I fucked up.
I’m fucked up.
I fucked up.
I’m fucked up.
This one just barely makes the cut as “’80s comedy”.
Narrowly avoids “Big Bush”.
But certainly “Notre Musique”.
The Blues Brothers is one of my childhood favorites.
And I was craving this film.
I tried to locate it on DVD (to no avail).
And so tonight I broke down and splurged on iTunes’ exorbitant à-la-carte business model.
I was willing to pay the premium.
Because I’m sick.
No way around it.
But let me update you as to my progress.
Weeks ago (a month?) I cut my sleeping medicine in half (the dosage).
It was hard.
I was disoriented.
But largely just slow as fuck.
I felt like I had a crayon lodged in my brain 🙂
Yes, my body and brain had gotten used to a certain dosage over the past 2 years.
Eventually I returned to some normalcy.
I got used to the new dose.
Half-as-much as previous.
It was time.
My graduate studies had long been over.
And my wonderful psychologist (whom I am so lucky to have) challenged me to break my addictions.
Understand, I didn’t conceive of my dependencies upon prescription drugs as “addictions”.
But I think it is helpful that my paradigm has shifted.
Yes, I was addicted to a sleeping medicine.
Because I took it every fucking night.
And eventually it called to me…to take it earlier than bedtime.
A few short weeks ago (two?) I made a psychologist-approved adjustment to the dosage of another of my medicines.
This one is for anxiety.
I reduced my dependence from three pills to two.
This was an achievement.
And a tribulation.
VERY FUCKING DIFFICULT.
Again I had that same confusion.
That same disoriented stupor.
Strangely, this detox was a little different.
The whiplash effect (“rebound anxiety”) hit me a full two weeks later.
There was a delayed effect.
The first days were headaches and stuff.
I thought I had it beat.
Rough, but possible.
So when the delayed effect hit, it really sucked.
But I got through it.
I trudged on.
I got back on the horse.
And now these past few days have brought a return to the sleeping medicine.
But not, you understand, a regression.
Rather, a full stop.
It’s been three days.
And now I am totally off my sleeping meds.
The first night was really rough.
Inability GOING to sleep.
But I stuck it out.
Each night has gotten better.
But the DAYS…
Aches, pains, headaches, stomach…trips to the restroom.
And that same disorientation.
It is a really strange feeling.
But it is an accomplishment.
And so tonight I made it through a movie.
I didn’t have the brain-power to review a film with subtitles.
No art films this time around.
But The Blues Brothers was just what I needed.
This really is a masterpiece of sorts.
John Landis turned in an excellent effort here.
The costars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were magnificent.
And the cameos just keep on coming 🙂
I’ve had the blues.
Not depression, so much, but another kind of blues (lately).
Like climbing up a hill.
When I get to the top (and get used to a new, lower dosage of medicines), my feet are pulled from under me again (as I start on a new challenge).
I am learning (slowly) to deal with my anxiety in natural ways (rather than with drugs).
Suffice it to say that this is VERY FUCKING HARD (for me).
In some respects, I am already back to an engagement with the world which I haven’t had in seven years.
Indeed, I have rolled my medicines back (under psychological supervision) to a level I last “mastered” seven years ago.
That is SOME FUCKING ACCOMPLISHMENT! 🙂
Just a few short months ago (this dog-day summer), I was in the pits of debilitating anxiety.
My cousin died of a heart attack on July 5th.
That sent me into a tailspin.
Not too long afterwards, I myself was on heart medicine.
My dear cousin perished at age 43.
It scared the fucking shit out of me.
So here we are 🙂
I hope to start a new job soon. (Yay!)
I am scared to death.
Scared I can’t handle it.
But I WANT to do it.
I WANT to handle it.
I WANT the challenge.
I had a great job interview the other day.
First time any company had bothered to listen to me in forever.
AND I WAS OFFERED A JOB! 🙂
I am just waiting on my background check to be completed.
As I have no criminal record (and no credit…neither good nor bad), I don’t see how a fair company could preclude my employment.
But life offers no promises.
I speak my mind.
A bit too freely, perhaps.
And I am not anonymous.
Sometimes I wish I were.
But I am flying out in the fucking wind.
I am not a secret.
My pen name is strictly that.
I am not hiding behind it.
It was my stage name.
I earned it.
I toured the world as Pauly Deathwish.
And so it seemed only natural that my film critic persona take the baton from my musician self.
I have been making it again.
Playing open mics.
Trying to get my drug-addled brain to MEMORIZE songs.
Was never my strong suit.
But I’ve gotten (more or less) a couple of tunes under my belt.
And being a middle-aged geezer, I don’t feel too bad showing up with a music stand and some extra lyrics for songs which I haven’t quite set to memory yet.
Music is what’s at issue here.
The Blues Brothers.
A beautiful film.
I have lived this film.
I have fucking lived these roads.
