God's Little Acre

God's Little Acre
Lord, make way for gold

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea's work

Trash Humpers

Trash Humpers
broken, faked, MADE

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Woman Lying on the Gurney Going Left and then Going Right

I re -watched Jean-Daniel Pollet's MEDITERRANEE  (1963) last night.  It forces your gaze on images that dominate the frame with their singularity and silence.  Ancient ruins quietly stand before us. A pumpkin patch has depth of field, but no depth of narration.  There are paths the eyes must take, such as to the left (bird sphinx) , to the right (bird sphinx), down below (bull fight from up in the stands).  How can we describe the very act of not understanding what it is to see fully, how impossibly one ever sees head on?  Pollet's film excels at making kinesis out of the struggle for accurate memory, and how that struggle makes all sight and sound impossible.  Maybe it is more true to say that his film utilizes sound and vision to engage us in a sense of what it is like to forget.

Frames focus on: ancient pyramids, Egyptian or Grecian artifacts such as an idol of a Bird Sphinx, a traditional bullfight with matadors. We see through, we see around, a direct line of sight is obscured. The camera moves nearly around the pyramids, yet ultimately denying us the full 360 view.

The fact of what we see is inseparable from the histories that created it. The direction is backward, as underlined by the film's Voice Over. The images are illustrations of a search.
We investigate by trying to move around, yet time and again we end up staring at a powerless hollow idol, or (the bullfight) a murder without a beginning or an end.

Regardless of the repositioning of the frame, and of the movement of the objects inside of it, the answer spins around in our heads, not moving us anywhere. Our vision makes us think that we move, but all is "ancient...monotonous..." The voice over tracks our nowhere progress: "We are captured in this theatre."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


1 PHOENIX   (D: Christian Petzold)

How to End a Movie

2 FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (D: Thomas Vinterberg)

Love Returns

3 SICARIO (D:  Denis Villeneuve)

Intense Dreamlike Reality

4 WHITE GOD (D:  Kornel Mundruczo)

Portrait of  Hagen

5 ROOM (D:  Lenny Abrahmson)

Taking Chances Pays Off

6 BY THE SEA (D:  Angelina Jolie) (tied with) + BROOKLYN (D:  John Crowley)


Falling in Love on Film

7 THE REVENANT (D:  Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu)

I Died a Thousand Times

8 TANGERINE (D: Sean Baker) (tied with) +  CAROL (D:  Todd Haynes)

Donut Time 24/7
Movie Ending Success; Composed but Longing

9 KNIGHT OF CUPS (D:  Terrence Malick)

Flawed Figure, Flawed Film;  Major Highs



runner ups:

Friday, January 8, 2016



FINGERS.  35mm The Deuce at Nitehawk.  D: James Toback.  With a barely contained in his skin Harvey Keitel.

THE DUTCHESS OF LANGEAIS.  35mm  Lincoln Center .  D:  Rivette.  Major Rivette.

BLOOD AND LACE.  16mm Anthology.  Lustig presents.  D:  Philip S Gilbert. 
NIGHT OF THE JUGGLER.  35mm (the one). The Deuce at Nitehawk. D: Robert Butler. 

Image result for solo trans neil young film
SOLO TRANS.  Laserdic.  Cinefamily.  D: Neil Young/Shakey. Synthetic news, Real tunes.
RETURN TO OZ.  35mm Anthology.  Epically metallic fairy tales +  nightmares

DOOM GENERATION.  35mm. Anthology.  D: Araki.  Rose McGowan in mise en scene.

Image result for what's up doc barbra streisand
WHAT'S UP DOC? 35mm IB Tech.  New Bev.  BOGDANOVICH.

THE BLACKOUT.  digital. KGB. D: Ferrara.  With the best theyve ever been Modine... and Hopper.  Erasing the present + re-writing the past
THE PROFESSOR.  35mm, Lincoln Center. D: Zurlini.  With a bleary and blousy poet named Alain Delon.

SUICIDE LANDSCAPE.  16mm Lincoln Center  D: James Benning.  his one partially narrative /acted film was my biggest discovery of the year. Radical.  Tubular.

I'VE ALWAYS LOVED YOU.  35mm Technicolor.  MoMA.  D: Borzage.  This was nuts in the best way.

Image result for visit memories and confessions
VISIT OR MEMORIES AND CONFESSIONS. D: De Oliveira. 35mm. Lincoln Center.  Ghost house.

PURPLE RAIN.  35mm. Anthology.  He doesn't know how to act, but he loves her.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

UNDER THE SKIN (the film), Inside the Matrix-- NOTES -- FIGURES + TRACKS

UNDER THE SKIN is a collage of perspectives.
UNDER THE SKIN can be viewed on two distinct yet related tracks; as both a closed narrative and as a more abstracted series of elements; sounds, utterances, and the crossing of physical space.

