Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries surprised me. It's structure is that of a multifaceted crystalline object, mapping so much of an individual's life- through flashbacks, dream sequences, and encounters with characters that reflect elements of a character's life or fears even as they don't advance the plot.

The last Bergman film I saw, Autumn Sonata, has superficially similar subject matter, but it's more literal, straightforward depiction of a sequence in time makes it play out completely differently. That film is more emotionally draining and brutal, as opposed to the warmth in Wild Strawberries. Autumn Sonata ending points towards the possibility of redemption that Wild Strawberries actually provides.

Wild Strawberries also has amazing black and white cinematography that allows for dreaminess, whereas Autumn Sonata looks shot on video, grounding in the concrete.

But the structure of Wild Strawberries- I'm not sure I've seen a film that's worked like that. It seems like most movies, if they have dream sequences in them, don't have characters that enter the narrative for a scene or two and then leave. And most films that would be that freewheeling wouldn't carry around the same amount of weight and anxiety that's Bergman's general territory. It ends up really resonant for the amount of empty space it carves out for itself. And despite all that, it still only runs for an hour and a half. That's what surprised me, and what made me love it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another week, another friend left town. But let's stay focused on the positive, and not become mired in myopia.

Thanks advanced search for publishers, which reveals that Picturebox is putting out a book for Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind- I assume the exhibition at Deitch Projects. They're also doing a catalog of Ben Jones paintings. Hopefully the plan for a complete 1-800-Mice book this year will still happen, although it didn't come up in a catalog show. (According to their website, they're putting out a complete Will Sweeney Tales Of Greenfuzz book in 2009, which I can imagine being released the same day as a Thurber tome.)

The newest song to be stuck on repeat is by this band on Orange Twin called Nana Grizol, that appeared on an mp3 blog. I could loop it so easy, ad infinitum, but not for healthy reasons. I'm sure you can imagine. I'm trying to track down the record, or at least a second track to determine whether a purchase would be sensible. The album art is terrible.

The new Silver Jews record has fucking awesome album art! Stephen Bush!

That Beck record that was really popular ten years ago, and was reissued recently has a bunch of songs on it I didn't remember at all! This includes songs that were hits, to a certain degree.

I don't know, people. This post is all about its first paragraph, and trying to avoid the feeling of weight accumulating. The weight, I guess- this is how I'm going to articulate it right now- is that of a pretty general anxiety, what am I going to do with the future. Everyone I know shares this, in this little town. The thing is, the more people are around, the more that weight is distributed, to the point of almost being a non-issue: In a large enough community, that anxiety abates because stasis becomes more appealing. There's an element of a big-fish-in-small-pond syndrome easily diagnosed, but at its best moments, a rich community feels more like an aquarium. Or that's all bullshit, actually, sound and fury that just signifies that I am missing a lot of people pretty goddamn seriously.

(Does it mean anything that I went back to an old record from a completely different period of my life, that I probably haven't listened to since moving to Olympia, and scarcely recognized it?)

One friend I haven't seen in a while wrote a pretty great review of Juno in the comments of the post where I talked about Juno, if you haven't read it.

I keep on thinking in terms of new habits. I would like to start gardening really intensely, and using the computer much more sparingly. Analog equipment: sewing machines, typewriters and tape recorders. Although digital video still. I don't know, it's a pretty vague vision.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I spent last Sunday at the home of my newest friend, a day before she left the west coast. There came a point where she said "Ever do the thing where you just stare at your face in the mirror for so long it becomes a bunch of different faces?" "No," I said, "but my buddy Alex said he did something similar as a kid, and that he later got the same feeling by drinking cough syrup." "Yeah, it's kind of like that." Then we sat and stared, my shortness keeping my face just barely within the mirror's frame. "Focus on the whites of your eyes," she advised. I did: mostly it was the edges of my mouth that shifted and warped. Minutes passed, and eventually I recoiled sharply to the right. "Did you see it?" "It happened like seven times, and finally I saw a face I really didn't want to look at. Dude looked like he was going to rape me."

This really happened. It is too subjective to ever be in a film, which is too bad for the cinematic art but amazing for life as a thing you live.