I’ve played just about every possible analogous shithole to Bob’s Country Bunker.
I have been in the disgruntled band 🙂
As close to chicken wire as imaginable…
Which drags me back to topic.
This is a really fucking good film.
And I am cursing like a sailor.
For my conservative, proper readers, I do apologize.
It is a defect in my personality.
I feel it necessary that I curse.
Otherwise, I don’t feel I am getting my point across.
Because what I am expressing is a very pithy matter.
The grunge and grit of life.
Every word is in lieu of weeping.
Experiences so pungent as to suck all fight out of a person.
That is what I have lived.
And it is that to which I bear witness.
I am not thinking real clearly, but I am thinking (and writing) a lot clearer than I was a month ago.
I am on the good drugs now 🙂
I have been fighting through multiple addictions.
Things which I didn’t see as addictions.
And life is coming back into focus.
And THAT IS TERRIFYING…
But also EXHILARATING!!!
But mostly terrifying 🙂
So here we are.
On a mission from God.
Walking with the Lord.
I ask, here, that God grant me mercy.
I’m just as fucked up as anyone.
But I ask for the grace of Jesus.
And I ask for strength to do the right things.
To help people.
To not be afraid.
I am living through the spiritual battle.
May God protect me.
I have seen the light.
And I weep. Jesus wept.
I’ve been through so much shit.
And I feel like maybe I am finally emerging from the “dead mall” of limbo.
Like Jake and Elwood crashing out of the JCPenney in 1980 🙂
I want to exist in that flophouse minute.
Buttered toast on a coat-hanger over a hotplate.
And a 78 rpm Decca blues record spins and the elevated lines churn by endlessly.
I want to live in that moment.
Brings us back to the Danish concept of hygge [coziness].
John Landis nails it in the scene where Jake is drinking Night Train wine and Elwood is making toast.
Very close to what Roberto Benigni would do 17 years later in the Schopenhauer scene of La vita è bella.
Those scenes from films…
Those scenes in which we want to live.
They never get old.
They never cease to comfort.
That somewhere in this fucked-up world is a little closet we can call home.
Barely big enough to open the door.
Just a bed.
But it’s our little space.
Carrie Fisher tries all manner of destruction in this film 🙂
Even a flame thrower!
But Jake and Elwood keep getting up.
Just some rubble.
Just keep dusting off those black suits.
“Maybe CIA”, says Aretha Franklin (like the key to Dylan’s Tarantula).
Keep climbing from ‘neath those bricks.
Gotta make it seem real.
Maybe use real bricks.
Better to be the first man up.
Let’s get this in one take.
Hit on the head too many times with a brick…
Because there are private pressings on vinyl of American acts that went no further than their local Holiday Inn.
It is almost a fabled purgatory.
Very Charlottesville with the car and the cartoonish Nazis.
But I just wanna hear me some more John Lee Hooker.
I got the blues.
Days of Delta slide…feathery as an aeolian harp.
And nights of thin, wild mercury.
Just like in the movies…
Get a record contract backstage.
You could wait your whole life.
Carrie Fisher goes full-automatic.
And most of this film takes place in the hellhole of Chicago (but nearly 40 years ago).
Hey…I’m not much for car chases, but this film does something real special with the device.
That’s where they have that Picasso, right?
And perhaps it will be notable that Spielberg is the Cook County Tax Assessor clerk?
We shall see.
If would be a shame if there were any lies wrapped up in Holocaust historiography.
Because, if there were, they would have the potential to seriously degrade what should be a pure remembrance.
If, for instance, the majority of concentration camp prisoners/workers died as a direct result of the Allies cutting Nazi supply lines.
And when these camps were “liberated” or otherwise found, public relations needed a story (and fast!) to account for this horrible loss of life which technically fell on the shoulders of the Allies.
If (and it’s a big if) that was the case, then such a “noble” lie might have been “borrowed” by the emerging Zionist state of Israel.
Anything to make way for the Jewish homeland.
To recap, if a majority of Jewish casualties in WWII were actually the result of the Allies attempting to starve the Nazi state into submission through siege tactics, then the Allies would have had motive and opportunity to foist upon the world a caricatured distortion of the facts.
Caricatures do not do true honor to the victims.
And if the emerging Jewish state of Israel used such distorted facts to further lobby for a “homeland” (a place where people were already living…non-Jews…for a long time), we could say that “Israel” also had motive and opportunity to participate in this “noble lie” (for different reasons).
But what is most sad is that what I have just written would get me arrested in several countries of the world (mostly in Europe).
We will mention one: France.
I have spoken about the Loi Gayssot in critical terms before.
And I do not think it is a smart piece of legislation.
It is, ironically, a very authoritarian law.
If I understand it correctly, this law (aimed at “Holocaust deniers”) punishes even those who object on critical grounds to any factual aspect of Holocaust “history”.
As we know, history has been wrong before.
