Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dear Dr. Bennett

I still love your radio show Dr. Bennett. My ex-wife and her boyfriend were nice enough to send me a video tape of my son's pee-wee football game (since the lawyers all agreed I can't attend in person). And so I watched the tape of my son's football game with the nyquil I bought beforehand and I fell into the bottom of a deep and upturned water well in the sky, far above and at the height of airplanes. I found myself watching the game forgetting the particulars and simply observing the line of scrimmage as it formed and reformed at the beginning and ending of each play of the long game. The pure form of it and the repetitive/alternating stillness and entanglements of that line. So I woke up this morning and the sun was already out and the tape ran out but somewhere the game's still going.

Also Dr. Bennett, When I brought the nyquil to the checkout counter, the pregnant teenager behind the counter asked if I'd been crying, I said "no" of course but later
on and throughout the night I talked to myself in my empty motel room while pretending I was confessing everything to her. I had a dream later in the night in which I followed the pregnant teenager and her boyfriend in the mall, closely and unseen, as a body-less spirit. She was chiding her boyfriend for having "killed her brother" in a manner that wasn't too casual yet not exactly marked by trauma. The peculiar incongruity of her tone of voice was un-captured by my memory but I hope it comes back to me. You know those type of terrifying bright yet freezing winter days? In which it's as though the sun itself is emitting the cold? I think that her peculiar tone of voice will somehow come back to me on a day like that, if ever.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hitler: The Rise of Evil (Christian Duguay 2003)

Convex angles of a wide lens oscillate the foreground against background, a constant of its reality as the motion of Michael Bay's alternate universes unceasingly breathe off of (the only briefly applied) Deep Zooms of Vertigo and Jaws. Duguay's near consistent intra-frame tertiary executes the visceral immediacy of violence but the exaggerated spaces mainly execute history as psychology and Hitler arrives psychologically fully formed after the opening credit sequence summary of childhood.The rounded edges make literal mental interiors and the TV movie's institutional limitations and its historical and political obligations confine the direction to the didactic end. Similarly, The Godfather and Cabaret are short-handed as reference points, a deliberate distancing from the anchors of historical authenticity.

A brief gag on the violence of kitsch in the Nazi propaganda innovations: A future (and eventually regretful) right-wing sympathizer of the Fuhrer spotting him in the primitive beer hall speechifying days, noting that Hitler "is a cartoon" but begins his pull into the whirlpool. And of course there's the important discovery of the mustache, "The Chaplin", which I once had myself and regret feeling obligated to shave because of the day-today dangers therein. I wore the mustache to feel more closely aligned with icons of clownishness, failure, i.e. a spiritual self beyond my own time. Granted, a gesture I might have not pursued had history had been altered such that Hitler had not already ruined it for everyone.

The question arises if the Nazi conclusions would have been reached without Hitler, but something outside the frame, the transgressive death work is always waiting and desired. By giving a concrete articulation of and extending the language of the transgressive, the Nazi image-makers made it easier for the the transgressive world/self to fall more easily inward. It's not 1/100th as resonate or brilliant as the reverse Wagner of "Hitler: A Film from Germany" (Syberberg 1978), but that's the best film ever made.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Private Life of Sherlock Homes (Billy Wilder 1970)

There is no Loch Ness monster but a replica was built and actually put in the lake and it may or may not be bewildering to the stupid animals when they see it motionless (but not decaying) on the lake floor.

Billy Wilder's movie isn't about that particular monster though. It does lead to a climactic reveal of a fake monster (mechanical wonder and failure) and the other characters react to the world famous Detective Holmes with a slower animal's bewilderment. The perspective is both sympathetic and cynical on the overlap of intelligence and sickness and the mournful end of a better age of men. Holmes is of an advanced mental acumen, so the terror conveyed is in being so close to a force that's always a level above and the gags unfold with the comedy of constant delay.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Bad Kids of Black Heaven: Where's The Orchestra? Part Two

Beginning with a split second of the very end of the previous scene: The Senator and his wife, Hadassah sleeping soundly as an earthquake violently rattles their Florida hotel room.

A news report on the freeway shooting of German tourists with stereotypically scary sketches of young black gang members.

Images from a movie from the 1970s with zombified versions of Nazi soldiers emerging from the waves of a Florida beach, to the horrified reactions elderly beach goers. (Also apparently filmed on a day much too cold for beach going.)

Abruptly Cut To Title Card accompanied by silence:

"Studies show that people who are somewhat depressed predicted the future better than those who are happy and well adjusted."

This is still Florida but somewhere away from The Senator.

