Friday, July 6, 2007

Through the eyes of a mad man

Never have I been able to appreciate Salvador Dali's work for how spectacular it really is. His surrealist approach, being one of the most famous surrealists of all time, can sometimes be overwhelming and misinterpreted, leading one to think it all is pure insanity. Looking at his art work alongside his films finally puts one into the mindset of the Spanish phenoma.
Being previously familiar with Dali's work, especially the film "Un Chien Andalou", seeing his art shows the reoccuring symbolism used in both sides of the spectrum. Many of pieces contain images of ants *such as the ants coming out of the hand in the film*, mouths *the disappearing mouth of the man* and hands *the hand in the box*. All the reoccuring images reveal how the symbols were repeating in not only his art, but also his dreams.
The fascinating aspect of "Un Chien Andalou", which is collaborated with friend Luis Bunuel, is that the entire film is a sequence of multiple dreams. Not only is that fascinating, but the fact that the film was put together by the two men when either of them knew what the other was doing for the film. This is so different from any film we are used to today because everything always has to be extremely planned out. The thought of a film with no direction or plan is almost unheard of.
Dali went against the status quo, even though many thought *or still do think* he was crazy. I mean, he was exiled from Spain for his art. How often does one get to see inside the mind of a mad man? Not often and I can say I am glad I have.

"What is surrealism? I am surrealism"
-Salvador Dali

606 Club

A darkened room. Cherrywood. All four walls covered with bookshelves. Cigar smoke still lingers in the thick forest green carpet. An old man is still sitting at his desk with yesterdays newspaper when...

"Papa! Why are you sitting in your study? Grandma said dinner is ready"
"Hi Sweetheart..."
"Come on! Let's go eat."

He looks at his granddaughter and suddenly realizes how fast she has grown up. Wasn't it yesterday he was holding her as a newborn in the hospital? Now she's already twelve, although an outsider would guess much older.

"No, sweetie. Just a moment. Go get my Jean Toussaint for me."
"Alright Grandpa, but Grandma's gonna get mad."
"I'll tell her it's all my fault. Play Lament For Kenny."

The smooth jazz notes hit his hear as he closes his eyes. His mind drifts as it follows the music up and down. He can't tell if it makes him feel content or sad. Jazz has that way with him. It has that way with most people, he thinks.

"This is pretty good music Papa"

"I know sweetheart..."

The music continues to play as the two sit in the room. They both forget about dinner as the camera fades to black.


There's nothing worse than a one sided story but, unfortuately, most of life's events are told and retold through the eyes of one; one nation, one army, one person. That one is never omnipotent and can always only have a painfully subjective view of things as they experienced them. Fiction is especially good at painting great single sided stories; essentially everything made for children prays on their acceptance of a black and white world. Wicked, however, does exactly the opposite. In a glaringly obvious criticism of modern Western culture, the show admits that the original story does not quite do the "Wicked Witch" justice. Her tale, until now, had been completely untold.

My boyfriend's neice loves Wicked. On more than one occasion she has insisted everyone within earshot sit and watch her rendition of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished". Like most little kids would, she knows all the words to her favorite songs, and could probably recite most of the performance's speaking parts, too. What is not certain, though, is whether or not she realizes the impact of the words she's singing. Yes, Wicked is a musical. Yes, it's fiction. But that does not mean there is anything less than serious about it. Through this musical, people of all ages see and can know for themselves that there is always something left unsaid, something you cannot possibly know unless you ask. In today's world, this is especially true. The Wizard says it best when he says, "Elphaba, where I'm from, we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it - 'history'". For everyone, but for children especially, this message is crucial. "There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities. So we act as though they don't exist", says the Wizard. I wonder if President Bush has seen Wicked...

Everything you do has the potential to be horribly misconstrued and misunderstood. Life isn't always fair. Not everything you hear, or think you know, is wholly or even partially true. People lie, and not everyone is who you think they are. Those are the lessons taught by Wicked. But let's not forget maybe the most important lesson of all... despite the struggles, despite the deceit, and despite your own doubts, sometimes "life has a funny way of helping you out". (Thanks, Alanis)

jack: untold

There is a sort of eerie feeling when you grasp the fact that you are walking along similar if not the exact same paths that a serial killer did some hundred and some odd years ago. The graphic nature of the crimes is what truly adds to its horror and gives it somewhat of an artistic touch. The undeniably infamous “Jack the Ripper” could be defined as one of hundreds of different categories of people depending on who is asked. Using the lens of the once terrifying cinematic character Hannibal Lector, it could be said that Lector would view the streets of West End as Jack’s canvass and he did what he did to paint a picture of the disgust and grotesque lives that these women put themselves through. Through the eyes of John Cramer, more commonly known as “Jigsaw” it would be seen as a necessary act carried out by “the Ripper” to cleanse the street of some of its filth that polluted the everyday environment of good people.

These prostitutes had time to repent before they were sentenced to their rightful punishment by the blade of a man who was carrying out his duty to all those of London and eventually the world. Jack most certainly did not just kill these women, he gave them a chance to be set free and the victims could not see this, and in turn paid the price for their crimes of lust and waste on humanity. Before each victim that Jack was able to eventually free he gave them a choice, repent of pay the price for their sins. He did not merely take them to an ally and murder them; he would have extended conversations with them before anything were ever intended to be done to find out what type of person they were before they threw their bodies and lives into the sewer. A question would then be posed that was the same to all of the eventually freed women, but only because they answered the question with haste and distaste were they set free by the blade. “When you look at your life now after the sins of man that we have talked about, and that you have committed, will you continue to live a life where you let yourself commit these sins to make money, or will you take my offer to live a life free of your sins and work for me?” The women that he posed this question to would look at him with a sense of disbelief and laugh and spit in his face for wasting their time and money that they could be making. Only then did he unleash his wrath of justice upon these soiled souls who could clearly not be saved in any way other than connecting their sins directly to their soul. He did this by dragging his knife of redemption from their vagina which was their main source of sin to their heart that had turned black from all the filth that they had brought upon the world. By doing this he freed the soul that these wenches would never have been able to do without his help. The innards would then be draped over a shoulder as a way of saying that they had put their inner sins and past wasted life behind them. Sarah Eckert was intended to be his next victim after Marie Jeanette Kelly but she was different. He had been watching her for quite some time and decided on November the 21st to make it her day of cleansing. She was approached the same as all the others and conversation began as was custom. After much discussion Jack decided to ask her the question of truth, Sarah broke down and repented to him of all of her sins that she had committed and how she knew no other way of making it through life. He then took her in as his apprentice who he would work to heal fully throughout the rest of his life. A difference was made not only to Sarah’s life but to that of humanity for showing the world that the use of what many see as evil, can in turn create good. Not all myths are as they are perceived and this story is one of healing and redemption that saved a woman from a certain sinful and early death.

