Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Endless odds on the eternal

by Ryland Walker Knight

le cochon

Given my proclivity to waste time, it shouldn't surprise that every now and again I'll do just that and make lists, or obsess over details of a list, and try my damnedest to craft the best representation of my tastes as possible. It's a fool's game, no doubt. It kills the clock in ways I shouldn't allow it to, but nevertheless do allow. So I figured with all the investment I've put into these things the past week, even in the past twenty-four, I thought I'd go ahead and re-link to my VINYL IS FAVORITES page and my Auteurs profile, which has that incomplete-but-still-fun-to-tinker-with list-maker of favorite auteurs. Further, it was a year ago, roughly, that I launched that FAVORITES catch-all. So what more "excuse" do I need to say, "Look at this!" Now, on this alarmingly cold morning, I'll gear up because, as ever, I should try to get a run in.

should try to get a run in

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vinyl is heavy and Vitti is forever #9

by Ryland Walker Knight

he really knows how to use paint
—Look anywhere, it's there.

Viewing Log #13: Slobber somehow [9/21/09 - 9/27/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—Money talks

  • Ashes of Time Redux [WKW, 1994/2008] Started this a couple nights prior but was gladly interrupted by two fun-loving phone calls. Started over, fitting WKW, and felt the slow-mo, loss-hardened fronts enough; the fights were fun flurries of blur and I dig the literal adventure of perception with "the good" Tony Leung, but I get why, um, certain friends tossed out the "snoozer" label; further, it's not made for laptop viewing, nor even a 32-inch tube television. It desires size.

  • La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento [Jacques Rivette, 1991] As with Spectre, Rivette adopts the interruption, practicing a kind of cinematic enjambment, that distills and skews the original with a brisker rhetoric. And it becomes even less about painting. But it's still about objects, and forms, and the nowhere/anywhere zone of the artist. Birkin is forever fab.
  • The Golden Coach [Jean Renoir, 1953] Flabbergastingly abstract, oddly enough, despite its head-on and up-front theatricality. A few scant lines of dialogue pitch the project a tad more pointed than necessary, but, as ever with le maitre, it can't fully (truly? ever?) go wrong. Anna Magnani demands her space, and owns it. There's about five books of theory waiting to be unpacked in this phaeton of ornaments and luster. Good grief this is fantastic.

  • Go Go Tales [Abel Ferrara, 2007] Whirligig desperation and lots of flesh—always on the go—paint an increasingly cramped space with affective (and endearing) verve for expression and for dreams and for our fight for passion in the face of commerce-capitalism. Dogs, too, get crucial roles.
  • Home from the Hill [Vincente Minnelli, 1960] Watched with Annie, DVR'd off TCM, because she names it as her favorite movie, tied with Tender Mercies, and, shucks: it's pretty good. Broad, maybe, and now-a-days hokey, but more complicated than it lets on. Nothing to rival the final reel of Some Came Running, but certain shots linger, like the black kids in the shadows watching the decadent bar-b-q; or the sulphur valley of yellow kept at bay, but only so; or the way Peppard ambles through the grocery store, juggling. Mitchum, too, of course, is strong as ever: some tower of pride fighting the world and its image of him.

  • Sunrise [F.W. Murnau, 1927] # For an image essay at The Auteurs about the beautiful new Masters Of Cinema double disc I was lucky enough to get gaga over.
  • Le Coup de Berger [Jacques Rivette, 1956] What a fun, sad little film. All those movements up, the camera as vertical as horizontal, only to pin these people down—to lock our lady in her place. It would be devastating were it not for the clockwork pacing and cut'm-loose attitude. Chess, they say, is a game for adults.

  • The Southerner [Jean Renoir, 1945] Terrible DVD, great film. Zachary Scott's something of a liability, though he's pretty, but the same warmth shines through all of le maitre's images. Way more southern, and true, than many American-directed "versions" (like, say, Gone With The Wind) of the south, no doubt. For one, it's about people, not ideas. For another, when the going gets tough, it doesn't look like set dressing: it looks like the world.

