WTF with Marc Maron: Lake Bell. I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s podcast for several months now. The first time I listened to Marc Maron interview someone, I thought he sounded kind of jerkish, but as the interview went on, I realized he actually had really great questions that built off of interviewees’ responses. He does a great job connecting and digging deeper than the discussions that occur in some shorter interview podcast, so it’s no wonder the podcast is so popular. He has many episodes, and they tend to be quite long (because he’s so good at interviews!), so I pick and choose the ones I actually devote the time to listen to, not because they’re not good, just because there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS TO OCCUPY MY EAR TIME. BUT I got ’round to listening to this relatively recent interview he did with Lake Bell (writer/director/actor of In a World… [Bell, 2013]; not to be confused with Drake Bell, of Drake and Josh fame/obscurity). Anyway, this one was particularly interesting because Lake Bell discussed her trajectory from just actor, to actor who secretly wrote screenplays, to actor who actively wrote screenplays and got a deal to direct her screenplay but was worried she couldn’t do it but did it anyway and became a hit, to actor who actually gets hired to be a director of movies, so maybe now she’s a director who is also an actor. Whatever. Labels are annoying.
Fave moment: When they talk about childbirth for like, TWENTY MINUTES. That’s what I like about Marc Maron. You never know where it’s gonna go, but you know it’s gonna be good. Check it out if you’re a podcast listener or appreciate interviews with famous people. BTW: He recently interviewed the President, so that’s a big deal.
War Witch (Nguyen, 2012). It expires from Netflix on September 10th, so STOP READING THIS BLOG POST AND GO WATCH IT NOW. I chose to watch it during some downtime Monday night mostly because I knew it was expiring soon. I didn’t particularly want to watch it because I knew it would be depressing, but I didn’t want it to slip through my fingers. Within the first thirty seconds, I couldn’t take my eyes away. I was hooked for the next hour and thirty minutes. It is very sad. The film is about Komona, a twelve-year old girl who is forced into becoming a child soldier, so obviously it is going to be sad. One of the refreshing things was that, while she was a victim, she never felt like a hopeless victim. She always has a sense of agency that is refreshing in a narrative like this. The magical realism helps dissipate some of the anxiety surrounding the horrors shown and alluded to in the film. Also, there are more lighthearted breaks in the middle. But also I cried when those moments came to an end at the end of the second act. But also the ending is somewhat uplifting, as in, Komona is still in a difficult situation but there is hope. Lastly, Rachel Mwanza, the actress who plays Komona, had never acted before this film, but she carries it ALL THE WAY. Missing this movie because you didn’t get your sh*t together and just sit down and watch it on Netflix would be a shame.
Fave moment: Komona begins moving a large metal gate back and forth making a vibrating sound that then becomes the soundscape for a dramatic scene in which she has a nightmare. This is an amazing moment where the filmmakers find a workaround for creating tension within a film that, up until this point, has only used African pop as non-diegetic music. So there was basically no soundtrack before this moment. In lieu of breaking that and introducing phantom sounds viewers had never encountered in the narrative before, the filmmakers create an instance of plausible diegetic sound to achieve their thematic purpose. Very cool stuff.
The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea by Alice Waters. My school is trying to create an edible schoolyard on a pretty sizeable plot of feral land adjacent to our building. We had a representative from Earth Passengers, a Taiwanese organization that promotes permaculture, come in and she gave us some books on the edible schoolyards and composting. So I read this introductory text by Alice Waters, the creator of the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School (by the way, would it be weird to have a school called Martin Luther King, Jr. Junior High? Do you think one exists? Do you think we could create one?) in Berkeley, California. The book was basically the origin of the project and her testimony of how challenging yet amazing it was setting up this thing that continues to benefit all members of it’s community (parents, teachers, students, local farmers). I think that is pretty cool. It’s a super quick read – I read really slowly and I read it in two nights – so if you’re interested in teaching or sustainable agriculture, I’d say check it out.
Fave moment: Literally every time Waters writes about the food they would cook in the kitchen at the school, with the produce the kids grew themselves, my mouth would water. Reading the book made me wish I grew up there so I could go to that school and learn all the interesting things about ecology, history, and cooking, using the schoolyard garden as a central point of reference and experimentation.