husband Ted's summer home (none of who utters reference to a "cult" as none either knows or believes it). She first showers and when she rejoins Lucy on a bed, Lucy says, "oh, you're dripping", referring to Martha's wet hair. Particularly given the more important things going on, why is this even remotely important?: it is the Lucy/Ted/American culture's set of arbitrary and irrelevant rules.
Like Kynodontas(Dogtooth) (which I saw at the Dryden), the film acts as a mirror to our own society. My culture's foundation is violence: if I don't do what I'm supposed to do, society responds with force (which may sound familiar, taken from Derrick Jensen's philosophy). For instance, if I decide that the house I have been living in (exclusively, for the last 12 years, and no other person has come by to claim it is theirs) is mine and I decide to no longer pay my mortgage, eventually someone will come with a gun and tell me I have to leave. That is the incentive for paying my mortgage. Of course, it's conditioned from an early age, so it doesn't seem like that's the reason, but it ultimately is.
I of course know the differences between my culture and the cult, but the lines were pretty severely blurred by the end of the film. It's kind of a "choose your own poison" kind of tale. Martha is a pawn in the game where she's either enslaved to pay for her existence, or, well, enslaved to pay for her existence. There's happiness and misery to be found in both places only at different times and in different forms. But ultimately she's asking the right questions: why do I have to?
Starting out was With Love, Marty by Jack Kyser in which Kyser plays the central character: a college-age man desperate for the affection of a specific woman. I found his presentation to be brutally honest from all angles — I know from experience how it is to desperately desire someone, and to resort to honest, direct means that work only to sabotage any possible relationship. It touches on the way you can fool yourself into thinking the mental picture you have of someone is the true picture of jem (when, in fact, all representations of other people in your mind are simply reflections of yourself — they are, ultimately, you.)
61 Years by Holly Rodricks is a documentary about her grandmother and grandfather's tumultuous relationship at the end of his life. It was a beautiful and moving piece about life and death, wishes and realities. It starts out with Rodrick's grandmother insisting that her grandfather has been punishing her for her entire life for marrying against their parents wishes (they are Indian, and got married in defiance of their destined, prearranged marriage). Meanwhile, her grandfather is quietly dying — the fragile shell of a once brash and bold man. But under all the outward complaints, and aside from the dutiful commitment to one another, lies real compassion and tenderness.
The Breakfast by Tanya Schiller was a curious, subtly humorous piece that simply followed the interactions of four people eating breakfast at a bed-and-breakfast.
Closing out was American Bomber: The John William Hidell Story by Eric Trenkamp. It's a faux-documentary about the "first American suicide bomber" — it uses the talking-heads model of documentary making to create a story about a man who lashes out — literally self-destructively — at those he feels are a threat. It works nearly perfectly with only a few minor problems that tip off that it can't possibly be for real. But interestingly, in being so near perfect, what would it take to make a perfect fake documentary?
In the film, Paul is married to Adriana and together they have a child, but Paul is also involved in a long-term relationship with the girl's dentist, Raluca. There is no doubt how the story will play out: the relationship with Raluca will replace Paul's relationship with Adriana, and the film takes careful, deliberate steps to let us watch this unfold. As the Eastman House calendar so eloquently put it, the film captures "its trio of lived-in performances with graceful, uninterrupted long takes and a knowing sense of the human comedy."
As I watched with from my odd personal vantage point, I couldn't help but think, "it's such a shame they want it to go so badly — they really believe that anything but unwavering, complete monogamy is a fatal, destructive flaw."
Instead, what if the central couple understood that all of one's needs — intellectual, emotional, sexual, support, etc. — simply cannot be met adequately by one other person forever. Keep the core of devotion, but allow for needs and desires to be negotiated. If Adriana knew that Paul was sexually and emotionally in need, and she did not want to (or could not) fulfill those needs herself, why not let Paul fulfill them elsewhere? I'm sure likewise that Paul did not meet every one of Adriana's needs, so she too could be free to find fulfillment some other way. Why let it build from a mild hunger to desperate starvation when a tiny morsel at the outset would do just as well?
What we call a "normal healthy relationship" sure is weird to me.
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This afternoon at 4:30 p.m. is a City Council Special Meeting in City Council Chambers at City Hall (30 Church St.) to "discuss two items: funding for pre-employment drug testing for City employees; and clarification of costs for administration of the Firefighters' Entrance Exam." Seems kind of weird to me ...
City Hall press release]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing a New Year's Eve Double Feature of The Thin Man, and After the Thin Man starting early at 7 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "William Powell and Myrna Loy gave their most iconic performances as Dashiell Hammett-originated husband-and-wife detective team Nick and Nora Charles over the course of six swanky MGM productions. In the first, Nick and Nora solve a murder over the course of a Manhattan dinner party; then, the couple (and beloved terrier Asta) returns to San Francisco and gets wrapped up in another murder, with every hood in the city a suspect (and an old acquaintance of Nick's).
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Blackboard Jungle starting at 8 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "Richard Brooks's raucous drama about a war vet-turned-teacher (Glenn Ford) who fights a new kind of battle in a classroom opens with a blast — specifically, 'Rock Around the Clock' — and never lets up.
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
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Join Zipcar and get $25 in free driving! Area ZipCars are located by the Rush Rhees Library at UofR, near Strong Hospital, and near the Eastman School of Music, so if you don't want to waste all that money on gas, insurance, and repairs, this is the way to do it. Plus, we each get some money as credit for driving.
This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat."
Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed.
Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events.
I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity.
Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.)
It's also not to be confused with
Jake's World or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator.
While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, December 29, 2011 (Thu, Dec 29, 2011, 12/29/2011, or 12/29/11) Friday, December 30, 2011 (Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 12/30/2011, or 12/30/11) Saturday, December 31, 2011 (Sat, Dec 31, 2011, 12/31/2011, or 12/31/11) Sunday, January 1, 2012 (Sun, Jan 1, 2012, 1/1/2012, or 1/1/12) Monday, January 2, 2012 (Mon, Jan 2, 2012, 1/2/2012, or 1/2/12) Tuesday, January 3, 2012 (Tue, Jan 3, 2012, 1/3/2012, or 1/3/12) and Wednesday, January 4, 2012 (Wed, Jan 4, 2012, 1/4/2012, or 1/4/12).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.