Tuesday, April 26, 2011
It is pretty funny but I'm not happy to learn that in some ways Egon Yes is my dad. That's no kind of dad for a puppet. Still he makes me laugh but I do worry what would happen if we met.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
La Chambre Verte is a film set in the wake of WWI. It is a mesmerising tour de force, a deep philosophical and anthropological meditation on bereavement, love, death and ritual.It also explores the past in its power to thrust into the present. While the past is gone this great film reminds us how it can continue to cast the shadow of its spell into the present and the future, clouding in the case of this film the protagonist's ability to love someone living, someone who is actual, not virtual.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Josef von Sternberg's The Docks of New York is a classic silent movie that will hold your attention if you give it a chance. The themes of love and sex are quadrangular with a fifth character Andy (Mitchell Lewis) as comic relief.
A tough stoker of steamer ships has one day's leave and wants to enjoy it. He saves a prostitute who tries to commit suicide by drowning herself. He's a tough guy, really tough - he can outfight everyone in the low-life bar near the docks where all the action happens and it does. George Bancroft is magnificent in this silent role - he is tall and has presence. He almost plays to the camera and it works. Students of film and acting could learn a lot from watching this performance. If he were around now and playing tough guys he'd outclass most of the field 83 years later - the film was made in 1928. It is also set in the time when stokers were necessary to run ships (and trains) but it's down in the bowels of the ship and it is a job from hell.
Von Sternberg's masterly direction means you won't miss a beat and there's rare times when your attention flags. The love story between Bancroft and Betty Compson (Mae) is moving and the tension offered both by the plot and Bancroft in portraying this tough good time guy fluctuate between love's commitment and pleasure satisfied's flight is very effective. The denouement is excellent and the final scenes touching. I note that you can probably see this film on youtube. Try and give it attention. It's well worth it.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
What's been happening lately is that the fabric of the Universe and its origins are being steadily questioned and we may be on the verge of a paradigm shift. It should not be surprising given the way that in the last ten years, with the Internet and computers running at zillions of flops, information is being processed as never before.
The first piece of news is from Sir Roger Penrose who finds in some concentric cosmic waves he has studied, the echo of the "Universe" before the big bang. That is, a Universe before this Universe. Penrose is thus positing a more cyclical view of the Cosmos. The Big Bang is not t-zero.
Sir Roger Penrose on the cyclical universe -from 2007
The second piece of news - this article links to it - is the idea that reality is a hologram and we live only in two dimensions. Time supplies the third dimension.
Black hole physics, in which space and time become compressed, provides a basis for math showing that the third dimension may not exist at all.
As a puppet who serves humankind with my jests and performances I feel that what is being overlooked is the mirror. I have spoken of this many times before. Jaques Lacan in his psychoanalytical endeavours saw that the child's formation of emotions and kinetic action are formed in the mirror that is the mother's face firstly and then other people's movement, speech etc.
With Hanny's Voorwerp we saw a kind of mirror in the heavens. I say the structure of space-time has some kind of mirror in it that might have some bearing upon the holographic nature of reality.
On another note I am deeply sorry that my article on cinema and evil has offended some of my fellow performers and that I am barred from entering Hollywood for the next six months. All I can say is that the article is to receive a part two soon. But space-time being what it is "SOON" might be found in one of the mirror's in my dressing room. Or yours!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
What links these films is the theme of EVIL and also the notion of how films and stories should end. I say should but I don't mean to be coercive. Formulas are useful but they can suck.
Both The Town (2010, dir Ben Affleck) and The Getaway (1972, dir Sam Peckinpah) are about bank robbery and tough guys. Both are good films but they fail in the credibility stakes as the heroes are too heroic, too Superman for us to really believe. It makes us happy but happiness lies in credibility. Yes, my hero really can/could do this. What Affleck and McQueen's characters achieve is ultimately not realistic and thus a let down. Both films address certain areas of realism very well. In The Town we have a great insight into the poor Irish Bostonion community. In The Getaway the psychological and relationship dimension of the central characters is refreshingly complex but...no need to repeat my gripe about realism. What is also problematic - more so in The Town is the idea of Evil which is addressed and gives the film its watchability and profundity. The Affleck character, who is surrounded by evil fellows and who is a violent thief, basically, encounters good in the beautiful woman who is present at the first robbery. But one example of the immaturity of the handling of evil is where the beautiful woman has had a problem from some people on the estate she lives on. The Affleck character just goes and beats them up. His remorse ultimately is shallow and the problem of evil in this film is painted over by the generosity of superman Affleck at the end of the film.
The Getaway makes no bones about evil in that there are no scruples about it and there is a greater evil in one of the fellow bank robbers of the Steve McQueen character. This is a kind of template for No Country for Old Men: deepest evil's pursuit of bad (but not as evil) protagonist. There are real scum out there and McQueen gets rid of them. But really he is also scum. No one wants to be robbed. But we do invest in wrong-doing hard men and this investment is made effectively when they are up against greater evil, stomach turning evil. (There are gentlemen and women bandits, probably, but they must be really rare).
