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, December 7, 2014

privileged stories: BEYOND THE LIGHTS fills in the gaps

I make believe
That you are here
It's the only way
I see clear
What have I done
You seem to move on easy
And every time I try to fly
I fall without my wings

--Britney Spears "Everytime"

 Sometimes the inception of a film is a desire to expand on something unanswered, something that occurred in recent history or  popular culture. 
There is more than one moment in the first third of BEYOND THE LIGHTS where I wonder, is this  entire movie an explanation of Britney's breakdown?  Does this exist to answer the questions of Rhianna and Chris Brown's saga and what parental dynamic led her into that relationship?  Is this 1hr 58 minutes an expansion of the 2 min 58 seconds of Britney's EVERYTIME song and video?
Why did Britney write and sing these lyrics in her saddest, most broken voice and melody:

  • Notice me
    Take my hand
    Why are we
    Strangers when..
    Britney in the suicide tub; "Everytime" video

There  are answers, directly offered by BEYOND THE LIGHTS.  There are backstories and psychological parental set ups. There is a crisis at the start:  to neatly  posit a search back in time.  The film feels expansive at every moment; time slows and settles as we go back ...the stretching of a bond: a mother who stays an enforcer and director even to an adult daughter.  The stretching of the fleeting; an expansion (what if you got to know her at her most vulnerable?) of a momentary bond with a police guarding a pop star's hotel door while she attempts suicide.
What if someone walked in on Whitney?

The first third of the film is when the style and structure is at its most effective and impactful.  Not only do we answer ALL of these questions that seem to set up our entry into this world, but we are also rewarded tenfold for setting our eyes in one direction.

There is unbridled delight in the way the riches and sex and inside worlds are lived in.  Every door expands into a further answer about something that may have been but  a bullet point in a pop star's career. One instance is what turns into a weird stage performance on BET. We start out with actual red carpet footage seamlessly edited in with the newer fictional footage of the characters from the film being interviewed on it.

We are privy to more variables than we can imagine leading up to the moment leading up to the onstage performance. We see unparalleled action from all the sidelines while and after it occurs. This expansive nature of the film satisfies the voyeurism inherent in the joys of exposes of big stars or glamorous folk. And the radial nature of the film, how it expands perpetually, and in all sorts of filler and ancillary stories, is satisfying yet eventually less exciting. There is a sexiness to the attraction of the likeness and simulation that is clearly at work; Rhianna facsimile, Nomi Malone replicant, Britney and Whitney reincarnated, it is all so real yet so similar and uncanny.  Paired with this uncanny appeal, is a drama by putting the viewer next to an ultra idealized woman, very comparable in this context to Beyonce or Rhianna, and to watch her glammed to the maxed and pulled to the crotch of a famous rapper..or crying over a balcony wanting to disappear.

The intensity of the first third of the film is tempered by the slower sections; but not diffused. Rather, the tone melts into melodrama, but it never fakes its emotional moments. Every tear, laugh and shout in my audience felt earned.

What if SHOWGIRLS started at the beginning when Nomi learned to dance? Who was her mom?
BEYOND'S Noni has a mother and it's Minnie Driver. And her Father was some guy she never knew who didn't give a shit about her mother.  Who are Rhianna's parents?  Does Britney always need her father around for her to feel loved?  Why the hell is Beyonce always naked and wearing long blond hair?
So what?
This is just information . And Time. And glimpses. An expanded 2 hrs of time to live and breathe and feel these things we only first glimpsed and felt in brief songs and exposes.  Such is the privilege of the narrative film.

Britney asks "what if i died?" in her "Everytime" video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YzabSdk7ZA  Everytime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4A5GDmwUv4 Noni wins. clip- BEYOND THE LIGHTS

Britney in "Overprotected"  setting up the film of overprotected pop star Noni  " I ....NEED....TIME"


Sunday, November 30, 2014

best of 2014 SO FAR...

top films of year
only ranking my # 1 choice...everything else is in a group--no further rankings











best film that showed a transformational voyage:  LAND HO!

outstanding excellence and best genre film of the year:  A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES

outstanding excellence in british docs:  TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER

Monday, November 17, 2014

happy endings

Abrupt but not unbelievable; suddenly incongruous yet totally satisfying. Sometimes happy endings occur hastily, and  against all reason.  To make it work reveals the skill of production.
Think about some of the dark films that are expected to end with the culmination of misery that they've been tracking all along, but then they sideline us with blind optimism.

