Monday, March 3, 2014



Another hard wired week in frigid cold. Sweetheart bouncing back after the flu. I'm almost 100%. It takes 10 days we hear but we push by day 5.

I spoke with a logger friend this morning, he's weary. Getting in and out of the woods is four times the work with all this cold and snow. It's taking a toll on every one. Sugaring wants to start, too cold for sugaring to start, it's at a standstill. Stuck in ice. Rhythms are all askew.

You must see The Great Beauty, and it almost deserved the Oscar last night. Like I say, it has too limited of an audience appeal, while marvelous. The Act of Killing is the greater film but too courageous and edgy and independent for the Oscar mentality. The Great Beauty holds all of that old Italian verve and foolishness minced with a Roman appeal. It isn't Fellini though, no one is.

I'm with J — much to be depressed about the Oscars and even angry, starting with a film like Gravity winning hand over fist — it's a sham, relying on pyrotechnics (which work for the most part) but the story line and acting remains ridiculous and trying. And to double the frustration — the director is a long time skilled cinema master, who of course knows better, but is selling out.

Another friend found the ending of Nebraska "manifest" when I find every inch of the film that way, except the ending. Every single character in that film comes through except the sulking and spoiled Bruce Dern. . .who is starting to appear this way now in public. Yes, he looked depressed at the Oscars but not for the same reason I was. I've been following his career a long time, and have taken lots of time to watch and listen to him through every talk show and the IFC Spirit Awards last Saturday night — the same sulking, fragile, tempered old hipster from good family stock. On screen and off.

He's one more true American Boy who believed in the Dream, then played wicked ones and "bastards" (as he says) and somehow can't get why he didn't make it. He was used. If they can, they use up all us Dreamers.

In Nebraska each character is well-etched and they hold true: the two sons make a rounded appearance; June Squibb as the wife does her part, nagging and all, and manifests by lifting her dress over the gravestone to a former skirt chaser, giving a wiggle. Stacy Keach plays his swarmy "right and wrong" theme onto Will Forte, and finally, Forte, smashes the 250 pound feed bag Keach into the bar stools (hurts his hand). The gorgeous choreography of the old farm couple not at home, who come home, catch the wily family in their car in the dooryard and wander over to see what is up. Beautifully handled. Manifest. All the brothers, reticent and pure, come through in the living room and dining room scenes, and all along the way we have to tolerate the sulking Dern. Barely lifts an eye. Even slightly more unkempt than I believe he would have been. A little exaggerated. After Forte buys his father (Dern) the used truck, the new air compressor, Dern lifts his head and gives his son a side-long glance in the cab of the truck, but he quickly drops his head so it isn't quite seen except by us. . .and that's why I believe the character missed out, and so did the director, in that final far away silhouette shot. . . The Grapes of Wrath distance (Tom Joad on the road). . . I believe the story and both characters needed certainly not a hug (that would be exaggerated), but a hand from the father onto the shoulder of his son as he passed him by changing seat positions in the truck. A sureness. Without it, the film remains a little too dry, austere, and even bruised with cynicism.

The young Kenyan woman, Lupita Nyong’o, winning was all I wanted to see happen at the Oscars last night. 12 Years A Slave receiving its recognition. The rest was shalmtz. It's crushing how low it's been pitched.

To build a fire.

I'm off to snowshoe the woodlot trail. It's been so cold so long the deer have driven deeper into the wood and are bedded down not moving a muscle. I get a vole or bird tracks at best on my trail. At the window: cardinals, bluejays, nuthatch, chickadees, and two burly gray squirrels who like to talk back.


Man With A Movie Camera ~
Russian 1929 silent documentary by "Dziga Vertov" 
who was actually born David Abelevich Kaufman in 1896.


In Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

A typical scene long remembered by travelers along the Loop Highway
during the spring and early summer months.

published by eastman's studio, susanville, ca.