Friday, March 25, 2011

Heft in here like still cold in the pipes water hitting your face

by Ryland Walker Knight

The visible and the invisible
—Like a ruler it both measures and defines the object

It's official, folks: I'm going to Cannes this year. I've been accredited as a correspondent/critic for the film magazine Cargo*, which is German in print but open to English on its blog, where I hope to write as often as possible about the films I see. Odds favor that I'll contribute some things to The Notebook for/with Danny, and I may have some other opportunities to write about my experience/s, but more on all that later. Hell, I don't know yet what we'll be seeing with any certainty. I sure do hope we see Tree of Life but all I can do right now is cross my fingers. (Well, that and save money.) In any event, what plays the festival and what doesn't play the festival—or, what I get to see, what I don't—doesn't matter to me as much as, simply, my good fortune to be in a position to make the trip. Not everybody gets to go to Cannes. So I promise to enjoy it, first of all, and, second of all, I promise to make my reports (whatever form they take) worthy of your time. That is, they won't just be tossed off viewing logs. I'll try to make real, cogent arguments for my Cargo blogging. I still might post a stray log (with links) here at home base, for fun, but I'm going to try to focus my energies outside my current, little routines.

Since I know you're super curious (doubt it) and since my parents like this photo, here's the picture that will grace my festival badge for Cannes and for the SF Int'l just prior to my departure. I suppose offering the image is not just narcissism but also a reference if, by some miracle, you happen to spot me at either festival and want to say hi. Funds are slim (cough, we do have a tip jar on the side bar), but I'd be willing to buy you a free drink and talk about things beyond the silver screen. Otherwise, you can find me on twitter, as ever. I don't begrudge twitter haters, or people who've grown bored with my shtick in said arena, but I will say that I may (though I may not) tweet my way through the two fests and you might want to tune in (follow? subscribe?) to keep abreast of all my observations in a more immediate, two-point-oh way. Odds are good on the twitter angle, too—San Francisco in particular as it's kind of like a warm up round before the real plunge (and I do hope to swim some, I'll have you know)—but I've still got a day job in the meantime and it requires a lot of energy so posting, as it has for a while, will remain largely light around here. Just so we're clear. Until such time as I may say grace again at your table, or just post a viewing log, I bid you fond farewells.

* My latest essay for the magazine, on David O. Russell and The Fighter in particular, can sort of be seen by clicking here. The title in German is "Demolierte Pathosformeln" and Google does me a hilarious service by translating it as "Demolished pathos formulas" (I did not submit a title, fwiw).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Viewing Log #78: Philogyny forever [3/15/2011 - 3/22/2011]

by Ryland Walker Knight

Peace is a name
—This guy...

  • Spanglish [James L. Brooks, 2004] Not quite a success, but noble yet. The framing device is too television and the narration far too choke-me. Sandler does his nervous thing well and is largely absent for a lot of the picture, which is a funny flip on the Ho'wood marketing plan, but it's maybe odd that his major function in the movie is to fawn; cool that he's a chef, sure, and that you see him cook some dishes in snippets, but that creative side isn't funneled into the rest of the character except that he's such a sensitive dad that the weight of his heralded genius* just seems like neurotic self-abnegation. The biggest surprise is just how caricature ugly Tea Leoni's character is compared to the saint-like Paz Vega who is literally an alien sent to fix humans (or at least catalyze reflection/education/change); doesn't hurt that Vega's a curvy lady, tho still movie star thin with the cheek bones to prove it, and Leoni's got this absurd fitness addict body the movie almost makes fun of; or, it's just too easy that the softer one's the mom. In any case, I still didn't mind a minute of it, really, because I'm an idiot for kindness and good lighting and a pretty face—just like the movie hopes I am/you are.
  • Broadcast News [James L. Brooks, 1987] # Sorry, but I gotta: Holly Hunter in all her polka dots is so god-damned adorable in this movie it's insane. Part of that is the character touch of her private crying jags, part of it is her mouth full of accent, part of it is that she is not needy the way Albert Brooks is; she keeps her real pain to herself (for the most part) and she's a real lady who is excellent at her job and the weight of that brilliance is understandable. Love that JLB is all about the right choice, too, but what keeps it from moral high-grounding is the way each choice is rooted in consequence. Makes it feel like ethics even though it isn't, quite, despite the word getting bandied about a few times. I wish there was more play with the medium of television on an image level but the bottom line is that I hope to watch this one with my sister before she goes to college.

