Saturday, 12 December 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
And there is a temptation to worship this man, and yet this heist deflates as our proud but still compelling hero allows himself the moral failure, the model failure of abandoning the love of his youth. The honest and untriumphant conclusion allows the art to stand as the gift it should be. That he would want such an honest biopic to be made is a certain repentance.
Do the dishonest means by which the team achieved their beautiful end detract from its vitality, or does the beauty of the act pour scorn on our petty morals? In what ways might or ought our lives demand a why to be asked by passing pedestrians?
'Decency', a notion the character Boston espouses, is illustrated in those characters who are most aware of beauty where they are, the cripple who likes to feel the warmth of the sun on his skin, Miriam who delights in the colour and light of broken glass and who allows herself to be moved to expression of joy and sadness – rather than bottled into the violence of gang crime. Decency is to be found in something fragile beyond ourself, in this way love and beauty save us?
The baby is Moses in his basket. Here Moses happens into the camp of the oppressing force of gang violence and is there cared for by a certain Miriam and this helpless babe by his vulnerability is the bringer of some measure of peace. The baby of a new South Africa demands to be nurtured both by the rich and the poor, the guns must be put down, rightful ownership restored.
Something limited about the production and design might better have suited a theatre, compared perhaps to Slumdog, which takes better advantage of the fabric of sprawl, with its high contrast and hand-held sprints under and over. There is much to love in the film but I never really felt the film was necessary, essentially why did he pick up the baby?
If we adopted children would Generation Y live with more decency?
Preisner and autobiography. The music in this film is a central character, and it was a bold task to write for the script that supposes the soundtrack to be of the greatest composer of a generation. The picture of creativity, of urgency and cooperation draws you in. The heroism of a music so full of life grabs you as Philippe Petit on a wire.
It is pointed that Kieslowski should use a scriptural passage as the crescendo to a piece celebrating a united Europe, a Europe that hopes so much to find a unity to its community without religion, without God.
At a stretch there is an Israel (Rom11:17?) in this in that both the illegitimate mistress and the original bride both come into an inheritance. Where the first child is killed by a car crash a new hope is born at the close. There are relentless allusions to new birth, the terrifying risk and fussy inconvenience of children. Children are the ruin of our myth of independence.
The cast is, bar periphery appearances, exclusively male. The male professor sends his male supervisor with male driver to oversee male scientists, who are inspecting single men, who visit their male doctor and drink coffee with male friends. The film does not announce itself as one commenting on gender, but in later conversation: would it have expressed the same thing with a woman in any (or all) of the roles? Perhaps we knew this, that positivism is a masculine thing, but that this is nodded to so unblinkingly suggests we are resigned either to the inevitability of one-dimensional masculinity or to the inevitability of positivism.
We continue to speculatively build houses on these presuppositions of the efficient genericness of the typical kitchen. There is an informationism at work privileging observation over intimacy, and it is a critique of any who would elevate fact over meaning, this film was made for Jim's delight, and mine in the infectious draw of conviviality, the saving power of a meal shared. In their drawing together, as with Grant visiting the doctor, we are offered a meditation on the importance of proximity and the affirming power of touch.
Oh that we all might be animators for the catharsis of such story telling, and the joy. Perhaps by its personal effect it deflects certain criticisms levelled at a film more visually sophisticated - I mean that in the sense, not that Persepolis is a crude expression, but rather, the more conventional production of live action film disguises, indeed altogether conceals, the voice of its story telling and the personality of its author inside both the whirring complexities of the photographic process and the industry of coordinating at such a scale. Expression in animation has neither the burden nor mask of the personalities of a cast, the fog of digital post-production nor accident of location. Did I express that at all well?
Does animation make war more palatable? Does animation make us more forgiving of visual cliches and graphic hyperbole? Does an infant narrator/protagonist allow us an assumed distance of maturity from mistakes of history? I confess these questions didn't trouble me any great deal from this film's pleasure, might they, ought they?
The film glories in poking fun at a slew of isms, we see Marx and God sharing a joke on their clouds. Ideologies, nationality, family, modernity, sex and gender, all vie to define the young Marjane's identity. What does “Be True to Yourself” mean and is it helpful advice?
