Control / Stroszek / American Psycho / The Double Life of Véronique

Four more movies, over two days. One of which is today.

29th December (a.m.) – Control. This is the story of the life and death of Ian Curtis (the singer from the band Joy Division) who was a big influence on me when I was a teenager, and who I know a fair amount about. I’ve heard everything Ian recorded, would count Unknown Pleasures and Closer as two of my all time favourite records (and Atmosphere as one of the saddest and scariest piece of music I’ve ever heard), and there are also aspects of his biography I can closely relate to. I’ve watched Control before, but it never ceases to thrill me from beginning to end, and it seems to be a very accurate account of the life of an interesting man who died so young but continues to influence people to this day. I only wish someone would do something similar with the life of Nick Drake, who I find similarly fascinating. As an aside (and tapping into one of my interests) Sam Riley (who played Ian Curtis in Control) ended up marrying Alexandra Maria Lara (who played Annik Honoré, who Ian had a strong emotional connection to towards the end of his life). It’s an emotionally intense film, and exactly the sort of connection that so often bleeds through into real life relationships.

29th December (p.m.)  – Stroszek. Following on from Control, but also tapping into the European cinema theme, Stroszek is probably at least as famous as the movie Ian Curtis watched the night he killed himself than as a piece of art in its own right. In some ways that is a shame, because it’s an accomplished piece of cinema that more people should watch, and it’s actually really funny in parts. It’s also quite weird, but I think anyone who is aware of Werner Hetzog’s work will have a fair idea what to expect.

29th December (later p.m.) – American Psycho. I’ve probably had more debates about the book that this is based on than any other book, and I was very much looking forward to this movie when it came out (a very long time ago now). It hasn’t aged well in some ways, but there is still enough here to make me happy to watch it every few years, although I wouldn’t want to see it any more frequently than that. Incidentally, there is a sequel, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to see William Shatner in one of his most wooden performances ever.

7th January – The Double Life of Véronique. I don’t really know where to start with this one. It’s another Krzysztof Kieślowski film (which I tracked down after watching and loving the Three Colours Trilogy), and one that largely details the lives of two identical women in different countries, who don’t know each other, but who end up having oddly similar and coincidental lives. It is as if the same person is living in parallel, and can somehow tune into the emotions and emotional reactions of the other person, whilst at the same time being on some level unaware that they are not alone. I think I sometimes seek out connections with people who think and feel in the same way I do about things that matter to me, and this film taps into that idea nicely, as well as appealing to my love of chance encounters and seeming happenstance. Also, it is a very well written and directed film that works on both a narrative and emotional level. Like most of Kieślowski’s work, it’s in French and Polish, but also conveys a great deal through music and colour, and several times I found myself drifting away from the subtitles and just losing myself in the sights and sounds. Probably not one for everyone, but if you have got a spare hour and a half and are willing to try and think and feel at the same time, then this may be just what you need. I’d definitely recommend this, but for anyone new to Krzysztof Kieślowski I would recommend watching the whole Three Colours Trilogy first, as the narrative is slightly clearer, and they are probably a better entrance point.

A few (historical) thoughts about shoes

This is something I wrote ages ago for a couple of people I worked with at the time, but I was reminded about it  couple of times over the last few weeks during conversations about small talk and acceptable conversation topics.

This is not really about shoes. This is about things that other people find fascinating but that leave me somewhat cold. It is also about things that rock my world that other people just don’t get.

A fair few people I know are into shoes. They have hundreds of pairs of shoes, and take great delight in making sure they are wearing a pair of shoes that match their outfit. This at least I can relate to, in that I at least make an effort to make sure that the shoes I’m wearing match the weather. But fundamentally, I see shoes as something I wear to put a layer of insulation between my feet and the world, and I only really consider buying a new pair if the pair I’m wearing develop a hole (and thus are unsuitable for rainy days).

I have a feeling that when other people talk about shoes, I quickly develop a glazed expression which suggests I might not be listening too closely. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love learning about new things. I’m always on the lookout for new snippets of information and new subjects to study. But there are some things that I can’t relate to enough to be interested in, and shoes are one of those things.

Of course, there are lots of things I’m very interested in, like music and cinema. I remember a few times recently where I’ve mentioned a film I’ve recently seen, or a band I’m really into, and have been met with a look of incomprehension followed by a swift tangent into a more socially acceptable topic of conversation. This to me is not a problem, because I’m well aware that most of the things that rock my world are not to everyone’s taste. But at the same time I spend a great deal of time around people who seem to be able to effortlessly find mutual topics of conversation, and I sometimes wonder if there are whole aspects of reality that I’ve discounted as being irrelevant and which in fact could become fundamentally important in my world. Like romantic comedies. Or daytime television. Or shoes.

But then I think about all the things I am into, and how I don’t actually have time to do most of them any longer. With the advent of laptops and portable music players I can indulge in music and movies from almost anywhere, and we are now in an age where consuming large amounts of both can be done both legally and inexpensively. I don’t think I’ve got room for anything else, seeing as I don’t have enough time for proper computing, or reading, or football, or socialising, or doing little more than bounce between work, sleep and recreational media. And whilst I don’t think I have room for anything else, I think the world in general has room for all the above and more, and I think my life has been enriched by having so many people in it who don’t see the world in the same way I do.

So, you know the next time I start talking about obscure musicians you’ve never heard of, and try and play you abstract soundscapes that remind you of a kitten being tortured? And the next time I try and explain why films in a language I don’t understand can often do a better job of connection on an emotional level? And the next time I tell you that songs don’t need words and words are only relevant if they mean something? You know the way your mind drifts and itches to get back onto the sort of solid ground where you feel you have something to contribute? That’s how I feel when you talk about shoes.