Saturday, June 30, 2007

606 Club


Jean Toussaint’s technique and lyrical sound leave little room for anyone to actually invent a movie scene. The scene, the script, and everything you need is already there. It’s like a coloring book. All you have to do is choose the color. Drift from reality as con men do and let your imagination take over as we take off to the sounds of “2 Miles” 5…4…3…2 \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
The star… HA! Who’d you expect? Just after 6:00. Waltz down to the local social spot to grab a sip of someone beautiful. Get comfortable with the bar, put out the vibe. Low lighting, dark wood furniture, small but swanky. I like it. “Bar tender! Vodka Tonic.” Survey the environment. Glance right, lean left and turn. Glance left, and return to center. “Five pounds sir.” 7 o’clock just over my left shoulder sitting on the coach. Distance… might as well be two miles, because I don’t exist… well, not yet. Stunning brunette, green eyes, reading glasses but no book, and heels under 2 inches drinking an apple martini that’s almost empty. Beautiful enough to catch the eye of the females in the room, but no courage from anyone in the room to approach. Only one call, “Bar tender, two apple martini’s.” Best part, no guy. Worst part, she’s not looking for one. My call says it has had a hard day at work, it was too early for a shot and a beer just wouldn’t cut it, not to mention the ‘fuck off bitch’ stamped on her forehead. “Ten pounds sir.” Locked and loaded, time to move. Deep breath. Smooth walk like the smoke lingering in the air. Cool … calm. Prepare for entry. Ten feet……. Five… four…three… “Hello, my names chip.” Turn, pivot, and sit. Shit, beat to the bunch by some schmooze named chip. So close I can smell the ocean coming off the waves of her hair. Status check, I’m good. Patience is a virtue. Take it slow, time is on my side. She can’t take the first guy, no no no. She’s too beautiful to take the first one. She’ll wait for the second or third like a seasoned ball player who lets the first pitch go. Chips stock is falling fast. He’s taking a nosedive off the rejection tree and hitting every branch on the way down. You can see her discord like the sun being blocked out by the moon. Approach, angle, speed, timing, its all off. Like a bad rock song playing for a lady who needs someone smooth. Only one solution, but first we have to deal with our friend Chip here. Just can’t take a hint can he. Don’t blame the guy, blame the girls. They really screwed with this guys head leaving him lost somewhere between taking rejection for face value and taking it as try harder stupid. Knock, knock. Better get that, its opportunity at the door. Every woman loves her savior. Time to go ‘con man’ on the poor sap. Who am I… I know exactly who I am. Walk up, pat him on the back and look her in the eyes and say “Hi honey, how was work?” She gives me a smile from ear to ear, and that was the last we heard of Chip.


samuel... out

Con Man Confidential


Peter managed to sell rich executives tickets for a trip to the moon. Torsten passed himself off as diplomatic ambassador. In four hours Marc sold a holiday home he didn’t own. Reality to these men is what they make it. With such an intangible outlook on reality, it is arguable that these people could be on some levels clinically insane. Documentaries are in one fashion or another used to document reality, and what better way to view the abstract reality these con men live in than a documentary by Alexander Adolph. This genre of film, growing in popularity, is used to open the audience’s eyes to a reality which is either skewed or completely blind to the masses. Michael Moore has probably done the best job of jolting what was considered to be reality and fact by the masses with his infamous documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” which raked in an amazing $228 million in ticket sales and selling more than 3 million DVDs setting the bar for documentaries. You can slowly see how this type of film is changing the industry of cinema. It is a fascination with real people, real life, and reality. There are only so many variations of the ‘A’ typical Cinderella story. There is only so many ways you can sell a happy ending. Directors began to make films with sad endings like Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream.” Those sad-ending story lines had an even shorter shelf life as far as revenue goes. Make room for documentaries. Documentaries have been around for years, but only as of late, only when directors and producers were in need of finding a new way to hold the attention of audiences did this genre gain popularity. Television has since been completely taken over by this sort of cinema dubbed ‘Reality TV.’ "American Idol", "The Bachelor", "Real World", "The Contender", "The Apprentice", "Fear Factor", "Big Brother", the list goes on and on. Ironically enough these shows have as little to do with reality as soap operas. Its like the story line Peter was feeding to rich execs about the trip to the moon. Now you’re the rich execs being fooled into believing these shows have anything to do with reality. There are no more big stars or real talents in most of these shows. A movie star, like a con man, can be anyone who can look you in the eye. A line taken from a good con man movie “Catch Me if You Can” asks “Why do the Yankees always win?” It’s not because they have Mickey Mantle (in cinema it's the Leonard Decaprios, the James Deans, the Pamela Andersons, and the Carmen Electras). Documentary films and series have very few movie stars. It’s because the people, “they can’t stop staring at the dam pin-stripes.”

Samuel Sandoval.... out.

Friday, June 29, 2007

WICKED!!


The musical treked to Tuesday night made me look again at art, political culture, and our perceptions of history. I was blown away by the music, the performances and the overall stagecraft of the evening, but what has lingered with me these past few days are a few lines from the Wizard’s song, Wonderful.

Where I’m from we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history.
A rich man’s a thief or philanthropist. Is one a crusader or ruthless invader.
It’s all in which label is able to persist
There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities
So we act as though they don’t exist

The second line makes me question whether the Wizard is referring to himself, the wicked witch, or President Bush. I think these lines cut to the centre of what Gregory Maguire’s book, and by extension this play are trying to do with Frank L. Baum’s original (and amazing) children series. We see many ties to the The Wizard of OZ: characters dreaming of a life free of a depressive force, be it a small, private farm struggling against economic pressure from big banking and railroad companies in the 1890s, or a community of diminutively statured munchkins oppressed by an evil sorceress with bright red pumps. (Baum’s original Oz was overflowing with politically charged symbolism: The yellow brick road as the failing gold standard in the U.S giving way to the new silver standard represented by the silver slippers; Dorothy’s traveling companions are often interpreted as different facets of the American workforce being manipulated by those in power.) Where Baum’s narrative longs for a trustworthy government capable of dealing with society’s problems in the 1890’s (a kindly, publicly supported government, the wiz, defending the less powerful from evil), Gregory’s story re-examines these same hardships with the advantage of hindsight, throwing Baum’s naïve hope out the window, instead representing a secretive and clandestine cadre behind the seat of power in Oz. This is a Wizard for the 20th Century. Madame Morrible claims that power lies in presentation and perception. By changing public opinion, she means to change history, which is exactly what Maguire does with that same Oz history. Gregory changes the Oz history that Baum first laid down. I feel these are concepts that could only have arisen out of our current postmodern era of well-placed public distrust of government.


Love, Nate

The Wizard of Oz

One might expect a line around the theater, news crews outside and a packed house for the re-release of The Wizard of Oz on the big screen. Not at this big screen showing of The Wizard of Oz. The theater was small and nice and cozy, with only a handful of movie goers. Nonetheless, this did not take away from the amazing experience of seeing The Wizard of Oz on the big screen. A movie everyone has seen a countless number of times, but only on VHS on their home television. I have chosen the Cowardly Lion to psychoanalyze from the film. When we first meet the lion, he does not come off as cowardly whatsoever. He is mean to Dorothy and the others and tries to boss them around. He attempts to take advantage of the fact that he is the king of the jungle. He roars, he threatens and he scares them out of their socks. However, this act of toughness is short-lived and quickly breaks down with his true colors of a coward coming out. This is a sign that the lion is someone who is confused and does not know who he is or where he belongs in the world. He is told by society that he is the king of the jungle and needs to be tough and fearless, but that just is not who he is. He is scared of little Toto and many other things, including the witch and those flying monkeys, who I have to admit, scared the you know what out of me as a little kid too. All the lion needs is a little comfort from his new found friends and an authority figure, such as The Wizard, to tell him he does have courage and he will be just fine in this world. By the end of the movie, he gets his crown and his thrown and finds his place on earth.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this exhibit speaks volumes

Tate Britain’s exhibit on photographing Britain was very powerful exhibit. It took you through the history of photography through pictures in Britain’s past, instead of just giving you facts and dates about the evolution of photography. This way of telling history through the images helps convey the importance of each image to the viewer. The New Freedoms in Photography section was one of the more important sections in the exhibit. It showed a significant step in the turning of photography from portraits into art and expression and emotion. In particular Angus McBean’s Frances Day fused photo and painting and all the while showing a slightly controversial image for the time.
Another area that is guaranteed to catch your attention, weather you agree with it or not, was in the Urge to Document section, where Derek Ridgers’ photo of a girl from the counter culture scene titled Yasmin, Kings Road ’84. The photo shows this girl dressed up and covered in makeup with the perfect expression of apathy combines together to perfectly convey her feelings on popular culture and her attempt to break away and be a part of what she wants, not what is told to want.
However, arguably the most powerful photograph in the exhibit was in the final room called Reflections on a Strange Country. There were three giant photos of very close up faces of three Marines. The first was showing the typical, battle hardened gung-ho Marine ready for war, the second Marine was visibly scared but still wasn’t going to let that stop him from doing what was required of him. The most important was the final picture showing a much more humanistic image of a scared young adult in a military uniform, terrified that his life might end for the will of a leader he has never met. The third Marine is on the verge of tears and sweating and showing his feelings very openly and obviously, showing that although they are trained for war, not all are ready for it.
-John Novi

