M, E and I saw Das Leben der Anderen yesterday. It was one of the best films I have seen in a long time, incredibly well acted and directed and the whole aesthetic of it blew me away. I have this vague idea of what the DDR used to look like - you know, the clothes, buildings, packaging and so on, but that idea isn't really built on anything real; I have never even been in former East Germany, only seen a few Trabis on West German roads back in the early 90's when my father lived in northern Bavaria. This film has that aesthetic down pat, and apparently it was widely acclaimed for how well it captures the look of the DDR in the 80's - my assumption when I saw the film was that it seemed too good to be accurate, visually, perhaps romanticising the squalor of life in a communist state.



It's drab, minimalistic and colourless, done in shades of grey, beige and brown, and the whole film is completely gorgeous in all it's bleakness. It's a must-see for any fan of obsolete technology - bugging equipment, headphones, cars, gramophones, typewriters... and the main character, Stasi agent Gerd Wieser, has a wardrobe that is spectacular in it's spare, conservative monotony. There is a fantastic grey poplin/manchester jacket that had me salivating throughout two thirds of the movie, for example (and I don't even like poplin jackets), charcoal two-piece suits worn with a knit grey pullover, black tie and a shirt that looks not quite white, but very pale grey, the kind of grey shirt that might as well be a white shirt, faintly discoloured in the laundry. Ulrich Mühe is outstanding in the part. I would gush about how good he is, as well as the other actors, but it wouldn't do him justice.

Seriously. See it, if you haven't already.

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pimpinett: (Default)
( Jan. 4th, 2009 02:14 pm)
A kind person posted this link in the[livejournal.com profile] vintage_crime  community, and I'm reposting this for anyone on my friends list who might be interested: Munseys, books in the public domain available online, in ten formats, for free. R Austin Freeman, H C Bailey and G K Chesterton, among many, many others.

Only (tiny) problem is that the two places where I do the most of my reading is a. in bed, b. on the tube. Oh, well.
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Meme nicked off of[livejournal.com profile] kvlt_kitty .

The rules are that for 8 days you have to post something that made you happy that day. Disregarding the chain mail bit.

I really thought about this yesterday, but I reformatted my computer the day before yesterday and so I'm late. Anyway, yesterdays little bit of not-too-intimate-to-share-on-LJ happiness in my life was a short passus in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age where Dr. X operates a sort of microscope device with an ancient Nintendo hand control - you know, that old NES one with the cross-shaped button:

"Eventually they were looking at the severed portion of John Percival Hackworth on a meter-wide sheet of mediatronic paper that one of the assistants had, with great ceremony, unfurled across a low, black lacquer table. They sought something that was bulky by nanotech standards, so the magnification was not very high - even so, the surface of Hackworth's skin looke like a table heaped with crumpled newspapers. If Dr. X shared Hackworth's queasiness, he didn't show it. He appeared to be sitting with his hands folded in the lap of his embroidered silk robe, but Hackworth leaned forward a bit and saw his yellowed, inch-long fingernails overhanging the black Swiss cross of an old Nintendo pad. The fingers moved, the image on the mediatron zoomed forward."

That made me smile.

Todays bit of happy is of the retail therapy variety - we whiled the afternoon away at a vintage clothing fair, and I spent too much money. Oh, well. Bought 1. a huge, cheap cocktail ring with a big chunk of facetted plastic in the right shade of chartreuse set in black, 2. a rather expensive, but pretty celadon green, knit wool sweater with black edges, circa 50's but in mint condition apart from four rather ugly buttons, probably not original, which I promptly substituted with black scottie dog buttons, and 3. this baby:



The stamps on the back and the three crowns on the front tells us that it's Swedish, silver, probably a military badge of some sort and made in 1946, some googling makes me guess that this is an M/39 Air Force Signalist mark. I thought 90 SEK was a bit expensive until I had a closer look at the stamps and saw the cat's paw - not expensive for silver, and it's such a handsome little badge either way. As I've stated before, I like it when symbols of the function in question are incorporated in the design.
There is a small electric plant here in Stockholm, built in 1905 by Art Nouveau architect Ferdinand Boberg, that has stylized borders of sandstone light bulbs as part of the decor. I think that is a pretty fantastic example of this mindset. The "flashes" on this little badge are great, and it will look amazing with this dress when I finish it, I suspect.
pimpinett: (Default)
( Jul. 25th, 2008 01:37 am)
A called today, before going into character, which I really didn't expect him to do; and I've had dinner and a movie with a couple of good friends, so now I feel significantly less gloomy. We saw The Station Agent, which was one of the best films I've seen in a good while. I love it when filmmakers don't feel that they have to fill the flick with Action or Big Obvious Drama; I really respect the director of this film for not throwing in a juicy showdown between the main character Finn, who is a little person, and a couple of hicks who jeer at him a little on a couple of occasions, for instance. It's a kind of dramaturgy that many directors would have used to create a sort of climax and turning-point for the movie, I felt, and it really would have taken away from the story. I also loved how the most seemingly ordinary of the three main characters, an outgoing, attractive but not very intellectual guy, becomes extraordinary in virtue of his kindly and persistent interest in the two other protagonists, a couple of asocial oddballs who both spend a good part of the film mostly wanting to be left alone.

Also, lots of trains and railroad paraphernalia, which always makes me happy.

Right - I ordered buttons for a sailor skirt project, to keep this at least vaguely on-topic. I had about one meter of a fairly sturdy grey cotton damask with a stripe texture lying around, and I don't have a single unlined summer skirt that is wearable at the moment, so I'm making one; just below the knee, slightly flared, with six or eight American peacoat buttons on the front - you know, the classic black plastic four-hole ones with a negative anchor motif in them, in the largest size.

I must say that I like how distinct many American uniform buttons are; strong, simple designs with straightforward symbols that you catch more or less at once, and often in black plastic, which I prefer to metal (although pewter and silver finish is nice, too). British uniform buttons have very obscure motifs, by comparison - there are a few ones that I like, but most of them have a shiny brass or nickel finish, and instead of simple symbols there are fussy, detailed coats of arms - flashier, and very British in a way, but no fun at all from my point of view.

The Swedish ones are pretty nice, actually - I have a small set of silver-coloured ones with the classic three crowns motif that I should put to good use on something, and I think the gold-coloured ones are still fairly easily obtained, too. Can't google up any pictures of them at the moment, so maybe I'll take a picture and post later on.
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