The Lost Weekend

Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend was a powerful film that depicts the life of a diseased alcoholic through the character of Don Birnam. A failed writer, Birnam becomes engrossed with booze; although his dearly loved ones struggle to help him battle this addiction. There are many ways to define an alcoholic, but this film portrays to society the definition of a true alcoholic. According to Webster Dictionary alcoholism is described as a chronic disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction. People everywhere define alcoholism differently from having a drink anytime during the weekday, one drink a day; two drinks a day, etc. further showing more severe forms of drinking. In Birnam’s situation he literally can not function without alcohol flowing through his bloodstream. He also suffers from withdrawals when he cannot obtain liquor into his body. As a result, Wilder conveys the epitome of a chronic alcoholic. The story of Birnams’ dependence is one of serious importance that is not usually revealed on the big screen. Many films and television shows have portrayed drunks as being humorous and are not taken seriously. For example, The Simpsons’ character Barney Gumble is a character that the audience is enthralled by. The writers play with the concept of drunkards being hilarious. However, in Wilder’s film this is not the case, and he demonstrates how this evil spirit takes full control over the body and mind. Birnam says, “I can't be cut off completely. That's the devil. That's what drives you crazy.” Another example is the director uses the imagery of circles to illustrate the eternal struggle that Birnam attempts to defeat. While at the bar multiple circles from the shot glass symbolize this ongoing struggle. Birnam explains to Nat, “Don’t wipe it away, Nat. Let be have my little vicious circle. You know, the circle is the perfect geometric figure. No end, no beginning.” This can be related to Dante’s inferno of the circles of hell. Dante’s inferno is shaped in concentric circles with different levels of sinners. The inferno is shaped similarly to a cone with the first circle being the largest and progressively getting smaller. People have committed sins and are forever trapped in the circles of the fiery ashes and gates of hell. Sinners are therefore placed here for all eternity. Birnam battles this in his real life and it appears that he will struggle with this illness even until he reaches his afterlife because of this constant vicious cycle that he has succumbed to.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Harry Potter

Energy, Liveliness, and the spirit of the teens contaminated Leicester Square. The eager young ladies and gents waited for the moment when their Harry, Ron, or Hermione would stroll in their direction on the red carpet. Everyone tends to have a favorite. Posters were plastered around the Odeon Theater for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with anxious fans screaming as each car arrived. The pouring rain and bitter weather didn’t stop anyone from the excitement including myself. Not being to up to date with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series doesn’t mean one should miss out on wizards, spells, and magic. Sadly, my name was not on the “special” list so I was unable to be apart of the VIP crowd but I did get to see some star studded atmosphere from afar.

A screen was set up on one side of the theater for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t fight thru the crowd of people on the opposite end. Though really hostility wasn’t a factor as everyone was there for one thing and one thing only, to be apart of the Potter extravaganza. Television cameras and their correspondents were lined up in one section for their chance to bombard with questions. I was surprised to not see anyone dressed up. Back home, at a Harry Potter premiere it was unheard of to not go to the extremes. Even at a Star Wars premiere you’d see Anakin’s.

Walking around London I knew the Harry Potter Film would have to be a tremendous event. I searched Google because accurate information was imperative. Hope everyone enjoyed the show and shower on a Tuesday in London town.

Harry Potter premiere: whoopdy doo. . .

Like my previous Jude Law rant, what causes hundreds of people to stand in the streets during torrential downpours and lightning? The Harry Potter and th Order of the Phoenix premiere potentially had thousands of opportunities of fainting young teenage girls and photo ops with Daniel Radcliffe. However, once the Benz' started showing up, the rain set in followed by a few bolts of lightning and thunder. But, just as society would seem fit, the hoards of people still gathered for the chance to catch a small glimpse of Harry and his buddies walking underneath an umbrella to the VIP area closed off to us simpletons. Idol worshiping, I thought, was one of the things the 10 Commandments said NOT to do. People camped out in Leicester Square to catch a glimpse of these people, and the only one who really went out there in the rain was Rupert Grint. Good man.
Another thing: Why is it necessary to be camera whores in today's society? Where ever a news anchor went, a screeching scream who come out of the crowd of mostly young girls, trying to get noticed in the background. This kind of behavior gives way to "Girls Gone Wild." There was this one girl who must have slept there overnight to get her spot in the front of the barricades. She had a bright yellow sign that said "Dan Dan He's Our Man", obviously to get Radcliffe's attention. while it never was seen by Radcliffe, that girl with her sign must have been seen worldwide on millions of television sets, showing how devoted people are to their stars.
Society makes it OK to worship these idols in today's world. I just hope that some old man doesn't come down from a mountain in Hollywood somewhere and break a couple of tablets of stone with writing on them, completely damning us for our ways.

Disturbing Fascination With Horror and Crime

Please do not take offense to this flyer. It has been completely fabricated and formulated to mock a Jack the Ripper online flyer.

Having said that, and having caught your attention with the above:

People have since the beginning of crime, been fascinated by the psychology, motives, and tactics behind crime and horror. The Exorcist one of the top horror movies of all time has grossed $442,000,000.00, there have been 9, count them 9 Halloween movies, and another is on its way. That is just the movies. Whole documentaries and studies have been made on the basis of delving into the mind of a serial killer. What is it that drives our curiosity and fascination with terror?

In today’s world, human beings generally speaking, do not have to worry about being hunted. Terror was a common reaction when we still lived amongst great predators. Nowadays we fabricate horror in the guise of movies or haunted houses because there is something cathartic and energizing about facing danger and stress. Horror serves as a form of dealing with our own mortality and the existential implications of the fact that no one escapes death.

Cowardly Lion: had it all along

The Cowardly Lion, played by the incredible Bert Lahr, conveyed a simple-minded character who cannot face the counterattack. He can put on a mean face, but cannot man up once someone stands up to him. The Lion says he lacks the courage, being that even though he is the King of the Forrest, he does not have the bravery. Who said these things to him to make him believe that? What kind of upbringing did he receive to allow such self doubt? Unfortunately, we will never full know these answers. However, through both the book and film, the Lion shows qualities of courage which nobody notices other than the audience. All along, the Cowardly Lion was not a coward, just self loathing and self doubt wrongfully applied to himself. His character, just like every other character in the film, is a metaphor of the human psyche and how we as human doubt ourselves so much that we begin to believe we don't have certain qualities. We as human have such a powerful grip on our own consciousness that we can trick ourselves into whatever we think. Realities and dreams intertwine and we confuse ourselves. The Lion obviously has courage when he says, "All right, I'll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I'll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I'm going in there." If you believe in yourself, you can achieve what you want: A great lesson taught in the Wizard of Oz

Thanks for nothing, mr. law

No, I'm not going to start quoting the Beatles like everyone else. I'm better than that. Anyways, yeah...what is the big deal, women? I saw Jude. I wasn't impressed. OK now to be an anthropologist.

Society has placed a certain "god-like" vision of entertainers in the past 100 years. Why? Do they not breathe and eat like ourselves? Do they not have the same faults and mannerisms everyday people have all around us simple folk? No, they do. They’re human. Jude Law sat up on stage and woman almost purred at the sight of him, but all he did was gave a simple conversation on a film he probably never saw or had his entourage give a brief synopsis to him before heading into the French Film Institute. Maybe that's a little too harsh, but how can you not see the humanity of someone you see in film once you see them in person? (I'm going to say 'I' for the next few sentences, but it's for a reason) Since moving to greater part of Los Angeles, California, 6 years ago, I have had the opportunity of running into movie and television stars from time to time, most notably Vince Vaughn, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Kirsten Dunst. Growing up in DC, movie stars were hard to come by; politicians came a dime a dozen. However, after living in Cali and seeing these people with my own eyes, I just don't see how people can get so crazy over another human being. They all look like they just got out of bed, don't shave in the morning, and can't keep a healthy relationship to save their lives (listening, Jude?). Every person has their flaws, even movie stars. Actors in Shakespeare’s time barely got by with the money they made, and were almost looked down upon. When and where did that change? The only reason actors and actresses seem "larger than life" is because the movie industry needs to make money by having large screens in large venues to shove large amounts of people in and out. Why did the camera change everything? One interesting thing I noticed at the Film Institute was that after the intro, Jude picked up his chair and brought it to the side, not making someone clean up after him. Maybe it’s nothing, but it seemed like a small, courteous gesture uncommon in the film star of today.

It's just you, hey, Jude!

