#159: Eugene Kotlyarenko
Eugene Kotlyarenko drops in to tell us about Humanitarian Aid in Ukraine, DIY Movie Channels, Bangladeshi Markets, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked Eugene Kotlyarenko to share some recommendations on Perfectly Imperfect.
Eugene Kotlyarenko is one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers. You may know him from cult-classics such as Spree staring Joe Keery, Wobble Palace with Dasha Nekrasova and Vishwam Velandy, and 0s &1s (which has been recommended on this newsletter). Just last week he dropped the first episode of his brand new podcast, Director’s Commentary, with Project Space 13 director Mike Bilandic. I really value Eugene’s perspective on film and culture, and I’ve found a lot of stuff just from following him on Letterboxd. He’s starting to work on a conspiracy thriller about disinfo, so keep your eyes peeled for updates. Lucky for us, Eugene is here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
🇺🇦⛑🇺🇦 Humanitarian Aid
I guess this newsletter is partly about advising people on how to spend their money, which is not something I particularly love doing…but I will direct your attention to the war going on in Ukraine. Being from Ukraine, lots of people have asked me for context on what’s happening, but I don’t live there and don’t feel like an authority. Still what seems clear to me: Ukraine is the target of an aggressive invasion by the army of a madman who places no value on human life. The Ukrainian forces, including many civilians, are putting up an incredible fight from a defensive position. The country faces a terrible loss of life and infrastructure. The defenders will need as much support as they can get and civilians welcome all humanitarian aid. Here’s a good guide with vetted orgs, if you can help 💙THANK YOU💛 I hope with all my might this horror is over soon and that Ukrainians have peace for many generations.
Before this crisis, we had another one: the global pandemic. If you recall, everything shut down pretty much everywhere…which gave a few film lovers the chance to become film programmers. Using under-the-radar streaming services (like Twitch, but dodgier), several collectives started running daily movie streams. It was a refreshing alternative to going on Netflix/Hulu/Criteria and weighing the options for an hour. Instead of having to pick a movie, you just go to the URL and feast your eyes on the stream. The one I was most obsessed with was Cinephobe, but Cathode Cinema, Moviepassed and SpectacleNYC all gave me much-needed joy, as depression, despair and death colonized human consciousness. A few major discoveries were Golden Mouth, Brimstone and Treacle, Play Dirty and Scalpel. These programmers earn my gratitude and admiration. I think Cathode is the only one still going strong and I highly recommend you check it out.
🛩 Travel during a Global Pandemic
One of the reasons most of the DIY movie streamers died out is because the pandemic came to a close…but I’m sure there’ll be a new one soon enough (depending on how long the war goes on for). So, when the new lockdown hits, I just want you to know you're now entering the best time to travel. I never really got a chance to travel before COVID, but since everyone was scared to fly, tickets became super cheap and every city that’s usually flooded with tourists was suddenly chill. I was thriving (read: trying to ignore my impending divorce) in a desolate, locals-only Venice, Italy circa June 2021 and it was absolutely awesome.
During my travelmania, I tempted the devil by trying to get even cheaper flights and ended up with a free trial on a random site called Unpub. I forgot to cancel the trial and got auto-enrolled for a year, with a fee of $49.95. At first I was pissed BUT soon I was snagging flights at 10-50% less than their list price! EXCEPT every once in a while I notice they register my ticket with weird Russian email addresses and need me to confirm credit card numbers they already have on file. Come to think of it, this seems extremely sketchy…your call.
So when you do all that traveling you may consider getting a subletter for your reasonably-priced studio. I’ve had a few good ones and a few that weren’t so great. This last time around, the candidate had a really nice anxiety in him and complimented my books, so I knew he would be a great choice. Well it was more than that; it was one of the best decisions of my life. He did things to my place that made it more convenient and more beautiful. He also left behind a bunch of vitamins/supplements that I now take (including Theanine and Ashwagandha and Vitamin C) and a bunch of frozen veggies, which I actually learned are the best veggies to cook with. Thank you!
When I gave the subletter the rundown, I made sure to mention all of the great Bangladeshi food here in Little Bangladesh. Besides 20 pound bags of Basmati rice and jars of mixed pickle, most of the grocery stores also have prepared food and dine-in areas which pleasantly recall the cafeterias of yesteryear. The food is delicious and the energy is perfect. My go-to is Aladin, but I’ll occasionally grab a breakfast special at Bangla Bazar if I need to have a meeting in the morning.
And if I ever have a meeting in the valley, I’ll always go to Iliad— hands down, the best bookstore in LA County. Kooky programmatic architecture on the outside, a stadium-sized collection of used books at fair prices within. And it seems the stock of every film-related bookstore that goes out of business ends up here. I’ve made many great purchases over the years including “W.C. Fields by Himself” and “Cronenberg on Cronenberg”— two of the most inspiring film books.
Give the people you love a call, a hug, a kiss or simply a text telling them how great they are, when you feel down, confused, bored, exhausted or just find yourself doom scrolling. It makes everything better 💛
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