  • Entre les murs [Laurent Cantet, 2008] An especially fun film for a language nut like me. It's typical, maybe, but I loved it. The formal structure is seamless, despite its crowded frames, and the film/Cantet/Bégaudeau understands pedagogy as a blur of navigation and negotiation—as a chaos, even, as Mark wrote earlier in the year—spurred by language's promiscuity. It's not romantic, nor dry: Cantet complicates the image's desire for the real, as characters-students-teachers-forms never ossify like the walls that surround them, and life bullies forward. Also, time flies.

flesh is flesh
words make meanings without images

Friday, September 25, 2009

We Live OK: 9 Selections, 09.09

by Ryland Walker Knight

pink lady
—blame blur

lil dog, big glasses
upside down
—rocks right sides

had at
behind it

apple cobbler
—hot on the cobb

don't think
work out after dark
—patch'd, deck'd + gass'd

Whistle while you widget

by Ryland Walker Knight

bud ice
I don't have a license to sell you these.

After reading Shoals' relaunch of the FD widget earlier today, I asked him if he thought I'd do well to follow suit and bring some Amazonian presence back to my sidebar. The chat, though quick, was thorough, or thorough enough, and lead to the inevitable "Why not?" conclusion. It doesn't look too tacky, and if I make a feature out of it, writing little blurbs every now and again, maybe you'll be so kind as to start your Amazon purchases here, at VINYL IS HEAVY, so we (that is, I) can get a teeny-tiny kick-back every month. You know the drill: every bit helps in this economy! The occasional link here and there—and my old suggestion buttons at the bottom of the old sidebar in the old layout—brought in some unexpected and welcome beer money, and now that we're getting more eyes than ever, I thought, why not take up that old shameless shilling tag and put it to good use.

For our first batch of recommendations, we have some obvious VINYL favorites. And, note, that even if you don't buy any of these items, and buy something else, like, say, Gossip Girl Season 1 on DVD, you'll still be helping out if you start here. Thus, in no particular order, here's what we're hocking/highlighting:

hold our hands
hold his hand

  • The New World: The Extended Cut on Blu-Ray. I don't have a Blu-Ray player, or a PS3, but if I did this would be the first disc I'd buy because, as many of you may know, it's one of my favorite movies ever, and possibly my second-favorite film of this decade we're ending. It's gorgeous. And the disc is super cheap, which is a bonus. You can read more of my thoughts back at The House Next Door.

  • Stanley Cavell's The World Viewed, which I lost only two weeks into the new year on an A-train back to Bed-Stuy from a screening of the mostly-skipped-over California Dreamin, which is a fine little film that my buddy Keith Uhlich likes a great deal. At any rate, Cavell's book is seminal for my thinking. And I've leaned on it, not Bazin, for much of my ontological thoughts about the image. Here's our Stanley Cavell tag.

  • Manuel Göttsching's E2-E4, which I first mentioned in the first-ever convergence back on Feb 28th, 2009. It's a bit pricey, since it's only available as an import, but, man, it's something special. The beginnings of so much cool stuff, including LCD Soundsystem's indelible 45:33 mix (according to Wikipedia).

  • Arthur Russell's Love is Overtaking Me, which was compiled and released last year, which I made mention of back at this post. If you're feeling blue, or you want someone to touch you in your ears on your way inside, to your heart, maybe, then give this long-player a spin. The title track alone is worth the world.

  • The one, the only, the massive, the hilarious: Don Quixote. I've been reading Edith Grossman's translation for a couple months now thanks to a gift from my dad and, boy, this thing is a hoot. Sure, it's big and it'll eat up your time, and you'll be committing to an undertaking, but don't think of it that way: think of all the jokes you get on every page, in every sentence. And Grossman's translation is rightly renowned for its readability (and footnotes).

godard is a liar, but i'm not
—Sure do love you out there!

Convergence for her folding up and molding frown (9/25/09)

by Ryland Walker Knight


—Hands and sheets, a body dotted

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vinyl is heavy and Vitti is forever #8

by Ryland Walker Knight

making up
—Making it up in down time, and feeling far

Viewing Log #12: Ply Your Hand Much Lighter [9/14/09 - 9/20/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—Misdirection, always.