The following headings taken from The Beatle’s song Hey Jude bare relevance to my opinion of the Le Samurai experience:

Hey Jude don’t let her down:

Yes Jude please don’t let her down…
One of the most noticeable characteristics of the audience that night at the viewing of Le Samurai was that it was predominantly female. It isn’t exactly shocking that a gaggle of girls should show up at any opportunity to see the one and only Jude Law, but it must get annoying, for his roadies that is, to see this short and messy excuse of a man (Jude Law was much shorter and untidy in person, a little shocking) always bagging hot chicks, always having to deal with screaming fans willing to do anything for an autograph, and then there is you a loyal roadie standing by picking up the scraps.

However in the male attendees defence, what Jude had to say about the movie was actually insightful. The fact that it was Jude Law talking about the film, made movie goers a bit more attentive to the aspects of the film that he pointed out. You paid more attention to the movie because a celebrity has shown interest in it as well.

Don't you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool:

The conversation between the old man (im sorry I don’t know his name, when I probably should) and Jude was very cool and casual, a bit “Inside the Actors Studio-esque” which made every body a bit more comfortable and less anxious about seeing the “big celebrity”.

You'll do, the movement you need is on your shoulder:

He needed to move his shoulder a bit for my sister to get a better photo op :)

The minute he stepped onstage Im sure he was temporarily blinded by the thousands of camera flashes. It seems that people were there for the celebrity instead of the film. If you go to the French institute any other night less than half of the same theatre is full. Jude packed the house.

Then you can start to make it better:

Ultimately Jude Laws presence, and more importantly his opinion, made Le Samurai more enjoyable. Most people stepped into the Le Samurai experience with a preconceived acceptance because of Jude’s praise for the film. Those who did not, probably adopted the opposite opinion just to be contrary: to try to prove wrong, and disagree with a celebrity.

Le Samurai itself turned out to be an enjoyable film. Jude's insight into the characters helped decifer some of the films cryptic meaning, specifically the protagonist's gentle manlyness, he was a romantic hit man, a paradox in himself. That may just be the effect of Jude taking its toll on my opinion, however it is an intelligent opinion to have.


The 1940’s was an era riddled with prejudice and civil strife being the decade before the onset of the civil rights movement. Separate but equal was still an absolutely acceptable practice. People with disabilities, people of color, immigrants and the poor were considered less human. Such injustices were considered ordinary and acceptable by society. The views and practices of the time were so standard that children’s films failed to censor any controversial issues.

One such issue is that of racism. watching Disney’s 1941 film Dumbo, it is as plain as night and day that racism saturated society. All of the human characters are Caucasian, most of the anthropomorphized animals seem to be derivative of white society and the characters that are obviously not white are represented in such a stereotypical manner.

The only black characters in Dumbo are the black birds. The birds, obviously based on urban black culture of the time, are represented as not very well to do, wearing patched clothing, and intellectually inferior. The biggest sign that the birds are inspired by the black culture of the 40’s is in their speech. The birds use slang and ebonics, calling each other “brotha”, speaking with southern accents, and generally using mutilated grammar, traits usually stereotypical of the black community in the 40’s. It is a bit ironic that these characters that society holds such prejudice against, turn out to be some of the most integral characters to the story and success of Dumbo. The birds are ultimately the ones who teach dumbo how to fly and thus lend a hand to his success and happiness. It is ironic that the characters that were inspired by the “lesser race” play such a positive part in the story. Did the writers include this contradictory representation on purpose? Were they avant-garde civil rights activists?

Le Samourai Introduced by Jude Law

The audience waited in anticipation at the Institut Francais not for Jean-Pierre Melville’s film, Le Samourai, but instead for the popular actor Jude Law. The theater knew that the attendance would reach full capacity if they asked Law to introduce his favorite French film. No woman would pass the opportunity to catch a glimpse of an extraordinary handsome actor. He agreed to the request and surprisingly Law presented the film in person. It was apparent that the audience consisted of mostly females who were dressed fairly nice to go to a theater, but basically in hopes of the chance to meet Law in person. The audience filled with excitement when he appeared onto the stage. Flashes of camera light came from everywhere in the room, similarly to that on a red carpet event. The audience was absolutely ecstatic to see the former Sexiest Man in the World. Surprisingly, he was interviewed for approximately 15 minutes about why he chose this particular film as his favorite. Having an extremely famous celebrity automatically predisposes the audience to enjoy a particular film. People have always been fascinated with celebrities and look up to them for guidance in their own life. There are magazines dedicated to what is considered popular at a particular time such as Vogue. Furthermore, the media has an overwhelming influence over people’s desire. One example is Paris Hilton in which many young girls are mesmerized by her and desire to someday achieve her stature. However, Hilton is the most horrible role model for any young girl. Also, “Bratz”, dolls that dress provocatively cater to adolescent girls in order to captivate them into thinking this is how they should become. This relates to the notion that a celebrity such as Law can have an influence on people. Personally my expectations for the film were high, because I knew that this film was one of Law’s favorites. I’m even guilty of succumbing to this influence from a celebrity. If Law was not present, I would have had zero expectations that would need to be fulfilled. In essence, a movie star completely alters one’s perception therefore influencing them to either enjoy or dislike a film all together.

the sound of music, or should I say the picture of music

There is a rhythm to life. A beat courses through every action, every movement, every sound, sight, and smell. This beat is the soundtrack of everyday; it is up to you whether you listen and hear it. The next time you are walking down the street, notice every little detail, and listen in your head to the sound it makes. See the sounds.

This process works both ways. Listen and see. Close your eyes, slam a book, you can see how dense it is, if it is paperback or hardbound, you can see it hitting the table and falling to the ground. What about abstract sounds, something that doesn’t already have a visual connotation in your mind? Play a piano, but do not picture a piano and the player, instead follow the story that the notes tell you. Pay attention to the mood of the music and set your own images to the auditory tale that each sound weaves.

Listening to master saxophonist Jean Toissant’s wailing music, many jazzy images pop up: a tap dancer, a smoky bar, a sexily clad lady, a burning cigarette. However one piece in particular, told a different tale. This piece evolved with time, starting off with a steady beat, a slow introduction. I saw a nervous athlete, getting hyped up before a game, knowing what to expect, and expecting surprises. Meditating on a bench spotlighted in a dark gym, elbows on knees, hands kneading his neck deep in concentration.

The tune changed a bit, quickened, and Toissant hits some high notes. The game has started, our hero’s heart is beating, adrenaline pumping, ready to fight. Here is the tip off, the ball is in possession.

As the song continues you can imagine the game progressing, the beat of the ball hitting the ground with each step, players passing back and forth moving up and down the court. Any small hiccup in the tune can be fancy foot work, or a fast break.

As the song comes to a close, the pace quickens again full of suspense. I imagined a rebound, our hero grabs the ball out of mid air, spins and heads down the court. The sax wails and screams as he dribbles toward the basket. A sudden screech means our athlete ran into some trouble, had to stop in his tracks and avoid some defence, he swivels around evading the grabbing hands of the other team and passes to a team mate. This all happens in slow, yet fast motion. His senses are heightened, similar to a life or death situation. His court vision is spectacular, he can see everything happening, he feels the sweat on his face and back, he can hear shoes squeaking on the waxy court, and like tunnel vision he zeroes in on the ball that is headed straight toward him. The music follows each sense explaining how the ball feels in his hands, how he can smell the players around him. Each squeal of the sax is another exciting moment.

As the music begins its crescendo; the drummer picking up the pace hitting each drum, the piano running up and down the keys frantically, the bass keeping that backbeat going, and Toissants sax singing out of control, our hero makes it past the defence. He jumps, flying above everybody. Hands shoot up trying to block him but it is too late. He stretches reaching for the basket and almost effortlessly releases the ball, like handling a fragile bird, and lets it slip through the net. With the last lingering vibrations of the drummer’s symbols, the lights fade to black on the court and our athlete is walking head held high through the exit.