Contrary to hope, there is happiness in store for us.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Flattened Out: Lands Explored in ADIEU AU LANGAGE

The challenges of depicting interior experience  can account for a social distance remaining uncrossed.  To discount the inner world, to be unable to access others or your own, is to perpetrate a flat, protected world, one of images doubling as obstacles,  those that are impossible to penetrate.
One could imagine a group of people at a societal gathering; say a book fair, and the people are so accustomed to remaining curled up inside their own denial of the depth of inner experience that they refuse to discuss the books with one another or to interact; their main experience is of flashing and swiping, heads pointed town at the flat digital outputs of their smartphones.

One can imagine an uneven love affair, or how all true love affairs
are uneven; one must love more and therefore hurt more than the other. At one point in ADIEU AU LANGAGE  Godard's narrator states something about how once an animal as a pet has  directly met the gaze of a person, there is no going back, there is no more of being exactly two. Like lovers, like parents and children, they have seen each other because they both have bothered to LOOK:   they are connected through specific  recognition; of inner life and mutual feeling.
They are no longer two, and yet as we hear this we see the dog alone.  One imagines the dog, or any animal that is kept by a human, is the one who bears the burden of longing. One can not imagine that the person who has imprisoned this animal with our love and dictates the terms is the one who ever feels the pain associated with that love as the dog.  The person imprisons by deciding when they'll see the dog; we decide how much time we have and how much love we will allow ourselves to give.

This is doubly true in a couple of man and woman or woman and woman and man and man. It is a societal idea; a political need for reliance on a flattening out ; an easier way to disseminate and sell images and stories; that has chained us to our technology and flattened out what was once made of flesh that could be held and felt; not just shared in a gaze/  The one who can not decide when they love is the one who looks longingly to feel that love they were glimpsed.  It is teased with; the gaze of a lover when they see your soul and then the denial of interior oneness as they pull away and control the intensity is not unlike defining the boundaries of love with a pet.

In another iteration of this idea, Godard shows us a dog in war. And his narrator says something about the dog as a soldier.  He is the soldier of love, the less loved of the two, and he will sacrifice for what is greater than him alone.

ADIEU(goodbye, farewell) . AH DIEUX (oh, Gods).  More puns from Godard, but also they are extensions of one thing into another object. We have one thing that is now two things and if both are added together there is a destruction of the first; it is no longer a flat label but it is an extension; a protrusion , like adding a dimension to see something flat protrude into something tangible.
Elements of collage used before by Godard, oh yes, but also now it is speicifally reflecting the idea of    a single image, idea or word altered and illuminated by the generation of multiple meanings; multiple sides; three dimensions.

Echoing the flatness of our relations with one another, is the flatness of our ecstasies and sorrows.
The new film is flooded with gestures of lovers, but there is a schism between acting in love and being in love; one unavoidably crystal when seeing these people together. Their life is surrounded with a hideous lack of depth; the large flatscreen television in their home plays a classic Hollywood film in a shitty looking format. The most exciting discussion of literature is of Solzenhitsyn, but the conversation is stilted by the limitations of human's ability to delve inside and to connect to one another. The poetry and humor of Godard's film shows this by a series of searches for pictures of Solzenhitsyn on cellphones.

The destruction of depth is nothing but a result of one plus one.  Is this a depthless land we reach by way of (1) refusing to love limitlessly PLUS  (2) chaining our intellectual experiences to the army of the new; to the propagation of images sold on the web; the amazon booklist.
Jacques Ellul is mentioned, and i've only read his book Propaganda.(the author but not that book is  specifically mentioned in Godard's film),  This is a book very much about social change affected by political parties owning philosophy; controlling what we buy and what we see, but not through laws, rather through IDEAS. The application of one plus another to equal two is an element of collage, the duality of dimensions to add up to their implosion and rebuilding; the 3d  of the film is used as a readjustment or a corrective in its design.

There are many more complicated ideas and layered structures of film and philosophy at work.  Others are and will continue to explore them. The land of the loveless and the land of the half loved; dogs and people both, is a minefield of fascination for me.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Pointer Sisters Favorite tune at a crackheaded pace in live performance.

more.  and more.

Monday, September 29, 2014


Asia Argento's INCOMPRESA (English translation MISUNDERSTOOD) elevates the childhood memoir film.  Yes, it expertly depicts the early 1980s, and yes the music , decor and wardrobe selection is a worthy experience in itself.
Sure, there are comical characters and irreverent wit in the depiction of family dynamics.  Indeed, the style is attractive, the filmmaking is hip and the music is cool.