The act of choosing a path, or a track, seems to be both denied and revealed, at once.
For the main figure of the film, as portrayed by Scarlet Johansson, the path is consistently followed blindly, or more clearly, without question or investigation. This instinctual motivation moves her graphically and sonically through the film.  That her path is so direct (at least in the film's first three quarters) is not coincendently at odds with the choices encountered (from the outset) by the viewer.
If one tracks the specific shots that make up the totality of UNDER THE SKIN, creating a feature length motion picture, one notices movement across the left side to the right side of the frame.  A viewer may step inside the directional instincts and patterns applied here,  to track figures' lines, circles and colors.  There are intersections of different figures' paths; one man may be tracked as he moves left to right; while she is being tracked moving right to left.  The intersections form points that unite in a matrix like system.
The sound design; also in points (sounding out letters) and more elongated gestures (sounding out combinations of vowels with consonants, not quite speech), similarly follows the collage aesthetic.

Any anxiety felt at the outset of UNDER THE SKIN must be attributed to worries about the limited access to information caused by brief shot duration.  Establishing shots and the establishing planet and plot exist in moments that are the briefest shot durations in the entire film.

The beginning.

The planet is an eye.

Her eye is a planet.

Title flash .  Black lettering; white background.
A rapid cut to water fall.  Cliffs, small lakes.
It's hills look like Scotland or Iceland; desolate.  Dreamed.

No answers should be found here.
(BLA/BLU) blue is the first color seen after black.
brown is seen on the iris.
when we see waterfall and the road through hills/mountains, we see the blue of night before we see (Y, O, R) dots of yellow orange and red later on, in a matrix of rows and grids when the motorcycle is singled out among cars.

(Y)Unearthly bright yellow is on the jacket of the motorcycle jacket.

She drives. frame follows movement going from right frame to left frame.
She is on an escalator entering a shopping center.  We follow.
She touches a furry jacket; (G, BR) grey and brown , she touches a pink top (P) , (BLA) black suede boots.

Next, a  series of shots of gradually briefer duration. They inform us  someone is applying makeup to someone else (both are women). we see a series of shots of women in cosmetic stores that have a woman employed by the cosmetic counter applying makeup to them.
the shots vary as follows:
a woman in the right side of frame has a woman in the left side of frame applying her blush.
then a different woman seated in the right side of frame has a woman behind makeup counter on left side of frame rubbing lotion on her arms.

Then a woman in right frame who has a woman standing over her in left frame applying eye makeup.
Fast cut to the same woman at a different angel; now she is in the left frame and the woman applying the eye makeup is viewed in the right.
Cut to a a couple seconds longer shot of a different woman in the right frame with a different woman standing in the left frame, leaning right with a mirror to show the woman her completed look.
cut to Her.
She is in the drivers seat again, in the right frame, (the wheel is in the left side of frame) applying coral (R) red lipstick that has a hint of pink like the clothing; the shade of the lipstick a bit deeper.
closer cut so now we see her mirror (compact) reflection of her putting on her lipstick in the left side of frame and a back view of her head in the right side.

Three short consecutive shots of men on the street moving left to right.

This is followed by a few more consecutive, paralleling (mirrored) set of shots of men on the street moving from right to left.
Most of them are seen 'crossing' within this movement, as in a street, or traffic.

She is seen driving, her van moving from right to left of frame.
A sharp cut as she stops; still.  The wheel is in the left half of frame; she is in the drivers seat filling the right half.  Outside her van window we follow her eyes and her thought; a man is seen in her window crossing right to left frame.
We now enter the interior section of the overall thematic movement of the film.  Interiority here is radial.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Re-watching David Lynch films in the Cinema: It came to Me in a Dream (an introduction)

There is a crushing force to how she lives; it is more than living, it is an all encompassing or always on the verge of obliterating pressure knocking against her incessantly.
She lives in dreams, and often nightmares.  Living for her is certainly real, but it is simultaneously surreal, with the weight of subconsciousness and uncertainty of WHAT and WHO is REAL haunting her.

She is Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), in David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS:  FIRE WALK WITH ME.

She is also  the Bill Pullman and  Balthazar Getty character in David Lynch''s LOST HIGHWAY.

Did i mention she is both female protags in MULHOLLAND DRIVE and Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) in INLAND EMPIRE?

Los Angeles is in primary focus in the latter three films, a witch who charms, casts spells, and plays a Medusa like role with her mesmerizing sea of serpentine neighborhoods and freeways.

Signs appear organically, but there is always a period of intense confusion at the outset.  From here, a sense of mystery is borne, driving the narrative.  But the spectator's experience of the mystery is more driven by ecstatic moments, where we feel the crush and the euphoria of the protagonist's sorrows and pleasures.

