Friday, April 29, 2011

Un mundo descomunal

music: Nacha Pop - Lucha de gigantes


I've finally seen Biutiful and once again I came to the conclusion that no matter how many of Iñárritu's movies I see, Amores Perros stays at the top of my list. I first watched Amores Perros for a very superficial reason - Gael García Bernal - and in the end I discovered not a only a good actor (because Bernal really is a good actor) but also a good director. He's actually one of the very few directors whose work I had the chance to follow chronologically, and right from the beginning (well... minus the shorts - those are always a bit more difficult to find).

After having seen Amores Perros for a second time, I had Lucha de gigantes on repeat. Listening to it again now, I realize that it perfectly describes the world you see in Iñárritu's movies.

Lucha de gigantes

en un mundo descomunal
siento mi fragilidad

me da miedo la enormidad
donde nadie oye mi voz

monstruo de papel
no se contra quien voy
o es que acaso hay alguien más aquí?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ruminating about life and stuff

music: X-Ray Spex - I Am A Poseur

- Why Are You Doing This? by Jason (colored by Hubert)

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's not an egg hunt

music: TV on the Radio - You

It's a WILD hunt!

The trailer for The Wild Hunt is really smart. If you don't know anything about the movie, and you just happen to see the trailer you might think, at first, that the narrative is set in medieval times. But then you realize the movie might be just a comedy about a bunch of nerds who take LARPing a bit too seriously: "dude, you're fucking dead" "no, I have a magical cloak of protection, it's like armor". Then, you also have this music that suggests the movie is a drama. And then: it all gets really serious and fucked up and you might think this is actually a horror.

So which is it? Actually, The Wild Hunt is all of the above (a bit light on the comedy, though). At the first level of reading, it's a movie about a LARP game that goes too far. But believe me when I tell you that you don't have to be a Dungeons and Dragons geek to enjoy and appreciate The Wild Hunt.

I also enjoyed that haunting music composed by Benjamin Bagby (and based on a text by the monk Otfrid of Weissenburg). I would actually like to listen to more medieval music. The problem is I don't really know what I'm looking for - "medieval music" is too broad a search term.


On a similar note: I've seen the first two episodes of HBO's Game of Thrones, and I have mixed feelings about it. My first impression after having seen the first episode: lots and lots of sexism and racism swept under dungeons-and-dragons bs. I know nothing about the fantasy genre, but isn't fantasy supposed to be a chance to create other worlds - worlds that are nothing like the one we know? Obviously, this genre isn't meant to create better worlds, but is it really too much to ask for different worlds? Perhaps it's a silly question. All I know is that there's this tv show which in the course of its very first episode exposes viewers to extreme violence, rape (and one of the most appalling lines I have ever heard), incest, racism. And have I mentioned the porn dwarf? (Romanian tabloids should be interest in this.) Of course, you have a young female character, Arya Stark, who, unlike other girls her age, is not interested in embroidery needles, but in a different type of needles: arrows, swords, and the like. But she's just the exception, and when there's an exception, there's a rule. The problem is that the sexism here can be easily justified by the narrative being set in mythological/medieval times (I'm making this up, I don't really know what era this is supposed to be), when women were considered to be inferior to / the property of men. The same goes for the racism. Because there was a time when non-whites were considered to be savage, "it's okay" to have this fictional people, the Dothraki, formed of non-whites who act like complete savages.

Daenerys (Game of Thrones, 1x01 "Winter Is Coming")

During the second episode I thought I had seen some improvement, but now... I'm not so sure. Daenerys was sold in marriage by her own brother to Khal Drogo, the leader of the Dothraki, and now we see her taking charge of her own sexuality. However, this isn't in the least empowering. Is this scene supposed to be a magical eraser? Because if it is, it's not working. This doesn't change the fact that a) she was sold into marriage and b) she was raped "like a bitch" by her "savage" husband.

Despite all this, I'm gonna keep watching Game of Thrones because I seriously doubt I'll ever read the book(s) on which it's based and I'm curious as to where all this is going. Plus: I like the visuals (if you can ignore the blood and guts, the show is genuine eye-candy). And if you're new to this, like me, and it's all too confusing, do check out the Viewer's Guide (there's a map and a guide to the Houses).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On my desk: Nil by Mouth

music: Portishead - Machine Gun

Nil by Mouth, the DVD I got from cinesseur. Sank you! (^_^)

Riddle: what do Catherine Hardwicke and Gary Oldman have in common, besides Red Riding Hood? They each made one raw movie. I find it rather strange that Oldman hasn't directed any other movies since 1997. It's not like he was busy acting in artsy movies, or anything like that.