What is novel, and also an aspect in some of the truly great childhood memoir films (Truffaut's QUATRE CENT COUPS, Soderbergh's KING OF THE HILL, Saura's CRIA CUERVOS) is what is depicted alongside the pop interiors and evocative synth song,  the immense weight and mature inner turbulence that a child must bear.
All a child wants is to be loved and to be bigger.  Sometimes, neither is achieved, and the only thing bigger a child has is the volume of her burden of existence, feeling so unwanted.

Much of Asia's tone is light, comical, though there is always a depth alluded to , even in the most literal visual sense; the range of colors in her pallette, the depth of angles to every friendship and relationship.  What may start out in the spectators eye as a common close female friendship eventually radiates further and further outward, in dizzying orbits of complex dynamics. Every relation is shown in much the same way.  A loving mother is also a fashion icon and also a cocaine abuser and also someone who is a blanket of comfort.

There are scenes that depict events that are not exactly real, yet the degree to which things are imagined or exaggerated or happening is purposefully conflated, messy and not to be untangled.
I experienced this film recollecting my own (though non famous and  middle class) upbringing, remembering halfway jumping out my third flr window before changing my mind and trying to climb back inside....recalling physical pain from hard sobbing when a relative told me they love my sister more than me.
sneaking drinks + blow at the parentals bday party supposedly for the daughter they all forget

The heart of the film is  beautiful dreadlock, a tightly woven knot of causation, brilliance, loneliness, genetically inherited misery and clinical depression.  One also feels the presence of a normal child who is so devoid of unconditional love and preference (by any friend or boy or parent) that she can not imagine the point in being alive.
By film's end, we are left with a colorful little girl whose costume changes and passionate attachments have been distracting from a girl who wants people to know what pain lives inside her, under the mask. Maybe if people knew they would simply choose to be nicer.

Aria + Dac, her stolen cat and 1 true friend

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

graceful acquistion: Assayas' THE CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

I wish i could more clearly relay my impression of seeing Olivier Assayas' THE CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA.  I was tired, even jet lagged, and i saw it late my last night in Amsterdam for a romantic (reservation for one) fast paced three day travel weekend.

 The film was both dreamy and sober,  experiential and plot driven, a love story and a horror story.  American and French.

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche play personal assistant to a star and aging theatrical and film star, respectively. Both women surprise.  Stewart's American assistant  is a no nonsense young woman who is capable above her job title, a woman who Binoche's renowned, confident yet still insecure actor relies on as the eyes and ears experiencing her performance.  Stewart speaks quickly and intelligently in the role, informative, well schooled on acting, better informed than her boss about the current crop of  filmmaking and acting stars.
The women connected create a bonded relationship, each partner bolder, more solid and self fulfilled.
Binoche plays a great actor, and a great actor can not exist in a vacuum.  She must be a part of the world, a part of a relationship, to authentically portray an experience and a connection.

Each woman verifies the other, and informs her stability. But the relationship is not equally distributed, for there is still a vital tension at the center of it, the desire for youth and for new knowledge with the yearning for wisdom, wealth and experience.
Assayas' film refuses to be a straight art film that doubles as modernist vampire genre film as much as it refuses to be straight "making of a film"..film.  You could not quite call it a female melodrama either, though it beautifully takes many of the melodrama's elements and runs with them.  There is a symbiotic union, struggle and replacement of the Image, (with the female icon as image) and there is also a story of money , sex , seduction (on multiple tiers, be it the seduction of friendship and of Moretz with her author boyfriend) and duplicity.
CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA is really all of these things, and all of them at once.  It is elusive and rich; the mirroring of any image is more of a collection of  shards of  glass. The movie is dense, yet
quiet in it's construction.

The relationship  fulfills a vital need for both women, but when one disappears, is it because her need has been surpassed? Her role replaced...or is  her position and its inherent tension stifled?

The bottom line is that this film encompasses everything that interests me most about Assayas.
It has elements of the Vampire film genre that is an aspect of the corporate take over and female character immolation in DEMONLOVERCLOUDS echoes IRMA VEP in its self reflexivity of actresses as well as the way it nods to other films (Assayas' own SUMMER HOURS , BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT, GERRY.)  Much is being acted out here. The single film Assayas has made encompasses at least four themes and genres he has previously explored, yet all coexist coherently. Like in Gus Van Sant's GERRY,  the film image and structure itself is forefront and death is on the horizon.  In the last quarter of the movie, one of the main women vanishes from the storyline, and she may have also dropped off a cliff in the Alps. She is not brought up again,  image surpassing image until one fades away, too far to see, without further mention.


Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence
spirit interrupts

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea managing the business


cutting through the walls