And it can be wrong again.
Furthermore, we never close the door on a particular epoch.
For every other event (except the Holocaust), we welcome new research which brings the situation into clearer focus.
The Holocaust is the one period of history which is off limits (verboten) to any sort of skepticism.
And it is this sort of authoritarian attitude of anti-history which will be the unraveling of whatever the liars of history are trying to hide.
Lies are a big part of every world event.
Operators at the lower level just want to cover their butts.
But these white lies can pile up.
And pretty soon the official historiography bears little resemblance to the actual event in question.
Mid-level operators merely want to move up in life.
They want to keep the bigwigs off their backs.
So they condone low-level lies.
And they even concoct some fairly witty stratagems of their own.
And these regional efforts coalesce into inexplicable gumbos of narrative (like the story we have all been given concerning 9/11).
But the real fuckery happens at the high-level.
Here is where everything is a game.
Here is where hubris reigns supreme.
Here is where the Ivy League and the Oxford/Cambridge set conspire in an unholy matrimony of minds to make “a new world”.
These are the minds which, largely, have been so besotted with “logic” that they can no longer entertain the idea of a God or any sort of higher power.
And it is at this level that public relations and social engineering churn out lies which are meant to shape world history.
Lies which are meant to redraw the map.
If the gas chambers did not exist (except in the propagandistic imagination of Allied copy) in any Nazi camp, then it would have likely been a high-level wonk who conceived of such a grand macabre to once and for all paint the Nazis as “pure evil” and the Allies as “beneficent warriors” fighting a “just war”.
So let’s see how censored the Internet is, ok?
As of today, you can still harbor some doubts.
A mathematician doubts.
Bertrand Russell doubted Gottlob Frege.
And Russell was right to doubt.
Logic and mathematics teach us that most “complete, unified” systems eventually fall by the wayside.
That is because they are flawed.
Our knowledge improves.
Some discoveries are truly special, but it is always a process of learning.
The Gayssot Act in France (and other similar legislation in neighboring countries) wants you to take (on faith) the complete accuracy of Holocaust historiography SO FAR.
Such legislation is eager to CLOSE THE BOOK on all nuance and scholarship.
But there is at least one website which seems to harbor healthy doubts about aspects of the Holocaust.
Remember: questioning ANY PART OF THE HOLOCAUST in France is a violation of the Gayssot Act.
Excuse my French, but that is fucked up!
Don’t we want the truth?
If Hillary Clinton was running a child trafficking ring, do we want to know that?
If Donald Trump was colluding with the Russian government to get elected, don’t we want to know that?
If the gas chambers were a fanciful way to paint the Nazis as the ultimate enemies, don’t we want to know that there were (in fact) no gas chambers in any concentration camp?
We want to know.
And we also want to know how bad the Nazis were.
We want to know about babies on bayonets.
We want to know every Jew-hating idea they ever penned or yelled.
Because we do not approve of this Jew hating.
But we will not punish speech.
In our quest to quash the Nazi strain of hatred, we will not become (ourselves) “Nazis”.
Because the Loi Gayssot only encourages people to seek out “taboo” knowledge.
I can’t believe I agree with the scumbag Cass Sunstein on an actual point, but I think I do.
In other words: don’t make the knowledge taboo.
Let the cream rise to the top.
Let the crap sink.
Do not criminalize idiocy.
AND DO NOT EVEN think ABOUT A CHINESE METHOD LIKE REEDUCATION!
So here is the site, dear friends:
Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Don’t let some shit-stained-pants-wearing talking head deter you from visiting this site.
Remember when CNN told the world that only “they” could report on WikiLeaks?
These tactics are wearing thin.
If the truth is out there (thank you X-Files), then people will find it.
And the frauds will be exposed.
And the genuine articles will be raised up on cheerful arms.
The global media wants you to think that only dumb Arabs and Persians would ever “deny” the Holocaust.
Do some fucking research!
And I fall into the same target.
I tell myself, “Do some fucking research!”
All the time.
Just as it was impractical to get an unbiased assessment of 9/11 when the commissioners were appointed by the Bush administration, so too is it impractical to think that a Jewish (or, God forbid, Israeli) author can give an impartial account of any aspect of the Holocaust.
And yet, this is a conundrum.
For Jews, no period of history is so important.
And I sympathize with the call to “never forget”.
But we must be extremely careful to get right exactly what it is we are to “never forget”.
“Never forget” rings especially hollow in the United States regarding 9/11…because most people have absolutely no deep understanding of that event.
I have done my research on that fateful day.
And everything which led up to it.
And much of what followed.
So in the case of 9/11, “never forget” is meaningless…because the vast majority NEVER KNEW IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Which is the trouble with such campaigns.
The message, then, is “Never forget…what we’ve told you…happened.”
Well, that’s not very bloody comforting!
And the propaganda is pretty transparent.
