Luis Bunuel’s memoir My Last Sigh offers reflections on art, politics and idle dreams:
One day on New York, in the 1940’s, my good friend Juan Negrin, the son of a former Republican Prime Minister, and his wife, the actress Rosia Diaz, and I came up with the notion of opening a bar called the Cannonball. It was to be the most expensive bar in the world, and would stock only the most expensive beverages imported from the four corners of the earth. We planned an intimate bar, ten tables maximum, very comfortable and decorated with impeccable taste. An antique cannon at the door, complete with powder and wick, would be fired, night or day, each time a client spent a thousand dollars. Of course, we never managed to realize this seductive and thoroughly undemocratic enterprise, but we thought it amusing to imagine your ordinary wage earner in the neighboring apartment building, awakened at four in the morning by the boom of the cannon, turning to his wife next to him in bed and saying: “Another bastard coughing up a thousand bucks!”
My current project is the second part of a screenplay trilogy focusing on a college student, Davis who, in this deleted scene argues, badly with his university radio station colleagues:
Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die plays in the background over the lounge speakers in the radio station.
LAURA: Ellen’s show is called Synesthesia. You know what that is? (To ELLEN) Kandinsky painted music, right? Different senses coming together. You should open your show with something like that.
ELLEN nods earnestly.
DAVIS: I wrote this play in second year.
ELLEN: A play?
DAVIS: Nietzsche’s Ubbermesh.
ARTHUR: It’s Uber-mench. Uber. Use the ‘U’. And mench, like bench.
DAVIS (Trying to ignore ARTHUR): There was this painting in it, Garicault’s Raft of the Medusa.
DAVIS: I can hardly wait.
LAURA: What are you going to do about the dead air?
DAVIS: What dead…?
DAVIS looks up and wheels around, suddenly realizing that Live and Let Die, the song on his radio show, is about to end. He sprints around the corner, slides into a filing cabinet and bangs into the door, only realizing now that it is locked. The song ends.
The idea behind Ridley Scott’s The Martian could be intriguing: What if someone were to be stranded alone on a distant planet? As unoriginal as the premise is – a sci-fi staple often used countless Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits episodes – it still has the potential of the vast unknown. However that potential is quickly wasted in The Martian as it can never rise above a tedious salute to American ingenuity, what eventually becomes a mind-numbingly extended episode of MacGyver.
The script is an abomination, the Chief of NASA actually saying “…if nothing goes wrong” right before…something goes wrong. Character development is non-existent, and not a single word is invested into the psychology of being abandoned in space, excepting the long zoom-ins of everyone becoming more empathetic. It’s astounding that $108 million can be dumped into such a meaningless and vacuous project, and then go on to earn close to $600 million; Ridley Scott hoodwinked us again. Which makes me wonder when his Alien/Blade Runner credentials will finally run out.
Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying is a remarkable piece of film-making. Made in 1957, Mikhail Kalatozov guides the camera in perpetual flight, rising, drifting, gliding along with the story, leading the characters through their dreams and lives. As melo-dramatic as the narrative may be, the technical elements, the self-awareness of the camera and the theory of film-making, all of it before France’s Nouveau Vague, are astonishing, like a supreme being playing with a camera and showing us simpletons just what is possible. Cinema not only as art, but of our very dreams.
A few notes from the margins, semi-blog-worthy, and so put together in this morass:
Liars, Cheaters and Ignoramuses: The Republicans are doomed to go down in history for childish stupidity. While they may not be a species of themselves, they remain a bitter reflection of our world, a breed of astounding ignorance who no longer deserve the laughs.
Silly Old Upper Canada College: The main building at Toronto’s richest and oldest all-boys school, Upper Canada College, is as imposing as ever – wide stone staircase, red brick wings, iconic tower – the halls as long and echoing and the students as privileged.But something has changed. There were females in the building, actual women, not students, but teachers and administrators. And they were in charge. A much better place than yesteryear, without a doubt.
Helvetius Porn: The doctrine of Claude Helvetius is fundamental and clear: as human’s faculties may be reduced to physical sensation, we are motivated solely by the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure.
Yes, it’s all about feeling good, finding the sunniest possible spot, drink in hand, and staying in that as long as possible. In other words, there is no freedom of choice between good and evil and no such thing as absolute right.
Thorbergur Thordarson’s vivid memoir The Stones Speak recalls his childhood days spent in a remote Icelandic hamlet:
Large boulders stood here and there on the slopes. They appeared to be lifeless rocks if you just gave them a momentary glance. But if you stared at them for a little while, it was if they gained life and a soul of their own and quite personal features that reminded you of people. Some of them had looked out over the communities below in these peaceful poses for decades, others for long centuries, and it seemed to me that they knew everything that had befallen the folks below. I had great respect for these children of the Creator and I never peed on them or pooped behind them. I didn’t dare to, anyway, because of the hidden people