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

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lock up the Beast

The scar of his pain is larger, more visible than one is allowed to show.

The scar in mention is of Freddie Quell's. But the scar he bears is of any human who transgresses. The Jesus of post war United States. The cross bearer who fucks underage girls, without any stigmata. Anderson narrows in on messy, expansive debauchery with a formalistic, laser focus. THE MASTER is on fire when the cinema is at its most essential: music is clean and classical; the focus of each shot is precise, narrow.
The order and discipline of the storytelling is what makes the transgressions and scope of the religious founder so compelling.

THE MASTER opens with approximately 20 some minutes of "scoundrel esque" behavior from Joaquin Phoenix's character, a former US Seaman (a marine?) who acts out sexually and morally in anti social, public inappropriateness that ousts him from societal acceptance.

How is one to fit in when one's emotional pain exceeds what polite graces allow?  Phoenix's character       Freddie Quell explains away some "bad behavior" to a military superior by noting he was reacting poorly
to a letter he received from an ex.  The connection is logical, yet in other scenes, his debauchery and risk taking behavior is less explained.  The religious portion of the film will focus more on causation at its most nebulous; memories from pre birth.

The LRH ish Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) forms a symbiotic relationship with Quell.  Dodd is the hand on the shoulder, the calming, fatherly and non judgmental presence who ( at first) lightens the harshness of Quell's burden.  His smile is warm, his pasty skin is soft and his features as gentle as his hair color.  In sharp opposition is the angular Quell whose neck always seems to be straining up and away from his spine, with veins and wrinkles strangling his skinny face.


Even while listening on headphones and transcribing this message of Dodd's Quell nonchalantly writes a note to his fellow listener that asks if she wants to fuck.  The fact that this question is in conflict with the promise of higher self that Dodd promises is not reflected in Quell. He is still operating, ever casually, from his basest instinct.  He is like Truffaut's WILD CHILD, brought in from the jungle family and expected to behave amongst professors.
ordered symmetry of the gnarled face

But the union of Quell and Dodd is also a clear and deliberate reflection of what happens in 12 step programs.
Quell is attracted to Dodd as he relates to him yet Dodd has something that Quell wants.  This element of identification with attraction to an improved self is a key principle of how 12 step fellowships operate.  In looking for a sponsor the basic texts tell people to look for someone who has something that they dont. To find that person who is similar yet calm, when you are anxious. Or someone who has pain like yours, but they act light and they smile, while you shrug, and walk looking downward.


Their first intake, the one on one between the two men, shares some elements a Fourth and Fifth Step.  Scientology has replaced 12 step programs for many addicts who prefer religious promises to the non religious Anonymous Fellowships.
Ultimately, the behavioral issues and help that men seek is unable to be contained. The film tracks a progressive and chronic expansion; it is comprised across oceanic waters, dug in the sand, runs across the desert, compulsive behaviors and tempers unleashed. The beast evades lock down and the clock ticks in time with the staccato of the film's score, tracking inevitability.

As the film progresses, there is a stress on repetition, both in specific spoken utterances ("excuse me, excuse, me, excuse me" and the way Quell and others are asked to repeat their names  during intake), and also in the consistent return to the past and alternating progression of Quell's spiritual journey. This rhythmic tension adds with each cycle of the story, each cycle of progression and regression of Quell's journey and Dodd's religion.

The perversion of behavioral science suits some of the people in the universe of THE MASTER. It entails creative storytelling,  improvisational science, and aid to people who engage in self harming antisocial behaviors.  Using academic perversion to dominate natural human perversions is an implementation of ORDER and DISCIPLINE on the highest levels, not at all unlike the filmmaking employed to illustrate it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

aversion and engagement, the couple i observed monday night

Swooping in, from above, she has to turn to meet him and allow his help

 Sharing a view , a meal, a plan, then a worldview

He still sees her, directly, head on.  She looks to the side, eyes open, not averted, yet not meeting him.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Who's Persecuting Who? Roman Polanski's VENUS IN FUR

VENUS IN FUR opens in motion, on a Parisian road,  lined by perfectly paralleled trees.  The camera moves through  increasingly swift paths, moving anxiously towards its end goal.  All the while the treetops open, reaching out and touching one another...a thin branch from the left border of the street meets the thin branch of the right side.  The visual roadmap changing before us, and these impossibly static left and right sides meet  one another's touch, like bending tentacles. They separate as the camera slows, hovering at a theater entrance.

