Sunday, October 31, 2010

Viewing Log #57: The rest of October

by Ryland Walker Knight

BluRio 1
—Words to live by, baby

  • Eastbound & Down [S2E6, David Gordon Green, 2010] An attempt to sweep away some of the mean spiritedness of the previous episodes that gets by on the hilarity of certain foibles and the sheer audacity of the racism. This can't end well.
  • Boardwalk Empire "Home" [Allen Coulter, 2010] Boring, poorly written, bathetic to no end.
  • Bucket of Blood [Roger Corman, 1959] The way a B picture should be made: with laughs, with a twisted idea for horror that makes bodies a source of revulsion, and art.

  • Rio Bravo [Howard Hawks, 1959] # Sometimes I think it's the best movie ever. And, I'm easily a part of the camp that loves Hawks because most of the movies are about the guys, hanging in a hang zone, helping define friendship. But all the films have women who can hold their own, as does Angie Dickinson here, and there's such respect for all the minorities on the sidelines; people are just people in Hawks. Oh, and this song is pretty great.

  • Spread [David Mackenzie, 2009] I like what I.V. wrote here. Weird, though, to make a career of deflating what "love" can mean to dumb people yet without any kind of high-and-mighty Creator judgments. The project is admirable, in a way, but equally suspect given all that attention to explicit sex. The best thing about those scenes, though, isn't the fact that there's flesh galore but that each piece (of ass?) is about how these characters are relating to each other. But, when your protagonists are mostly idiots, the "lessons" such as they are can be rather simple and predictable. In any case, Kutcher is perfect. Never thought I'd say that. But it definitely comes with the caveat that he's perfect at being despicable for most of the movie, and then perfect as a punchline at its end.

  • The second half of season three of The Sopranos [David Chase?, 2002] # is no less brutal and often yet more hilarious, with Ralphie as one of the greatest villains ever, and with Tony acting ever more the pent up jerk. Watching the series now, with some distance, it's so much clearer to me just how bad Tony is, how great at being a sociopath he is even this close to the beginning.

Bucket of Blood
—Please remove your hat

Monday, October 25, 2010

Viewing Log #56: October highlights so far

by Ryland Walker Knight

  • Jackass 3D [Jeff Tremaine, 2010] Despite more full cock shots, less queer than the other 2, and especially the better parts of 2, which is my favorite of the trilogy. The most curious thing in the flick is just how little they seem to enjoy the process besides Knoxville and WeeMan. Steve-O, in particular, looks to be only going through the motions. But, still, I laughed so hard my nose began to run.
  • Eastbound & Down [Jody Hill et al, 2010] Just waiting on the finale now. It got darker, that's for sure, and easily a lot meaner. Not sure these are good things. It's really weird just how much this crew, despite making a comedy series, is really interested in making Real Art that does a lot to Say Something under the guise of foul language and attitudes. I'm curious (1) if they'll be around in 20 years and (2) what in the hell they could be mad about then.
  • Boardwalk Empire [Terrence Winter, 2010] That is, so far. And so far so-so. Plenty of stuff to like, plenty of stuff I could plain do without, like those opening titles.
  • Blazing Saddles [Mel Brooks, 1974] # Gene Wilder is the best person in the world with Harvey Korman and Slim Pickens running a close tie behind him.
  • High Anxiety [Mel Brooks, 1977] # A lesser effort, to be sure, but some timing gags work perfectly; and some of the spoof elements are pretty great. Mostly, I enjoyed how much my sister enjoyed it.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox [Wes Anderson, 2009] # A joy.
  • The jerk [Carl Reiner, 1979] # Still my favorite Steve Martin movie. A fine reminder of what once amounted to a particular kind of comedic genius.
  • Plenty of 30 Rock's latest season, which I'm enjoying.
  • Code Unknown [Michael Haneke, 2000] Not really a highlight, but it's made very well. Once again I'm left thinking: sure, but you can also go to hell, Herr H.
  • The Loved One [Evelyn Waugh, 1948] Narrow in the right ways, this may be a perfect novel, though sometimes the wit gets just a tad cute.
  • Louis C.K.: Chewed Up [2008] Dude's on fire.
  • Freedom [Jonathan Franzen, 2010] I'm fine with it! In fact, I find it really entertaining in good ways, though I also find a lot of the writing clumsy in that the on-purpose-clumsiness just feels clumsy sometimes. Still, I'm happy I read it, and read it then (this year, this moment). Doubt I'll ever pick it up again.
  • Henry IV: Part One in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival with my dad. My legs got pretty cold, but that was alright. What truly fascinated me was just how much more interesting an actor the guy who played Hal was than the guy who played Falstaff. Not typical.

