1. December

  2. MOVIE: Porco Rosso (1992)-- Hayao Miyazaki.
  3. A good mean between the epic drive forward story-telling of Princess Mononoke and the gentle meandering narrative of My Neighbor Totoro. It also juggles with tone much more swiftly than Miyazaki's other films. One of the only ones that comes to mind that is actually something of a character study, a less grand sweeping theme, less of a tale of a place and a time. Much of the film, in a very Ozu like way, is the downtime between things happening, is people waiting. Definitely beautiful!
  4. MOVIE: Pom Poko (1994)-- Isao Takahata.
  5. In making a fanciful film about folklore creatures in the form of a historical essay, Takahata has made something really special here with the idiosyncratic pacing and use of voice-over narration (both from an omniscient narrator and testimony of characters). It's probably one of the most elegantly made fake-documentaries I've seen. Perhaps at times a little hamfisted about its environmentalism, more importantly it makes you feel for the fight to thrive that the tribe of tanuki face. It is also adorable as all hell. Those fucking raccoon-dogs are the cutest chubby critters.
  6. MOVIE: Whisper of the Heart/If You Listen Closely (1995)-- Yoshifumi Kondo.
  7. I didn't think anything could make me like "Take Me Home, Country Road" as much as this film. I also didn't think I could tear up from a throwaway scene. Definitely the most emotionally rich and yet muted of Ghibli's productions that I have seen.
  8. MOVIE: The Cat Returns/The Cats' Repayment (2002)-- Hiroyuki Morita.
  9. Rewatch on 35mm. Going into Whisper of the Heart with high expectations, I predicted that my opinion of Cat Returns would fall-- but despite all its flaws, I like it more now and it feels fuller, in some way, when watched after Whisper of the Heart. It stands up on its own as a dopey cute little popcorn-adventure, but after Whisper of the Heart,
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    it emerges as something like the final version of Shizuku's story, so warts and all, it becomes sweeter thinking of it as being the organic growth of Whisper of the Heart
  10. LIST: Top operas (2012)-- Piero Scaruffi.
  11. Jesus Christ Superstar is ahead of Nixon in China, La Boheme, Eugene Onegin, and Moses Und Aron. Mr Scaruffi, are you fucking stupid? That should be on the damn pop-opera list. I mean seriously. Also the Wagner-fellation and early-modern-atonality-fellation (as much as I do love Wagner) is hilariously predictable.
  12. ALTO: Aafje Heynis (1924-now)-- Aafje Heynis.
  13. Aafje Heynis is fucking perfect.
  14. FILM: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1985)-- Hayao Miyazaki.
  15. One of the most truly wondrous and sublime films I have seen. Even despite its limited scope, there is a vision of a giant sprawling complex world beyond the 120 minutes you happen to gaze upon. The titular heroine too is one of the strongest and most uplifting I've seen on-screen, with one of the most simple and powerful moments happening near the beginning, just when a small critter bites her finger.-- the power of gentleness and empathy. I feel immensely lucky to have seen this on a 35mm print.
  16. OPERA: Euridice (1600)-- Jacopo Peri.
  17. A very strange stepping stone from the renaissance to the baroque. I think most would find this opera the most painfully boring opera possible because it is almost 95% recitative. But as someone who often finds just listening to people talk more enjoyable than listening to music, that's perfectly fine with me. There is little that can be called a solo melody to be found in this, but it is if anything a worthy experiment in attempting to “heighten” a drama with music/singing, and a noble effort to reignite the flames of the mostly-lost ancient greek music-dramas.
  18. CLOSET-DRAMA: The Final Days of Immanuel Kant (2005?)-- Odd Nerdrum.
  19. One of the most heartbreaking plays I've ever encountered. While it largely acts as a major criticism of Immanuel Kant, it also greatly humanizes him in a very unexpected turn halfway through the play after making him into something of a villain. The tone is something like Peter Keating's "doing what you want" monologue from The Fountainhead for 100 pages straight. It truly is hard to do what you want, to be honest with yourself. It requires the strength to be vulnerable.
  20. POEMS: The 19 Holy Sonnets (1610)-- John Donne.
  21. If anyone thinks they should write poetry of angst, they need to read these poems beforehand-- these poems are the alpha and omega of spiritual angst-- as well as sexual angst and interpersonal angst and every angst. They are some of the most deeply felt and muscularly direct poetic treatments one can find. Donne wields the tight confined style of the sonnet like a broadsword. He swoops and crushes and screams his soul out.

  22. November

  23. SONG: First Pythian Ode (~400bc)-- Pindar.
  24. The absolute beauty of ancient music makes me more angry than anything because of how little survives to this day. Thank you, iconoclasm, the several burnings of the library of Alexandria. A less sarcastic thank you to the Islamic renaissance that saved much of the ancient greek and hellenistic literature and history we now have.
  25. FILM: Daisies (1966)-- Vera Chytilova.
  26. If this is feminism, it is the worst most immature form of feminism ... Some women were irresponsible ignorant slobs who decide to live their lives to be jerks-- specifically to be jerks to men-- whenever possible. They're even inconsiderate to eachother for no reason. Then when there's a silly scene showing them not getting help for a random arbitrary situation, the film suggests that you are either DESTROYING THE PATRIARCHY or you are SO OPPRESSED AND LYING TO YOURSELF. Cutting their own sheets, slovenly eating sausages and pickles shows their disregard for traditional power dynamics but it's also completely stupid. And the use of music, especially Wagner, was hamhanded and idiotic.
  27. BOOK: Enchiridion (1258)-- Epictetus.
  28. Practical and simple... Moderation in all things, concentrate only on the things you have power over and nothing outside your control, live in the moment and represent your philosophy without pontificating ... That last one is a lesson that many artists ought to learn. Your politics can more than easily survive implicitly in your actions and need not be the be-all-end-all of your life. Your joys and passions display criticism to their opposites in the simple fact of creating something you like and enjoy.
  29. MUSIC: The last six piano sonatas played by Glenn Gould (1793/4)-- Joseph Haydn.
  30. For a long time I thought Haydn was boring and just a composer's-composer in that everything he did had some kind of metric perfection to it, but really had no underpinning of life to make it really worth much more than music history scholarship. But these! Like Montaigne said, “Happiness wracks us”. All of these little pieces of chamber music act as light furniture music, but while they are light in tone, they are as intense as belly-laughter. They're loving and warm always and have depth and wit and intelligence.
  31. EXHIBIT: Ian Wallace: the intersection of photography and painting (2012)-- Vancovuer Art GAllery.
  32. I've always hated Ian Wallace's work, at least the things that I've been shown until now. I was extremely shocked to find that Wallace is actually a very good photographer, with a really natural eye for composition of people in a frame. Unfortunately he also seemed to think that this is something that needed theoretical bolstering, so then the highly unnecessary “endgame painting aesthetic” was adopted. The monochrome fields he adds to his paintings largely take away from them. There are a few instances that make good frames, and a few interesting instances of a kind of “touch-up” to improve composition by blocking out certain parts of the frame, but the conceptual backing with the additions of text and abstract design largely just function to cripple the photographs. Poverty, Lookout, Some fo the Heroes On The Street, and the photographs that make up Image/Text are amazing works, deeply felt scenes. The Vancouver-School-Style cold critical aspects are ruinous to their qualities, though.
  33. EXHIBIT: Hope At Dawn: Watercolours of Carr and Collings (2012)-- Vancovuer Art GAllery.
  34. I had no idea Emily Carr's paintings could be as not-boring as this. The watercolorus seem to have a lot more of a discerning eye than the oil paintings do. She seems to get closer to herself, so to speak, in these works. Collings too achieves a strange atmospheric luminosity.
  35. PLAY: Prometheus Bound (415bc)-- Aeschylus or Euphorion.
  36. Making a complicated statement about the nobility of free thought even at the price of severe punishment-- Humanization of Prometheus, the archetypical traitor of the gods' power.
  37. COMIC: Stuck Rubber Baby (1995)-- Cruse.
  38. Like if Bechdel's Fun Home was the most awkwardly paced and lifelessly drawn comic possible.
  39. SONG: Hurrian Cult Song 6 (1500bc)-- Author Unknown.
  40. I am reminded of Kierkegaard saying that he likes how emotionally open and expulsive people are in the Old Testament. Which pre-dating the bible by many hundreds of years, this short composition (in its several reconstructions) gives that feeling of a very open vulnerable depth of emotion. A hymn to a fertility goddess, the female speaker of the poem laments that she cannot bear children. A stark simple melody, lamenting a lack of control.

  41. October

  42. FILM: Come Back, Africa (1961)-- Lionel Rogosin.
  43. Not as poetic or full as Rogosin's first film, On the Bowery, probably because of his outsider persepctive, but is still a great effort (with a handful of the most beautiful scenes you'd seen in any documentary (the street scenes showing musicians, the Miriam Makeba party scene, Vinah's Lament)). While Rogosin allows the people in the film largely to speak for themselves, it is unfortunate that many of the people in the film-- real people often times essentially playing themselves in recreated scenes-- are tragically bad at acting. But there was a lot of danger in making an anti-apartheid film in the early 1960s, so I can give them something of a pass on that note since they could all get put in jail at any time.
  44. FILM: Ornette: Made in America (1985)-- Shirley Clarke.
  45. Shirley Clarke's last film work is, unfortunately, an absolute disaster. Made sloppily with 20 years worth of footage, it also occasionally awkwardly apes video art. Researching it afterward, it seems that the elderly Shirley Clarke was starting to get Alzheimer’s at the time of this getting made and it shows.
  46. FILM: The Connection (1960)-- Shirley Clarke.
  47. A great balance between problems of documentary representation and pathos. An even better and more sensitive Beat movie than Shadows. Does and amazingly believable job with its fakedocumentary aspect. Most films that fake their documentary aesthetic drop it at some point and it stops being much of a documentary in style or structure. This one, however, is rife with clever little turns and always gives reasonable reasons for every strange angle and cut. In addition, every single angle and cut is also beautifully set up and affecting.
  48. OPERA SERIA: Giulio Cesare (1724)-- Georg Frederic Handel.
  49. A strange mannerist story but it somehow works-- in the effort to make a more “nobel” style of opera, all of the characters, including the villains, of this work have their reasonable and, in their own way noble, reasons for doing as they do. Even at the most violent and impetuous the characters act with determination and deliberation. The music too reflects this, with a tempered yet intense emotional drive to the music ... One thing I wish though is that modern singers would improvise the da-capo arias more. It would be great to hear people really go to town on the da-capo, rather than just adding a few more high notes and cadenzas. But damn, classical music improvisation seems to be a lost art.
  50. FILM: 10-16 (1996)-- Gillian Wearing.
  51. Frailty on parade. The striving of everyone is heroic.
  52. Opera: Lucia Di Lammermoor (1835)-- Gaetano Donizetti.
  53. As per usual with Donizetti, there is a constant nervy agitation in this piece, which fits perfectly in a tale of descent into madness like this one. It is also an almost non-stop explosion of emotional honesty and love-lorn anxiety. The opera also contains probably the most beautiful elaboration of a single frozen second of time in all of opera-- the sextet.
  54. PLAY: Seven Against Thebes (467bc)-- Aeschylus.
  55. Otherworldly intensity-- early example of “God helps those who help themselves”.-- Self determination at all costs.