Now we are among people.
How will their common goal connect? How will what was previously hidden about a person come to show it itself? Our masks? Our neuroses, our psychoses?
Is this another great Polanski film about persecution and persecution complexes?
Of course.
But here, we explore these matters by way of Speech.

Polanski sometimes has messy women color his movies. These messy characters are corporeal, blunt.  They are also like white rabbits;
Adjani's mysterious roommate Stella drew THE TENANT's Trelkovsky down a rabbit hole of doubles; all hunted, all victims, all outcasts. They were as literal and historical as they were psychological and neurotic. Seigner's sexually self possessed Mimi of BITTER MOON leads all the characters into a mystery of love and disappearance. In VENUS IN FUR Seigner's Vanda also leads.  She needs to earn his respect and trust before she can lure Thomas.  She allows him to see, through her ability to connect to once hidden parts of himself.
She also shows him a new way to connect to text, and to his relationship as a director.
These properties are nearly mystical/spiiritual, though depicted matter of factly.  She is a seer who leads the blind, not unlike Tess, not unlike Adjani in THE TENANT or Ruth Gordon's Minnie in ROSEMARY'S BABY.

The first time we see Thomas (Almaric) he is overheard speaking on the telephone.  He makes a joke of women today and their frivolity.  The conversation cuts off after he sarcastically jokes he could dress in drag.

In THE TENANT, Trelkovsky's fears and otherness are brought to the forefront when he dresses in drag in a pivotal scene in the film.

Is that what Vanda's character is? Is it Thomas? in drag? Or just another image of him, created or projected from their meeting.

There is a moment in the beginning when we understand that how they speak to one another, and in which voice, will dictate their forward motion, in a psychological sense. We are brought a precise moment where suspense of disbelief concretizes:  Thomas has previously been dismissive of this blowsy actress.  But suddenly  Thomas nearly spins towards her on the stage,now needing his glasses as if to see through something appearing unclear. She is reading a line and he replies to her, grabbing the book...
He  believes her in the role.
And in turn, he is willing to play his part.

This new  film too is about what is created when things brush against one another, when they line up, as do the left and right sides of the tree lined street.  Between men and women, between the actor and the author, between the artist and the audience, connections are revealed that change the look of the road.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


There is romance when they notice you.  You are  standing in a crowd, you are female, yet you are poor and strange, not of this place.  Are you going to find work, will you be accepted into a community, can you communicate well?  More importantly, will you be someone of worth?
In other words, will you be not nothing?

Ewa (Marion Cotillard) is transcendent playing a woman desperate to transcend.
She needs rescuing because she has been victimized by being a woman,  disadvantaged by being dependent on men to be saved from deportation and to make money to survive.  Her choices are divided but her claim is singular:  that she lives to make money to bring her sister home from the Ellis Island hospital.
The methods are twofold:  be a "moral" woman who saves money slowly, sewing, legally earning money.  She could be saved if a man would find her and love her and choose to marry her.  Someone mentions that maybe she'll get married and have children, and one can nearly see the birds dancing around Ewa's head as her eyes glow, her secret revealed.
The second method is less legal, yet more direct.  A dancing girl, a working girl, is just as eager to lure that male attention, except one is focusing on multiple men instead of a lone husband.

