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, July 18, 2015

more people should hate him. IRRATIONAL MAN: A Closer View

Auteurism is one thing, but there is another process whose frequency capsizes as aging accelerates:  artists rewriting and remaking their past work.  Such revisions can be all bold strokes; pared down characters, dramas remade as absurdism, new forms of artistic representation, and nearer to end of life gallows humor.  Woody Allen's IRRATIONAL MAN is a clear example.
A comedic, tidier (and less impressive) MATCH POINT, IRRATIONAL MAN reunites Allen with a narrative in homage to Dostoevsky, and an obnoxious fucking female romantic partner who needs to be shut up at all costs.
The problems are plenty.
From inception, Phoenix's "Abe Lucas" is only Jewish by name default.  His troubles are interiorized. A miserable man who has suffered unlucky traumas in his past, the writing and tone of the picture capsulizes Abe more as a charming, laterally broader Cary Grant.  We are told Abe overindulges in negative thoughts, alcohol, solitude and Russian literature.  The only time we see this for ourselves is in the  breadth of his belly distension and lazily propped liquor cask in hand.

Abe with blousy Rita. Well matched.

power play.  With the always cutely coiffed and dolled up Jill

Two love interests waft in and out, deflecting Abe from his self imposed charismatic ennui. Parker Posey as fellow professor Rita; a breezy, sexy prisoner of her own unsatisfying life. And Emma Stone  as a precocious student,  Jill, inexperienced in life, and Schopenhauring her will to be interesting.

Though Abe quotes past traumas and losses in his life, they are quoted meaninglessly, and without personal depth, as if making conversation. This is how this character is written, and Phoenix personalizes the shallow and charming bibliophile/professor in ways one can't help but admire. Phoenix, Posey and a great supporting play by Peter Scolari,  all surpass the rote characterizations and inanity of Allen's conceit.  
  Early on in the film, as Abe is so offhanded in nature about deep tragedies, any rational person may see the calculation behind the charmingly bookish, nebbishy veneer.  
Phoenix allows a depth to his character not clearly enough established or alluded to in the writing.

One experience one cannot avoid in this picture is the irrational performance of Emma Stone.
She shouts her lines affectedly, and her cute, curt performance of love is never convincing.  Stone, who I liked in BIRDMAN although I did not care for that film, seems mis directed or mis cast.

Scarlett Johansen she is not.  MATCH POINT was so evil and cold all around, the tone and performances cooled together into a viscous gel both crystal clear yet thickly complex.  Whenever Stone 's character speaks in IRRATIONAL MAN, I'd ask myself myself if she reads so immature and horrible so her performance indicates her own calculation and machinations under her fresh faced bourgeois veneer.
I'm just not convinced.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Love hangover: I woke up today with the bleary eyes of Alain Delon


  Extremity is my bloodline.  I fall apart without an obsessive purpose or interest.  My movie love is the primary recipient and avenue for me to channel this in a somewhat socially acceptable fashion. Make no mistake, there have been many other, more extraordinary extreme obsessions.  
THE PROFESSOR ( also known by INDIAN SUMMER/ LA PRIMA NOTTE DE QUIETE) , directed by Valerio Zurlini (1972) stars Alain Delon, hung over from extreme outlets of his desire. 
Bleary eyes and pretty pout, Delon 's visage could burn paper.  He is not unlike Caan's character in Reisz' THE GAMBLER, who carries a burden in the space  under the eyes, a hangover of a passionate man, an addict; be it one not addicted to substances.
 Delon comes into town as if from another galaxy, love hangover in tow.  His loves expressed at the outset are cultural. His tastes make his mind and soul explode, and most inhabitants of this bourgeois seaside town fail to intoxicate.   Flat out telling them all he gives a shit about is poetry, it only takes one night out on the small town for him to start gambling and subsequently falling in love  with a student, one also marked by some singular severity, and lack of cheap joy that the rest of the dullards in class seem to so easily come by. 
As nights out increase, the obliterating effect of boring days intensifies the need to experience stimulation. We witness transgressionin the clubs and casinos: shared sexual partners, cocaine, gambling.
The professor falls in love with his student though both are committed to others. The dynamic is a physical crystallization of the poetry that he lives to teach.
The film, at this point, seems to me to have a lot in common with THE GAMBLER ( both versions, actually.). Less of the plot turns and suspense of Toback's script, the danger in this film is more somber, melancholy, equivalent to any expected dread of eventuality for someone who can only bother to live for extremes.  It is the same to expect a horrible ending whether one transgresses or not.
And if transgression is the only thing that makes you wake or move without pain, then the choice is nonexistent.
      There is a scene where the fantasy of the extreme lover is answered. The other man who shares his lover is kicked down on the ground. Shared fantasy concretized. A movie lovers movie, imperfect at that, but who else is the picture speaking to?  
Others who love hard, movies, books, girlfriends, boyfriends, drugs ... The projection of shared fantasy cleaves the sadness and weakness that makes us heavy.
The harder we love the more we lose.