  56. September

  57. FILM: We Will Not Grow Old Together (1974)-- Maurice Pialat.
  58. Cassavetes + France = this. The film follows a very strange symmetrical story-structure in a macro-level despite that it is, within its scenes, very naturalistic. In the first half a failing relationship is seen through the eyes of the woman in it, trying to make it work; the man of the relationship is all but fed up. And almost exactly cleanly in the second half, she decides to attempt to move on-- and the man of the relationship tries desperately to make it work. This is where the film becomes more interesting and complex, the first half seemingly functioning almost solely to make the man a total prick. In the second half, everyone's vulnerabilities come into play and characters achieve an unnerving depth and become relateable no matter how much you'd rather not relate to them.
  59. MOVIE: Ernest Et Celestine (2012)-- Renner, Patar, Aubier-.
  60. Script flows like a poem, with a palpable but not overbearing rhythm-- Characters are sweet but not saccharinely flawless-- Design is animation at the most adorable since Miyazaki's hay-day-- PURE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING.
  61. EXHIBIT: Traffic, conceptual art in 1970s canada (2012)-- Vancouver Art Gallery.
  62. There have been a few times when I wake up in the morning and it took me 8 or so waking hours of doing absolutely nothing to force myself to get out of bed. The only time I have in a public place had this feeling is at this exhibition.-- Pure self destructive nihilism.
  63. POEMS: We Are Seven and the Lucy poems (1790s)-- William Wordsworth.
  64. Simple, direct, and deep. Even in the simple language it amazes how rich and uplifting Wordsworth can be. Even in the tragic aspects of his poetry, there is an inherent jump and cry of life and of joy. Even as two of a little girl's seven siblings have died in We Are Seven, they live on in her heart and soul. Wordsworth's poetry is living.
  65. MOVIE: Little Man What Now (1946)-- Frank Borzage.
  66. An absolute triumph in romanticism. One great touch is how spectral the socio-political forces in the film are; it takes place during the rise of Naziism during inter-war Germany, but by and large it concentrates on the simple story of a young married couple trying to get by. Their life and their problems and their joys are the real story of it all. The leading man in the film is also one of the msot convincing and well characterized schizoid personality-types in cinematic history (along with George Bailey of It's A Wonderful Life). I need to find more Borzage. He understands the requirement of spiritual/emotional reality over a cosmetic surface reality, and that the political reality is the latter.
  67. PHILOSOPHY: Surviving Aphorisms (~470bc)-- Heraclitus.
  68. Some flow like Zen koans. Some sound beautiful but are tautological and meaningless. Some are uselessly metaphoric to the point of being unparsable 2500 years later, today. But some make beautiful little insights to thought and relationships.
  69. EXHIBITION: UBC grad student show (2012)-- Belkin Art Gallert.
  70. For some reason I found everything here funny. I wonder how one gets away with it or how emotionally bankrupt one has to be to be an artist.

  71. August

  72. LETTER: Letter to Menoeceus (~250bc)-- Epicurus.
  73. It's strange when ancient philosophy can be so heartwarming. The more I read of Epicurus themore he seems like a nicer, more moderate Ayn Rand.
  74. MOVIE: Dracula (1930)-- Tod Browning.
  75. Stylistically full of quirky uncanny turns, and Lugosi's much parodied role of Dracula is actually performed quite amazingly well, with a strange earnestness.
  76. MOVIE: The Mummy (1932)-- Karl Freund.
  77. While generally a completely forgettable movie plot and technique wise, the film gets major points for Boris Karloff's really powerful acting.
  78. MOVIE: Frankenstein (1931)-- James Whale.
  79. Of the first several Universal monster films, this one had the most nuance in its style and treatment. Karloff's performance is head and shoulders above everyone else's.
  80. MOVIE: I Want Your Love (2012)-- Travis Mathews.
  81. An extremely warm film about peoples' attempts to vie for affection. The fact that it is openly pornographic will probably offput a lot of people (but not as many as that it's a mumblecore movie would, hahaha), but it makes for an interesting aspect of the film in that how the character interact sexually is just as important and revealing as how they interact in any other way.
  82. MOVIE: The Mill And The Cross (2011)-- Lech Majewski.
  83. Staring with a very simplistic understanding and under-researched view of Breughel and his art, this film is almost entirely just a transference of various vignettes of Breughel's paintings made into moving images. No new insights are made throughout the film, and seemed only an exercise to make a painting move. Interesting to note that 90% of the dialogue of the film is in the trailer.
  84. MOVIE: All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)-- Lewis Milestone.
  85. An extremely intense and strikingly modern war epic. The camerawork and compositions are some of the best of the era, perhaps ever, and really epitomize the idea that any given frame could be it's own meaningful photo or painting or something. The sound design is top notch for such an early film, extremely simple but always enhances the film tenfold. Even for its plethora of early-sound affectations, it feels to have an amazing frankness and verisimilitude.
  86. PLAY: The Persians (470 BC)-- Aeschylus.
  87. A strange and sublime drama-- something I've noticed with what little Greek drama I've read and read about is that the action fo the play takes place entirely in what, in another narrative, would be the denoument. The last 1/3-1/6 of the story is what the Freek-Tragedy version of that story would be (A good example would be to take Shakespeare's Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet and read only the last acts of those). There is something otherworldly about this drama, and how propulsive it is even though nothing happens and it is entirely just character reacting to past events. Somehow, paring down drama to high emotional reactions works wonders. It's also something of a noble effort to make a very human and humanizing drama about the empire that was threatening to crush Greece only recently before this play was written.
  88. MOVIE: Marnie (1964)-- Alfred Hitchcock.
  89. Technically exceptional and absolutely boring.
  90. PAINTING: The Flagellation of Christ (1460)-- Piero della Francesca.
  91. It's amazing the chromaticism of human emotional experience that della Francesca can create with figures that are, by and large, completely blank-faced (talkinga bout all his paintings, not just this one). His understanding of composition, perspective, and posing allowed him to make immediately striking and simple appearing compositions that have infinitely complex structures. I also found that taking the poses of figures in paintings like this really helps in understanding them-- taking and holding their pose can give one a new understanding of things that seemed enigmatic at only a glance. Something interesting I noticed that really isn't terribly important, but sort of cool, is that of the nine figures (including the statue atop the central column Christ is tied to) they all together look in the 8 cardinal directions-- someone's gaze is going everywhere.
  92. MOVIE: Lola (1981)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  93. It seems as if Veronika Voss was black and white because Fassbinder just got tired of colours after this big bright primaries-only extravaganza. Also I gotta say that the protagonist is so damn cute; just the adorablest bureaucrat ever. However the music was more than a little bit overpowering (in a bad way) oftentimes.

  94. July

  95. MOVIE: Chinese Roulette (1976)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  96. While it could be cut down greatly in some parts (specifically the ones where it desperately wants to show off some solipsistic intelligence a la Godard), the main narrative experiment of the film is strangely compelling: Making the entirety of character development and study take place over a surprisingly dramatic parlor game.
  97. MOVIE: Veronika Voss (1982)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  98. One of the most melodramatic oof Fassbinder's many melodramas, and also probably one of the most emotionally affecting. The cinematography is some of the strangest, all blown out and with star-filters so that everyone floats on a beautiful white (sterile) cloud, often surrounded by glitzy glamourous stars, hiding pathetically beneath this veneer. This film notably contains probably the most gratuitous of all the gratuitous shirtless black men in Fassbinder's films.
  99. MOVIE: Fear Of Fear (1975)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  100. The German A Woman Under The Influence.
  101. MOVIE: Effi Briest (1974)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  102. The apex of Fassbinder's ability to show sympathetic characters, all meaning well, hurting themselves and killing their souls (See: the full title of the film for a better description of what it is about than I could ever possibly give). Considering this, Angst Essen Seele Auf, and Fistfight For Freedom, 1974 was a great year for Fassbinder. Probably Fassbinder's most elegant balance of humane warmth and objective detachment and his most subtle affectations.
  103. PLAY: The Suppliant Maidens (472 BC)-- Aeschylus.
  104. The origins of drama in religious ritual are quite clear in this extended ode to Zeus, it is not without its affecting and beautiful moments, but it is largely quite flat.
  105. POETRY: Various random poems (1880s)-- Emily Dickinson.
  107. MOVIE: Beware Of A Holy Whore (1970)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  108. A strange and singular look at the horrors of the creative process, and a worthy comedy of manners concerning filmmaking. A little too injokey to be all that accessible, but quite interesting all the same. Extremely loosely and languidly filmed around its infuriating and hilarious characters. I don't see how this could possibly not be considered an all out comedy. Sure it's pretty morose and German-- but it's still silly and absurd.
  109. MOVIE: Merchant of Four Seasons (1971)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  110. It's got Sirk written all over it-- which is not at all a pejorative. It's just that, having found a major muse, Fassbinder doesn't really bother covering up his sources here. He, in fact, uses the source material beautifully. The bright colours and staged compositions that entrap the protagonist (who is an adorable little man) enhance the quietly distraught story. Many of its uses of zooms are quite affective.
  111. MOVIE: Sabotage (1936)-- Alfred Hitchcock.
  112. When I noticed that this was based on a Joseph Conrad story, I thought this might actually have a bit of weight to it. I was quite disappointed by the time I watched it though. Not entirely disappointed however-- the film almost attempts to make some kind of morally ambiguous questioning of terrorism and murder, but falls on its face for the most part. Cleverly written and felt more whole (compositionally, narratively, emotionally) than 39 Steps. Oscar Homolka and Sylvia Sidney manage pretty good performances. The much tauted final scene between them is actually extremely well put together-- Homolka's face and expressions are magic. And the ensuing denouement feels elegant (despite part of it being used as deus ex machina to narrowly and arbitrarily avoid a proper tragic ending for its subject matter.
  113. MOVIE: Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  114. While I don't agree with the assessment, I can see why there are some lesbians and feminists who might see this film as misogynist/homophobic-- Simply because it might say that lesbians can be the authors of their own problems, who can be mean and cold and manipulative to eachother, and not solely victims of the kyriarchy. Fassbinder's view of people is honest, warts and all. Even then, there's a respect and affection for his amazingly flawed characters. A very intelligently written and leisurely paced women's picture. All of the dialogue is intimate, at times uncomfortably so. Fassbinder exercises his compositional talents extremely well with the singular set of the film (however sometimes it gets a bit dry). The ending of this film is something of a tragical hat-on-top-of-a-hat; tragedy ad absurdum, so it becomes darkly comic and almost surreal while still sad and impactful. (And while there are no naked black men in this film, there is a large portion of the dialogue dedicated to talking about a naked black man)
  115. MOVIE: The 39 Steps (1935)-- Alfred Hitchcock.
  116. I cannot fathom how Pauline Kael could sat this is "one of the 2 or 3 best things Hitchcock has ever done" or how it could be considered the masterpiece of Hitchcock's British period. While it has some cute flourishes, it is by and large extremely slapdash feeling and really clumsily paced, which made a lot of it downright boring despite its best efforts. Even those occasional impressive flourishes are a little hamhanded and stick out weirdly. The characters have absolutely no character-- the protagonist's only trait is that he's Canadian. In the very least, it was a fairly entertaining episodic thriller.
  117. MOVIE: Aventure Malgache (1944)-- Alfred Hitchcock.
  118. One of the most boring things I've ever seen. It's just that nothing really worked. The suspense wasn't, the characters also weren't very present. It makes sense to me that this film was never supposed to be released.
  119. MOVIE: Bon Voyage (1944)-- Alfred Hitchcock.
  120. Beautiful photography-- too bad the story is really shallow and mindnumbingly simple. Little more than a cautionary wartime patriotism PSA. At least it looks nice.
  121. MOVIE: Fox and his Friends/Fistfight For Freedom (1975)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  122. Fassbinder seems to have a knack of titling his films with statements that are taglines and synopses and distill the point of the picture-- Fistfight For Freedom is a good example. I beautiful and heartbreaking story about one working-glass gay man's fistfight for freedom-- and everyone who takes advantage of him for their particular fights for freedom. One thing that's odd about this, especially seeing as it's about homosexuals, is that Fassbinder didn't have any gratuitous swarthy naked men like all his other films seem to (just gratuitous pale naked Fassbinder). Fassbinder's synthesis of Hollywood Melodrama's pure sincere pathos with his new-wave vivacity and frankness is an amazing feat.
  123. MOVIE: Angst Essen Seele Auf (1974)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  124. Rewatch on 35mm. It is far less cynical seeming this time through. Quite the opposite, even. I can't think of anything to say about it aside from quoting the title card that perfectly sums up everything the film stands for: "Happiness is not always fun". It's also privately funny to me that I can actually understand Ali's German speaking quite well, and everyone else's very little; shows one what skill level I'm at with that!
  125. MOVIE: All That Heaven Allows (1955)-- Douglas Sirk.
  126. Rewatch on 35mm. Ah, how the colours pop. Something I noticed this time around, considering both Wyman's great performance and the hefty handful of (homo)sexually-loaded lines of Hudson's, I was thinking maybe the reason why Hudson acts so awkwardly and badly in this film in particular is that Sirk (a homosexual) put more concern in coyly nodding to Hudson's sexuality than making him much of a character compared to Wyman. Also MONA IS SUCH A FUCKING BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH.
  127. MOVIE: Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)-- Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  128. In my scant experience with Fassbinder, the main thing about his oeuvre I have learned: If there is not at least one swarthy man (naked, or at least shirtless) in it, it can't be a Fassbinder film.