Which brings us to the “Holocaust industry” and this masterpiece of a film (really): Life is Beautiful.
There is very little propaganda in this film.
There is very little mindless regurgitation of dubious assertions.
But yet it is still there.
And hence my opening diatribe.
First, let me get in one more jab.
Here is something I have actually read.
By Robert Faurisson.
It is called, “The ‘Problem of the Gas Chambers'”.
It is from 1980.
There are 141 pieces by Dr. Faurisson (among many other authors) on the CODOH site.
I have read few of them.
But enough to pique my curiosity.
As I said, it makes me highly suspicious when an obviously brilliant scholar such as Dr. Faurisson is “refuted” solely by ad hominem attacks.
When such is the case, said victim only grows stronger.
And Dr. Faurisson is not attacking the Jews.
He’s attacking history.
Read it for yourself.
To be recursive, he seems to have found a “fatal flaw” in the historiography which predominates in such shite as Schindler’s List.
We don’t need a John Williams swooning violin melody to tell us the truth.
We just need the fucking truth.
Whatever it is.
We don’t need music in our museums to drive home a particular point.
We just need the artifacts.
They must be laid out in a way which allows for logical conclusion.
They must not LEAD the museum-goer to a particular conclusion.
If they do, then we have entered the realm of propaganda.
And we should be made aware of our participation as guinea pigs in such attempted thought control.
You can read about Dr. Faurisson’s struggles against the French government here (in his biography on the CODOH site):
La vita è bella.
It’s a beautiful movie.
Which I saw many times in the theater.
When it came out.
One of the most important and formative films for me as a cinephile.
Roberto Benigni is my favorite actor ever.
And Nicoletta Braschi is wonderful in this film.
Furthermore, Benigni’s film direction is underrated.
The scene, for instance, where he and Sergio Bustric lay in bed is such a lushly-filmed tableau.
I wanted to live in that scene.
Amongst those antiques.
And their hilarious repartee involving Schopenhauer 🙂
But Life is Beautiful is notable mostly as a work of naïveté.
Like Cinema Paradiso.
Instead of Ennio Morricone’s gossamer score, we get Nicola Piovani’s criminally-unavailable musical backing.
[get on that, Spotify!]
There is true magic in this film.
The kiss between Benigni and Braschi under the banquet table.
There is so much Chaplin in this film.
The whole thing starts with a virtual rip of The Great Dictator.
But Benigni tells a new story.
And the details don’t matter.
One death was too many…during World War II.
And one family torn apart…was too many…during the Holocaust.
I consider it an auspicious sign that my survey of Indian cinema begins in earnest with the masterpiece Filmistaan.
Do not mistake this piece of cinema for a half-baked idea.
Do not even attempt to lower it by calling it a comedy.
And not least, do not think only of India.
I wanted to come up with a catchy pigeonhole.
But I have too much respect for the great traditions of Bollywood (and Lollywood) to do such a thing.
And so this is very much an Indian film.
And it is very much a comedy.
But it is touching in a way to which few films can ever aspire.
Filmistaan, like Roberto Benigni’s magnum opus La vita è bella, takes on a very serious subject with the best weapon of all: humor.
But instead of the Holocaust, we get the Partition.
And yet, Filmistaan is not some laborious period piece.
[leave that to the artless Spielbergs]
No, our film addresses the tension between India and Pakistan in the most deft, feather-light manner imaginable.
And for this we have to thank a new auteur on the world stage: Nitin Kakkar.
I say “new” because Mr. Kakkar has not been graced with the honor of his own Wikipedia page in English yet.
Well, he is wholly deserving of that honor (based on Filmistaan alone).
But Mr. Kakkar had to have magical actors to pull this off.
Luckily for him, he did!
Sharib Hashmi is undoubtedly the star of this picture.
His performance as Sunny goes from the highest highs of emotion to the lowest lows.
It is truly remarkable.
Mr. Hashmi is about one month older than me.
40 years old.
Perhaps that’s why I identified with his youthful optimism and passionate devotion to cinema.
But to understand our film, we must first locate Rajasthan on a map.
It is the biggest state in India.
It is northwest.
And it borders Pakistan.
To understand Rajasthan, we must comprehend the Thar Desert.
Most of the Thar Desert is in Rajasthan, but it extends somewhat into Pakistan.
These are all important details in understanding our film.
Rajasthan is arid.
Like the American Southwest, it’s a good place to get lost…or kidnapped.
But friends are to be found in the most unlikely places.
And the friendship of shared interest, such as two cinema devotees, knows no borders.
For Mr. Hashmi, the brilliance of his performance depends on the artful support he receives from fellow-actor Inaamulhaq.
But let’s examine the divide between India and Pakistan for a moment.
It is a fact that a man from Peshawar (if he speaks Urdu) can communicate with a man from Delhi (if he speaks Hindi).
Peshawar, of course, is in Pakistan.
