Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Netflix Experiment #4: The Game

by Ryland Walker Knight

The Game uses every technique available to dazzle and thrill and prickle the audience and were it not for the screenplay the film might be worth more than a passing fancy. As is, David Fincher's third film bears all his worst and his best strains, as ever. I don't know of a filmmaker I've wanted to like more whose films, for the most part, over time, depreciate and feel incomplete. I mean, I own Se7en, Fight Club and Panic Room -- but I don't really like myself for it, no matter how good Zodiac is (or is not). (I mean, I like Zodiac fine, it is easily his "best" film, but it plays lopsided and incomplete.) The Game is not a novel story, but I think Fincher knows this, so the film glides along, happy to be a B picture dressed up in A+ sheen. Perhaps that was what made Panic Room such a success (still my "favorite" of his films): it was a taut genre picture without pretension. This picture is all ostentation. Michael Douglas doesn't simply hit bottom to learn his moral lesson -- first he is bankrupted, then he is buried alive and when even that fails he kills himself! However, Douglas is the perfect actor for this kind of put-upon-rich-asshole role, partly because he comes across as a rich asshole off the silver screen. But the bigger reason is he's an underrated actor, like his dad.* He can sell that scene in the truck stand diner where all he can offer for a ride to San Francisco, from the California-Mexico border, is $17 and change. And he can sell the climax, on the rooftop, where he shoots his brother and decides to jump over the edge, drained and destitute. That is, he helps make the movie better, despite the obvious dialogue and all-too-flashy direction. Whatever structural inconsistencies Fincher films exhibit, they all have excellent acting, along with their extraordinary visual sense. Each of his films has a pitch-perfect central performance. Which makes me think he's probably a cool dude. Or, his meticulous visual nature extends to his interactions with actors. Or, just maybe, he's smarter than his movies let on. If anything The Game is worth watching for those two aspects, and Sean Penn's kinetic pop-and-fizz cameos, and Deborah Kara Unger's red bra.

01997: 128 minutes: dir. David Fincher: written by John D Brancato & Michael Ferris

[*: Are they? Or am I making that up? I guess the son won an Oscar and the father was nominated a few times. Nevermind.]

[Editorial note: I don't want this to simply be snark-or-delight but on the day when Antonioni died, which happened to be the day after the day Bergman died, I'm probably holding whatever film I watch, however diversionary and entertaining it may be, to a pretty high standard it will undoubtedly fail to meet. I promise more generosity next time, even if I think the movie is silly and poorly paced and not as good as it should be.]

Visual Obit for the day: Bergman & Antonioni

more words later. --rwk

Friday, July 27, 2007

Daft Punk for the day: tonight will be awesome.

Berkeley will be off some kind of chain, as 'twere, until, we hope, six AM tomorrow, at the look, nerd. afterparty. There's a guest list, and it is closed. [RWK]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Netflix Experiment #3: Brick

by Ryland Walker Knight

Rian Johnson's Brick, a debut film, is rather unabashed, and fearless, but instead of inspired it mostly plays silly, which is a shame. Because it's also rather pretty, and clever. Yet the smarts are all surface, and not that smart. Johnson has a good eye and knows how to point his camera at people-windows-hallways but the filmmaking choices, on the whole, seem made more for posture than for presence. How many fish-eye jump-cuts do you need? And, did they actually fuck or did they just make out? Because, see, the film noir femme fatale really has to fuck the patsy for the seduction to matter. Not that Joseph Gordon Levitt's Brendan is an altogether patsy. (This is a genre rewrite, see, and it doesn't have to play by the rules.) Not that Levitt's performance is bad (hell, nobody's is technically "bad"), in fact, as per usual, he is excellent. But from the get-go the caveat of the film kind of self-sabotages the project. It was unavoidable. As unavoidable as the film's already-gaining-steam cult status: there's plenty to like, and it's plenty entertaining, but unlike Donny Darko, Brick can't cut the bullshit, or cut deep to the core, because of its pre-fab low-budget style. That is, it's stylized to death. Or, for all the success of Johnson's dialogue (he nails that aspect of the Chandler mold, and the idea of a detective deciphering words' motives as much as other characters' is fresh, and cool), the no budget for nighttime so instead we'll shoot at dawn strategy doesn't quite work. I didn't feel dread, just stagnation; which should work for a high school noir in theory but in practice really does not. Which is surely part of the point, but, sue me if you want, it's hollow. No amount of Nora Zehetner's baby-doll eyes or Meagan Goode's big lips can trick me, thank Him, 'cuz they're right deadly, if you aren't paying attention. (For an even better Levitt performance, and a whole lot more heart, I'd recommend the treasure that is Mysterious Skin any day of the week. I only hope he makes more movies like that instead of more like this and The Lookout.)

