Slowfest

The best antidote to hecticity is idleness. For complete idleness, mental as well as physical, I suppose one could meditate. But if that is an overdosage for your particular circumstances, you might try being still, staring into the screen, and programming the screen so there is less to process. More than a screensaver, say, which could return you to the level of meditation. But less, far less than the programming usually appearing on your screens, most of it unbidden. Try these:

Gerry – so minimal it is almost ambient. Do not watch this with anyone inclined to “what are they talking about?” or “well that doesn’t make any sense”. In fairness, I suspect co-authors Affleck and Damon’s inclinations (“scenarios”, “dialogue”) probably hurt Van Sant’s (time and space revealed?) and allow for such moot analysis.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – many many more things happen in this one than in Gerry, but it still sends audiences packing midway. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I get this non-getting, but the whole rest of my mind is like “PEOPLE! What do you have against ghosts, monkey-men, talking fish, and the absence of violence and evildoing? This is cinema utopia damnit!”

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=14619648&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Jeanne Dielman – the influence of Akerman, especially this work, can be seen in Weerasakathul’s. Not the talking fish, nor the absence of violence, and in this sense it does not create that thrilled wonderment that a picture like Boonmee can. But hanging out real time while someone does chores can be mesmerizing, and comforting somehow. Actually, this is a good one to watch with your “what is that – a little stove?” friend who you’ll not invite to the Gerry screening. I wonder if I were watching it when it was made, without the constant appeal of “period” everything – decor, autos, wardrobe, architecture – would I still be captivated?

Despite this post’s title, it’s worth noting that pacing alone is not enough to satisfy a need for quiet. Remember this? Not a good comparison with Dielman’s vintage eye candy or Boonmee’s magic, perhaps, but why do I prefer the desert void of Gerry to that of A Taste of Cherry? It’s a question too challenging for my newly idle mind.

Advertisements

In Other Words, Smoking Helps

Hurrah, I have finally seen Elephant, Gus Van Sant’s award-winning 2003 film based on the Columbine school shootup. If I’d written this post last night, it would have been passionate, maybe all caps. I was a little stoned. Today, I am still inclined to post on it, but with the knowledge gained overnight that it hasn’t had the impact on me that I originally thought it had.

Strangely, I think both the immediate impact and its rapid dissipation come from the same feature of the film’s design: shallowness. Watching the slaughter of characters you’ve been getting to know for an hour or so is called Everynight TV, right? The reason you can yawn around between that and decorating and dancing shows, at the same time as you’re in IM on your laptop, is the artifice. You can recognize a Benz from the grill, and you can recognize a cop show from the music, cinematography and script cliches. You can only be so drawn into those stories, when you are constantly aware it’s Season 4 Episode 9. With Elephant, however, Van Sant presents you an unrecognizable scenario, in part by working improv with non-actors. But also by withholding dramatic devices which could be recognized as tropes: character arc, plot progression. The parts of your mind that normally turn off once they recognize the tropes, don’t turn off. You are observing more keenly. When the shit hits, you feel it more. Thing is, you developed no relationships, and you contemplated few or no concepts, so it doesn’t stay with you, like, in your heart. It stays in your brain as a masterful cinematic exercise, certainly. But you are untouched, ultimately, once the shock wears off.

And here is Gus Van Sant cutting the bugger on a FLATBED EDITOR. Divine.