Wicked

I enjoyed last night's production of Wicked so much, I don't even mind if they changed the ending from the book. I felt it was superbly produced and thouroughly entertaining. But enough gushing about the show, for those of you unfamiliar with the story, it is an alternate perspective of the Wizard of Oz show we all know and love so much. It focuses on the Wicked Witch of the West and the events in her life leading up to her tragic ending, being 'melted' by a bucket of water. I especially liked how both the show and book portray this seemingly innocent land and gave it a more complex level of depth, a more satisfying explanation instead of the typical good vs. bad plot. Since the land of Oz is not homogenous, there is considerable strife between regular humans, the munchkins, and talking animals. A kind of uneasy segregation exists The flaws of the people in the land of Oz smash the ideas of how we knew them in the orgional story. The Wicked witch isn't so wicked after all, the good witch is actually pretty selfish, the Wizard is the evil one, and there is a secret conspiracy to silence all talking animals a la Gestapo style. Simply put, this musical puts a new, more satisfying spin on a classic tale, giving new life to a story we thought was dead and forgotten.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Out of The Past

Out of the Past

Out of the Past, a Film Noir, written by Daniel Mainwaring and directed by Jacques Tournuer, is a complex film that looks into the dark past of on man, Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum). The film involves an ongoing controversy that happened in an earlier period of Bailey’s life. The film has marvelous acting which includes Jane Greer who plays Kathie Moffat, and the infamous Kirk Douglas who plays the gangster Whit Sterling. This film uses mystery and an ongoing wonder about what happened and what is going to happen, to capture the audience. The film tempted you to want to help Bailey, but because you do not know his story, you cannot help but have suspicion towards his character. The story unravels and some of the mystery unfolds, but what is great is how Tournuer end the film the mystery does not end. The Film Noir ends with Bailey and Kathie dying suddenly, but it doesn’t explain what decision he was going to make. In the final scene the mute boy ends the worry of the other woman in Bailey’s life, Meta Carson (Rhonda Fleming), by telling her that Bailey was not going to marry her. Tournuer uses this, to end one story, the story between Bailey and Carson, but that is not the entire story, and thus he leaves it open for interpretation. It is a very well done film, full of cool one liners, that create a type of nonchalant attitude about everything that is happening. The title of the film is very important because it is emphasizing the fact, that no matter how much one changes their life, their history is always there to haunt them, and sometimes, even comes back…right out of the past.
-Duncan Kelm

Con Man Confidential; not so confidential anymore!

The whole concept behind the documentary film by Adolph, “Con Man Confidential” underlies greed and money, an obvious typecast of a con artist. It amazes me to see how much money and greed can really turn your life into a downward spiral of lies and deceit and will eventually lead to a massive downfall. This documentary is a perfect example of the old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Life definitely is what you make of it. If you’re out there searching for a something better, you will never be satisfied with what you have, and these men in the film are a perfect example of that. The director’s choice of sequences about different topics was very fascinating. The first sequence was how these different men conned people. It was a shallow sequence that contained no depth of the individual. They each talked about the characteristics of a conman. You had to be “sleek, confident, and assuring,” as well as not break eye contact with the person you were conning. Confidence was another key aspect they continually talked about. For example, one man stated, “Believe you will win and you will.” If you are confident in yourself, everyone will believe in you, which is a life lesson in itself. The second sequence of shots talked a little more about these men and how they grew up in harsh environments. The audience was really able to see how they were brought up, in a personal environment and how it really affected them in the long run. The last sequence was about how they got caught and how much they were serving in for conning people for millions. Adolph’s choice of sequence was genius. He introduced the topic, and then the audience got a background feel to these men, and then their outcomes. It unfolded the film nicely, and it was a brilliant choice of editing. This film made me realize how content I am with my life and how things have unfolded thus far. All I really need in life are friends and an open mind. Being able to travel and have a good outlook on life is all one really needs.

Con Man Confidential

Con Man Confidential

Con Man Confidential, a film by Alexander Adloph, was an eye opening film. The film which talks about the life about four different Con-Men from Germany, and their different stories, really shines light onto a world very rarely portrayed in modern life. It was fascinating how these men would take simple aspects, just as reading a person’s expressions or emotions, and turn it around to fleece them out of money. Some of the cons that were discussed seem so easy to complete; it occurred to me though that it really takes a specific person to be able to execute these scams. Some might say that it was so obvious what the men were doing but in actuality, if you trust someone, like they make you do, it is very easy to just ignore small concerns. The film really opened my eyes to how in depth and far these men were willing to go to lie, and maintain their false identity. They had been living false lives for years, and even until the minute they confessed, they considered themselves to be that person. It simply amazed me! Also it dawned on me how easily it was for these men to manipulate the trust of another person. One man even mentioned in the film, that he has trouble trusting anyone now, because he knows what can happen and how you can be severely taken advantage of. This film made me think about all those I trust, and made me considerer what if one was really just trying to gain my trust to take advantage of me. This is definitely not true, but it just makes you think about who your friend is really, and who is trying to screw you over. Fantastic documentary and really opened my eyes to what the real life George Clooney’s and Brad Pitt’s (Ocean’s 11-13) are like.
-Duncan Kelm

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wizard of Oz



The Wizard of Oz will always remain an all time classic. When little, each and every one of us sat down to watch as Victor Fleming introduces to us a tale of a Kansas girl whose dream is to find happiness “somewhere over the rainbow.” I admit, it had been awhile since I had seen the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man along with the Wicked Witch. This time I noticed certain props I had never observed before. When Dorothy and her three unfortunate misfits went to retrieve the witch’s broom, I had never realized the scarecrow caring a gun before as well as the lion’s string being so noticeable.
If I were to give psychological approach to Fleming’s Wizard of Oz, in my opinion, Dorothy would be a main character I would psychoanalyze. Dorothy first companion, scarecrow, seemed to have a strong kinship as he was with her from beginning to end. The way I see is, the scarecrow was in a sense a father figure to Dorothy as if you watch closely you will see he stood by her and was protective throughout the film. When Dorothy became hungry he took a beating of apples so she could eat, when she grew tired of walking towards emerald city he asked for her hand to carry her, and when Dorothy was trapped in the witch’s castle he was responsible for developing the plan to sneak in and rescue her. From my observation, the scarecrow would have been nearest and dearest to Dorothy’s heart.

Jude Law


You know it’s funny, the movie Le Samourai was not awful yet it does not strike me as a film most would rush to buy tickets for either. I‘m not to familiar with Jean- Pierre Melville’s work but let me tell you someone who is, Jude Law. How can one handsome, good looking, beautiful, and gorgeous man draw the attention of many to a 1967 Film? He shows up to introduce the film that’s how! Everyone was sitting in their chairs anxiously waiting for Jude to grace us with his presence. I must admit I was beginning to think it would just be my luck and Jude Law would be no where in sight. I thought, without a doubt, the lights would go down and he would appear on screen saying “Le Samourai is one of my all time favorite films. Enjoy!” Luckily, this was not the case. When Mr. Law entered the theater, you could see the excitement of the audience which consisted of mainly females. Now I can’t really explain or give any details as to what his mini interview entailed but I can tell you the audience stared at him in awe.
Once Jude introduced the film, he walked down the aisle towards the enter and exit doors. Flashes of light went off like fireworks and the audience eyes stayed with him. At one point I left to the restroom and noticed at least eleven seats that were empty when the seats began completely filled. I guess its fact, having a celebrity introduce a film draws spectators.

Good thing it’s just a dream, and the wizard isn’t real

The scarecrow is one complexly simple guy. He claims he needs a brain but the entire movie, he is the one with the plan, knows where to go, and thinks of ways to solve problems. He is just too trapped in the moment to realize it. The scarecrow doesn’t need a brain; he just needs some Ritalin to focus his thoughts. With his ADHD under control, the scarecrow can not only scare crows, but also actually earn the degree that the wizard just handed to him.
The lion claims to be cowardly, but in actuality he’s just narcissistic. He is unhappy with his image so at first tries to hide it in his outburst when you first meet him, and for the rest of the movie, tries to cope with his poor body image. When the wizard gives him the medal, it is exactly what he needed to show off to people, and in actuality instead of helping the lion with his condition, the wizard just makes it worse with a quick fix.
The tin man has Munchausen’s syndrome, which is obvious because of a simple chemical reason; tin inhibits rust. The tin man needs his heart to make his crying and “rusting” become more believable. The reason he dances around after being oiled up is because people are paying attention to him so he’s happy, but only when Dorothy leaves does he cry and start to rust again. The heart the wizard gives him will only make the tin man’s condition worse.
It turns out the wizard isn’t as smart as everyone thinks he is, and only seems to make problems worse.
-John Novi

Hey Jude, your presence, made it only slightly better

For the screening of Le Samourai I believe the presence of a famous actor greatly altered our expectations as an audience. We idolize our celebrities in the American culture and they have the power to sway people’s onions. I believe that if we had seen Le Samourai without the introduction and appearance of Jude Law, all of our thoughts on the film would have been much different. I personally thought the film wasn’t that fantastic, but since Jude was there and he told us all that it was his favorite French film, I immediately had high hopes, after all why would an actor lie? It wasn’t until half way through the film that I realized that I really wasn’t enjoying it, which at first I started to feel upset that I didn’t like it but realized I was only feeling upset because its Jude’s favorite.
Had he not been there this would have been just another movie, love it or hate it, but with a celebrity endorsing it, it seems to turn into love it or like it.
-John Novi

Die Blechtrommel aka The Tin Drum

"That day, thinking about the grown-up world and my own future, I decided to call a halt. To stop growing then and there and remain a three-year-old, a gnome, once and for all" - Oskar

Volker Schlöndorff's Tin Drum is the best German film I've ever seen! (It’s the only German film I've seen) Anyways, the little boy who plays Oskar (David Bennett) is such a remarkable actor even at the age of 11. Oskar is a little boy who, after seeing all the horridness of being an adult, decides to stop growing and stay a 3 year old forever by falling down the stairs. A gross Peter Pan if you will.

