opportunity will move out of the way to let a man pass it by

As anticipated, I've entered my now-familiar December low. Seasonal affective disorder makes a lot of sense, when you think about it: cold weather makes most anyone want to stay indoors, particularly when it's combined with dicey travel conditions; the holidays add a base level of stress (money, scheduling, emotional expectations) that is unequaled during the rest of the year; the shorter daylight hours mean that many of us see the sun (when it appears at all) for a few moments on only one end of the day. Simply put, winter is a four-month cold, dirty, annoying rut. Who wouldn't be depressed?

That being said, I'm doing what I can to (a) keep it to myself, (b) alleviate the symptoms as much as possible, and (c) distract myself from what remains. (A) accounts for the relative dearth of posting lately--if I don't have anything nice to say, I'll be refraining from saying so much about this same old thing, eh? (B) means I'm eating right and--hey, r, this is for you--exercising. Rather surprisingly, I've lost 7 lb. in a couple of weeks, and apart from one day of feeling like I'd been comprehensively beaten with a shovel by a professional shovel-wielder and another of feeling like I'd merely been trampled by a herd of rhinos, I really feel pretty good. (Well, apart from the sinus infection that I've been fighting for the past couple of weeks. But I'm drugged for that, now, so things should clear up soon.)

(C) is distraction, which I'm accomplishing by consuming as much media as possible. I've read at a far greater than typical clip lately, and also dove back into watching movies. I own a lot of DVDs that had just languished, so I've been watching them (including most of the special features) and as soon as one's done, I'll replace it with a relatively random new one. I've also brought one home from work once or twice.

The Big Bad Swim: a couple that I know recommended this, saying that one of the characters reminded them both of me. Now that I've seen it, I seriously hope it was the actress and not the character.... I adored the movie. It's the love child of Hal Hartley (in his Trust phase) and Sofia Coppola (fresh from Lost in Translation) with Wes Anderson (wearing his The Royal Tenenbaums face) standing up as a godparent. Strange, straightforward, peaceful.

Shiri: Korean action. A second viewing of a film that had been highly recommended by a good friend several years ago. This time through, I was seeing it through new eyes, I think, and saw as paramount the male characters' relationship (cop partners and friends). The first time, all I saw was the romance angle. It's really too bad, considering that the movie is incredibly violent (stylized in amazing, techno ways) and beautifully filmed.

Henry Fool: I wanted to dislike this, and indeed kept walking away from it during the first 20 minutes or so. Once I was into it, though, I couldn't peel my eyes away long enough to sneeze. It's hard for me to imagine to whom I could whole-heartedly recommend this movie; the main character (played by Thomas Jay Ryan) is so...well, I'm probably not the one to describe it, because I absolutely loved him, and that's not the point (of the film). He reminded me absolutely, down to mannerisms he probably doesn't even realize he has, of someone I deeply admire. (If you should happen to see the movie, though, Reed--not that I know whether you're actually reading the blog or not; perhaps you could let me know so I can either stop or make better use of the occasional asides?--you should keep in mind that the similarities end prior to the violence or the sort of incident with the girl in the library.) There is a sequel, set (and filmed) seven years after Henry Fool, called Fay Grim. When I've seen it, I'll let you know whether it was conceit or brilliance that led Hal Hartley to create it.

[The title quotation is by, and from, Henry Fool.]

Shooter: Mark Wahlberg plays a former Marine scout sniper, working to prevent the assassination of the president. Something goes awry and he ends up in a lot of trouble; he goes to ground, trying to clear his name.

It's Mark Wahlberg. He looks fantastic, he worked his tail off to prepare for the role (watch the special features, which are fascinating), and he does a real hero's job of pulling some of his less talented costars along through this whirlwind movie. I wonder if anyone's ever done a body count in this film? I'd be curious to know, because there are a LOT of deaths going on. Really good 'guy' movie.

Waitress: Writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly's last movie. Keri Russell plays a waitress in a pie diner in the South, wanting to get out of her stunted marriage (the terrific Jeremy Sisto plays her pathetic [in every sense] husband) and her sad life. None of the characters are completely "good" or "bad"; it's refreshingly cinematically complicated (and yet morally simple) to see bad things happen to good people who've done bad things. I wish I could say that I loved Waitress. I loved Adrienne Shelly, and I would recommend the movie because it's one memorial to a someone I greatly admired.

The Simpsons Movie: It's in the DVD player right now, maybe one-third through. It was very easy to turn it off when I was through with dinner, in favor of reading instead. I'm thinking my tolerance for Simpsons jokes may finally be over.

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