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last night jennie and i went to see martha macy may marlene because the creeptastic previews intrigued me last year ((i don't recommend watching that nyt 'anatomy of a scene' feature if you're planning to watch the movie). trailer:



there was a lot the movie doesn't do perfectly (explain to me why the group is so intellectually uncurious, are they really that young and uneducated?), but what it does do is give you a tight, tense jewelbox of images, relationships, moments. elizabeth olsen (younger sibling to the olsen twins of course) is absolutely amazing in it, her face was by turns opaque and translucent, emotionally. (she reminded me, in character and in face, of the girl lead from rain.)

the movie was gripping and awful to watch at some points, awful in the sense of oh-god-can't-look-away. jennie turned to me at one point and was like, are you okay? i had my hands over my mouth in horror/fear/fascination/etc. sometimes it is perfectly normal and nearly relaxed, other times there is just so much weirdness and tension and unexplained things. the audience did a collective groan when the credits rolled -- one of those.

i couldn't figure out why the male lead was so fucking creepy until i googled him this morning -- john hawkes a.k.a. sol star from deadwood! the nicest guy ever! being a totally controlling creepster! ugh.

but it was a fun kind of terror to fall into. until i got home, of course, and had trouble sleeping. i made kirk promise me he wasn't secretly a cult leader or going to drug me. ugh. jennie had nightmares about it, too.
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I've been on a ballet documentaries kick, thank you Netflix instant and YouTube! Watched Les enfants de la danse, untranslated from the French but I followed along okay...it was mainly a general review of the Ecole de Danse of the Paris Opera ballet. Notable for this clip (the dance in the first 30 seconds) which I love for its playfulness. It seems so infrequent that ballet movements evoke the tone of the music, which is baffling to me. If the strings are spinning around, shouldn't the dancer spin? Little short notes = hopping and such? I don't know why all dance isn't like this, but this clip is pretty fun. Anyway, little French bebes dancing and looking amazing, but not much life detail, you know?

Also watched: Only When I Dance about two ballet dancers from the Rio favelas; "Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera ballet" (Netflix instant, not terribly good); "The Dancer," a fun and occasionally weird documentary about a dancer of the Royal Swedish ballet that includes funhouse juxtapositions between dance sequences and dudes making ballet shoes. The Dancer is also on Netflix Instant, I recommend it.

And then, and then! I found the documentary I didn't know I was looking for: Ballerina, which follows several dancers at the Kirov, Russia's premier ballet academy and theatre in St Petersburg. (Netflix Instant! Check it out!)

This movie answered the question, how is it Russian dancers are so crazy good? Oh right, it's because they isolate them starting at age 10 and they basically train night and day for a decade. Footage from the entrance exams to the Vaganova Academy were frighteningly soviet:




This guy would manipulate their limbs all around so the judging committee can score each candidate on flexibility, body shape, etc. Just like in your nightmares!

I mean yes, it is weird and kind of freaky, and some of the other untranslated clips I saw online from the Perm ballet school include teachers yelling at the students etc...I mean this is how Russia does it. They do not coddle. This is the same model and method they use to train most sports, the model they exported to China, too. And yet this is how they produce the most amazing dancers. They say you can tell Kirov dancers and Russian dancers in general, because their arms and torso are more vibrant, alive.

Some gorgeous shots of Evgenia Obraztsova:







Also her outfit here is so lovely. Oxford shirt, sweater, black and white skirt with black bow. She came out to meet her fans. I loved that one old lady brought her this kind of juice box thing, and she opened it and drank it down within seconds while they were praising her performance (this was after her first solo performance, I think?) and asking for autographs. Made me wonder what the heck that drink was.

Another favorite dancer: Diana Vishneva, who had the best craziest workout gear:



Leopard print! Yellow pink and olive falling-down handknits! Later when she danced she would make a joke of kicking off her legwarmer (link). She was described as "nontraditional" which meant...I'm not sure. Somehow her lines weren't as good but she was more expressive? She had the highest scores as a Vaganova student and made Prima Ballerina very young. She was the most fun to watch.

Ulyana Lopatkina was profiled during her return after a two year absence following an injury, during which she also had a child, which was portrayed (by her in interviews) as a pretty radical decision. And they discussed how she'd have to work hard to get back "to her level." The schedule they follow is pretty crazy -- rehearsals during the day and then performances almost every single night. They interviewed a French ballet director at one point who said the Russian dancers mature very young because they are pushed to perform so much earlier -- if you have to learn Swan Lake in a week, then you do it, no questions. And then again the next night. Or onto a different ballet, over and over each night.

Ulyana Lopatkina:



She also has the best swan arms ever, it just looks unreal, like disembodied creatures barely connected to her body.