The value of life for a Lynchean person is upheld as the greatest privilege, a blessing that is delicately balanced, easy to break. One must live above all.  Vice is always a major tool in living, as it helps one  remain alive through hellish pain, abuse and injustice.

Laura Palmer is so terribly haunted and miserable because her consciousness obscures and confuses the exact nature of her life.

Nikki Grace is brought into sorrow and the crushing fear of misery when, as  a victim of another woman's traumatic pain (a woman on woman stabbing) she, like us in the Cinema, is driven to brutal emotions; an empathy unique to the Cinema of Lynch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Get Out of Me: UNDER THE SKIN, teaser . . .

one way streets     

Lead to the right

Lure To the Left

Monday, October 12, 2015

Loving the Addict: THE BLACKOUT and 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH

from publication in Italian journal LFU 2014... since ive been discussing both films recently w friends..here is a re print of my piece.

Loving the Addict:  THE BLACKOUT and 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH

Addicts are seers.  Sometimes they live by watching others, afraid to feel too much themselves.  Sometimes they cannot handle what they see, so they set about trying to alter their own senses.  
They feel so much self hatred or resentment that existence is unbearable.  One stays alive only to perpetuate the attempt to obliterate.  But how does one film such a head-space?
The souls of Abel Ferrara’s protagonists are screaming.    Two films of his explicit about evoking the inner mental and psychological state of an addict are THE BLACKOUT (1997) and 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH (2011).  The main characters they track are tortured men who fight Addiction.   As addicts, they recognize the ugliness of society more brutally than the rest of us:  they see more clearly through society’s lies, and they feel heartbreak and disloyalty more potently than other humans.  When they suffer a loss, they are simply inconsolable, and when they fall in love, it is total.  Self pity takes over and one turns to drugs.   THE BLACKOUT tracks this most beautiful and intimate orgy of self pity into the poetic extremes that only the using addict can experience.
 The opening shots of THE BLACKOUT  feature music playing over glimpses of  the ocean at night.  It is a dark enveloping space, one that holds the potential for absolution as well as dissolution.   This is a gaze onto a dark yet inviting space that we see Matty looking out onto, longingly, throughout the film. Matthew Modine stars as Hollywood “It” filmmaker Matty, and as a creator as well as performer in movies, he not only watches but obsessively tries to see images of people he has lost.  His French girlfriend Annie (Beatrice Dalle) acknowledges the addiction he hides behind. He clings to her asking about “their baby” and she tells him she didn’t want to have a baby with a junkie for a father.  
This sets Matty on a sped up quest to seek a solution, or maybe  just relief, outside of himself.  His drug intake actually begins in the opening credits, timed with an arrival to Miami beach . He snorts coke in the limo from the airport.  There is video playing everywhere he goes.  Sometimes it is put up by constantly filming friend  Mickey (Dennis Hopper), acting as both director, prophet (“Video is the future!” ) and drug partner.  As more drugs are ingested, more events are filmed/recorded, and the reality of what is occurring and what is imagined becomes blissfully less clear. The world is intense, images coincide and collapse into other images to create a multitude of superimposed frames. There is a collage effect, where one must overdose on the abundance of images and sensations in order not to  withdrawal into the total emptiness and silence of the ocean.  The hypnotic world concocted in this part of the film is an inviting universe that expresses both inebriation and the pleasure in losing oneself;  a pleasure fairly unique to addicts. Fixated on the abortion, Matty clings to this concept of loss. Looking morosely into the ocean and into mirrors, he hears her words echoed in voiceover again and again. Haunted, he begins to blow lines of coke, drink by the gulpful, smoke rock and shoot dope.

The film actually works (for me) on two levels.  On one level it does tell a straight story of addiction and a man tortured by a memory that he must dissolve, replace and repress, through loss of memory, replacement of images,  and  massive drug intake.  It tells this in a creative way:  the replacement of images( the first annie replaced by a second, false annie), the new german girlfriend to replace the old French one)a collage aesthetic, with  superimposition of  images and the proliferation of televisual playback.  

beauty witnessed and experienced. the seduction of addiction, frame by frame.

On a second level, THE BLACKOUT can be read as a unique attempt to convey the mindscape of an addicted brain...one that can not see how he is a slave to his obsessions (to use drugs, to obliterate his memory, to kill himself, to implode his relationships, to replace his girlfriend, to erase an existence of his own moral crimes).  This is the world of a man who has not cut through denial.  
There is a large section in the film where the wild collage of images and televisual playback comes to a halt, and where the imaginative world of doppelgangers and dreamlife aspect is abated.  This is the section where Matty gets sober, he attends a 12 step fellowship, he has sober chips, he has a new life and a safe angelic new girlfriend (Claudia Schiffer)  in a home in New York.  

