who really killed his wife

i woke up this morning thinking about the two quiet weeks i spent with my grandmother last christmas, just the two of us. i often retreat to this memory when things are feeling crazy, taking comfort in the peaceful and productive time i spent in penticton, bc. in short, those two weeks consisted mostly of sewing, reading, talking and watching old movies, which couldn't be a more ideal way to spend my time.

for some reason, i started to think about one of the movies i happened to watch during my visit. it was one of the best films that i saw while i was there and although i typically give hollywood films a bad time, i do make exceptions for films made before 1950. this particular film struck me for its stylish and clever film techniques.

dark passage is a 1947 film noir starring humphrey bogart and lauren becall and is based on the crime novel of the same name by david goodis. the film centres on vincent parry, a man who has been framed for the murder of his wife. when he escapes from prison he undergoes a dramatic reconstructive surgery on his face so he can go undetected. he is eventually taken under the wing of a young artist named irene jansen.

if you have never watched a bogart and becall film (this is one of four they filmed together), i highly recommend dark passage. it's also a good introduction to the film noir genre, which is arguably one of the most interesting eras in film.


what about them i'm all about them

i have this really annoying habit where i'll listen to an album, or worse, a particular song on repeat and kill it. just slaughter it to death. then i can't listen to the album/song for months or in some cases years.

oddly enough, the debut lp, treats, from the brooklyn duo sleigh bells has managed to completely debilitate my obsessive habit. don't get me wrong, i love listening to this album. singer, alexis krauss and guitarist/producer, derek miller are your own personal cheerleaders. cheerleaders with heavy guitars and microkorgs. walking down the street is so much more fun with these guys in your earphones. they are a little bit pop, a little bit hardcore and a whole lot of awesome. but they're also totally crazy and listening to this album more than a couple of times a day will produce the same results as over-caffenation.

i am completely and 100% behind this album - just don't say I didn't warn you. i recommend the song rill rill first, to ease you in and once you're ready you should listen to rhythm riot.


looking for something

i remember being particularly charmed by this trailer a couple of years ago when i came across it on itunes movie trailers. i had recently moved to vancouver, so i made the assumption that it would make it to theatres here. i waited. and waited. and waited.

until two days ago, when i finally got to watch this lanky 70 minute film by josh safdie on dvd.

i'm not entirely convinced that it was worth the waiting and obsessing but it is definitely a charming, oddly melancholy and weirdly affecting film. although my initial feelings were of distaste, i haven't really stopped thinking about the film since i watched it.

the film centres on eleonore, a new york feral compelled by her kleptomania. unfortunately, that's about as much plot as you're going to get in this film - there's a guy named josh, an impromptu detour to Boston and a curious fantasy sequence involving a polar bear.

sadly, i just kept waiting for something to happen throughout the film, strangely compelled by elenore's pervasive search for something. from cars to dogs to plucking grapes from grocery store shelves, she never seems to find what she's looking for but she continues to look and take. there doesn't seem to be any character development - the eleonore you meet at the beginning of the film is the same eleonore you say goodbye to at the end. you never learn much about her or why she does what she does.

when the film ended, i felt unsatisfied. however, the always appealing new york back drop, the unrelenting childlike allure of eleonore and a pretty solid soundtrack makes it an interesting enough film to watch - just don't expect to walk away with much.


welcome back (to reality)

the last several weeks of my life has been nothing short of insane. there's been a plethora of visiting in my life; i had visitors, my roommates had visitors, i even did some of the visiting. but now it's all coming to an end and i can finally get on with some amount of normalcy in my life, which includes updating this little ditty. my hopes are, with the return of routine, to bring you updates regularly. i'm also unemployed now (and looking for work), so i really have no excuse for being inconsistent.

but let's get on with business, shall we?

i was asked recently how i find the writers and novels that i so persistently devour. aside from relying on recommendations from friends and spending long hours rifling through second hand book stores, i also spend a significant amount of time on the internet reading about reading. so i thought i would share some of my tried, tested and reliable methods for finding good books.

the new yorker
i rely on the new yorker for a lot of things but my priority when picking up my weekly edition is the fiction section. the new yorker features short stories by contemporary authors and i use it as a means for staying current on who is it or up and coming in the world of fiction. i've discovered some of my favorite authors, such as george saunders, joshua ferris, and dennis johnson, who have all been featured and continue to be.

i'm currently reading atmospheric disturbances by rivka galchen, who i recently discovered because she was featured in the new yorker's 20 under 40 fiction series. i plan on doing a reveiw once i'm finished because, so far, this book is blowing my mind.

quill & quire
the quill & quire is a canadian based book and publishing magazine. if you're like me and have a propensity for canadian literature, the quill & quire is a great resource for what's going on in canadian writing. the reviews section is an obvious choice for finding a reliable recommendation.

slate's audio book club
if there is anything i love more than reading great books, it's hearing people smarter than me talk about great books. i was recently introduced to the world of slate podcasts and i simply cannot find enough time to listen to all the ones i like but i always make time for the audio book club. i will read anything they discuss, if only because the conversation and discussion gets me really excited, even for books i wouldn't normally get excited about.

so those of my most reliable resources. i hope that you find them useful and if you come across anything you like, please make sure to share with me!

as a side note, the vancouver international writers & readers festival starts tomorrow. i'm hoping to catch readings by sara guen, gary shteyngart, yiyun li and wells tower. i'll let you know how that goes.