Friday, December 31, 2010


This may be a repeat. But it bears repeating.

Interview with John Malkovich (2008)

Really a lovely, thoughtful interview with John Malkovich. It starts out and I got a little nervous - is this going to be one of those fawning interviews that circles around being John Malkovich, but no. It goes somewhere and stays there.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pascal's Sphere

...because if the future and the past are infinite, there will not really be a when; in space, because everything is equidistant from the infinite and the infinitesimal, there will not be a where. No one exists on a certain day, in a certain place; no one knows the size of his face. - Jorge Luis Borges

Thursday, December 16, 2010

True Grit

This looks gorgeous and epic. Can't wait to see it.

Late Late Late Night Music Obsession

for when it's really dark...this song makes me giggle relentlessly

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Late Night Music Obsession: Mr. Peter Gabriel

I remembered this film today. My oldest son used to be obsessed with this concert.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

5 Things: mono no aware edition

As a kid in the woods I fantasized about what I would do to survive the wake of global nuclear catastrophe and I have been haunted throughout my adulthood by the intertwined threats of climate change, overpopulation, and pollution. I can never remember a time when it hasn’t been an article of faith that humanity’s technologies are capable of destroying life on earth and that this process is well underway. The suspicion that planet earth is completely, irrevocably fucked and there’s nothing we can do about it is a sentiment my generation has become cozy with. It’s the comforting pessimism I reached for to protect my heart from sinking completely as I watched streaming footage of oil streaming into the Gulf of Mexico. The we-put-a-man-on-the-moon confidence in technological solutions gets dusted off once again in order to once again be proved misplaced. We find ourselves perplexed that, while our faith in the redemptive potential of our ingenuity remains unshaken, we’re impotent against global market capitalism’s unyielding demand that we make more things cheaper in order to make fewer and fewer people wealthier. We sense that this is killing us and yet privately we know there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. We’re like an insane psychiatrist attempting to devise for himself a cure. via Stephen Elliot & The Rumpus

Long Abandoned Drive-In Theater, Newton, New Jersey, 2002, Owen Kanzler

László Moholy-NagyLago Maggiore, Ascona, Switzerland
ca. 1930

Henry L. Russell House, Route 6
West Grove Township, Bloomfield vicinity, Davis County, IA

Vlatka Horvat I advise turning the sound off.

The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look into each other's eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.


Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn't respond,
I know she's used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
- Jeffrey McDaniel

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Wooster Group: There is Still Time...Brother

I saw There Is Still Time...Brother in September as part of the TBA festival. This first film gives you an idea of what it is, narratively speaking. What it can't give you is an idea of what it's like when someone in the audience is actually manipulating the frame. The second film kind of gets at that.

There is still time .. brother from UNSW iCinema Centre on Vimeo

EMPAC Opening - There Is Still Time.. Brother (The Wooster Group) - Troy, NY - 08, Oct from Sébastien B. on Vimeo.
I'm usually frustrated by projects that bill themselves as immersive experiences. I go in excited and quickly discover how limited the experience is. The makers underestimate the audience's intelligence and creativity. My default is to expose and focus on the particular way such a project fails to anticipate and cater to my singular experience, which is kind of childish and petulant and a wee bit self-righteous and entitled, admittedly.

That didn't happen with There Is Still Time Brother because the film lays out the rules at the beginning and defines the limits of the experience. Scott Shepherd explains how the technology works, what it allows them to create, and how it's an opportunity to give up control (which he admits is hard) to an outside director. But then he qualifies: the film offers the illusion of choice. Obviously the choices have already been made because "we all know there's nothing outside the frame," nothing relevant to what's happening in the film. That upfront acknowledgment allowed me to accept the film on its own terms as opposed to pushing against (because There is Still Time...Brother is an anti-war film, so where better to start than by disarming the audience) or faulting it for failing to deliver the experience I felt I should have.
One person sits in the chair that controls the window. They're the director or since it is an anti-war film, let's call them "the Decider." They decide what's in the frame, but they don't control what is heard or how the narrative unfolds.

It's a rich experience and it takes more than one viewing to really take it in. After two viewings, I was picking up more, seeing more, or seeing things I hadn't seen at all the first time. But I would still have liked to watch it again. The second time we saw it, there were fewer people. My friend, Susan, sat in the chair and took control. The obvious temptation here is to spin the chair and she did and I would have probably done it for a lot longer, a lot longer, because, well, that's me.

But I made the choice to stay out of the chair, to not take control or direct. Mainly, because that's a more comfortable, familiar thing for me. I wanted to observe the audience and having made that choice, I didn't really think about it - or feel a need to be in the chair. I was not alone in this. No one wanted to sit in the chair this time. When people took the seat, it looked like they only did it because they felt obligated (or maybe I'm just reading that into it). But there was a reluctance and a sort of "okay I'll do this, but I really don't want to" look that people gave when I'd look at them as they walked up. But maybe this was their opportunity? They really did want control, but they wanted to assume it passively, didn't want to appear so nakedly ambitious.

And there was a period of about five minutes or maybe more where the frame rested on this film of Scott Shepherd's eye surgery, until the guy sitting next to me adjusted the chair. I looked at him and whispered "thank you," amazed at how disturbed I'd been and how I hadn't realized it until he moved the frame.

Okay. Once I moved the chair from the stool where I sat. My favorite position was splitting the frame by putting it on the entrance into the 360 - which meant that when people came in, they were part of the film.

There Is Still Time...Brother references On The Beach, which I've never seen. This clip plays on a computer screen and Kate Valk and Scott Shepherd act out the scene towards the end of the film.

What's surprising to me is how affecting the content was, especially the content that wasn't as easily heard - the snippets of conversation or speech that filtered through when I was looking at something else or when an image appeared on the one of the computer screens and it would kind of get taken for granted or lost in the mix of everything else. Eventually what's being said filtered through and would I find myself thinking how relevant it was to the War on Terror and then that thought would distract me long enough to miss what was said next before the entire image disappeared. Those moments were not repeated, while the more inconsequential action was repeated several times. It started to make me doubt what I had heard and then I'd get distracted again by something else or I'd just enjoy watching Scott Shepherd or Kate Valk or that guy with the smooth, quiet voice talking about the French and Indian War.

I've been thinking about the film ever since and it's been especially inspiring as I work on this new play. I'm conscious of layering images and bringing small details into focus. It's very different from how I've written before and feels more like painting or processing film than writing. I've also been consuming an insane amount of images - what I've shared on the blog is only the tip of the iceberg (some might say, thankfully).