You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

No Words

I’m too tired and happy to write. Two days left in Boston and so much to do, so much has been done. Many thoughts swirling in my head but none will form themselves into blog posts. I used to be overflowing with words, I was compelled to write, I had blogs upon secret blogs to accommodate all of the overflow, but it’s been dry for awhile. I guess I said all I had to say. I need to fill back up.

There will be photos to come, though.

NYC Invite

New York, NY – Cinema Village

Tuesday June 27th @ 7:30pm | Wednesday June 28th @ 7:30pm
Buy Tickets | Print B&W flier | Directions | Who is attending
Trailer | Video Podcast

Last Day at Silverdocs…

…I watched the film I was most interested to see, Walking to Werner. It’s about young filmmaker Linas Phillips and his mission to walk 1200 miles from his home in Seattle to Herzog’s home in Los Angeles, an homage to Herzog’s infamous walk from Germany to France to see his dying friend Lotte Eisner. Unfortunately Herzog’s not home, but as they say, it’s all about the journey. He meets a lot of strange persons along the way, as you might imagine, and has his share of hardships and triumphs, freeways and scenic beach roads, ticks and poison oak. It’s an unabashedly sentimental and sweet and inspirational road movie, made by an adorably sweet young man, who is just as adorable and sweet in person. It was very enjoyable to watch, if a bit long, but will certainly inspire you to get off your ass and do something, anything, that you want to do, no matter how ridiculous.

Love Thieves, Hijackers, and Serial Killers

Perhaps it says something about my tastes or my interests that all of the films I’ve seen so far at Silverdocs offer extreme views of womanhood. Last night’s highlight was The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, a fascinating film about male “Host Clubs” in Japan. There are apparently hundreds of these clubs all over Japan, and the concept is brilliant: men are the product here, women the consumers, and what the men are selling, they say, are “dreams”. Romantic dreams, to be specific. What the women are paying for isn’t sex, but attention. Flirting, touching, snuggling, romantic gestures. The host’s job is to get the girls to fall in love and therefore become repeat customers. They have it down to a science. Women are very “demanding” they say. They need a lot of superficial compliments. But the most fascinating observation they make is that once they reel the women in with compliments, they switch to scolding. And that’s when the women fall in love. We see a host asking a girl why she does such meaningless things, why she lives her life so frivolously, and the girl is completely rapt. And afterward gushes to the camera about how much she loves him. It is a truth that I as a woman was very uncomfortable witnessing. The entire film was uncomfortable to watch, probably moreso for women than for the men in the audience, who seemed to find much of it to be hilarious. I didn’t see many women laughing.

Much easier for women to watch is the story of Leila Khaled: Hijacker. Her world couldn’t have been more different than that of the love-starved women in Osaka. Khaled, who hijacked 3 planes in the 1960s and 70s, had no need for something like a host club, she was too busy being a freedom fighter (terrorist?) for the Palestinian cause and actually altering her beautiful face to avoid capture. And after she was captured, she was insulted when reporters asked her if she had a boyfriend, asked her if she were in love. These things were irrelevant to her. She is now married with children, and encouraged the female director of the film to make babies, but is still every bit the unrepentant soldier. Or terrorist, depending on your view. That’s one of the questions the film poses: what’s the difference between being a terrorist and a freedom fighter? Is the difference simply whether you win or lose?

Meanwhile there’s Only Belle, which is about a female serial killer who emigrated from Sweden in the late 1800s and may have killed more than 50 people (mostly men) in Indiana as part of insurance scams. They found the skeletons of 40 of her victims buried on the grounds of her farm, and eventually just stopped digging–so there may be countless more. She killed several husbands, as well as several of her adopted children, and became a very rich woman after collecting their life insurance policies. And like Khaled, she got away with it all. Like the love theives in Japan’s host clubs, she sold romantic dreams to lonely men, only they paid for it with their lives as well as their money. It was an incredibly creepy film–especially the visit to the site of Belle’s farm, where the family that now lives there keeps finding bones in the ground around the house and the youngest child speaks to several ghosts. The film was a bit heavy-handed with the creepiness, though, which threatened to make it almost cartoonish.

Tonight I’ll be seeing a much more male film–B.I.K.E., about a certain bike subculture in New York City, and tomorrow the film I have been most waiting to see: Walking to Werner. More soon.