Sweet new girlfriend, sober chip, new life, but no love.
This world, though at first glance a successful one, is still drawn  from the point of view of the addicted mind.  This part of the film is a sterile, passionless  world, one where we as viewers experience his civilized malaise, and we share the desire to obliterate it’s confines.  Compared to the impressionistic dream world of the former part of the film, this section is almost ugly in it’s sobriety.  Did Matty really kill the waitress who became Annie # 2? Does it really matter? That question, and the sterile search for the answer with his therapist is the antithesis of the full throttle beauty Ferrara gives us when Matty returns to drugs to seek his answer.  
Matty’s triumphant return to sublime intoxication coincides with a glorious return to superimposed images
 Never has the pursuit of total obliteration and fucking delusion and fantasy been so damn seductive as it is in this film.  Any viewer or cinephile who has battled with addiction can  watch THE BLACKOUT and experience recognition.  That world of active “using”  may be filled with confusion and pain (Hopper shouting about reality and video while real and unreal things happen simultaneously to Matty .  Matty takes a hit of crack and he literally disappears into the black of the screen...) but this reality is the truth to those who know the beauty of saying fuck it and trying to destroy one’s mind. THE BLACKOUT is told from  Matty’s viewpoint  as someone in the thick of his disease and without any awareness that would come with recovery.  Matty runs toward the void, embraces loss and disorientation, fleeing to the ocean in Miami at night, as Schiffer finally catches up with him.
Matty recognises he is still in love with chasing unanswered questions, fucking up his head, and suffering the extremes of his perceptions.  

Ferrara returns to the plight of the addict in 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH.  The idyllic love nest of Willem Defoe’s two years clean  Cisco and Shannyn Leigh’s Skye is quite reminiscent of the briefly recovering Matty  and  Susan (Schiffer ) in THE BLACKOUT.  In fact, Modine and Schiffer could be Defoe and Leigh in a younger incarnation.  Again we are given a protagonist who is fighting with urges to descend back into active addiction.  Here, the balance is more towards recovery.  Cisco has been clean for multiple years and is in a successful romance.   Unlike Matty, our initial experiences in observing Cisco are seeing him in his sober life, living in a cocoon like railroad apartment and listening to (again, being televised) spiritual leaders discussing how our inner spirit determines the course of the world.
The film opens with the plucking of a sitar; at once spiritual and singular, note by  note, a sound to accompany inward motion.   His girlfriend Skye is quiet and artistic, painting a large piece, the canvas the floor of their home.
Where Matty was all outward action; throwing himself at women or pushing them away, grabbing crack pipes, drawing lines to blow...Cisco is all about withdrawal; both from the insanity of a past life on heroin, and the withdrawal from externalized sensations, living in a sort of artist’s sanctum.
The film begins as the end of the world has begun.  But the first time we hear this explicitly is from Cisco, stating this in an email.   Everything that follows perpetuates the idea that the end is inescapable ,and that it is coming very soon.   We as viewers have two options.  One is to experience the film as an impression of a final day, an insular and specific one.  Another option is to recognize the reservation of the addict who has not accepted that they can not use again.  To love heroin as only an addict can, is to know an all consuming love whose bonds are not immediately broken.  What follows Cisco’s email is a series of expressions of outwards rage or disgust at the world that does not seem to be shared by either Skye or any of the earth’s other inhabitants.  The ugliness and unfairness of the world  (he yells at a landlord about high rent) seems to drive him to his wit’s end more than it would to another.   One again recognizes the sensitive worldview of the addict.
Cisco cannot help but see all the suffering in the world.
In a key early scene, Skye soothes Cisco’s ruffled feathers with a shared meditation session.  Then the camera separates its shared coverage, focusing on close ups of Cisco, eyes closed.

Next we see our first view of the fantastic: Cisco imagines himself lashing out with force, cutting a  massive tree down with an axe, being observed by a quiet stranger.  This is the first time we understand that the confusion and turmoil in the world is not something that is necessarily happening or not happening, but more so what is fueled by a specific struggle within Cisco.

4:44 can actually be experienced as a fantasy from Cisco the addict’s point of view.  The end of the world is a not uncommon reservation  to “ pick up “ that is shared by many addicts new to recovery.  One thinks, well if my mother dies or my baby dies, then I can use.  If i know the earth will implode tomorrow, then i will go out and use. .. It is in this way that the power of addiction keeps hold and the fantasy that heroin will love him back this time perpetuates.  And so, in the third act of the film, Cisco sneaks and lies, but he succeeds in scoring dope.  And the end of the world does indeed come upon them, fantasy intact, reservation explored..and filmed.

                                                                                                                              J F

Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence
spirit interrupts

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea managing the business


cutting through the walls