Sunday, May 28, 2006

Last Days

Last night I watched Gus Van Sant's Last Days. It is a movie with even less dialogue than Ceylan's Uzak- at least discernible dialogue since the main character played by Michael Pitt mumbles unintelligibly throughout much of the film. It clearly did not have the same effect that the Turkish film was able to achieve. In Van Sant's defense it was 3am when I started watching it and I was a little anxious so I might not have been able to let it wash over me or more accurately seep into me as such movies must do to be successful.

In Ceylan's film the characters don't do much on screen - a great deal of the film is spent by us watching them watch TV. In Last Days the rock-star character (largley based on Kurt Cobain) mumbles and stumbles as he tries to make Kraft Dinner. He sleeps on the floor as we watch the TV in the room displaying a nearly complete Boyz to Men music video (which I thought was a parody video for the first 2 minutes).

Ceylan's characters slowly grow on you and you begin to care for them. I simply couldn't bring myself to care for Van Sant's characters. They are largely spoiled, self-absorbed and drunk/stoned young people who are sleep-walking through a self-destrcutive haze. The Cobain character's predicament is completely self-inflicted and unnecessary. It's hard to feel for a millionaire who has every option in the world open to him and chooses to blow it and himself away.

The best part of the movie for me was when they played a Velvet Underground song on vinyl.

I'll watch it again when I'm in a more receptive mood. And I also intend on seeing Gerry.

Strangers in Transilvania Restaurant.
I don't know their stories.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Retro Schmetro

Whatever happened to Dalek I Love You?
Or for that matter; Classix Nouveaux or Visage?

Those were some of my favourite bands from the 80's. Yet I never ever get to see them during those retro video shows.

To me the music of the eighties isn't properly represented by the irritating and predictable songs of Bobby Brown, Sheana Easton or Phil Collins. That era's genius is reflected in those endearing bands with the overbearingly serious poses and goofy haircuts.

Secret Rendezvous

These pictures were taken in May of 2003. There used to be a website that allowed you to remotely control a camera that was installed on the roof of a 50 storey building in Toronto. I trained the camera on the people talking on the patio of the restaurant one level below. I wonder what their story is?

My guess is that the one on the right is a tourist visiting from Warsaw. The one on the left is from Prague. They met the previous summer during world youth day when the Pope was visiting and agreed to meet again in Toronto the following summer. Being strictly devout Catholics they are somewhat confused and exhilerated by the intensity of their feelings for each other. They are meeting at this sky-high restaurant where no one who knows them could possibly be expected to see them together and guess their secret feelings for each other.

Or maybe they're just a couple of guys from Mississauga.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Less is More

I watched a Turkish film called "Uzak" or "Distant". It was one of the most sparsely dialogued movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s surprising how something so sparse and subtle can sneak up and effect you.

Only in low budget markets can you make such a movie these days. Antonioni made some great films in which hardly a word was spoken. Maybe Jim Jarmusch or Gus Van Sant can still get away with it today. It would be very difficult to convince someone to let you spend millions of dollars to make a film with so little dialogue.

Such a work is really a kind of Rorschach test. The less is said the more interpretation is required from the viewer, having different effects on different viewers. It’s an interesting strategy for art because it can be difficult to determine the virtuosity of the artist. People will argue that Antonioni is brilliant or an over-rated charlatan.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Life is Funny

I'll make a joke on my deathbed.
People will say "he was funny, but he still died".

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Don't forget to call your Mom or "Mom-like" person in your life.

In the Moment

I once saw Bob Costas bragging that he does his own stunts including the tongue-twisters. He then very impressively gave an example of a lengthy, complicated and convoluted string of words and effortlessly continued to introduce the next segment of his show. I wondered if multiple takes were required. I would guess that he was able to do it in a single take. Some people are good at that sort of thing.

I have been on Radio and TV a few times and I've had to make presentations in front of large classes and audiences. I find that if you stumble and make a mistake, the natural tendency is to dwell on it internally even as your mouth has already moved onto the next sentence. While you try to contemplate the error, react to it, or learn from it, your mouth has already moved on and you find it very difficult to concentrate on the task at hand.