The film, I believe, is an abstract tale on how Germany grew in the late 1800's/early 1900's. Also, there are subtle points in the film showing how the people of Germany were almost mind washed into the Nazi regime and how they almost wish it not part of their history. By today's standards, the film is very grotesque and sometimes unbearable to watch (incest, child sex, fishing for eels with a horse's head), but the images happen during the most gruesome times of Germany's history. I believe the director used this to show his message of how Germans were led astray for a long period of time. Also, an image I remember vividly: at the beginning of the Nazi involvement of Oskar's family, the father takes down a picture of Beethoven to make way for a new radio and a picture of Hitler. Towards the end of the film, Beethoven is put back in it's place while the father speaks of how regretful he is of what has happened, what he has done (possibly a metaphor of how the German people are regretful of how they lost their way??? something to think about...)

Dali and Disney's Destino


Surrealism, especially Dali's masterpieces, is so abstract and invigorating that one must stop and stare at the complexity and beauty of the art. This is exactly how I stumbled upon Dali and Disney's joint work on the short film Destino while stumbling through his exhibit in the Tate Modern. A visual hallucination or mind and reality, the joint production felt unusually fluid and gentle. Man and landscapes tend to flow into one another throughout the film, dissolving into the vastness of space and time. If I were ever to take any hard drug, I can’t believe it would look anything different than how Dali presents his realities on his painting and especially in this film. It seems all his work focus on the subconscious and dreams in a visual art form, all which startle and disturb me. We have Disney to thank on making this Destino happen, because he believed all the current and big artists to have such opportunities to “break new trails.”
Honestly, I tend to stay away from Freudian conversations because a) I don’t know shit about Freud and his findings, and b) all technical jargon frightens me. However, after seeing Destino, Dali’s subtle yet profound approach to search within the inner dealings within one’s mind intrigues me and lured me into focusing on his other pieces like The Persistence of Memory (melting clocks) and
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening. His work is spellbinding and has to be really dissected carefully when looked upon, or you will lose his message.

8 1/2: Celebrate the Moment

A collague of dream sequences and reality, Fellini’s 8 ½ is a majestic piece of cinematic art. Particularly, I would like to focus on the ending, so if you haven’t seen it and do not want it to be spoiled for you, don’t read further.
Guido after all his misleadings and unfocused floudering in making his film is finally forced to face the demons and set a date for filming. At the beginnning of the film, we see a dream sequence where a man is trapped in his own car in traffic, suffocating by the fumes, obviously meaning his situation with the producers, actors, *women* hounding him throught 8 ½. The pressure of his duties as director have finally wore him down so much that he wants nothing to do with them, but he cannot simply give the project up for he would lose everything he needs (I believe the women). At a press conference, he is questioned on when the filming will begin and who will be starring. He has no answers, only a blank stare which the media pounces on. He flees the stalking questions of the new reporters and producers by hiding underneath the conference table. The only way he sees to release himself is through the bullet of a gun, given to him by his faithful assistant whom he treated horribly. It is unclear if he actually commited suicide or it is just a methaphorical symbol that he finally let go of his responsibilities. However, the important message to take from the ending, or at least what I got out of it, is that life if a game that we are all actors and actresses performing our simple roles and that our only real response from the stage of life is to join hands and celebrate the good moments.

mike smitty

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Le Samurai Jef Costello Stone Cold Killer

Jef Costello Straight Faced Perfectionist Killer

Le Samurai written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville is a phenomenal film. When watching Jef Costello, played by Alian Delon, go about his life, it was a combination of perfectionist and killer. Watching Costello and his carefully planned murders on the big screen really captured me with how much of a stone emotionless killer he was. Melville shows us the life of a young man, who is deeply involved in French crime. However, he uses small clips to show that although Costello is a cold hearted killer, he also has a conscience. Melville uses the bird in Costello’s apartment to show that he can relate to something, even if it is just a small bird. Melville uses extreme angle shots, as well as a strong emphasis on sound to create a feeling of suspense between Costello and what he was doing. The sounds of the subway and cars and to the build up, which eventually get so load and so gripping that Melville must back off to bring the audience back to the plot. Costello is a perfect killer, which can be related to the title Le Samurai. Costello is well trained and prepared for anything, not much unlike a Samurai. But unfortunately in the end Costello’s life catches up to him and he is killed, which could be a direct relation to the fact that the art and act of being a Samurai has almost died out. This was the case back in 1967 when the film was created and is still the case now. A Samurai was considered the ultimate honor, and the ultimate soldier, now the elegance has been stripped to instead enforce strength and sheer power in military. The elegance and perfection no longer exists, which in many ways is the story of Costello’s life. He plans his murders carefully as to not to get caught, but in the end he ends up being killed. However, Melville does a fantastic job, by showing that even though Costello was a criminal, and was supposed to murder the pianist; he kept his honor and had no bullets in the gun. He was a Samurai from start to finish. Jef Costello was the ultimate contract killer, a perfectionist and honorable until his last breath. Melville put together one fantastic film!
-Duncan Kelm

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Wizard of Oz

From the perspective of a young child, “The Wizard of Oz” is a magical, even scary, movie about being separated from your family, talking characters, witches, munchkins, and flying monkeys. Being prompted of the psychological element that Fleming incorporated into the film, I actively looked for how scenes could be interpreted from a psychoanalytic perspective, changing the meaning of the film into an exploration of the mind. Fleming uses Dorothy and her unconsciousness as a vehicle to explore the mind. The complexity of Dorothy’s character is witnessed immediately from the opening scene. Her lack of independence, self-confidence, and anxiety are evident as she runs from person to person, asking them to fix her dilemma with the neighbor. When she is injured and becomes unconscious, Fleming uses this as an opportunity to explore a person’s consciousness and subconscious, using color to separate the two worlds: reality, or consciousness, is filmed in black and white, while desires and fears, hidden in the sub-conscious, is filmed in color. Using black and white, Fleming conveys the idea that reality and life are often mundane to us: we have regular schedules, we get used to them, and we deal with life as it comes. Using color, Fleming expresses that our sub-consciousness is where our lives become real to us because our deepest desires and fears are met and conquered, bringing excitement and accomplishment to our lives. In our dreams and sub-consciousness, we have freedom and can be whatever we want. In her dream, Dorothy’s fears and desires are released, represented by the different characters she meets and the qualities they possess. Glenda is the guidance she needs as a young girl, the lion is the courage she needs to be independent, the scarecrow is the knowledge, the tin man is the compassion and understanding, and the wicked witch is the challenges she’ll meet. During her dream, Dorothy is able to find her way home, defeat an evil witch, stand up to a great wizard, and use her ruby red shoes to protect her as she follows the yellow brick road home. The wizard of Oz gave the lion a medal, the tin man a heart, the scarecrow a diploma, and Dorothy received the ruby red slippers from Glenda. This connects with the idea that people often need a tangible object to attach their sense of ability to accomplish something. They were all able to accomplish their desires prior to receiving these items, the scarecrow came up with a plan to save Dorothy and the lion led the entrance into the witch’s lair, but receiving these tangible objects gives them the confidence to try. When Dorothy wakes up, once again the film is black and white. She has returned to reality and although she has dreamed everything, she believes it is real, and she can take what she learned from her dream and incorporate it into her reality.

Marissa Verdeflor

Le Samourai

Having a movie star in the house did change my experience leading up to the film, but once the film started it was like most other movie experiences. This may be due to the fact that Jude Law was not even in the theater once the movie started. Since Jude Law is such a hot celebrity, I guess I was expecting a younger crowd of screaming British girls, with the exception of our San Diego State group. The audience seemed a little on the edge of their seats until Jude Law came, at least I was. People were looking behind them whenever they heard someone come walking down the aisle and I was trying to figure out if the man in the shadows on the back corner of the stage was Jude or not. It was not, but he was standing right next to him apparently. Once the half hour interview was over, Jude Law left never to be seen again and I never got a really good look at him, because as he walked down the aisle right next to me, I was trying to get a picture that did not turn out too well anyway. The film Le Samourai was by far my favorite of all the cineTREK films I have seen up to this point. Foreign films tend to be harder for me to follow, because I have to read the subtitles as well as try to watch all the action on the screen at the same time, which for some reason I find difficult. This movie had enough action, drama and suspense and yet not a whole lot of talking and subtitles for me to try to follow. Le Samourai was the type of film that I love to watch. The cop chasing the killer, but the killer always one step ahead of the cop, until the very end.

