The 10 (Quirky) DVDs We Watched While at the Cottage
Our lovely (and generous) cousins Betty and Peter have let us use their cottage up in the Kawarthas each summer for the last several years. We get a slice of paradise and they get two cases of wine – a win win if there ever was one.
While it's the perfect cottage, on the perfect lake, with a perfect dock and water to swim and kayak in, we still find ourselves spending evenings and some rainy days watching DVDs.
So, these are 10 quirky DVDs we've watched at the cottage during the summer.
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. While not as well known as his Veronika Voss, Lola or The Marriage of Maria Braun, this has a wonderful charm and pathos. We used the Criterion version which included a bonus DVD of interviews with the main actresses which was really fascinating. The movie is beautifully filmed (and in only 10 days) with amazing costumes. If you think it feels like a play, you would be right (it was also done as an opera!). My husband, who speaks German, says the German is so good in this movie it's as if they were speaking English. The summary in our catalogue is not wholly accurate but can give you a flavour of the movie "An obsessive and highly stylized look at the shifting power plays in relationships – three young women in a sadistic love triangle." There is lots written on Fassbinder if you want to read more about his life.
Criterion does a very interesting article on the The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant on their website.
Teddy Bear is a much smaller, less well-known, almost art film. I am slightly embarrassed to say when I put it on hold I meant to get Ted or Ted 2 with Mark Wahlberg. I was pleasantly surprised by this Danish film, which was very touching, about a body builder who goes to Thailand, falls in love and brings his new wife back with him to meet his bitter mother. It's very charming and sweet.
Another unexpected Nordic oddball conspiracy (and funny) tale is Troll Hunter: "The government says there's nothing to worry about, it's just a problem with bears making trouble in the mountains of Norway. But the locals don't believe it and neither do a trio of college students who want to find out the truth. With a video camera, they trail a mysterious 'poacher who wants nothing to do with them. However, their persistence lands them straight in the path of the objects of his pursuits: trolls." If conspiracy theories (real or imagined) are of interest we have lots of other DVDs right up your alley.
Something we picked up at our local branch (not holdable as it's a new DVD) and much more mainstream is Ben is Back: "Ben Burns, a drug addicted teenager, shows up unexpectedly to visit his family on Christmas Eve. His wary mother welcomes him, but after finding out he's still in danger, she must to do everything she can to help her family." I really like Lucas Hedges as an actor and thought he was great in Boy Erased and also Manchester by the Sea.
Maurice was a very early gay film done my Merchant Ivory (Room with a View etc.). It's based on a gay novel by E.M. Forster written in 1913 and revised in the 1930s that wasn't published until after his death in the 1970s (it's easy to forget now what a life-altering stigma homosexuality was in the 20th century). A collection of his gay themed short stories was published after his death and is also available The Life to Come: And Other Stories. It's a rather touching love story that looks at both class and sexuality issues pre WW I. One wonders the fickle nature of fame ... why Hugh Grant became a major star but James Wilby did not. If you like this then you would love Brideshead Revisited.
This is our doggo Rufus chilling at the dock.
"As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality." Who doesn't like a bit of super hero at the cottage? I haven't seen the latest one yet, Avengers Endgame, this may have to wait until vacation 2020. I'm also a big fan of Deadpool but not this year.
The Host = Gwoemul is a very different sci fi set in contemporary South Korea by director Bong Joon-ho. There's a lot of hidden cultural commentary I'm missing but I still really enjoyed it. "A family mourns the loss of a child that has been eaten by a hideous monster living in the local Han River...until they find that she is still alive and living inside the sewer!"
"A contemporary take on the Oscar Wilde fable, thirteen year old Arbor and Swifty, best friends for whom the joys of boyhood are almost nonexistent. Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the two boys meet Kitten, a local scrap dealer. Wandering their town with just a horse and a cart, they begin collecting scrap metal for him. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten, keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favors Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys."
District 9 was a break out science fiction movie by South African director Neill Blomkamp in 2009. It's pretty darned amazing both for it's sense of humor, design aesthetic and filming style and also blaster gun fights. Unusually for a Sci Fi movie though, it has a really moving and believable interpersonal theme which is very touching both for humans and for aliens. "Twenty years ago, aliens from another planet made contact with Earth. Now, the refugee camp they are forced to live in has deteriorated into a slum-like ghetto. When field operative Wikus van der Merwe is put in charge of evicting the aliens, he contracts a strange virus that changes his DNA to match that of the refugees. As his body begins to mutate, he becomes a hunted man, and the aliens' only hope for freedom."
And lastly, what would a vacation visit be without binge-watching a favorite TV series? We committed to watching The Americans. The complete final season and I am happy to say we were successful in our mission. Did you know that Toronto Public Library has complete series of many TV series and PBS / BBC shows? Here's a link to new DVDS for adults, kids, TV shows and feature films. TPL also offers streaming video on Hoopla, Kanopy and Overdrive.
We also took up Endeavour but did not watch it. No worries we returned it and there's always next summer. Did you know that TV Series and Documentary DVDs can now be borrowed for 14 days – while regular feature film DVDs can be borrowed for 7 days.
My own cottage viewing is on feature films but if you are interested in documentaries can I suggest my colleague Irene's suggestions:
- Some Documentaries to Usher Out 2016
- Top 20 Documentaries of 2016 at Toronto Public Library
- Some Documentaries to Say Goodbye to 2017
- Send out 2018 With Some Noteworthy Documentaries
- Or if environmental subjects are of interest you might like Our Fragile Planet: DVDs to the Rescue
- I also wrote a blog post on LGBTQ DVDs in 2016
Toronto Reference Library has 10,000 documentary DVDs available to be borrowed up on the 5th floor in the Arts Dept. This is in addition to the feature films down in the Browsery on the main floor.
Enjoy your own summer at the cottage or in town.