The formation of character and beauty through suffering and discipline find a metaphor in her grandmother's breasts which bookend the narrative. And we, like these, if we are to stand firm, we might do well to face the ice cold of suffering, and if we are to finish well, we would do well to find those jasmine petals daily which will preserve beauty in the last days.
The French have a curious relationship with Modernity. Here is Monsieur Hulot, the Holy Fool addressed to the sitting duck Modernity. Jokes are largely at the expense of a fabulously self-conscious modern couple, garish, impatient and people-pleasing. Similar slapstick provocation is needed now as then to temper our confected needs and architectural pretensions.
The scene of light reflected into the singing birds cage was strong, and as a whole the film charms as a splendid caper through visual puns, the fish in carrying case and eye-ball windows..
Eastwood, by weight of his type, is cast perfectly into a role which subverts the redemptive violence of previous films through a plot of sacrificial atonement. Dabbling in a spread of Christian themes Gran Torino is sufficiently allusive to demand and profit enquiry of the Bri kind, although there is nothing like an overt reference to Catholicism to get L'Abri's reformed colours flying - “Did it all go wrong for Walt because of his Catholic doctrine?” was ventured.
The sacred use of profanities, that is, using obscenities as a bond of trust was another brief consideration. How should we then swear? Others: Is redemption not undoing damage done but rather learning to chose a different path? What is the difference between those things for which we might confess regret (absent fathering, an affair) those things which formed us (Korea)?
Monday, 12 October 2009
Each vehicle is allowed its full course to track out of frame in a powerful picture of quitting the landscape to leave us static in the windswept grey green. There is care in the geometry of the photography and the blurring of timescale and timelapse as the world rushes on and away past this year in a little nook of a rural past.
There is a drawing into the small things as happens in grief, obsessing and retracing with hands over familiar paths. And there is such a beauty in the shots here that linger on the hand at task, old hands greasing baking tins, carving and such. The baking scene was dance, deft, measured, fastidious and musical, the elegance of work done as it has long been done. Watch this film for the skip of a sheared lamb, for the grand stretch blur billowing over lake, here are visual riches. Further, there is expressed in these Welsh a sense of unselfconsciousness and trust, a mark both of the brilliance of the directing and something trusting in the spirit of such community. I have never felt so immersed.
Did the use of the same Aphex Twin hooks create a meaningful theme to the characters and to what end were the unexplained cuts to plain colour? Perhaps a familiarity with Chomsky and Dylan Thomas would have given this viewer something more from the presentation. Neither question however keeps this from being the most moving, most urgent and most beautiful social documentary I have seen, a slam in the Modern's chest, angry in its silence.
"It is only when I sense the end of things that I find the courage to speak. The courage, but not the words." So we were given cinema and the gift of tongues.
If I can express this without being callous, the gift of the disabled is to challenge and thereby enrich notions of the value of the human person, beyond the utilitarian. Here this was advanced some way but the selfishness of the brother, Thomas, alters so little and unconvincingly for the stiffness of his expression and the shallow narrative arch he plays through. And the sentimentality of the conclusion failed to satisfy that frustration of a chronic condition like autism in a family - much as Little Miss Sunshine provoked a “So What?!” from JvH last year.
Toni Collette does strikingly portray the energy sapping myth of independence, in her eyes, strong, determined, tired. She was a joy to watch.
Colour in Australia is different. I suppose physically, there is a dry redness to the landscape and depth of blue to the sky, but I wonder also if socially colour is different, as in the photography and architecture journals, I wonder that the colours aspired to are subtly different.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
The moments of baroque soundtrack lend a magnificence starkly at odds with the mundane toil of the slow death of man played out on the plantation, and equally stark against the similarly caged pool girls barely alive in their haze of cynical wealth, perhaps the music conjures a time contemporary to the beginning of the rape of Brazil, and all the religion (and their choirs) that aided and abetted.
Charity mugging at the closing credits sullies and prostitutes a tragedy which should speak for itself, it hints at the cinema art's insecurity about its moral purpose, and it is so easy a fix that it jars with the rest of the film's brilliant subtle appreciation for the brutal complexity of lost innocence and technology.