Wizard of Oz

I've been watching this movie ever since I can remember, and I still love it to this day. Seeing it on the big screen was really amazing for me, and certainly something I never expected to happen. Psychoanalyzing one of the characters is also something I never expected to end up doing, but then I have never put too much thought into the human frailty element of the film, obviously I've always noticed the weaknesses of the characters because thats the whole point of the film, but putting deep thought is a horse of a different color (too much? maybe, but I had to) The character I've decided to analyze is Dorothy who has run away from home where she feels no one listens to her, no one appreciates her, and of course she can't let Toto get taken away. So she runs off only to be told by a somewhat un-magical mystic that her Auntie Em is stricken with loss and may be ill, of course sweet Dorothy rushes towards home, only to be caught in a tornado which leads to her being swept away to Oz. Dorothy adventure in Oz really shows how she learns that she is loved, needed, and appreciated, from the very beginning when she smashes the Wicked Witch of the East all the munchkins adore her, she is the heroine, she is the one who has saved them, they are thankful. This shows something of Dorothy's subconscious, her desire to be important and noticed. From here she continues down the brick road to find the wizard to take her home; along the way she meets her compatriots the Scarecrow, Tin man, and Cowardly Lion, all of whom resemble the farm hands from her home in Kansas. Dorothy travels with them to the Emerald City becoming good friends, and once again being important, she is the one who has convinced them to come along, the glue binding their journey. Learning that they care about her, and her about them, subconsciously realizing that she is important to people at home and didn't need to run away. In the end of course this is exactly what she comes to realize and state to Glinda, before the ruby slippers transport her back to the real world and her family and friends.
I would say that Dorothy was really an insecure young girl who thought she could find her place if only she traveled the world, when all she really needed was simply to go home where she belonged all along.

-Allie Hackett

Jude Law

Its funny how people react in the presence of someone famous, when I found out that there was an opportunity to see Jude Law in person I immediately knew I had to go, who could pass up seeing Jude Law in London?
On Wednesday the 20th of June around 7:30 everyone was getting ready to head over to the Institut Francais, Jude Law would be opening the film Le Samourai at 8:30pm I was incredibly excited, but on the walk over I started to think how odd it was that I, and everyone else (the males less so) were so eager to see this celebrity; at one point Jude Law was just an average, really attractive guy going about his life, then a few movies later and everyone wants to see him and take his picture. This makes me wonder how it would be to be in Jude Law's position, because he must not feel too different than he ever did, just like when people age they still feel the same as they did at 18 (something my mother told me when I was younger and still in the mindset that parents had never been young or in my situation). When it comes down to it, everyone is getting really excited to see someone who could just as well have been your neighbor Joe down the road, just add acting and there you go. However I'm off subject, this is about the audience behaving differently around a celebrity, which they certainly were. When Jude Law stepped onto the stage you could feel the audience's excitement, I was surprised no one screamed, even before we were in the theater simply the fact that there was such a long line for the film, when for the previous films at the same location there had been only a few waiting, and only at the top of the stairs. A celebrity brings the crowds, and a sense of thrill, you just knew something coming, like the smell before a storm. After the magic of Jude Law on stage the film almost seemed diminished, there was a theater wide sigh as he rushed out as fast as possible. I can only imagine the distraction of him actually staying in the theater for the whole movie, I don't think all eyes would be on the screen. As far as going to a theater to watch a movie having a celebrity there is a rush, but really detracts from the actual movie, though in the end I don't really mind watching Jude Law talk instead.

-Allie Hackett

Jude Law (what else is there to say!?)

Jude freaking LAW!!! What is there to say about such a refined and delicious young amazing actor?! Obviously the audience was filled with a more feminine crowd and it seemed people were more interested in seeing him versus hearing what he actually had to say. Although somewhat guilty myself, I did find some of his comments about “Le Samourai” quite intriguing. He talked about the chirping bird at the beginning and how it painted a poetic mood for the movie. Jude also talked about the simplicity of the plot and yet it still was an excellent film. The beginning was a silent scene with no dialogue. And continually Jef has several silent scenes which are quite difficult for an actor, and yet Alain Delon acted out each scene with amazing presence and attitude. The director Jean-Pierre Melville creates this character with Jef, in which you almost feel bad for him and the audience is on his side. Sympathetic for him and his situation, even though Jef did steal cars and kill a man for money. Melville makes you see things through the other point of view. Throughout the film, noise was apparent in the bird chips as well and the subway noises. Melville wanted the audience to feel as if they were there, striking an empathetic emotion. An interesting technique used for editing was the use of the wipe. A wipe is where the scene is wiped from one side of the screen vertically and opens up to a new scene. This technique can be seen in a lot of 1980’s films and it was interesting to see that in this film from 1971, and it was used throughout. I loved the film, not only because Jude Law said he liked it, but because it showed an out of the ordinary twist of emotion you experience while watching the film from the beginning to the end.

For the love of Jude

Perhaps this is just me, but given the incentive to go to a film with the introduction by Jude Law is almost brainless. Who does not want to see Jude, live and in person. He is about the most gorgeous person alive. I can not imagine his presence not having an effect on an audience.

While getting ready (anthropological work while still at the flat), I noticed just how good of an impression was wanting to be made. The wardrobe choice became that much harder and the questions of “Does this look okay?” became much more frequent. Even though it was highly unlikely that anyone would ever meet the man face to face, the thought of it possibly happening is always there. There is always hope for moments like that, or for a moment when he would look at you in the audience (of course one has to look their best!).

Sitting in the theatre, there was much of an estrogen overload. I think it was about 90% women…leaving 10% to the males (meaning they probably were there for the cinetrek). There was a group of girls sitting directly in front of me and I couldn't help but watch them. Secretly trying to hide her camera, the girl is videotaping Jude as he is talking. She would take pictures every few minutes, each time showing her friend next to her making sure it was the best shot.

I am not going to say I would have not gone to “Le Samourai” if it wasn’t for Jude Law, but having him there gives a reason to enjoy it that much more. The movie is wanted to be liked because you can relate to that celebrity that much more. A commonality between yourself and others is always wanted, so the desire for that with a famously gorgeous celebrity is desired even greater, perhaps altering what we would normally consider a movie of interest.

"Out of the Past": Portrayal of Women

Being quite unfamiliar with Film Noir, it makes it somewhat difficult to give an accurate reading on the film “Out of the Past”. What did catch my interest though was the portrayal of women. We have the traditional view of women shown in Anne, staying by her man Jeff even when he is accused of murdering two men and having an affair with another woman. In complete contrast to the image of the woman being submissive to the man, we have the “bad ass” displayed in Kathie. She kills with no remorse (you could even see there was no expression on her face after a gun shot), she lies, is disloyal, she is everything you can see of a man in a gangster mob flick. To me, there is much of a gender role flip from the traditional. Perhaps this is a reason why Film Noir was so influential. It seems interesting that Kathie, the bad ass, ends up dead in the end. Her acts ultimately led to her demise? Then there is Anne who finally gets closure after Jeff’s funeral, asking the “deaf and dumb” boy if Jeff was running away with Kathie when he was killed. The response of a nod finally gave her closure, allowing her to run away. The good girl wins in the end getting escape (even though the “yes” response was a lie). Perhaps it is not always bad to be the good girl? But then again, the femme fatale is the one who leaves the biggest impression.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dali: Inspiration from Metamorphosis of Narcissus


The following was written from a sense of inspiration after viewing the Dali painting, Metamorphosis of Narcissus.

"Failed"
(Insert Relationship Here)
The chess match in my mind cracks open like a seed through the soil,
Leaving ever possible feelings of loss.
If I had moved there,
You could have moved elsewhere.
The simplicity of the matter is that you did,
Not so far,
But far enough to where my heart could no longer feel the grazing of yours,
Like a ravenous beast searching for the liquid scarlet of your body,
Only to find scraps thrown to the side,
Not of worth,
Just enough to get by.
Your hands still hold the pieces of lust,
Dangling in front of, just out of reach.
Starvation takes its course and all sense of hope is lost.
They watch it happen,
Crowded around they do nothing, just watch it fail.
Why shall you not rise me up to meet your fornicating canyons,
Ever so slightly open as to expel the scent of lust,
Drawing me in one breath at a time.
This is a battle to never be won,
So I sit and ponder in a puddle of my eye’s rain,
Never to understand what pawn moved put me in this place.
One or many that led to the downfall of love,
So insignificant now.
I restlessly slip into an uncomfortably peaceful comatose,
Alive on the outside, but dead on the in.
My head on my knee while I sit and think,
I am cracked and broken,
Torn and sewn,
But the seems will not stay mended,
And,
Consciousness feeling is lost.
The storm has taken its toll,
And my heart did not weather,
Lost now and numb,
For anything and everything that will (n)ever come.