Indeed, it’s so far into Pakistan that it’s almost in Afghanistan.
Delhi, of course, is in India.
It is in the north-central part of the country.
It is, further, not essential that the two talkers hypothesized above be men.
The salient detail is that Hindi and Urdu are essentially the same language (in their spoken forms).
This is vital to understanding Filmistaan.
But continuing, the two languages could not look more different once they are written down.
[Which is to say, the two hypothesized men might be at loggerheads were they forced to communicate with pen and paper]
Urdu looks similar to its written forebear Farsi (the language of Iran) [which is itself a descendent of Arabic script].
To put it quite simply, a neophyte like myself would probably have a difficult time telling the difference between Urdu, Persian (Farsi), and Arabic.
Hindi is in the wholly different Devanagari script.
You will not confuse written Urdu and Hindi.
It’s at least as obvious as Picasso to Pollock (if not Warhol to Rembrandt).
But enough analogies.
Why should you watch Filmistaan?
Well, for one…it’s currently on Netflix.
Yes, ever since I have joined the streaming service, I have ventured to be a more “worthwhile” film critic by giving you relatively-spoiler-free reviews of current titles to be found on the U.S. version of the site.
But that’s only the beginning.
Yes, there are wonderful performances from Kumud Mishra and Gopal Dutt (as well as a plethora of fine supporting actors).
But the real reason is that Filmistaan expresses the sublime.
The context is terrorism.
The context is border tension.
Indeed, on the Indian Subcontinent, the context is two nuclear states.
Pakistan and India.
But the context goes back.
To Jinnah and Nehru.
And the threads bind.
Cricket. Cinema. Music.
There is an excellent example in Filmistaan which illustrates the situation.
Now 94 years old.
Like my hypothetical man from earlier, born in Peshawar.
Then a part of “Pre-Independence India”.
Now a part of Pakistan.
In Filmistaan, Inaamulhaq knows him as Sir Yusuf.
Sunny knows him as Dilip.
Dilip Kumar was born Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar in 1922.
It’s like the World Wars.
fenêtre in French
das Fenster in German
fenêtre /\ Fenster
But when you look through a window (or a border), everything can look backwards.
You’re so close, in reality.
But you’re reading the word as if in a mirror.
Nitin Kakkar directed a masterpiece with Filmistaan because he put his heart and soul into evoking peace.
There are no winners in a nuclear war.
And peace is a rare commodity on the world stage.
But we must reach out that hand.
And shake it.
I congratulate Nitin Kakkar and Sharib Hashmi for their dedication.
It is evident.
Though I speak neither Hindi nor Urdu, I was able to watch.
I needed the subtitles.
But sublime emotions may be mutually intelligible across cultures.
What a film!
A new decade, a new voice.
A VOICEless voice.
Focused on trigonometry.
Or, oops, calculus.
The first episode of Mr. Bean.
It’s all in the gait.
Rowan Atkinson had immensely talented nostrils.
Right from the start.
And he was an industrious chap.
As I always say (and the maxim by which I live), if you’re going to be an idiot…at least be entertaining.
Jester of God.
Falling from the sky.
giullare di Dio
Hallelujah! I know that part!!
Ritardando the fellow.
Yes, a caesura.
A smiley face.
I can’t quite draw what it is I mean.
But the main point is that Mr. Atkinson was/is a bloody genius.
It’s an overused word, but I think only a few have approached in comedy.
Chaplin. Sellers. Atkinson.
But I would add Andy Kaufman.
And perhaps Roberto Benigni.
Actors who could carry a whole production with their funny talents.
Such a rare thing.
An exam. And church. And don’t forget the beach.
Very much silent film.
Such a joy!
This film contains everything.
As in, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
It is truly vast like the sky full of pebble stars.
There is no translation for Federico Fellini’s masterpiece Amarcord other than “I remember”.
Ah, good God: memory!
I immediately think of George Stevens’ paean to family I Remember Mama (1948) and, of course, the king of memory Marcel Proust.
But this is Italy, not France. And Remembrance of Things Past is a “bad” translation. More accurate is In Search of Lost Time.
And that is exactly what Fellini is doing here.
Trying to reclaim the past.
Remember this? Remember that?
It is, I am guessing, a conversation with himself.
It is a small town (or at least it feels that way).
And we have everything.
A blind accordionist straight out of Tom Waits’ dreams.
A femme fatale by the name of Gradisca (“take what you want”). [Played by Magali Noël.]
We miss the translation now and then. Perhaps the Romagnol dialect?
That explains our title Amarcord.
“Jadis, si je me souviens bien…”
A season in hell.
And yet a season of beauty as well.
Uncle Teo (Uncle Uncle) says it best…up a tree…over and over and over and over again:
Voglio una donna!
Voglio una donna!
[like John Lennon writhing in pain on “Mother” or “Cold Turkey”]
Voglio una donna!