Birdwatchers as a title finds its beginning as the opening scene follows binoculared tourists skimming up the river past staged natives. Natives there stripped of any dignity launching impotent arrows into the water. It goes on to draw us into a complicity in this social/emotional voyeurism. While the caged-ness of the rich and the native is glaringly mutual, along with a certain economic co-dependecy, I wonder that the voyeurism, the bird-watching, does not in fact go both ways successfully in the film, although that seemed to be the hope by under-dressing the pool girls, I don't know.
So, that is our beef that this fazendeiro is raising, when did self-loathing become this marketable?
Saturday, 12 September 2009
if anyone wants to join me in being spoilt by london, here was another beautiful thing, old news perhaps to the more widely exposed cinema types this was my first time seeing aguirre, and that on a whim while I was at the over-priced, over-long but otherwise charming 'radical nature' at the barbican.
aguirre. heroic in its production, absorbing in its soundtrack and explicit in its portrayal of the madness of greed and the danger of Religion. there is something that much more visceral about the type of cinema shot like this that embodies the spirit of protest in which it was written, that seduces you by the risk taken in production. there is a beautiful moment once with a baby sloth and then later with a butterfly, these, along with the backdrop of nature in its vastness, provide stark contrast to the smallminded anti-heroes, that are we who hope to mine, exploit and proselytise. elsewhere celebrated as hypnotic and poetic, truly it was.
Monday, 7 September 2009
So, I have had a few conversations with B – we daily have the most delicious lunch as a company whole on big tables in the middle of the studio – so much that I take for granted. We debated and largely agreed about Prince Charles. We can laud his well-intentioned hopes for human scaled Places with the involvement of community, however his outlook is so pessimistic as to render his efforts built on that pessimism counter productive. I love when words return from a spell in the wilderness lands beyond the borders of my daily arsenal with a new zeal for their own potential. Summing Charles' nostalgia and new-age environmentalism under pessimism is an approach I had not thought to connect the word and its associations to, it is a useful angle.
So yet unasked, next lunch together: What then is a rightful optimism? We can observe, as Charles presumeably does, the fallout from misplaced optimism.
Given the half of a chance, I shared my sustainable housing paper. Sustainable housing is what we try to do here and it is an ongoing interest of my own.”You seem to believe people can come to an epiphany moment..” I do and we must.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
I understand myself better for having read Austerlitz, it is quite unlike any I have ever read. I read in its pages my own history of dislocation and future of restless academic melancholy. Simultaneously rivetting and bebaffling. Sebald paints architecture as the impression left by, the mould that formed and the metaphor which explains the twentieth century and all its horror.
The city metaphor portraying Austerlitz' collapse works because this is a common experience, being lost in the city. In parallel though, or rather in reverse, knowing language has collapsed, it is then illuminating to our understanding of the city that we can talk in these terms of comparison. This common experience of the city, is common because our cities have been abroad and have surrendered themselves to unintelligbility. "..until if I attempted to read a whole page I inevitably fell into a state of greatest confusion. If language may be regarded as an old city full of streets and squares, nooks and crannies, with some quarters dating from far back in time while others have been torn down, cleaned up and rebuilt, and with suburbs reaching further and further into the surrounding country, then I was like a man who has been abroad a long time and cannot find his way through this urban sprawl anymore, no longer knows what a bus stop is for, or what a back yard is, or a street junction, an avenue or a bridge. The entire structure of language, the syntactical arrangement of parts of speech, punctuation, conjunctions, and finally even the nouns denoting ordinary objects were all enveloped in impenetrable fog." p124
Observing the giantistic constructions of fascism he offers this which speaks to our own whims, towers, suburbs, masterplans: "..we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction before them, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins" p19
And for any of you who have visited Paris' Bibliotheque Nationale, he evokes the calculated trauma of the stepped up then conveyor belt down entrance: "..it struck me as an utter absurdity, something that must have been devised on purpose to instil a sense of insecurity and humiliation in the poor readers.." p278 and then of the absurd forest in the middle. Which when I visited in 2005 they had pasted bird silhouettes to the glass to try to save those which "struck the glass with a dull thud, and fell lifeless to the ground.." Giantism begets an architecture of dysfunction, instability and death, like the fortresses before them in history.