-andy worries

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Blessing

The Sketch gallery is an event in itself but when coupled with Claire Hooper’s The Blessing, it is an unforgettable experience. Twelve screens simultaneously projecting video means that her work surrounds you 360 degrees--unusual for a piece of art and the first time I have seen anything like it. A strong theme seen throughout the video was the idea of an unknown power that has the ability to overcome you. This idea was seen in the man having an epileptic fit, the man dreaming (or having a nightmare?), and, more subtly, the theme of pyramids and triangles. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians thought the pyramid symbolized the rays of the sun and triangles were often used to send energy upward to a single point in the heavens. The triangle is also the physical shape of a deeply sacred number, the number three. To incorporate the idea of “The Blessing” think Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, although there are countless other examples. In The Blessing, Hooper uses a kaleidoscopic effect to emphasize the man having a seizure (an out-of-body experience) exemplifying the excess of mystical power. This idea of mysticism is shown again when the man is looking into the pyramid trying to find answers but to what question? The pyramid is also a prism that reflects light, or truth. Hooper’s work is powerful to the viewer because of scenes in the video that were shot in the same room we are sitting in. We become a part of the art, the art consumes us. In the Sketch pamphlet, a quote from Saint Teresa of Avila’s description of the 'Rapture' is used that encapsulates what Hooper’s installation meant for me, “you are being carried away you know not where.”

Dali and Film exhibit

During our visit to the Dali and film exhibit at the Tate Modern, I found Salvador Dali’s artwork more profound that I originally had preconceived. My favorite art displayed there was his film called “Destino,” a Disney film that was never released because of its content. This film was so amazing how it brought his artwork to life. The film showed a beautiful woman with long wavy brown hair that seemed to have a life of its own. In fact, every aspect of the film had a life of its own, from the imagery to the scenery that began to come alive throughout the film, it really made this film intriguing to watch. Dali used his unique approach to illustrate a spiraling love saga. It caught my eye, and I watched it three times to really catch every aspect of the intensity of this dark film. Even though "Destino" was made in 1946, it used a very futuristic approach to the storyline unfolding literally in front of your eyes. Another art work I also enjoyed was Dali’s drawing called “Harpo Marx." I love the fact that they were friends. I love the Marx Brothers films, and I found it interesting to see him use the image of Harpo and incorporate that into his works. I thoroughly enjoyed his work and glad we got to experience his art in person.

Whitechapel Films

Although we attended the wrong film for the cinetrek on Sunday, we ended up watching the three different films, “An Epic Poem”, “Home and Dry”, as well as “Living the Sacrifice.” However I did not enjoy these films, nor understand them, I found the cinematography on “An Epic Poem” by Lezli Ann Barret quite aesthetically pleasing. The images used throughout combined still photography with motion picture as well as drawing and cartoons. Barret used films and photos from old to new in which brought a unique approach to the film. Throughout the film, she used cupid as a modern day man showing him in different viewpoints with a naked woman reenacting this classic cupid portrait holding a mirror for a beautiful lady while in bed. There is a repetition of this image throughout the film in different scenarios and it seemed to always come back to the original image presented. She also continually used mirrors throughout. Barret used many scenes with pillars in the background, in which I found to be a profound image. She used women walking alone throughout these pillars as a time of solitude. She also used several of the long shots with these scenery images to show the massive structures and to get a better sense of the location. Her mixture of camera angles was very unique to this film. She made her audience continually move to follow the subject, using every part of the screen for her focus. Barret used different vibrant colors of red and yellow for particular scenes as well as sepia tone shots. The cinematography of this film is quite inspirational and exclusive to her personal style.

Tate Modern and Dali

At the Dali exhibit at the Tate Modern museum forces people to view outside the box. Dali’s style of borderline psychotic painting gives viewers a unique experience, whether or not they enjoy them. One piece in particular that is sure to cause the neurons in your brain to fire up is Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate. The painting’s most essential features are; naked woman lying on her back, two tigers leaping through the air, and an elephant on extra long legs in the background. Upon careful examination of the painting it is clearly seen that one tiger has jumped out of the mouth of the other, and both out of a large fish. The woman is shown looking away from the viewer, and seeming oblivious to the imminent tiger attack within seconds. The elephant in the back appears to be carrying a statue but it can’t be seen exactly what it is. But what the elephant is carrying isn’t what makes it unique, its legs are elongated up to ten times the normal length, making the elephant seem as if it has a very long journey ahead of it to require such long legs.
The title of the painting is seen only after the viewer stares at the painting for some time and notices an actual bee flying around a pomegranate near the woman. Upon seeing this part of the painting, along with its title makes the whole thing make more sense. The woman in the picture is dreaming the fantastic world around her, and she is only in danger of her own dreams and not the tigers shown in mid attack.
A painting like this shows into the depth of the artist’s own dreams and shows the true astounding world that exists in Dali’s mind.

-John Novi

28 Weeks Later

28 Weeks Later is the best blockbuster film I have seen so far this summer. However, there are still a lot of films I would like to see when back in the states, so I am guessing it will be topped. Prior to seeing this film, I had no idea what to expect or what it was about. Basically, I was dragged to the theater with my friends to see this film on its opening weekend, and in the back of my mind I was hoping the film would be sold out, so we would have to see something else. Not till the film started did the realization that I was watching another zombie film come out, and honestly, I thought the film was going to suck. 28 Weeks Later stars Jeremy Renner and Rose Byrne who are the heroes of the film. Trying not to ruin too much for those of you who read this and have not seen the film, they nearly save both kids from the outbreak. This movie was thrilling, scary, and funny and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. After seeing the film, it even made me second guess my trip to London, but that thought was short lived and only lasted a few minutes. Another reason I enjoyed the film was the fact that it did take place in London and knowing I would be living here very soon, seemed to make the film just that much more enjoyable. I still have yet to see the first film, 28 Days Later, and really want to now. By seeing 28 Weeks Later first, I hope I did not ruin the first one for myself.

CocoRosie at the Bloomsbury Ballroom

An amazing fusion of sound, eros, light, film, video and art, the Coco Rosie concert at an intimate art deco palace, the Bloomsbury Ballroom, epitomized the thesis for this class: that it is not enough to study films set in London (London in Film), nor is it enough to become intimate with the way London chronicles film and film culture (London on Film), nor is it enough to conceive of London itself as cinema (London as film). In the end, it is the last designation, London is film, that best captures the blend of peoples and visual media that London provides--for London is, at once, existentially cinematic and cinematically existential.

Here's a taste from the concert; my apologies for the bad sound and lighting--all the cinematographer's fault, not CocoRosie's!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dali & Film

The Tate Modern’s exhibit, “Dali & Film” showcased Dali’s films and art pieces together to demonstrate how they influenced one another. Seeing Dali’s two forms of art side by side shed light on his unique style of exploring the sub conscious with surreal, dream-like images: dismembered body parts, ants taking over these body parts, barren desserts, etc. His work may not appeal aesthetically, but it is the emotions that are evoked by these images and the way they challenge an individual’s perception that make Dali a key artist of surrealism. This is seen in Dali’s work “Remorse or Sphinx Embedded in the Sand.” When you first look at the picture, your gaze is immediately captured by the black shadow that is at the center of the painting, possibly symbolic for remorse—it follows you wherever you go and can become bigger than you. In front of the shadow is a frail woman with her back towards us. From the waist up, she is stuck in sand, and as her body enters the sand, we see bone rather than flesh, just like remorse can consume an individual. She is holding her hand to her head as she looks down, as if she’s made the biggest mistake. She is all alone and ahead, in the distance, all you see are sharp mountains, a challenging and unknown future. Dali puts together these images to personify an individual’s experience of remorse. The painting evokes emotions of disappointment, helplessness, hopelessness, and loneliness, enabling the viewer to connect with the woman. While these images are quite tame in comparison to Dali’s other works, the juxtaposition of a beautiful woman with a bleak dessert and skeleton embodies the remorse that we may deny when we are conscious, but consumes us without our knowledge when asleep. Dali uses this approach in his films, one being “Destino,” a film he worked on with Walt Disney. Seeing the juxtaposition of Disney’s elements of a beautiful male and female characters singing with Dali’s images of dessert, ants, eye balls, a body growing without a head, etc. was unique and surprising. Even though Disney and Dali worked together to create an animation, Dali’s unique style wasn’t compromised. It demonstrated how Dali’s images aren’t necessarily ugly, merely misunderstood. Dali’s usage of provocative images in film, often taking from his own paintings, cements the two art forms together and shows how his paintings were often the drawing boards, or the beginning of his ideas for film.

Marissa Verdeflor

Put another POUND in that jukebox baby! Rock N' Roll Cinema

What can I say about the Rock n’ Roll cinema? It was everything I had never imagined. It was an interesting combination of the cinema slash bar scene duo. It combined a childlike scene using “Mongos” fake birthday party as the backdrop for the entry room providing child- like games. The people there all seemed to be young at heart, and the whole feel of the venue was very laidback and comfortable. Even though we were all thrown in a situation we were confused about at first, in the end, we all seemed to embrace the differences in our two cultures with a new light. This fun scene of something unheard of in America can possibly be the most inspirational and eye-opening event in my life. From the amazing short films, to the way the venue was set up really opened up my mind to possibilities in the future. The films were inspiring because they all attempted art in a new frame. The DJ also made this theater an intriguing one. From playing The Beatles to The Sound of Music songs, it also made the theater feel like a night club at times. The music made the films. The music “jelled” the whole program together. It made the times in between films seem somewhat equal to the films being presented because the music was so diverse and intriguing. All the films seen and the people running the show seemed like they were all original, in which is sometimes hard to come by in America these days. These people weren’t trying to fit into the “in” crowd, they were being themselves in a unique way, and it really shinned through in each film and in the venue.

