Thursday, January 31, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Man on Wire had my hands sweating so much that my supercool fingerless gloves were soaked!
Man on Wire tells the story/stories of Philippe Petit (what an awesome name) who, in 1974, walked . . . more accurately, performed upon a highwire between the WTC Twin Towers.
espionage. suspense. fear. passion. t-o-t-a-l-l-y captivating.
an interview w/ director James Marsh and Philippe Petit:
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
[anecdote, anecdote . . .] and then Patti said to me, "ah, don't hate yourself."
i'm all inspired and moved . . .
Saturday, January 19, 2008
we had some seriously famous Palestinian rappers in our venue for Slingshot Hip Hop (google it and check it out; who knew?). they performed, were amazing.
busy, crazy energy here today.
See Durakovo: Les Village des Fous (Village of Fools), Nino Kirtadze's fiercely brave film (brave, as in: "how did you manage to *be* in that presence, to get that footage?" . . . "weren't you terrified?" . . . quick and simple answer to the latter: "Yes." Kirtadze tells me that it was her most "joyless shoot" ever).
Durakovo is a village owned by Mikhail Morozov, who sees himself as a kind of savior, helping "the willing" to see the follies of Western Democracy and helping them return to tsarist-regime-life (and loving it!). He is the sole authority. He thinks for them, doles out their roles (the film opens on a scene of two villagers bailing shit while one asks his friend to sing him a "patriotic song") and "helps" them to determine their fate. We see dogs (in pens, to be sure, although i kept wondering when the "performance" might end and the dogs released), a gated wall, and inside, a sort of lovely, fairy-tale castle-type village. Kirtadze is lucky to be present when Oleg arrives. Oleg is brought by his mother, and he is clearly unhappy and uncertain but agrees to go inside for a meeting w/ Morozov. We discover that Oleg is university educated, has a law degree and experience but has become disenchanted and confused. he carries a kerchief and frequently seems to be on the verge of tears, wiping at the corner of his eyes. Morozov persuades him to come and join the community, and Oleg's consent is heartbreaking to see. However, Kirtadze's camera is privy to a glimmer of resentment in Oleg's eye at a town-hall-type meeting in which Morozov speaks on the failings (evils) of Western Democracy and ends the meeting with the classic 12-step serenity prayer (which is, from my perspective, a rhetorically wicked, "easy," and, well, unoriginal shot at control).
The people we see in the village seem unwilling or unable to speak, slightly fearful, sad, and silent. Kirtadze's use of silence in her "interview" footage is brilliantly haunting. touches of Hitchcockian imagery aid in creating the dystopian vision (which needs no particular cinematic help. One need only show up, point, and shoot).
Kirtadze is given access to key meetings of government officials clearly desirous of return to a glorious imperial Russia. discussions include building of alliances with Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba, possibly China. the US is right out.
It is of course a film about a people who feel they have been let down by the ideals of the outside. And in this, i read in the eyes of the villagers something beyond fear. this tension . . . exploring a desire for an easier way that comes at the cost of individual autonomy . . . is important in helping us to see the film as more than a condemnation of Durakovo but as an exploration of a people trying to work it out.
An important and terrifying film. see it.
see details at the sundance site.
Friday, January 18, 2008
so Adventures of Power was shot in Utah and is a kind of Napoleon-Dynamite'ish film featuring "Power," a character who is enamored of "air-drumming." his father, played by Michael McKean, is heading up a strike at the local copper mine (from which Power is fired for air drumming while at work and causing a sort of goo-sludge to spill on the foreman). Power travels, seeks, trains, bonds -- through a variety of p-r-i-t-t-y hilarious montages featuring some impressive Big Hits (Loverboy's "Turn Me Loose," Gap Band's "Whip It", Mr. Mister's "Kyrei Elieson, and "Rush's "Tom Sawyer" is key throughout). a little love story, a little coming of age, a little quirky-thank-God-for-Mike Myers and Jared Hess for opening the genre d'quirk . . . it was very cute. talked w/ the filmmaker (Ari Gold) afterward; he was very happy w/ the response (laughter in all the right places) . . . so all's good there.
