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

Monday, December 25, 2017

Good Things Come....Malick and love and love lost (2018 edit)



It took almost 10 years, but Terrence Malick has finally made another film I love; one that far exceeds the reaches of  THE NEW WORLD.   In all truth, TO THE WONDER is now my favorite. It is a story of romantic love as essential and necessary as the Gospel. Is it really so long to wait 8 or 9 years for a great film? It is, but that is because  I feel as though I'd been waiting forever.   Waiting not just for this film, but also for a sense of personal happiness and true freedom. Waiting for the great Malick film to soar above the empty promises of his greatness.  And what is TO THE WONDER about? It's actually about waiting....(wait for it) ...for a sense of personal happiness and true freedom.  It is also about how time moves and does not move.  About how time thwarts us.
Malick's movie is the best film I never saw last year.

I am in love.
I am not in love in actual life.  But in my filmgoing life, my virtual life that I live in lieu of an actualized life, I have just been shown the hope of the Promise's arrival.
I became aware of Malick, and the myth of his greatness, around the time that I became aware that movies and the love of them would be my life.  I was a pre teenager.  I made a list, several hundred items long, of all the movies I would learn about that were must -sees to help advance me on my road of film appreciation.  BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN were early entries.  The first one I saw was BADLANDS.  I figured I would love it. I had marked up the Washington Post TV Week schedule, tracking VHS tapings and real time views of sought  after movies. I still recall my excitement when I got to see BADLANDS, on an evening when the upstairs TV was free, on a local Baltimore station.   It was during my 8th or 9th grade. Of course the film was edited for television, but I can recall its impact.  Its cynicism, its style, and the way it used American landscape as a sort of visual storytelling shorthand; it didn't move me, it did not wow me, but i mentally checked these attributes as  movie watching elements I should continue to note.   Five or so years later, upon moving to NYC, i saw it screen on 35. I still think it's a strong film, but I also recognize the gap between the expectation i had awaited and the final moment of watching.  As cinephiles the first half  of our lives are marked waiting to see certain films.  This is probably less common now, post internet.  In my preteens and teens it was Malick, Truffaut, Warhol, Godard, Franco, Resnais, Ferrara and Ashby.  In my twenties it was Rivette, Ruiz, Zulawski and a zillion other films not defined by their filmmakers; my scope widened considerably.  It goes further than waiting for certain films. Every cinephile has their golden chalice; their OUT 1 print or  LAST MOVIE or HARDLY WORKING...I believe, that as cinephiles, we are (at least at the beginning) often people looking to movies to fulfill a promise that we do not expect fulfilled within our own lives.
When I finally saw DAYS OF HEAVEN, it was a rental situation  in high school. I was  horribly disappointed. When I got to  NYU it was a personal favorite of my  film school boyfriend, so we went to see a print screen at Film Forum.  My viewing was more substantial this time around, but I still felt let down.  I went back to Film Forum to see it screen yet again in the early -mid aughts, still disappointed.  I've always liked BADLANDS more, but I guess I don't love either of them.  The eventual theatrical opening of THE THIN RED LINE was a major event. I was barely alive that year, but all of my  film school friends were obsessed with it.  I managed to see it opening day in my temporary new/old town of Washington, D.C.   I saw it at the Uptown (D.C.'s Ziegfeld).  This one was more of a stunner to me.   It was more difficult to nail down and explain.  It was the first Malick I saw that was closer to the type of film I was usually drawn to.  It demanded repeated viewings and was experimenting with something new.  And it was, in moments, ecstatic.