Goode face

02005: 110 minutes: written and directed by Rian Johnson.

The Host is Hungry

by Ryland Walker Knight


"That is, The Host is a movie chiefly concerned with food: who-how-where we get it from, what it is we choose to eat, and why we eat it at all."

[For the full review click here and you will be forwarded to The House Next Door. To buy the new 2-disc DVD from Amazon click here. To whet your appetite ever more, I've included some scrumptious screenshots below.]

don't feed it, fools
comic grief
comic grief
not so fast

02006: 119 minutes: dir. Bong Joon-ho: written by Baek Chul-hyun, Ha Won-jun and Bong.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Netflix Experiment #2: The Triplets of Belleville

by Ryland Walker Knight

I had forgotten what an intelligent delight this film is. Remarkable how one could forget in the first place, really, even while singing its praises for years on end. Maybe it's that I simply hadn't thought to watch it again. Maybe it's that its intelligence is deceptive. Maybe it's that I find it hard to come to grips with the fact that, well, animation is perhaps the most alive arena of filmmaking today. All one has to do is draw the son of a bitch: the screen is the animator's oyster. Films like this, and other recent examples I've written about, are proof enough for the merits of toons. (To say nothing of the Looney variety or other Japanese masterpieces, or even something like Mary Poppins.) But what about Triplets? This film demands more than a simple Netflix Experiment toss-off appreciation but, safe to say, it will pop up again, I think -- perhaps in a future double bill. One trope I will mention adoring is how handmade everything feels, throughout the film. And not just because it's hand-drawn cel animation. Take, for instance, the means the gangsters steal the cyclists for: reusable energy! How cool is that? Or, how the old Triplets use whatever means at their fingertips to make their music, be it a newspaper or an empty refrigerator or a vacuum cleaner. Plus, one could talk about how fun the camera is, and the symmetry of plot elements with the symmetry of character designs. One could invoke Tati in its absence of dialogue, which foregrounds the fun and funny visuals. It should be obvious I have barely hinted at the film's various pleasures. Simply put: one of the best films of its year, and the declining decade we inhabit. An example of the excellent imagination on display, exhibited by the film and by its eponymous heroines:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Making the Mortal Immortal, and Goblin'd

by Ryland and Steven

I'm very happy to have contributed an essay to Reverse Shot's 20th issue, Take Two, which you can read here. It's about Andrei Tarkovsky's almost-autobiography, Mirror, and immortality. There's some poetry thrown in there, too, if you like that sort of thing.

Steven Boone, on the other hand, has a different take on Mirror, in video form (seen above) and featured on youtube. It marries images of Tarkovsky's film with score elements from Argento's Suspiria. In the description box he writes,
Andrei Tarkovsky's autobiographical art film The Mirror is not a horror movie, but it has plenty of frightening images. This crude montage slaps together some of those images along with Goblin's music for the Dario Argento horror flick Suspiria. It's interesting to see how certain images can be repurposed, cheapened or even deepened by music and editing.
I was hoping he might have more to say about it, perhaps how he saw to choose Goblin's work and not some other composer's (or the soundtrack of some other film of Argento's). I don't think this is crude whatsoever, btw, and rather remarkable, just like Tarkovsky's low-budget genius. Comments? Questions? Hopes? Dreams?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dialogue vs. Duplicity: Notes on Syndromes and a Century and I Don't Want To Sleep Alone

By Ryland Walker Knight

Are you my brother?
Are you my lover?

