Sunday, August 02, 2015

Tokyo Twilight

Tokyo Twilight is a 1957 film directed by Yasujir┼Ź Ozu and starring Ineko Arima, Kamatari Fujiwara, Setsuko Hara, Nobuo Nakamura, and Chishu Ryu. It's a family story about 2 sisters and their father who have to make difficult choices in situations where there isn't a right thing to do. This is Often described as Ozu's darkest film, and it is a bleak work without much hope. Family troubles do seem to provide plenty of scope for the exploration of tragedy.

I watched it via Hulu when they offered it free. At this point you need to subscribe to watch it there. There's a trailer at Mubi and a short scene at youtube between one of the sisters and their mother:

DVD Talk says the film is "quite progressive in its honest portrayal of society's normally unspoken secrets" Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Cult of the Cobra

Cult of the Cobra is a 1955 horror movie. Air force comrades sneak into a secret ceremony of snake worshippers and see people turn into cobras. The high priest curses them, saying each will die one by one. When they get back to the states they begin to die, one by one. This is an enjoyable little movie.

via Daily Motion:

Moria gives it 3 out of 5 stars and says, "where Cult of the Cobra tries to copy Cat People, it succeeds" and, "There is some often moody black-and-white photography and Lyon experiments with all manner of cinematographic ideas". DVD Beaver calls it "Great fun!"

Gore Girls Dungeon calls it a
"damn good watch" and says, "The acting is decent across the board. The G.I.’s have a good chemistry and the casual conversation felt natural. Cult of the Cobra has an intriguing opening and not too much downtime before the action begins. The film looks good and they include a particularly neat pov shot through a snake’s eye.
DVD Talk says, "the film is enjoyable because of its interesting characters."

Friday, July 31, 2015

Warfield Point Park

Warfield Point Park, just south of Greenville, Mississippi, provides a wonderful vantage point for viewing the Mighty Mississippi River. The chart on the right on the sign pictured above lists the worst floods in the history of Greenville. Though it came close -very close- the 2011 flood didn't displace the 1927 disaster.

There's an observation tower:

You can climb up the stairs to get a better view:

But the view is also fine on the ground along the boardwalk:

This sign shows you where you are:

There are little tidbits of information on the rope along the riverfront:

I live in Memphis and am used to views of the Big Muddy, but it's always fun to see the differences between places and look at things from a different perspective.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Last Resort

The Last Resort is a 1998 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alison Lurie. I generally enjoy Lurie's books, and I loved this one. Engaging, thought-provoking, and easy to read.

from the dust jacket:
Like a loyal Victorian wife, Jenny had devoted her life to her much older husband, the famous writer and naturalist Wilkie Walker, bringing up their children and editing his best-selling books. But this year, as winter approaches, Wilkie is increasingly depressed and withdrawn. At her wit's , Jenny persuades him to visit Key West -the Last Resort.

But Key West is not called the Last Resort for nothing. Lives can turn upside down here, and even short-term visitors can have experiences they never imagined. Within weeks of their arrival, Jenny not only has a part-time job but is becoming involved with assorted local characters, including Gerry, an ex-beatnik poet, and Lee, the dramatically attractive manager of a women-only guest house. Wilkie, meanwhile, is planning his own "accidental" death by drowning -a task that turns out to be more difficult than he thought- and trying to avoid the attentions of a breathless young female fan.

The Last Resort is Pulitzer Prize winner Alison Lurie's first novel in ten years. It is a perfect evocation of Key West and another dazzling demonstration of Lurie's talent for high comedy and social comment.
favorite quotes:
She was reminded of a theory of her husband's, that travelers were always drawn to landscapes that echoed the internal geography of their minds. Calm, even-tempered, slightly lazy people felt most comfortable in the plains or beside clear, placid lakes. Somewhat more active types were at home among rolling hills and sparkling streams; while the extremely adventurous and intense responded instinctively to alpine cliffs and craggs and deep ravines and the pounding of towering cascades.
Maybe it's like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying, he thought. If death was what you'd expected and sought for months, the news that you weren't necessarily going to die soon produced the same series of emotions: first denial, then rage, then bargaining. After that there was nothing left but stage four, acceptance.
"When you get to be my age, you start thinking about your family. Like that Gauguin painting. Where do we come from, Who are we, Where are we going?"
.... you grow older and the future shrinks, you have only two choices: you can live in the fading past, or, like children do, in the bright full present.
Here's the Gauguin painting referenced:

Paul Gauguin - D'ou venons-nous.jpg

The New York Times calls it "sparkling" and "smart". Publishers Weekly says it's "a perfect summer read: entertainment that is at once highly intelligent and mildly edifying." The Independent says, "This is a charming, sunny book that seems infused with all the warmth of its setting." Kirkus Reviews says it's "Beach reading with brains and bite".