Why the 18 rating for Nil by Mouth? Um, let's see: massive use of the C word and plenty of violence, in general, and domestic violence, in particular. The feminist in me was rooting for Valerie (Kathy Burke), and in the end she let me/ herself/ her daughter down. But hey, this is realism and you don't get to see any empowering stories. The sad truth is that the path and behavioral patterns of women like Valerie (and those of men like Ray) are so firmly established that there's little to no room for change. I really liked the subtlety of the end of Nil by Mouth (and I think it has the same feel as the end of Mike Leigh's Another Year... yes? no? I don't know, I might be saying this just because Another Year is fresher in my memory).

April 20 (part two)

music: Sharon Van Etten - Don't Do It

April 20 (part one)

music: Sharon Van Etten - Save Yourself

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mildred Pierce (x2)

music: My Morning Jacket - Circuital

Joan Crawford as Mildred & Ann Blyth as Veda in Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)

Kate Winslet as Mildred & Evan Rachel Wood as Veda in Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

13 angry jurors

music: Tegan and Sara - I Know I Know I Know

Last week I watched 12 Angry Men, in honor of Sidney Lumet. So, for the sake of contrasting and comparing, I was looking forward to seeing One Angry Veronica again, the 10th episode of season 2 of Veronica Mars - I'm watching VMars for the 4th time (I know, I know, "procrastination" is my middle name, don't judge). I won't bore you with the details (if you're interested you can read the Television Without Pity recap or better yet, you can watch the episode). I just think it's pretty amazing that tv shows pay this type of tribute to film.

12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)

One Angry Veronica (Veronica Mars, 2x10)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Beginner's Mind

music: Bright Eyes - Beginner's Mind

(just like learning how to breathe again. thank you, Conor.)

+ an 8-year span of Bright Eyes on late night television

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Encore: MM

music: Marilyn Monroe - My Heart Belongs to...*

*Okay, that song title is freaking creepy - I can't even finish writing it. However, the musical number itself is really something!

Let's Make Love is impossible to love. I saw Bus Stop on Thursday and besides being worst than I had imagined, it was also incredibly machista. Even for those times. So, while I was watching Let's Make Love earlier today I still had my feminist glasses on. It's quite amazing how many of these (old) romantic comedies have a narrative based on deception. The girl is fooled, but in the end she always falls for the guy, because... Hm, why does Amanda (Marilyn) fall in love with Alexander Dumas (Yves Montand)? No, not with Jean-Marc Clement. Why does she fall for Alexander Dumas? I really don't get that. The guy has no depth, no texture, nada. Is his lack of talent supposed to be endearing, or sth? Unfortunately, Let's Make Love is ba-ad, whether you look at it from a feminist perspective or not.

After having seen Marilyn play a not so talented "chanteuse" in Bus Stop, seeing her in Let's Make Love was quite refreshing. Obviously, none of the numbers here can be compared to this, but they are more than okay. Plus: I love Marilyn in that sweater. I love her in that trench coat, and that beret looks awfully cute (black berets always look better on blondes, darn!). And I love her in that (other) famous dress, which she also wore at JFK's birthday.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Alice in the wunderkammer

music: Joanna Newsom - Jackrabbits

Alice (Jan Švankmajer, 1988)

Roger Cardinal indicates that 'the Romantic world-view envisions any given object as the threshold to the whole cosmos: the single modest thing represents a magical microcosm of the entirety of things, and as such sheds its anonymity and assumes a revelatory distinctiveness'. This view certainly existed as encapsulated by the wunderkammern of Rudolfine Prague. As the philosopher's stone serves as a microcosm of the world, the wunderkammer assumes an alchemical extension as it yields not only a sense of the world but also the connection of one object to another. The advent of wunderkammern marks the merge of society and science as well as featuring the fluid mix of fantasy with reality:
In containing both man-made and natural objects, the Habsburg collections of the second part of the sixteenth century, like other Kunstkammern, thus reflected the contents of the universe in all its variety... In containing samples of all that was to be found in the macrocosm, the greater world, the Kunstkammer can be thought to represent the world in microcosm.
Švankmajer is an avid collector of all kinds of objects that possess potentialities for his art. His cinematic power lies in arranging objects through a provocative juxtaposition that prods them to communicate their inner stories. The mundane can become magical through inspired groupings as Švankmajer reveals life in objects believed to be dead, inert or outmoded. Since children instil toys and other objects with life through imagination, childhood serves as a potent setting for Švankmajer's object resurrections, with Carroll's Wonderland as the most advantageous backdrop.