Thay projection fulfilled on screen is redemptive, even if we are the worst enemy of ourselves, dooming our final acts. 
The film's tone is curious, not unlike a nuanced somber tonal poem, one with lilting melodies that hit high and then low, yet continues for a long time, denying any thing except repetition of the same notes. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

pretending its real (part one)

"-- nothing at all to her except what I read into her."

  -- F. Scott Fitzgerald   "This Side of Paradise"
-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

"So! You escaped the birds.  Just as well..."

- Durand Durand to Barbarella in BARBARELLA

I identify with cinephilia, meaning my actual emotional register is effected by my love of watching films and going to the cinema. I can understand because I live it, though the fact of this love and of repeatedly being a spectator, both at home and in public, can be cause for concern.

There is an article that I read, called 'Cinephobia:  To Wonder, To Worry' in a recent issue of Adrian Martin and Girish Shambu's great Lola Journal.
Sarah Keller, author of this article, focuses on anxieties a bit different than those I imagined it would be in relation to, based on my immediate impression of her title.
Keller speaks of anxieties of being surreptitiously filmed, in relation to films acknowledging the peephole, such as PSYCHO.  Other definitions of these anxieties include uncanniness and authentic replication, regarding the fear about what being filmed captures, as in the spirit of a person.  Lastly, Keller covers the worries about moralities depicted
and, most interesting to me,  issues of time passing, i.e. the annihilation of what had been filmed.

The piece interests me, mostly as a kindling for different, more personalized worries i associate with movie love.

I'd locate my own anxieties less as anything called cinephobia, and more as worries couched in the very limits of cinephilia itself.

These worries and dreads include the loss of differentiation:

Losing oneself in the text or in characters or emotions that are being expressed.
Finding over identification, and the anxieties associated with it, spilling past the temporal boundaries of the film into one's own conscious life.

There is the issue of projection vs evasion. The conscious choice a cinephile makes to immerse oneself psychologically or to not feel or have a personally emotive /psychological echoing of the emotional palette touched on in the world of the film.  The F. Scott Fitzerald quote which opens this entry refers to that choice.  In context it refers to a man who chose someone to fall in love with, and the cinephile who chooses to feel love and project personal memories and experiences onto a film is not so different.

The point of Keller's I found most relevant is the issue of annihilation and films self consciously about/ encompassing an exploration of anxiety itself (her strongest part of the essay, the one on TAKE SHELTER.)  Tangentially, I find , as a cinephile, not a cinephobe (and i can't say that i know or even know of any cinephobe) would love to further explore the contagion and containment of dread.

The immersion that occurs when an anxious feeling incurred through watching a film, or even outside the film; something related but occurring simultaneously in the theater, bleeds into the person's conscious life in moments when they are not film going.  The anxieties about this occurring, or the inevitability of it's eventual onset, is hand in hand with the fear of not being able to forget or replace an image.  The flippancy involved in the ability to forget may be anathema to the very core of someone who is bound to be a cinephile.  This sentiment is part of the tone of the satiric BARBARELLA.  In the quote at the top of this entry, one sees only the most flippant of mentions made to a near death in the previous scene.  The film is self consciously commenting on the onslaught of new images; one replacing another, often belittling it.

  On the other hand, the inability to retain memories may be inescapable the longer one IS a cinephile, due to the erosion of the mind and the constant newness of movies.

There is a conscious choice that a seasoned cinephile is highly aware of:  when to immerse and when not to immerse.  Using the example of 12 YEARS A SLAVE.   One can a) choose to watch the film with separation; fearing the torture , historical burden and psychological damage depicted, a cinephile may choose from the onset to watch disconnectedly. Or b) one can watch the film with a choice in mind to engage, somehow,  to locate any semblance of the emotions and damage Solomon experiences within one's own psychoemotive history.