Viewing Log #55: September highlights

by Ryland Walker Knight

  • demonlover [Olivier Assayas, 2002] Look at this twitpic, and then read Glenn's thing maybe. Here, again, I risk the wrath of GK, and Kent Jones: it's a hoot, and largely fascinating, but also the owner of a rather empty punchline.
  • The Social Network [David Fincher, 2010] A problematic, thoroughly entertaining film I hope I never have to talk to anybody about ever again.
  • The Thin Red Line [Terrence Malick, 1998] # Here's some gushing and here's some mush-mouth. It's important to me.
  • The Last Picture Show [Peter Bogdonavich, 1971] As formal as it gets and so, so apt to anybody with an ear for confusion. You know, everybody.
  • A Brighter Summer Day [Edward Yang, 1991] Worth every minute. Loved how much of it's specifically about light, and shining lights (on things) and not seeing because of the lack of light, and how all the big acts of violence happen at night, in low light. If I see it again (and hopefully in a theatre again), I'll take real notes and maybe write a real poem about it.
  • Pretty much every single episode of Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job [T+E, 2007-2010] # Cuz I had to. And cuz I love it. Cuz they're the best. (Sure, it gets/got tiresome; but who gives a turd ya dingus?)
  • The Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job Crimbus Special and Tour Promo [T+E, 2010] The best thing in the world. Everything.
  • Enter The Void [Gaspar Noé, 2009] I tried to be positive at this joint and largely failed.
  • The first half of Season Three of The Sopranos [David Chase?, 2001] #, which is absolutely brutal and absolutely fantastic and rather often absolutely hilarious.
  • Danny Perez's visuals at the Panda Bear show; especially the wave and its square spots at the end.
  • Oedipus Wrecks [Woody Allen, 1989] A lot of fun, in part because it's "on the nose."
  • Life Lessons [Martin Scorsese, 1989] Rituals, process, it's all a lie to try to cover your patterns.
  • Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? [Frank Tashlin, 1957] At the Castro, with Brian. The opening is my favorite part.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Convergence for your bawdy daze (10/20/10)

by Ryland Walker Knight


How a morning hangs
—Unbroken anyways

A conjunction of quotations #11

— edited by Ryland Walker Knight



Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.
Rosalind Russell


I don't want to be a silly temptress. I cannot see any sense in getting dressed up and doing nothing but tempting men in pictures.
Greta Garbo


Elegance has therefore disappeared as the TV spectator's eye expected something else from tennis. The diabolical Connors and the amazing MacEnroe became loved for their bad manners, because these manners were more interesting than the starchy class of the last stylists (from Clerc to Gomez). All this, a very human phenomenon by the way, deepened the scenography of tennis with a new dimension: that of the close up after the rally, of the disarticulated replay, of the stroboscopic ordinariness of the slow motion, of the microphone at court level. The number of events per second inflated with all the affects, tics, drives and silent rages that a body is capable of.
Serge Daney


Far from the trite expression it usually is, “I don’t know what to say” actually seemed to be an honest and surprisingly accurate description of the problem. When women who have abortions are more closeted than gay people and the absence of abortion leaves a gaping hole in most T.V. and movie narratives, it’s no wonder even solidly pro-choice people are left floundering for a way to talk about it—free of euphemisms—as a real and unique experience instead of a flattened and shameful cliché.
Maya Dusenbery


Once something must have happened here,
before you were always quoting yourself to sleep,
needing to remember. Gunpowder
boomed in the birch forests,
redcoats flashed like flowers.
The city was narcotic with gold,
derricks stiffened beside wounded ships.
Women wept for the diving bells of dead.
Flames rose along the river, longing—

All that is green must turn to red.
Listen: the dynamite cracks
in the concrete forest.
That echo is the sound of borrowed grace. Believe it,
ask memory to be your burning stake.
Meghan O'Rourke