Technical Difficulties

My phone has died, it’s very upsetting. It will ring, and take messages, but it won’t let me use the keypad. I can’t figure it out. So if you’re trying to reach me I’m not ignoring you. I guess I’ll have to get it serviced, or get a new phone. But all my numbers are stored there. Depressing.
This afternoon I’ll have a chunk of time to sit in the Cinema Lounge and blog about the films I’ve seen so far — Leila Khaled: Hijacker, Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Theif (best so far, by far), and Only Belle. More soon…

Cutest Silverdocs Swag

For the film Muskrat Lovely, which is indeed like a real-life Christopher Guest mockumentary:

Silverdocs Day 2

Last year at Silverdocs there was a wireless connection set up in the Cinema Lounge and that’s where I blogged from. This year I’m still blogging from the Cinema Lounge but the connection this time is a citywide free wi-fi for Silver Spring. I didn’t know my hometown had already made that leap. So greetings from the free Silver Spring wi-fi-enabled Silverdocs Cinema Lounge.
I met Chuck at the screening of What Remains, a film that had me near-tears throughout, mostly just for the portrayal of a good fucking life. It’s about photographer Sally Mann, who lives on a farm in Virginia with the love of her life, taking pictures of her gorgeous kids, gorgeous land…oh and dead decaying bodies. But it’s a portrait of a life lived so fulfillingly that all I could think was geez I have done something wrong in life, why don’t we all live like this?
I also caught La Persona de Leo N., a really lovely little film about a transsexual in Venice, Italy, undergoing his sex change operation. Next I’m off to Muskrat Lovely, the film about the Miss Outdoors Pageant in the Chesapeake area of Maryland which is rumored to be like a real-life Best in Show. I’ll let you know…

Oopsie Opening Night

I was unable to extricate myself from supersoaking my nephew on the front lawn long enough to make it to Silverdocs opening night. Or rather, I decided not to go. The movie was Boffo! Tinseltown’s Bombs and Blockbusters, which had little appeal to me because I anticipated it would feel like sitting through one of my intro film classes. Much as last year’s opening night film about the history of midnight movies. Opening night films are rarely the best films in a fest; rather they are usually the one with the broadest possible appeal. There are many films I’m looking forward to here, but this wasn’t one of them.

But here’s my view from when I showed up to pick up my pass an hour after the movie started.

Young American Bodies

I had to find out via Greencine that Joe Swanberg, creator of my favorite IFFBoston film LOL, has been shooting a mini-soap opera for called Young American Bodies. Not sure how I missed this before. At any rate go check it out, it’s interesting. Not safe for work though–lots of graphic sex, lots of penises (including Swanberg’s) and breasts. I like that we are seeing more penises in films these days. Go penises!

Greencine also has an extensive compare/contrast between Swanberg and Andrew Bujalksi, which defends Swanberg against accusations of being “Bujalski-light.” I myself, if you recall, wrote upon seeing LOL that it seemed Bujalski-like, and then when I saw that Bujalski himself makes an appearance in the film, that confirmed it for me. So the compare/contrast/defense is certainly appropriate. I’m not sure that pinning the difference on the fact that Swanberg’s characters lie to each other while Bujalski’s struggle to tell the truth is a big enough distinction to make the case, though. To me that seems more of a socioeconomic distinction. Bujalski’s characters are Harvard kids, well-groomed and well-mannered and overthinking and overanalyzing everything and therefore sidestepping most primal drives. They’re always striving first and foremost to be honorable. But they can be just as cruel to each other, only indirectly or unconsciously. In Funny Ha Ha Bujalski’s character is fucked with by the girl he has a crush on–after turning him down for a date she seems to have forgotten about his feelings for her and actively seeks out his companionship in a way that, to the viewer, and to Bujalski’s character as well, is completely exploitive. He knows what she’s doing to him, yet he is powerless to resist. He’s the beta male and she’s the alpha female. An alpha female who is in exactly the same position with a guy she has a crush on, so she should know better. When Bujalksi one afternoon inexplicably throws a bottle of beer off her porch, shattering it on her neighbor’s porch below, angering her but unable to explain to her why he did it, I understoood. It’s an (inappropriate) outlet for his unspoken frustration, but any rupture of this placid, polite, well-spoken facade is not allowed in this world. He apologizes profusely for his indiscretion, but the viewer is left wishing he’d smash a few more bottles, so weary are we of the characters’ relentless restraint.