Then of sleeplessness in London. "..I would leave my house as darkness fell, walking on and on, down the Mile End Road and Bow Road to Stratford, then to Chigwell and Romford, right across Bethnal Green and Canonbury, through Holloway and Kentish Town and thus to Hampstead Heath... and once you are used to walking alone you soon begin to wonder why, apparently because of some agreement concluded long ago, Londoners of all ages lie in their beds in those countless buildings in Greenwich, Bayswater or Kensington, under a safe roof, as they suppose, while really they are only stretched out with their faces turned to the earth in fear, like travellers of the past resting on their way through the desert." And so the city performs our nomadism for us. The theme of exile runs through the book, imaged in his boarding school, in israelites through the wilderness, and dying moths "clinging to the wall, motionless.. they know they have lost their way.. they will remain in the place where they came to grief even after death, held fast by the tiny claws that stiffened in their last agony.."p93
oh and more, it is a three course meal, sumptuous in its prose.
let's get together and read a book out loud.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
on the tube at week's end,
hoping to forget five
days of portioned soul,
parceled out and auctioned off
for less than the asking price.
"who were we to sell it cheap?
where lifted we a finger
to form time gifted free,
now sullied spent and squandered?"
running after and running away,
running to catch and running from a
and back to a again
where is b and wherefore?
how profits me if faster?
who judges which the winner?
what of him who doesn't?
if filled with sixty seconds run
what minute's manhood have i won?
what manner of good will i have done?
on running: a picture of my life.
Monday, 24 August 2009
a tender portrait of the family in modernity.
blunt powerful use of silence.
evocative in its warm home, play and plausible siblings.
beautiful and baffling moments naked.
consolidated my contempt for the motor car, hope for the ideal of home and fascination with french cinema.
home - http://thisishomeproject.blogspot.com/
home - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ2L3fc8mxk
home - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWu_1qmM0io
home - Quoting Alexander quoting Buber:
"..in the imperishable language of the human heart house means my house, your house, a man's own house. The house is the winning throw of the dice which man has wrested from the uncanniness of universe; it is his defense against the chaos that threatens to invade him. Therefore his deeper wish is that it be his own house.."
home - "Rent houses and sleep in them." Jer29v5
home - Few things give me more joy than to form space in conversation with people to express the home they hope for.
All other things being equal if you could treehouse would you, houseboat would you, if it could be wood would you, stone would you, by the sea would you?
Does the exhaustion of individualism sufficiently account for the failure of imagination represented by suburbia?
What religious code of propriety dictates the aesthetic and personal as a less than valid pursuit?
People get the architecture they deserve, what you look for you will find, we do not have because we do not ask. What do we deserve? What are we looking for? Who are we asking?
Modernity does not have categories for home and homeness. What world view then has sufficient patience for the homes we mutedly hope for?
Home can be a bowl of soup, a warm embrace and a labrador. Home can be where your heart is, wherever she is, where they know your name. These are joy. But we forge a timid dichotomy. A book is both-and story and paper, a loved one is both-and body and soul. Home is more than memory, inheritance more than good intentions and L'Abri more than theology. There is pleasure in tracing the human touch on ancient steps, worn and storied. Home has an architecture and it is a valid pursuit of the christian imagination to paint it in all its simplicity and specificity.
J sent me this link. The the entrants mean well. Can we affirm the motives of the competition, and laud their efforts to provoke the imagination? It's hard, this is cart-before-the-horse environmentalism, cake-and-eat-it environmentalism, sticky-plaster-on-cancer environmentalism. I'll sound like a cracked record if I say, we should address the root of suburbanisation, we drive out sprawling car-scaled suburbs on the basis of unwarranted notions of entitlement and exaggerated claims to 'need'. It is essentially a fear of specificity, an existential fear of Being in one place. If we answer this fear, people will pursue the healing of suburbia indigenously, choosing to farm their own plots, to green their own roads, to know and love their own neighbours and find their own energy together separate from the dream-selling imperial force of turbo-consumerism hyper-capitalism.The suburban problem is not a problem of form, it is a heart problem. rant rant.. There are good ideas there, the smallest scale are the most convincing.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
So, the serious and frivolous, leading and rhetorical, genuine and hypothetical
What is the difference between you and the you visible on facebook?