Harry Potter

Crowd energy infects the masses. No matter what the spectacle, no one escapes the contagious element of being part of something bigger than anything one individual can do alone. Hitler knew it and now Harry Potter knows it. (Hitler and Harry in the same sentence? What??)

Anyone who claims there’s no way that people of different races, religions, genders, and political ideals can't get along together in tight quarters should go stand in a throng of enthusiastic fans, waiting for a spectacle. During those moments (or hours, as it were), everyone wants the same thing and no one will leave until they get it.

At the premier this past week, thousands of fans showed up just to catch a glimpse of the pseudo wizards and witches. Posters and homemade signs became prepubescent girls’ most prized possessions as soon as TV cameras came within 20 yards. Like their lives depended on it, they shook and waved their handwritten proclamations of love in desperate attempts to catch the eye of interviewers and stars alike. Rarely did it actually get them anywhere, but it fed the crowd’s energy, so it was good.

Age was not a common factor throughout the group. People covered the spectrum—some had to ditch school to get there, others hadn’t been to school in decades. No one bothered dressing up, either. On an unspoken level, everyone knew the stars would take the cake no matter what. The individual did not matter.

When the stars finally showed, the rain rushed them into the protection of the VIP area, away from the fans, much to their vehemently expressed chagrin. But no amount of yelling, cussing, or whining would bring them back. Despite the fact that no one important was staying in view of the cameras for long, the mobs could not bring themselves to break from the idol worship until nearly every Mercedes in the entourage had delivered its passengers.

An event like this is one of a kind. It is the only time a bunch of people will stand around strangers to gawk at other strangers… and everyone is perfectly happy with that.

Harry Potter Premiere

Thousands of fans brave the rain in order to catch a glimpse of their favorite character/actor in the new installment of the Harry Potter films. The premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was held in London in Leister Square. Mostly screaming young girls idolizing the male actors while they walked the line of carpet to the inside of the theater. Posters displayed on the metal barricades that advertised the movie and its release date. I was standing fairly far away from the blockades and it made it difficult to witness the entire premiere that I would otherwise be able to see on television. However, I observed the actors walking to the fences where they fans stood in order to sign autographs. Mostly the Harry Potter books are the items the fans had brought in order to obtain the actors signature. Witnessing this event in person is similar to viewing it on television. From everything to the cameras, news teams, photographers, and chaos, it was all present. However, instead of watching it in the comfort of my own house, embracing the downpour of rain made the premiere more eventful. Due to the fact that I will remember how terribly cold it was during this premiere and my wishful thinking of wanting it to stop raining. Nevertheless, it began to rain violently with sounds of thunder and flashes of lighting arose. This did not stop the fans however; the anticipation exceeded the weather and the hours of waiting in order to achieve the pure pleasure of seeing their idols in person. The experience alone was fulfilling in itself because the movies are incredible, but mostly because the books are coming to life on screen and I’m able to see the actors. The Harry Potter franchise is gradually becoming as enormous as the Star Wars series, where the many devoted fans watch in admiration and some even dress up as the characters in the movie. A cultural phenomenon that appeals to people everywhere in the world exceeds any other film to date. The mere satisfaction that the fans acquire was an experience that I have never seen until that day. Movies today have an overwhelming effect on the people who watch the films. These fans become absolutely fixated on the actors and nothing can prevent them from being present at a once in a lifetime event. It appears that the fans in London and the U.S. rival each other to who are the better fanatics and more thrilled to see their heroes.

the merchant

Many literal adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays have been made into film. Some may change the era but remain faithful to the script, some offer the original theatre performance captured on film, and still others are simply influenced by Shakespeare’s masterpieces. The following is my cinematic interpretation inspired by the casket scene in the merchant of Venice:

What you desire, what you deserve, and what you get:

A rich prince walks into a bar, sits down and immediately starts boasting about how rich and fabulous he is. He has three palaces in various countries, thousands of ladies to choose from, and millions of pounds at his disposal, which he has no qualms spending freely. The old maid bar tender listens attentively while washing out a glass.

Rich prince: give me a bottle of only your finest!

The old maid squints an eye and knowingly chooses a particular bottle. Handing the prince his bottle she warns him,

“he who drinketh this shall gain what many men desire”

The rich prince proclaims “well that is of no matter, I desire nothing!”

As soon as the prince takes one sip of “the finest” he drops dead and is never mentioned again.

A few weeks later a bitter apprentice comes strolling into the bar. This apprentice complains to the old maid about how he deserves much more out of life. He claims,

“My master knows nothing, and I have to put up with him day in and day out. If I had it my way I would be a well to do nobleman, with 5 wives and endless wine!”

The old maid nods her head at all of the appropriate comments while wiping down her bar.

Apprentice: “Hag, give me what I can afford!”

Slamming down his life’s earnings, he decides to drink to his self pity.

The old maid flares a nostril and calculatingly reaches for a specific spigot. Handing the apprentice a pint she cautions him

“he who drinketh this shall get what he deserves”

The apprentice: that’s fine by me I deserve all of the gold in the world!

And with one gulp thousands of pounds of gold come crashing down on the apprentice killing him instantly.

A few weeks later a poor wanderer wanders through the old maid’s doors. She looks up from counting her cash and notices the state of the man. He wears hand me down thrift clothes which have been shabbily patched. She judges they are probably his only possessions, when she notices a small mangy looking dog at his heels. The man reaches down and scratches the dog behind one ear, then continues to the bar.

Wanderer: “M’am, I am but a poor wanderer, I have not a pound to my name, but I assure you if you could spare some bread and water I would forever be in your debt.”

The old maid takes uncharacteristic pity on the man and breaks half a loaf for him and hands him a cup of water. As the man turns to head out the door she wagers, she will never see him again, and she was only abetting his begging ways. But at that moment the man bends down and offers the starving dog all of the bread and water.

Astonished, the old maid invites the man to share a pint of beer. The wanderer thanks her kindly and chooses a stool at the bar.

The old maid purses her lips and goes off in search of a certain brew. She pours two mugs and in her toast she explains “he who drinketh this must give and hazard all he hath” the wanderer doesn’t understand a word but humbly toasts and the two sip in tandem.

Sputtering, the wanderer chokes as all of his clothes change from flea ridden rags to a new suit. He watches in amazement as the old maid transforms from a wrinkle ridden old hag into a beautiful young bar maid.

Once the dog stops barking, and all chaos ceases, the once old maid explains that she had been cursed for centuries. She had been turned into an ugly old maid and was forced to judge men on their character and allot payment or punishment accordingly. When the wanderer came and did not demand a thing from life, or desire more than what he had, and gave everything he could, he broke the curse.

A few weeks later the now young maid and the wanderer exchange vows and live happily ever after.

While Shakespeare’s scene revolves around image and inner beauty, my scene spins off of his references to human character. The caskets in his scene remind the suitors that they cannot always have what they want, they cannot always get what they think they deserve, and they must always give in order to receive. Once the suitors spend time with Portia, they realize that the ornamental caskets are merely pretty boxes holding nothing inside. Lead however, is merely an ugly exterior holding true inner beauty. My scene revolves around the inscriptions on each casket and what they imply.

