Saturday, November 24, 2012

pizza thanksgiving, crock pot, seventh seal

Thanksgiving was great.  We had Canadian Thanksgiving just like a month ago with turkey and potatoes and stuff, so for American Thanksgiving we just made a bunch of Pizza with one of Nat's friends.  We also set up our Christmas tree and listened to Christmas music all afternoon.  One thing we completely avoided was the shopping, thank goodness.  Today we are going to maybe go for a little bit in Salt Lake.
I studied a bit over the week and read more in the Leonard Cohen Biography.  I also worked on a few of which I posted earlier.  Monday it's back to the grind.
I got into cooking a bit with a crock pot this week.  I made some delicious Cafe Rio style pork, some chicken dish, and tomorrow we are going to try a pork roast.  I don't know why I didn't use the thing more in college.
This week I watched "The Seventh Seal", which is a 1957 Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman that takes place during the dark ages, specifically the Black Plague.  There is this card in a board game that we play that asks the player, "Would you rather live in Medieval times, the Old West, or Modern day."  Whenever this card pops up in the game we laugh about how much of a no-brainer the answer is.  Why would anyone ever choose a time in the past?  Maybe if you chose a time in the future, that would be a bit more complicated, but nobody would actually want to go backwards.  This movie reinforced this idea.  The time period portrayed in The Seventh Seal is so dark and despairing, I felt like I was watching a movie about the apocalypse.  Doing the obligatory wikipedia browsing after the film, I guess the tone is about right.  People literally felt that the world was ending.  I mean, 75 to 200 million died by the end of the 14th century.  You never knew who was next, and when you got it, you only had about a week to live.  Death was literally around every corner.  Things were even made worse because people couldn't understand why it was happening.  They didn't even know what a virus was.  Sickness was either from God or the Devil, and so the tendency was to either run into the shelter of religion or run out of it.  In this film, the self flagellation scenes were gruesome and difficult to watch even though they weren't all that graphic.  I find it disturbing that people could be so desperate that they would buy into the notion that by preemptively punishing themselves they could escape some sort of worse divine punishment.  And this is all only just the setting for the film's narrative.  Here are some things I enjoyed about the film:
-Death was a creepy character.  The costume and make-up was very simple but somehow  memorable.  I think much credit is due to Bengt Ekerot is due, he made the whole thing work to his advantage in portraying the character.
-I guess one of the lessons is that you can never really cheat death.  It knows your time, it doesn't matter how you try to distract it, or yourself.  You can't move the pieces back.  Somehow I had a hope that maybe Antonius would win the game during the film's opening.  You realize quickly that it's not possible.  Nobody ever wins, we are just on a reprieve.
-The other striking thing is that although the characters all thought differently about religion, politics, and love, the end result was the same.  Death comes the same way for everyone-it is a great unification.  We can all live differently, but we all have death in common.  It consumes everything uniformly, nobody is special. What happens afterwards is not part of the discussion in this film.  We leave seeing them all carried away with death.  All linked together.
-As mentioned above, if nothing else, this move made me really want to think about the time period and how it effected people and culture.  Yeah, I know Ring Around the Rosy is a song about the Bubonic, but I want to read more about how the people, culture, and attitudes were effected by the massive death toll.  Any good book recommendations?
Later I'll write about Spinal Tap.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mola Ram

Happy day before/thanksgiving/black friday all

I had a few days off, so yesterday i made this little rap song.  Doesn't have much to do with Thanksgiving except I talk about food alot.  It is not really in the spirit of being generous and charitable, but I am those things nonetheless.  I didn't realize that it's been like over half a year since I made any music, so it was time to blow the cobwebs off a few of my toys.  School starts again monday and I will have to put them back in the closet for another while.  Jared Hansen played the trumpet bits for me.  It was fun.
So excited for thanksgiving, but will write more on that later of course.  Food is always good, and I like being reminded to be grateful.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jamie Lidell, Obscenity of the Jungle, Walkabout

Just starting a much need break from school.  After doing a whirlwind study of Occlusion over the last 3 days, I passed the exam and got to get out of school 2 days early.  It's a beautiful thing.  The strange thing is, almost out of habit, I found myself spending most of the morning studying for the exam that will occur after we get back.  At least it's studying without stress.  Then I decided to take a second to update blog.