1. Friday the 13th, July, 2007: Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA:
7:00 — Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century
9:05 — Tsai Ming-liang’s I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone
My seat: dead-center, five rows back from the screen.
My posture: slouched, a little pooped, but wide-eyed; I ate some semi-sweet chocolate chips on the low and drank water from my Nalgene

[For the rest of the notes click here to be forwarded to The House Next Door]

02006: 105 minutes: written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
02006: 115 minutes: written and directed by Tsai Ming-liang

[The quality is shitty but this is an amazing sequence near the close of _Syndromes_ that you should watch, regardless of whether or not you've seen what's preceded it in the film up to this point.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Weekend exegesis, of sorts, in flashes, with some linkage.

saffron robes

by Ryland Walker Knight

Tonight I thought I was going to the PFA, yet again, to see a pair of Barbara Stanwyck films: Baby Face (1933), directed by Alred E Green, and Remember The Night (1940), directed by Mitchell Leisen from a screenplay by Preston Sturges. Instead, after walking up past the theatre and seeing a line across the lobby for tickets, a mysterious force (sometimes called "conscience") pulled me away. That, and I thought about my bank account. From there I thought I would find a place to sit and read in the fading sun as Austin's How To Do Things With Words fits my back pocket precisely. However, sensing the drop in temperature and feeling no sun to soak, a mysterious force (sometimes called "the internet") drew my inside Moffitt. And here I am, with the book in front of me and an empty computer lab around me. I told two upstanding young fellows I would "definitely" be going to the movies tonight and I feel a tad awkward about that but perhaps I simply felt like I'd seen too many movies over the weekend without fully processing any of them.

Thursday saw me travel into San Francisco to see Cassavetes' late, masterful work Love Streams at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' Screening Room. Brian Darr was in attendance and we shared some tired words on our walk to public transportation but really I was elated. I couldn't have expected to have seen such a joyful film. My expectations were to have my heart pummeled, not caressed. Which isn't to say the film is one jolly scene after another. No, it's still tough. But it's also hilarious, and tender. It spurred me on to write this text message, waiting on the BART platform: "U must see some Casavettes [sic]. Talk about joy and the affirmative life. I'm floating, drinking life here, in clouds." The amount of love on display, streaming, in this film is staggering. It made me think I would be willing to risk seeing all of the rest of his oeuvre ASAP, even the ones I have seen, since I think they will all play new, as if viewed for the first time, with different eyes, and a different heart. Then I remembered how I felt after Woman Under The Influence and the project went (rightly) on a back burner. I would like to see Love Streams again before I write any more about it. Suffice it to say, it warrants the praise it has earned, as has its maker.

Friday saw me take in a pair of new-Asian films at the PFA. More on that over at The House. [I can also say Friday also saw me accept a job offer, but that's about it for now.]

Saturday started with a matinée of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in downtown Berkeley. Overall I was impressed. Not as much as Walter Chaw, I don't think, but his review is pretty great. The girl who plays Luna, Evanna Lynch, is remarkable, and oddly adorable. The chemistry she and Harry (a much-improved and only improving Daniel Radcliffe) share is enough to make one wish they would end up together, despite all the obvious foreshadowing that Ginny is The Girl For The Boy Who Lived. Plus, it's always a delight to see all the famous British actors pop up for some fun. I think the set pieces will only be better in the sixth movie since director David Yates will be more familiar with the process. However, the FX still probably won't match those of Cuarón's third film because those were all there to serve the story. The FX here, while mostly stellar, are mostly window dressing. But more on that later, after the seventh book at week's end. [Saturday ended with a ton of dancing, which was fun.]

saffron robes

Sunday was mild, and highlighted by an encore showing of Syndromes and a Century. I would watch that movie again right now.

