Saturday, June 20, 2009

Natalia Vodianova

Indeterminacy 97

Certain tribes in Siberia trade several sheep for one Amanita
muscaria and use the mushroom for orgiastic practices. The women
chew the raw mushroom and the chewed pulp is mixed with blueberry
juice. This is drunk by the men and is productive of
hallucinations. It also changes the relation between the ego and
social ideals. Thus, the urine of those who have been affected
by the mushroom is in high demand and is drunk with pleasure,
for it contains a sufficient amount of the drug to continue its
wild effects. The Vikings who went berserk are thought to have
done so by means of this same mushroom. ¶ Nowadays we hear of
biochemical experiments using Amanita muscaria or other
hallucinatory mushrooms or the drugs synthesized in imitation
of them — experiments in which professors, students, or
criminals become temporarily schizophrenic, sometimes for the
novelty of it, other times for purely scientific purposes. Just
as we soon will travel to the moon and other earths, and add to
our telephone conversations the practice of seeing one another
while we speak, so one will do with his mind what he now does
with his hair, not what it wants to do but what he wants it to
do. People in the near future will not suffer from
schizophrenia; they will simply be schizophrenic if and when
they have the desire. ¶ Life is changing. One of the ways I’m
trying to change mine is to get rid of my desires so that I won’t
be deaf and blind to the world around me. When I mention my
interest in mushrooms, most people immediately ask whether I’ve
had any visions. I have to tell them that I’m very old-fashioned,
practically puritanical, that all I do is smoke like a furnace
— now with two filters and a coupon in every pack — and that I
drink coffee morning, noon, and night. I would also drink
alcohol but I made the mistake of going to a doctor who doesn’t
permit it. The visions I hear about don’t interest me. Dick
Higgins said he ate a little muscaria and it made him see some
rabbits. Valentina Wasson ate the divine mushrooms in Mexico
and imagined she was in eighteenth-century Versailles hearing
some Mozart. Without any dope at all other than caffeine and
nicotine, I’ll be in San Francisco tomorrow hearing some of my
own music and on Sunday, God willing, I’ll awake in Hawaii with
papayas and pineapples for breakfast. There’ll be sweet-smelling
flowers, brightly colored birds, people swimming in the surf,
and (I’ll bet you a nickel) a rainbow at some point during the
day in the sky.

- John Cage

A Scan a Day

Captain Blood (1935)

An enslaved English doctor and his comrades in chains escape and become pirates.

Another Michael Curtiz-Errol Flynn-Olivia de Havilland Hollywood blockbuster, a classic pirate movie and simply one of my favourites! A movie like this exemplifies in all aspects what cinema was made for.

Who's That Girl?

Sorstalanság (2005)

A 14-year-old boy's life is torn apart in World War II Hungary as he is sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

This is an adaptation from the famous novel by Imre Kertész, and at first I was noticing the difference in tone between film and book. However, the author himself has written the script, so I assume this to be intentional.

Where the book sees the goings on from the view of a young and innocent teenage boy who interprets everything as an adventure and even at times 'understands' and justifies the Nazis' doings, the movie comes in conflict with these same views, since the picture tells a different story. We have the 'real' images, the book tells us the what the boy 'sees'.

Nevertheless, this is an extremely well photographed movie with great actors, the harrowing events embedded in a child's life story. We definitely feel with him and understand that he has survived to a strange world in the aftermath.

Kate Moss irrégulière

A Song a Day

Aimee Mann - 4th of July

I know this song is a bit early considering it's title, but before I forget...

I first took note of the singer-songwriter Aimee Mann's music at the world premiere of the movie Magnolia at the Berlin Film Festival. I instantly fell in love with her voice and the songs and have been collecting her albums ever since.

I find this specific song to be not just beautiful, but in all aspects you see it something like THE perfect song in itself. Everything in this song fits as if it had to be this way and no different in any aspect.

Todays the fourth of july
Another june has gone by
And when they light up our town I just think
What a waste of gunpowder and sky
Im certain that I am alone
In harbouring thoughts of our home
Its one of my faults that I cant quell my past
I ought to have gotten it gone

Oh, baby, I wonder -
If when you are older -
Youll wake up
And say, my god, I should have told her -
What would it take?
But now here I am and the worlds gotten colder
And shes got the river down which I sold her.

