In between the in-betweens

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So what, then? A few weeks ago I wrote about paralysis and solitary living, and must now admit that over the course of the last three months of 2013, I did more than my fair share of spiraling down. It was a difficult time, perhaps a bit of delayed backhaul for all the (generally magnificent) transition and change at the forefront of the year. Various professionals were consulted in my dudgeon. As usual, though, there comes a point where all the “help” structures are as useless and external as they always are, and one simply must work out all on one’s own what to do about it. I needed a strategy. I found three.

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Watched: Cries & Whispers; Riddick

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We’ve got The Dew Over coming up, and I picked 1973, so one of my homework assignments was to watch Cries & Whispers, which (for some reason) had been sitting on my DVD shelf still in its shrinkwrap, in a lovely Criterion edition. (I have to assume a Barnes & Noble 50%-off sale, and the attendant panic-fire desperation that goes into title selections at those times, is responsible.) There’s not a whole lot of point in my waxing poetic about Cries & Whispers, in the #Blindspot sense, because I’ll add nothing to the overall conversation. The movie is great, and builds further evidence for my (late-in-the-day, but growing) concern that Bergman might be the best filmmaker of all time. That’s a short race (from my standpoint) anyway, but Ingmar is gaining on Akira.

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The ridiculous story of the flan

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[Trigger warning for ridiculous stories about the relationship between self-esteem, getting by, and custard.]

So here’s the thing: couple years ago I was in a therapy session and I was trying to describe what I didn’t particularly like about myself, or at least my behaviour in reaction to a certain set of problems that I was having at that time. And the way I described myself was that I was like flan - which in that context meant weak, soft, gooey, pudding-like, decidedly un-masculine, quivering under even the slightest vibrations, laden-over with brown slop, generally stomach-turning to the vast proportion of the general public, etc., etc… you know, things of that ilk. Basically, that I was a wussy-assed loser with the internal fortitude of a pile of curdled egg. 

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The in-between

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I live alone now, and it is strange to me. I got into this place, a strange little one-bedroom on Queen Street, because it was easy, at a moment when easiness was valuable. There are some temperature control problems and the pipes clack all night, but logistically, it meets all of my requirements.

My upstairs neighbour is a madman. I do not understand his life. He has never not been high, and he makes random noise at random hours which randomly change by random week. It’s difficult. In spite of this, however, this apartment is the quietest place I’ve ever been. It is not quiet, aurally. It is quiet, i.e. still. I have spent the majority of the last ten years living with other people, and in those situations, one is generally looking - avidly - for time to oneself, as there is so little of it. Here, there is too much of it. Too much of a muchness. It is astonishing to me how many times in a given day every single thing can just stop moving. And then I stand there, and don’t know what to do next.

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The Conversation: Cronenberg vs. Mortensen, TIFF Bell Lightbox Jan 13 2014

David Cronenberg doesn’t storyboard. This hit me like a thunderclap at the “In Conversation With…” session at the Lightbox on Monday night, where Cronenberg took the stage with Viggo Mortensen to discuss their three collaborations together - A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method. I think Violence and Method are terrific pictures; I could take or leave Eastern Promises, and Cronenberg generally, except that he’s such a fascinating speaker and writer on his own work. Cronenberg on Cronenberg is essential reading for any filmmaker or film fan - and heavens, he gave as good as he got last Monday night.

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The Toys, 2013

Once a year I look at my favourite toys from the preceding year. When I stopped buying a bunch of toys annually, and kept it to a relative handful (no wait: an actual handful!), this started getting less of a “top ___ list” and more of a “here’s what I did” list. Still, I’ve ranked them in order of awesomeness, because toys are awesome. There’s even a bit of psychological justification below, for those of you shaking your heads and wondering what my mother did wrong.

#1: Hot Toys MMS 188 The Dark Knight Rises Selina Kyle

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It’s kind of a pick-‘ems in the top slots here but I think Catwoman edges out Loki by a nose. (She has a lovely one.) This must be the only instance of rooted hair in my whole collection, which is (admittedly) a bit funky and will probably only become funkier over time. But Selina is blessed by the presence of her fancy eyewear and goggles, which do a good job of keeping those runaway locks clamped down; and the Anne Hathaway sculpt is fucking phenomenal. The only real problem is the price point, which is becoming Hot Toys’ major problem anyway. I think I paid $240 here? For a figure with a single accessory (Bat-pod not included)? That’s way on the high side. For comparison, the identically-equipped Black Widow from Iron Man 2 ran $140, just three years ago.

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Watched: Time After Time

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Another one from the slush pile, Time After Time falls into the “always wanted to watch it” category, not the “recommended by psychiatric professionals” bin. It’s Nicholas Meyer’s first feature film as a writer and a director, so it was always part of the conversation around his credentials to direct Star Trek II; and besides, I find that whole notion fascinating, and always have: that you could direct one or two loosely-connected other projects and be handed a major franchise picture. (A major franchise picture in dire need of bailing out, in Wrath of Khan's case, but whatever.) As premises go, Time After Time's is so goddamned loopy, I find it legitimately adorable. Jack the Ripper steals H.G. Wells' time machine and travels to 1979, and Wells follows. Remake. Remake. Remake.

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Watched: The Stunt Man

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My psychiatrist told me to watch The Stunt Man. That’s not the normal run of things, psychiatry-wise, is it? I don’t think the advice was therapeutic in origin, as we talk about movies fairly regularly (surprise surprise) and spent at least our first four months together articulating every single useful piece of information via a Seinfeld reference. For a somewhat befuddled older gentleman, my psychiatrist’s a fairly cool dude.

It took me a month or two to track down a copy and then I made the mistake of trying to watch the movie with Daniel, who had seen it previously and wanted to revisit. Not that watching movies with Daniel is a bad thing, but we do have a minor history of leaving movie-watching projects half-finished. (We’ve been meaning to get round to Symbiopsychotaxiplasm 2.5 for five years. No luck yet.) In the case of The Stunt Man, we literally left the project half-finished, i.e. we turned the movie off at the 1-hour mark. And then left it for several months. This was, in pretty much every regard, my fault. Prior to watching the movie we’d gone to a horrible, horrible bar and consumed two pitchers of beer in a very short space of time. I’m not much of a drinker. The result is that I slept through half of The Stunt Man's first half (so, a quarter overall) and hallucinated my way through the other half. I spent the next few months plagued with the vague suspicion that Peter O'Toole was following me around on a chair/camera mount with a big propeller over his head. No such luck.

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The Best Films of 2013

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#1: Mud

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#2: Jigoku de naze warui (Why Don’t You Play In Hell?)

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#3: Before Midnight

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#4: Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari

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#5: Stoker

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#6: Gravity

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#7: Only Lovers Left Alive

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#8: The Lone Ranger

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#9: Frances Ha

Watched: Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Crash Reel

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Here we are at the end of all things, or at least, the end of 2013; which, according to your personal definitions, may or may not have been a cursed year. It wasn’t a stellar year for moviegoing - my top 9 drops in a few hours, and I’ll probably ruminate further on the year’s serious failings from a cinematic perspective on both Mamo! and Destroy All Monsters - and sifting through the rubble to find the gems became a chore this year more often than not. Every year, the end-of-year race to close all the loops and catch all the potential listmakers starts to feel more and more like completing a term paper on an all-nighter the day it’s due. 

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