  • Paris nous appartient [Jacques Rivette, 1960] No wonder he didn't get famous right away: this is a bleak bit of minor key orchestration-condemnation. Not only are we pawns, but we're imbeciles complicit in apocalypse as we search for understanding. Such a tragic metaphysical hermeneutics.

  • Woman Is The Future of Man [Sang-soo Hong, 2003] I fell asleep shortly after the dudes get lunch, but, as with the other Hong film I've seen, Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, I dug the patience and the sense of humor. Will definitely finish this one.
  • The Forest for the Trees [Maren Ade, 2003] Only the first 20 minutes. Couldn't handle it. Adrian is right: sides-of-a-coin with Happy-Go-Lucky. I'm terrified of what comes after what I saw. Maybe I'll work up to it some strong day.

  • La Belle Noiseuse [Jacques Rivette, 1991] Simply amazing. Would love to share more thoughts. But, as is, I'm stunned to silence except for hints. Last time this happened was with Esther Kahn. It's a real phenomenological film: you see thought inscribe itself. RW did a fine job laying out some of the film's mysteries and delights in a recent post you can find here. Makes me think, more and more, that Rivette is the great feminist director—without even aiming for that kind of title or claim. —More smart things from the horse's mouth, translated by David Phelps.

  • Paris nous appartient [Jacques Rivette, 1960] I got through about half before I fell asleep. Just past that walk though the night, into a new cynicism about the structures of this friend group—this network, this complicit pattern of neglect and discretion and secrecy.

the hand

Saturday, September 19, 2009


by Steven Boone

summer drek

2009 is the year I quit film criticism for the fourth or fifth time. It was sort of like the local crazy homeless guy quitting his post as honorary mayor of the corner. Big whoop. I keep coming back to the block, hoping somebody heard my cry of doom and responded accordingly. The cry goes something like this: Cinema as a popular art form has lost the fundamentals that make its expensive products worth our time. Critics, content that a stubborn minority of classically trained filmmakers still endure at the arthouse and on the festival circuit, happily chalk up the disaster at the multiplex as Other People’s Problem. In other words, caviar for us, scraps for the rabble. It's the blithe attitude of Whole Foods shoppers toward the Food Stamp set, and it's disgusting.

[To read the full article, full of polemic and full of fire, click here to get your snatch on at Boone's baby, BIG MEDIA VANDALISM. ]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A conjunction of quotations #6

— edited by Ryland Walker Knight

hold it in your hand
Tropical Malady

To light a candle is to cast a shadow.
Ursula K Le Guin

One had a lovely face
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain
Because the mountain grass
Cannot but keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.
W.B. Yeats

But in Monkey Business the enemy has crept into man himself: the subtle poison of the Fountain of Youth, the temptation of infantilism. This we have long known to be one of the less subtle wiles of the Evil One — now in the form of a hound, now in the form of a monkey — when he comes up against a man of rare intelligence. And it is the most unfortunate of illusions which Hawks rather cruelly attacks: the notion of adolescence and childhood as barbarous states from which we are rescued by education. The child is scarcely distinguishable from the savage he imitates in his games: and a most distinguished old man, after he has drunk the precious fluid, takes delight in imitating a chimp. One can find in this a classical conception of man, as a creature whose only path to greatness lies through experience and maturity; at the end of his journey, it is his old age which will be his judge.
Jacques Rivette

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the boy. I have you.
Cormac McCarthy

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.

Just fucking do it! Otherwise you'll find yourself in some medieval war zone in the Caucasus with your arse in the air, trying to persuade a group of men in balaclavas that sustained sexual violence is not the fucking way forward!
Malcolm Tucker

You don't let somebody lie when you know they're lying; you call them a liar!
George Costanza

It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most un-teachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none. Yet there is the dictionary; there at our disposal are some half-a-million words all in alphabetical order. But can we use them? No, because words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind. Look once more at the dictionary. There beyond a doubt lie plays more splendid than Antony and Cleopatra; poems lovelier than the Ode to a Nightingale; novels beside which Pride and Prejudice or David Copperfield are the crude bunglings of amateurs. It is only a question of finding the right words and putting them in the right order. But we cannot do it because they do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady's reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.
Virginia Woolf

