Monday, February 28, 2011

Viewing Log #75: Includes the lyrics [2/22/11 - 2/28/11]

by Ryland Walker Knight

Later Light 2

  • Born This Way music video, [Nick Knight, 2011] It's not that I feel confronted and shocked and put off like that; it's that I think it's bad pop music. Comparing it to Prince, say, does it no favors but, holy hell, this isn't even Madonna level though it's aiming for a new century "Express Yourself" and/or "Vogue" thing mixed with Gaga's brand of, um, dada sexuality. Pretty silly, me thinks, to define yourself strictly via your sexuality since we all know that's simply a reaction to some "No!" somewhere along the line despite this song posing as a "Yes!" (though the lyrics are a giveaway, too). How's that for over-thinking it, eh folks?

  • The Oscars It's dumb to complain, but, hell. As Nellie tweeted: worst company picnic ever.
  • Inception [Christopher Nolan, 2010] # I was tired and didn't want to think and it'd already been ordered on our on demand. It's still really stupid and poorly shot.

  • The Fighter [David O. Russell, 2010] # A few scenes to look at all that competition—specifically between the performance styles and what separates the, excuse me this alliteration, brilliant Bale and loathsome Leo.
  • Three Kings [David O. Russell, 1999] # Wanted to make sure of something. Didn't watch the whole thing. It's entertaining, yes. It's also the perfect movie to get obsessed with when you're 17 and you think you're smart but really you can just name effects instead of simply watching a movie.

  • Slings and Arrows First Season, episodes 4-6 [Peter Wellington, 2003] Pretty lovely little wrap up with those kids figuring it all out. Lots of good will here. That's all I got on this.

Lost Bark

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.


Friday, February 18, 2011

&Review no.4, Garments

by Ryland Walker Knight

West Dressed

The issue is live! SEE IT NOW! However, the print version will not be available in your hands until March 1st, or thereafter, given the printing and distributing and mailing schedules that come with wet ink newsprint. That is, the internet's easier—far easier—to manage than a real live publication. In any event, we're up and running and I'm proud of the jigsaw we pieced together. Above you'll find a video I made for the issue, which is rather raw, and below you'll see my favorite image from the issue, which is nothing but lovely. Please do take the time to look at all of it, subscribe to the &Review tumblr, maybe follow the twitter feed, tell your friends and stay tuned to my twitter and Mia's twitter for news of where we're dropping off those newsprint editions around our towns and anywhere else.

Update (3/7/11):
Click here to see a pdf of the print version.

Serrah Russell, She Wore Her Grandma's Dress

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Convergence for your smile room (2/16/11)

by Ryland Walker Knight

Corner me next time why don't you

The Smile Room

Monday, February 14, 2011

Viewing Log #73: Two of each please [2/7/11 - 2/14/11]

by Ryland Walker Knight

Scissor skills

  • Somewhere [Sofia Coppola, 2010] What a bonehead "third act." What a bonehead idea of significance in general. See, I wanted to like it and that's probably the problem. There's plenty to respect, like a female director's representation of sex, say, but, to be 100% unfair, this is no In The Cut. And there's this pride that gets in the way of Harris Savides phenomenal (that's the word) work and Elle Fanning's affectless though not flat performance (the word "natural" seems wrong, though it may be right) and the expert sound design. Granted, that sounds like it's coming from the really absurd and really sexist angle on Sofia that most critics take. But you don't have to announce your ideas in a Work Of Art to make your points. That was the thrill of the mess of Marie Antoinette: it really aimed for something beyond literalisms (not a word). You'll have to excuse me this seeming dismissal, ladies I love, but: maybe Sofia should make a documentary all about food. She gets parties great, sure, with all the haziness, but she also has a lot of good takes on food, where it's eaten and how it's made. Which is another way to say that my favorite scene was Cleo's preparation of the eggs benedict breakfast, as evidenced above.