Tina-Louise Reid, "Nĕco z Alenky / Alice" in The Cinema of Central Europe (pp. 216-217)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Quotable Radu Cosașu: Godard et la Nouvelle Vague

music: Bright Eyes - Triple Spiral

Anna Karina in Vivre sa vie (Godard, 1962)

Truffaut susține că lui i-a schimbat viața "Cetățeanul Kane". Mie - Godard. Jean Luc Cinéma, după ce o lua pe Anna Karina să vadă "Ioana d'Arc" a lui Dreyer și o punea să plîngă acolo, în întuneric, o aducea într-un cafe să stea de vorbă cu Brice Parain și filma tot ceea ce filosoful spunea acestei fete neștiutoare, de la Cei trei mușchetari pînă la Kant. Brice Parain mi s-a părut în acel film alfa și omega unei noi vieți, ale unui ochi, dumnezeu știe de ce. Poate fiindcă abolea eroul de altădată, o întreagă tehnică de Rudolf Valentino al meu, fiindcă el mi-a dat cel mai acut senzația amețitoare că începînd cu acest cinema, începînd din acea zi și în fiecare zi, la matineu și seara, Rudolf Valentino poate fi pentru mine Schileru, sau Bogza, sau Paul, sau Raicu, sau Mugur, sau Fănuș, sau Dimov, sau Nichita, sau Ianoși, după cum vreau să filmez în acea zi.

Ei și mai cu seamă ei - cei numiți pentru uzul public și al rațiunii "noul val francez" - mi-au transformat viața de cinefil în viață propiu-zisă. Ei și mai ales ei mi-au redat vechea credință cernîșevskiană după care frumosul, deci cinema-ul, e viața, deci o altă ordine a vieții, o altă ordine a imaginii, deci a decupajului. Ei mi-au dat noul fanatism de a șterge orice graniță dintre un film și existența mea banală de pe Bălcescu, de a lua această existență pentru a o privi drept în ochi ca pe Bogart și invers, de a privi fiecare Bogart ca pe o aventură personală la "Alimentara". Ei mi-au insuflat noua nebunie donquijotescă de a lua fiecare film, deci un fapt de cultură, drept o măreață peripeție personală, cu implicații, în acea zi, pînă la plata impozitului pe morile tale de vînt. Ei mi-au dat exaltarea frumoasă de a crede că un film poate schimba viața unui om cît o carte, cît Eisenstein, cît Moromete, cît Renoir. Ei mi-au inoculat ideea, mult prea dificilă pentru a-i putea face față zilnic, dar foarte stoică (vezi stoicii greci: "nu considera importante decît lucrurile care țin de tine"...), de a judeca fiecare lucru, deci fiecare film, deci lumea, în funcție de ceea ce ți s-a întîmplat azi pe stradă, căci cinema-ul asta e, întîi și întîi: ce ți s-a întîmplat azi în lume și deci pe stradă, și abia după aceea Bette Davis cu Jean Gabin în rolul principal. Ei mi-au fundamentat credința smintită și neclintită că cinema-ul nu e spectacol al lumii, ci o fraternitate cu lumea.

Am fost deci frate cu ei. ani de zile. Frați de cinema deci frați de sînge. Am rîs și am plîns cu ei, ca în romanțele de doi bani. Am avut excesele lor, orgoliile lor, stupiditățile lor, dogmele lor și, ca atare, eșecurile lor. Dar nu-i pot părăsi nici măcar azi, cînd valul lor e de mult spumă și nor și chiar ei nu mai știu nimic unii de alții, renegîndu-se și devorîndu-se cu indiferență. Chiar și acum,
cu acel fanatism tînăr și neblazat
de Fabrice la Waterloo.
eu îi apăr cu strigăt mare,
eu strig în tăcere și perfect ridicol,
precum că noul val francez
a fost,
      o superbă aventură,
firește lirică,
firește intelectuală,
că în artă nu există eșec
ci doar bătălii neîncheiate,
niciodată ispășite,
și cînd îi văd citați la
Istooria Filmului Sonor
o lacrimă lungă și incoruptibilă
îmi curge pe obraz,
ca Annei Karina la Ioana lui Dreyer.