Monday was a writing day, but it had enough spare time for me to watch this week's episode of John From Cincinnati, which slayed me (as it did Keith). The simultaneity of the final ten minutes was breathtaking. So far, so good: the payoff here was well worth the previous weeks. Austin Nichols has the thankless title role and he's superb but it's really all about how Emily Rose pouts her way through hers that touches me. But, when you hear such a speech as this, it's hard not to go slack-jawed and, in the end, say with certainty, "Well. This was time well spent."

"If my words are yours, can you hear my Father? Can Bill know my Father, keeping his eye on me? Can I bone Kai and Butchie know my Father instead?

"My Father's shy doing his business. Kai helps my Father dump out. Bill takes a shot. Shaunie is much improved.

"Joe is a Doubting Thomas. Joe will save Not-Aleman. Joe will bring his buddies home. This is how Freddy relaxes. Cup-o'joe, and Winchell's variety dozen.

"Mitch catches a good wave. Mitch wipes out. Mitch wipes out Cissy. Cissy shows Butchie how to do that. Cissy wipes Butchie out. Butchie hurts Barry's head. Mister Rollins comes in Barry's face. My Father runs the Mega-Millions.

"Fur is big. Mud is big. The stick is big. The word is big. Fire is huge. The wheel is huge. The line and circle are big. On the wall, the line and circle are huge. On the wall, the man at the wall makes a man from the circle and line. The man at the wall makes a Word on the wall from the circle and line. The Word on the wall hears my Father.

"The zeroes and ones make the Word in Cass's camera. In the Word on the wall that hears my-Father-in-Cass's-camera, the good one Mitch catches doesn't wipe Cissy out. In the-Word-that-hears-my-Father, Cissy shows Butchie something else. In-my-Father's-Word, Cissy shows Butchie in Shaun. In-my-Father's-Word, Tina raises Shaun at lunch. In Cass's-camera, Butchie lays the court out for Barry, and Mister Rollins watches, and he doesn't come on Barry's face. In Cass's-camera, Butchie knows Kai kept the faith. In-my-Father's-Word, the Wave lifts them up.

"In Cass's camera, Bill doesn't bump his head on the stairs. In Cass's-camera, as long as he's being stupid, Bill gives Lois a kiss.

"In His-Word-in-Cass's-camera, the Internet is big. Nine-Eleven is big, but not every towel-head is eradicated. In His-Word, We are coming Nine-Eleven-Fourteen.

"In my-Father's-Word, Bill sees how Freddy relaxes. In Cass's-camera, Ramon wants to know who's hungry, in the courtyard and Room Forty-Five.

"In my-Father's-Word-to-come-in-Cass's-camera, Doctor Smith calls Ocean Properties. In Cass's-camera-to-come, my Father stares Not Aleman down, and Freddy sees Bill much-improved.

"You will not note my-Father's-Word, nor remember Cass's-camera, but you will not forget what we did here."

Tuesday, today, has been pretty good. I want to end it even better. So I'm going to go read, and maybe drink a beer or three. Then tomorrow I may finally write up my real reaction to Deadwood's second season. For now, enjoy that delovely opening credit sequence from Milch's new baby while I skeedaddle on out of here and catch my own point break.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We humans: Deadwood beauty (and a poem) for the evening.

by Ryland Walker Knight

From the Season One finale, "Sold Under Sin," my favorite moment thus far in the series, among many, involves Jewel and Doc, dancing at The Gem, to the new fucking piano while Al watches on, all the love in the world beaming down over his bar, his world, his dear ones. But it's the exchange between the foreground characters that really tears me apart:

Jewel: Say, "I'm as nimble as a forrest creature."
Doc: You're as nimble --as a forrest creature. [Al racks into focus in the background.]
Jewel: No... say it about yourself.
Doc: I'm. As nimble. As a forrest creature. [Focus racks back as the two laugh.]