When I work together with actors and we try to create brash, obnoxious, strange, brutal, larger characters, it seems to me that the key is not that they are better or bigger than us. What I can see in Jean Renoir’s movies and some of that in François Truffaut and perhaps in a lot of French films which would be French at the end, is the fact that I don’t wake up as a human being and I’m not sure that I am one. Being human I have to work to look like a human being. You know, I have to pretend that I am this or that, even with political issues et cetera. In Renoir’s La regle du jeu (1939) I have to play the part that I’m rich or poor or a worker or angry or a woman, I have to play these feelings. In Renoir they don’t believe in nature, there is only culture. And the thing which is so human is that they are trying to look like a proper human being, a being they dream to be. I try to catch that in a character, this effort of showing off.
Arnaud Desplechin


A writer must preserve a balance between sensitivity and vitality. Highbrow writers are sensitive but not vital. Commercial writers are vital but not sensitive. Trying to keep this balance is always hard. It is the whole job of living.
Gertrude Stein


People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart.
Bertolt Brecht


Originally, there were many varieties of birds on earth. Some have become extinct: the great hawk, the passenger pigeon and the famous dodo bird have all disappeared. —Actually, they didn't exactly disappear. They were simply killed off. But of course [he shrugs] this is nature's way. Man merely hurries the process along whenever he can be of help.
Alfred Hitchcock


Yes, it is obvious that people now—they trust in the economy. Well, maybe after this week a little less, but still I don’t think it will change much. Economy is presented as some kind of “revealed truth,” it is just like religion for me. There is no logic to what happens in the economy, and still you have politicians, people keep telling you “this is good for the economy, this is how it should be done” because “that’s how the economy works” and so on and so forth, as if it were some kind of truth. And people just swallow it. It’s this kind of logic that there is something bigger than us that is “the economy” that creates a world that is going in a direction no one has any control on, because the economy is some kind of living organism that is taking over people’s lives or the values that are at work within the world where we live our adult lives. What I’m trying to say, or what Frédéric thinks {laughs}, and it’s not very optimistic, is that he reminds that economy is not fact, it is ideology. And as much as you have to respect facts, you are allowed to discuss ideologies; you should be allowed to have your say, because ultimately whatever truth you stand for is as good as whatever truth economy stands for. Ultimately we should be conscious that theoretically we have some space to decide what we want and what we don’t want, we should not be intimidated by economy.
Olivier Assayas


She broke down and let me in
Made me see where I've been

Been down one time
Been down two times
Never going back again

You don't know what it means to win
Come down and see me again

Been down one time
Been down two times
Never going back again
Fleetwood Mac


Having a home, husband, and child ought to be enough for any woman’s life. I mean, that’s what we are meant for, isn’t it? But still I think every day [without my work] is a lost day. As if only half of me is alive. The other half is pressed down in a bag and suffocated.
Ingrid Bergman


Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.
Oscar Wilde


On verra. On verra si je le fais à la fin.*
Gabriel Deshayes


Let's go get lost among the ether seekers squinting in despair as people from the 18th century hang brightly in the air dissecting bits of cloud (they're only waiting for a cue from Newton to begin their vague descent). If you could take the square root of this mass that we inhabit you would find a fully fledged motet caught in the shadow of the memories the centrifuge once ravaged as though honoring the dead with a chilled and useless flourish. "It waxeth wet," she says, concealing Vesta's fires in the folds of her new love (she has a passion for Racine). But Crazy Jane just shrugs and love begins to melt away. "Divide the air from air. Divide the castles from the clouds. Divide the light from light, but if you dare sequester my inertia in your tragedy I'll clasp the weary hand of god and let him drag me in a straight line to the back of your cathedral where pentangles are smashed to fit inside the roving spheres the invalids ingest on their way back from the sea." Despite their prayers, it wouldn't part. But if you listened very closely, you could hear the feeble march revive inside their chests. They had wanted to see flames but they could only see a single molecule, a bit deranged and accidentally inspiring the smell of violets from the surrounding air. And still they lurched and dragged their rickety old model up the mountain where they leapt off into the huge distance waving feathers pulled from caps that had dropped below the treeline. Another great wave shook the night, moving flagrantly through nothing, dulling bullets in their flight.
Elizabeth Marie Young

* = We'll see. We'll see if I make it to the end.