  129. June.

  130. MOVIE: Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010)-- Jan Švankmajer.
  131. An oddly warm satire of psychoanalytics and dream interpretation. The whole thing is beautifully and idiosyncratically animated mostly with cutouts of photographs, live action extreme close-ups, and the occasional stop-motion bit. Something I enjoyed about it is how it gave a certain amount of support to psychological theory and wasn't entirely "MODERN MEDICINE AND PSYCHOLOGY ARE EVIL". It did this while still having a critical edge to the coldness of psychiatry, showing the events of the protagonist's dreamlife weren't simply piles of symbols to be analyzed, but full experiences worthy of being had for themselves as well.
  132. MOVIE: Tokyo Oasis (2011)-- Kana Matsumoto, Kayo Nakamura.
  133. :3
  134. MOVIE: Faust (1994)-- Jan Švankmajer.
  135. A little too clever by half in some ways compared to Alice. Even the animation, aside from the Homunculus scene weren't near as good as Alice. I don't know how to say it besides that the film just didn't add up to as much as Alice did.
  136. MOVIE: Alice (1987)-- Jan Švankmajer.
  137. For as disturbing and distressing as this film can seem, for as muted and occasionally dismal it is, this film is surprisingly funny and sweet. It's more true to childhood fantasy than the more childish Alice in Wonderland adaptations. The animation and puppeteering is also absolutely beautiful, and the White Rabbit is strangely cute for a real taxidermied rabbit with googly eyes glued on.
  138. MOVIE: Trial On The Road (1971)-- Alexei Gherman.
  139. A beautiful and strange war film. I have no idea what to say about it besides that it was the most accessible of the Gherman films I've seen thus far in that it's about war and morality and not specific Russian historical events. It's weird seeing Anatoly Solonitsyn in anything that's not a Tarkovsky movie; he was still good, but completely different.
  140. MOVIE: My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1984)-- Alexei Gherman.
  141. While this film was pretty good and had a nice Chekohovian care for supposed "doomed characters", I cannot imagine how this could be voted as "Best Soviet Film" over the likes of Stalker and Shadows Of Our Forgotten Ancestors or Ivan The Terrible. I keep thinking that there's something that's just very culturally specific about Gherman's movies. Perhaps the importance of political relevancy in his work is what makes it come off as somewhat cold to people who have never been to Soviet Russia.
  142. SCREENPLAY/ARTBOOK: Unfurnished Apartments For Rent (2003)-- Isabelle Pauwels.
  143. A strange and funny surreal story about down-and-out people removing walls from their empty apartments to make furniture with. The artbook aspect of it is really interesting: the book comes without its signatures cut, the tops of the pages still bound together, which you have to cut open yourself to read it-- which is a similar revealing action that the characters of the stories take with their apartment walls. Occasionally it's marred by stilted dialogue that seems to not be stilted for the sake of an artistic point but just stilted because OOPS, but the stories and ideas are always interesting and weirdly engaging.
  144. MOVIE: The Seventh Companion (1967)-- Alexei Gherman, Grigori Aronov .
  145. The best of the three Gherman's so far, but I still certainly don't see how anyone can take him over Tarkovsky ("To many Russian critics, cinephiles, and viewers Gherman is their national cinema’s foremost figure after Tarkovsky. Others insist that, in fact, he is more important and more original."-- Film Comment). This film is the most forward of Gherman's work, but even then contains the striking and odd slithering cinematography, just slightly more mannered. This film is a little more optimistic, less interested in making sure the characters are deeply flawed, more interest in showing flawed people as not bad people, and bad systems at work.
  146. MOVIE: Twenty Days Without War (1976)-- Alexei Gherman.
  147. Less specifically-Russian-History, but still very specifically Russian. The frank but affectionate look at a provincial town that manufactures weapons of war, but never really sees war, was interesting-- The heroizing disconnect between the protagonist's experience, and his hometown's expectations of him. The storytelling, though, felt a little awkward. Otherwise I really have no idea what to say?
  148. MOVIE: Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998)-- Alexei Gherman.
  149. I feel like it might be unfair of me to rate this? It seems like it's a clever idea and concept, but with absurdist humour about something highly culturally specific, just about every winking reference and ellipsis of major historical events are completely lost on me. I feel like the only people who will get a whole lot out of this film are experts of recent Russian history. But then that's a weakness isn't it? Making it not so specific on a personal level, but specific in a historical/cultural level, expecting the audience ot know all the facts of the matter? I'm sure in 1998 Russia, the situation of the film (the doctors' plot and the minutae surrounding Stalin's death) would be more familiar and easily accessible, but yeah. I dunno.
  150. MOVIE: Hard Core Logo (1996)-- Bruce McDonald.
  151. I usually get annoyed at mockumentaries and such because they often don't use documentary form in their pretend-documentary, and make their movies too much like fiction in their story structure and style. But this one is different for some reason-- it seems like the documentary aspect came just out of making it fine if people look at the camera, or if the boom mic is visible. Most of the time it's just a very frank drama. And somehow it actually works where the camera suddenly moves tot he background, and people stop asking Bruce McDonald himself random questions. The acting is top notch, with really human characterizations and a really interesting and sentimental satire of punk rock and ideology. A PART OF OUR HERITAGE.
  152. MOVIE: Highway 61 (1991)-- Bruce McDonald.
  153. Written like the writers were high in the worst ways. However it is actually a really fun movie, in the very least. Good acting despite meaningless stupid scenes for the most part. A really "canadian" kind of movie for better or for worse and it's kind of-- holy shit is that Jello Biafra?!.