We live today in a world where most of the really important developments in everything from math and physics and astronomy to public policy and psychology and classical music are so extremely abstract and technically complex and context-dependent that it’s next to impossible for the ordinary citizen to feel that they (the developments) have much relevance to her actual life. Where even people in two closely related sub-sub-specialties have a hard time communicating with each other because their respective s-s-s’s require so much special training and knowledge. And so on. Which is one reason why pop-technical writing might have value (beyond just a regular book-market $-value), as part of the larger frontier of clear, lucid, unpatronizing technical communication. It might be that one of the really significant problems of today’s culture involves finding ways for educated people to talk meaningfully with one another across the divides of radical specialization. That sounds a bit gooey, but I think there’s some truth to it. And it’s not just the polymer chemist talking to the semiotician, but people with special expertise acquiring the ability to talk meaningfully to us, meaning ordinary schmoes. Practical examples: Think of the thrill of finding a smart, competent IT technician who can also explain what she’s doing in such a way that you feel like you understand what went wrong with your computer and how you might even fix the problem yourself if it comes up again. Or an oncologist who can communicate clearly and humanly with you and your wife about what the available treatments for her stage-two neoplasm are, and about how the different treatments actually work, and exactly what the plusses and minuses of each one are. If you’re like me, you practically drop and hug the ankles of technical specialists like this, when you find them. As of now, of course, they’re rare. What they have is a particular kind of genius that’s not really part of their specific area of expertise as such areas are usually defined and taught. There’s not really even a good univocal word for this kind of genius—which might be significant. Maybe there should be a word; maybe being able to communicate with people outside one’s area of expertise should be taught, and talked about, and considered as a requirement for genuine expertise.…
David Foster Wallace

Watching movies on a screen and then reading about them on the same screen is a depressing system to live under. Reading should be a respite from watching; it’s different from watching movies on a screen, even if movies are a form of writing, too. Movies should complement reading, and vice versa. Now they’re being collapsed into the same thing, into television, which makes them into work and not fun. Computers are what we stare into at work. I don’t want to be chained to a device like a heart patient or a rechargeable handyvac. One form should remain different from the other in order to comment on it productively, and that can’t happen if they’re both continuously dripped into us in the form of publicity.
A.S. Hamrah

We affirm that all sociological and institutional speculations about the audience for the arts must be abandoned. Sociology, and criticism itself, is only and always the auxiliary of Western democracy. Art should not have to worry about its clientele. It is inflexibly addressed to all, and this address has no empirical meaning. Art is made, says what it makes, makes what it says, according to its own discipline, and without consideration for the interests of anyone. This is what I call its proletarian aristocracy: an aristocracy exposed to the judgement of all. The great French director Antoine Vitez had a lovely expression to designate the art of the theatre. He said: “elitist for all.” “Proletarian” designates what, in each, through the discipline of work, belongs to generic humanity. “Aristocratic” designates what is protected, in each, from any evaluation by the average, the majority, similarity, or imitation.
Alain Badiou

Well you have to remember most movies are made for 16-year-old boys. Maybe that’s changing, but 16-year-old boys have truly had a poor education. Really the point is that people want to make too much money. If you want to make a movie that’s going to make a $100 million, you need all those 16-year-old boys and their dates. You have to start saying, “How do you think smaller?” ...

Let me ask you something. To simply actually stop. I’m just taking this “Your call is important to us” thing as an example because, having visited a large corporation, some executive is getting a $100 million a year and saving money not giving some woman a job for $30,000 a year. And he says we don’t want to take the shareholders’ money. And you say, well, you pay it, deduct it. But there’s no way to enforce that. We all know that that’s true, we all know that that’s bad, and we all know that there’s something about the tiny things in life happening to you that devalues you, that lessens you, that makes you numb. You have to become more and more numb not to get offended. ... But it seems to me, at some point what you really want to say is I won’t deal with a company that doesn’t have a real operator. For one day, I’ll make them lose that much money. For one day, I won’t go to a bookstore where the guy says, “Huh, I don’t know.” For one day I won’t say, it’s so hard. I won’t run home to a rerun of Cheers, I can’t bother with it. For one day, you’ll take the trouble to make trouble for someone else, because it’s the only thing that keeps you from getting sick, from sort of retreating. I think that’s what dumbing-down kind of is. It’s too much trouble. And there is such a thing as too much trouble. ...