Claire Hooper: The Blessing

The art gallery featured at the posh restaurant, Sketch was the work of Claire Hooper entitled, The Blessing. Here, there was a panoramic view of 12 screens that featured the film that Hooper had created. The film begins with the main character in a room viewing a piece of art, when suddenly he breaks out into a violent seizure. Subsequently the film shows a supernova, an explosion of a star. It is possibly caused by a gravitational collapse that emits light from 10-100 million times that of the Sun. Similarly, the character’s seizure is having an explosion within his body. The epileptic seizure is a medical condition involving abnormal electrical discharge in the brain is characterized by periodic loss of consciousness. Furthermore, the supernova appears to be distant from the planet Earth, somewhere in the universe. This place is in the universe could potentially be a divine heaven created by the imagination which leads the human closer to a spiritual world. The luminosity created from the supernova is analogous to the appearance of a deity where the light blinds the person. One person who Hooper is influenced by is Saint Teresa of Avila. She quotes her, “My soul has been carried away, and usually my head as well, without being able to prevent it; and sometimes it has affected my whole body, which has been lifted off the ground”. This directly relates to the character, since he is unable to prevent his epileptic seizure. Therefore, his body and mind have been lifted to a different place, away from the real world. Also, the various colors created from the supernova are images that often result of acid trips. The screens sporadically show the film and this is connected because of the convulsions caused by the seizure. Hooper is making it more difficult to focus on the film because there are multiple scenes being displayed simultaneously. This piece of art allows the viewer insight to the mind of those wanting to reach the divinity in another world.


Even before Robin Williams got involved in the business, Disney movies were not just for kids. In fact, anything made for children, unless it is also made by children, cannot possibly remain devoid of adult themes, undertones, or humour—call it the maker’s mark. Life experience always seeps into the creative process. To expect adults to wipe their experiential slates clean is not only impossible, but would also represent an evolutionary disadvantage. Children learn from adults; what to wear, what to think, what to say, how to feel. It is no accident that the media (an adult world) is often blamed for the actions of young and “impressionable” people. Some truth may lie in those accusations. Even in a movie as seemingly benign as “Dumbo”, the adult frame of reference overshadows the potential for the maintenance of childhood innocence.

To be sure, Disney intended to tell the endearing story of a deserted baby elephant who, with the help of his friend the circus mouse, ultimately learns to fly. And so he did; that story is obvious. What he could not refrain from doing while simultaneously telling the obvious and happy tale, was injecting the plot with mature social undertones. Dumbo’s mother goes insane because of a bunch of unruly boys jeering and taunting her son. The circus men lock her in a cage to keep her separated from all the “normal” animals, not at all unlike what happened to people, mostly women, who were deemed mentally ill for centuries, leading up the time of the movie’s release. The Freudian influence on the understanding of psychology, especially of “hysterical” women, is painfully evident. After his mother’s rampage, the other elephants socially ostracise Dumbo. Granted, children know very well who and what they do not like. But it is not until others teach them that they learn to shun those who are “different”, even if the difference has no negative consequence whatsoever.

But even more compelling, and especially more controversial, than themes of mental illness and social ostracism, is the notion of racism Disney has been accused of portraying. Near the end of the film, after Dumbo’s night of pink elephants, he finds himself up a tree he could neither have climbed nor jumped into. A flock of black crows, voiced almost entirely by African American choir members, sings “I be done seen ‘bout everything when I seen an elephant fly”. What many people opposed to the supposed racial discrimination portrayed in this portion of the film are quick to point out is that the crows are loud, obnoxious, and “stupid” and are meant to represent black culture. However, what is perhaps undermined by the racial discrimination argument is the fact that the crows are the only characters, besides the mouse or Dumbo’s mother, who show any kindness to Dumbo. In fact, they are the only other characters who cry, or say kind words to him, and they actually end up helping him find his proverbial wings. In essence, they are his saviours and social mentors. Usually, if an audience is to be convinced of a characters “badness”, a film will not portray him or her doing kind deeds or saying nice things. So, while there very well may be racial representation from a very narrow and stereotypical standpoint, given the actuality of who the characters are in relation to Dumbo, it is less than convincing to argue that the racial representation is, in fact, racial discrimination.

So, while the film is rife with adult content and themes, the debate over whether or not the crows characters are in fact poor representations of the African American community is the most controversial.

Harry Potter Premier

Screaming girls, adoring fans, TV cameras, paparazzi, movie stars and their posies. The Harry Potter premier was everything it should have been and then some; meaning thunder, lightning and some of the biggest rain drops I have ever stood in. Having never seen a Harry Potter movie, or read any of the countless number of Harry Potter books; although I have been to platform 9¾ at Kings Cross Station here in London, the excitement I felt was still overpowering. The thought that you might see yet another huge celebrity, here in London just does something to you. You feel like a giddy little kid again and not like the mature college student, who is studying abroad halfway around the world. After waiting in the hot sun for over an hour and watching the dark stormy clouds slowly creep your way, the stars of the newest Harry Potter film started to arrive. Recognizing one made the experience that much more enjoyable for myself. Yet for others, seeing everyone would complete their lives and I think for some fans, their lives are now complete. As more actors came, so did more rain, thunder and lightning, literally. As time went on and after Mercedes after Mercedes arrived, so did the rain, causing the Harry Potter stars to run for cover inside the press area and not mingle with as many fans as they might have otherwise. This definitely upset some eager young patrons who had been waiting hours outside upon their arrival. Nonetheless, movie premiers are always an exciting time, especially if you life for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

606 Club

The movie is called The Saxophonist, starring, Terrance Howard as Jean Toissant. This film is the rags, to jazz riches story of a musician whose only dream it is to play his saxophone for the rest of his life and still make a living. The opening scene in the movie is set in a tunnel, deep in the London underground, with Terrance (Jean) playing his saxophone. His cap lying upside down in front of him with a total of 5 pounds in change lying inside. The camera is walking down the tunnel, you can hear the hustle and bustle of people as they move about the tube station, but Jean’s saxophone clearly sticks out. The camera stops in front of him as if being a spectator and watching him finish his song. The camera cuts away 18 years earlier, to the island of St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the song still playing in the background. We are now seeing a young boy standing in front of a very old saxophonist performing on a dirt road on the island. The old man is playing a very similar song, with the same style, as we saw Jean playing in the subway. When the man finishes the song he says to the young boy, “Do you like the saxophone?” The boy shakes his head yes. Then the old man says, “what’s your name son?” The boy responds, “Jean.” “Well Jean, come here and let me teach you a few things on this old piece of metal.”

The movie follows Jean through his childhood, growing up in the Virgin Islands, then moving to London at the age of 16 on his own, with no money, no family and nowhere to go when he arrives. All he has is a backpack with two shirts and a loaf of bread and his saxophone. He had heard that New Orleans was the place to go, if you want to play jazz for a living; and it was only a short boat ride away from the Virgin Islands. As it turns out, New Orleans was a jazz mecca and only a short boat ride away. Jean happened to board a boat that was headed to London, not the US. After a week on the boat realized the mistake he had made. Nonetheless, after arrival in London, Jean set up shop in a London tube station, trying to make some money. When the movie reaches the opening scene of Jean playing in the tube, it does not stop there. I continues on, with Jean eventually playing gigs every night and headlining clubs around the world. There is even a scene with him becoming computer savvy and making his own website and myspace page.