“I want a woman!”
Each incantation different.
The 42-year-old Teo up a tree…on a day out in the country…on leave from the asylum.
And a dwarf nun makes it all better.
It’s not what you think.
When you look at the cover for the film, is says SEX SEX SEX.
Sure, there’s sex.
But it’s very matter-of-fact.
This isn’t a film with gratuitous nudity (only one brief nude scene).
Sex is woven into the film.
It’s alright to talk about sex. 1973. Italy.
Fellini is a big shot by now.
It is art. It is life. It is artistic expression.
Everyone is portrayed lovingly. Everyone is subjected to the same pimple-precise criticism.
Films don’t get any more real than this.
Fellini introduces an element of magical realism here and there. [The magic is due in no small part to Nino Rota’s shimmering soundtrack.]
Sure, it serves as a bit of a distancing technique (Brecht?)…a defense mechanism, perhaps.
This material is too raw; too personal.
It is TOO sad! One has to laugh because of how sad it is.
And that is the tragicomedy which lived on in the great Roberto Benigni’s comedies and the grand-slam of naïveté: Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso.
And so, to understand these latter-day…saints(?)…we must examine the old masters. We must get used to saying Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (the real title)…because cinema is barely a hundred years old, really. And so, we must look to Fellini as akin to Giotto.
We get so many perspectives here…
It’s one of the few times AMPAS has gotten something right. This film. Oscar for Best Foreign Language. 1974. Look at the list. Lots of misses.
Back to Amarcord.
Beauty goes away. The big fish in the small pond.
But the blind accordion player endures.
Vulpina (Josiane Tanzilli) the nymphomaniac fleshes out the family portrait.
Ah ah ah…
It’s no use.
This film is all about detail.
There is no use recounting the endless assortment of fascinating characters who make this thing go.
You will just have to see it for yourself.
For all of its pithy naturalism, it is really a touching film.
Fellini gets every little detail right. Such a formidable picture!
I’ve run out of witticisms.
Which is a shame. Because I really want you to know about this film.
If you don’t already.
This is called quantum writing.
It is the sentence fragment equivalent of liberal ellipses.
It is the first episode. Vignettes.
Seemed like a throwaway scene years ago.
Now. So prescient. Then.
So pertinent. Germane.
She’s not really interested in becoming a movie star.
People selling kidneys to get a real casting agent and she’s not interested…
Lost in the world.
Pulling immigrants with the magnetism of illustrious decades.
East Germany. Dresden. Near Czechoslovakia. 1991.
My neighborhood. When I can pause for a moment and appreciate the diversity.
Another scene which ages well.
When I saw this I hadn’t been to France.
Hadn’t been to New York or L.A.
And you appreciate more. When you’ve been.
The loving portrayal. The in-between shots.
Maybe it’s the garbage can at Pink’s Hot Dogs.
A green trash bag. Liner. Someone sweeping up.
We’re blind to so many details.
And so Jim Jarmusch went and put ’em in a film.
Tom Waits soundtracking like Charles Ives with an accordion.
Why is it sad?
It should be funny. And sad.
It depends on your life.
If you’ve ever had a brush with the entertainment industry, then that first scene might get you.
Might punch you right in the gut.
And the point is that as one girl throws it all away (from a perspective) a bloke on the east coast is just trying to get a cab.
I’ve got money.
And home is Brooklyn.
It’s painful cold.
And as one family is dysfunctional in its uniquely Tolstoyvian way, another has no family at all.
It was too cold to shave today.
Save the money.
Money is not important to me. I’m a clown. I just need the money. But it’s not important to me.
And there’s your artist.
A mechanic works the art of grease.
A clown suffers in the tumult.
Please. Come in. Welcome to my taxi. It is very important to me.
Long night. On Earth.
You hear about Africa every year. Annually. On average.
A famine. A plague. An outstanding war. Out standing in the rain.
We never know just how it feels to live in Nigeria.
It is furthest from our thoughts.
And then we are reminded. That Africa exists.
The continent. Does not exert itself.
Comes down to capital. LLC. Land labor capital.
To LKM. labor Kapital material.
A lot has changed since Adam Smith.
And what makes the U.S. unique compared to Hong Kong or Tokyo? Land.
Room to sprawl. Endlessly.
But I digress. As a matter of course.
In the course of one speck of matter (Earth) running rings around the Sun.
Our sun. Not up yet.
The hour of the wolf.
Brings us to Rome. Ingmar not Ingrid.
It is comic blast #2.
We survived the sadness with laughter. In New York.
And now we book a room at the Hotel Genius. [Hotel Imbecile was full-up.]
Thank God for Charlie Parker!
I was looking forward to this humor for days. I knew the ending.
But I didn’t know my own age. In the mirror of cinema.
But, dear friends, all good things must end (and bad things must start).
“They say the darkest hour/Is right before the dawn.”