The fear enters the picture only when the choice is no longer one that can be controlled.

I find it most likely that most cinephiles, such as myself, are less concerned with the anxiety expressed within the actual films, and more concerned with a lack of one's own ability to experience anything worthwhile of the memory and strong positive feelings that can be attained from filmgoing/film spectatorship.

These are all fears and dreads that are not at all, as the things Sarah Keller posits, the antithesis of Cinephilia  (as she defines as Cinephobia), but rather they are extensions and internalizations built upon intensifications of Cinephilia itself.

link to Sarah's piece:


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Person is a Thing..

2014. People make movies purporting to be stories of characters; a human tale. AMERICAN SNIPER (2014) is both a personal portrait, and, more accurately, a story of a machine.
The machine is also the person, and the human story of this machine is about the emotions felt behind it's focus upon its target, and the emotions felt when blocking out either the present or the past.

The more the gun can take on the decisions of the human...the more the human can move as swiftly and stealthily as the weapon; the two are married; enmeshed.

The industrialization of our culture is more readily noticed in 2014 via the further marriage of the self and the technological.  The finger and the voice both control the phone. The phone is the computer and it is now always on the body.

Just as  David Cronenberg has depicted the part industrial part human integration (of automobile and driver in CRASH and to a subtler degree COSMOPOLIS, e.g.)  the sniper rifle of Clint Eastwood's film is a humanized machine. There is a sense i felt watching  it,  as if being exposed to the bold energy of a new idea, yet one that ultimately is not  committed to radical thought.  Some passages retain that light: there are sequences shown during his first and second tour when everything is blocked out but the focus of quick decisions; when to shoot and when not to.
The strength of  mind and body in committing murder to serve one's national security is executed both mechanically and with the uncanny semblance of human hesitation...these sequences fascinate.

In JERSEY BOYS (2014), also directed by Clint Eastwood, the commitment to ideas felt total and clear.  The main character is our protagonist, yet he is amazingly stiff, heavy , like a young man suddenly old during much of the film.  He is only briefly alive, at the film's beginning, and then everything goes down hill, burdened by the failings of the band and family around him; his desire to maintain, survive and REGAIN that youthful dominance is everything in the world. Why does he seem robotic or affected?  My reaction following my viewing was that this young man was only young for a second, and the rest of the film he was actually an old man desperate to regain and replay his life, his artistic zenith, the 15 minutes his spirit soared and glowed.

JERSEY BOYS: Frankie weighed down by threat of traumatic loss

Now i also think that Frankie is not just an old man but a movie itself, a piece of media, a technologic wonder that dances and sings and is chasing a happy ending that feels increasingly impossible, until, just like the final moments of De Palma's OBSESSION, it suddenly comes, and it conquers.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best rep experiences of 2014

 Having forgotten what i saw approx the first 6 months of 2014, here is what i recall from primarily the 2nd half :

SCORE Radley Metzger.
(digital projection.  Walter Reade, Lincoln Center)

Intoxicating, in on the joke, sophisticated, hip, sexy. A story that fits within its setting.  Smart filmmaking, add sex.  A classic.

(35mm Anthology Film Archives

Personal favorite for years, I've been known to play my 90 dollar ebayed VHS of it for injured hot guys trapped in my apartment so they can't help but fall in love with Jerry Lewis' undervalued masterpiece (and me?)
I dont think that sad ploy really work(ed)s but i can tell you this: Jerry's film contains flat out hilarity interspersed with pacing as awkwardly pensive as Jerry's maudlin moments. ALL of it is terrific because the film acutely fits and evokes the tension of Jerry as performer and conscious art and entertainment maker: the laughs arise amidst the same kind of drama and intensity of a tortured artist who is desperate to be taken (deservedly) seriously.

52 PICK -UP John Frankenheimer
(35mm Anthology Film Archives)

Wow, until i started searching old rep calendars i almost forgot about a true highlight of the moviegoing year. Never having seen 52 PICK UP projected on film before is to never know how the film pushes beyond the limits of expectations, morality, and all writ large. A winning summer night this was.

