Sunday Morning! “Hangsaman” by Shirley Jackson

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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30 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw
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    I watched Drive My Car yesterday. It was amazing but again, one of those movies that few Americans will see because it is a human drama and not something filled with action, explosives, CGI, superhero intellectual property, etc. The movie is also three hours long (it does not feel like three hours) and I admit I was a bit shocked originally by the run time.

    The movie is inspired by a Murakami story of the same name. I say inspired by because it is impossible to take a 30 plus page short story and turn it into a three hour movie but lots of the elements of the story are still there. The protagonist is no longer a just an actor but a conceptual theatre director (who acts from time to time) His concepts involve taking classics of theatre with multi-national casts and having each actor speak his or her lines in his or her native tongue. There is still a production of Uncle Vanya. The protagonist is still a recent widower who is struggling to comprehend his wife’s love for him and also her serial adultery. In the movie, she is no longer an actress but a writer of prestige TV dramas who seems to sleep with the younger leading male on each of her productions and the affair ends as shooting ends. He is still driven around by an enigmatic and terse young woman who would have been his daughter’s age if his daughter had not died at 4.

    The whole thing is amazing. If people feel safe going to theatres, I recommend watching it if you can. However, movies like this do not seem to command many eyes anymore. Even streaming seems to go for the genre of bang bang boom.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Saul Degraw
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      I really want to see it now because Luis said the same thing in his post about the best movies of the year- that it’s great. And I love Murikami annyway, so I’ll see it if I can. I’m iffy on going to a theatre during Omicron in NYC, but at least there should be somewhere here playing it. It sounds really good.Report

    • John Puccio in reply to Saul Degraw
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      ” It was amazing but again, one of those movies that few Americans will see because it is a human drama and not something filled with action, explosives, CGI, superhero intellectual property, etc.”

      Don’t you think the fact that it is in Japanese, only playing in select cities and not available through streaming is a bigger reason few Americans have/will see it?

      Obviously nothing competes with comic book movies at the box office, but I think you’re selling American audiences shorter than they deserve. If it gets nominated for best picture, it will likely be available to rent via ppv and (like Parasite) will find a respectable US audience in the run up to the Oscars.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to John Puccio
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        We talked about Parasite on this site before. There was a rough consensus that Parasite did better than Shoplifters, the other movie about poverty in a wealthy Asian country, because Parasite came across as more Hollywood with it’s polish while Shoplifters was an indie art flick. American movie goers never really went for art flicks or human dramas. Maybe things are worse now but even in the past spectacle films always did better. Like if Golden Age Hollywood had CGI, the mid-market adult movie would not exist.Report

        • InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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          We aren’t that unique. Our popcorn schlock cleans up the foreign box office just as much as it does here. Not sure the situation in east Asia but many European art movies would not be made at all without direct government funding, something we do not have the same tradition of doing (indeed they only do it so that they have something other than American movies available).

          These things are just also by definition designed for a narrower audience. If you have kids you can’t take them to see that sort of thing so it has built in costs for lots of people beyond price of admission.

          I’m totally with Saul in the sense that I’d be just fine without another super hero movie ever. I just see the whole thing as more of an economic phenomenon than anything else. And it’s not even just art movies or mid-market adult fare. They can’t even make a successful R rated action movie succeed in theaters anymore.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to InMD
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            One thing I found in France that I found fascinating was how easy it was to find the little “independent” theaters, which were basically funded by France through a portion of the proceeds from the multiplexes. So, you could go see the spectacle movies at the big theaters- and there were some French blockbusters like the Asterix and Obelix films- or you could go see the smaller Frenchier films at the theater that was often easier to get to.

            In Canada, we have a situation where the state also funds small “Can-con” movies, but you almost never get to see them in theaters, or even on the CBC, unless it’s the rare Cronenberg flick or Trailer Park Boys that translates to a wider audience. It’ irks me because we pay for them, but I have to really work to track them down. So it feels like the worst of both worlds.Report

            • InMD in reply to Rufus F.
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              You’re telling me you don’t think Trailer Park Boys is the epitome of fine Canadian cinema? That’s so outrageous I just spilled my rum and coke.

              But seriously I also saw more theaters like that around in Germany as well, no idea on the financing. Caveat is that I was mostly in University areas so no idea if it’s the norm.

              In the US I think that a lot of it just depends on where you live. One of the perks of a close-in suburb is that it’s at least possible for me to go to E street or AFI (not that I ever can anymore anyway). But if I was in the burbs burbs like most people it wouldn’t even be an option.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to InMD
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                It’s so frustrating right now because I’m on East Houston in Alphabet City, so I’m within walking distance of some *amazing* cinemas- during another wave of covid. I’ll live, but man was it fun to go to the Anthology Film Archives last time I was here.