That’s the hour of the wolf.
And instead of Max von Sydow we get Matti Pellonpää.
With his Grinderman mustache.
Walrus. Circles the statue. In front of parliament?
Helsinki. Like a sinkhole. Cold. Hell sinky.
It is the end of the earth. And I only have my memories of being drunk in Kiruna. Sweden. Never made it further east.
And for a moment he just sits behind the wheel and stares off into space.
After it’s all over. As if he can see the ice-trails of orbits.
We travel the spaceways.
Every humble step of our lives.
From bakery to grain field.
But mostly streets.
Taxis. The poetry of snaking asphalt.
Sing the songs of the pavement.
Every passenger a sad story.
Every driver a priest.
With film reviews, a critic either reviews the film or reviews themselves. Selves? Self.
Continuing… There are two major modes of writing about art.
If I tell you that film was designated the seventh art by Ricciotto Canudo, am I telling you more about film or more about myself?
I would argue that I am trying to flaunt my intellect.
Every once in awhile my brain serves me well. At other times I am painfully aware of my shortcomings.
And so, Johnny English…not exactly King Lear by Godard.
Nay… ,,but a near piss-perfect spy spoof.
Now there’s an odd turn of phrase. Can’t say I’ve thought of that one in awhile.
Really, it makes little sense…unless…drug test?
It’s certainly not timoxeline barbebutenol. No. I’m assured by my ever faithful companion Wikipedia that that (2) is a fictional drug.
It does, however, share a molecular formula with two actual drugs: amobarbital and pentobarbital (respectively).
Now<> If I followed this particular tangent I would be indirectly commenting on the film at hand.
The ostensible “meaning” would be that this film is so devoid of substance that I had been reduced to concocting literary small talk in its absence.
But that is not the case.
And so in the great literary tradition of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, I shall forego the pharmacological flourish and focus on what’s really important.
Johnny English Reborn, while not a masterpiece in the Palme d’Or sense, smashes both the first two Austin Powers films (and indeed its own predecessor) to infinitesimal bits.
[If I allowed myself the indulgence of an aside involving quantum computing and its version of bits (qubits) I would really be showing my arse.]
Because I don’t know quantum computing from linear regressions. [Figuratively speaking.]
And so I will be plain as day -> I identify with this film
I know. It’s sad in a certain way…
“The Great Pretender”…I sometimes think. I think of Richard Manuel crooning that song with such pain in his heart.
Yes, Levon Helm was right: the moments that Richard took the spotlight for ballads…those were the real highlights.
“Georgia On My Mind”…
A guy with a great big beard. As weird and wistful as Brian Wilson in a giant sandbox.
Uhhh…yes. Where were we?
Reborn no less…
Indeed, a few things are different here.
First we must thank director Oliver Parker.
This film really holds together.
Lucky for him he had Rowan Atkinson in top form as the title character.
But there are two supporting players who deserve special mention.
The first is Daniel Kaluuya.
Mr. Kaluuya, himself of Ugandan ancestry, fills some very big shoes left vacant by his predecessor Ben Miller.
I really did Miller a disservice by failing to mention his fine performance in the first Johnny English film.
But Kaluuya takes a somewhat different tack.
I may be imagining things, but I get the feeling that Kaluuya was playing this role for all it’s worth (like an athlete or musician with a make-or-break chance).
Sure…films employ multiple takes. Drop a line? No problem. Let’s take it again.
And yet, Kaluuya adds a gentle urgency to this farce by way of truly accomplished thespian abilities.
I certainly hope someone in the film world was paying attention as his filmography does not reflect an appreciation for his immense talents.
And finally, I must mention the redemption of Rosamund Pike (reborn, if you will).
I last left her on my site as a rather tragic villain figure in the actual Bond film Die Another Day. Mercifully, she does not exit this film with a volume of Sun Tzu shishkababbed flush to bosom. [What?]
Quite the contrary…for here she is the good guy (girl)…and her acting is as impeccable as her true beauty.
But poor Johnny…poor Rowan Atkinson.
I’ve hardly mentioned him at all.
Must I tell you again what a genius this fellow is?
I haven’t been effusive enough regarding a man whose talents are of the most rare kind.
True, born-to-yuck talents. Born-to-ham. I would only put him in a race with Roberto Benigni.
They are of another era.
Like Peter Sellers.
Like Jacques Tati.
And, of course, back to the fondateur Charlie Chaplin.
The modern world does not embrace this visual sort of humor.
Every once in awhile it reappears. Benigni wins Best Actor.
And then it’s gone again.
Atkinson, dear boy, if you’re out there on the brainwave wavelengths…
You’ve still got it, old chap!
How not to start a symphony. With a rest. #5 (7)j j-j o ^ (7)j j-j o
Beethoven started with a pause. A pause, in this case, is unheard. Felt.
No hay banda.