So thats todays memory lane
With all the pathos and pain
Another chapter in a book where the chapters are endless
And theyre always the same
A verse, then a verse, and refrain

Oh, baby, I wonder -
If when you are older -
Youll wake up
And say, my god, I should have told her -
What would it take?
But now here I am and the worlds gotten colder
And shes got the river down which I sold her.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Devon Aoki

Indeterminacy 169

(ph: Cornell Capa)

Merce Cunningham’s parents were going to
Seattle to see their other son, Jack.
Mrs. Cunningham was driving.
Mr. Cunningham said,
“Don’t you think you should go a little
slower? You’ll get caught.”
He gave this warning several times.
Finally, on the
outskirts of Seattle, they were
stopped by a policeman. He
asked to see Mrs. Cunningham’s license.
She rummaged around in her bag
and said, “I just don’t seem
to be able to find it.” He then
asked to see the registration.
She looked for it but
unsuccessfully. The officer
then said, “Well,
what are we going to do with you?”
Mrs. Cunningham started the engine.
Before she drove off,
she said, “I just
don’t have any more time to waste
talking with you. Good-by.”

- John Cage

Heather Marks

ph: Ellen von Unwerth

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

A major countermands orders and attacks to revenge a previous massacre of men, women and children.

They don't make them like this anymore! Historically non quite correct this is basically a love story where a man has to go through a whole war to prove that he's worthy of the woman's love. Lots of fun!

Julie De Gouy

New stuff

A Scan a Day

Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker? (2007)

ph: Robert Mapplethorpe

A documentary on the author Katthy Acker.

Very informative and full of interesting material I was not quite convinced whether this film could show what makes Kathy Acker tick. One can't doubt Acker's importance and her influence on present-day culture, but still her punk aesthetics felt to me somehow dated, a thing of the past.

Who's That Girl?

A Song a Day

Sol Seppy - Slo Fuzz

Sol Seppy is a British singer-songwriter who has also collaborated with Mark Linous on the early Sparklehorse albums, her real name is Sophie Michalitsianos.

I love her style of writing quirky magical slow songs, all absolutely beautiful.

To be someone
To be someone

I wish I could say the same of myself
That I'm in perfect harmony
That I do not use the sword of my tongue
To lash out at the enemy

That I do not fear the light
That I do not stray from love as my guide
That I'm at peace inside

And all the pieces are fine
They dance and sing in unity
A dum dum dum dee daa da dee

Oh I wish I could fly
Through the sky
And the moon above me
Oh I wish I could talk
To the gods and the birds above me
It’s not fun to be so blind
To be so blind

I wish I could stay in the present day
Not lapsing into vicious sleep
‘Cause it gives my bones a brand shiny new home
One that does not confine me

And I do not fear the light
And I do not stray from love as my guide
And I'm at peace inside

And all the pieces are fine
They dance and sing in unity
A dum dum dum dee daa da dee

Oh I wish I could fly
Through the sky
And the moon above me
Oh I wish I could talk
To the gods and the birds above me
It’s not fun to be so blind
To be so blind

Slo fuzz in the morning
Where I can tempt you
To be my air
But it's not enough to be lovely
When I feel other things
I can not share
That I can't

Oh I wish I could fly
Through the sky
And the moon above me
Oh I wish I could talk
To the gods and the birds above me
It’s not fun to be so blind
To be so blind

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mo Wandan

ph: Jason Capobianco

Vignettes #25

In 1981 I took a 6 week tour of the United States together with my pals Martin and Christian. We had gotten a reasonable round flight ticket with Eastern Airlines that allowed us to take any flight within their range of US destinations and within a certain time. In San Francisco, however, we rented a car so that we could tour the West by road.

We were on our way from Yosemite National Park straight down to Las Vegas which was quite a stretch for a single day. We were driving for hours through extremely hot and deserted territory and were aching for a break. Although we had sandwiches and soft drinks along, we decided to prefer a warm meal, and when we saw an advertisement for a roadside restaurant about 2 hours down the road we were all ready to go there.

You can imagine our disappointment when we finally arrived and found that the restaurant was closed on that day. It was a single large white wood building in the midst of nowhere, out back we could see two trailers and up front were some tables and benches for picnickers. So we sat down at one of those tables and unpacked our sandwiches.

We were sitting there chatting about our trip and further plans, when we heard something, not really a voice, more like some kind of a click. We instantly looked up and found ourselves staring into the barrel of a shotgun aimed at us!

It was an old toothless Al 'Fuzzy' St. John lookalike old man threatening us with that weapon, and he started telling us something, but he had the voice you would expect from someone without a set of teeth. Obviously it was his opinion that it was illegal to have a picnic there.