So with all of that, you really do start with tiny crimes. I think they’re like crimes, they’re like little insults that you get all the time.
Elaine May

All of us are, by nature, wild beasts. Our duty as human beings is to become like trainers who keep their animals in check, and even teach them to perform tasks alien to their bestiality.
Ton Nakajima

The most careless girl in the class had the most exquisite body,
the constant proximity of which exhausted us,
not least because her awkwardness,
so unlike ours, manifested itself as a license
to kick off all consciousness of her limbs
like a branch one smacks out of one's face
in the woods in an act of defiance, almost contempt,
whose ironic outcome was the deepest inhabitation
of flesh I have ever seen. It was through her body
that I wanted to pass close to the bodies of the boys.
She would take me home with her and all but throw me
into the dark dynamics of her empty-seeming household,
which I felt to be hung with heavily stitched draperies
that concealed not only the rooms but the beings inside.
She took me there and spun me into her weird intimacy
in which my own self-consciousness was a pestering
insect— stupid, negligible. She would speak to people, to men,
to anyone in the streets and walk just as quickly off,
implicating me in the desire she aroused,
her uncontainability streaking through me a blazing
trail of lights from high in the whitest part of my head
down into my lungs, my entrails,
the part of me that wasn't breathing.
Erica Ehrenberg

But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
George Eliot

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Convergence for your totem trials (9/17/09)

by Ryland Walker Knight

la belle noiseuse

ne touchez pas la hache
—Everybody's got a noiseuse.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vinyl is heavy and Vitti is forever #7

by Ryland Walker Knight

eye spy
—Looking through you

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Viewing Log #11: I will drive us into the woods [9/7/09 - 9/13/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

not escaped
not at rest

  • Code 46 [Michael Winterbottom, 2003] # Samantha Morton is my wife. Or, she's just perfect at this bruised thing. The most poignant sex scene in movies?
  • Suspiria [Dario Argento, 1977] Couldn't finish it, or start over, when I realized my eyes weren't lying last night: the DVD Netflix sent me is some half-assed non-mastered bullshit that looks like VHS. Will have to wait for the next time it screens theatrically since all I'm getting from this thing right now is color and The Goblins—and if half of that is blanched and degraded, no thanks.

  • In The Cut [Jane Campion, 2003] # A revelation. A totally different, more complex movie than the one I saw in 2003. (Or, you know, I'm different.) Now I see plenty about being othered and threats of skepticism—and, um, gendered trust issues—that were beyond me before. Also, I had a couple of pretty awesome, in-depth talks about it before (enticing) and after (enriching) this second viewing. And, yes, it's sexy. Maybe, though, the wrong thing to watch before bedtime.
  • Suspiria [Dario Argento, 1977] Started this and fell asleep shortly after the maggots, somehow, despite all that wailing.
  • The Rainmaker [Francis Ford Coppola, 1997] # More rainy day do-nothing cable vision. But this one was better, tho equally dated and moderately maudlin, because of FFC's patience and crisp image-making. Quite a corporate movie, in any case, which seems fitting. Damon's got terrible hair and this is prime Jon Voight scene-gobbling.
  • 12 Monkeys [Terry Gilliam, 1995] # So 1995 it's wild, and, really, just not as smart as it wants to be. I tweeted about this to some displeasure.

  • La Religieuse [Jacques Rivette, 1966] Finished this. Wow: liberty is falling out of the world? Tough stuff. And, as ever, a perfectly "closed" and "pure" mise-en-scene that keeps things conceptual, no matter the brute and stark (physical) soul-pillaging unfolding in the frame. Karina is amazing, devoted.

