Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Viewing Log #74: Eyebrows up [2/14/11 - 2/21/11]

by Ryland Walker Knight


  • PRINCE AT THE ORACLE I lost my voice, I danced myself some kind of clean, I felt three kinds of emotions for three different people beside me, I felt other emotions for people not beside me, I laughed, I was happy to be alive. A unique night indeed.
  • The Leopard [Luchino Visconti, 1963] So, as some may know, I left at intermission. I'd fallen asleep about eight different times and all I knew when the house lights came up was that Burt liked to fuck and Alain lost an eyeball. Figured I was missing something. So I left. I stepped outside and that bright San Francisco sun, the kind you only see when it's 48 degrees outside, met me like a meal and I walked over to a bar with a good window full of that light and I read more Pnin and I laughed out loud and I drank a beer and I felt happy with my choices.

  • Unstoppable [Tony Scott, 2010] # Still as pure as the day I saw it, only this time I was more attuned to certain sociological lenses brought to bear by some of my friends (or just one friend in particular), which I don't exactly vibe with since I think it's a victory that it's about the working class. Sad that's a victory, and weird that an abusive husband (he didn't hit her but he was sure wrong) is our main point of identification, but, still: this movie looks and moves and feels better to watch than just about any action movie of late.
  • Slings and Arrows First Season, episodes 1-3 [Peter Wellington, 2003] Written and acted better than it's shot/edited, but such is the pratfall of a lot of TV; point is that it's conceptually rather perfect, sometimes poignant and I want to see the backstory unfold. It's on Instant.

  • Pneuma [Nathaniel Dorsky, 1983, 29 mins @ 18fps] Kinda like a drone album without the sound! Certainly, it was gorgeous. But I'm not so certain it needed its length. There was something biological about the energy within the frame in this one, with all those motes dancing and colliding and after-image-ing on my retinae, which is maybe what Dorsky meant when he said he was trying to be as humane to and with the film as possible. (Without humans, without figures.)
  • Metal Cravings [Elise Hurwitz, 1990–1997, 5 mins] Brian made an interesting point: though this paint-with-emulsion chemistry game was obviously the product of elements brewed, it felt biological.
  • Light Shaft [Vincent Grenier, 1975, 8 mins] Something of an obvious parallel to how cinema works in a theatre but I do love windows (they're eyes!) and I love the shifts of light caught here from rather simple tools and execution. As with all the films of the evening, this one lives by its breath, its rhythms; that is, when it allows you a breath. Which is an odd thing to say about something so fixed on an image of vision. Which makes me think blinks are the eyes breathing.
  • Soundtrack [Barry Spinello, 1969, 10 mins] Really funny. Inventive use of paint to make images into sound in a material way. (That's the whole point, btw, since Spinello painted the same images within the frame as on the soundtrack to do some hilarious synesthesiac rhythms.)
  • XFilm [John Schofill, 1968, 14 mins] Dug the dreamlike associative patterns and the doubling/tripling/quadrupling of some images, but the logic wasn't exactly dreamlike nor was it structured all that tight. In fact, the factory of dreams idea was a little on-the-nose. That said, I also liked how somber the film felt. For such a figurative film, it's surprising the affect was the organizing force, not the repetition of certain forms.
  • Stroboscopic Images [Dion Vign√©, 1964, 6 mins] Again, nice to see some old versions of things that are now somewhat commonplace but the music, I thought, dated it a bit too easily. Or maybe that was the Belson.
  • Allures [Jordan Belson, 1961, 9 mins] Kitschy, almost, at this late date. But still great fun to look at if only because my fatigue and inability to breath all that well made me feel like I was on painkillers.
  • Obmaru [Patricia Marx, 1953, 4 mins] Honestly? Can't tell you what this one was like.

  • Blue Valentine [Derek Cianfrance, 2010] Michelle Williams' Cindy is as woefully underwritten as Ryan Gosling is attractive and she winds up a walled-off villain given this imbalance. Seems unfair. Especially with that sideways inclusion of her total sexual partners tally, which is nothing if not unnecessary as it's just another knock against her and her judgment skills since, given the setting this is relayed within, it is way too easily a magic marker writing the word "slut" on the screen. Instead of "woman" or, you know, "human." Still worth seeing, though, if only for Gosling's absurd charm and some of the rather beautiful images.



  1. Wait, so was that your first time seeing The Leopard? Or had you seen it already before?

  2. Cianfrance was the DP on one of my favorite films, Streets of Legend, which, as directed by Joey Curtis, shows a lot more insight into "girls" than it sounds like Cianfrance does here.