Some new Jamie Lidell to the right there ====>

On Friday Nat and I went with some Dental school friends and saw the new James Bond movie.  It's amazing to me that this character has been around so long.  It's one of the few series of films with sequels that we don't roll our eyes at so much.  Maybe Bond was like that for a while and just had to get over the hump.  Or maybe every couple films was actually pretty good, and so people just learned to put up with it.  Are there any other film series that we just expect another installment to come out every few years?  I can't think of anything besides 007 that does that.  Anyway, we liked it.  Good popcorn flick, Home Alone rip off or not.
This last weekend we had my sister and her husband come to visit.  Nat made Tortilla Soup and we hung out in our freezing cold house and played games and tried to stay warm.  It actually makes us more likely to go work out just to get out of the house and get blood moving a bit.
This week I watched Walkabout, a 1971 film set in Australia directed by Nicolas Roeg.  Roeg uses this technique throughout the movie where he intersperses images from the outback throughout the movie to break up the story.  The images have a tremendous effect on you while watching the film and change with tone as the story grows darker.  The beginning of the film almost felt like watching a horror movie.  Things start out very dire and only get worse for the protagonists until the aborigine shows up.  Watching the brother and sister start to get more and more worried cut against shots of the harshness and indifference of nature makes things even more tense.  The way that Roeg treats nature reminded me a lot of Werner Herzog's style.  He loves nature, but against his better judgement.  He does not see the outback as an evil place, just as a place without a real order that we can understand.  It is chaotic; it has no investment in the well-being of the characters either way.  The absence of purpose actually makes nature as a presence in the film more scary than if it appeared to be against them.
When the aborigine shows up and his tragic story plays out, the shots that are interspersed seem to change in tone and intent.  The outback seems more like a place to be understood and adapted to than a place to escape from.  Aside from a few scenes like the butcher chopping meat, it all is very subtle.  And then again the tone switches as the aborigine boy begins his dance.  You see this from the girl's point of view even though as a viewer you can guess what is actually happening.  The results of their inability to understand each other brings the movie full-circle.  The depressed father at the beginning of the film couldn't fit in his world and exited in a terrible way.  The aborigine couldn't fit inside the new world he discovered on his walkabout and made a parallel decision.  Very sad illustration of culture clash and not fitting into the societies story.
Some random things I liked:
-The cinematography was awesome.  You could watch the movie with the sound off.  Even the scenes where the kids were just walking among the sand dunes were shot in an interesting way.
-I really liked the soundtrack.  Like I mentioned above, the beginning looked like a horror movie, and the soundtrack sounded like one.  The actual main theme was beautiful though, something to get stuck in your head.
-The little boy's monologue about superheros was interesting, but I'm not sure I can figure out how it fits into what the film was trying to convey.
-The final scene with the girl back in the city and remembering her time swimming in the outback was also a great, bittersweet moment.  Now that she has experienced what she has experienced, maybe she will never fit into society either.
-So the verdict on this one is that I would watch it again.  It was highly enjoyable and felt like it deserved repeat viewings.
Next week I am watching the Seventh Seal.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jonathan and Darlene Edwards

