I wanted to see this movie for a while but held out because, while things at work were super-stressful, I didn’t feel like watching a real downer. Mum and I watched it yesterday and yeah, it’s long, slow and depressing; things start out bad and then get worse, and worse. Then much worse. But it’s very well made. It’s set in a small town in north-western Russia, near the Barents Sea, and it features some of the most starkly beautiful and mesmerising landscapes I’ve seen onscreen. The story follows Kolya, a mechanic who lives by the sea with his wife and son from the first marriage, and his struggle against the local mayor who wants to confiscate his land for development. I’ve read that the film was meant to be something like a loose reworking of the Book of Job (and Job even gets a mention), except that instead of struggling against God Kolya fights against the Russian state. Guess who wins.
I’ve done these illustrations years ago to help out my brother, who was participating in a competition where you needed to collect a bunch of weird and random objects. One of them was a chess set based on a video game, so I made up this set based on the characters from Commander Keen 4, a game we’ve spent crazy hours on when we were kids. I think we just cut the figures out and stuck them onto small pieces of cardboard so they would stand. It won my brother first place!
I’ve just re-read The Collected Dorothy Parker. To be honest I prefer her short stories over her poems, partially because poetry is such a particular form I find I need to concentrate much more in order to take it in. Especially with the poetry written in my second language. But she sure wrote some sharp poems and her sarcastic/cynical wit is totally up my alley.
In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.
But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!
Being a recovering people-pleaser, this does resonate with me quite a bit.
I get to have a variation on the following conversation once in a while, when people hear my accent. I’ve been living in Melbourne for almost 20 years now but my accent is as thick as ever – weirdly enough it’s actually stronger than my Mum’s. But then she worked harder on her English pronounciation, whereas I reckoned that as long as I managed to pronounce “th” (common stumbling block since “th” in “that” and “th” in “things” don’t exist in Russian language) I was okay.
I’m having a very stressful week at work, so I was up for some total escapism at the movies. The new Cinderella was exactly what the doctor ordered – a total fantasy where everything looks impossibly beautiful and good people live happily ever after. Though, it must be said, it was quite heavy on death too. Dead parents are, of course, a Disney staple, but this movie had not one, not two, but three parent deaths. Sheesh!