Today I learned that that girl ate some bad acid fairly recently, which probably played a factor in her leaving town, as well as my ability to get along with her all of a sudden. While talking crazy shit and eating rice with beets I liked her as much as I like anyone, and five days later I learn she's serving as a cautionary tale for the mutual friends who knew her for longer.

A thing I am determined to try to put in a movie is that moment where you are at a droney noise show, hearing all sorts of frequencies, and then you hiccup involuntarily and for a brief second the shift in ear pressure makes the whole scene much less intense, although only for an instant.

I just started watching Masaaki Yuasa's Kemonozume. Yuasa made Mind Game, highly regarded among my circle of friends, probably to the point of serving as a totem for all of the ones that do animation. (These people I generally don't consider anime kids, and I think they rank the Flash animation of Paper Rad about as highly, for different reasons.) This is his follow-up, a TV show less obviously expressive in its techniques(so far) but completely roughly beautiful and emotionally engaging. I don't think I can talk about the plot without making it seem embarassing, so it will have to suffice to say that there's this monkey character I really like, who's a small part. Okay I'll admit it: The show is mostly about flesh eating monsters and the sword-fighters sworn to kill them. I am really into it and interested to see how many consecutive episodes I can watch before getting sleepy. The ending theme lyrics start off with "I like to bite on the drops of rain. They're not sweet, in fact they're bitter. I like how the smell betrays my tongue."

Which as I type it brings to mind the Animal Collective song "Fireworks" the same way the associative nature of this post makes me want to point out that I've been rereading the David Berman book of poetry, Actual Air, (probably particularly "Self-Portrait At 28") as I try not to be disappointed in the new Silver Jews record. And the use of the word associative reminds me of the three hours of Gary Panter interview I listened to the other day, where he explains that Jimbo takes place on Mars, in the colony that's a combination of Texas and Japan, where time happens backwards so new artifacts of the past are perpetually being uncovered.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

There is a noise ordinance proposed for downtown Olympia. I oppose this, and sent an e-mail to the city council urging that a public meeting be held to discuss the issue, indicating my negative stance on such an ordinance. (Many opposed think the proposal is written for the benefit of developers hoping to create condos in downtown.)

To my surprise, I actually got an e-mail from a city council member, that I very much wish to reply to, but my lack of knowledge is tripping me up.

In my original e-mail, I state that such measures as noise ordinances for commercial districts, in the way they neuter commercial districts, move Olympia away from being its own sustainable community and more towards being a suburb of Seattle and Tacoma. The response said that this was not the goal, but that "Downtown Seattle presents a model of success worthy of imitation." Obviously, the difference between Olympia and Seattle is that Seattle is more decentralized, there are several areas dense with small commercial businesses, which effectively serve the same purpose for their neighborhoods as downtown Olympia serves for the whole of the city. This is my main objection. However, what confuses me is this: I'm not quite sure what is being defined as "downtown Seattle." There's no real area in Philadelphia, for instance, that is classified as "downtown"- it would be kind of a misnomer for a city of that size. That said, I'm relatively unsure as to what area "downtown Seattle" refers to. It's not a city I particularly care for. Anyone who wants to define downtown Seattle for me, please do so in the comments.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

So, I'm finishing up college, working on this short film as a final project. I was going to do it anyway, I'm pretty sure, I begun it not expecting to get any credit and then worked out a way to get credit so I could graduate this June. Last year, I made a little movie that I liked that has its problems- there's a lot of plot points that get depicted as abstractions. For instance, the climax of the movie is a guy being eaten alive by rats, I'm not sure how that reads. I was glad to not be graduating with my peers, glad that there'd been enough times where tuition never got paid to allow me another year to get my skill-set in order.

Now I'm working on this thing that was designed in my mind as a final project, and which I now realize is going to be completely tonally inconsistent and impossible to parse for any sort of emotional undercurrent. It's the sort of movie that, if someone had paid to produce it, there would be no return on investment upon its release, and whoever made it would never be allowed to make a movie again. Reviewing the audio I recorded today, I laughed a lot, and realized that, despite having seen so many movies, I'd somehow ended up an outsider artist anyway. My liberal arts education now amounts essentially to having grown up in a shack. I feel like I just found out I'm actually retarded.