The awful piano singer duo:
There is a story behind it of course

Action, The Killer, Hard Boiled

We are studying Neuroanatomy  and Occlusion during this block.  Thank goodness I took anatomy this Summer!  Nothing has been too bad so far, I don’t think this will really be any different.  I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Break.  I will be reading, writing, studying, getting outdoors, and lounging.  Just need to make sure I pass the next test so I won’t have to be stressed.
Started reading a really good Leonard Cohen biography called “I’m your Man”.  It tends to put Natalie asleep when I read out loud, so whenever I start she starts accusing me of trying to knock her out.  I just thought she would be interested in the Canadian stuff.  Ha ha.  Reading some of his early poems and excerpts of stories…it’s pretty impressive.  It’s like he always could write.
Gonna go see James Bond this weekend.  I loved the first Daniel Craig one, not so keen on the second one.  Supposedly this one will be great.  My expectations are high.
This past week I watched both The Killer and Hard Boiled, directed by John Woo.  I figured since they feature the same actor director and genre I should just watch them in quick succession to get the most out of it.  Watching these films took me back to High School, a time where my brother and I were obsessed with bad action movies and replicating a version of them ourselves.  If we had a free afternoon, the only option for us was to pull out my Dad's clunky old black camera and start piecing together some sort of Kung-Fu movie.  When there were only two of us, one had to hold the camera, and we had to get creative with the action scenes.  In one short in particular, we fight each other without ever being in the same frame even once.  It was an intense shoot out, and ended with the twist that we had been fighting over a pair of high heels.  We also filmed a few with our cousins and friends.  These always turned out the best because, like the Killer and Hard Boiled, the body count could be high.  With just 4 extra people playing multiple people, the henchmen could become infinite.  In every scene, every extra would get killed before the camera would cut away.  Rinse and Repeat.  Although we never pulled out the ketchup to make fake gore, it was clear that we had an unhealthy penchant for violence.
The other funny thing about those early movies we made was that the plot was always just an afterthought.  It was something obligatory only to get you to the next scene where Keith would come at me with some sort of household appliance turned weapon.  In one scene, 4 people were all fighting each other.  Strangely, one was using a thigh master as some sort of bludgeoning device while another was strangling people with a pair of my sister's grey sweatpants.  When choreographing action scenes, we spent time and paid attention to all the details.  We would think about them weeks ahead of time and practice the whole thing long before we hit the record button.  With the editing system we had, you were much better off if you could film all the scenes in order, and preferably only the once.  The story lines, on the other hand, were an off the cuff generic mess.  Generally a secret agent had to infiltrate some base and eventually fight the end boss.  Often there would be a partner who was a double agent on the inside who would join forces with the hero, and usually end up getting killed towards the finale for dramatic effect.  There were just reheated standard plots from the kung-fu and cop movies we had been watching.  The reason I write about all this in conjunction with John Woo's two movies is that if I would have kept making films this way my entire life, I believe I would eventually have become some sort of version of John Woo.  
I understand terrible action movies because of those experiences.  The directors aren't bad or dumb people, they are just overly excited about the action and don't really get an adrenaline rush thinking about character interactions.  They just want to see stuff blow up, like my brother and I did.  These days, I have less appreciation for shoot-em-up style movies if they don't have anything else going for them, but I at least feel like I sympathize with the director’s mania.  To John Woo the action scenes are the art, the rest is all periphery.
He does some cool stuff as well.  Here are some of the things that stuck out:
-The whole final scene of The Killer is great because of the contrast.  Shoot-out in a church, blood on the white suit, blood on flour, doves flying around during the violence…it’s all great.  As a kid I would have loved to come up with stuff like that, I would have thought it was hilarious.  It makes everything so much more dramatic.  Same thing in Hard Boiled, the last scene is in a hospital with crying babies and sick people running for the exit.
-Out of the two movies, I think I preferred Hard Boiled.  Keeping everything I wrote about above in mind, it was because it seemed that Woo was a bit more concerned with making the characters more complex.  Amongst the cops and criminals there are characters with honor and some without.  The Killer tried to build this dynamic, but I didn’t feel like Chow Yun Fat’s character really was all that tragic.  I didn’t feel bad for him as a repentant assassin, and the last scene felt even more videogame like.  There was way more joy in finale of Hard Boiled because of the unexpected nature of some of the character’s actions.
-Watching the movies through my young director’s eyes, I loved all the sliding on the ground shooting scenes.  Or sliding down bannisters.  Or sliding around on gurneys in the morgue.  Or sliding in to a building on a motorcycle and shooting the entire time.  Somebody needs to replicate the slide shoot in some video game.  Best move ever.
-Nobody ever, ever, runs out of bullets. 

Next week is Walkabout.  Stream it on Hulu.