The Surrealist Ball at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Before the balance of our amazing cohort of SDSU graduate students and undergraduates arrived in London, some of us were lucky enought to attend a late-night surrealist ball at the Victoria and Albert Museum--here's a short film of some of the performance artists, "Dead Booth" by the Society of Wonder, present that night.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Blessing

In many Native American tribes the Shaman or medicine man is considered gifted because he can enter into an altered state and converse with the gods and thus give advice or instruction. There exist many ceremonies in which the shaman smoke marijuana or ingest other hallucinogens in order to reach the spirits. There have even been recorded events of shaman starving themselves, or staying up for days dancing themselves into delirium.

Nowadays people have dismissed the notion that anyone can converse with spirits that the majority of people do not even believe in. and the gifts of the shaman are written off as a result of drugs and hallucinations. But what if it were true, like sixties icon Timothy Leary advocated in his “turn on, tune in, drop out” campaign, turn on to your physical being and become aware of yourself and the workings of your body. Tune in; work harmoniously with yourself and the world around you with your newfound self awareness, and drop out of involuntary commitments, be painfully aware of everything you do. What if drugs really did take you to a higher plane, expose you to a new altered state that went beyond physical form and on to “a plane of truth” as artist Claire Hooper calls it.

With her 360 degree film “The Blessing” Claire explores these altered states of consciousness and what they imply. Derived from accounts of acid trips as well as prayer and meditation, the film follows an art appreciator as he experiences a very physical epileptic seizure, and his transcendence into an altered consciousness. What struck me as intriguing was the “observers” as I have dubbed them. Are they supposed to represent spirits? They are the characters wearing the Native American looking smocks with the pattern of what looks to me like an eye on the front of their vestments. Does the eye hold any symbolic importance, does it verify my theory that they are the observing spirits? I cannot say, but they fit into my interpretation.

Another intriguing aspect was the juxtaposition of this man’s very physical reaction while looking at art, and his euphoric state of mind. Some would say that looking at art, or making art involves a certain level of meditation, one must enter an altered state of being and concentration to make art, I cannot help but recall scenes from Heroes the television show where a character goes into a trance and paints the future. But making real art is not too dissimilar, I have on many occasion found myself so immersed in what I was involved in that hours pass and time flies by without me even noticing. Such is the same experience when I look at art, I can find myself staring at the same painting, noticing every detail I get lost in time. This man has exactly the opposite experience, while mine is mental, his is physical, he literally goes into fits in the middle of an art exhibit. However, while experiencing something so physical his consciousness wanders into some cosmic state. Is his experience not too far derived from the meditations brought on by physical deprivation of the Shaman? As the title suggests, he is blessed to experience this altered state, this “plane of truth” closer to God, or whatever entities may exist, closer to revelation.

lindsay butcher
Admittedly, I am terrible with names, and dates, especially as they relate to periods on historical timelines. It is next to impossible for me to arbitrarily remember, without concerted effort, who did what to whom, and when and how and why they did it, unless I can somehow illustrate the connections between events in ways that are meaningful to me. It is the connective tissue in the histories of the who’s and what’s that interest me, and allows active (interested) memory to take the place of forced memorization. The Dali exhibit at the Tate Modern gave me the connective tissue I needed, not only to remember his timeline (where he fits in the history of art, film, and society), but it also provided a new way of interpreting and understanding his work.

Overall, what was most compelling, what was most educational, was the opportunity to see a large collection of Dali’s work in one collective space, as a cohesive unit. When considering an artist’s work, sometimes it is easy to get lost in an “anti-gestalt” frame of mind. It is easy to forget that the whole is sometimes more than the sum of the parts. After walking through the various rooms in the exhibit, it is apparent that Dali’s works cannot be taken independently of each other. Each piece builds on the last, or extrapolates from something that came prior. Everything is necessarily connected. (This is even true at the individual level. In “Invisible Man”, he manages to pull the ultimate visual/psychological trick by incorporating smaller objects into a larger vision in a double-image piece. The individual objects comprise the grander image.) Even between mediums, from film to drawing to painting and back, the connections never falter. If anything, the crisscrossing of inspirational tools seemed to strengthen Dali’s creative flow. His use of symbolism (ants, dead/decaying animals, disembodied hands/heads/bodies, etc) translates from one plane to another seamlessly. Freud would have been proud.

Part of the benefit of seeing Dali’s work as a collection, rather than individual pieces, is the new frame of reference it provides. In the past, I had always made the “mistake” of trying to interpret his art as somehow real. I wanted the images to translate to real settings, to real things, to real places and times. In retrospect, it is painfully obvious that reality as I see it is irrelevant. What is especially important in that revelation is seeing Dali (and his work), in/on/as/ film. Dali’s work, very literally, IS everything film. For me, this is especially true of the animated Disney collaboration, Destino. Seeing his images presented in this way made him make sense. Despite the fact that the film never reached its final production stage, as it is viewed now, during Dali’s lifetime, his intentions are abundantly clear (thanks to John Hench, fellow Disney animator, who worked with Dali on the project originally).

In watching Destino, I found myself referencing modern day animation… some of the following popped up: Aeon Flux, the old cartoon (most definitely NOT the recent movie), Sleeping Beauty (representative of old Disney animation in general), Hercules (new Disney… especially the Megara character)





I love the spontaneous mental links you can’t help but make all day, every day...

-Laurel Butcher

Whitechappel Cinenova: Feminism and film

A teacher of mine once said that a feminist was anybody who believed in the advancement of civil rights for women, so for most of my life I believed I was a feminist. Until I watched a documentary on feminism in which an esteemed professor explained that women should be allowed into the fire department based on lowered physical standards. Her argument being she would rather be dragged by a woman out of a burning house, than carried over some man’s shoulder because there is less smoke lower to the ground since smoke rises. The opposition brought up the all too valid point that, should this woman fire fighter encounter a flight of stairs, it would be your head bouncing on every step on the way down. From that point on I considered myself an egalitarian, if a woman can pass the same physical requirements that all of the men have to pass, all the more power to her! But my safety should not be compromised in the name of unequal advancements for women. Let this be a preface for my reaction to the “women-made motion pictures” we saw at Whitechappel.

The first film was “An Epic Poem” by Lezli Ann Barret. While the film had its good qualities, I thought it was altogether a narcissistic self explanatory experimental film. Lezli obviously thinks too highly of herself as is evidenced by her title, “an epic poem” which this film was not, and compares herself, or her heroin to goddess of love Venus, which she is not. But the overall feminist themes of male dominance and women’s fight for liberation struck a bitter note for me. While I appreciate women’s civil liberties and the suffragettes, and I acknowledge that women have lived equal lives for only a short period, I think that some arguments coming from the feminist camp go too far. The film explains that women have been subordinated into subduing their libidos and loving from the perception of a man, it is the all too familiar argument that women are supposed to be good and chaste for our husbands while we are made into carnal objects of lust by men in general. Feminists these days fight for our right to be free and sleep with whomever we choose, whenever we choose as they flip the metaphorical bird to settling down and becoming the house bound, married, baby maker. I personally see absolutely nothing wrong with conceding to the domestic life. I want to, look forward to getting married, having kids, and settling down. I see nothing wrong with virtue and morality, that is not to say that women who do not save themselves for marriage are not virtuous, but if a girl does not want to explore her newly liberated sexual rights, so be it. Does that make me an enemy of the feminist objective? I must say though, there still exists a sexual double standard, women who do sleep around are looked down upon more so than men. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Do not get me wrong I am all for having fun, but shouldn’t there be a limit, it is very dangerous these days to have “too much fun” so why not be safe about it and have fun while being monogamous, or practice a little bit of self restraint. This sentiment is targeted towards men as well, more so even than women.

This film sparked many questions in my mind, have I been so indoctrinated that I subscribe to the WASP dictation of happiness for women? Are women still subordinated? I do not feel that I have suffered any grave injustices simply because I am a woman. But I am an exception, I live in a place where women are not looked down upon, my family has made it very clear that I should never let my being female make a difference and to never let anyone tell me otherwise. But I know that there are places where women are expected to get married and have kids, and that is all that is expected from them. While I plan on getting married and having kids, I also plan on graduating college, having a career, making my own money, living my own life while sharing my life with my husband, not relying upon him for subsistence.