  154. May.

  155. MOVIE: Something Wild (1960)-- Jack Garfein.
  156. One of the most aggressively strange films I've ever seen, and at the same time also one of the most understated. It's a film where events, even the most horrific and strange, simply happen, and the audience is left to interpret quite a bit. Also one of the few films where its long periods of silence are ruled by the actors and are not purely director-driven. The acting is some of the most piercing and amazing, every line, every look loaded. At face value, this film is somewhat "culturally questionable" and "problematic", but the more I thought about it, the more, really, it just WASN'T-- what it is is complex and weird-- just like the actions of real people. Strange to see the cinematographer of Metropolis work so well with this obviously-actors-studio-inspired film. The film's subtext, and the film is entirely subtext, somehow increases the tension tenfold; there were several times it took me twenty minutes to go "OH that is what this character meant in that scene before", and not in a NOW A BIG REVELATION kind of way, but in a quiet epiphany, and that's one of this film's main strengths. Evidently Aaron Copland, on his 80th birthday, when New York was doing some kind of big celebration in his honour, he was asked what piece of his he would like to have performed-- his request was for a screening of Something Wild, and HOT DAMN he did a great job with the score here. It also has, by far, my favourite Saul Bass opening.
  157. COMICS: The Spirit Warren Magazine reprints # 2, 10, 16 (1974/5)-- Will Eisner.
  158. Some stories are great, some not so much, but that's hardly surprising considering the weekly deadlines for the 8-page comics. Something that consistently amazed me with these comics was their use of typography and lettering in really unique and creative ways, often makes the voices and sounds more palpable. And even as this is before Eisner started getting really experimental with layouts, you can see the spark of that leaking out here and there. The most interesting stories are often the ones where The Spirit himself is only a guest appearance for someone else's plot, often times just some regular schmo caught up in something rough. Always very human stories.
  159. ESSAYS: On Kitsch (2000)-- Odd Nerdrum, et al.
  160. First of all, Nerdrum and all the painters of his ilk use Kitsch as a term very differently than people generally would use-- not describing campy and ironic and "bas taste" things, but rather art that is more emotionality than cerebral, more body than brain, more craft than concept. It can be connected to "New Sincerity" and other "post-post-modernism" ideas. And his odd, positive, take on the term "kitsch" actually in some ways comes out of some scathing definitions of Kitsch from the early 20th century (that come out of Kant & Hegel's philosophy on what art is). It's interesting to think that painting like Rembrandt today, just in that, is enough to be a highly controversial figure. Many of the essays are really uplifting and I find myself quite identifying with being a "kitsch person" simply in the definition of finding contemporary art so damn impersonal, that emotion and soul and life has been ripped from art (although I don't necessarily agree with Nerdrum that fine technical rendering is the only thing that truly matters or thinking of that in an objective grounds, but still). I found some of his in-passing points interesting, such as saying that THE main goal of painting is the sensual portrayal of skin and flesh. Other affirmations of individuality and idiosyncrasy and devotion and love and optimism that I can't remember directly also pepper the book. The most scholarly of the bunch, the ones by Dag Sohljell, are probably the most directly educational of the bunch and give the best idea of the sources of terms and ideas, but are often the least interestingly written. The book, despite great content, is unfortunately really badly copy-edited, filled with really strange typos and misprints and mistranslations.
  161. COMIC: The Death Ray (2004)-- Daniel Clowes.
  162. The postmodern counterpoint to Alan Moore's modernist Watchmen. A spiderman-like story with real teenage angst and confusion, and a really strikign deconstruction of the super hero genre. Better at "with great power comes great responsibility" than Spiderman ever was.
  163. POETRY: Song of Songs (~)-- The Jerusalem Bible.
  164. If this is any indication, God's love is pretty fuckin' sexual. Also probably the best extended sex and coupling metaphor in the entire world. Sensuality in the form of words? LOOK NO FURTHER.
  165. COMIC: Wilson (2010)-- Daniel Clowes.
  166. The second of two major deconstructions of comic book form by Clowes (after the post-modern super hero rag The Death Ray), this one deals with an aging misanthrope in the form of 6-panel brightly coloured Sunday-Paper strips. Dopey punchline and all! And it makes the titular character's weird and acerbic attitudes and actions even more odd; it also, strangely enough, helps humanize him. While he's drawn in a highly unflattering way, it's almost always in a "cartoony" unflattering way, which makes him look harmless, almost cute. Something interesting Clowes said about his recent work is that he was interested in writing characters who are basically very reprehensible people and figure out how and why to feel for them still, that maybe they're not ALL bad or something like that. This book is no Ghost World, but it's still a great work.
  167. COMIC: Black Blizzard (1956)-- Yoshihiro Tatsumi.
  168. Very moodily written, typical of Tatsumi, but also it is SO DAMN FAST, unlike the Tatsumi short stories I've read. It's still a very well paced, and vividly written/drawn noir comic. It has a pretty disappointing last 10 pages though-- but then again, if it didn't have an abrupt, disappointing ending, it wouldn't be noir.
  169. MOVIE: Terminal City (1982)-- Christopher Gallagher.
  170. One of the only two truly moving (even at a small level) of the evening. Perhaps a little long, but it kind of keeps the mystery going of what this almost completely still shit is, what's even happening, why there's not a single living soul around, it could almost be a still image. [spoiler]So when you finally start seeing the hyper slow motion plumes of smoke starts coming out of the windows, and the building start to collapse, it's all the more shocking and in some strange way invigorating, the image fading into an abstract composition of smoke
  • MOVIE: Ma (1986)-- Kate Craig.
  • Overlong, annoying for the sake of being annoying, and treads similar, if not the exact same ground, constantly, to no new insights.
  • MOVIE: Straight Jacket (1980)-- Kate Craig.
  • As a work of performance-documentation, this is honestly kind of horrible. The only way you could get that this was anything at all would be to get a curator's explanation of it. As a work of sculpture, the elaborate pink straight jacket made out of fine satin is an interesting feminist statement, but the video and the accompanying song add nothing to its understanding or nuance or idea.
  • MOVIE: Bricolage (1984)-- David Rimmer.
  • Basically a youtubepoop. There's so much structuralist filmmaking that is basically just youtubepoop. I will never find that not-funny. Once again, saying very little about anything besides that someone sure knows a lot about film studies.
  • MOVIE: Sax Island (1984)-- Hank Bull & Eric Metcalfe.
  • What the goddamnfuck is this even fucking what. One of the craziest and stupidest movies I've seen-- A strong precursor to Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job, for better or for worse. It's almost kind of disgusting that this film got grant money, actually. It'sd a fun, silly, campy romp, but it's really not anything at all. It's a nonsensical spy plot about a suitcase full of corks traveling around on the lost continent of SAX ISLAND
  • MOVIE: Narrows Inlet (1980)-- David Rimmer.
  • One of the only films I've seen that got me motion sick, but that was because of the odd framerate (it seemed to be going no more than 8fps at any given time). An interesting document of a place, a camera placed in a boat, gazing around a misty pond at night time to make something like a structuralist horror film.
  • MOVIE: Notes In Origin (1987)-- Ellie Epp.
  • A strange, soft musing of country images from Northern Alberta. Seems almost like a more terse, concentrated version of the Agnes Martin film I saw recently with a less transcendental, a more earthy quality.
  • MOVIE: Seeing in the Rain (1981)-- Christopher Gallagher.
  • Gimmicky and almost youtubepoop-y. It's an interesting experiment in rhythm, really, but very little else. Somewhat fun and cheeky, but not exactly a moving piece of art.
  • MOVIE: Two Generators (1984)-- Rodney Graham.
  • BVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVCDFGBNHYTREWSX. A stupid decision of the exhibition of structuralist movies I just went to was to not only show this 4 minute film once, but show it on a loop for 90 minutes. My problem with this is that it is pretty much just a bad one-note-joke; it's a shot of strong running water (generator #1), and in the bakcground there's a deafening motor noise (generator #2). At the very best it's a film that "makes you think about others 'generators'" such as generators of art or commerce or meaning, that cause te artwork to be up at all... This however can all be said and done with by the end of the 4-minute roll of 35mm.

  • April.

