Animal Wise: The Thoughts And Emotions Of Our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell. Random House sent me this book for review and I'm so glad they did. Without falling into the trap of antropomorphism, it focuses in-depth on several scientific studies of the emotional and cognitive abilities of animals. Did you know that rats laugh when they're tickled, that parrots count and distinguish between colors and materials, that ants teach, and that some dogs have a vocabulary of more than one thousand words? I didn't. Animal Wise is full of those fun facts and it also shows us how scientists have come to these conclusions. A fascinating read.
Because I spent the last two weeks at the Offscreen film festival, there are only movies in this list that I watched whilst there. You can see photos from the first Offscreen week and reviews of those films here. More photos will follow soon.
The Final Member (2012). A documentary about the phallus museum in Iceland where the only missing member is a human one. As soon as the museum’s need is announced, two possible donors present themselves, both ambitious to become the ‘first penis superstar’. Funny.
Vampyres (1974). There’s much to be said about the flaws and plot holes in this movie, but there’s something about the atmosphere, about the misty woods, the mysterious castle and the ferocious female leads, that make Vampyres highly watchable and memorable.
Las mariposas de Sadourni (2012). This inventively shot movie in black and white reminded me of Marcel Carné's Les enfants du paradis. In other words: brilliant.
On Vampyres And Other Symptoms (2011). Documentary about the life and work of José Ramón Larraz (the director of Vampyres). Original in style (part of the narrative is told through animation), but boring.
Branded To Kill (1967). Hilarious, over-the-top and yet very dark gangster film that was so cutting-edge in the sixties that director Seijun Suzuki lost his job at the Nikkatsu studio. Branded To Kill is considered a classic in Japanese cinema.
The Girl Can't Help It (1956). Cute romantic comedy with an unforgettable Jayne Mansfield. Seeing this movie as a Sunday afternoon matinee screening complete with movie trailers from that era and hostesses in fifties clothing, definitely added to the experience. More oldies, please.
Bullet Collector (2011). Extremely bleak, violent and experimental Russian film that you will either love or hate.
Gate Of Flesh (1964). Hmm, I know some of you think this is a masterpiece, but I just couldn’t get into it. Blame it on the annoying characters.
Room 237 (2012). Those of you who have read my novel Drowned Sorrow know that I love symbolism and hidden messages, but the theories presented in this documentary about the secret themes in Kubrick’s The Shining are so far out they’re hilarious.
Also watched a surprising collection of short films at Offscreen: The Importance Of Sweet And Salt by Benoit De Clerck (simple, but touching), Death Of A Shadow by Tom Van Avermaet (deserving of its Oscar nomination), De Wake by Pieter Coudyzer (visually interesting), Rumoer by Jan Doense (funny) and Perfect Drug by Toon Aerts (reminiscent of Takashi Miike).
The live soundtrack of the experimental Buharov’s movie Rudderless, based on the poem by István Domonkos.
What have you been reading, watching and listening to lately? And in case you've been to Offscreen, what were your favorites there?