Maeda: Myspace

The field of art has drastically changed since when it first began. This is illustrated in John Maeda’s: Myspace gallery in Soho at the Riflemaker exhibition. For example, his concept for this exhibition featured art through the use of technology and computers. His gallery entitled, “Laws of Simplicity” was expressed in a form of digital art. Ironically, simplicity is generally not discovered in the form of technology. Computers’ insides are intricately assembled and have the complexity that many do not have the mental capacity to understand. Maeda’s work appears very simplistic to an onlooker at a quick glance, however, he compiles his work with concentrated ideals that are illustrated in his gallery. For instance, Maeda explores the idea behind the true meaning of human purpose. Life is exceptionally difficult to understand and decode due to the fact that human life is complicated. As humans, we want and desire for life to be simple and easy to comprehend. In Maeda’s piece, Post Digital, he writes, “No object in the real world is perfect. Whereas in the computer perfection can be guaranteed to 100.00% accuracy. Imperfection is about being human. Being digital is not.” This reinforces the idea that life is full of struggles and nothing is precise and technology is a way for humans to cope with the complexity of life. Through technology humans are able to reach this balance. In addition, Maeda also explores how this new technology can create a less complicated way of life. However, there are repercussions for this technology. Technology is what binds human beings in the modern world and disconnects people from the simplicity of life. The overwhelming amount of technology is perhaps controlling our lives. Humans are becoming analog in a digital world and are helpless to the technology. We cannot function if we don’t have a cellular phone or a computer nearby. Furthermore, as technology progresses, we begin to lose our privacy that once was extremely prevalent and valued. Maeda’s gallery provides insight into the advancement of technology and allows humans to reflect on this development as either beneficial or drawback to the contemporary world.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Out of the Past

“Out of the Past” is often referred to as the quintessential film noir, and for good reason. Many prominent characteristics of the genre are included in Jacques Tourneur’s film. However, just because it is the epitome of film noir does not necessarily mean it is a great film. Yes, it has a sexy femme fatale, but I would prefer Rita Hayworth in Charles Vidor’s “Gilda” to Jane Greer any day. Hayworth is cunning but remains likable throughout the film, whereas Greer does not have the same mass appeal. “Out of the Past” also has dramatic cinematography, but it does not hold a candle to Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” and the infamous close up of Norma Desmond aka Gloria Swanson. The mood set by Tourneur is most definitely fatalistic, but Orson Welles did a much better job setting the mood eleven years later in “Touch of Evil.” The final trait of film noir that Daniel Mainwaring did get dead on is the suggestive banter and also many memorable one liners...

Kathie Moffett: "Can't you even feel sorry for me?"
Jeff Bailey: "I'm not going to try."
Kathie Moffett: "Jeff ..."
Jeff Bailey: "Just get out, will you? I have to sleep in this room."

"Out of the Past" was not at all a bad film, just an overrated film noir.

Alexander Adolph: The True Con Man

A documentary film is often confused with a reality film. In one way, a reality film is really an oxymoron. A film is a work of art, a vision, a dream. Reality is none of those so it is impossible to view a film and have it be “real.” Even when filming reality, the process of capturing certain moments and then editing them skews the truth therefore creating something completely original. Once it is understood that a documentary is an artist’s vision of the truth, the viewer becomes conscious of the manipulation that can occur when viewing a film like Alexander Adolph’s "Con Man Confidential."

Adolph’s film was extremely sympathetic to criminals that ruined hundreds of peoples lives. The clips placed in between the interviews, such as the golf scene or the toy car scene, paired with the nostalgia-inducing music made the viewer imagine they were in the mind of the con man. There were two noticeable themes that the con men shared that also made the viewer understand where they were coming from. One common thread was they all had some sort of traumatic past or childhood, such as spending years at a home for child delinquents or being severely beaten by their parents or having to give up their toy cars for other children to play with them. Another was how all the con men said how stupid their victims were by mentioning things like, “if they would have just checked, made a call, looked it up etc....”

After viewing the film, you really had the feeling that you got inside the mind of a con man. It is hard to imagine that Adolph wanted the viewer to feel anything less than pity and possibly even empathy toward the con men at the end of his film. Adolph’s excellent organization of the documentary into how they conned, their past, their lives as con men, and finally the consequence of their actions, made a perfect circle out of the most imperfect lives.

A (somewhat) new found appreciation for technology

John Maeda, a digital mastermind’s, exhibit within The Rifle Maker was rather small, but made up for the size with his complex displays of electronic gadgets. His use of electronics baffles my mind, such as the keyboard connected to the Ipod displaying a conversation, or the display of mini Ipods in “Free Swim” presented to show old memories being carried away for new beginnings. Never have I seen such an art form, or such a personal connection between a man with his electronics. Then again, as a painter needs his paintbrush to develop a beautiful canvas, Maeda needs electronics to create his masterpiece. It seems that to Maeda, electronics are humans. They interact and function like living bodies. They have memories, they have parts which cause them to function, or parts that cause them to malfunction. As displayed in his piece “Marriage : Staying in sync never really happens” two Ipods were connected, both with identical lengths of visual story. The display would show the same image, then all of a sudden that would malfunction and phase out naturally. As explained by Maeda, “They disagree (eventually) like a regular couple” due to the nature of their hard disks. Maeda’s relation to two electronic devices in comparison to beings is brilliant expressing just how difficult being intertwined really is. There is a give and take, and although you may be on the same wavelength in actuality there is always room for misinterpretation. Although electronics have never tickled my fancy, Maeda’s use of personal connection brought new insight as to why such valuables can mean so much to an individual. They become an extension of themselves.

Monsieur Jude Law et Le Samourai

The massive impact of celebrity on American culture is undeniable. Although it can be argued that the impact is not as great here in England as it is in California, famous personalities have a universal effect of captivating their audiences.

With the opportunity to witness first hand the mayhem that surrounds/is celebrity, we took off to the screening of Jean-Pierre Melville’s "Le Samourai." The most obvious feature of the the audience was the percentage of female attendees. While it is impossible to know for sure how many were at the Institut Francais to view Melville’s film and how many were there to see the Jude Law, the majority must have attended because of the latter. The people in the front row were giddy as school girls and their cameras came close to matching the number of flashes that go off when the paparazzi are constantly following Jude. It was also noticed that some ladies even left twenty minutes into the film, after they had seen there fill of Mr. Law.

The media portrays celebrities such as Jude Law as alcohol absorbed and lusting after everyone and anyone. From this fabricated image the media creates, (although not all of it is untrue--after all where there’s smoke, there’s fire) we stop thinking of actors as artists. For that reason, it was surprising to hear Jude talk about Alain Delon and his character Jef Costello with such fervency. One memorable anecdote from the night was when Jude told the audience how much he loved the opening scene, with Delon lying on the bed, almost lifeless-looking, except for the bellowing smoke coming from his mouth. When we viewed the film, I took note of this scene and it definitely made it more significant to me knowing Jude Law himself picked it out.

The Merchant of Venice

“The Merchant of Venice” production at the Globe Theater was quite the experience. Standing for an entire three hours for a play is not my choice of a good time. Fortunately, the beer was flowing and standing was actually a comfortable pose for the time being. The play was shown during the late evening, which is interesting. In London, they have better lighting because it gets dark later here than USA. It is to their advantage there is no lighting in the theater. Throughout the play, the make- up and costumes made the lighting and environment come to life, no lighting was needed. It is interesting to see the actual replica of the most famous theater in the world, especially because it’s William Shakespeare’s theater. It was also interesting to note the theater had no curtain. The actors came out with the audiences’ attention and they had no choice of props or intricate background to distract viewers. The same scene was the backdrop throughout the play. Much the same as Shakespeare’s time, they only had minimal props and sets. It brought the play to a different status of effort to make the play as authentic as possible. The stage did, however, offer level changes, such as a balcony that was not available during Shakespeare’s era. It was intriguing to see the audience turnout and participation in the theater. The Globe's atmosphere is laid back and involved in the audience participation, in which diverts it from any other form of theater today. Theater goers should be involved in the play and not just be a face in the crowd.

A Trip to the Moon?