  • OPERA: Nabucco (1842)-- Giuseppe Verdi.
  • Opening night! Proving that even the grandest in scale and scope can be performed on a shoestring with ripped pillowcase costumes and just a piano instea dof orchestra and still be emotionally affecting as drama and music. Being a small production, the several specific choruses (Levites, Hebrew Virgins, Soldiers, etc) were all made into singular roles, all of which stood out as beautiful compromarios-- especially the Levite, who now gets two of the best arias in the opera and steals the show from what is supposed to be the primo tenor's big showpiece (Il maledetto non ha fratelli).
  • MOVIE: Rembrandt's J'accuse (2008)-- Peter Greenaway.
  • An admirable effort was put into a big bed of lies-- but then again maybe that's some kind of point. Greenaway seems to want people of today to become more visually literate and discerning. Perhaps by making some very very out-there claims amidst some more reasonable ideas, he's trying to get people to kind of maybe notice and think harder about what they see. Although I kind of have a problem with artists toying with their audience like that. HOWEVER, I kind of feel like watching this before Nightwatching is the best plan; that way you get an okay introduction to all the major players and ideas and also all of the bullplop theory behind what Greenaway is saying first, and then Nightwatching acts as creative elaboration on that stuff.
  • MOVIE: Nightwatching (2007)-- Peter Greenaway.
  • Every time Rembrandt said "I'm watching the night" or some variant of saying the title, I wanted to throw things at the screen, and I was close to just hurling myself at the screen sometimes. Aside from those scenes, however, writing wasn't quite so stilted. The highly spurious conspiracy theory was kind of cloying though (which would be kind of fine if Greenaway didn't, in his documentary about the Night Watch, claim everything he said was definitely correct) and essentially not even that interesting. The film survives mostly on its strikingly beautiful and extremely mannered visual design. The personal scenes between Rembrandt and Saskia were probably the best in the film. The ones where Rembrandt was screaming were probably the worst. Without the art-direction the film would be a D-grade murder-mystery.
  • MOVIE: Diary of a Country Priest (1950)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Pure exaltation. I only just realised how Christian-spiritual most of the films I really really really like are. This one especially. Perhaps it is not as polished or refined as things like A Man Escaped, Bresson's next film, or L'Argent, his most pristine, but it gains a strength and intensity from that-- this groping and striving for a style that echoes the titular priest's quest of transcendence and love. Tarkovsky once describe dBresson as being the only filmmaker to make profoundly true, profoundly simple films and this is a perfect example with its many small, perhaps-overly-romantic aphorisms: "God is not a torturer; he wants us to love one another", "What does it matter? All is grace", "The simplest tasks are by no means the easiest"... I feel like suc a dolt writing in this way, but I can only think of weird descriptions like "Bresson makes a theatre into a church" and othersuch nonsense. Once again, as with Nostalghia, my top-ten is breaking. And so close together these films have come to me!
  • MOVIE: Mouchette (1967)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Rewatch on 35mm. This terse little film is even more striking this time through, knowing all the events to transpire. I can't even talk about this damn movie. The "cruelty" of the film
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    really makes you feel for Mouchette in a real way and understand her decision to kill herself in the end. She's already been killed many times over in spirit, this only does away with the baggage.
    Only in watching all Bresson's films back-to-back do I notice how much they are about self-determination in some big way or another.
  • ESSAY: Art & Moral Treason (1965)-- Ayn Rand.
  • I always feel really stupid for liking anything to do with Ayn Rand, but this is different. This isn't (very) accusatory or political or economical or weird about any of those things as she can get. It's all about cognition and emotions and values and those things interrelated in the realm of art. (The best place I know to find it on the internet is in this reading (Objectivist Newsletter version and Romantic Manifesto version differ in a few ways, but are still the same essay, essentially): (and this reading also has fun little asides, cute voices, sincere tone, and good contextual asides as well)). There are little moments in this essay where I just identified with what she was talking about on a simple level so damn strongly. It's weird. Reading her essays, it's clear how much meaner, pettier, and more selfish-in-a-pejorative-sense-not-objectivist-sense she could be than anyone in her novels ever was-- but it's an interesting insight; the more I read, the more I wish I could have a conversation with her.
  • MOVIE: Four Nights Of A Dreamer (1971)-- Robert Bresson.
  • I could never have imagined that Robert Bresson, at this stage of his career, had the ability to make a romantic comedy. I cannot see why this film hasn't ever gotten a DVD or VHS release. It proves the amount of weight and psychological-emotional depth of his films isn't always "heavy" in a pejorative sense. It's as beautifully and subtly internal as any fo his films, but also really warmly clever and sincere. There is also a hilarious pretentious-art-student satire character that just randomly walks in and then walks out-- only myself and a friend of mine from my university seemed to understand the joke. Meditative, warm-- but with Bresson's realism (I don't think it is at all accurate to say this film is at all "cynical" (or to call most of Bresson's films that(the ones where that adjective works best are probably only L'Argent, The Devil Probably, and Dames Du Bois De Bologne))). I feel lucky as hell to have seen a new 35mm print, especially now that I look at the atrocious quality of the few rips online.
  • MOVIE: The Roundhay Garden Scene (1888)-- Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince.
  • I goddamn love early cinema more than anything (maybe not more than Perotin or cheesecake, but still) and I just noticed a random curious thing about the single earliest "film". In the short span of just over 2 seconds, almost all of the figures in "Roundhay Garden Scene" are turning away from or backing away from the camera. The only one who isn't is, for most of the timespan, cut off from the frame (and even , despite turning around toward the camera, for most of the 2 seconds, also is walking away from the camera and even when he does turn to face the camera, is mostly blocked by a woman backing away from the camera!). This isn't a really deep or meaningful epiphany of any kind, artistic or cultural or whatever, just something kind of fun I noticed.
  • MOVIE: A Man Escaped (1956)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Rewatch on 35mm. Unnameably intense when seen on the big screen on film. Watching for the second time, the journey-of-the-soul allegory of this film becomes all the more apparent, and made the film all the more affecting to me. It is just a very distilled film; everything steadily and deliberately leads toward the goal.
  • MOVIE: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Rewatch on 35mm. The two movies I just watched are ones I least knoww hat to say anything about. It's a weird, weird world. Beautiful and sad and I still don't think I really understand this film, but that's kind of exciting.
  • MOVIE: Gabriel (1976)-- Agnes Martin.
  • Very striking, strange, and simple-- it is never more than exactly what it is in the same way as Martin's paintings are. However, by the fact that she is a painter, she is obviously not a filmmaker; the film was, while edited very interestingly and hypnotically together, oftentimes ran, quite simply, too long. There were many times where it was simply obvious that she is not a filmmaker generally-- that she simply wasn't very aware of the workigns of the form, that she was just playing with it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, either-- but it hinders it. If the film was 15, or maybe even just 10, minutes shorter, it probably could have been a great masterpiece. Considering the title-- and despite the dubbing of the little boy, the only person in the film, with the name--, the film has a transcendent quality.The way I started reading it part way through the film was something like that the kid wasn't Gabriel-- the camera was. The small human was making a journey through the world, aimless and strange, but the constantly meandering camera provides oftentimes new and strange points of view (like the scenes of running water or of the birch forest) as if to show the glories of God or a higher power or some larger mysterious presence inherent and immanent in the world. Perhaps a little too grand a reading there, but still a great movie in its own ways.
  • MOVIE: A Gentle Woman (1969)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Dominique Sanda might be Bresson's best model next to Balthazar; she was able to inject a weird amount of personality into her role despite Bresson's method of directing actors (come to think of it, he seems to give women a little bit more leeway to have a bit more "personality" than most of the male characters). An incredibly even-handed story of two people who really aren't good for eachother, but are strangely attracted/attached to eachother (love or lust or mutual parasitic need or ennui or animosity?). Bresson's way of directing really suits this story-- the muted quality works to show these terminally confused and emotionally flabbergasted characters try to navigate through an attempt at a meaningful relationship.
  • MOVIE: L'Argent (1983)-- Robert Bresson.
  • For winning best-director at Cannes along with Nostlaghia, it sure is miles below Nostalghia as a film. Perhaps bleaker than any of the other Bressons I have seen-- it doesn't turn dire circumstances into transcendence the way Mouchette or Au Hasard Balthazar do. It just felt a little maudlin a lot of the time, although it was by no means bad; there were some really striking images, but half the time it seemed to really just stop at striking images.
  • MOVIE: The Trial Of Joan Of Arc (1962)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Most times during this movie I could only think the main goal of the film was going "GODDAMMIT CARL. YOU DID IT FUCKING WRONG YOU DANISH DUMBASS. HERE. THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT. GOD...". It has all the component parts of greatness that all Bresson's other films do, but this one just doesn't really build to anything or go together quite so elegantly.
  • MOVIE: The Devil Probably (1977)-- Robert Bresson.
  • It's like Mouchette if Mouchette was a disillusioned punk in the 1970s. If I made a "top movies ever, judged solely by their titles" list on here, this one would be at the top or very near it.
  • MOVIE: Pickpocket (1959)-- Robert Bresson.
  • Rewatch (on 35mm at a theatre). Still a masterpiece-- I got in late but perhaps because of my manic state that day I felt a lot more connected to the protagonist. I felt I understood him more than I ever may have; every gesture seemed much sadder. Someone was laughing a lot at the protagonist doing just about anything at all; I felt kind of offended and ashamed just from my identification.
  • MOVIE: Les Anges du Peche (1943)-- Robert Bresson.
  • The angels of peaches. One of the more striking things about Bresson's first two films against all his other films is that his first two are clearly "women's films" that none of his subsequent films really were (Both of which pass the Bechdel test, at least (but so do some of his other films anyway)). This isn't really an important observation, just something I noticed. Anyway, I liked this one a lot more than Bois de Bologne, maybe because I am a sentimental baby. I guess I felt like this film stood for something far more than his next effort did. Really heartwrenching and beautiful story of redemption/transcendence (as are damn near all of Bresson's films) about some nuns at a convent for ex-convicts.
  • MOVIE: Les Dames du Bois de Bologne (1945)-- Robert Bresson.
  • An ornate, beautiful script adorns a stark and striking story. Visual minimalism meets verbal horror-vacui. That's not to say that the script is bad-- I'd say that the story and dialogue in the film are quite strong, but the main problem is that I feel like it works against the filmmaking. Bresson and Cocteau don't really mix well. It all seemed a little bit watered down, although perhaps Bresson's very tempered style worked well to offset the highly mannered dialogue.Still: It was a quite good, entertaining film in an almost Hitchcock-like way."Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" plus a pretty sappy last 3 minutes.
  • BOOK: Observations on the Feelings of the Beautiful and the Sublime (1764)-- Immanuel Kant.
  • Surprisingly funny for a Kant book-- I'd never read any but people gave me the impression that he was as bad as Derrida with being obscurant. But this little book is extremely clear and to the point-- also very insightful and funny. He walks the line between writing "sublimely" and writing "beautifully" throughout and makes a few really interesting observations about people, and a few questionable ones too.

  • March.

  • MOVIE: Mera Naam Joker (1971)-- Raj Kapoor.
  • I feel cheated having watched a shorter version than the absolutely gargantuan original 5-hour film. Like Fanny & Alexander, it flows quite briskly in the 3-hour "short" version, but it feels anemic and skeletal and strikes falsely through that brevity. It si easy to tell when scenes were meant to be twice as long as they were. That said, it's still a worthwhile movie; a honest, oftentimes heartbreaking pseudoautobio film. Jumps back and forth between frankness and whimsicality. I also wonder how it got past Indian censors with several scenes with nudity and visible nipples. This also made me notice that the palpable sexual feeling of Barsaat and Awaara was absolutely gone in most of this film simply by being able to show more and imply less.
  • BOOK: On The Sublime (~100)-- Longinus.
  • Such a shame that 2/7 of this book are missing. One of the most interesting creative treatises I've ever read with some good general information for writing more strikingly as well as some simple but important observation on what is most important in art. Directly and sublimely written.
  • MOVIE: Shree 420/Mr 420 (1955)-- Raj Kapoor.
  • It would be a good novelty to have some kind of stoner movie marathon and stick this in just based on the title. Not nearly as weird or as good as Awaara or Barsaat. Certainly probably more palatable in a general way though. Several songs were catchy and well done, and several scenes really shine, most of which in the second act. It just doesn't seem as "whole" a film as the other two Kapoor films that I've seen. Still entertaining and well made, and with a handful of scenes with probably better acting and writing than the other two, but it never achieves any major heights. Still worth a shot if you're interested in bollywood at all.
  • THING: Hugo The Hippo (1975)-- William Feigenbaum, József Gémes.
  • What is HAPPENING? The wackiest damn cartoon I've ever seen-- and was lucky enough to see it on the director's own personal 35mm copy. I would be surprised if some part of the creative process of this film wasn't partially drug fueled. Biker sharks invading Zanzibar, where the main export is clothes that grow on trees, and the sultan demands hippos to take care of the sharks and... Just... What. Could not stop laughing at the endless wackiness. It makes it endearing, even the endlessly dopey music (sung by Burl Ives and several Osmands) is an ecstatic acid trip. A beautiful little curio piece.
  • GAME: Tactics Ogre (2001)-- Quest/Atlus.
  • MOVIE: Awaara (1951)-- Raj Kapoor.
  • Not as aggressively odd as Barsaat, but generally a better movie. The writing is not as stilted and flows much better, the music is more outwardly memorable, and everything I said about sincerity and such applies to this as much to Barsaat. 3 and a half hours pass life half as much time. The writing helped the acting from falling into certain traps that Barsaat fell into, and gave Nargis a more complex role, which she achieved in the most beautiful fashion.
  • MOVIE: Barsaat (1949)-- Raj Kapoor.
  • I have seen Matthew Barney films and Bunuel films and Jodorowski films and abstract video art and as weird and odd as those things are, I have never seen a film weirder than Barsaat. The way the film is built, the shosts, the editing, the way characters move within the frame, the narrative construction-- more than that it was just a wacky masala bollywood film-- it had a texture that was different than anything I'd ever seen. As affected as it all is, there's a sincerity and joie-de-vivre that barely exists in any other films; as dumb as those overly romantic lines are, these actors MEAN IT. I can kind of see what Ray Carney sees in bollywood (he made some random passing statement about them once)-- the way they constantly jump back and forth to farcical idiotic comedy, swooning idyllic romance, tense suspense, soaring musicals, and do so at the drop of a hat, they in some way are closer to the weird start-stop rhythms of life than a hollywood pseudo-realism film is. The songs don't seem like ear-worms at first, but about a week later, I found myself humming absolutely all of them compulsively.
  • MOVIE: George Washington (2000)-- David Gordon Green.
  • At first I thought it was weird that this director went from a Terrence Malick homage/rip-off to stoner comedy, but there are a select number of scenes from this film that make that jump perfectly clear... and kind of make me want to actually watch Pineapple Express (but not Your Highness FUCK NO). The characters were complex and interesting in the main cast of 5 or so people, everyone outside of that was a caricature. One scene in particular stood out and that was Damascus's confession which was as awkward and silly and full of shame and pathos all the same as it would be in real life.
  • ESSAY: The Uncanny (1919)-- Sigmund Freud.
  • Even if Freud's direct psychological concepts don't hold much water (although they may have in his time since his oversexualization of everything pretty clearly comes out fo the repressed victorian mindset, so those ideas seem to have had their place), Freud is a perceptive thinker and an intriguing writer. Able to figure out a multifaceted idea without locking it down, all while using clear and readable and insightful language.
  • LECTURES: The Unanswered Question (1973)-- Leonard Bernstein.
  • All six available on youtube! I have only watched the first three, but they are gigantically eye-opening even if he makes a few weird missteps in explanation. Still intriguing and useful and full of insight for people both musical and not-terribly-musical (me int he second camp). Educational, but also extremely fun and accessible. Bernstein is a plain speaker and a fine lecture writer and knows how to make a good joke every now and again too. Personable and endearing.