How are you selective in your representation? Why?
Which photos don’t you upload?
In the information you upload what are you communicating?
What are you selling?
What are you proving and to whom?
What are you on facebook for?
What is the nature of its pleasure?
What is the nature of its service to you?
If for convenience and efficiency, how are you spending the time saved?
What needs does facebook fulfil that Christ doesn't?
When does a good gift become a substitute saviour?
Would you want facebook to display the number of hours and minutes you were logged on each day?
Would you be uncomfortable if the mirrored glass that lets no one know you viewed their profile was removed?
Can you preach the gospel on facebook?
Is there a sufficient ‘plausibility structure’ to assert any truth claim?
(‘plausibility structure’ - Peter Berger via Michael Ramsden, also used of L’Abri)
Can you demonstrate by your life online that Jesus’ resurrection is intellectually credible and existentially satisfying?
Why this is hard in a virtual world?
Can people see that you are flawed and need a saviour in a world where you can atone for your own sins, erase your own history, renew your own identity?
Does your profile point to Christ?
Why do I look at people’s photos?
What is it doing for me?
Why am I choosing to view these photos of a friends holiday, on my own, in a darkened room?
Have we forgotten better ways of doing these?
How might it be otherwise?
How can I make an experience of sharing more real, more weighty?
What do I fear in life, what do I hide from?
From what am I escaping?
For what do I compensating for and exaggerate?
Why is there so much irony on facebook?
Why do people love to hate it?
Why do use metaphors of facebook-stalking, facebook-rape, and of pimping one’s profile?
Why is it so hard to leave?
Are you comforted by words of condolence on facebook?
Can you express empathy online?
Would you invite people to your wedding via facebook?
Would you propose marriage on facebook?
What is the measure of an idol?
What is the measure of an addiction?
What category do you consider facebook in - that of oxygen and necessities, that of household cleaning and chores, that of foreign holidays and luxuries?
What is the model we read the discourse of facebook through?
What is the motivating force for the facebook providers?
How is facebook free?
How are you paying for the service?
Do you count that cost before building?
Why did Jesus come at a time in history before facebook?
Have you hugged someone today?
Have you plunged your fingers into soil today?
Have you loved your next-door-neighbour this week?
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
· Facebook serves a superficial, sight-seeing mentality. Albums catalogue snapshots of made-for-facebook poses at events that didn’t happen.
And so I am leaving facebook. Just as I have left everywhere I’ve ever lived. And so face a dilemma of how: how to leave with grace, how to communicate my reasons without self-righteousness and how to keep up relationships beyond these city gates. Should I give myself wiggle room? Call this an experiment, see how it goes in a month? Shouldn’t I just develop disciplines to reduce my availability on facebook? And should I write this post in the first person, preach it in the second person or facebook-status it in the third person: (“I’ve had enough, you should leave too” phil said..)
Briefly, by way of introduction, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am not making black and white rules or denying that people have given and received love through facebook. However, a not insignificant number of friends have expressed unease about facebook from a political or christian perspective, countless others, in conversations had and overheard bemoan wasted time on the facebook.. And so on. I thought I’d have a stab at establishing a framework that puts this unease in context and maybe offers a route out or at least here to begin to sketch out a vocabulary that we might start talking about leaving facebook. Those who say facebook is just another tool are quite right, but it is so just like Starbucks is just another drink purveyor and prostitution is just another career option. None are neutral; all have consequences; and all embody a conception of the human which may be life-giving or destructive.
Enough. I will try to post for discussion:
1. "facebook is..." - what I find facebook to be within a bigger picture of the real.
2. "facebook questions" - questions I ask of myself before leaving.
3. "facebook - how shall we then leave" - how to, how then and what next.
Monday, 1 June 2009
oh let's buy an old wallpaper factory
and plant strawberries on its rusting roof.
let's sew up and mend, recoloured like sony,
and remember the laundry, and remember the l'abri.
let's gather our journals down at the river
bespangled and staggering, lost boys in mourning,
from treehouses, exploded in fabric and copper.
Your book is stars falling through open roofs,
birds nested in the eaves,
and burrowing friends.