Il y a n’est pas d’orchestre.
I wish I was more confident in my French memory.
The Spanish is simpler.
It could be Roberto Benigni in La vita è bella reeling off a priceless punchline.
It could be John Cage forcing us to listen in 4’33”.
Painfully good. A perfect film. Mulholland Drive. Dr. Mulholland.
I’ve either gained you or lost you by this point.
You will excuse the word virus at work.
Perhaps the word bacteria predates Burroughs.
Always a cut-up in class.
And those classy suits.
It’s a talent to be weird, though Charles Mingus would argue otherwise.
A talent to be simple.
You have to stay with me like Lord Buckley or Lester Bangs.
I got yer Oxford comma right here.
, and don’t I know it!
She takes Hayworth’s name from Gilda.
Laura Elena Harring. Laura Harring if you’re into the whole brevity thing. Concision of expression. Bthvn.
If you really wanna impress the familia, it’s Laura Elena Martínez Herring. Miss USA 1985. Just missed 1984.
Or well, Wilbur…
Mr. Ed. Paging Mr….
Herring. Pink. She is a living Modigliani onscreen for a brief moment on a couch. A stippled nipple in deep focus.
But this is not her film. She is a MacGuffin in heels.
No. This is Naomi Watts’ film. Boy is it ever!
But let us pop this balloon before it goes all Vivre sa vie on us.
Is this the best Amer-ican film ever made? Probably.
Dog Star Man has a steep mountain to climb without a soundtrack to blow Sisyphus to his zenith.
F for Fake is to American cinema what Histoire(s) du cinema is to the French pantheon.
The only real challenger, then, might be Gummo.
But let us return to Maestro Lynch. David Lynch. Montana Dave. The Cowboy…
This is, to reiterate, a perfect film. Such creations do not come along often.
As such, we should savor each morsel of finesse embodied in this feast for eyes and mind.
And don’t forget the ears. Badalamenti. Badda bing, badda boom.
What would Chico Marx have made of this film???
Who cares… It’s Chico stuffed into a dough ball suitcase with $50k and Groucho and Harpo mashed up
with even a good portion of Zeppo as Little Mr. Sunshine in Naomi Watts’ first character Betty Elms.
Nightmare on Elms’ street.
Great minds think alike. Cannes premier of this film May 16, 2001. Radiohead’s Amnesiac album? June 5, 2001.
Rita. Camille. Diane Selwyn.
Kryptos. Jim Sanborn. Mengenlehreuhr.
(0,2,3,5) Le Sacre du printemps.
Spitting espresso into a napkin, strikes fear in the hearts of the most hardened capitalists.
The Flower That Drank the Moon. Not a real film.
The Big Sleep. She. H. Rider Haggard. Angel-A.
Finnegans, upon waking, diapasoned Wachet auf.
Just call me Death. Everyone else does.
We don’t stop here.
We push on. Like Gene Wilder on a magical fucking river of chocolate.
You can’t split the existential atom any further. Kubrick tried in 2001. And now Lynch had arrived at the same year.
If you open a MacGuffin, you will find nothing.
I have a bag full of money and I can’t remember my name. That is Hollywood.
This is the girl.
And the gun.
24x per second.
Truth before the big lie even sprouted wings. L’Effroyable imposture. Vérités et Mensonges.
It’s like the old Edison tone tests. Hit the lights. Who’s playing? The phonograph or the violinist?
Like looking at L.A. through Roy Orbison’s glasses. A blur…a haze.
No one has split the literary atom any further than Louis-Ferdinand Céline.
Those three little dots.
The rhythm of speech. From Modest Mussorgsky to Harry Partch.
Boris Godunov was lousy so we had to shave his armpits.
We would have never gotten to know each other so well, Boris and I. Henry. Mr. Bones.
Yeah, I keep on sloggin’ and get diminishing marginal returns.
Just a fancy way of saying less and less. Nothing (more or less).
And then nothing turns itself inside out.
Naomi Watts goes from gee swell to Valerie Solanas.
The key. CERN. When they rev it up.
What does it open?
Möbius (stripped bare by his bachelorettes), even
[The Large Hadron Collider]
Mimesis. Die a Jesus.
Greatest goal in life?
To achieve immortality and then die.
J. Hoberman. J. Mascis. J. Spaceman.
Putrefaction is merely Der Untergang des Abendlandes. The decline of the evening lands.
Rises east, sets The West.
L’Usine de rêves.
That killer blonde that we all want. From Kim Novak to Daniel Craig.
Monty Montgomery. Hope you only see him once more.
Good v. Bad, 410 U.S. 113 (2001)
The abortion of Newtonian physics.
Michael J. Anderson as Larry Silverstein.
We don’t stop here.
This is the girl.
Maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.
And we watched the building collapse.
That would be the shadow government.
An accident is a terrible event—notice the location of the accident.
Who gives a key, and why?