Friday, May 22, 2015

Free Writing - Take 85

I try to be funny, sarcastic, clever, kind, empathetic and sympathetic, but I've noticed as of late, my messages aren't being processed. It doesn't matter if I say them openly, privately, in print or spoken word. They are constantly misconstrued and it's starting to get to me. I'm going to start to dumb down my comment. I like this. I hate this. I like this person or I don't. I'm no longer going to pretend to like someone I don't for another's sake and while that might sound harsh, I sit and read and listen to your BS about "life being too short." Well, life is long and carrying around friends for someone else, is a burden. Since the beginning of the week, I cut three out of my life and I'm not going to lie. I have slept better. There are more to go and this isn't some silly random claim. There are some of you I owe more than this to and I don't ever forget that, but those who have wronged me, distracted me, compromised my happiness or quite simply, bore or disgust me, have to go. I'm not on some crazy rampage, but I'm tired of losing sleep as it is. To do so for people not worth my breath, let alone my mental health, well, you all should understand. I'm also going to try and be a little more vocal in a positive way for those out there who are struggling. Not openly, but privately. Those who know, understand I do truly care about a lot more people than I "show." Please don't assume I'm talking about you. If you ever asked me to tell you what I like or dislike about you, I'd be more than happy and I promise I'll be open. I'll shut up now, as this has turned into the ramblings, normally filling empty spaces and promises on a Facebook wall. Goodnight! Yes, it's my night-time.

Quickie Review - Primer

I was told this was the single most confusing movie, from start to finish. I was told there are complex themes and it's almost impossible to follow. I was also told this is the greatest time travel movie ever. Obviously, not all of these were said by the same person, but as of late, this film has been heavily hyped. Sadly, it didn't live up to any of it. It felt almost as if the writer got tired of the complex script and as the movie goes along, the script becomes so basic, it becomes boring. The narrative is lost and the reasons for their experiments become so skewed, that when things go wrong, some are explained and some aren't. There are tons of errors, should one look closely enough and sadly, the basic theme of knowledge being power, turns into the cliche of "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The saving grace is that the movie isn't longer than it needs to be, but it would have been better explained had the entire movie taken place within the same six hours, not the 3-4 days. All this being said, for the budget, it was quite impressive and I'd definitely recommend it to friends who like thought-provoking films, but it's hardly what it was advertised.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Problem With Andrei Tarkovsky

As of this very moment, I have seen four of his seven feature films. Unfortunately, I've yet to see his first film, Ivan's Childhood and thus can't truly speak about how far he has come from the beginning. I have heard it is his worst film by many, but one person has told me it is her favorite. The first film I had ever seen of his was Stalker. It is painfully slow at the beginning and you feel your frustration rising, but in the final 35 minutes, this flower blooms and you realise the voyage was what made it worth it. I followed this up with Solaris and I'm in agreement with the director's own views that it might be his worst. That being said, the imagery and tension felt is effective and the movie simply works. I then went a while without seeing one of his films and then within the past few days, I've tackled two of his more well known and revered films, The Mirror and Andrei Rublev.

In a recent poll, The Mirror (or simply Mirror) was hailed as one of the ten best films of all-time by a list of over 350 directors. After seeing it, I must say, it is visually and mentally stimulating as any I've seen, but it's impossible to describe. To simple watch it is useless. I found myself flipping back to review scenes and pay careful attention to the language (the subtitles are awful). What I came away with was this passion for storytelling, but in the sense of true recollection. Where one story begins, but the orator isn't confined by rules. The mirror follows no linear path and jumps in time and point of view. Its greatest power is movement, whether it be the wind in the grass, water flowing (a Tarkovsky trademark) or in one case a fire. Many think an homage to Kurosawa, but I beg to differ. Do I think the average movie goer will enjoy this film? Not a chance, because as it ends, you're left with wondering what you'll take from it the next time, but if you do like it, you'll have to see it again. My first reaction to it was the need to own it. Something I personally frown upon, when it comes to movies.