I loved THE NEW WORLD.   Seeing it in the front row of Union Square with my friend Lisa was a top personal experience of 2005.
The mythic Malick movie  you wait for had finally arrived: poetic storytelling and technique finally married with the content of the story..about newness and narrative of the formation of  a physical place.  But I never connected with it emotionally
I waited several more years to come across the next promised land...and then came TREE OF LIFE.  I remained entirely outside the picture.  I can liken the experience to that of watching a magazine editorial come to life.
So I dicked around a while before sitting down for TO THE WONDER.  My god. Terrence Malick, I'm almost 40, where have you been all my moviegoing life?  The novel sound design no longer confused; it persuasively cohered.  The emotions echoed in swooning visuals, and FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY- a spiritual center one can find oneself inside.  Shortcuts, also used in earlier pictures like TREE,  pare down the storytelling in  a chiefly visual manner. We are watching a love story but one that  happens in leaps and bounds,  all in the opening moments.  We understand, even without the subtitles translating the French.

 


Wes Anderson gets criticized for a very similar idea.   I think Anderson and Malick explore alternative ways to do exactly what cooler filmmakers like Walter Hill and Michael Mann do so well (THE DRIVERTHIEF, MIAMI VICE...) It streamlines the way we are told a story.  I see now Malick has been trying to do this, with varying measures of success, in his last few films, without being fully realized until now.  The film opens with the
arrival of a lifetime of want and of not having.  It is the first Malick scene that I recognize ...a starved person; here is the meal I dream of devouring.  And by the movie's end, the same woman looks back and recognizes me as the shadow of a human she has become.  Do I know anything about these characters backgrounds or if they'd ever had love before? No.  I say this because what I am shown and what I experience in this opening is ..the end.   A woman has reached her penultimate happiness. She spins through life.  Everything is beautiful, everything and everyone is connected. She is in love. She is radiant and she beams outwards to others.


It is just about halfway through the film when she is, in some ways, replaced and cast aside.  She stops spinning through the frames. Her voiceover tells us she is lost, and she is walking around alone, not knowing where to go but to go home and collapse.
She tries to kill herself. She returns to him.  Her voiceover remarks that it is only the Weak who never take a stand (by ending a relationship i presume.) Her world turns dark and her spirit is in crisis.



I too am used to waiting for things that never come.
And i have found things, after decades of knowing they'd never come, and then in a few more years I lost them forever.






I first heard about Terrence Malick when I was approximately twelve years old.  I saw my first Malick film when I was about 13 or 14 years old.  I saw TO THE WONDER tonight and I am currently about 38 years old.  24 years is less than three decades. Not so unreasonable.  How many 24s do I have left?  Do I remain resigned to life and to missing the possibilities I do not believe will ever cross my path? Do I confuse hope with the impact of the truth of how Malick depicts falling in love in TO THE WONDER? How truthful Malick can be! How right he is when he shows how love is the spirit, it is the 'wonder' in life, the thing missing that we need..the answers we seek, the prayer, the meaning, the everything...
How could her lover not see how earth and soul shattering the withdrawal of his romantic love would be? Her love for him was devotional, religious, and eternal.
It sounds pious to say for me, someone who does not like religion, and I know there is no God, but when the Priest showed up I could see that this is the OTHER side of falling in love onscreen. The love she experienced was Holy. Without that miracle she is equivalent spiritually to  the junkie, the criminal and the laborer who need Bardem's Priest.  She is alive but she is an empty shell; nothing is inside of her.  She is "in between"; she is without love.  It is the wait...IT IS THE WAIT that is the other storyline. The one that crisscrosses as the French bride falls in and out of her rapture. She is back in Paris. She is alone on the subway. She no longer dances to transport herself from place to place. She walks with her head down, and she stares unhappily on the Metro.


It is the wait for the new great drug, for the new 12 step fellowship to save your life and rebuild your spirit, that one person in the world who finally came along who would become your best friend and one true love and then leave you forever.  The wait for that next great film to give you life as a cinephile.



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

No Measure for Projection

reposting this blog piece from 2011 ..keeping brilliance of Toback alive.

I could not tell you how often one gets inspired by watching an episode of Intervention. Common or random? I'm not sure.  I tend to give too much weight to inter-connections.  Regardless, I recently  had this happen to me. The episode seemed like 2 to 3 chapters out of an awesome novel I'd only half read, losing track of it three months ago. And both the television show and the book were now causing me to make further connections with 2 of my most recent movie revisitations.