Bruno finds Ewa and she is given both options, two methods to choose from. She chooses, yet she changes her mind.  Does she do so because she repents?  Or is that she is simply walking down the second avenue...
Ewa recommits to Bruno, to their partnership  and their livelihood.  She again dances with the devil, or is he son of God?  He is a relative to Bruno, the same man perhaps, but he would be the husband, the alternative choice.
The choices are never entirely clear.  Bruno is sure that this is not the moral highroad, or even a smart decision, or that his cousin is even a decent or loving person.  Ewa waivers as well.  Is her intense declaration not to be nothing a revealing statement about needing to be valuable? And is commanding  financial value what her purpose eventually becomes?

Desire is muddled, but morality is even murkier.
The american dream is dirty and religious salvation is a lie. The true nature of Ewa's goals elude us every moment. But Ewa is still treated, filmically, as a religious figure.  She prays not to God but to the "Mother of God".  Even as Ewa's descends into transgression,  she is lit and captured on film as a glowing figure.  Complicating the religious imagery is a parallel series of images:  Ewa's thin and heart shaped jawline, glowing eyes, and her awkward deer like gaze into an audience of men.  She is seen as both a martyr and as a marvelously sexy woman aware and distracted by men looking at her.

And what has more value than for a woman to be chosen, to be singled out by a man. There is an entire city of women, or at least an island with ships full of them, all strange and foreign, all oppressed and in need.  Some special women will be seen for who they are. Is it their soul or their moral fiber that speaks to the man who finally sees and recognizes value in her? Or is it that her need to be seen bends a moral code to fit the circumstances of her life.

THE IMMIGRANT is an intimate and straight story as much as it is a story about the many shades of grey that complicate a woman's goals, heart and place in the world.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Your Film Becomes You: Jerry Lewis and HARDLY WORKING

Jerry Lewis was born as a wiry Jewish boy with a more Jewish name, in Newark, NJ.   But you wouldn't know it from  his 1981 film HARDLY WORKING.  Here  he is muscular, more manly in stature, suave, poised, intense, creative,  has a goy name of Bo Hooper, and he is serious about labor issues and  the  importance of the role of the artist in society.  At the same time you WOULD know it is the same Jerry from seeing HARDLY WORKING!  In the very same film, as the same man, he speaks with an undeniably Jewish new york/new jersey-ese tone, he is ugly, he is goofy, he is inept, he is selfish, he is simple and he is a schmendrick.

A little back track:
 Jerry Lewis directed himself in his first film in 1960.  He he had already been performing in motion pictures for eleven years.  After having a critical smash with his 1960 debut of THE BELLBOY, Jerry  continued to direct progressively more challenging and unconventional films on a regular basis, through 1970.
After 1971's tortured completion of THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED was sealed from the public and never released, Jerry went on a directorial hiatus for ten years, until he returned, again directing himself as the lead, in 1981's HARDLY WORKING.

After the internal artistic punch of TDTCC, Jerry took his time making a comeback and a return to the helm, but he still took a lot of chances. More than ever before, in fact.  The film consists of several jangly, disconnected sequences that serve as set ups to show Jerry failing in different job situations.  He is, at heart, a clown. The film opens with him as a beloved clown of a circus troupe that is being shut down.  He travels to the upper -middle class suburbs of Florida to move in with his sister and her  disdainful banker husband. There is an alteration of serious moments within the much more goofy episodes.
If you watch the film and note a strikingly earnest tone, a series of jokes that seem to go on a moment too long or hold too long for a laugh..or just a generalized strange combination of moral and political seriousness you dont quite buy and silliness that seems too zany...then this is because Jerry Lewis has (finally) succeeded in creating a most perfect evocation of the way he is, and the vision with which he sees and lives in the world.
Jerry is in conflict, and he is a man in progress. He goes and back forth between overcompensating to prove himself, and just being relaxed.  The film reflects this progressive turmoil. Jerry is pompous and he is also a clown. He is an egomaniac, and he also loves to speak (in my opinion  based on seeing him in person and also watching the telethons forever, it's out of both  true human concern as well as the love of hearing himself talking about being a good person.)
Jerry makes sense to me in a familiar way.  He strikes me as a similar type of person as my maternal Grandfather, Sol.  Sol could be described as a perfect definition of one who suffers "Small Jewish Man Complex", a complex more common back in the time of Jerry and Sol. 
Sol comes not from Newark , but from a tenement on Henry St., on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, born to immigrant parents. He is small in stature, but he becomes extremely fit and strong through bodybuilding and physical fitness; doing body (and nude) modeling for Physical American and other popular magazines. He also becomes brilliant, a voracious reader, and he is socially liberal, and he disavows his family's Judaism, becoming an Atheist.  
Jerry's first big break was performing with Dean Martin.
My grandfather's was getting a job at CBS in midtown writing for and with Arthur Miller.  Both men legally changed their names to sound less Jewish (Sol changed his when he was joining the Writer's Guild.)  Jerry is fascinating, and Sol is actually pretty interesting too.  I loathe and love things about both men. They both teeter between grandiose egotism and man of the people ridiculousness.  I make the comparison to point out the uncanniness of Jerry. How familiar and yet how strange he is. And HARDLY WORKING captures the essence of the discomfort of this perception and experience of him unlike any other film has before.