Here is The Actress, on a movie set. In her early twenties but preternaturally hardened and aged, wearing the body-marked fatigue of mass awareness, the waking terror of fame, and the sublimated soullessness of having maintained a commitment to her goal. But what do any of us know about being that one and a million?

A crew makes painstaking and minute adjustments to the cinema lighting of a 1970s newsroom. A period piece, a bio-pic of the life of deceased Sarasota affiliate newscaster Christine Chubbock, who famously shot herself live on the air one Sunday morning in 1974. Footage of the incident was destroyed, has been sought after for years from collectors of rare video, and the entire basis for this feature film pivots around an exacting recreation of the event.

The 21st century Actress is playing the late Christine Chubbock and is getting made up to look like a newscaster from the era. The personal style and fashion sense exhibited in the ongoing spectacle of The Actress’ day-to-day has been commented on, by both celebrity journalists and academic celebrity theorists, as an updated version of the Dionysian fashions of the1970s, mixed with the timelessness of leather jacket archetypes amidst a haze of smoke. It was once said that fashions become out of fashion before returning later but in the accelerated age it has been found that nothing ever truly goes away, it’s all simultaneously present and waiting to be drawn from but this itself isn’t a facet of the time, it’s a consequence of the obliteration of all taste. Remaining only are the funhouse mirror reflections of the idea of a fashion specific to the current period.

What adds to The Actress’ allure in much of the public’s imagination isn’t solely due to the Dionysian look expressed in her fashion sense, seen primarily through the hurried and inebriated exits in and out of clubs and restraints captured in shaky hand held paparazzo cameras, but mostly the leather jacket archetype’s malleability into other appearances. Sometimes The Actress will have short hair, blonde hair, and more oddly thick glasses and shabby sweater (specifically utilized when The Actress is pontificating in interviews on the philosophical underpinnings of dramatizing the late suicidal newscaster’s final days); always the look in the shadow of another look, the fantasy of an absent self.

The look and its shadow define The Actress’ entrance into prior to the days of her own self-directed spectacle of drug and alcohol addiction rumors and minor arrests. The child of an Older Actress, a now aging former cover girl and star of comedic fluff who manifests a severe and medicated neuroses partly related to the lack of prestige associated with her reputation as an artist but primarily a consequence of the unreality being that one in a million. The Actress was introduced to the world as both a child and peer of her mother. While the daughter lived directly under the harsh light of the narcissistic fantasy of multitudes, her mother manifested a separate fantasy for aging women in the celebrity news narrative of being her daughter’s peer.

It is believed by The Director that casting this actress to portray Christine Chubbock will add poignance to the impending suicide death that frames the narrative, given that The Actress’ reputation for glamorously self-destructive behavior has made her a constant in office death pools for the last couple of years. References are made to famous beauties of the past that have also dies young and there is a shared excitement of potentially witnessing a similar scenario in real present-tense time. There is a faint glittery shine around many see around The Actress’ outline, a Black Heaven which in technical terms is the by-product of premature necrophilia.

So right now, the newsroom set is being prepared and The Actress is in her trailer with friends and assistants. She is practicing the voice, an affected version of Christine Chubbock's own voice, which she studies from videotape. The voice is an exaggerated low moan, Ms. Chubbock was depressed in her final days, reportedly over her fears of always being single and remaining alone. The Actress' impersonation progressively takes on the garish quality of broad characture but not that of a skilled performer, it's a crude gesture encouraged by the group of friends and assistants around her, everything she does with the intent of being the funny is met with agreeable laughter from the lower hierarchy of her circle. She laughs along with their laughter, encouraged she goes even further.

The laughter in repetitive echoes carries over to the next scene.

The Senator, early morning on the highway, examining the wreckage of the car in which the German tourists were gunned down. A psychic investigation, assisting police and other Floridian authorities. Their bodies removed, all that remains is a rental car with such an absurd amount of bullet holes, such that the exterior of the vehicle resembles some sort of modern art design. The Senator runs his hand slowly across pieces of the car's interior, torn material with jagged edges. His fingers touch the sharp edges lightly, eyes closed, he resists the urge to visually recreate the horror of the shooting in his mind and observes the gravity.

The laughter made by The Actress and her people in a small comfortable room continues to echo at this awful scene. The Senator seems to be the only one hearing it. The police and other Floridian authorities confusedly observe The Senator as he wanders away from the vehicle as though in a trance. Staring at the sky again (but this time, not in order to hear Hadassah) and looking past the wide plain next to the stretch of highway, The Senator is hearing the laughter and looking toward its source in the unknown distance. Laughter always overlaps with cruelty but their are two kinds of cruelty: One is a timeless element of earth and humanity, without it love wouldn't exist and vice versa. But then there's this other kind...