The episode was titled " Latisha ', and getting inside her world for 60 minutes broke my heart. Her crack addiction kept her worldview obscured by a cheery veil, elevating her self image to 'Queen of the streets' in the fabulous ghetto of her diseased existence. The episode broke the mold of A + E 'reality' drama. The producers and director actually filmed with two lenses; one a lens of clarity, the moments of intoxication and cocaine psychosis embarrassingly clear. The second lens used was that of Latisha's own self protective or rather self projective denial. A sort of denial that is, mostly by the nature of both the disease of addiction and the nature of crack cocaine, narcissisticly destructive; self perpetuating by delusions of self importance.
This projection colored my sense of Latisha's experience of her world. It allowed me the escapism of her highly stimulated thought process and the momentary joy of her imaginary relationships.


I'd recently been chipping away at William T. Vollmann's :" The Royal Family", a sprawling dissection of genealogy and stratum of San Francisco pimps , whores, and the Unicorn of this particular zoo, the elusive "Queen of the Whores", aka "Africa."
Vollmann's male protag is haunted and degenerate. He is a noirish detective by way of a Proustian sad sack, dropped into a transgressive, insular world of fucked up folk. He is one half romantically haunted by a dead lover and one half digging progressively deeper into the mud of the royal whoredom; eventually projecting his obsessions on a whore who Judy Bartons herself into his deceased love.

How did anything strike beyond the obvious remembrance of the cool novel I'd failed in finishing?
What this television episode and this post modern novel share is a quality that also appears in films, though usually sweatier and involving pacing or the cover up of something like a heist or a murder.
This distorted self projection and fucked up self will is something of a germ. Infecting the host it leads to secondary diseases, such as compulsive behavior and addiction, be it gambling, alcohol, drugs, what have you. In films, lucky for us, it also results in projecting a world of their own diseased thinking's creation, one that is entertaining while illuminating, as well as insane, colorful and full of constant heart pounding danger.
I'm thinking of the sweat on Nomi Malone's face in SHOWGIRLS. She is three different things and they are also one and the same: victim or pursuant of Capitalism, a dancer who is a wannabee star, and an Addict. Not a surprise when in the film's fourth quarter she is revealed as an ex junkie, and we see her come alive when she does blow.
Her sweaty forehead and bugged out 'star' eyes are demonic and bothered, a distinct image yet mere mutation on the aloof vacancy in James Caan's eyes in THE GAMBLER. Any interiority ironically revealed through voiceover and the occasional sound bridge.
Both figures drawn here are playing the losing card. How can Nomi ever gain status and respect without stealing them? And how can a human being, as Ivy League as he may be, ever beat the Numbers?
In a classroom scene, Caan's collegiate professor speaks in a Psych or Philosophy class about intangibles such as Desire and Will. Things that , for Caan's alter ego of nighttime degenerate gambler find reflected only the simplest materialist games. The only expressions of emotive power and psychology in the film are those of people in Caan's world..those gangsters affected by the hustler's life and the family members distraught by Caan's risk and loss. Caan, meanwhile, remains a blank mirrored screen, and antithetical to a Nomi Malone, his own wild inner process is laid bare only by the measure of how others respond to his madness.
The film illuminates his disease by showing him as leading almost two entirely different lives. His battle is built around shame and a destructive belief of self grandeur, each fueling the other.
These filmed losers are lovers and their hatred of self and desperation to be loved is made visible in neon gemmed manicures, headdresses, coke nails, maternal robberies, and Atlantic City betting benders.