                I will say it’s nice the people outside of Canada find Trailer Park Boys funny because it is. It just reminds me a bit of an ex-girlfriend of mine from Baltimore who would never watch Pink Flamingos because, she said: “You don’t understand- there are people in Baltimore who are really like that!!!”Report

              • InMD in reply to Rufus F.
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                That totally sucks. But it will pass and you will go back!

                Re:Trailer Park Boys, while I doubt I’m able to appreciate it on as many levels as a Canadian, I did find the show hilarious, especially the pre Netflix seasons. Many of my friends enjoy it, and my wife even found it amusing.

                Maybe there’s enough overlap between the ne’er do wells of Nova Scotia and the Mid Atlantic to be relatable. Or maybe it’s just an under appreciated classic.Report

              • North in reply to Rufus F.
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                Have you seen Letterkenny at all?Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to North
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                I haven’t and I’ve been joking that my Canadian residency might be in jeopardy. I hear it’s really very good and also a very accurate depiction of small town Canadian life.

                With Trailer Park Boys, I think it probably translates very well because every country has rednecks. It’s a universal language.Report

              • North in reply to Rufus F.
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                It’s declined/moderated a bit since its earlier (but not first) seasons but it is still excellent. I think you might enjoy it, in particular because it inverts and flops a lot of the redneck tropes on their ears in the most delicious sort of ways. For instance rednecks can be, and are, liberal in all the ways that matter. Recommended though I’ll warn you that the first season is hit and miss.Report

              • Mudak in reply to Rufus F.
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                Letterkenny is Modern Shakespeare (particularly the first season). Think of it like Carlin except with extremely thick accents. But, Oh, the monologues!

                And they made fun of Mitch’s Ostrich Obsession.

                It’s also the subject of the least well targeted ad campaign in Canadian Broadcast History (because the American said “Here’s enough dough for a spot or two…” On Canadian Broadcast TV, that bought… all the spots. Saturation advertising, blanket coverage.)Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F.
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              France has a real go to the movies culture and for a variety of reasons has always been more okay with the government playing a role is preserving cultural patrimony. In the United States, streaming seems to be the new ruler and was well before COVID. I have heard people state “why should I go to the movies when I can watch them at home in comfort on my big screen TV?” during the Bush II years.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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                Americans might have more impressive home entertainment systems than the French. That could be one contributing factor why America switched to streaming. Another factor might be that America’s automobile centric living patterns make going to the movies a bigger hassle than merely taking a short walk to down to a close by cinema.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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            Apparently the last block buster movie not based on an existing intellectual property was Armageddon. The oil riggers exploding an asteroid heading to earth movie.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to John Puccio
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        “Don’t you think the fact that it is in Japanese, only playing in select cities and not available through streaming is a bigger reason few Americans have/will see it?”

        This is a chicken and egg problem largely. For the first part, there are subtitles and that seems like more of a barrier for Americans than other countries. For the second part, is it playing in a few cities the reason why Americans will not see it or is it playing in a few cities because it has a smaller target audience and most Americans have an aversion to movies that are not super CGI driven these days?Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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          Drive My Car seems to be the Japanese equivalent of what used to be called a mid-market drama in the United States. These were Hollywood movies with a a budget between 5 million and 50 million that were more polished and had bigger name stars than indie movies but weren’t block busters. A lot of ink has been spilled on their decline but the definitely aren’t being made much or migrated to streaming platforms. Don’t Look Up is essentially a satirical mid-market drama that used to be released in theaters.Report

        • John Puccio in reply to Saul Degraw
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          Foreign language films have always been a barrier in the U.S, but as the world shrinks and streaming makes consuming this content easier, it’s less of an issue than probably ever before. We will never be like Europe, which has relied on subtitles out of necessity.

          I mentioned Parasite, but the year before was Roma – and with Netflix producing and pushing it that year it found a huge American audience. You also have the wild success of Squid Games – a show like that being a hit here would have been unheard of 20 years ago.

          Ultimately it’s about availability and awareness. Given its buzz, if “Drive My Car” were to be featured and promoted on Netflix, it would have a huge US audience.Report

  2. Mike Schilling
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    We Have Always Lived in the SuburbsReport

  3. Greg In Ak
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    RIP Bob Saget. Never watched his tv shows but he was funny. 65 years old. Heavy sigh.Report

  4. jason
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    MIght have to check this one out. I love Shirley Jackson. Some of her stories, like “The Witch” and “After You, My Dear Alphonse” are just masterful.Report

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