  • How Do You Know [James L. Brooks, 2010] The bait-y punk in me wanted to tweet, "HOW DO YOU KNOW > CERTIFIED COPY ????" immediately after finishing this one (instead). Granted, it hit some sweet spots for me, but the construction is this rare patient thing that arranges characters like chess without seeming a game. That is, for however contrived it might be, it's just as up front about its fiction as the AK film below. Further, there's a number of set-pieces designed to make certain freaks with theoretical clouds hanging in their heads leap to attention. Simply put, it relates to the notion that the only audience for philosophy is the one performing it. But, of course, this is never a simple thing to reckon and the picture of education in Reese Witherspoon's character is as winsome as Brooks' commitment to the importance of compartmentalizing daily life. That is, there's a time and a place for everything. It's in that awful trailer and it's better than a gag in the flick: Rudd, backing from dad Jack with eyes up to heaven, pleading, "God, are you going to literally make me run from bad news?" He does. It's the right choice.

  • Certified Copy [Abbas Kiarostami, 2010] Rather lovely, yes, but also not a masterpiece, I'm afraid. In fact, the further I'm from it, the less generous I'm getting—though, I must admit, at first it put me in a trance**. That said, as I briefly "discussed" with Akiva, one of the interesting things that doesn't seem to get talked about is the role of gender in the turns this path takes. That is, how it determines these, to use Sicinski's word, pivots as much as any history or motivation behind this reality or these realities that may be false or may be true (all of which sure are some bogus words in this conversation). Maybe better: how does this lady control the events or rip agency from the man? She's driving the car to start, she directs their walk for the most part, she finds their turret of a honeymoon room; it's her fabrication, if we want to believe it so, and it's her anger, which is real no matter what's fake, that move this thing. Binoche is, as you might suspect, rather out of this world.

  • Caught up on the second season of Archer [Adam Reed, 2011] and it continues to be a fun way to waste a half hour.

Steam cleaning

* Akiva also pointed out this motif in Brooks, which is consistent in all three I just watched: Reese's softball player has these little sayings as a ritual to balance the heft of being excellent at something; Holly does her crying; Sandler can't quit moving his feet.

** When I got home I shot angles on/of my bathroom mirror for a half hour. Then again in the morning for longer, as evidenced above. All I could really do after that movie was listen to wordless music and think about geometry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We cover ourselves, our cities

by Ryland Walker Knight


Ready for SF distribution

Ready for distribution


Cover Stamp

Shells Nape


Midnight Window Lear

Convergence for your back page

Eight pages


Pleating with you 1

Pleating with you 2


See the site, too/again, of course

Click the images to see'm bigger on my flickr stream

And stay tuned here and here and here for whereabouts

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The shush of the interstate off past the windbreak

by Ryland Walker Knight

— For Matt and Haz, title via

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Viewing Log #77: Waindell Rainwell [3/8/2011 - 3/14/2011]

by Ryland Walker Knight

You Fucked Yourself

  • Archer [Season One, 2010] A hoot. Very "of our time" in a cultural cache way. Which means there's a lot of references to "esoteric shit" and a lot of dickhead characters. Also lots of jokes about sex. No wonder clammy hands all over love it, amirite?

  • I watched a lot of basketball this week, but I also went to that Warriors OT come-from-20-down win against the Magic on Friday night. I sat in some great seats with Bomber and the next day I realized that, in fact, I'd lost my voice because I screamed so much. But I wasn't drunk, just so happy. Seeing basketball from the 8th row is some kind of experience, I'll tell you. Not only can you hear some choice banter from the crowd, you can hear some retorts and some shit talking from the players. Plus, from that close, in real time, Monta Ellis looks faster than Taz. But the number one stunner highlight might have been when Stephen Curry threw that outlet pass and, right when I thought it was too far, Dorrell Wright literally put his head down to sprint for it, caught it for one dribble and lept with his momentum, turning, to flush a reverse while the place erupted.

via mia

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Bayside Club

by Ryland Walker Knight

Convergence for your toss-turning (3/13/11)

by Ryland Walker Knight

Only the one hour lost on the clock

Monday, March 07, 2011

Viewing Log #76: Who You Are and Who You Say You Are [3/1/2011 - 3/7/2011]

by Ryland Walker Knight

  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010] Not sure why I feel compelled so immediately to compare it to Syndromes but I do: I like the latter better, though this is surprising given how devoted to liquids this newer picture is. Matter of fact, Boonmee has a lot of things I love all working together, but specifically light and liquids grounded by loss and romance and real people in a real (political) world. It's also easy to analyze when you start thinking but it's not quite here for that; rather, its flow is to be felt through the eyes. I will try to see it again this week.

  • The Ricky Gervais Show [HBO animated iteration, 2nd Season, a few different episodes] The best part is how Ricky thinks everything is the funniest thing ever every single time.
  • Fighting [Dito Montiel, 2009] As Iggy says, "Un vrai film." But what's weird is that the fights are the least interesting (certainly the least interestingly shot) parts of the movie. Unless of course you like beefcakes like Channing Tatum, who is real here, with slowly building confidence that never outshines his quietness. Matter of fact, it's a really quiet movie in general and that's what I like so much: how much action plays on faces. Terrence Howard is a master at whispering and deflecting and I think he's going to be an even better actor in his 50s. I hope he stays in shape so he can do some Walken-like bad guy turns.
  • 30 Rock "TGS Hates Women" [Beth McCarthy-Miller, 2011] There hasn't been an episode this funny and this on point on so many targets in ages. Read this list and tell me she's wrong. (Don't, btw.) I busted a few guts, but none harder than at Baldwin's dismissive skip-over delivery of: "He's not a strong writer." And that was the secret to this episode: Jack had a great role against another great ludicrous obstacle figure.

  • Rango [Gore Verbinski, 2011] # Ran into Daniel and Felix by chance outside and Daniel summed it up: "That Gore Verbinski's pretty lit up, eh?"

  • Chocolat [Claire Denis, 1988] # Somehow I'd forgotten how funny this one is, how breezy despite the big stakes for the little lady. The print wasn't lousy but it sure was old. And, boy, Issach de Bankol√© sure was young then; not to mention exceptionally gorgeous; now, as a middle aged man, his face is more handsome than pretty. Would've been nice to see how it played off White Material, but I had to skip the first one to finish some work. Great final shot, as ever, set to some great music with the world just happening around and through the frame.

  • Rango [Gore Verbinski, 2011] Got to see it a first time at Skywalker Ranch thanks to Emma's dad, Michael, who did the dialog sound editing. So it was a charmed screening to start, and the setting certainly put me in a generous mood, but I truly think it has a shot at staying amongst my favorites of the year all year long. Because it's not just clever quotes. There's real interpretive work done here on the part of G.V. and his writer John Logan and his actors (chiefly Depp, duh) and his animators. That is, for all it points to and lifts from, it's a unique work of art about acting and action. And it's beautiful. Every single composition and set piece. And it's funny. Every single scene and sequence. There are so many gags it's crazy. It's really hard to keep up, to be honest, since it skips along rather well. But more on all of that soon. This is just a late night scribble of pure enthusiasm.

  • In The Loop [Armando Iannucci, 2009] # With the Hambone, who loved it, I'm happy to report. Gandolfini sure steals the show.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Philosophy Department Is Full Of Ghosts

by Ryland Walker Knight


The Philosophy Department Is Full Of Ghosts


South Hall, East Side

Silent Cinema


Burn me your hour


Or, since my last visit, none'd left. And, it'd been a while.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Convergence for your Kline of lines (3/5/11)

by Ryland Walker Knight