I've also read Foreign Affairs and Truth and Consequences, both of which I liked. I started but did not finish Only Children, which is a family story told from the point of view of a nine year old girl; I don't tend to like books featuring child protagonists and gave up on it fairly soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Greenville Cypress Preserve

While in Greenville, MS, I made sure to go to the Cypress Preserve, a 16 acre area just off the highway just south of the riverboat-shaped welcome center. It was established in 1940 and maintained by the Greenville Garden Club, the oldest garden club in the state. In 2002 management was turned over to the Greenville Cypress Preserve Trust. They are doing a good job if I'm any judge. (Well, I'm not really any judge, but the place looked great to me.)

There is a brochure and a trail guide reproduced online here, which includes a map and information to aid in appreciating the landscape.

There are 3 trails: 1) a 1/4 mile meadow trail; 2) a 1/3 mile woodland trail; and 3) a 1/2 mile cypress trail. There are helpful interpretive signs all along the paths.

Here are some of the photos I took of the cypresses:

Here's a closer look at the cypress tree leaves:

And some new plants that have sprouted in the fallen cypress logs:

They've placed a home for wood ducks:

Do you see the cypress knees?

The cypress trees were my favorite part of the preserve, but the woodland and meadow trails also had a lot to offer:

ScenicUSA says it's "Popular among photographers, birders, and joggers". Trip Advisor gives it 4 out of 5 stars with 5 reviews. This family travel site has great photos, calls it "One of the most unique urban parks we’ve ever visited" and says it was "worth the detour". There's a slideshow embedded below, but do yourself a favor and mute the music:

I would gladly go back here given the opportunity. What a gem!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coffee Homeground

Coffee Homeground:

by Kate Bush, who will be celebrating her 57th birthday day after tomorrow.

Lyrics excerpt:
Well, you won't get me with your Belladonna, in the coffee,
And you won't get me with your arsenic, in the pot of tea,
And you won't get me in a hole to rot, with your hemlock
On the rocks.

Please join the T Party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where people are sharing tea or coffee and a lot of art. The Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap in celebration of the 2-year anniversary of these weekly gatherings was great fun for me, as I learned how to make the ATCs.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Maybe It Was Memphis

Maybe It Was Memphis:

by Pam Tillis.

Lyrics, written by Anderson, Michael James:
Looking at you through a misty moonlight
Katydid sing like a symphony
Porch swing swayin' like tenessee lulaby
Melody blowin through a wilow tree

What was I supposed to do
Standing there looking at you
Lonely boy far from home

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights

Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Read about you in a Faulkner novel
Met you once in a William's play
Heard about you in a country love song
Summer nights beauty took my breath away

What was I supposed to do
Standing there looking at you
Lonely boy far from home

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Every night now since I've been back home
Lie awake drifting in my memory
Think about you on my mama's front porch swing
Talking that way so soft to me

What was I supposed to do
Standing there looking at you
Lonely boy far from home

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Maybe it was Memphis
Maybe it was Southern summer nights
Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Maybe it was you maybe it was me
But it sure felt right

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Caught is a 1949 film directed by Max Ophuls and starring James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes and Robert Ryan. A young ambitious woman marries for money only to discover her husband is insane.

via Youtube:

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%. TCM has an overview.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

42 Jackpot!

Walking down Park Avenue one day I saw all 3 of these 42s in the space of one block.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Queen of Spades (1949)

The Queen of Spades is a horror story about what happens when you are willing to sell your soul for success at the gaming tables. Subtle and atmospheric, with more left to the imagination than is overtly revealed, this is worth watching again.


DVD Talk says,
Like Rebecca, Queen of Spades has horror overtones while remaining a romance. But the creation of a world possibly dominated by fantastic forces is compelling, and we almost forget that what we see really occurring could mostly have rational explanations - the old Countess never admits to any pact of her own, after all, and her fears could just be old age. But the overly-rational Herman certainly believes that he's embroiled in a supernatural world, and that's where the picture works. It's a unique thriller.
BFI Screen Online closes with this: "This is one of British cinema's greatest ghost stories, from a director described by Martin Scorsese as "a uniquely intelligent, passionate artist"". The Guardian has a nice -though-short- appreciation. The Telegraph calls it "An underseen treasure from the perpetually-underrated British master Thorold Dickinson". Slant Magazine says, "this Poe-like tale of deceit and ghostly vengeance is sumptuous and effective." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.