i was not a big metal fan, but my husband was our college radio's director and was known as "Metal Mike when" i met him. just as he had dragged me to many metal shows when we were dating, so too did i agree to be dragged to stay for the later film, Anvil: The Story of Anvil. i hadn't known a thing about them, but Mike had. nearly a pre-cursor to many of the big metal bands (Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, etc.), Anvil never took off in quite the same way. the doc begins by following band members in the current status as "everday joes," working everyday jobs, through their European tour (booked by a woman who emailed Lips, the lead singer, and said she'd arranged the whole tour out of "passion and love" and so he was in -- hmmmm, just like that? . . . but whatever). the tour? kind of a disaster, kind of tragic, kind of loving and cool. we could not stay until the end because i simply had to get back to the resort to sleep (early morning business call and first day of festival). in the hall, we met the producer, and he said that Lips and Robb Reiner (drummer and co-founder; 2 key characters in the doc) were around for Q & A. i knew Mike would be heartbroken if he missed it and thought about cowgirling up, but even Mike knew about their presence and agreed that we'd have to leave (plus, it was snowing again, and that back mountain road between Park City and the Sundance Resort is kind of scary). so, we left. we got buttons. we got a CD. we finally made it to Park City for some free volunteer good times.
just watched about 1/2 of Puujee. lovely. difficult. problematic (maybe more on that later). not many dry eyes.
i just read the Sundance FF 08 twitter entry: someone thrilled to have picked up Michel Gondry at the airport (i wish it had been me, but maybe my little fantasy is better :)
more later . . .
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
and thanks to those of you who sent your vibes for River Run into the ether, for that is precisely where we are being housed for Sundance 2008! i. could. not. be. happier.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Feels Like: 3°F
Wind: SW at 10 mph
via weather channel
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
and while stuff like this (below) is just bizarre and puzzling, mike and i are going to have "fun" with the festival. still, we'll also be having some intellectually critical "fun" (more on that post-fest). for now, i'll simply hint that even though i still support much of what Sundance does, the contradictions are worth noting. in fact, the critique -- when it actualizes --may reflect disparities we experience in our own fields/lives . . . vast differences between what we attempt to project/perform and what we are actually willing to tolerate and/or ignore.
i'm glad we took these images last year, and this year, i plan to videotape rather than simply capture static images. because, really, you have to see how the mannequin looks (at me) as i cross the hallway to use the bathroom at night; it's almost certain that her head will swivel slowly, plotting her wicked-puppet-moves, tracking (. . . ). i've had nightmares. and when i go to use the downstairs bathroom, the golliwog signage, coupled with the non-insulated nature of that space in the cabin is chilling to the bone. (note: the first image you'll see at the link is the very sign of which i speak; we did not capture that image last year, but here you have it).
and what to make of these insane placards on the jack and jill bathroom doors? what horrid historical stereotypes are being played and why? is this supposed to be funny? critical? i don't know. to me, it's offensive. last year, we almost took them down (at least for our stay) and may do so this year. it's just. so. creepy.
last night, i received an email from 2 of our long time and very best volunteers. they are not going to volunteer this year. things too messed up. too much attempt at corporatizing the festival and too much failure at the human(e) connections that Sundance is (supposed to be) about. disconnect. i've asked these 2 fabulous human beings to formalize what they wrote to me so that they might pass it up the chain. people need to know what's happening. because it's not just about the films, the ideas, the filmmakers' careers, and production companies' revenues (although it is all that), it's about human(e) connection(s). and what's Good, True, and Beautiful, "the GTB," (says the rhetorician, reflecting upon times past).
but so mike and i will be, despite some crusty creepiness and uncomfortable changes, approaching Sundance 2008 with our eye on the GTB -- gotta be :)
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
i was deliriously happy to imagine staying at Sundance absent the freakshow (courtesy of our cabin's "curious" contents). turns out, my projectionist friend was misinformed and is *not* staying at the cabin (see previous post) but in a cozy, modern condo. this means that mike and i will almost surely be assigned the cabin. not good.
above: one of many "curious" artifacts housed in the cabin. for similar images (and their disturbing histories, visit: The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia).
. . . but. um. yay!
to be fair, it is in many ways a lovely cabin. it's just that it's so overfull of freakish memorabilia that is loses its potential. and, well, it did have an amazing array of channels to choose from (dish), and i watched a lot of cool movies after my shifts at night, trying to avoid the glare of the mannequin and her sure-to-happen-any-minute self-animating puppet-dance.