One always says they are smart enough to avoid being conned, but after seeing “Conman Confidential” by Alexander Adolph, it becomes apparent that it is not all that hard to be the victim. The tales of deceit from the men interviewed were remarkable and the raw reality expressed through the documentary really shows the raw reality of the subject matter: The expressionless faces. The words conveying no trace of sympathy. The life of these conmen were just that, emotionless and expressionless. Who can really convince wealthy business men to take a rocket to the moon and wave to the people still on earth? Wouldn’t people realize that isn’t even possible? This shows just how much people can be detoured from reality when
What was really intriguing was the fact that the con artists would reverse the role play. Instead of realizing they are greedy, they would justify their actions by saying the people being conned were greedy. Rather ironic seeing that the conman should be considered greedy, wanting to take money away from individuals who though they established this “trustworthy” relationship. Perhaps money does get the best of some and the thought of more causes people to change. I found it quite hilarious that the parent’s of the conmen were completely oblivious to the acts, saying it was out of character and “they didn’t mean it”. Perhaps that is the role of the parent, to always be on the side of their children. The real life elements of documentaries, as shown in "Con Man Confidential", makes one feel for victims, but the sad thing is that is almost makes one feel for the con man.

And all that Jazz!!! 606 Jazz Club

After attending the 606 Jazz Club performance, the quartet jazz band’s performance was intriguing. The concert was uplifting and distinctive. Right from the start, the introduction of the saxophone player, to the gradual introduction of the base, piano (keyboard), drums brought the music to life. Each song took on its own life. While viewing the show, I was completely mesmerized by the skill of each player and even more so, on the drummer. He was compelling. Maybe it was the wine taking a toll on my mind, but somehow the music took over the emotion of the room, and all that was I was able to do was watch the drummer’s passion and lighthearted performance. Through his eyes, you could see his enjoyment of the music. The all around attitude about jazz seems to be free spirited and light. Jazz in particular is a genre that is performed outside the box, in which is completely original and unique to its own form. The pace of each song was without a script. Jazz seems to distinguish its own personality and paves imagination throughout the music and in its listeners.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Wizard of Oz

Case History:

- Mr. Cowardly Lion is a single male (?) who lives alone, and has no children or family to speak of. He is not currently employed, and recent employment records do not indicate gainful employment at any time during the past 24 months.

Chief Complaint:

- Mr. Lion did not actively seek treatment. He was involuntarily committed after being arrested for vagrancy. He has since been exhibiting nervous and paranoid tendencies in addition to a generally aggressive personality. He also appears to be experiencing schizophrenic hallucinations of a land he calls “Oz” where he intends to meet a “wizard”. The hallucinations also reference three other individuals, namely a young woman called Dorothy, a “Tin Man”, and a scarecrow. Multiple personality disorders are not to be ruled out.

Preliminary DSM-IV Diagnosis:

- Axis I: Clinical Syndromes (Diagnosis)

o Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

§ Evidenced by Mr. Lion’s excessive worry, and accompanying physical symptoms of such anxiety (shaking, tail wringing, etc.)

§ Possibly the result of childhood abuse (would explain the aggressive/self-defense tendencies toward even non-threatening others).

o Schizophrenia:

§ Delusions of Oz and the Wizard

§ Delusions that someone (a small dog named Toto, or a witch) is trying to hurt him

§ Visions of grandeur (often heard singing “If I were king of the forest…”)

§ Hallucinations of other individuals (both visual and auditory)

o Sheep Phobia:

§ Claimed he could not count them to get to sleep because he was afraid of them.

- Axis II: Developmental and Personality Disorders

o Borderline Personality Disorder:

§ History of negative self view and inconsistent moods combined with significant impulsivity (with an exaggerated inability to control aggressive impulses).

§ Indicative, again, of childhood abuse and a resulting history of unstable relationships.

§ Also currently exhibiting the fear of abandonment and attachment to imagined figures (see above).

- Axis III: Physical Conditions which play a role in the development, continuance, or exacerbation of Axis I and II Disorders

o None

Treatment Plan:

- Therapy:

o Role play therapy needed to work through childhood issues (possible hypnotherapy if voluntary regression is unsuccessful)

o Intensive cognitive-behavioural therapy needed to reduce negative self thoughts and behaviours

o Desensitization/flooding therapy to alleviate phobia of sheep

- Medication:

o Traditional antipsychotic medication

o Possible antidepressant program


- Hard to determine. If schizophrenia is ruled out (unlikely), the anxiety and personality disorders should be treated more successfully.

Jack the Ripper

The story of Jack the Ripper is a very creepy tale. To this day his identity still remains unknown. There are many suspects on the list but not enough evidence to have convicted any one of them. It was exlpained by the guide that in those times there were no forensic capabilities for collecting blood, DNA, fingerprints and things like that. Another way in which the ripper was able to escape being caught was that he zig-zagged his way across the border between the London City and the outskirts of the city which was policed by Scotland Yard. Because there were two different police forces working on his case and he committed murder on both sides he was able to keep them at bay on both sides. Neither police force could conduct a proper investigation because they did not share evidence with each other and cooperate. There was also a man who was in charge of the investigation who did not allow any of the evidence to be collected unless he was present. He would not let them take a picture of the writing on the wall of the apartment building because he was afraid that the fact that the ripper mentioned Jews in his writing would offend Jewish people in the area. So, he had it wiped off the wall and destroyed the evidence. The reason that he was called Jack the Ripper by the press was that he would always rip the prostitute's body from her vagina up to her breast and pull out the insides. So gross! He would strangle the victim first, then cut her throught and then rip her open. What a sicko! His name was most likely not Jack. No one really knows the name of the killer. When the chief of police recieved a letter from the killer he simply signed it "from hell", which is where they got the name for the Jonny Depp movie based on the killings. Walking through the streets where all of these sick crimes were committed and hearing how brutally these women were killed really sends a chill down your spine.

-Lauren Cartwright

Club 606-Jean Toussaint

My Movie Scene from Club 606:

It was a rainy night in London and Peter had come to his favorite jazz club which was named Club 606. This was a special night because he got to hear the musical stylings of an incredible sax player named Jean Toussaint. The room was dimly lit and cozy and he sat himself at a table near the front where the band was playing. He ordered himself a bottle of the pinot noir wine and a tasty meal as was customary in this club. Then he began to take in his environment and took a glance around the room. As he did so he saw a beautiful woman sitting alone in the corner of the room. She was wearing a white dress trimmed in gold. He wondered why such a beutiful woman would be sitting alone. Then their eyes met and a slight smile appeared on her face and something in the way her eyes sparkled when she looked at him made him feel a little funny. He wanted to aprroach her but the music had just begun and he was for a moment engulfed in listening to Jean Toussaint play his beautiful music on the saxophone. When the first set of music ended he took his chance to approach her and talk to her. He decided to come right out and ask her why a beautiful woman such as herself was here all alone. She then told him that the reason why she does things alone is that that way she always got to do exactly what she wanted without having to answer or cater to anyone else's desires. Peter had never thought about it before but then he realized that is why he too enjoys going out on his own. He then asked what if she found someone who also enjoyed the same things as her, and would it be more fun to have someone to enjoy things with. She had never given much thought to the idea but when she thought about it a smile appeared on her face and she aked Peter if he would like to join her at her table and listen to the next set with her. He eagerly agreed and sat down with her. They had a lovely time talking and listening to the music and decided to try and enjoy each others company again sometime, and that is how the beautiful music of Jean Toussant brought to independent and slightly lonely people together on that rainy night at Club 606.