Ryland wells up and sighs: We humans.

I didn't think I would share this but to tide us over until I can write out a proper, respectful tribute to the brilliant second season, which I finished last week, I offer a silly poem I wrote upon finishing that last episode, "Boy The Earth Talks To." I say silly because, well, it's a fucking poem about fucking Deadwood. Who am I? Did I really do that? Well, yes. And seriously, this shit is amazing. My friend said, in an email, "Its meaning has, regrettably, been narrowed to refer to the publicized donations of rich douchebags, but philanthropist is the cognate opposite of misanthrope; one who loves humanity." That's David Milch, if you ask me:

I cannot explain my heart
yet I persist across prose and in
the heretofore poesy of land
and, of bondage in trust, to say love
along your broadest passages: may
they yield tidings--vivacious fucking tidings!
For we humans persist amongst one another
as would trees, or dirt, or running water,
along time's cocksucker coarsities. We run
forward, forever, in vain hope planking
aspirations groove into groove eased
with whiskey and with tastings bittersweet
on the whole. We run forward bonded
to our others as is the forrest, as is the land, as is the river,
as are the planks and words we choose to
erect our boundaries and, and, and say our
peoples' union, bursting in flight away to the heavens
however earth-bound we remain.
However earth-bound we remain we run forward.
You allow it, abide it, assuage its wounds and
work angles congruent and variant to shift
yourself in the world to meet it.: you run forward with us.

Prospects of protection wash with waste past
the crosshatch and catch the current. But run.

I see the heart all round in eyes and other
appendages. I see your prospects linger and wash
and fall to embrace earth as well arms as well
technology's arrival. I see arrivals spell and spare too little
for us little in such shadows of promise and blood.
I see cocksuckers everywhere.

Running, bounded in light as in spirit, the
union will grow lofty and tenuous; time folds in
more than out, we forget. But run, and let us live
as we are now, however the path may fucking fork.

Death halts but tomorrow is another day for us alive
and running in the current tidings of time. Less we
believe, less we may remember: the promise does not halt
but persist, across it all, in colors whipped west by wind as much as water.
Or gold, or blood, or vices untold. We abide it all
somehow, here, in the warmth of the breast. Pound
the hardwood and the flesh and the porcelain, too, for we run
and burst ever on, forward, as one to oneself and as one to one
and as one all, cocksuckers everywhere.

More later, as ever, I promise. The fucking blogger photos suck, I know, but I'm too lazy to put up the photobooth ones like I normally do... you can trace the progress, right? You can taste the light, right? Enjoy it, your life. It's short.

Monday, July 09, 2007

33 films that shifted films for me.

by Ryland Walker Knight


Well, while eating my lunch I did some internet surfing. I went to my friend Sean's blog, The End of Cinema and saw his 30 favorite films of the moment. Then I followed his first link to the impetus for his post to one by Senor Emerson at Scanners (how goes it, dude?) where he names his 30 favoritest films (and others from a German mag called Steadycam). I'm mostly allergic to lists cuz they fix something that is forever unfixed but being a film geek on top of that I thought I'd play along, kinda. To combat my allergy I decided I would try to remember the thirty films (in some hazy chronological viewing order) that shifted my relationship to films or colored my understanding with a new hue. This way, the list will continue, right? Yeah, but it still could be wrong. Plus, it's not really all-time favorites, even though most pop up here. (If you want a hazy stab at that, I've got a YMDB list that I routinely re-order below the top three.) Anyways... let's give it a shot. Ready? Set. Go.