Monday, January 7, 2008
here is a fun scene from Absolute Giganten; from the imdb.com plot summary, "In the port town of Hamburg, Germany, Floyd decides that he's shipping out to South Africa and Singapore now that his two-year probation for an unspecified juvenile offense has been completed. When he shares the news with his devoted friends Chubby, a mechanic, and Ricco, a fast-food cook and would-be b-boy, they can't comprehend their thoughtful friend's willingness to trade camaraderie for a wider view of the world. Overcoming their anger and bewilderment, the guys decide to spend one last night with Floyd, but the problem, as always, is how to find some fun. A succession of fast-food restaurants, parking garages, and local watering holes chronicles the inherent boredom of life in the provinces. But a run-in with a convention of dragster-racing Elvis impersonators sends the boys and their friend Telsa Julia Hummer on a series of adventures that veers from the farcical to the almost-tragic."
they take on "Snake" in a foosball tournament; they need money. i love the way the scene ends, avoiding the conventional screaming/shouting mess and opting instead for a simple, noble silence. make sure to watch to the end, where the camera angles are inventive and fun.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
"'Life isn’t some vertical or horizontal line. You have your own internal world, and it’s not neat.' — Patti Smith
Not vertical nor horizontal nor neat, Dream of Life is a hypnotic plunge, a breathing collage of this legendary musician/poet/painter/activist’s philosophy and artistry that feels as if it sprang directly from her soul. A punk pioneer and spiritual child of Rimbaud, Blake, and Burroughs, Patti Smith’s fierce poetry and rock music shook up New York’s 1970s underground scene, and her work continues to be stirred organically by her rigorous mind, beloved artistic touchstones, and world events.
Shot over 11 years, Dream of Life travels Smith’s mystical interior terrain—the ideas, losses, and memories she wrestles with—as much as tracing her outward adventures. Layered with mesmerizing recitations, music, and narration, the fluid journey incorporates performances, graveyard pilgrimages and political rallies, archival nuggets, and vérité moments with her working-class parents, children, and friends. From raw, intimate sessions in her apartment to formidable incantations delivered to roaring crowds, Smith’s expression is unmediated by pretense or artifice. Remarkably—and this may be the key to her artistic potency—she doesn’t reject death or construct polarities of good and bad. Instead, she embraces darkness and melancholy in a way that’s liberating and also life affirming. As she manifests the transcendent in life, Dream of Life reaches for the ineffable in Patti Smith."
then there is Incendiary, "[b]ased on a novel released two days before the London bombings, Incendiary is a contemporary portrait of England that deftly interweaves tragedy, sex, politics, and the grief emanating from a suicide terrorist attack on a London soccer stadium." plus, Ewan MacGregor :)
also on the serious side is Nerakhoon (The Betrayal), which follows the Communist persecution in Laos through the lens of one family (and especially one man's) struggles.
i'm happy to see Amy Redford's film in the festival (we like Amy at our venue; she comes in often and is without pretension). her film, Guitar, is described as a "whimsical fairy tale [. . .], a thoroughly engaging, almost-mythological allegory that is fueled by the exceptional performance of Saffron Burrows and executed with style by its director."
probably heartbreaking is Recycle: "Inspired by his reporting on al Zarqawi and Al Qaeda for international news agencies, Jordanian/Palestinian filmmaker Mahmoud al Massad returns to Zarqa, where he grew up, to make Recycle. With ravishing cinematography that belies the unforgiving landscape, Massad charts the daily life of a religious Islamic man trying to survive in one of Zarqa’s poorest neighborhoods."
i think i am most excited (for pleasure's sake) about Pretty Bird: "Curtis Prentiss (Billy Crudup) is the archetypal American dreamer: the rainmaker. He arrives in town with big ideas, a fervent sales pitch, and a set of blueprints in hand. Curtis also has a wealthy old acquaintance who’s susceptible to his incantations. He finds, by chance, an out-of-work aerospace engineer (Paul Giamatti), whom he recruits with a vision of building "the rocket belt," a personalized flying machine. They embark on their mutual missions—to raise capital and solve the conundrum of flight—but their relationship quickly deteriorates. When unexpectedly they find success, everything really goes out of control, and a struggle begins that will change their lives." i mean, it does sound
more picks to come . . .
Friday, January 4, 2008
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
which. here goes . . .
i spoke last night at a party to a former graduate of UVU (my school is now a University. woo-hoo) about Freud and David Foster Wallace and Pynchon. he agreed: i need to create a special authors course in at least the latter two. maybe some Vonnegut to create a sense of emergence (?).