Lindsay Butcher


This bears no relevance to what I was saying before but I just have to admit that I was offended by the third installment. “Living the Sacrifice” by Emily Roysdon was just an ammeture piece of horrible “art”. If a woman can make a good piece of cinematic art, good, she deserves all the praise in the world for getting more women artist recognized. However do not publish or produce a piece of useless “self expression” like that and say it is art. The Whitechappel should have recognized that this piece of “art” only defaced the reputation that women artists have been trying to build. Do not play a film that has been made by a woman simply because it has been made by a woman, play significant contributory pieces instead. If she can work with the best of them, let her play with the big boys, but obviously Emily Roysdon cannot even play in the same field as the big boys.

SACRED: Discover what we share

Not being raised under any organized religion, I walked into SACRED without any preconceived thoughts. After seeing the exhibition, the effort made by the British LIbrary in organizing the collection of texts from Jewish, Islamic and Christian faiths was acknowledged and appreciated. Since religion has not had any profound impact on my life thus far, I was surprised by the emotional reaction I had. It is hard to imagine all the violence, wars, and deaths that have come from religions that, in the end, have only slight differences. More blood has been spilled over these differences when, in actuality, religion is supposed to be a vehicle for peace, for love. When walking through the exhibit there were times when I had to take a second look at whether the text was from Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, or the Qur'an which shows the degree that the three texts and beliefs molded together. The motto the British Library chose to promote the exhibit summarizes it best, “Discover what we share,” because, after all, like the holy texts, we are not much different.

Sacred: a new found appreciation

Faith: what exactly is it? How do the ideas of morality and living through a “religion” get instilled in our mind? Perhaps I have never been able to come to terms with “faith” because my background never ensued it. Attending Sunday school and Monday night Hebrew school were a common ritual. We would drink the “wine” (I’m sure I had grape juice even though I would think it was wine) and break the bread. I suppose that can be faith? Once I hit ten and my grandmother passed away, these ideas were never there. Perhaps there is always a key person in one’s life who is the totem pole, the one who makes you understand what you believe in and be proud of it. My faith slowly diminished (I know what I am, but my mom never enforced us going to main celebrations). Going to Sacred brought forth feelings which I have never really felt before, exposing the child in me wanting to learn and be a part of the larger community.

Seeing some of the “sacred” texts brought a new light and appreciation for what religion stands for. We can look at the intricate art work, such as the floral borders of the Lisbon Bible, and wonder who actually did it and how long it took them. We can look at the gold leafing and gaze at its beauty asking how much patience can a person have to gold plate each letter on a page. Not only can I appreciate it for it’s beauty, but the unity of religion during that time brings an emotional connection, even to an individual who has a limited religious faith.So much was put into each piece, how can this not bring appreciation? My ancestors were these people. My ancestors were able to relay our history through verbal stories before the texts I saw were ever made. After seeing the exhibit, it becomes impossible to not have appreciation for what I am, or for that matter, what others are. Religion has become very detached, not being a part of many individuals lives. Perhaps this is because how often can you see your history on paper? When do you get to appreciate the people before you who established what you believe in? I always wonder what would have happened if I still went to Synagogue and if I got my bat mitzvah. All I can think is things happen for a reason, and it is never too late to start where I left off.

-Blythe St.Martin

rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution

John Maeda created a completely new type of modern art gallery compared to any type that I was privy to before my visit to the Rifleman. His use of mathematics interwoven with the modern technology craze of iPods created a sort of symbiotic beauty between to elements that I would not usually think would be beautiful when they are put together. I found the sugar packets that he had programmed a program for to separate the individual sugar crystal molecules into making two separate cubes of sugar in a three dimensional looking sort of way that was truly only 2-D somewhat attractive. One main thing that I took away from this exposé was the music that I found amazingly pleasing to my ears. The artists chosen by Maeda is one of his favorite composers named Rivichi Sakamoto who is a Japanese conductor who mixes all different kinds of genres to make a very unique sound. The combination of Maeda’s artistic ingenuity and his use of Sakamoto’s orchestral talents allowed this gallery to be one that hit me in a pensive way that I truly cannot explain, but it did have a positive overwhelming impression on me that I will force me to continue to experience new artistic mediums.
~drew woodley

a-maeda-zing

John Maeda created a completely new type of modern art gallery compared to any type that I was privy to before my visit to the Rifleman. His use of mathematics interwoven with the modern technology craze of iPods created a sort of symbiotic beauty between to elements that I would not usually think would be beautiful when they are put together. I found the sugar packets that he had programmed a program for to separate the individual sugar crystal molecules into making two separate cubes of sugar in a three dimensional looking sort of way that was truly only 2-D somewhat attractive. One main thing that I took away from this exposé was the music that I found amazingly pleasing to my ears. The artists chosen by Maeda is one of his favorite composers named Rivichi Sakamoto who is a Japanese conductor who mixes all different kinds of genres to make a very unique sound. The combination of Maeda’s artistic ingenuity and his use of Sakamoto’s orchestral talents allowed this gallery to be one that hit me in a pensive way that I truly cannot explain, but it did have a positive overwhelming impression on me that I will force me to continue to experience new artistic mediums.
~drew woodley

fellini: 8 1/2

What to say about Felinni’s 8 ½ ? There is so much tastefully forcefed into this film encompassing the life and love of Fellini for, of, and in film. It is somewhat of an autobiographical piece that shows much of his more intimate side. Coming into this film with no prior knowledge of Fellini, I would deduce that he had an exceptional love for women and presumably did not hold back on the amount of women he had throughout his life. The grand finale of this film is what truly made me appreciate and enjoy it for it tied the entire film together and made the viewer reminisce about each individual scene that had taken place. The circusicle(circus style) feeling in the finale relates directly to Fellini’s life. I later found this out when I was informed that he ran away to the circus as a boy and always had a great infatuation with the circus and performers. In this scene everyone that had been in any scene throughout the film walks down a walkway back into the great circus ring of Guido’s(main character who was supposed to be seen as Fellini, played by Marcello Mastroianni) life. It grabbed my attention in more ways than one and drew me into a state of reminiscence about my own life. The visual act of bringing all of the people he had known throughout his life back into the movie by walking them down a set of stairs and back into his consciousness had a powerful effect on me. It made me think of everyone that had truly had an effect on my life in either a positive or negative way. People who I had not thought about in quite sometime flooded my mind and I was overwhelmed by a sense of longing for relationships passed and friends made and lost. Lastly my family came into my mind and thoughts and I realized how amazing of a family I truly have and many times take for granted. Mother, father, and beautiful sister all a large part of my life and now are not solely seen as family who I love, but all individuals that I have learned so much from over the span of my life and learned to really appreciate their traits that have been instilled in me and the sense of individualism that they still retain and encourage in me. It surprised me how much I enjoyed this film and what a profound effect it truly had on me and the way that I wish to now interact with people and take them for who they are, for everyone has had certain events and people in their lives that make them turn out the way they do, and it truly is possible to learn something, even if it is just a little bit of patience, from everyone we interact with.
~drew woodley

klimpt

Our first full length film viewing Cinetrek was an adventure to an amazing artistically stunning and utterly confusing and somewhat dull film. “Klimpt” starring John Malkovic, who is one of my favorite actors, deals with the deterioration of a late 19th early 20th century painter who is suffering from syphilis. This film managed to truly make for an interesting night for it was mostly not given as a comfortable timeline of his life that truly allowed you to understand where he was coming from and his background, it merely threw you in to his life when he started suffering from syphilis and as the film viewer t was often times very difficult to see what was truly there, and what was a figment of Klimpt’s imagination. I believe the one scene that could not have been left out was that were he is walked in on by a doctor talking to a room full of coat hangers and hats. This was one sign that truly stood out to me and showed the movie viewer that he was starting to truly show lasting large effects and that it did not seem that there would be much hope for recovery. Although I did not enjoy the movie partially because of my jet-lagged state, I could still appreciate the roll that Malkovic was able to interpret and perform and this added some enjoyment to the film because of his mastery and genius state when it comes to odd roles. I will most likely try to make myself watch it again in ten years and see if my intellect has advanced enough to a place where I have a better understanding and can see and appreciate the artistic mediums used in the film.
~drew woodley

klimpt

Our first full length film viewing Cinetrek was an adventure to an amazing artistically stunning and utterly confusing and somewhat dull film. “Klimpt” starring John Malkovic, who is one of my favorite actors, deals with the deterioration of a late 19th early 20th century painter who is suffering from syphilis. This film managed to truly make for an interesting night for it was mostly not given as a comfortable timeline of his life that truly allowed you to understand where he was coming from and his background, it merely threw you in to his life when he started suffering from syphilis and as the film viewer t was often times very difficult to see what was truly there, and what was a figment of Klimpt’s imagination. I believe the one scene that could not have been left out was that were he is walked in on by a doctor talking to a room full of coat hangers and hats. This was one sign that truly stood out to me and showed the movie viewer that he was starting to truly show lasting large effects and that it did not seem that there would be much hope for recovery. Although I did not enjoy the movie partially because of my jet-lagged state, I could still appreciate the roll that Malkovic was able to interpret and perform and this added some enjoyment to the film because of his mastery and genius state when it comes to odd roles. I will most likely try to make myself watch it again in ten years and see if my intellect has advanced enough to a place where I have a better understanding and can see and appreciate the artistic mediums used in the film.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dali & Film

On June 13, I attended the Dali and Film exhibition at Tate Modern. Again, I am not too familiar in critiquing artistic paintings, but I must say I personally was not impressed with Salvador Dali’s work. In my opinion, Dali wanted to be shocking when it came to his work. His paintings were sort of hard to interpret and seemed a bit busy with to much going on all at once. My visual rendering of Dali’s art seemed to be almost like a dream. I read that a range of of his work was done during a period of psychological issues which may explain why some of his art may seem like a dream. When people dream, occasionally, our dreams tend to have no meaning with questionable surroundings. Surrealism indeed was Dali’s aspiration.
In the picture Freud’s Perverse Poly Morph (1939), a child is eating a dead rat. I can not fathom as to why a picture that is revolting is seen as art. I couldn’t help but wonder what type of happy thoughts Dali had. I was, on the other hand, quite impressed with the lobster phone. The lobster phone was funky and fun which I would refer to as creatively artistic. Shirley Temple, the youngest sacred Monster of Contemporary Cinema (1939), was another painting which Dali wanted to trick his audience since Shirley was one of Hollywood’s stars. The picture consisted of Shirley Temple’s head rested on a body of a gargoyle with a bat sitting upon her head surrounded by beach sand and skeleton bones.
Some may not be fans of Salvador Dali’s efforts but he did catch the eye of both Hitchcock and Walt Disney with his imagination as well as vibrancy in Destino and Fantasia.