  1. Star Wars, Lucas, 01977 [Thank you UC Theatre and uncle Brad]
  2. Predator, McTiernan, 01987 [Kindergarten, baby!]
  3. Blade Runner, Scott, 01982 [1st grade? yeah...]
  4. Citizen Kane, Welles, 01941 [AMC _was_ cool]
  5. Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock, 01943
  6. Vertigo, Hitchcock, 01958
  7. Rear Window, Hitchcock, 01954 [all three of these were viewed on VHS back to back to back]
  8. Night of the Living Dead, Romero, 01968 [Paramount Theatre on Halloween; I learned what horseradish was, too]
  9. Road Warrior, Miller, 01981 [one of those VHS with the huge plastic packaging]
  10. GoodFellas, Scorsese, 01991 [middle school VHS days]

  11. da hoof

  12. Chinatown, Polanski, 01974 [UC? I think I bought it, not my dad]
  13. 2001, Kubrick, 01968 [silly tube tv only 21"]
  14. Pulp Fiction, Tarantino, 01994 [upstairs at the Cal, my dad had already seen it twice]
  15. The Graduate, Nichols, 01967 [Silver Screen Video]
  16. Manhattan, Allen, 01979 [AMC]
  17. The Conversation, Coppola, 01974 [SS]
  18. Lawrence of Arabia, Lean, 01962 [Paramount]
  19. The Thin Red Line, Malick, 01998 [opening day in LA with my mom, who really didn't like it; I've always loved it]
  20. Rushmore, Anderson, 01998 [opening day at the Shattuck]
  21. Magnolia, Anderson, 01999 [the fucking Oaks]

  22. dead end driver

  23. Mulholland Dr., Lynch, 02001 [three times in three days in downtown Berkeley then once more the next week in LA]
  24. McCabe & Mrs Miller, Altman, 01973 [what's this, a DVD?]
  25. 25th Hour, Lee, 02002 [downstairs at the Cal]
  26. The Rules of the Game, Renoir, 01939 [thanks, Criterion]
  27. In The Mood For Love, WKW, 02000 [ditto]
  28. Pierrot le fou, Godard, 01965 [PFA]
  29. The Sacrifice, Tarkovsky, 01986 [thanks, Allison]
  30. 2001, Kubrick, 01968 [yeah, it shifted again when I saw it in 70mm]
  31. The New World, Malick, 02005 [uptown, 150-minute cut, Allison and I wanted to walk all the way home we were so energized to be alive]
  32. Miami Vice, Mann, 02006 [well, really, at home on DVD is when it crystalized; but it had played on a loop in my brain the whole summer and fall after I saw it once, opening day, first showing, in SF at the AMC Van Ness]
  33. INLAND EMPIRE, Lynch, 02006 [two days in a row, downstairs at the Cal, alone and then with Cam; I cried both times; people have called me "gay"]
  34. The Awful Truth, McCarey, 01937 [Cavell seminar]
  35. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Anderson, 02004 [a lesson in humility]


And yet, even this feels inadequate a picture of my taste and its slow evolution. What about Bergman? Where's Casavettes? Where's Out 1? What about shit like Saving Silverman? Or the fucking Lord of the Rings? Claire Denis? Kieslowski? Reygadas? Antonioni? Motherfucker: Spielberg and Japanese films?! Jaws and Seven Samurai should probably be on the list, but I feel like I didn't even really see them for the films that they are until somewhere in the last five years (or less). That's the fucking problem with this shit, at least for me: I can never feel comfortable really trying to play by the rules and fix a set amount of anything to define me. Look at that silly blogger profile I've got! Where's the goddamned Preston Sturges on my list above? Why am I even this wound up about it all? Weird. Well, I said I would play along as best I could so there's that. Next?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Netflix Experiment #1: House of Sand