Tonight i dove headfirst into Andrei Rublev. At three hours and twenty-five minutes and in a strange, almost half sized letterbox screen, it was a task. Not one I suggest, as the movie is easily broken up into smaller sections (as many as eight, should you desire), that you try and swallow whole. Rublev is consider anywhere from one of the three or four greatest movies to somewhere in the high 20's, depending on which list you use. Obviously, something like IMDB, which caters to a younger, more current fan base, won't have it as high, but that's not to discourage you. It is an important movie to see, for historical purposes, both in the movie's content and in film making. I will now state, that I disagree. This is not a great film, it's an long, repetitive film and isn't nearly as complex as Tarkovsky's other works. It's actually quite simple and I will admit, that I brushed up on the time period, using the timeline on the actual DVD for reference. The acting is wonderful and the story is solid, but it's nothing new and nothing that hasn't been tackled as well, sans the Russian view. But this isn't where I'll get arguments with other viewers, because liking a movie is sibjective, assuming you understand it. My problem is where people draw comparisons.

Amateur movie viewers will immediately say it feels like Kurosawa, Bergman and maybe even Buenel, but it doesn't in any way. Tarkovsky went out of his way, not to copy his contemporaries, because of the mutual admiration. Bergman called Tarkovsky the most important film maker to ever live and the feeling was mutual. I saw many more similarities, in style, to Dreyer and Mizoguchi. The need for people to compare every faith and devotion based movie with Wild Strawberries or Seven Samurai is becoming cliche. It's as if everyone who has seen those two movies, feels they understand every inspiration of every director since. While I don't deny the impact of these two movies (as well as countless others), it's more than likely, Tarkovsky went out of his way to avoid such comparisons. The one thing that struck me about the movie, was it's dream sequences, which are not in any way, shown as dreams. This is something Tarkovsky does so well, almost too well at times. It's within these scene that the sheer length of the movie becomes a burden. To keep a keen eye out for all the little moments, the changes in attitude and appearance, you really need to be fixated and even for seasoned veterans of movies such as this, especially with subtitles. It's draining.

This is where I get back to the subject line. The problem with Tarkovsky isn't his brilliance. His film making skills are second to none. His ability to convey strong messages, without limited dialogue or to use music, poetry and simply movement in nature, is amazing. His framing of shots, addition of objects into scenes (some from previous movies) all ties his life's work, with his life and more importantly the life of Russia together. It's all brilliance that puts him into a select group in the history of film. The problem is how you feel after his films. You can not just turn of the TV, grab a snack and got to bed. No, the movie ended six hours ago and I'm running it over in my head. I'm running over all of the four I've seen. I've more questions now than I did six hours ago and I'll have even more after twelve. My eyes are heavy and my body aches, as if I've competed against something. This may for others be a joy, but for me, the enjoyment of film is not to want to research the 1400's, but to feel informed. Satisfied with the story and it's angles. I don't feel at all like that. I feel beaten and confused. Not by the content, but by the overload my senses have taken. Never before would I have thought, that I'd look back and laugh at comparisons to the likes of Akira and Ingmar, but their films almost feel simple, dare I say light, in comparison Yet in the end, they are also, for the most part, better and that's the problem I have with Andrei.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Free Writing - Take 84

Thank you for the laughs, those who make me laugh. Today was a rough day. It's funny when you have to deal with people who are never wrong. I had to deal with this at work for years and I'm dealing with it again. I know people will say I'm speaking of myself, but the reality is, if you know me, you know I'm easily humbled, just throw a fact in once in a while. I've listened to a lot of people over the past few years and they all have excuses, as we all do. It's not healthy to always take the blame and it's not always healthy to blame. This I know and this is something none of us should fall victim to. Especially those who blame themselves. What amazes me though is when certain people are confronted and you watch them. There body language, their eyes, but most importantly what they react to. You could rattle off a laundry list of things they've done wrong, but watch what they react to most. If it's their real problem, you'll notice they become rigid. You can call someone every name in the book, but if you touch on that Achilles heal, you've figured them out. One person once hit that chord with me and the rest, well the rest was not something I'm proud of. What really troubles me though, is when the one thing that a person reacts to is the one that matters least. It shows where their priorities are and it also shows they don't value your opinion. Believe it or not, I've learned to pick my battles, but I also realize when the person defending themselves doesn't even try, because you don't matter to them as much as them simply ignoring the problem. What I love even more is when you tell someone something and they define a person without knowing them. When it's just that simple to tell something about someone by what they say, react or what comes out in their writing. Interesting that the people who mock this are the ones who are most transparent.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Free Writing - Take 83