  • February.

  • PLAY: Three Sisters (1900)-- Anton Chekhov.
  • (Reading the Constance Garnett, Dover-Thrift-Anonymous, and Laurence Selenick translations) The beauty of Chekhov for me is relating, very deeply, to every character. The man has a harsh eye and a kind heart. I don't know what to say. It's accurate to say that going to see this play would be "going to have an evening with the Prozorovs" as contemporary theatregoers did. Each of the three translations I read had their strengths and weaknesses, all having their own little pearls. One of the biggest problems in reading is that there is always at least a handful of things happening on stage at once, so it's hard to keep track of it all, and confusing when certain conversations drop out for a moment just for another conversation to break in and then quickly drop out again. Since I read it while I was absolutely livid about 3D not being hot shit, I couldn't help about "well how does one make 3D /not/ terrible?", and so I ended up formulating in my head a kid of odd way to film this play in 3D. Really hard and really weird to do. Maybe I'll do it when I get some kind of relatively-big-budget to work with. Hahaha.
  • MOVIE: Sita Sings The Blues (2008)-- Nina Paley.
  • An extremely fun and perceptive pastiche of stories from various sources told in various ways-- shows a universality of love and loss, no matter how cliche that sounds. A marvel of indie animation. One of the only times that flash animation doesn't look absolutely lifeless and uncanny.
  • MOVIE: Wages of Fear (1953)-- Henri-Georges Clouzot.
  • MOVIE: Pina: Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost (2011)-- Wim Wenders.
  • The stereoscopic emperor still has no clothes. Everyone at my university assures me this is the ONLY GOOD 3D FILM... Well... Hm... This film is a very pretty (not beautiful, not sublime) film that showcases all of 3D's current shortcomings: The uncanny low-relief quality it generally has, or the paper cutout diorama feeling in wider shots, the glassiness of digital and ugly reflections on black, the sudden blinding quality to anything white. From first thinkinga bout 3D I thought it might be a great if not perfect way to document dance, able to replicate space in some way, but this film just abounds in terrible documentation and flourishes that mean and do absolutely nothing but take away from the dance pieces themselves; their only purpose is to go "hey, look, 3D! please look". The film cuts up longer dance pieces that would have been great to watch in their entirety, and even seems to cut up ones that appear relatively short. It was often infuriating how it was edited together, not revealing anything about the dancing but rather just revealing the 3D as an ends in itself. A better film would be beginning with a short dance piece in its entirety, relatively few cuts, then some interviews, then another short one, then interviews, then a whole long one, and then end with a few more especially poignant interviews (Something to mention about the interviews, too, is some seemed especially canned and pat and insincere; good ghostwriting for the dancers there, Wenders).. The "Dance is life; life is dance" message that the dancing-in-the-cityscape gives is also a really old hat and only an excuse to do more playing with the 3D cameras to no real end. This film is still trapped in the overly-spectacle driven realm of 3D; the medium still has a long way to go. I honestly can't imagine it working very well, essentially, until holograms or something become an option. That said, there are about 3 scenes where it works, ones where the scene itself is largely low relief with simple figures relatively close to their backdrop. Incidentally also it showed how awkward subtitles are in a 3D film. ALL THAT SAID, perhaps it's worth it to go see it just for those handful of shots that work very well? At least this would be a better 3D film to spend money on than Three Musketeers. On second thought, just find an old video recording of Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring or Cafe Muller or something. That would be much better.
  • OPERA: Götterdämmerung (1874/2012)-- Richard Wagner.
  • The Met Opera production directed by Robert LePage, conducted by Fabio Luisi. Wow! These really did get progressively better, both in composition and production (by the anecdote that the Ring operas were written backwards (not strictly true), I guess that means Wagner really lost steam). The amazingly modern set is used to its fullest potential in this opera (from the slightly awkward start on Rheingold). The six hours of this opera really do fly by; Rheingold, the comparative shortest at 3 hours long, felt like 18 compared to Gotterdammerung. The libretto and dramatics of it just worked better somehow-- everything was coming to a head, all the lietmotifs that were built in the previous thee operas keep relentlessly resurfacing in crazy and interesting ways. Really quite an experience! Don't want to sound like a total mo but: Brunnhilde's dress in this production is goddamn amazing. Also the guy playing Hagen was stone-cold-sexy.
  • MOVIE: Ivan The Terrible (1944/6)-- Sergei Eisenstein.
  • From the handful of sound films he did, this(these? (they were conceived as a whole)) is the farthest he took it. Very different from his silent works, but yet still has many trademarks such as animal symbolism and extreme closeups, cut quite fast. Also notable because this is where he seemed to move away, albeit slowly, from propaganda and mere "character types". The second part featuring some great nuance to the villain characters and also adding complexity to Ivan (Josef Stalin's hero). They move so swiftly that they feel to be only 10 minutes long, but never feel impersonally brisk for it. The acting and blocking, highly stylized, was almost like a kabuki play or something to that effect. Regardless, it works very well; Eisenstein seems to have an ability to make the most formalized of actions believable. Unfortunately, as per usual, the worst people are always in the theater with me: A 30-person class from UBC (a musical composition class) came and throughout the entire thing, talked, and laughed raucously inappropriately whenever anyone did anything. I'd have stood up and said something to them if it wasn't that there was goddamn 30 people and they were 6 or so rows away, so it just would have been weird.
  • MOVIE: Nostalghia (1983)-- Andrei Tarkovsky.
  • slgnslnkfh I just went to this film (twice in three days) at a theatre, on a 35mm print. The print was very old and on occasions you could see where it was spliced together, but the glow of colour and depth of the darks was absolutely beautiful (and looking at versions online, evidently cannot be matched digitally!). It was really strange to watch the way light was used in the film; the way aperture changed, unlike anything I'd really seen before. The film feels almost wet-- like the mist that permeates much of the film is going into the theatre space. What's strange especially, to me, about it is the way it is both Tarkovsky's simplest film with the absolute "least happening" as well as one of the ones that move at the most steady pace. While still at a very slow deliberate pace, the film always had a sense of movement that the characters, as melancholy and confused as they were, were deprived. But also this film had the least component parts as far as Tarkovsky films go; the most nothing happened as any of his films are, but perhaps this is the mani strength of it. The relationship to time and place is paramount; the titular homesickness-- the jingling of Andrei's house-keys in his pocket. The climax-shot of the film is a perfect example of how bare and sparse the film is-- and how great its "gestalt" is because of it. What is this i don't even.
  • MOVIE: October (Sergei Eistenstein)-- 1928.
  • One of the most frenetic cinema experiences I've had. The film is edited like a seizure-- not in an MTV way, but in a much more intelligent, controlled, and beautiful way. I also like how this film in some ways is the most "human " of the Eisensteins I've seen-- it shows the bourgeois-supporting "villains" of the story in sad empathetic states and shows some proletariat "heroes" acting like cruel irresponsible children. The editing is more forward thinking than anything today, even. There's something that always leaves me feeling hollow with Eisenstein's films though, and that's the overly political aspect, and the overly political aspect that is promoting a pretty bloodthirsty group; the most important things in art are when it transcends its generalized ideologies, though, and this film does that better than Strike or Potemkin could manage.
  • MOVIE: Alexander Nevsky (Sergei Eistenstein)-- 1938.
  • Something about this effort just felt flat to me-- which upon further inspection makes some amount of sense, with Soviet censors and co-directors breathing down his neck to keep him in check. The whole thing, in general, felt like Eisenstein just didn't know what to DO with a sound film-- the film's best sequences being ones that don't have much, if any, synch sound at all (The Battle On The Ice). The music, however, shines as one of cinema's triumphs. Like with Hitchcock's films with Herrmann's scores, where the film lacks character and depth and nuance, the score lends all these features to the film over and above.

  • January.

  • MOVIE: Take This Waltz (2011)-- Sarah Polley.
  • There are times where this film just gets way too "on the nose" so to speak, everyone saying what they think/feel with crystal clarity, and it rings so weird, but then there are times where it seems like that is what's supposed to happen; it's a profileof late-20-something-confusion and growing up while still an adult. Although like all Canadian media, there is a cap on the amount of quality allowed in.
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    It's kidn of interesting how MArgot becomes her own villain-- perhaps more accurate to say her own immaturity is her undoing; her inability to really take things seriously-- as much as the games keeps things fun and fresh and cute and lovey, it also keeps her from doing anything deep. Film runs a curious balance between sincere realism, satiric realism, sincere sentiment, and satiric sentiment.
    (I hate to admit it, but there were a lot of times where I couldn't help but wish I was in Michelle Williams's place whenever there was cute banter/cuddly stuff with her and Seth Rogen).
  • MOVIE: Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1972)-- Jonas Mekas.
  • One of the most beautifully invigorating movies I've seen in a long time (Since F For Fake? Since Last Chants For A Slow Dance?)-- neither of those comparisons exactly work, because with F For Fake, while being a wildly edited documentary, Reminiscences is far more gentle and floating and rough-- and because with Last Chants For A Slow Dance, while being personal and roughly intimately small in scope, there is a transcendent quality. The person I went with complained that as beautiful as it was, the quick cutting and quickly moving camera were really hard to watch and focus on-- I've never found that a problem and I can never really understand why others find it such a problem? I really can't. It's just weird to me. The film is made entirely out of nostalgia, but not in a cloying overly sentimental way. In a sad elegaic way.
  • ESSAY: Parergon-- Jacques Derrida
  • GODDAMMIT, JACK, CAN YOU NOT WRITE JUST TO OBFUSCATE YOUR POINT FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE. FUCK. I mean it's a really interesting idea but holy shit you can't write.
  • MOVIE: Red Desert (1964)-- Michelangelo Antonioni.
  • Probably the "tightest" Antonioni film I've seen. Still has his signature meandering, but this has less "sprawl" to its rhythm than any of his others I've seen. Heard someone talk about how "sumptuous" it is when I was entering the theatre and for some reason that asjective struck me as super-pretentious, but he's right. The use of colour is quite interesting, and the use of the industrial areas and oppressive fog to make weird abstract landscapes. The film's opinion of its protagonist is pretty enigmatic; sympathetic, a sensitive woman lost in an impersonal industrialized world; or critical, a person who is unable to adapt to the changes in the world around her.
  • MOVIE: Mirror (1974)-- Andrei Tarkovsky.
  • Rewatch in cinema on 35mm. As much as this film is beautiful and has some of the most singularly beautiful oneiric images in film, I always felt like it's not quite on the same level as things that perhaps aren't quite so forward-thinking experimentally/narratively/etc like Stalker or Sacrifice. Not to rain on anyone's parade but people saying this is the best of Tarkovsky's work always sort of struck me as because this film, out of all his films, most follows the "real art is incomprehensible" sort of trope-- the fact that it's out of chronological order makes it especially smart, or etc. Regardless I still love it, but it's still a lesser work next to Stalker, Sacrifice, and Andrei Rublev (but then again everything is a lesser work next to those three).
  • MOVIE: Andrei Rublev (1966)-- Andrei Tarkovsky.
  • Rewatch in cinema on 35mm. Watching it on big sscreen on film made me realise just to what extent this is a technical masterpiece. Production-wise, probably even more adventurous than Mirror (which was more adventurous writing/editing wise). I don't know what's getting into me lately, but for the entirety of the first half and the entire Boriska part of the second-half I was constantly on the brink of tears.
  • GAME: Super Mario Bros (1985)-- Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka.
  • For the first time in my life, I beat Super Mario Bros... However I had to cheat (use savestates in an emulator) to get there. Regardless there really is something elegant about that games design and surreal about its world. Italian plumbers, princess toadstool, various evil turtles-- it seems like a 5 year old could have written it and it's kind of charming for that fact. In some way it really is gigantically influential even today, with platforming games still being just more complicated versions of Mario if you boil it right down to the essence of the actions. But boy-fucking-howdy videogames were difficult in 1985. A friend of mine who is a pianist and a composer said to me "the music in that game is so non-chalant but the game is SO TENSE" which it really is.
  • MOVIE: The Autobiography Of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010)-- Andrei Ujica.
  • Someone said of Barney's Cremaster Cycle "Even when it's mindnumbingly boring, it's really fascinating". This seems apt to say about this three-hour long compilation film. It's a very humanizing portrait of a tyrant, painting him as an easily led idealist who just gets caught up in his own charades (his wife, however, always has the most evil look on her face...). It's interesting to try to show the whole thing form "his perspective" so to speak; offers interesting ellipses in the action and is a cool experiment with point-of-view in cinema. I find the idea of making a human portrait of people generally seen as "Evil" really interesting. It's even legitimately funny at some points. I guess the overall tone is something like "Oh Nicky, you could have done so much better. :c" like a concerned parent.
  • MOVIE: The Band Wagon (1953)-- Vincente Minelli/Fred Astaire.
  • That's entertainment!
  • Author Comments: 