Evil and its subtle insinuations are explored in Haneke's White Ribbon (2009, dir Michael Haneke). No simplistic solutions here; no one medium evil versus a greater evil. There are a few spotless characters, like the protagonist, but Evil and brutishness is pervasive among the leading men of the community (Pastor, Doctor, Baron) and their children. Set before WWI this is an unsettling film in which no one is let off the hook and in which the only resolution is the purification which the war brings. Like a number of his films the lack of resolution can lead to a feeling of almost being cheated narratively but the unblinking attempt to look at evil is perhaps so unflinching as again to fall short of the credibilty of greatness that masterpieces achieve.
Dramaturgy needs obstacles. Evil provides a ready and powerful obstacle. But for a narrative to really impress us, how evil is dealt with, the credible nature of its effect and impact is an important factor in the satisfaction felt by an audience and that may have something to do with the Ultimatum Game, which is often used by economists to analyse fairness in transactions.
Simple explanation of the game:
I have 10 gold coins. I must offer you them as a precondition of the game. If you refuse my offer we both go away with nothing.
There is a great chapter on this in The Wisdom of Crowds where capuchin monkeys are offered food in return for pebbles. Exchanges are smooth until one monkey is given a grape for nothing. Then the other monkeys throw away their pebbles and refuse to play.
"In many cultures, people offer "fair" (i.e., 50:50) splits, and offers of less than 20% are often rejected".
In short and at a tangent when it comes to Evil perhaps our mechanism for the Ultimatum game is partly at work.
UDFy-38135539 is a small galaxy that existed when God was starting work on the Universe. Some say this galaxy the oldest and farthest 'thing' ever seen was only 600,000,000 (six hundred million) years away from the Big Bang from whence the Universe was created. Let there be light or Hawkingsian gravity aside this is a phenomenal moment in History when we will see puppets from the dawn of reality waving at us. I'm joking but to imagine seeing the distant truly primordial past is mind blowing. In fact, it's cosmic, maaan:)
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
On the transmission of ideas:
What is an idea might also be expressed as who is an idea? Marx is an idea as well as a person. Or rather we speak of Marxism for his ideas and for his person we say Marx. This classification may not be unique to English but it may also have its opposite in certain lebenswelts, even if they are imaginary. We can conjure a Borgesian world whereby a person is their idea and in fact in some computer remain as both idea and person.
But the realisation we encounter here is that people do not have one idea, they have many. So, where, therefore do we delineate an idea like: It would be nice to have bacon for breakfast from Bacon is central to the Enlightenment or even bacon was more central to the Enlightenment than Bacon.On the transmission of ideas:
Sunday, November 01, 2009
hello post Halloween where I was not able to perform in any horror film whatsoever. I do have some film review news: As you know I look and trace possible genealogies between films, and here is one: Batman, The Dark Knight Returns by Christopher Nolan and The Departed by Martin Scorcese.
Watch these two films back to back and you will see that they share:
- The Civic theme; City as one of the main characters; city in peril, under threat, menaced by corruption but the good are at work
- The same look of Police as a kind of Pageant
- The gang scenes of money for drugs swaps
- Joker Jack Nicholson needs no mention but the slaying of Police Commissioner Gordon played by Gary Oldman and Head of Police Queenan played by Martin Sheen
Sad Squorch at the beginning of November 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
This was a good film by the director of Point Break, Kathry Bigelow, also a good film. But these are not great films. I won't go into Point Break which I enjoyed immensely.
Hurt Locker has some wonderfully suspenseful moments but you never tear off the nail you're chewing. Why? I put it down partly to plot. You need the plot to vice-grip the characters and you need to the tension of your heroes' predicaments. This happens but the web does not ultimately stick. There are great scenes of Sergeant First Class William James the team leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) in a bombsuit; great suspense but perhaps as a result of Sgt James' total not giving a shinola, we too don't "mind" if he's blown to "Jesus" as he himself says. I won't get technical. It is a worthwhile film if you're into war movies. It is not in the league or psychological depth of Full Metal Jacket, itself which is not in the league of an earlier true masterpiece of Kubrick's: Paths of Glory. Some cultural observations:
- The bombsuit reminds us of Kubrick's 2001 with the breathing sounds and while the ordinance in the film has been praised I can say that the way it carries off does not always make us jump. The sound-design of the film should have been better even if it meant imitating the breathing in the spacesuits in 2001, which adds a suspense drawn from a kind of hypnoticness.
- The bomb disposal robot is similar to Wallee. To what degree was the film of Wallee a lament for the mistakes made after the invasion of Iraq?
Monday, December 15, 2008
Hello. I've been away. I'm back briefly. What do you think of this painting? I don't care if no one reads this blog. One day I shall be great and afford some new strings and maybe I can find myself a new master: exciting and dynamickey mouse. I am poor. I dress badly. The boss of my boss is a scrooge. Nothing comes down to me. No trickle down, even though my youtube.com performance has had 61 hits. I'll get there. I will. I will.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
There were some great films in this season: Kurosawa; Oshima; Ichikawa; Imamura; Shindo, and others.