  • The Fighter [David O. Russell, 2010] # "Research" & "jokes"

  • L'argent [Marcel L'Herbier, 1928] Wasn't as wowed as I'd hoped. Loved all the shadows but I couldn't suss a logic to all the ostentatious stylistics. And it felt lumpy. Though I don't doubt the producers hacked it up and cut what I would not, this movie would certainly benefit from some fat-trimming. Or at least some silent-movie-cliche-trimming. That is, there's way too many reaction shots. My favorite scene came in the second half, with Brigitte Helm entering Pierre Alcover's Saccard's privacy to needle his fears with a certain masochism that turns into fear past an unmarked threshold; the close-ups here make perfect sense and even add some deviant sexual charge, though also some misogyny, when we're honest with what this man (this director) expects of his subjects.
  • Four Windows [Ry Russo-Young, 2011] Um. "Shorts. Fashion. Pretty. Vacant? You decide!"
  • The curve of forgotten things [Paul Cole, 2011] You don't say. (Also via that pullquote queen; see link above.)
  • High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell [Mary Ann DeLeo & Rich Farrell & John Alpert, 1995] Could only handle a half hour while sick in bed, but it made me rethink The Fighter to the extent that it's a movie out to serve reality at bottom but David O. Russell's out to serve an audience a good time, too, which complicates things. Watch here, via the cinetrix, who's maybe a little weirded out by all these links (don't know the lady!), but, well, I'm not; I'm just thankful.

  • No Country For Old Men [Coens, 2007] # Okay, maybe this is some kind of masterpiece, over-determined though it may be. Danny wrote about the inheritors of Hitch in a dispatch from Rotterdam and I can't shake that association when watching "later Coens" movies. Every shot is so intentional, loaded with specific significance, that their beauty isn't strictly pictorial (don't you love the shadows throughout this thing?) but, ahem, semiotically, which carries over to the specificity of the language; that is, words carry another weight of meaning, adding a sonorous burden to these brutal procedings. (Always forget there's no score in this one, very Birds-like, and that makes the words crystalize.) Also, top notch action scenes, one after the other, that are more "thrilling" than "fun" because they're meant to be scary and they are quite scary. Plus, this has to be some of the finest work Roderick Jaynes has ever done. That lap dissolve from the coins on the carpet to Ed Tom's truck barreling towards Ellis's hut is one of my favorite transitions in the entire Coens corpus.

One dime

Monday, February 07, 2011

Viewing Log #72: Plinywurst [2/1/11 - 2/6/11]

by Ryland Walker Knight

  • The Super Bowl. My favorite ads were the Transformers 3 ad because a teaser is supposed to blare and dazzle, the new bug teaser animation because the punchline made me look at Cam, and the Motor City paean from Chrysler because, as Barry said, it's about how we make things in America (or how we used to, at that). The game was fun, too, even though I lost money.

  • Scrapertown [Drea Cooper & Zackary Canepari, 2010] Part of California is a place, via Haz. Just great. The exactly perfect tone that's never cute but simply positive and charming.

  • Cry For Bobo [David Cairns, 2001] See it here. Conceptually pretty perfect, and you know I love jokes. Wish there were more goofy little gems, not all those sad sack lunch pails about Big Ideas. Gags are great! And I'm not just saying this to be "blog polite" (is that a term?); I really dug this little thing.

  • True Grit [Henry Hathaway, 1969] # I put the seen-this-before tag just left of these words, but, really, I didn't remember how cheesy and clunky and kinda-sorta bad this movie is. The Coens certainly improved on it, and clearly had more of the book in mind than any ideas of remaking this thing. Kim Darby sure was cute, though.

  • A lot of Larry Sanders on Instant, selected mostly at random. This week's NBC shows: I fear 30 Rock's veering away from its sweet spot again, but it's always nice to see Elizabeth Banks, and Community was all the clever things I don't like about it rolled up into a bottle episode that can't compete with the earlier one this season because this one was so damned sweet; that is, I like acerbity more than lobbed-on poignancy when it comes to my weekly sitcoms. Oh, and, Season Seven of Peep Show is, in the first episode at least, a marvel of hilariousness and exactly what I want. Then again, I also love this video below by Jaime Harley, for a song called "Suicide Dream" by How To Dress Well, so my criteria certainly shift all the time like anybody else.

Pure affect

One must eat

by Ryland Walker Knight

Crosshatch handiwork

Feed me

Shelf life

One way or another

Light doesn't die and water will find its equal

by Ryland Walker Knight