Swanberg’s characters, on the other hand, don’t have the burden of this constant restraint. They give in to their impulses. They have personality disorders. They fight and yell and call each other assholes. They lie and cheat and are insensitive pricks. They overanalyze and talk things to death as well, but it doesn’t necessarily stop them from behaving “inappropriately.” A character tossing a beer bottle off a porch in a Swanberg film would not likely cause such a ruckus. Or if it did, someone would call him an asshole. Perhaps it’s overly reductive to attribute it to socioeconomic factors (and possibly wrong, of course, because I don’t have any idea what is the socioeconomic status of Swanberg’s characters, though I know they’re not Harvard kids). It could just as easily be attributed to regional differences–Boston is a very head-oriented city, not a very body-oriented city. There’s not a whole lot of primal going on here. People from other areas come here and find people cold and distant and well-mannered, boring, they find it difficult to socialize outside structured groups. But Harvard’s presence, and the presence of privilege in general, has a lot to do with that. Swanberg’s characters are in Chicago, a city I don’t know much about but as far as I know it doesn’t have the chilly and dowdy reputation that Boston does. A friend from LA came here to attend grad school at MIT and when she went home this summer she had to explain to all her friends why she looks so unkempt since going to MIT. “If it doesn’t make me smarter, I don’t need it in Cambridge,” she said.

Anticipating Silverdocs

I was most disappointed to have to miss Walking to Werner at IFFBoston, but am happy to see it’s on the schedule at Silverdocs, so I’ll get a second chance. There are quite a few docs in the lineup that were also at IFFBoston, which shows how impressive the Boston fest has become. In addition to Werner, American Blackout, Fuck, and The Trials of Darryl Hunt all played at IFFBoston. And somehow I managed to miss every single one. Here are some of the others I’m looking forward to: The Great Happiness Space, about a strange brothel in Japan where the clients are women and the service they pay for from their male prostitutes is attention and “love” behavior, not sex. Also looking forward to Only Belle, a terrifying-sounding film about a female serial killer I never heard of (just look at that frickin’ image via the link..*shudder*), Chairman George, about a Greek-Canadian statistican who sings in perfect Mandarin Chinese and who follows his dream by taking off to China to try to perform at the Olympics, Railroad All-Stars, about a soccer team of prostitutes in Guatemala City, Paper Dolls, about four Philipino transvestites who move to Israel and start a drag show, Blood of the Yingahou District, about HIV-infected children in China, a place not usually associated with the disease, and Muskrat Lovely, about the “Miss Outdoors Pageant” in my beloved home state of Maryland.

Also looking forward to lots of great parties and food, if this year is anything like last year’s festival…

Proper Nose Piercing Care

Or, How To Get Rid of “The Bump”!

Yes, it can be done. Don’t get rid of the piercing! There is precious little information about this issue and all the piercing technicians tell you is to keep doing the “sea salt soaks.” But I was never able to figure out how I was supposed to soak my nose in saltwater without drowning myself. I did use cotton balls soaked in sea salt for awhile but that was very messy and annoying and inconvenient to have to do it twice a day for 15 minutes each. I can’t even remember to use my Crest Whitestrips each night, much less this much-more-annoying task.

So I was in search of an easier and more effective way and did lots of web searching, because I had developed the dreaded “Bump”, a pimple-like bump next to the piercing that just doesn’t seem to want to budge. But I found some mention of tea tree oil as a possible use for cleaning piercings, so gave it a try. Dipping a Qtip in some oil and dabbing it on my nose once a day was a much more reasonable care regime, even though this oil STINKS like paint thinner. And it is STRONG–they actually tell you to cut it with grapeseed oil because it’s so strong, but I didn’t want to waste time so I used full-strength.

And, my nose bump, which had been resistant to everything else, peeled away in 3 days.


So for those of you despairing that your cute nose ring is marred by this unbudgeable bump, fear not, it will budge. There is a cure. CURE! The bump is gone and has been for months. It did come back when my allergies flared up and I was blowing my nose a lot, but I started with the oil again and the bump went away again in a couple days.

So there you have it. Visit your local new-agey shop and get yourself some tea tree, and keep that cute piercing!

UPDATE: Someone posted a link to this story about the dangers of tea tree oil in the comments here, so I thought I’d add it to the main post so that you can make an informed decision…I had no problems but perhaps some people do…

Silverdocs Here I Come…Again

Date: Tue, 06 Jun 2006 18:28:23 -0400
From: Public Relations

Subject: Re: SILVERDOCS 2006 Media Accreditation

You are now accredited as press to attend the SILVERDOCS: AFI/ Discovery
Channel Documentary Festival and can pick up your badge upon registration.
All tickets for special events are subject to availability and you will be
notified ASAP regarding your request.


Rebekah Welsh
PR Coordinator
SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival