Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kes/Summer afflictions

Whatever color process or film stock or chemicals in the air and water produced the color scheme of certain late '60s British movies like that of Kes, very similar to that in the color portions of If. . . . should find its way into an art museum: thick, rich browns, blacks, and greens, so warm brighter colors seem an intrusion. Would I watch anything that looked like this? Maybe.
Kes's story's so simple it seems like a folktale and indeed, it has the requisite elements: a boy, a wicked relation, the animal companion he captures and tames (the kestrel of the title, which a review of the movie informs me was the favored bird-companion of the peasant class in the Middle Ages). It's a bummer, sure; you never imagine that things will turn out a-ok for little Billy Caspar. At the same time, as crushed as the movie's end might leave you (spoiler whatever, you can tell what'll happen by the movie's poster and you've heard this story before), Loach's rapt attention to little Caspar's inner life leaves you with an inkling of hope. Two captivating scenes stand out particularly. One occurs near the beginning, a scene of Billy that kind of envelops you in his worldview: he sits down to read an amusing fight in comic book and the camera zooms in on its frames as he reads all the text, sound effects and all, aloud in his head in his flat tones of voice and Yorkshire accent. The latter comes at the film's end, as Billy describes how he trained the bird to his class at school; the camera seizes on him and draws in closer and closer, giving the viewer a sense of his undeniable importance and endowing his breathless monologue, broken by questions from his teachers and classmates, with urgency, excitement. The more I think about it, the more the-end-of-400 Blows this movie seems; you and little Antoine/Billy end up alone together, but shit, that's better than hanging tight with your philandering mom or drunk, crushed brother, innit?
Ignorant analyses aside, hearing the English language as spoken in this movie is worth the price of admission--it's in this weird Yorkshire dialect that leaves out "the"s and incorporates "thee"s and "thou"s. & Finally, Loach's typical fuck-capitalism politics appear in earnest but not overly obtrusive fashion, unlike some of the other movies in the Lincoln Center Woodfall Series (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, e.g.), which, while generally wonderful movies, all but squash the viewer with a morally indignant club on which is writ How Capitalism Destroys Our Poor Youth.
A tally of summer injuries thus far:
Beer Toe (National holiday. Hand>glass>foot>floor)
Moving Elbow (but I do not even have that many records! )
Pretzel Tummy (Thanks, Pennsylvania)
Rollercoaster Chest/Rollercoaster Neck (Thanks, the Cyclone)
Bike Wrist (Someone who laughed just like Dr. Hibbert stuck his head out an SUV window and commended me for this as I dusted myself off)
Pride (Several incidents besides the above sadly come to mind)
Also a box of reel-to-reel tapes fell on my head at my internship.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

whatevs tidbits

Rescue Dawn's a fine movie that might ascend to excellence if it lost its maudlin, cliched soundtrack that conditions you to feel and expect conventional things from moments that might otherwise be interestingly off the usual kilter of 'Nam or prison-escape movies. Christian Bale and Steve Zahn are great, and the physicality of their relationship as the one drags the other through the jungle has an odd, motherly quality, absent the sappy homoeroticism of a similar film like uh, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Some severe WTFs ensue at the end, though: we're in a war, Werner! All that backslappy cameraderie? But you know, exciting, and the characters were well-drawn: just eccentric enough to be Herzogian but credible human beings.

Ok dudes, I saw Ratatouille. I love cooking shows and um movie-Paris and I don't have air-conditioning and the Times and Ned said it was good and Ben wanted to go. It reminded me that I also adore Vincente Minnelli and various movies with enraptured, swoopy shots of bodies at work. But jeezlouise, it's boring and besides a few bits, neither funny nor "cute," and now I have contributed some percentage of $11 to Disney.

I have wanted to post about this for a while so I'll stick it here, I guess? A few weeks ago a friend of mine claimed the Linkin Park/Jay Z collaboration album as both great and "criminally misunderstood." While I sputtered vehemently and incoherently, another bro said well, it's ok, he probably listened to the Crash Test Dummies every week. In abject shock, I deferred my "guilty pleasure." Since I do not live an unmitigatedly high-class, capital-C Culture lifestyle (I've gotten pretty indiscriminate about coffee lately), I don't entirely believe in guilty pleasures, since generally I like what I consider good and worthy, dislike what's not, and take or leave the whatever. One's audience also factors in heavily to a declaration of a "guilty pleasure," right? There are certain people to whom confessing my affection for the first few Ted Leo LPs or for certain things that may or may not involve Stephen Stills (oh man, some of his Buffalo Springfield material is top quality) would have me picking at the ends of my hair and maybe coloring gently; I know others who'd be offended if I said that sometimes I feel a little silly for clapping along to the clap part every time I hear "Timorous Me."

But here's my "guilty musical pleasure:" Discount, whom I first "got into" at the age of about 22, when a 14-year-old girl on the internet demanded to make me a Discount mixtape.

"They changed my life," she said, and this is music that'd do just that, were you a girl and 13 and things unfold in sucky and weird ways that sound exactly like this: bombastic vocals, compressed guitars, the occasional fist-pump chorus or acoustic ballad, lyrics in breathless cliches or nonsequitors. Listening to Discount demands your indulgence in--if not actual reminiscences--that old way of feeling about things. That, I think, is something to feel the little prick of guilt about.
(& now you know, guys.)

I'm Against It Part 2:
Those giant cafeterias with a salad bar and a hot-food bar and "panini," inevitably, and smoothies that appear all over the city but particularly in midtown and near hospitals. I understand their function and I suppose having vegetables as opposed to merely McD's around is desirable, but something about them seems to represent the bleak plight of the salaryman so fundamentally, and moreover, they're usually fucking pricey.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Belmondo!! + I'm Against It Pt. I

Everyone talks about Belmondo's "cool," but I think more precisely, his face expresses this unmistakeable confidence: you don't want that sneer in your direction, you desire that broad smile. In a mini-Belmondo Bonanza, LGI saw Pierrot le Fou a few weeks ago and Le Doulos a few days ago. I've yet to see Jean-Pierre Melville fuck up in the slightest; although I've only seen his gangster movies and Army of Shadows and not, like that Cocteau movie or anything, he seems to have mastered the tense-yet-rueful in a way few filmmakers have consistently commanded a mood (a vibe, if you will) without letting things get repetitive. Bob le Flambeur remains my fave, maybe since the main characters--if you'll permit me, I mean both Roger Duchesene's Bob and um, Paris--have such depth and are portrayed with a not uncritical warmth. In Doulos, some of the climactic flashbacks in this one could've been left to the imagination, but it's essential, and the more I think about it, the more I appreciate Belmondo's performance in a role that's a kind of red herring. Oh, remember when I wrote about how it's hard to portray friendship in movies once, and my mom and Ben were all, "Westerns! Fool!" As much or more than they're about gangsters, Melville movies (aside from Le Samourai, natch)are about friends.

I don't have much to say about Pierrot except that the more I remember little fragments of it, the more I like it. It had so much more heart than I ever expected to see in a Godard movie. I mistrusted this emotion the whole time I watched the movie, expecting some kind of trickery or irony to undercut the main characters' love and disillusion that's expressed so frankly at the narrative level. As great as Belmondo's "cool" is, seeing his character clowning around or floundering or coming apart is at once charming and unnerving.

Shit, gotta go to work. Before I go, I would like to instate a new blog-feature. It's called "I'm Against It" and it's a list of what I'm against.

1. The craft revolution
2. The urban suburb
3. Dance parties
4. The pricing of Luna Bars above $1.79
5. Expansion teams

Sunday, July 01, 2007

where i was from?

The only thoughts on "home" I can recall commmitting to writing appear in this essay I wrote for 12th grade Spanish that I still have on my computer. I assume the grammar is a giant tangled dreadlock of atrocity:

No siempre he vivido en South Orange. Viví en Canada, y después en Cincinnati. Cuando era niña, creía que todos mis problemas serían arreglados si me mudara a otro lugar. Imaginé casas bellas y grandes en lugares distintos y exóticos como Francia o Inglaterra o una granja o una isla pequeña en el mar, llenas de cosas bonitas y de amigos.

That's all true. Although I should probably have a rote answer by now, I find myself at a loss for words almost every time someone asks me where I'm from, a tendency which frightens more often than it intrigues. Sometimes I say "I moved around," but that's a lie: I've moved twice, once when I was 2.5, which is I guess around when you stop being a baby, and once when I was 13, which is whatever, being 13. I half-expected my family to leave Cincinnati the whole time we lived there, because we moved when I was at said "formative stage" and cos my parents hated it, and as soon as you start high school they start conditioning you for your departure, so that house certainly seemed impermanent. Nor do I feel, really, that some essence of Ohio or New Jersey has affected me in any way beyond the facts that yes, I've ridden the Beast at King's Island and yes, I've eaten at the Golden Touch Diner on Route 10; perhaps that best answer to the question's just "the suburbs," but that's kind of annoying and not my steez. The point is: I have never considered any structure I've lived in my "home" in the profound sense I think that word's supposed to imply. I have resided in buildings with families, friends, and things.

Last night I stayed out late in Brooklyn and slept over at a friend's in a conscious effort to avoid the mass of belongings I spent the last week consolidating and moving around that's filling the room I'm subletting in Washington Heights. I wanted to see what it'd be like, also, to wake up in the morning, tie on my sneakers and toss on my purse and head home to a home that had never been my home before.

I got out of the subway at Delancey-Essex almost without thinking; I knew that I'd find a cup of coffee with soymilk at the expensive natural food store on Ludlow and since it's Sunday there'd be a farmer's market at Tompkins where I could buy greens and then proceed across 10th St. and up to Trader Joe's for cheap cereal for tomorrow morning, and as I walked past familiar trees and shops and puppies I had the strange and potentially terrible realization that the routine of running errands downtown might be as familiar and comforting and reassuring and sometimes awful as people's "homes" are, for them, that I maybe ought never to buy nice furniture but can and will always find organic strawberries and a bench where I can eat them. That comes dangerously close to me saying "ah, the city is my home," which is, ok, almost what I mean, but not quite. I mean maybe, I might not have grown up here, my parents did not even grow up here, but the first time I came to this city at the age of 11 or so, I remember staring down 9th Ave. during some wack street fair, seeing the largest assemblage of people and empanada-vendors I'd ever seen outside of a baseball stadium and thinking right, this place makes sense.

The point is, I moved out of Inwood and now I'm perched on top of a stack of shelves from my bookshelf in a dark room and I feel a little weirder than before. I did watch TV for the first time in ages only to experience a devastatingly shitty episode of SVU about whether a 30-year-old who dates a 17-year-old with a genetic condition that makes her look like a child is a pedophile, with the worst "oh hey Stabler, I'm your new partner!" scene I could possibly have imagined. I guess, if anyone wants a lesson in "how not to organize a move," or can recommend me more jams that sound like that Northern Irish punk song "War Stories" on the Fucked Up mixtape we listened to for the 500/501st time while cleaning our old apartment, or has cable upon which I can watch "The Bronx Is Burning," you can always find me here on the internet.