Rec Room: Emerging from the Abyss (otherwise known as a day job)

Hey, shiny new layout! And as promised, I haven’t forgotten this blog–in fact, I think writing in it maintains my sanity (what that says about the last two months, well, I’ll leave that up to you to decide).

I’m working on some more thematic entries that will take a bit more time to write, but in the meantime I want to pass along some recommendations:

Film: I recently checked out the 1988 film The Vanishing (not be confused with the American remake of the same name, starring Jeff Bridges). I was somehow unaware of this film, and the notoriety of its third-act twist, but I’m so glad I went in completely unspoiled. The story is of Rex and Saskia (Gene Bervoets and Johanna ter Steege) a young Dutch couple who are travelling through France on holiday when she suddenly disappears at a rest stop. The film follows Rex and he spends the next years of his life obsessively tracking down her abductor. It’s a fascinating film for its pacing alone, which I imagine is what got audiences talking when the film first came out. It’s hard to know what to expect from a film that reveals its villain before he’s even committed the crime. It makes you consider the reality of such a nightmare: the feeling of someone you love disappearing into thin air, and the impact that would have on your life. Highly recommended. Do yourself a favor and go in spoiler-free.

Continuing on to nearby Sweden, I finally checked out Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage, because I am a cinematic masochist (more on that at a later date). I somehow haven’t seen much Bergman, but man is he a cynical bastard. If we are to take the relationship between Marianne (Liv Ullman) and Johan (Erland Josephson) as typical–or even normal–then marriage is nothing more than a particularly twisted codependency. Few scenes have hit me as hard as that of the couple’s first separation. As I watched Johan dispassionately tell his wife he was leaving her for another woman, I thought of all the people I know who’ve split and for the first time felt I had a window into what hell those final conversations must have been. This is an extraordinary film, but you have to brace yourself to be emotionally pummeled.

Television: Slate’s Pop Culture Gabfest podcast has been getting me through my workdays lately, and one of their many excellent recommendations was the BCC miniseries The Forsyte Saga. It’s an epic period soap-opera starring pretty much every “Hey! It’s That English Guy!” working today (including Rupert Graves, who I’ve loved ever since he frolicked in the buff in A Room With A View). For those who gobbled up Downton Abbey earlier this year, it’s equally engrossing and a great way to get your salacious period drama fix while waiting for Abbey’s second series.

And lastly, Things I’m Excited About:

So what are you pumped for this summer?

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