So that was fun. I really want to see something that follows dancers who dropped out, who didn't make it. Or the ones who've been in the corps de ballet or coryphee status for years and never advance and then in come these amazing young dancers who are made soloists and then prima ballerina within a couple years? What is that like to watch from the sidelines? Are bribes involved? Pretty much everything I've found follows the stars or the aspiring stars. One of the Paris Opera teachers spoke of how when she retired she didn't dance or move for a month straight, and lost two cm in height because her muscles tightened up or something. That was interesting, I wish there was more info like that.
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this weekend we hung bamboo roman shades in the living room to keep out the beastly afternoon sun, managing to keep the house at least under 80°. but we still had to escape on saturday to watch a movie and then get dinner at a bar. here are the shades and our new hutch (online catalog only from target):



at the movies (star trek), we saw previews for the new transformers, harry potter, year one (michael cera ♥), g.i. joe, and tim burton's 9, all of which i want to see. i really enjoy the summer movie season, now that vaguely good directors are doing all the smashup/hero/80s-revisit films. at least our hours of blissful air conditioning are entertaining.

.

i keep trying to find a good swimming place around here, and there doesn't seem to be any good lakes. whyyyyy. apparently this is why everyone drives an hour east to the sandy river (which is FREEZING COLD because it is direct snowpack melt from mt hood). i don't want to have to drive eight billion miles to get in the water, because then we might as well drive to the coast and go to the ocean. i miss all the lovely lakes of connecticut. or triangle pond, where my grandmother's cabin is. we live near the willamette river (it's seven superfund sites in one!) and various other sluggish/unswimmable rivers. like clackamette, where two people drowned recently. or the trashy tualatin river. gross.

lake lake i want a nice clean lake. i'll take a large pond in a pinch.

i was complaining about this to my mom yesterday and she said we are kind of screwed, living so close to the cascades. it's all rivers, down to the sea, or deserts. i say boo hiss hey oregon where is my swimmin lake motherfucker.
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i want to remember this next year: 20lbs of tomatoes yields approximately 8 quarts of chopped tomatoes. 20lbs of peaches yields about 8 quarts, too.

my fingernails are reddish peachish and i am so tired from standing on my feet processing fruit all day. but at least it's done! even in a small quantity (my mother and i are splitting the batch).

tonight kirk and i watched main hoon na, an excellent bollywood film that combines, um, a political military thriller, grease, saved by the bell, and a couple other things. kirk's friend at work has a ton of these on dvd and i think we will have to plunder his stash. just beware, main hoon na is three hours long.


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last night we watched the last mistress/une vieille maitresse. such amazing sets, photography, costumes. the story was eh but the visuals were worth it. asia argento is really pretty.

then today we drove to cannon beach. and took cat naps on our blanket, with a driftwood log as our pillow. i got a tiny sunburn. it was a magnificent windy and sunny day.


tonight i've been killing my back, cutting quilt squares for a seeeecret project i'm working on. oh for a tall worktable! tomorrow my mom and i are having a curtain-making party at her house. sewing hers and mine (from last winter! eep!) on my machine. here is a peek at the quilt fabrics:

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this weekend was:
  • wall-e on friday ♥
  • new king size bed
  • bought a wii! (thank you [livejournal.com profile] pravda for mentioning the shortage was over!)
  • indian food, hiding from the 100° heat
  • canning strawberry jam on sunday
  • hotdogs with mom and dad
  • watching my nephew flirt with another 15-month old baby
  • reading under the ceiling fan while thunder rolls overhead


there was no bike ride, no weeding the garden, and no attending our friend's new puppy shower, because of the heat. but that ended up being okay, really.
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1. kirk and i finally watched cloverfield last night. i was surprised they showed the monster so much and so early. i wonder if i would have been freaked out if i'd seen it in the theater? as it was i was scared enough, but mostly interested in how they kept the whole conceit going. my brain is definitely WAY INTERESTED in thinking about the movie all the time, all night and all day. woo, go brain! let's relive it again!

2. meet a new inhabitant of my kitchen windowsill:

he is made of iron and imported from japan. the same people who make those iron teakettles, i think.

3. haircut tonight!
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the other night we watched calamity jame (1953) with doris day. it was so fun and colorful, yet weird -- here was calamity jane and wild bill hickock, both of whom i'm more used to envisioning in a vastly rougher context.

now i have doris day's voice in my head, singing take me back to the black hills, the black hills of dakota, to the beautiful indian country that i love (except you have to envision the rather green and californian hills from the movie, which made the song all the better).




ps -- deadwood season 3 starts in june! very exciting.

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