I’ve been on a Lupe Vélez kick this last week, rewatching Palooka, Hell Harbor, and Where East Is East over the weekend. She’s criminally misrepresented when she’s remembered at all. I’ll have a post up about her next week.
I also caught up with a couple second-tier classics this week: The Strange Woman (1946) starring Hedy Lamarr, and The Bigamist (1953) directed by Ida Lupino and starring Lupino and the great Edmond O’Brien, with Joan Fontaine supporting. The Bigamist has such a deft and empathetic touch to it, and no one could have played the leads better than Lupino and O’Brien. O’Brien isn’t well enough remembered today, but he always brought such world-weary emotion to his roles.
I also watched the 1992 version of Wuthering Heights, directed by Peter Kosminsky and starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. Well over a decade ago, my good friend Honey told me I had to see this version. I’ll watch anything with Fiennes or Binoche, and they do seem particularly suited to the tragic roles of Heathcliff and Cathy. The movie is a bit overwrought in that early 90s way, but delicious nonetheless. Two-thirds of the way through, I texted Honey to joke, “No one looks as good while dying of consumption as Juliette Binoche.” This is only the second film I’ve seen by Kosminsky, the other being White Oleander, a flawed but underappreciated drama.
Sunday morning, my friend Rob and I went to see Kong: Skull Island. Every spring, I get in the mood to watch some sort of overblown, tropical action adventure movie. It’s usually the only blockbuster I’ll catch all year. Jurassic Park and its sequels, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the Mummy franchise, etc. Kong was as silly as you’re expecting, but a ton of fun. There was really only one moment it felt totally over the top (“Sword!”), and I would totally watch it again.
This week I read three poetry collections: Portrait of the Alcoholic by Kaveh Akbar (Sibling Rivalry, 2017), Children of the Atalanta Bloom by Rebecca Aronson (Orison Books, 2017), and Rom-Com by Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli (Talonbooks, 2015). Aronson’s book in particular had some excellent moments, as in “Los Alamos Fire” when she describes her city holding its breath in anticipation of the coming blaze:
“We simmered together with sore lungs and waited.
The air became visible
and settled around us seared particles
of forests. As odor contains remnants
of its object, my head aches with crumbled monuments
and spoiled crops, with the charred bodies of deer and wood
Last Friday I had a chance to share a pint with beer writer Kevin Gray down at Fifth Street Brewpub in Dayton, the only co-op owned brewery in Ohio. We talked with the brewmaster and head brewer, sampled some delightful upcoming releases, and had a great time. I’m looking forward to getting to know both Kevin and Fifth Street better in 2017.
The title of this post is a line taken from Lupe Vélez’s film Where East Is East.