  • Gloria [John Cassavetes, 1980] # As I noted, I fell asleep shortly into the watch instantly viewing. Gena is kind of my hero, too, and I'm a boy.
  • La Religieuse [Jacques Rivette, 1966] The first twenty minutes or so. Crazy theatrical. Quick take: want to see how it plays off Ne Touchez Pas La Hache and its irony, its repression.
  • La Bête Humaine [Jean Renoir, 1938] Hastily, drowzily: more noire than bête, it's a fittingly anxious downer that begins in a furnace and plows nose-first into the grave, sooty future. It's best in wordless process, documenting the grime of the job, which becomes any job—plain labor's crud—turning me around a query: perhaps its narrative drive (its locomotion) is too psychological? The score, always operatic, undercuts that, though.

  • Le Crime de M. Lange [Jean Renoir, 1936] Since I don't know much about history's specifics (most especially a timeline), I don't want to take the obvious allegorical/political reading too far. Better to trumpet the fluid camera, the charm of each character, the celebratory dinner that ambles out into the crime, the document of a banding bonding. Another "best movie ever."
  • L'avventura [Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960] # For Mike, for this. Watching it again makes me feel like I've grown up a lot since the last time (somewhere in early 2006). We men may be evil, but I'd say the circuit of complicity fits. Still, after all that horseplay, I'd never expect a caress like that.

I love you
marry me
—Let's see how good a kissers we are

Convergence for our open mouths (9/13/09)

by Ryland Walker Knight

there you go

the shot
—Earning an earful (?/!)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Battle for the light!

by Ryland Walker Knight

"Fireworks" by Animal Collective
video directed by Jon Leone

A couple years ago, Animal Collective released Strawberry Jam on this date. Some people, however, like me, already had the album thanks to the internet. Perversely, Jam was overshadowed by Panda Bear's Person Pitch, which came out the spring beforehand and, as far as I could tell or vaguely remember, kept cresting a (deserved) wave of critical adoration for a long while. Though getting annoyed at the continued devotion to Person Pitch, which I know some fans peg as "the best," is pointless, it still probably colors the fact that Jam is my favorite Animal Collective album. But, hangups aside, this group effort is the best sequenced album they've put together, always a make-or-break element with these dudes, and the most poignant for me. It's been getting a lot of air time this summer. Specifically, that middle pair of perfect ("For Reverend Green" helicopters into "Fireworks") keeps circling around my head, sending me into silly spins of contradictory emotions, making me dance with the door closed or reaching for that stretch just a little harder after a run.

So I went and found this video for "Fireworks" (again? I can't remember) and got obsessed with it independent of the song. When I said I was going to write about it, Martha asked, "What can you say about that video other than it's pretty?" Well, I don't really have much more, but, I do have some ideas about structure and repetition; about this as pop avant-garde filmmaking (see Kevin and Brandon's work at Moving Image Source for more concrete examples); about how cool it is to collage images on top of such a produced, layered soundtrack; about the joy of light bursting and drifting across the image; about fireworks' ephemera, like the fleeting kick of a pop song; about summer nights scaring babies with noise; about the fun of making art with friends; about the perceptual problems of music videos and how we've become accustomed to confusion; about step-printing; about the fade of memory, how it passes us by. I guess it's all about time: it falls away. Also, the song is all about those kinds (all kinds) of limits, which helps. One of the limits that pangs the deepest is the limit to our ability to step outside ourselves and let go of hurt in order to enjoy the bright spectacle of the world—that we have to fight for our fun.

Though on the global scale there has been little to celebrate in the past eight years, and a heart hangs heavy on this date no matter one's will to happiness, I think we each have plenty to memorialize with smiles today. If anything, if we indeed think of each day as a miracle, we can thank the rain that we wake up every morning. Every morning brings new light. The trick is to find your prism and fill your room with the refractions. To take pleasure in the private, the ordinary, the everyday accomplishments like brushing your teeth. The big stuff always stands out. What makes Animal Collective such a fun, dear musical act to a goof like me is that they're all about bombast and explosion—a real overflowing of life—but they sing about such little things. It's just that their puns and metaphors make it all bigger. Because the quotidian is important but reduction is never the goal; the goal is to take delight in every little thing, to build a better picture, to give rise to a fuller world. This song, and its video, help me with that. So, you know, never forget. I know you won't; you can't. Today is too big. Thank God it's Friday this year. Have a happy weekend! Go outside and dance with the sky!

