Saturday, June 30, 2007
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.
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
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.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
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.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
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.
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.
Monday, June 25, 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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...)
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.
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.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
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!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The following was written from a sense of inspiration after viewing the Dali painting, Metamorphosis of Narcissus.
(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,
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.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
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.
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
Sunday, June 17, 2007
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Friday, June 15, 2007
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.
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.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
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?
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
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
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!)
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.