Sometimes when you're humming along nicely and everything is going smoothly you might start to think about an important point that you are about to make. Internally you are already planning out the next segment but out of your mouth is flowing the segment at hand. You will likely have trouble with it.

Those who are best at this sort of thing will be the people who can block out both the past and the future as they move in the present.

Tripped up by the words that came before and those to follow.
I talk today, not yesterday, not tomorrow.

Paul 101, Paul 101

I wrote this 3 years ago when I tried spending some time in an office pretending to work.

The rumbling hum of an aging air conditioner that rattles the floors when it turns on or off.
The ziggity-zag of a printer well past its prime - on loan from the museum of antique technology.
The seeking whine of a dial-up modem negotiating a connection.

Peppered with the random musings of bitter mid-level so-called professionals.
The din and cacophany shoots over and through me.
I am surrounded by noise and startled by P.A. announcements too loud so it can be heard over the chortling air conditioner.

"Paul 101, Paul 101"

The phones don't stop ringing.
The chit-chat chattering.
This place is too cold, turn off that damn air conditioner.
Someone please find Paul and tell him to pick up 101.
If I hear his name again that motherfucker is done.
Paul's not here, just take a damn message, he'll call back when he's done recovering.

Spend time in coal mine and you'll become dirty.
The soot will find your skin wherever you've left it exposed.
I want to remain clean,

Friday, May 12, 2006

Adopt a tree

While walking around my neighbourhood these last few days I have come across these beautiful blankets of colours lying beneath certain trees. Some are pale green, some are yellow and some are vibrant hot pink. It is especially pleasing when two or more of these trees are next to each other. They steal all attention away from their surroundings.

Most of these castings end up stillborn on cars, sidewalks, on the road and finally in the sewer. Today I stopped, picked up a handful and buried them under some dirt on a front lawn. It's easier to save a baby tree than a baby racoon.

Is this a fetish?

Women who yawn or file their nails or read a book or engage in some such distracted activity while having sex.
It might have something to do with male selfish sexuality. "She's so devoted that she'll do it just for me... even if she isn't particularly interested in it at that moment".

Baby Mammals

Is there anything cuter than baby mammals? And furry baby mammals are surely the most adorable. Yesterday I drove into a very tight laneway to help a friend pick up a used BBQ. I had to brake suddenly because someone was using a spade to push a litter of baby racoons under a fence from their backyard into the laneway. They were able to scurry away.

When I got through to the clearing in front of the row of garages there were several neighbours out in the laneway and none of them seemed to care a cent for those frightened little bandits. The man with the BBQ said "yes but they'll grow up and shit everywhere and tear everything up" I doubt they'll make it into next week. It's a cruel world isn't it?

Zipper in the Fabric of Spacetime

I have owned a backpack style carrying-case for close to a year. Today I noticed a zipper and pocket on top of that bag. I could swear no such zipper was there yesterday. I am afraid to open it.

We Exceed Standards

I've seen these full page ads the last few days in the Globe and Mail. I can't even remember for which company they were pitching; I think it was a petroleum concern. In the ad they claim to not just meet standards but to go further and exceed them. Isn't it always the case that when you meet a standard you exceed it. If you're given a minimum standard of n, you need to exceed n in order to meet it.

Cruise out of Control

Since when are Hollywood stars required to be sane and uncontroversial in order for their movies to be successful? Apparently Tom Cruise has become somewhat crazy and this might explain the less than expected receipts for his new movie. I keep hearing this repeated and seeing titles such as the one I've used to head this entry. One is tempted to suspect a conspiracy.

OK, Scientology seems somewhat wacky but no more than most other religious sects. Maybe Cruise's rant against pharmaceuticals like prozac are making some people angry. Maybe these angry people who spend billions advertising such pharmaceuticals would like to see dissenters like Cruise discredited as frothing nutjobs.

I will not defend Scientology's theologies or methodologies but maybe they're onto something here.