[Don't forget about Mapping Monica!]

L'avventura: Mapping Monica

by Ryland Walker Knight

Seeing as this masterpiece is next week's Metro Classic and it stars VINYL's beloved Monica Vitti, Mike commissioned an image essay from yours truly to help sell the event. I was more than happy to oblige. You can see the work both at the Classics Blog or at VINYL IS IMAGES. My essay, however, doesn't quite address the theme of the series/week (as Mike laid out back here), nor does it address its own problem of fetishizing Ms Vitti, though Antonioni clearly has the same problem despite attacking men's lust and, yup, their proclivity to objectify women—even women they love, or think they love. Worst, I fear, is the picture of men treating women as disposable or interchangeable. It's not exactly a happy picture, if you, by some odd luck, haven't seen it and happen to be reading this blog. However, downer though it may be, it sure is pretty. And, of course, so is she. So, if this bit of furtive associations about space and faces (of one face) winds up enticing, and you live in Seattle: please, by all means, go see the film on a big screen with loud speakers. Otherwise, wait patiently for that new print that debuted at Cannes to make the art-house rounds. Again: click here to see my map.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Convergence for his patsy hands (9/9/09)

by Ryland Walker Knight

la bete humaine

—can't get the stink off

Monday, September 07, 2009

Vinyl is heavy and Vitti is forever #6

by Ryland Walker Knight

not a mirror
—not a mirror

Viewing Log #10: Tally up the alley cat aggression [8/31/09 - 9/6/09]

by Ryland Walker Knight

—Enter the void.

  • Nickelodeon [Peter Bogdanovich, 1976] Before I fell asleep I was enjoying this goofy run-on sentence of an homage. It's got the right tone, even if, Barry Lyndon aside, I often feel Ryan O'Neal is a rather tone-deaf performer. I probably won't make an extreme effort to see the second hour.
  • Le Pont du Nord [Jacques Rivette, 1981] I've been watching this in pieces, just as I've been reading Don Quixote kind of slowly. This picture is more grim, though it has its laughs. And it has plenty to marvel at, like the spiderweb gun or the eye-slashing bit with Pascale attacking posters.

  • Little Murders [Alan Arkin, 1971] Motherfucker this movie is dark. And hilarious. And smart. Gould has to be one of the greatest, coolest actors ever. Arkin's cameo is insane, a gut buster. Thought of Charlie Kaufman a lot, and I almost want to watch Synecdoche again, somehow.
  • Boudu Saved From Drowning [Jean Renoir, 1932] Watched it twice, and it's kind of perfect, a film teeming with contradictions, with activity abutting stability. But I don't think it's as simple as freedom is the disregard for appearance. I think it's bigger, it's a process and a river; freedom is to not ignore the bank along your float.

  • The Princess Bride [Rob Reiner, 1987] # I guffawed twice, and generally smiled. Andre The Giant is great, maybe perfect; Faulk can do no wrong. It's so easy.
  • The Lower Depths [Jean Renoir, 1936] It fits: if Gabin is a pauper king, Jouvet is a royal bum. Despite the perpetually open world, there's always something dropping out from beneath people in a Renoir film. Further, the fairy tale of these worlds (still "realist") only opens one happy ending and its invariably clouded, however ebullient. Maybe the weakest I've seen, but it holds life all the same. Lots of mobility.

  • The Story of Marie and Julien [Jacques Rivette, 2003] Watched it twice in two days. Wanted to pay better attention to that cat, and how the clocks were used. Also, Béart is really great on top of really great looking. Not sure if it can equal Duelle or Noroit, though it has a delicious ending.

  • Grand Illusion [Jean Renoir, 1937] # Made me want to just watch Renoir films for a little while. Talk about timing, and teams, and a screen teeming. Still, I get the feeling he's better than this elsewhere (besides Rules).

escargot my car go
I work on what I love, I work the service on my vertince
And I work till this here little flat line closes the curtains