Jerry is magnetic in person , as himself.  He is a contradictory blast of ice and warmth, of sincerity and total falseness, and he is a marvel whose talent surpasses most on this planet.
HARDLY WORKING is his opus; refusing to shut up, making us laugh, making real a fantasy and a specific personality.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

tacky morality: The politics of drinking and 'goodness' in GOD'S POCKET


 A lazy way to characterize a geographic place is to say it is close to God, and use terms as nebulous and subjective as "goodness".
Is a working class town (in Massachusets? or  is too REAL and too GOOD to be a specific city?)worthy of being in the pocket of the Lord?   How small and invisible must one be to fit inside the cotton confines of a pocket?
Too small for the visual medium of film to perceive you.

GOD'S POCKET is comprised of people who drink a lot, drink as  lifestyle, or drink out of  Addiction. There is a New Yorky, Italian American immigrant contingent led up by a game John Turturro. He knows exactly who he is, I completely enjoy and believe him, yet I never believe he is  a member of this town.  Considering the rest of the pack, Turturro is still one of the most nearly honest people who populate the pocket.
There is also a Chicagoan Italian American Immigrant contingent; Lenny Venito slyly steals a scene or two to that end.
Question: Who is believable as a resident of a town of lies?
Answer: Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Without much context, there are multiple times when a character screams out at PSH's character that he isn't even from here!
You wouldn't know.  He seems at home.   Everyone in this community accepts him. He is a gangster, he is a husband, he is an Irishman. He shrugs, he goes above and beyond for his duplicitous two timing wife (a sleepy Christina Hendricks who tries her best with a lack of direction), and he never speaks up about the effort  he employs. His every breath and glance is Honest.

He drinks, but he is not a resident of the bar.

The drinkers speak the truth, and I believe them more than most of the protagonists.
Richard Jenkins drinks too much and he portrays a truth teller who is nothing but a big liar. But who is REAL and who is HONEST?
The real drinkers and the real actors are the only ones who I can believe exist in this town.  Eddie Marsan is so fucking bizarre and not like someone I recognize that i believe every twitch , every tonal shift in his non European sound . His body leads with his shoulders and his hips are absolutely invisible.  His spry energy and pointed looks are what is upright and good in the world. There is no God, only people that act like Eddie Marsan.  Hoffman is  electric as a tired man who is resigned to a partner in life who will never protect and support him as he does for her.  His line readings are not line readings, they are habitations ,and the real ghost of the person jumps out of his skin; suddenly the dead rises through his voice box as the melody of his voice shoots up abruptly, shocking us into an authentic person in an actual moment.