-Lauren Cartwright

Out of the Past

What a great film. It was a classic film noir full of shadows, plot twists and great punch lines. The two lines that stood out the most in my mind were when Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) asks Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) if he believes her that she did not take the money and he replies, "Baby, I don't care", followed by a passionate kiss. That was a classic moment. Another line that stood out was also one that took place on the beach in Mexico. Jane Greer's character comes walking down the beach and asks Robert Mitchum's character if he missed her and he relpies, "No more than I would my eyes". I love this line because its his way of saying that he missed her desparately because someone would miss their eyes very much. He is saying that being without her is like not being able to see. There was a fantastic amount of backstabbing in this film which is a characteristic of a film noir. There is firsly a lot of backstabbing between Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and Jeff Bailey. But I believe that the award for the most back stabbing goes hands down to Kathie Moffat. There isn't a person in the film that that woman didn't try to double cross. I think she wins the award for the most cold blooded murders in the film as well. There were also visual aspects characteristic of a film-noir evident in this film. When Jeff is fighting in a struggle with his old partner there is a fantastic dance of shadows across Kathie's horrified face instead if showing all of the actual violence. There was something that the woman who introduced the film mentioned that I think is interesting. The beginning scene is of a car driving into the town, while the very last scene is a car leaving the town and driving away. That was an interesting way to open and close the movie, a way of signaling the begging and end of the story which I think is a way that is ment to give the viewers some kind of closure in knowing that Anne and her former boyfriend get away and escape from the turmoil. Also something that should be addresses is the great amount of lies that were told in this movie. The most prevalent lie came from the "the Kid" or the def boy. He told Anne that Jeff had been planning on going away with Kathie which was the final lie of the movie, which motivated Anne to go away with her former boyfriend. He told this lie for her own good, so that she could move on and not be hung up on Jeff after he had passed away. This was a great film and has made me interested in seeing other film-noirs in the future.

-Lauren Cartwright

Out of the Past

"Dry your eyes baby, it's out of character."
"Now get of this room. I have to sleep here." "Baby, I don't care."

Oh, the one-liners in this movie. . .Simply amazing. the dialog flows so quickly between each other. The actors snap great lines back and forth between each other so fast I couldn't keep up. Did people back in the 40's and 50's talk like that anyways? In that dry, lightning fast sarcasm with no remorse? I would love to hear it if my grandparents spoke like that to each other.

Out of the Past is a classic film noir in the sense that it has the femme fatale, the womanizing yet moral hero, and plenty of backstabbing to go around. Yet, compared to other noirs I've seen like Double Indemnity, there are subtle differences that gave the film a much more majestic and powerful feel. The drama is not cramped into a city setting, but out in the country side and open areas, like Lake Tahoe and Mexico. Typical noirs have all the action taking place in urban centers like Chicago and NYC where the hard nosed hero eventually ends up dead.

Was America scared of women back in the 40's and 50's? It seems as if women in almost all films in that day were portrayed as double-crossers and untrustworthy. Maybe it's the idea of the Post War, working woman was bad for society. This portrayal of women quite possibly may have helped the feminist movement.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper

The ripper of the 1888, who most likely was not named Jack was one messed up guy. Walking along this guy’s old stalking ground really caused a sense or dark mystery. Why would someone want to mutilate so many women that were just toothless prostitutes? The fact of it was, it did not matter how creepy or twisted Jack the Ripper was, the police should have caught him. From the way the story was very interestingly told, it seemed that the main reason why this man remained free was because of a police tiff. The city of London police refused to cooperate with Scotland Yard, and because of this, much of the evidence was destroyed. This idiocy can still be seen in today’s governing forces even in the US. A perfect example of this is how the FBI, CIA, and DEA hardly share information. More times than probably shown through the media, this has caused slower resolutions, and even suspects to remain free. Our government needs to look at situations in history, such as Jack the Ripper, and understand that much more can be accomplished with a joint attempt. It is possible that had all the evidence been properly documented, and the City of London Police and Scotland Yard had cooperated, Jack the Ripper could have been stopped. It is only speculation but the Story of the horrible murders in 1888 teaches that it is better to work as one together, than to be rivals and separate.
-Duncan Kelm

Sunday, July 1, 2007


Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman musical Wicked shows the "real" life of the Witches of Oz. The musical is loosely based on the novel by Gregory Maguire Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of The West. Maguire's novel and the musical are from the witches point of view, and is a re-imagined version of Frank L. Baum's children's story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
It was interesting comparing the sets in the movie The Wizard of Oz and the set of Wicked; all the sets in the film look like sets from a play, lots of painted scenery, fake trees and plants. The musical had an amazing set equipped to change easily for each scene in a short amount of time. There were many parallels between the film set and a set that would be found in a play, or musical, though Wicked's set did not look too similar to The Wizard of Oz film.
Wicked dramatically changed the story both from Frank L. Baum's childrens series and from The Wizard of Oz movie, modernizing the story and giving a new perspective on the adventures in Oz. In contrast to the original story from Dorothy's point of view, Wicked shows Oz through the eyes of the misfit Elphaba Thropp otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba's story begins with her unfaithful mother having an unfortunate affair with the man who will become the Wizard of Oz. Elphaba born green, is unloved by her father and spends time desperately trying to win his affection. She idolizes the Wizard until she realizes that he is the head of a corrupt government locking up all the animals, in order to bring people together according to the wizard "nothing brings people together like having a common enemy". This idea reflects many governments, from Hitlers Germany, to even in some ways the war on terror, having a common enemy to unite people. In fact even in small group situations if there is one person nobody gets along with that itself gives everyone else something to agree on, bond over even. Wicked's modern interpretation of the Witches of Oz, and the story of the Wizard of Oz is entertaining and refreshing, thought some parts don't exactly line up with the story, such as the wicked witch being the one to make the tin man, and Fiyero becoming the scare crow. Also in Wicked Elphaba was really a good person, one who I sympathized with, but in the original story and the film she seems truly wicked, and out to get Dorothy. Wicked was a beautifully done production, the differences made it fun, and new to watch, while the songs remain stuck in my head still today.


Dali and Film

The Dali exhibition at the Tate Modern was captivating and intriguing, especially the film in Room 3 entitled Un Chien andalou. The opening scene was a woman’s eye being cut open immediately lures the viewer in. A silent film, no oral words spoken in the entire duration of the film was enticing. I have watched very few films that have this feature. Dali’s film is obsessed and infatuated with sexuality and the desire to balance this in the world of reality. Dali plays with Freud’s theory of the id, ego, and superego. According to Freud, the id functions as the irrational part of the mind and is the ‘want’. The ego is the rational part and advises the mind. Its task is to find a balance between primitive drives and reality while pleasing both the id and superego. The superego tends to stand in opposition to the desires of the id and acts as the conscience. The characters in this film struggle with this concept of equilibrium. Ants are used by Dali to demonstrate the ability of achieving balance. For example, Dali has the hand of one of the main characters smashed in a door. While the hand flails violently, ants begin to pour wildly from the palm. The ants symbolize the ability to reach the desired goal more effectively due to being extremely small the ants are able to go through crevices. Furthermore, the ants represent the ability to disconnect with life. In Dali’s most famous piece, The Persistence of Memory, Dali has ants on the pocket watch that is not melting. Time is significant and the ants illustrate immortality while the rest of the figures in the painting are melting away. Dali demonstrates that our time on earth is limited and this painting deals with the concept of mortality. In the painting, The Spectre of Sex Appeal, there is a young boy looking up fascinated by the pieces of sticks which are holding up a body. Sex appeal is placed on a pedestal and this image signifies the ultimate desire for human beings. This is analogous to Un Chien andalou, because the concept of the film revolves around sexual desire. When one dies, one can reach the balance of sexuality and the purpose of life, as it appears for the characters in the film. In conclusion, this film depicts the struggles that humans live with. Maybe when we die we will be able to decipher the true meaning of life and manifest this outcome.
-Michelle Macaluso