Radu Cosașu, Ocolul Pămîntului în 100 de știri (Cartea Românească, 1974)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Quotable Radu Cosașu: Spider Web

music: The Dandy Warhols - We Used To be Friends

Odată cu poetul [Neruda], a murit și "Arabella",
păianjenul de pe "Skylab", care a trăit în Cosmos,
alături de oameni. La două zile revenirea
                                                           pe Terra,
"Arabella" a murit și ea. De ce? Încă nu se știe.
A rămas de pe urma păianjenului o superbă,
o nemaipomenită pînză, țesută în Cosmos, la doar
două zile după adaptarea la imponderabil.
Nu s-a mai văzut pe Pămînt o pînză ca aceea
țesută de un păianjen în Cosmos...

Radu Cosașu, Ocolul Pămîntului în 100 de știri (Cartea Românească, 1974)


I read this and it instantly reminded of this commercial (I had to dig through my old MySpace posts, though - I couldn't remember what the ad was for):

The Quotable Radu Cosașu: Marilyn

music: Kurt Vile - Peeping Tomboy

Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

Am luat în sfîrșit un tren, era iarnă, aveam și ceas și portofel (cred că Billy Wilder terminase "Unora le place jazzul" și Marilyn nu se gîndea la sinucidere, dar nici eu), aveam și delegație semnată de atoțiiubitorul Barbu Gruia și am plecat ca un nebun, nebun de fericire, în reportaj, la muncă, la muncă, la muncă. Am bătut zi și noapte dealurile Moineștilor, vedeam ca și Columb, cu pînzele în vînt, pămînt, pămînt, pămînt și petrol, petrol, petrol - noaptea mă întorceam în orășelul acela trăznind a gaz, nu a gag, nu a haz, nu a jazz, dîrdîiam de fericire, era și frig, și într-o bună seară, intrînd ca un Charlot într-un salon (fără doi de o), să îmbuc ceva, am descoperit - așezîndu-mă lîngă o ușă pe care erau scriși doi de o - unul din cele mai fantastice spectacole din cîte mi-a fost dat să văd în viața-mi, repet, de reporter harnic și talentat. Era o orchestră în restaurantul gazos, un viorist, un violoncelist, un pianist și la tobă, o femeie! O femeie superbă și tristă, trecută de prima copilărie, intrînd într-"a cincea", a destinului, și am fixat-o cu un nod în gît, fără să mai pot mînca, bea și gîndi, o femeie care bătea toba, o tobă bine crăpată, dar o femeie care habar n-avea că o privesc, că sînt înmărmurit ca un perfectibil ce eram. Au cîntat numai tangouri. Ea ținea la tobă ritmul tangoului și nu surîdea. Cred că nu-i plăcea jazz-ul.

Acea femeie -
o pot spune azi, după ce am trecut
prin suficiente față de cîte
voi mai trece, dar am simțit
și "marea trecere" -
       ca-n Platon,
deși niciodată n-am înțeles idealismul lui,
umbra prematură și premonitorie
a celei numite de noi Marilyn Monroe,
poate chiar Marilyn cea de azi,
din cer,
și de aceea, urmărind-o
cu sinceră clănțăneală, vibrînd voios
la tangoul dement al lui Jack Lemmon,
am visat tot timpul
la acela zile cu trei sori în frunte,
la viața-mi aceea minunată
pornită și ea dintr-o hăituială
gîndindu-mă insistent
o enormitate estetică a pune
semnul egalității între
tragic și comic.

Radu Cosașu, Ocolul Pămîntului în 100 de știri (Cartea Românească, 1974)


Have you gotten this week's Dilema? It comes with the 5th DVD in the Marilyn Monroe series - Some Like It Hot (with the commentary, too!, which means I'll have to watch it again some time soon). This is the first time I've seen Some Like It Hot. I've always been interested in MM, but I could never watch her movies until recently. The reason is simple: I knew she only got these dumb blonde parts, and I found that to be incredibly sad. But, you know, I really wanted to watch All About Eve, so at the end of last year I caved in and watched a MM movie for the first time. So far I've seen All About Eve, The Asphalt Jungle, The Misfits, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Niagara, and Some Like It Hot - exactly in that order (not that it matters).

I've also watched a few documentaries about MM, for research. I had to write about her death for the Dilema dossier, and believe me: it was not easy. I wanted to write sth special about Marilyn. Instead, I ended up with this tedious, tedious text. So my question is: how can you write about Marilyn when so much has already been said and written? Also: how can you write about her (death) without going into tabloid-like details?


Oh, yeah: the dress. Let's not forget the dress!

Marilyn Monroe and The Dress in Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)