Friday, October 15, 2010

&Review no.3, Ghosts: Plumule

by Ryland Walker Knight

—courtesy the one and only Matthew Flanagan

The third issue of &Review is live online and on its way out into the world as a free newsprint publication. As with No.2, I have another poem in this issue (or an excerpt of a poem). All I'd like to say, here, is that it's better than the other one, though it's got similar tropes and preoccupations that should be transparent to anybody I know and anybody who knows me. Though, I don't know, maybe some people who don't know me will know something about me. (The word "meme" is funny, right?) In any case, it's a little stanza and its title is a word I happened to learn by accident but now adore. From wikitionary:
  1. (botany) The first bud, or gemmule, of a young plant; the bud, or growing point, of the embryo, above the cotyledons.
  2. (zoology) A down feather.
  3. (zoology) The aftershaft of a feather.
  4. (zoology) One of the featherlike scales of certain male butterflies.

Quite a beautiful, multivalent idea to live up to! But if I don't do it justice in this sample perhaps I will elsewhere. Failing that, you can revert to the alternate title "I never meant to make a fist." Also, of course, there's a whole boatload of other words and images, some by some other friends of mine, that Mia and Rachel have curated into a typically handsome package. You can download a pdf of the print version by clicking here or you can peruse the online edition by clicking here. You will also be able to find it in a few spots around Portland, and I imagine New York, and maybe even San Francisco with the right push. You can find out specifics here.

It came to my attention last night, while working on a crossword at the bar with this joker, that this issue's publication has hit a stall. Mia informs me there was an editing gaffe that necessitates some more work. As I learn more, I'll say more. But, hey, you can still look at the pdf and the images assembled.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Quick plug: Enter the Void

by Ryland Walker Knight

Knee On Toke Yo!

How about the flimsiest defense possible for an indefensible argument? Well, here you go! I volunteered at the 11th hour to try to wrangle together a "pro" side of a diptych column on the impossible-to-ignore Gaspar Noé wormhole of sense and "good" taste. I should probably say more but it boils down to this: you won't forget seeing Enter The Void. You should see it in a theatre, if it's playing near you, and you should go pee before it starts because it's kind of long and kind of tedious but, you know, that's the point (kind of). In fact, I think the flick could be yet longer and that'd make it better. If it really embraced the sprawl, actually went into a random-fire non-structure, truly hovered at the sidelines. But, as I say (feebly) in that post, it's worth the trip, such as it is, because it's going to make you feel something. It will take over you and your body. It may be pretty idiotic, and it may have an awful script, but its audacity's got to count for something.

For what it's worth, I realize this isn't a work of criticism. If I get some more free time, or the right nudge, I may pop up again to flesh out my thoughts. However, I'd really rather just talk about it. Or, truth be told, I'd rather read something about it written by Martha. Now, to some tacos and some baseball and some beer.

10 minutes later update:
This is because the movie opens in SF tomorrow though it already opened in NYC+LA and is also available On Demand for those unlucky enough to be denied the theatrical experience.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Go, ye giddy goose, so should I be sure to be heart-burned.

by Ryland Walker Knight

A shout long silent across the sky
—A shout long silent across the sky


Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
Not of that dye which their investments show,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
The better to beguile.


Stocks shoot a nest
Warble and rise like a yellow willow
—Nesting habits armed with folios like fingers


Along the lithia, shot


Peace, good pint-pot; peace, good tickle-brain.
Harry, I do not only marvel where thou spendest thy
time, but also how thou art accompanied: for though
the camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster
it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted the
sooner it wears. That thou art my son, I have
partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion,
but chiefly a villanous trick of thine eye and a
foolish-hanging of thy nether lip, that doth warrant
me. If then thou be son to me, here lies the point;
why, being son to me, art thou so pointed at? Shall
the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher and eat
blackberries? a question not to be asked. Shall
the sun of England prove a thief and take purses? a
question to be asked. There is a thing, Harry,
which thou hast often heard of and it is known to
many in our land by the name of pitch: this pitch,
as ancient writers do report, doth defile; so doth
the company thou keepest: for, Harry, now I do not
speak to thee in drink but in tears, not in
pleasure but in passion, not in words only, but in
woes also: and yet there is a virtuous man whom I
have often noted in thy company, but I know not his name.


Ready to wear


Heaven's blush
—Thaw, and resolve yourself into a dew