Hollow Hype on “Blonde” & Bowie

Andrew Domink’s Blonde is a mostly dissatisfying film which chronicles most of MM’s iconic moments – the skirt flying up, taking drugs, rendezvous with JFK – all of which can make it tedious. The NC17 hype is silly as well, all because it seems of a brief shot of an erect penis. And while Ana de Armas’ commitment to the role is clear, she is exhausting to watch, pouting and crying at every turn. There are also very strange scenes of a talking fetus which really detracts from the film.

Talking fetus in Blonde

However, given all of this, I was struck by some lovelyshots from Cinematographer Chayse Irvin, especially MM’s final moments, over-exposed, drinking and drugging herself into oblivion. It was a long wait and perhaps even worth it.

Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream also suffers from an obsession with the iconic moments – Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, et al – and is further hamstrung by a limited Bowie view of Bowie.

While the visuals are great and many of the song selections, there is nothing on David Bowie being David Bowie except one vague interview that barely touches on anything. It’s not like I was looking for a tabloid tell-all of the drugs and sex mania or even the ego-centrism and abandonment of Ronson and others. It’s just that completely ignoring this aspect of Bowie’s life renders the film, for all of its sound and vision, little more than a Look Video Magazine.

Ice Friday: Lightfoot’s “The Watchman’s Gone”

Gordon Lightfoot, Canada’s singer-songwriter laureate, conveys the weight of mortality in a few lines from The Watchman’s Gone:
There’s a train down at the station
It’s come to carry my bones awayIce Friday: Lightfoot's "The Watchman's Gone"
If I wait for the right moment
You can bet I’ll climb aboard unseen
I’ve done it before
I know I can do it in my sleep

The Failure of Parker’s “Birth of a Nation”

Birth of a Nation had promise – a compelling narrative most of all – but fails. Instead of exploring the contorted depths of American history, Parker trains the camera on himself, too often in close-up, reacting to repetitive brutality. The Failure of Parker's Birth of a NationViolent images dominate – people’s teeth getting hammered out, exposed brains – when  the story of a remarkable man, Nat Turner, could have been developed, asking who really spoke of this: As we pushed on to the house, I discovered some one run round the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued them, but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death. The Failure of Parker's Birth of a NationThe film does not elucidate nor does it have vision, as did Steve McQueen in 12 Years a Slave, but is solely a chronicle of violence, flat and tediously rendered, craft-less as anything of the Superhero genre.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

I dream of looking outside the image.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” (1927)

Escaping from the frame.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

Yasujiro Ozu’s “Tokyo Story” (153)

Considering what could be.

Looking-Outness in Film: Murnau, Ozu & Varda

Agnes Varda’s “Le Pointe Courte” (1954)

Getting my head on different.

Terence Malick’s “Knight of Cups”

Words float through: Empty. Death. Grasping. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"The camera drifts underwater, everything a sweeping, swinging visual. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"Redeem my life. Justify it. That blinded you. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"I turned you upside down, my son. Longing for something other. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"There’s isn’t a story, just characters who stand about, some playing handsies. Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"Nobody’s home.
Knight of CupsYou have to fly. Fly. Knight of CupsHigh up. Everything’s just a…speck.Terence Malick's "Knight of Cups"

(Extracts from Knight of Cups in bold italics)

The Visual Manna of Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror”

Russians may find profundity in the story and themes of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1975 film The Mirror, but for the rest of us it’s the images, the visuals.

A woman runs.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA barn burns.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA bird lands on a boy’s cap.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA dog leaves a cabin.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorA boy looks back at himself.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorThe music plays. And we reflect.  Visual Manna Tarkovsky The MirrorWe know something about who we are, as if a light glowed behind us, as if this was not so much a movie as a dream that we had somehow conceived together.

This Too Will Be Gone: Forgetting.

This moment matters. This moment right now. I am writing. You are reading. This is it. This Too Will Be Gone: Forgetting.Maybe more than that. Moments of truth. Never forget. This Too Will Be Gone: Forgetting.And yet we do just that. A constant. This Too Will Be Gone: Forgetting.People are killed. Wars are wages. On to the next thing. This Too Will Be Gone: Forgetting.So right. And then it’s the next thing – what is it now?This Too Will Be GoneNone of us will remember what it was were not supposed to forget.

Capricorn One & Twilight’s Last Gleaming

“You ever see Capricorn One? You ever see that, Nico?” She didn’t wait for him to reply. “James Brolin, O.J. Simpson. I fucking loved that movie.”Capricorn One & Twilight's Last Gleaming“The mission to the moon that went wrong. They faked it because they didn’t have the budget, and then the capsule dissolved in re-entry. And so they had to kill the pretend pilots. It turned stupid in the end, little evil black helicopters chasing them around.”

Nico hunched over his screen and turned a switch. “There will be something else tomorrow, Dee, another slaughter, another crime against humanity. And we all know exactly that. We wait for the next thing. And it’s always worse than we can imagine.”

“What about Twilight’s Last Gleaming? The gang that hijacks the nuclear silo, with Burt Lancaster.” Capricorn One & Twilight's Last GleamingHe looked around at Dee. “Burt Lancaster claims that there is some kind of secret doctrine about the Vietnam War being fought to prove to the Soviets that they could sacrifice their men. Yes, I remember it.”

“You know, I used to believe all of that.” She spoke too fast, shorthand for what was in her head “It was a revelation. I believed it. I couldn’t understand why the government didn’t fall. It took me a long time to realize it’s not like that. I’m still not there. People are people. We are just who we are. There is no evil emperor, no star chamber, nothing. It’s just us and our demons, pretending that all of this is decided by someone different. And it’s just us.”

Backseat Driver: Scene Outline

A deer and then another run across the road. L swerves hard, misses the first, but catches the second and seems to about to lose control, cutting across the shoulder and then stops.There is a long moment. No one says a word. Backseat Driver: Scene Outline(Description details digging into the trapdoor of fear, the foundation of what it is that terrorizes the back of the brain, freezes the heart and lungs when the deep steps loom down, sucking everything in, stepping deliberately into it, terrified of the monsters and evils that haunt the shadows and walls, and continue into the dank cut-out pit, pressing face and limbs forward to look into the long rectangular holes where it lives, wanting to scream and scream and run but looking down into it, expecting the claws and horned head, the hunched back, the bloody arm to wrench you down and find nothing, nothing, but still held in the black, knowing that it will come from somewhere.) Backseat Driver: Scene OutlineL opens the door to search for the deer. It is raining hard. H follows her with a flashlight and then R. They can hear a rustling in the brush. L moves toward it. Three cars pass by. H continues to move toward the bushes, but she can’t hear anything. H shines the light. Another pair of cars (mobile homes) pass. R catches a glimpse of the animal fleeing. It is quiet. R mentions going after it. H disagrees. L says nothing and goes back to the car. H and R get back in. H offers to drive. L refuses. They continue on.