Salvador Dali Exhibit

Today was a fantastically enjoyable trip to the Tate Modern to view the Salvador Dali exhibit and featured films. I thought it was a perfect touch to incorporate the films that Dali had worked on in his life time, which consisted of Un Chien andalou and L’Age d’or. Now I must admit, I’m not a big Dali fan. Surrealist art is so interpretive and I often do not quite understand what the artist’s intentions are. The only art work of Dali I had previously recognized was The Persistence of Memory, which is often described in various art classes.
However, there was one painting in particular that struck my attention. In 1936, Dali painted Autumn Cannibalism. The painting features two warped people feeding each other. Isn’t that sweet ! But the painting is painted with earth toned colors, lots of browns and tans. This couple is seated in what looks like a chest in the middle of a desert of plane. The hands of the couples appear bony and old. Autumn Cannibalism is not a lovely, cheerful picture to look at, but looking at the date it was painted, I could see why. In 1936, the Spanish Civil war began. Dali’s fellow Spaniards were brutally fighting each other and people’s lives were torn apart.
One year later, Pablo Picasso painted Guernica to capture the horrific atrocities by Nazi bombers. I believe Dali wanted to capture the civil war in art, so that people would not forget the violence that took place in Spain. Autumn Cannibalism is by far one of the most heartfelt paintings in the gallery.

Mary Brock

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice, is one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays. Even though all us “pauper” college kids had to stand for the 3 hour play, shifting our weight from one foot to the other, the experience of seeing a play in the old Shakespearian style was something I’ll remember for years to come. The Merchant of Venice had one scene in particular that would make for an extraordinary cinematic setting. The scene where Antonio is brought before the court as a handcuffed prisoner and has the potential of having one pound of flesh sliced from his body would have movie fans squirming in their seats. Can you just imagine, seeing a broken Antonio make his way through a cheering crowd, knowing the blood thirsty pagans cannot wait to see his blood shed. Seconds before Shylock (the man who is settling his bond with Antonio) pierces Antonio’s skin for the one pound of flesh revenge, a scholarly judge appears to interpret the bond. Eventually, she sees an error in between the fine print on the bond and declares Antonio free.
This scene has a wide range of drama and deceit. The audience is virtually prepared to see Antonio meet his maker when all of a sudden, he is saved by a judge. But, the judge happens to be Portia, the wife of his best friend, who has dressed up as a judge and succeeds in convincing everyone present (except the audience) that she is a worthy law scholar. This deceitful act against her husband will work itself out in the end, but that’s another story. And then, the climax. Shylock, because of his refusal to cooperate with a more lenient sentence is doomed at the end and he in turn, has his life taken away. Poor chap. Cinema fanatics would be greatly intrigued by this dramatic scene. Who would not be on the edge of their seats with their eyes glued to the screen anticipating Antonio’s death?
Mary Brock

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

28 Weeks Later... was expensive.

So, instead of doing the smart thing and taking advantage of the pre-departure cinetrek opportunities, I waited until I got to London… to pay $25.00 US dollars to see a movie (the only upside being that I watched it in the city in which it’s based/filmed). On top of the ridiculous price, it was a ridiculous movie… so I guess I won’t complain the next time I see a movie back home and have to pay a (*insert sarcasm here*) whopping $15.00 for the complete IMAX experience (John, you need to get out more and go to the Edwards theatres in Mira Mesa).

I guess, in the big scheme of things, it’s not all bad. While the movie WAS ridiculous, and was in no way worth the price I paid to see it, I was entertained. And, I’ll admit it… I watched the first ten minutes of the film through the backs of my eyelids. No matter how old I get, things that come out of nowhere and make loud noises will always be scary. To the director’s credit (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo), the way he shot the film made all the difference. Anyone can make a scary movie, replete with monsters and gore galore. Juan, however, took the “less is more” motto to heart, and it absolutely worked in his favour. It’s the flashes of what he gives you, which your mind takes and makes into what it thinks it sees, that are absolutely the most effective visual scare tactics in any medium. If the boogy man came out from under the bed and shook your hand, you’d have no reason to be afraid of him.

One thing I did appreciate about seeing the movie once I was actually in the city where it takes place is that I now have a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the landmarks used in the film. The scenes shot in the tube stations affected me the same way the idea of going camping after watching The Blair Witch Project did. (My mom and sister really did try to get me to go camping the day after I saw that movie… needless to say, I didn’t go.) Even though the world isn’t full of viral, raging, vomiting zombies, when the underground trains stop randomly in tunnels, that’s creepy… now partly thanks to this movie.

The movie also made me somewhat homesick. I found myself relating to the film in the same way I would if I were watching a movie based in San Diego. It’s the feeling of recognition of “home”. Not that I feel I have this city mastered, but maybe 28 weeks from now…

(PS: Is it bad if all I could think while watching Robert Carlyle as a zombie was “what if he just broke into the Full Monty routine?”)

- Laurel Butcher

future shorts rock and roll cinema

My first Cinetrek experience was with Rock and Roll cinema and the underground phenomena of “Future Shorts”. Going into this social experiment I figured that as an anthropology major, my very basic lower division experience in the field could contribute to my analysis of being immersed into a completely different culture, how very naïve of me. Hopefully real anthropologist, while performing ethnographies, plan time to familiarize themselves with customs and lifestyles of their subjects, otherwise everything is rather overwhelming. Or perhaps it is better that everything seems foreign, then everything that stands out as being different may be documented. For me, the culture shock had no time to wear off before we delved into subcultures of this entirely new society, I didn’t know where to look first or what I wanted to record most.

One key difference that stood out to me was the type of people attending the festival. I have on occasion attended a few of Prof. Nericcio’s extra credit obscure films in San Diego held at the La Jolla MCASD, and the two crowds seem very similar, however in their own ways polar opposites. Both crowds I would suspect subscribe to the more “indie” or “alternative” lifestyle, full of aspiring artists and musicians deliberately leading a non-conventional existence. However in San Diego it has been my experience that this lifestyle is very elitist, in the sense that if you have never heard of a certain band you are a poser, or if you buy your clothes at a certain store you are unacceptable. The “indie” scene in San Diego is very much concerned with image and repute, whereas the (what I am going to assume is) underground scene, of the rock and roll cinema was very welcoming. In the eclectic crowd no one felt shunned, which struck me as unexpected.

Another pleasant surprise was the amount of Americana integrated into the subculture. While short films were not being played you could hear Johnny Cash, or the Dirty Dancing homage in the end. I was under the impression that Europeans despised Americans, which is silly now that I think back to it, but nevertheless it came as a shock to hear and see little bits and pieces of American culture (and what awesome tid bits they chose!)

Lindsay Butcher

The Fountain

The Fountain

The film The Fountain directed by Darren Aronofsky, looks into love, as well as other aspects to how the world functions. The set up for this show honestly made me feel very “posh,” as we were served appetizers and champagne before the show even began. Having a slightly happy buzzing feeling going into the film, I had no idea what to expect, however coming away from the film I was deeply moved. The film focuses on the lives of two people Tom (Hugh Jackman), and Izzi (Rachel Weisz). It takes a look at their spirits different lives set in three different time periods. This aspect of three ongoing stories about the same people, only separated by time opened my mind to reincarnation. This film does not strictly focus on reincarnation; however it is somewhat of an underlying theme. I began to think about what if I was something before I am now, and what if I will become something different in the future. It is a very mind opening task thinking of this, and it allowed me to almost become one with the film at that time. I was so transfixed by the film and the question that what if I was in one of their shoes that I could not turn. I have to admit that the film opened my eyes slightly too fantastic possibilities and thought about being in the world more than once. Te film asks questions about endless impossibility, and opens the mind to feeling of present as well as the past. I believe that the acting was superb, and added to this mysterious unknown effect. I have to say I was deeply moved by this film, and would recommend it to almost anyone.

-Duncan Kelm