We were talking to each other what to do, I had tried to explain to him that we had wanted to go to the restaurant, but that it was closed. The old man asked us whether we were Germans, and I told him that I wasn't, the other two were, but we were all visiting from Germany.

The old man instantly changed his attitude, and to our relief he set down the shotgun, sat himself down with us and starting telling his story.

He liked Germans ever since he had been stationed in Heidelberg during the war (somehow ALL Americans must have been stationed there some time or the other, even my Dad). He told us that he lived in one of those trailers and that his granddaughter lived in the other one together with her husband. They ran the restaurant. He got all started up complaining about how the 'young ones' don't treat him right and that they hump every night so loud that he never gets any sleep...

We politely listened to him for a while, he was a bit bonkers to say the least, and then said we had to go to reach Las Vegas not too late.

At least we came out of this encounter alive.

Jourdan Dunn

ph: Sebastian Faena

Indeterminacy 66

Betty Isaacs told me that when she
was in New Zealand she was informed
that none of the mushrooms growing wild
there was poisonous.
So one day when she noticed
a hillside covered with fungi,
she gathered a lot and made
catsup. When she finished
the catsup, she tasted it
and it was awful.
Nevertheless she bottled it and put
it up on a high shelf.
A year later she was housecleaning
and discovered the catsup,
which she had forgotten about.
She was on the point of throwing
it away. But before doing
this she tasted it.
It had changed color.
Originally a dirty gray,
it had become black, and,
as she told me,
it was divine, improving
the flavor of whatever it touched.

- John Cage

Who's That Girl?

New stuff

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sharon van der Knaap

Now, Voyager (1942)

Boston spinster blossoms under therapy and finds impossible romance.

This is the ultimate classic of the woman's picture, a historically limited subgenre, also known as the weepie. In this picture everything fits together like a glove, and Bette Davis delivers one of her best and most sophisticated roles. Altogether a meticulous example of Hollywood at its best.

Famous quote:

"Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."

A Scan a Day

Chun gwong cha sit (1997)

aka Happy Together

A gay Chinese couple living in Argentine try to mend their broken relationship.

Beautifully photographed and magically assembled story of the ups and downs of love and passion, not really a gay love story, rather an essay about loneliness and man's need of love.

As a surprise: there are 2 Frank Zappa titles on the soundtrack which are used frequently in the movie.

Valentina Zelyaeva

ph: John Scarisbrick

Benny's Video (1992)

A media-obssesed kid kills a young girl just to see 'what it's like', and his parents cover up the crime.

So far I have avoided watching any movies by Michael Haneke, since he's pretty much the archetype of the snotty European artsy-fartsy movie director. But I finally decided to check out some of his work, since it is being discussed so much.

At one commenter on this movie asks: "Should it be rated as a movie or as a Michael Haneke work?" That's a fair question, because without knowing about Haneke's 'insights' and merely judging the movie for what it is, I can say that's it is quite successful in depicting a creepy kid and his even more creepier parents and dissects the story very coldly creating a disturbing sense of unease.

However, I made the mistake of watching an interview with the director which was included as a bonus on the DVD. Although this was a German DVD and Haneke is an Austrian, the interview was held in French and subtitled in German! His snobbery knows no bounds.

In the interview he explains his extremely simplistic view that people tend to confuse movies and media with reality, and especially young people become disturbed by watching too much TV. I guess he doesn't realize that this is old hat, even Chesterton made fun of the same critique concerning Penny Dreadfuls more than a century ago. I'm afraid Haneke has no idea what cinema is really about. Luckily his movie has turned out to be a bit more than just a pamphlet of his smart-alecky world view.

What really angered me was his opinion that taking pictures on a vacation trip is 'perverse' ("I have never done that!" he proclaims). He says people live in the illusion that they could capture and 'dominate' reality this way. Of course, he is above such minor beings, since he's a creator of art...

I'm sorry to say that Michael Haneke is wrong on all he's been saying, and I'm afraid he hasn't really understood what cinema (and photography) really is. Having seen a Peter Greenaway interview recently on German TV where he states very much the same views these directors seem to think that only 'true art' has any right to exist and any other human effort is worthless.

I'm glad there are other directors out there who understand the complexity of cinema (and of our world) much better. And to recover from such snotty interviews I'll watch another Bunuel movie...

Eugenia Volodina

ph: Nathaniel Goldberg