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      News — Recommending

      Film Diary: Miss Julie

      Film Diary: Miss Julie, 1951, directed by Alf Sjöberg.

      We picked up this DVD from the library just because it was on Criterion. Little did we know that Sjöberg is considered Sweden's 2nd best director and this film certainly supports the case. He expands the original August Strindberg play that was set in a manor house kitchen into a cinematic masterwork. I imagine the play must be extremely intense and claustrophobic considering the story, but the film is able to bring a stark beauty to the class/gender/power struggles. That's not to say there aren't things that are troublesome as far as how Strindberg writes women and Sjöberg portrays them, but that doesn't detract from the feeling that you're watching something unusual and significant.

      On a design note, I really liked the hand-drawn opening credits over the mysterious woman peeking out from behind a curtain. It was an auspicious beginning.

      A Visit to Taubman Museum of Art

      I was recently in Roanoke, Virginia for a family reunion and had the pleasure of going to their small but excellent new art museum, the Taubman Museum of Art. Designed by architect Randall Stout, it focuses on mostly one-room galleries of American art. There were several great exhibits, but I really liked the one of drawings and handmade cardboard objects called "Kiel Johnson: One Thing Leads to Another."

      Recommending: Supper by (Smog)

      The 2003 album Supper by (Smog) ranks as one of my favorites by one of my favorite bands. This is definitely the album of theirs that took me the longest to get into and yet is the one I go back to the most. "Feather by Feather" leading into "Butterflies Drowned in Wine" is one of the best song combinations in the indie rock canon, if that's a thing. Butterflies, butterflies, butterflies, butterflies!

      Adrian Tomine / D & Q fundraiser for Japan

      Fans of Adrian Tomine can get a set of really lovely signed & numbered limited edition prints, a personalized sketch, and help Japan all at once! Tomine and Drawn & Quarterly are offering two prints of his art from Criterion's Yasujirō Ozu DVD covers and a small original sketch personalized to the name of the purchaser with all proceeds going to the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. Three great pieces of art for a great cause. Get all of the details on Drawn & Quarterly's fundraiser website: http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/japan/

      Film Diary: Port of Shadows

      Film Diary: Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes), 1938, directed by Marcel Carné.

      We loved Carné's Children of Paradise so we picked up Port of Shadows when we saw it at the library. Even though the movie starts off with lots of atmosphere and the fantastic actor Jean Gabin, its true greatness kind of creeps up on you.  By the end, we felt like it was one of the best movies we'd ever seen! The shots, the music, the acting, the writing--it's all top form.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Michèle Morgan is striking (and when you first see her, she's wearing an eye-catching plastic raincoat--it turns out the costumes were designed by Coco Chanel, adding an additional layer of visual appeal) and Michel Simon is ingratiating and sinister all at once. It's a rather bleak film, but done in such a poetic style that you can revel in its beauty as it's breaking your heart. All the elements combine together to present a heightened reality that really works with the improbable story filled with universal themes.