Monday, July 31, 2017

HOLY DOLLAR

installment # 1


Twin peaks


Currency watches us, we don't watch it. Its eye holds court on its back side.  Standing tall, it stares back as we cast it out into the world.
If the Pyramid on the dollar can be imitated,  then value is in moral question. Who is a fraud and what is real? Nothing material, neither paper money or gold,  holds the weight of moral fiber. So if we try to see money, here is a wilted bill, a single, foreign eye staring at US, refusing our focus, and multiplying constantly.
Toward Enlightenment; Holy Third Eye

 
And so it is.
One pyramid, one (third) eye, one dollar: , two pyramids =  two dollars, two Sherriff Trumans, two or more Agent Coopers,  =  TWIN PEAKS.

Empty symbols proliferate in the symbolic world of TWIN PEAKS.  The earth beneath it is the solid soil; Northwest America.  Lying in between the symbolic and the ground is the dreamlike construction of creative thought, a story told through an inner search.

Lynchian narratives turn that eye inward, rebuking the materialism of wealth and the holy dollar. Like the zenith of the dollar's pyramid, the third eye is as much a point and as much a foreign singular. It is uncanny in that it is like the others (the other two eyes), yet it is also wholly alien.
This is the eye that surfs the waves of inner reflection, sometimes rolling us along minute ripples for tens of minutes or episodes on end.  Other times a cascade of storming water explodes emotionally or literally (as in an exploding head or corpus.)


"REPRIEVE FROM PAIN."  Move "BEYOND THINKING."  These are two benefits claimed by the official TM (Transcendental Meditation) website. 

Center Eye is The Third Eye

The ecstatic emotion that thundered throughout the original TWIN PEAKS series also defined the film TWIN PEAKS:  FIRE WALK WITH ME.
The lightening storm of connectivity and impetus that is experienced in creative thought comes amidst a long, often otherwise quiet creative journey.
The narrative experience of David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS:  THE RETURN  follows that same course.


"The time has come for you to seek The Path.  Your  soul has set you Face to Face with a Clear Light, and you are now about to experience it in its Reality, wherein all things are like the Void and Cloudless Sky."  -- Agent Cooper, TWIN PEAKS. Original Series, Season 2.


Third Eye Blind
David Lynch's narratives  primarily trace the reactions to things that happen.
The reasons and causality are poetically tracked, abstract elements of sound and and of sight coexist with threads of sitcom normality.  My experience of TWIN PEAKS the series , TWIN PEAKS:  FIRE WALK WITH ME the film, and TWIN PEAKS:  THE RETURN series , is melodrama meeting the meditative mind.
In TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME we track Laura's increasingly desperate search for reprieve from the pain that is occurring in her life.

The psychic pain of her father raping her instigates a road of building ecstasy:  the ecstasy of seeking sexual partners, the ecstasy of ego (being the beautiful girl on campus), the ecstasy of cocaine ingestion, and the ecstasy of sobbing in sudden sober moments when something is scary and threatening you.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Cinema of Pure Capitalism- Making Everyone into a Winner or Loser


In Pure Capitalism there can only be losers and winners. The Cinema of 2016 encapsulated this extremism.  The powerful or adored win, the others lose. Losers in the Cinema of 2016 fought hard and scrappily against their oppression/demons (CHRISTINE, I, DANIEL BLAKE, WHITE GIRL) but to little or zero avail.

CHRISTINE
(loser)
       

WHITE GIRL
(loser)


I, DANIEL BLAKE
(loser)



ELLE
(winner)




Some films featured both winning and losing protagonists, highlighting the power or success one envied in the other.
DIVINES
(loser-winner-loser)


DIVINES


LA LA LAND
Stone's character starts out as the loser, but by the end her fame eclipses the brief level of success of Ryan Gosling, and  her love for him wanes.


LA LA LAND
Gosling's character does not seek fame, but money as a means to an end. The $ Machine mocks his goals, and he is ultimately punished for his love of another person and his love of music over money.



NERVE
(winner)

NERVE
(loser)

Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence
spirit interrupts

the girlfriend experience

the girlfriend experience
chelsea managing the business

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l'Interieur

l'Interieur
cutting through the walls