    Numbered list from latest to earliest for ease of navigation.
    In order to just make sure I say something about everything, most of this will probably be... pretty dopey. I'm sorry/thank you for your time.


    THING: ()-- .

    Re: Mirror... interesting and understandable opinion, but it's not at all true with me. I don't think there's any question its his second most profound film (second to Nostalghia, and by that I don't mean "incomprehensible" - though perhaps his most challenging film). As profound as both Stalker and Sacrifice are, The Mirror attains even more depth, especially if one manages to accumulate the various symbolism, differing viewpoints and POV, and of course grasp the stunning visuals and their sheer awe and emotional power.
    Much of the film is on the order of the Stalkers dream sequence - in other words, a good portion of the film is as incredible as the very best portion of Stalker (and the war montage sequence possibly surpasses it). And while I don't necessarily think The Mirror is more emotionally devastating than The Sacrifice (neither is Stalker or any of his films outside of Nostalghia), it's way more multi-faceted/dynamic and exhibits a vast panorama of emotions that, if one experiences them with and during the film, are (imo) more awe-inspiring/overwhelming as a whole.

    I'm not saying I don't like it or don't think it's an affecting and amazing film (you should check out the introduction to Sculpting In Time where he writes about various letters he got in response to Mirror. Really touching stuff (I guess I'd have this film closer to my heart if I was a russian in my 30s in the 1970s)) I just always found it somewhat pale in comparison to the others I've seen-- which is odd, because this is probably the densest of all his films. I guess I just prefer his haiku to his sestina. It's far from the most heinous "film for film students"-- Check out Godard for that.

    I've seen some of Sculpting in Time and it was quite interesting. I should probably view it some more.

    I agree that Mirror is his most visually and structurally dense, though Andrei Rublev (due in part to its much greater length) may have something to say about that. I think Nostalghia attains more density of emotion/profundity than either of them, even though it appears to be using less to attain it - with Nostalghia practically every shot/sequence expresses something profound and/or deeply moving.

    Agreed re: Godard

    And I am ecstatic that you found Nostalghia to be one of the greatest films you've ever seen :) I'm assuming this would mark a change in your top 10 vote on my poll, so let me know if a change is in order.

    I highly recommend you see Nostalghia's "kid brother", Angelopoulos' Eternity and a Day. It would be a perfect introduction to the incredible cinema of Angelopoulos. He is a dream come true if you've ever wished that Tarkovsky had made more films. As far as I can tell after seeing 4 of his films, he is the 2nd most profound director in film history (Tarkovsky the 1st). You may not believe me now, but the gap between them is not significant at all.

    View it? It's a book! I mean it's really well-designed with good proportions and typography, so I guess viewing it is good too, but reading it would be better. :P

    Rublev just about gets me in tears almost constantly throughout it. Nostalghia is a perfect example of him trying to make filmic haiku (which he actually talks about in Sculpting In Time) in which it's entirely about capturing a unique and singular moment. It's also very Italian; you can kind of see that Tarkovsky was buddies with Antonioni in it.

    It might move down to 9.5 at some point but it's certainly not going any farther down than that. Nostalghia, Love Streams, and Sacrifice are all in a nebulous cloud of best-anythings-of-the-1980s. I was thinking it might be more reasonable to wait until the next top-ten-whatevers to change my vote. Even then, I'm not so sure about having more than one film by a director in the top-ten-list (as many things like that have for a restriction). I was thinking what lists like that would be like if there was a "only one per country" or "only one per decade" restriction. With all three of those restrictions, it might yield interesting results.

    Someone was talking to me after seeing Nostalghia that it reminded me of Angeloupoulous's Ulysses' Gaze. GODDAMMIT EVERYONE IS SUDDENLY TELLING ABOUT THIS RANDOM GREEK, I BETTER GET ON THIS.
    Also if you want more Tarkovsky there's a documentary he did with Tonino Guerra (co-writer of Nostalghia) about himself/the making of Nostalghia called Tempo di Viaggo, and also a video-recording of a production of the Mussorgsky opera Boris Godunov he did between Nostalghia and Sacrifice at Covent Garden.
    Also also also: If you ever notice that within 100 miles of you Nostalghia is playing at a theatre on a 35mm print motherfucking go to it.

    And since a class I'm in made going to Nostalghia a requirement I was thinking about its relation to "THE SUBLIME" but moreso to the contrast to the movie I saw right before it: October.
    A writer tried to make a sort of pseudo-scientific post-structuralist definition of two sorts of sublime. One being "too many signifiers flooding everywhere", and "too much signified through sparseness". And these definitions perfectly describe the transcendent qualities of October and Nostalghia respectively.
    It was kind of an interesting definition and fun that I read it right before going to these two movies to so fully illustrate that contrast!

    *ramble ramble*

    Lol, whatever I saw it was a documentary that I believe had "Time" in the title. It was about him, art, cinema, life - and I haven't seen the whole thing yet. I thought that was what you were referring to, but...yea... Anyway, I'll check out Sculpting in Time.

    Interesting definitions of sublime... I've never seen October but if I insert Battleship Potemkin as a comparison to Nostalghia I imagine I'm understanding very closely where you're coming from.

    Re: Angelopoulos ... Eternity and a Day is a much closer comparison, though Ulysses' Gaze has its similarities too.

    That would be Tempo Di Viaggo/Time's Journey/Journey Of Time. Sculpting in Time is a great book though-- the introduction was really sweet, mostly a compilation of letters he got from viewers of Mirror; ranging from people saying he should be sent to the gulags for "making such filth", to a woman saying "My childhood was that, but how did you know?... For the first time in my life I haven't felt so alone".

    I think October is a good "next step" after Potemkin. It's still valid in the comparison, but October is even MORE frenetic and makes even larger logical leaps between shots.

    Gotta see that and the other thing and Traveling Players and Landscape In The Mist and Dust fo Time and Weeping Meadow!!!
    Maybe I Should put "Angelopoulos retrospective" into the suggestionbox of the theatre that was showing Tarkovsky.

    Ah yes, Journey of Time... Sculpting in Time sounds very interesting...

    Sounds like I'll have to check out October...

    Traveling Players and Landscape in the Mist are two staggering masterpieces, on the order (or nearly so) of any of Tarkovsky's very best. Angelopoulos may finally start to really get his due, sadly now, after his recent and sudden death. All his films are being rereleased on DVD so many places will likely have theatre showings (I hope). At the very least, we finally get them all on remastered DVD.

    This list reminds me that I don't watch movies =(. Where does the time gooooo.

    I've discovered Chaucer is cool though! I've also learned in a class that I'm taking that literary theory is as useless as Carney says. Unfortunately we don't read original texts, which I think would be a lot more interesting regardless of how bad a writer Derrida is.

    The only reason I see so many is because I volunteer at an art theatre-- so I get in free.

    Chaucer is a crazy man. And I love that Carney essay.
    Derrida is an odd case: He has a lot of interesting ideas, but he clothes it in the most uselessly, pretentiously dense prose possible. It's less "dancing with his words" as my teacher says, but more him going "hey did you know I'm smarter than you? THIS MUCH SMARTER!!!". I actually find it helpful to read some kind of annotated guide to some idea Derrida says and then read the essay (had to read two essays about Parergon before being able to make head or tail of Derrida's actual Parergon essay). More likely to get something out of it that way. This is the book with the Derrida essay-- for a class about the Sublime in contemporary art/society. Pretty neat generally, actually.

    Update thissss.

    I hope you caught Manon and La Traviata on the big screen--they're gonna play again if you missed them the first time around. Astonishing.

    And here I was thinking that nobody read this or cared :'c

    I'll try to do a few even-just-one-sentence-write-ups JUST FOR YOU <3

    I want to check out Manon when it plays at 6:30 in the evening, probably. As for La Traviata, I really really really did not like the set design what I saw of clips of that so I didn't want to go to that. I'm still humming lietmotifs from Gotterdammerung though. A shame they don't have any encores scheduled for that!

    Ahhh, jealous of that Bresson binge, a few I haven't seen there (The Devil Probably, Les Dames, Les Anges). I really need to change that ASAP. I just wrapped up the semester so maybe NOW I'll have time for film (but I say that to myself often). You got any particular artworks on the summer list?

    Well there is a traveling retrospective going around North America right now-- Maybe it'll come around to your neighborhood sometime in the next few months?

    I'm thinking I'll try to read some Shakespeare and Sophocles and maybe more Plato or something-- I also want to pick up, if I can, the books that Odd Nerdrum wrote about painting (taking a painting class in July/August, so this is pre-research). Also I think I might try to finish off watching all of Cassavetes's stuff (except the two made-for-tv-movies he did that are goddamn impossible to find).

    That crucifixion from The Trial of Joan of Arc floored me. It's amazing how he and Dreyer approached the same subject so differently and they both created masterpieces.