Me and K1 saw a pitiful few but of what we saw we were only truly impressed by Onibaba (pictured right). This is one of the greatest films of all time. Only the chamber piece nature of it takes away from its masterfulness. Plotwise, allwise - barring perhaps the above - it is masterful. It is BW and the eroticism is perfect: that is morally the nudity and sex is just enough but the main point is the brilliance of the plot. Read it simply as one of the greatest What Goes Around Comes Around stories. Karma. Read it as one of the great Hell and Brimstone stories worthy of any cinematical Dante-inspireds out there. It is a beautiful film of great emotional power. It is a tragedy almost as dramaturgically well timed as Oedipus Rex. See this film.
Onto the other films: Tokyo Drifter (Suzuki), Intentions of Murder(Imamura), A Full Up Train (Ichikawa). Full Up Train failed to deliver for me. But what it is greatest at is to show the shiteness of life in Post-War Japan: the Company as YOUR life. Over.Made in 1957.
By the 60's things are a little better. Intentions of Murder(1964) and Tokyo Drifter(1966) are worth comparing back to back. The former is BW the latter colour. The former is realistic, the latter fantastic. IoM is about a marginal female in an upper-class family ultimately having the cunning to have the cake and eat it - partly because she (unwittingly?) understands the structural strictures of the society. She does go through a harrowing ordeal to get there and through this Imamura is able to do what he did best: give us really compelling flavours of the Japan of that time.
Tokyo Drifter also gives us a gangster flavour and locations and feel that is worthy of the viewers and the Japonophiles attention. The plot is good but abandons our engagement because the central axis of patron and protege is let down. There is a level where we cannot suspend our disbelief in the characters any longer. To do so perhaps more hyperbole not less is needed. The hero is basically unkillable. However, the use of song - the female love interest is a singer - lifts the film while one views.
Finally to 1971. Oshima, director of the incredibly erotic (pornographic, dirty?) Realm of The Senses, delivers a startlingly beautiful diachronic story of a wealthy Japanese family linking it with the Manchurian disaster of Japan's occupation of that (Chinese?)region. (Manchuria hovers at the borders of the plot of Dr Zhivago and lends its name to the brilliant, original version of The Manchurian Candidate-ominous? Another post might address Mongolia, which borders that region). But the film fails partly because some of the character's names begin with the same letter. Beware screenwriter (and novelist, playwright, storyteller): unless it is something special you are doing do not confuse the viewer, reader with similar names! Basically one gets a bit lost. There are masterpiece moments in the film worthy of plunder but ultimately the film fails. Why? Really because the central character is a loser whose losses as humans we cannot believe in. But he's a truly realistic loser: his bride does not even show up for the wedding and the only two real loves of his life have been screwed by the same guy: his older, handsomer nemesis/friend. Happens all the time loser. You know where I'm coming from. That kind of winner has his own sadness to deal with; his own kinds of losses BUT that type of character is different and is found in other types of film. In fact the other films in this article include HIM in some degree or another.
But echoing the ending of one of Shakespeare's sonnets - can't remember which- begins with Like as the sea makes towards the pebbled shore - I end with Onibaba where justice is served and where the meaning of Mercy or the need, desire, wish, hope for mercy cannot be avoided and its meaning cannot but fail to be explored...deeply. We bow to Shindo. Truly, truly, cliche though it may have become, may have been, may be, may have always been: MIND THE GAP.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This is a link to a great site defining all those annoying file names you sometimes see on Windows. You can look up the definition of .dll or .exe and many others.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
It just goes to show how beautiful the world can be given or taking the chance to see the world from a different perspective. I'll try and look at things from a new perspective, a new angle today!
Friday, July 11, 2008
K1 and me have always been fascinated by mirrors. I am in a sense a mirror of him and he unwittingly is mirrored by me or is it he mirrors me. I think the latter is better. Go to the above link. It's fascinating.
Where have I been? Oh well, don't ask. It's big thinks. Keep thinking.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Big thinks denotes profound thoughts as opposed to little thinks which are commonplace, mundane, quotidian. These two stock opinion phrases are spoken by a hybrid half-Ape half-Human character in HG WELLS' great novel THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU. Currently there is a Jeanne Moreau season at the bfi. Please check it out if you are a fan of hers.
Back to the prophetic Wells. He shows us in this short and astonishing work hybrid creatures: sub-humans who nauseate the central character Pendrick by their almost human-likeness and yet their animalness. Being neither, they have no beauty. They are grotesque and this is my fear for science. We are learning of the beautiful symmetries that underpin the building blocks of reality at the same time as fiddling with the biological foundations and structures of what makes us, I mean you, human. A great addition to this debate in fictional form is Michael Crichton's NEXT. Here we have a humanzee called Davey who doesn't quite reach human intelligence but who has great physical prowess. Next is a compelling read; it alerts the reader to much ugly rapaciousness in the area of genetic research. Ultimately, however, it fails to fully deliver, perhaps imagination-wise, on the severe consequences we could all face as a result of such unbridled and money fueled experimentation.
Anyway I want to leave you with a great picture - you can click on it to go to its original resting site - and apologies if any copyright is being infringed. The illustrator's imagination here must be praised.