My stomach is still doing somersaults from the awful piece of fish I ate tonight. As I described in a short lived Facebook status, it was like licking salt off your hand before a shot of tequila, but only to have the liquor replaced with the worst tasting vegetable oil imaginable. Absolutely disgusting. I was so looking forward to that fish too. A nice mustard-dill, honey-soy, or maybe even a light poach in olive oil and some lemon. I guess it could be worse, but why was it even cooked? So many unexplained questions lately. The doors constantly left open in an area known for random break-ins, the lights left on, but the computer shut off. Then the other, not suitable for even this blog. I wonder sometimes where people's minds are. I am guilty too, I'm terrible at calling people back or dealing with bills, but then again, I can't afford them and that's my cross to bear, one I'll most likely never get off my back. But today wasn't all bad, despite the food horrors. I had people reach out and say hello. Two beautiful friends who made my day, then a third, a fourth and fifth and sixth. Nice to be cared about by lovely looking women. Even if they are all taken. I'll take it. I only want friendship these days anyway. So the movie train keeps rolling and some are good and some are bad, but it's keeping my mind working. A puzzle here and there and at least I'm not repeating the same process every single day. The same mundane routine, cleverly tricking us into feeling it's new. I've not shared a meal with anyone in a while and when I do it's chatter about the weather or something someone else said. When did people stop forming their own opinions. Facebook is now life. People wait to see what others think and then comment. They pick their little person to be obsessed about and then they covet their words, like little school girls giggling in the yard. I'll never understand it. Here's a forum, whether it be social media or life, to choose your own thoughts, your own expression and your own words and yet, even those you'd least expect, cater their thoughts, expressions and words to those they covet, no matter how painfully ordinary they are. Weird huh? I'll take joking with friends about vacuums, cucumbers and elephants. You can have your obsessions.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Quickie Review - Cube

When this first came out, I had heard it was terrible. Then Internet posts and especially twitter started making this sound like it was the most complex movie ever made. Well, last night I finally saw it and I must admit, I was sorely disappointed. The movie is neither clever, not is it at all claustrophobic. The acting is so poor, especially that of Quentin and Holloway, that the movie is impossible to take seriously. If not for the acting of the Leaven character, it would have been a complete bomb. The real problem isn't in it's ambiguity, it's in it's painfully obvious premise and conclusion.

Assuming everyone has seen this by now, I'm not giving anything away, but by giving each character the name of a prison that defines their personality, we understand that the entire movie is about being trapped inside the life you've chosen. That there is no way out without the help of others. So why not make the movie about that? Why hammer home the point over and over? Why add good and bad? Why throw in the character who didn't chose their path? To me the movie suffers by painfully obvious symbolism and mindless metaphors. The dialogue isn't only simplistic, but tells us early on what the symbols and metaphors mean. I also was distracted by the colors of the boxes and thought a dark, drab, industrial look would have been much more interesting.

I will add this one final thought. I think the comments I read about this movie are proof enough that the movie's greatest asset is thinning the herd. I had heard over and over how this movie stole its idea from Saw. The movie that came out seven years later. As we say in the Cube called social media #smh

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Free Writing - Take 82

Been a while since I've written anything from my mind, my heart or any other aching body part. Amazing how self absorbed people can be, that even without speaking, you realize they haven't been listening. I sigh more than ever. I mop the floor with paper towels, like I've done over and over, wondering where the mythical little six year old might be hiding. I wipe down the dirt, adding it to the trash that contains my instructions for avoiding such mess. I cringe, as I look inside at the rotting food, all waiting to be thrown away, I hesitantly add two potatoes that have colors never meant for the spud universe. I throw open a door and I'm hit with the smell of mildew. I sit in an empty room and I say hello, just to make sure it still works. Like that tree in the forest. The movie turns off and I think about the solitude and I'm jealous, because at least when you're alone, you don't have to deal with the selfishness of others. The sun rises and I crawl into bed, doing my best to avoid another chat about the weather.