I asked someone a couple weeks ago, "Do you think someone could puzzle together what a normal movie was, if they had seen a bunch of movies that were crazy in different ways, for instance Crank and Last Year At Marienbad?" The answer was no. The answer is no. Oh man. I'm really excited to finish it up and show it to people. I think it'll be really funny. I'm exhilarated.

The climax that I thought would be David Lynch a la Mulholland Drive is actually more David Lynch a la On The Air. (With puppets.) Oh man.

In other, perhaps related news: So the issue with the movie Juno is that, while all of the actors are fine, in the way that a big chunk of acting is the ability of an audience to project their own emotions onto them, every line of dialogue is completely atrocious and should not be allowed to be said by people in a movie, and the soundtrack frequently plays in such a way where it really seems not meant to supply emotion or a counterpoint to a scene, but just to show off the hipness of the movie.

Meanwhile, An American Werewolf In London is great, containing both Griffin Dunne's finest hour and a ridiculously gratuitous scene of car crashes. I saw it this morning and wanted to recommend it to someone in an unhealthy relationship this afternoon. Because of the part where the girl is with a dude that becomes a werewolf on the full moon, at her apartment, when she's not around. Yeah. Thought it was a potent metaphor for the times we live in. Unlike the movie Juno, which is really dismissive of abortions.

If YOU are not dismissive of abortions, you might want a copy of this movie I'm making. DVDs should be burned by the end of June, tell me if you want one.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Be Kind, Rewind ended up not being as good as I would want it to be, but I loved it nonetheless. As a comedy, none of the jokes really struck me as funny, despite the presence of people like Heather Lawless and Jon Glaser, not doing anything, but getting paid anyway. I like it for Michel Gondry getting naked with his process, and how, while it's less technically impressive than The Science of Sleep, it seems more open-hearted for the way it embraces community. It feels like a companion piece to Block Party in that way.

I really hope Gondry's next film ends up being the postulated Daniel Clowes collaboration of an adaptation of Master Of Space And Time, especially if the Clowes screenplay for a movie about the kids who made an adaptation of Raiders Of the Lost Ark ever gets made.

Until then I guess I am waiting for the release of Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York, and Tokyo, the film anthology including an adaptation of the Gabrielle Bell comic from Kramers Ergot 5.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Last night I watched a terrible movie. It was called Southland Tales, Richard Kelly's follow-up to Donnie Darko. It was a huge failure, barely released. It's a sci-fi movie that's completely unable to tell its story competently, and so reverts to voiceover narration. Those last two things apply to Mike Judge's Idiocracy, and that was my favorite movie of the year it came out. Southland Tales feels more like another argument that the world depicted in Idiocracy is already happening, with this feeling that its unable to get past vapidity, so steeped in the stuff is it. (It has an awful cast, consisting of big-name stars and Saturday Night Live cast members. Although also people who are smaller than SNL: Booger from Revenge Of The Nerds, Will Sasso from MadTV, a woman from Poltergeist.)

It also feels like it might be Richard Kelly's spiritual shield.

It is stupid nonsense, on every level, and one of those levels would have to be the way it keeps on heaping levels on. But: The moral of the movie is "Pimps don't commit suicide." This is literally said four times, one of which is the last line of the movie. It just makes me feel that all that vacuous shit- the movie is all vacuous shit, it makes me never ever want to live in L.A., for the way it's pointedly dumb- it's the world Kelly lives in, and that's probably a deliberate choice. I think I get the feeling of watching the movie of knowing where the guy's coming from- and it's a stupid place, that's mostly pot-smoke, knee-jerk liberal politics, and immersion in celebrity culture but I guess it gets him through the day. Donnie Darko was a popular movie with its cult following that probably existed for the same "Wait, I know exactly where you're coming from" reasons, it's just that, with this movie, where he's coming from is a place no one else can relate to. I do feel like I can recognize it, though: It's a garbage heap. There's no real sense of aesthetics, or value, or emotion- and I don't think any of that is intentional! I think it was all arrived at honestly, through being kind of stupid.

I can't recommend seeing it to anyone, even as I wish more people had seen it so I could know I wasn't hallucinating.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008