by Ryland Walker Knight


House of Sand would be something very special if it were not so sentimental. Some of its formal conceits are daring enough but the film does not follow through thanks to a few scenes of obvious emotional pandering and a sex scene that goes nowhere despite being kind of beautiful. That's the main problem with the picture on the whole: its visual sense is breathtaking, and the lead actresses (real-life mother and daughter pair) Fernanda Montenegro and Fernanda Torres are rather affective, but its emotional core feels bland instead of rapturous. I really wanted to like the movie, too, after its lunar opening shot (above) and the lack of spell-it-out exposition. For an epic about stasis it stays put and moves pretty well at the same time; it is alternately gorgeous and boring. And I've seen Woman in the Dunes, and I've seen an hourglass, and I love Antoinoni. But this movie, made by Andrucha Waddington (Torres' husband), is just a little too safe to be as good as it looks like it might turn out early on. It winds up playing more like lite Claire Denis, only not even that good (or oblique). There are a few good surprises that initially frustrate its structural tidiness, as when Montenegro winds up playing Torres' character later in the film, after about 20 years of elapsed time, but I knew exactly where everything was going the next minute, and it lived up to those previously-held expectations of procedural storytelling. The best thing it's got going for it aside from its photography and the central pairing of mother and daughter is its belief that the here and now is here and now forever, whether we like it or not. The idea of inheritance buried by time is kind of cool, too, but then it tries to undo that and transcend to the stars, which kind of feels like an about-face lie right there at the close. Once again, the shot is wondrous imagery but only half thought out. But I still qualify it as "kind of" because the one nugget of good payoff dialogue equates the moon with the sand-wrecked landscape of the title: time, at the end of the world, is the only constant. You can either play along or not but time is indifferent to you. See, that's cool, but obvious.

[Cuz it's too pretty to keep to myself, the final shot:]
waves of sand
waves of sand
waves of sand
waves of sand

[As the first member of this Netflix Experiment, finally, it went alright. I'm trying to be generous and I know it was kind of a lazy viewing/reading but I really think the immediacy of the project, from here on out, will be its best feature, and practice tool, for me. Expect better next time. Just needed to bang this one out so I could move on to the next one. I wonder: What's next?]

Return to the movies, return to the world: Ratatouille and Paprika at The House and some notes about me, as if you cared.

by Ryland Walker Knight

shared dream

[To read the essay, click here, and you will be forwarded to The House Next Door.]

02007: 110 minutes: written and directed by Brad Bird
02006: 90 minutes: dir. Satoshi Kon: written by Kon & Seishi Minakami, from a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui

[A large chunk of mostly unedited text from a late-night email to Keith about the essay, and my writing of late in general:]

I thought long and hard at certain points today about your advice about making sure this new authority I've assumed in my developing voice is all me and not simply a theory from elsewheres laid smack dab onto each new film I watch. I like to think it is all me. I'm just developing my skills to articulate myself better, to the point where I think I am comfortable with my work. I understand there's a certain strain of academia in my recent writings but I don't know if that's necessarily a bad thing. Also, I find it annoying that "academic" is a pejorative in the film criticism world, you know? I think I'm just trying to write thoughtful, engaged essays. I know it's a little more than what our developed audience at The House is looking for from time to time (ahem) but I also think my writing is pretty easy to follow -- pretty readable -- despite it's, uh, "headiness" as you put it.

This is also why I've basically stopped work on the "Ryland's Repertory Corner" column ideas: My whole approach to criticism has been evolving at a more and more rapid rate since returning to school and I think I've simply found what it is I find limiting and unsatisfying about some of my earlier works, and other critics I like, too. That is, what I want to avoid. And what I want to proffer in response.

As I've said elsewhere, I really didn't start thinking to write anything about movies -- anything critical period outside schoolwork -- until I moved to New York in Fall 05: after buying _The Life Aquatic_ and realizing there was more going on there than I'd given it credit for, I wrote about 1000 words in a document titled "why i paid full price for a dvd of the life aquatic". Then I started posting things on the film geek board where I met Steve and then I started to spill over onto my blogspot address with the _Superman_ thing. And from there I've only ever expanded my horizons. It's been a wild year since that _Superman_ thing. I've grown a lot in the writing and in my life. And I think I've only gotten better.

[Dr. Chiba is the missing ingredient. Make fun all you want, this shit is amazing.]