Recovery Inspir-o-meter

Over the last few weeks I have spent an ungodly amount of time bedridden for recovery purposes. I hate being less than active, but trying to rush the process always wiped me out, plus it's pretty important that I not mess around with the required recovery. So with piles of library books and films on my night stand I gave in. A rough general theme was developed to maximize positivity and inspire motivation to get the hell outta bed.

I pretty much loved all of these.

Man on the Moon, Milos Forman, 1999
I'm not sure why I'd never seen this. An incredible story and I especially loved Danny DeVito's performance.

Slums of Beverly Hills, Tamara Jenkins, 1998
Repeat viewing, still great. Alan Arkin and his band of misfits.

Walker, Alex Cox, 1987
Brilliant ideas here from the director of one my favorite films, Sid and Nancy. Absurdist surreal tale of colonization and the shifting of ideals in the onset of madness. Loved the film score by Joe Strummer and performance by Ed Harris.

Even the Rain, Iciar Bollain, 2010
Provocative look at what it means to make a modern film about colonization in a country, Bolivia, that is being controlled by their own government and exploited by the film industry for cheap labor. This one, beautifully shot, stayed with me for days bringing questions of exploitation and the human cost of making art.

La Jetee/Sans Soleil, Chris Marker, 1963
Stunning. I appreciated the attention to rituals, the thoughtful ruminations on existential ideas, and the photography was achingly gorgeous. I miss film and its tangibility.

Consuming Spirits, Chris Sullivan, 2012
Out for the evening! Lucky us, this was showing at the MFAH with the artist present, one night only. It's a real heartbreaker in many ways. This film, a product of obvious painstaking work, represents 15 years of passionate tenacity. The tale is utterly original, with the added bonus of being unconsciously strange, both in content and in detail. Sullivan makes fantastic use of the different media and uses them to help the viewer keep track of the complex drama. At times it was somewhat grotesque to look at, the realism found in mundane activities is laid bare and it's unattractive, the truth. Fascinating. Best seen on the big screen.

Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul, 2012
Maybe the most inspiring of all and a true story that is unbelievably uplifting. I aspire to be as modest, chill, ready for anything, and totally hardworking for the benefit of my children as Rodriguez. What a star.

I didn't fare as well here.

Just Kids, Patti Smith, 2009
A quick read by the estimable Smith. Although it charted an interesting time period, there was something about it that put me off. The somewhat pretentious literary references and lofty writing style, too many famous personalities, I don't care so much for poetry? The end felt rushed and amateurish. Not very compelling.

This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz, 2012
I was excited about this. I even ordered it from another library and had it delivered to the Montrose branch. While I do like Diaz's writing style, I find it similar to other writers that I much prefer (especially Sandra Cisneros and her spectacular, underrated Caramelo from 2002). Perhaps it's the male perspective or the exhausting objectification of women and in this case, the anti-Boston angst (bad timing). The first two parts were easy, entertaining, too, but the conclusion was a real bummer. I suspect there's a larger point connecting these stories, but either I'm not the targeted audience, I didn't get it, or I didn't care. The one element I did appreciate was the sensitive and honest insight into the Latino male experience.

The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, 1475
Never read it, always meant to. Super.

Lucky Girls, Nell Freudenberger, 2003
To be honest, I picked this up based on its cover. But also because the book, a collection of short stories, centers on various female expatriates in Southeast Asia. This was compelling to me for two reasons: 1. I enjoy commiserating with others who find themselves struggling to adapt to new lands. 2. Opportunity to armchair travel. I didn't start this one until the end of my recovery, but once I did, it was the book that most captivated me. Each story was cleverly told and evoked a filmy dream atmosphere. With smart writing, not the self-aware kind, I found simply, an effortlessly gifted writer. Freudenberger, who often writes for the New Yorker, provides rich descriptions for her characters and locations, not by offering obsessive details, but by giving us key information and allowing us to invoke our imaginations, so that these people could be conjured easily. I don't usually go for short stories and I wonder if authors take a different approach when their format is much shorter. In the case of these stories, I quickly felt very familiar with the world in which they were set, and when the end of the story came, sadly, and even without the expected satisfaction of denouement, I missed that particular world immediately as it faded away from coherency as a memory often does.

An then an exciting day out! The Indie Book Fest at the Menil where we saw some friends, had a great food truck lunch at H-Town Streats (fried avocado taco, huckleberry ice cream sandwich, and a bottle of Limca). Besides the beautiful weather, the most memorable part of this event was this thrilling short film by Houston filmmaker, Kelly Sears, shown in the Byzantine Chapel.

Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise

 And now: back on my bicycle and back to work! 

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