    No luck for me, unfortunately, Toronto and Vancouver are the only venues on the tour =(. I'm actually going to Toronto next week (family) and, although there's no Bresson, I'm lucky enough to be catching the Picasso exhibit that's going on. I've never seen his work in person so I'm really looking forward to it. I'd never heard of Odd Nerdrum but a look at his Wikipedia articles reveals some really interesting work. In terms of reading I have Coriolanus waiting for me, I'd like to work through some Updike (I read a few stories for a class that really piqued my interest)... aside from that I don't really have anything planned. I'm sure I'll read more of the usual suspects (Wordsworth, Frost, Emerson, James, etc) but I don't know what new authors to approach (they're so many!). I've discovered a really good second bookstore in the city, though, so I'm sure that will help me out. I've downloaded a few of ballets (La Bayadere, Orphee et Euridice, Swan Lake) that I'd like to see. My list of unseen films continues to grow...

    Maybe the Media Log (WHICH I'M SURE YOU WILL KEEP UPDATED :3) will offer a recommendation or two.

    I did really like that scene though in Bresson's version, yes.

    That is infinite bull. :'c There's nowhere like a cinematheque or whatever in Halifax (It was Halifax right, yes?)
    Now I'm just kind of jealous that a gallery in toronto is getting something actually cool, unlike the VAG. Turns out his little treatise on painting was LIMITED EDITION AS FUCK, so copies of it are 300 dollars-- thank christ the public library here has a copy.
    That sounds like a good list of great things!-- Reminds me that I read some really good Alice Munro short stories (Leaving Maverley, and Pride) and have been meaning to get around to more myself. I really want to read The Ruined Cottage since reading that Carney article about it.
    I've been avoiding my must-see list since I have about 20 to remove-- and about 200 to add. Procrastination!


    It was Halifax, now it's Calgary. Equally culturally vapid unless one likes the indie scene (which I, alas, do not). The Cinemateque plays like one film a month, and rarely do they interest me. And when they do, I miss them. My own fault. I go to the Philharmonic when I can though, they have a really good student program that makes live music affordable.

    By sheer coincidence I picked up this yesterday off the sales rack. I loved her "Walker Brothers' Cowboy" story and couldn't pass it up.

    Speaking of Carney, I just read in a day a book he circuitously recommended (he posted a quote without a citation from it). Additionally, do you remember where he talks about the weather patterns coming, and how the soul is just electrons in quantum superposition outside the forehead? Well, as far as I can tell, it's all from Whitley Strieber's The Key. Fascinating book, a lot of scary stuff, although it requires a grain of salt or two when reading. I can't say I recommend it, per say, but it's worth keeping in mind...

    I got some family in Calgary-- want to get coffee next time I'm around there?
    And that is utter crap about the cinematheque. D: I've been meaning to go to some early music and chamber music concerts myself, I just keep goddamn forgetting. Heard anything good at the philharmonic lately?

    Awesome! Sales! That's a great grab. The Munro stories I'd read were both just in some New Yorker magazines I read in a free clinic waiting room (that my doctor let me take)-- but they were great.

    I had never heard of that statement of Carney's or that book. He seems to get a little wacky if ever talking about scientific things from what little of his passing statements on stuff like that I've read. I'll keep an eye out for that and if I see a cheap copy maybe I'll grab it?
    Fun thing about Carney: I volunteer at the cinematheque here, and they have an education program for highschoolers to make short movies. I showed them the "Open Letter To The Next Generation of American Filmmakers" and now they're going to use that as part of their introduction-to-filmmaking parts of their courses! Neat shit. I'm thinking of trying to get a hold of him to send him my grad-thesis short-- I'd like to know what he thinks (if anything I'd care most to show Jon Jost, Su Friedrich, and Ray Carney if I could, get their feedback).

    Yes, yes I do =). The two most recent shows I saw at the Philharmonic were St. Matthew's Passion and Dvorak's 9th. I also caught La Boheme live last night, absolutely incredible. I wish I knew how to write about music, but all I can say is Puccini is Gawd.

    I think Carney is wacky about most things, art included. I suppose that's what I like about him. If he was middle-of-the-road I wouldn't bother. He actually wrote to me a month or so ago (in response to an email, of course). It was a very nice, encouraging email, he responded to my inquiries, but it seems like he's facing an uphill battle. He also linked me to this, if you scroll don't a bit you'll hit his mammoth letter to Jon Jost. It's nice to see you're spreading his gospel! Out of curiosity, what will your thesis be about?

    :3 Or if you're ever in Vancouver.
    That sounds pretty damn awesome-- been meaning to listen to Bach's Passions for a while now. Most of the super-music-knowledgable people I know actually aren't fond of Puccini at all-- see it as pure fluffy nonsense, one particularly scathing review of Tosca from a pianist friend was "the birth of 'MUZAK'."

    That's reassuring to hear about his reply, but disheartening that he's got a lot of troubles. I'm kind of afraid that it would almost just be hubris or desperation to ask Carney/Jost/Friedrich to watch my movie. Here's the 1-minute-trailer for my grad-thesis. It's a 21 minute short film about a guy whose terrible roommate recently moved out, and it is about him deciding what to do with the empty room. This is the thing I'd like to get their feedback on.

    Quite an eclectic mix. "I'm watching the night" sounds like pure drivel. I'm not so sure about Greenaway, in hindsight.

    I did find "Wilson" to be probably Clowes weakest work yet. I admire the stylistic variety within the book but I don't think it's enough to to offset the narrative dullness. I think the brevity didn't give the story enough space to develop. I liked The Death Ray a lot more.

    Nice to see you're enjoying the Spirit! I think, in a lot of ways, it's better than his more serious work (based on the small amount that I've read). It's a shame Frank Miller butchered the Spirit movie so badly; the humor and carelessness is one of the best things about the original stories. I'd like to see the work Jules Feiffer did on the Spirit in the 50's, I've read he was one of the strongest writers to work on the strip.

    I still gotta watch some of the BIG NAMES in his catalogue, but from Night WAtching and The Pillow Book, he seems... a little overrated.

    I felt like the brevity of Wilson was some kind of statement about the character himself-- but I agree in some respect that it's certainly not Clowes's strongest work and Death Ray was better.

    I love how simply joyous a lot of the stories are, even when they have some kind of serious topical thing happening. I'd really like to read some more of Eisner's serious work-- I've gotta re-read A Contract With God and maybe The Hoax and find a copy of Fagin. But really, it'd be good to read Eisner's everything.

    Update plz! And ideally with King Lear on it :3

    It's always really encouraging to know that you actually pay attention to this thing!

    And goddamn it's been a while since I read King Lear and I know for sure it's one of those things I gotta read again. I kind of want to get through Aeschylus first though... Maybe also Symposium, Protagoras and Meno as well...

    The reason I haven't been updating is because a painting class has been taking over my life. I ended up deciding I should do an 8 foot tall epic scale painting and so that took a lot of work.

    Yeah, there's always so much to read. Lear rocked my world though (first time reading it, I had seen it performed before though). My favorite bit of writing about the play came from Reuben Brower (recognize that name? ha):

    "Lear's demand for love, with which King Lear began, was an assertion of self, and the only answer to that demand is Cordelia's. But 'love suffreth long and is kind', though the answer is 'nothing'. Hence, the overwhelming effect of Lear's last words, that in the face of 'No, no, no life!' he looks for life, and he loves… Lear dies loving and looking for life--that is 'the wonder', a kind of greatness more remarkable than the power of endurance that Kent marvels at. To love and hope with full tragic knowledge of the injustice, cruelty and confusion of life is to pass beyond god-like hero to something god-like indeed"

    You've reminded me that I really need to read the canonical Greek texts, I'm fairly ignorant. One of my problems (excuses?) is that I have no idea what translations I should get--any recommendations? I'm really glad you enjoyed Effi Briest, masterpiece.

    That's a beautifully written little passage and is certainly an encouragement to put reading Lear again higher on my list! Also kind of jealous that you saw a production of it! I'd really like to actually SEE more Shakespeare. Sometimes I just got lost when reading him, and good productions can make Shakespeare's most dense poetry feel natural.

    It's a good excuse, honestly! I get really really paranoid about that. The only thing I think I can resolutely tell you is to avoid Benjamin Jowett's Plato like the plague. His translations are all the worst things of Victorian-era writing and cultural thought. Hugh Tredennick and W H D Rouse are pretty good and pretty accessible.
    For Epicurus, just about any of the translations are okay because his writing is really simple and straightforward anyway.
    For Aeschylus, Seth Benardete does pretty well, and from what little I've read of the translations Robert Fagles and Robert Fitzgerald are pretty good. This translation of Longinus is better than the little Penguin Classics one I have.
    I hope that helps?!

    Cineplex is playing the Tempest (with Christopher Plummer) tomorrow, are you able to make it out!?

    I'm excited for the new season of ballet / opera / drama screenings.

    Godshitdammit I always forget that there are ballets and plays that happen at cineplexes too. How was it anyway?

    There looks to be some cool stuff at the met this season. gonna check out the Donizetti opening the season?

    School has been weird and I have been weirder.

    Loved it, Plummer was (expectedly) incredible, but the entire cast was strong. I think Stephano, Caliban and Ariel were all stand-outs. I agree the new season does look really good, unfortunately I won't be able to catch the first one but hopefully I'll make it out for the repeat.

    Tangentially related to our last conversation: when I complete this message I'm going to dive into the Greeks--no philosophy for now, I think I'll start with Aeschylus instead. I know all the stories but it's unfortunate I haven't read them in their dramatic form. I've been reading people like Pope and Dryden lately and they've really inspired me to dig into the classics. They also make me depressed I don't know Greek or Latin so that's an unfortunate side-effect. :(.

    Maybe in the meantime you'll update your log!?

    This and the rest of the "Chained Relations" series is extremely disheartening. "And 'tis a kind of good deed to say well: / And yet words are no deeds".

    That is just super fucking sad. :c
    As much as Carney is being a huge douchebag here, that in and of itself makes me kind of worried about his mental state! What has driven him to such evil?!
    I just hope it all turns out ok.

    I agree the opera list is fairly dire and predictable. The Wagner adulation was unsurprising, although I'm mulling over the value of separating the Ring Cycle when it's a fairly cohesive work. Einstein on the Beach in the top ten is undeserving, to say the least. Peter Grimes is good but not better than La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Norma, or Pagliacci. Puccini's work is inexplicably low. The list would be, I think, a lot more interesting if there was criticism alongside it. Hopefully that's still to come. I think the reason his rock list isn't easy to dismiss is because he supports it with masses of text.

    I can't help but feel-- almost fear-- that the reason Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, et al are so low is that they have "catchy tunes" and he can relate that to pop music sort of things.

    Double post. I realized I may comment too much on this list =(

    No don't worry about commenting too much. I actually really enjoy it. Lets me know that someone actually seems to read this and care, that I'm not just talking to a wall.