BODY HEAT Lawrence Kasdan.
(35mm.  Film Forum)

Having only seen this (decades ago) on VHS with my parents, I had no idea how indulgent and over the top this film was. Truly meant for the big screen, I was also shocked to find out how flamboyant and painterly the colors and art design are. Looking like a drunk De Palma's OBSESSION this film was a revelatory visual experience in 35mm.

VIGILANTE William Lustig.
(35mm Nitehawk, DEUCE series)

Posture, humor, attitude. This film reacts to the mood of turmoil and crime in new york with the economy of physical retribution.
Added plus:  a trademark Bill Lustig performance post screening, with Skype calls to Robert Forster, and Frank Pesce.

KING KONG (1976-77) John Guillermin
(35mm Nitehawk, DEUCE series)

A favorite film  from childhood (videodisc rental?), my elementary era bedroom was also briefly adorned w a puzzle of the trade towers with king kong on it.
This film did not disappoint after revisiting it some 15 yrs later, having never experienced it on 35 before. the first scenes on the (tropical) island are as well filmed, seductive and dramatic as i recall. The last scenes on our (nyc) island are as ugly, romantic and direct as i wanted them to be.  Bonus: screening occurred on 9/11, and film was preceded by awesome video essay of Twin Towers on Film, by Jonathan Hertzberg. Link:  http://knifeinthehead.blogspot.com/2014/09/troika-towers-forty-deuce-kong.html

MOON IN THE GUTTER Jean -Jacques Beineix
(35mm Walter Reade, Lincoln Center)

I have never seen the entire film before, and i'm glad i was sober enough to stick with it the one chance I've had to see an actual film print. All i recall is the large VHS box for rent at Kims, and that id always fallen asleep when i rented it, giving up and returning it to obtain something else i was itching for.  Committing to letting the story unravel, as well as come apart, is a very rewarding few hours. This is total commitment to artistic vision, and it is a visual, grand  enterprise, yet as small and basically romantic as it is in its beginning and end. A 'what if' idea that is fully, if messily,wildly realized. props, jean -jacques.

SEMI-TOUGH Michael Ritchie
((faded) 35mm Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Finally seeing this Ritchie film promotes my thoughts pre viewing that the man made some of the most revealing American films of the 70s. Burt Reynolds is stunning to see and to hear.

THE NICKEL RIDE Robert Mulligan
(35mm , BAMCinematek)

Tight, slightly playful heist/ genre film with an unmissable star turn by Jason Miller.  The city here is dirty, familial, playful and unforgiving.

(35mm, IFC Center)

John Heard has always been a favorite of mine, if only for his too brief presence in AFTER HOURS.  Heard's performance is a bit more unhinged in Micklin Silver's terrific early 80s tale of  amour fou, but the real breakout of this one is the pace and personality of the filmmaking, along with the small and devastatingly affective choices of Mary Beth Hurt.

(35 mm, Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Finally caught a Duras i'd yet to see, and  in the nick of time, the night i'd returned from a trip out of town. It was worth the hustle. Duras' film finds creative ways to open up space and time for a viewer to connect with the subject and the characters' psyche.

(35mm, Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Benjamin is truly insufferable and hard to watch onscreen, so luckily there were many other delights and loopy things to distract. Perry elevates the 70s  independent women's film with his own style and sensibility. Snodgress is flat out fantastic.

TWO FOR THE ROAD Stanley Donen
(DVD viewings)

Another great discovery this year was a rediscovery.  I had recollections of Donen's film, and it was always the one i preferred to CHARADE. Beyond that, i hadnt ever had much of a connection with it.  2014 was the year i had the chance to revisit it, with multiple DVD viewings, and i found myself inside the film, obsessed with the film, and personally (romantically...) inspired by it. The irreverent version of Nichols' HEARTBURN? I think so. Coming round again..
and coming to a blu ray near you in January, from Masters of Cinema.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Best Books i Read (for the first time) this Year: 2014

Within A Budding Grove
by Marcel Proust

The Guermantes Way
by Marcel Proust

Europe Central 
by William T. Vollmann

by Julian Assange

My Struggle:  Books 1 and 2
by Karl Ove Knausgaard

i read book 3 as well, yet was far, far less fond of it.
Actually, i disliked it.

Last Stories and Other Stories 
by William T. Vollmann

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
by Isabella Bird

Cartesian Sonata 
by William Gass

by Marilynne Robinson

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"


Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence
spirit interrupts

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea managing the business


cutting through the walls