On paper the rest of them are also talented actors.  But they do not live in this town that is like seven different regions of the country sandwiched in one non existent idea.  The rest of the residents are playing with costumes, or playing with hair or accents or are playing at being nude. They lie to us, as the film lies about telling us who is good and who is god and where god places people.  People are not good because they work hard or because they define their community and wall it in.  People are not good because they try to challenge or question that community and it's borders.  People are good because they make me believe them in a scene in a movie.  And there is not much more here than that.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Public Diary: 2nd Entry- I am in the Sandwich

I am taking a day for myself.  It is my second day off of the year, and it is early April and I am tired because I work hard, and I work a lot.

I make a plan that is really just a general idea for what I might like to be doing today and what i think would create a relaxing time and a relaxing memory to reflect on.  I want to feel that I have made wise choices today, but again, I suffer from being being stuck inside that overly reflective and judgmental self debating headspace.  I am caught inside my decision making process, failing to enjoy the vacation because I am so busy laboring over each choice, to make sure it will be the one that gives me the most vacation like quality. I am in the sandwich.   Did i pick the right restaurant to treat myself to if i can only afford to take myself out to a good meal twice this month (i am not dating  so this is also my only nice meal(s))? Have I chosen a place with the best food but the worst atmosphere, thus canceling out the treat of the meal on a day off work by immersing myself in a rather unpleasant environment?

I start out my day with early errands which provide the vacation- like joy of accomplishment in personal household goals, such delight as would not normally be felt unless it were a proper weekend.
Before my place in the Rite Aid line is weekend -like pairs of hands.    I find 20s couples,  30s, and 40s couples too.   Hands in hands.  I find a couple of stray 50 something year old single men, and I pay them no mind, but I do make sure they don't stand too closely to me in line because there is more than enough room in here.  Do they know this is my day off? Do they know I can't go on day trips because I don't drive and i don't have much money to spare or friends to go with?  I start to feel sandwiched in.
I need this DAY , errands and all, to be relaxing for me.

I'm warmed by the sun.  I feel heat skimming the surface of my sleeve, a foreign sensation, familiar but also distant.
I take my parrot outside to get UV rays, and we enjoy a relaxing walk around the neighborhood.  It is quiet during the day. Thank goodness I dont live in midtown! Laszlo, my parrot, is glowing under the metal bars of his carrier, clinging to the top and making cooing sounds whenever we pass a flower, tree or a plant.

I return home and I put Laszlo down for a nap (per his request.)
I watch a dvd I've rented, PRIME CUT. It's better than I remembered.  Those first images of the women for sale, lying naked, drugged, inside the barn like common cattle, is always beautiful and also primal.
I think of the burger.

I go to the first big destination of my day off. I treat myself to lunch in a restaurant in my neighborhood that is always way too crowded in the evenings, when I am normally around. Spotted Pig is open 12-3 for lunch, and i walk in at 12:40. They tell me there is a 15 minute wait so I give them my cell phone and pop by the park along the water. After sitting on the lawn for 13 minutes, they call me and say my table for one is ready.

I just hope i get seated upstairs!
I try to eat a small portion of red meat once to twice a month, but I haven't had any in about two months. I'm craving a burger and I have been spending a lot of moments the past few days, while stressed at work, or unhappy being alive, imagining  myself:  rested, from  not getting up early in the morning, relaxed from not working, biting into a Spotted Pig burger with the mix of salt, smoky meat and blue cheese.

I do get seated upstairs. I realize I am in the sandwich.
I am at a small table by myself and I am in the middle and there are couples on every side and on either end.

I take out my book and I read. It is a 22 minute wait between ordering and receiving the food at my table.  I sip on a ginger ale , the natural kind; overpriced. I enjoy an opportunity to hide my face while the couples who bound me on all sides exude open faces, smiles, dewey skin, open eyes, calm gazes.
The book i brought is a really poor excuse for a novel.  It is RICHARD YATES by Tao Lin.  I wish i was reading an actual novel by Richard Yates instead. I appreciate the structure of what I'm reading, but there is nothing to keep me involved or delighted in a restaurant/relaxing wait sort of way.

Noone notices me.

Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence
spirit interrupts

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea managing the business


cutting through the walls