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The Magic Of The Big Screen

I keep having this same conversation over and over with several of my friends. The one where they're trying to convince me of the magic of the big screen (as if it was something I didn't know about...) Usually with Anthony, but most recently with Genise --telling me that watching Kurosawa's "Ran" on a television or a computer monitor was a big waste. Some movies are just meant for the big screen... blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, I know what I'm missing alright --all the assholes in the audience. The ones that bring their babies, the ones that answer their cell phones (or worse, they place a call during the movie.) The geezers in trench coats. The people that think they're so cute they need to let everybody in the fucking theatre know what they think by yelling at the screen. Laser pointers. The asshole next to me noisily eating nachos that smell like gym socks.

Several years ago (back before I more or less gave up going to theatres) I went to see Almodovar's "Kika". Anyway, my friends didn't want to sit in my preferred spot, the last row --at least then the assholes aren't behind me tossing popcorn, or putting their feet on the back of my seat. So these people sit down a couple rows back and they're talking and I figure it's cool they will quite down when the movie starts. Nope. The movie is in spanish with subtitles. I tell myself I can just read them and the talking won't bother me. Nope. After ten minutes or so of this I'm pretty steamed and I turn around and look the big mouth in the eye and I tell him:

"CAN YOU PLEASE KEEP QUIET?"

No snappy response but then he says: "FUCK YOU."

I turned around and continued trying to watch the film, but I was so pissed you could probably have cooked an egg on my head. But the talking stopped and eventually I calmed down and started to enjoy myself.

After the movie--as I step out of the restroom--my friend Wanda asks:

"do you know who that is?",

"yea, it's the guy in the theatre that I told to shutup",

"that's Axel Rose", she says.

You're not even safe in the foreign film/art film cinema. If you are lucky and get a good audience, the sharing can add a lot to the experience. Generally my experiences with audiences have been negative ones. So please... don't remind me what I'm missing when I watch a movie without going to the theatre. I already know.


Touching The Void

I had wanted to read this book before seeing the movie. Didn't work out that way but as it turns out they were both really worthwhile. In spite of knowing pretty much what happens both film and book were still able to work magic.

A true story about a couple guys doing a "first ascent" of a knarly mountain in the Andes. While climbing down the author breaks his leg --basically a death sentence. Rather than leave him on the mountain, his climbing partner lowers him down as a storm rages. Each time he does it he's not tied down to anything --just sitting in a "snow seat" they've carved out. They've almost made it down when he lowers him over a cliff. He can neither pull him back up, nor climb down to him. Losing his strength and with the snow seat crumbling beneath him, he pulls out a knife and cuts the rope.

Here's a bit from early in the book where the author explains his anxiety about camping overnight on the side of a mountain:

"...There was no possibility of reaching the top that night, nor was there need for haste in seeking a ledge on which to sleep, for the weather was clear and settled, and we would certainly reach the top the following day. It would be another warm night, and this high up, at 17,000 feet, the sky would be brilliant with stars.

...I found Ian sitting on a ledge about four feet wide but long enough for the two of us to lie down foot-to-head. It would be quite adequate for a night's sleep. As I climbed up to him I noticed in my torchlight that the ledge was in fact the top of a large pedestal fixed to the vertical wall above the corner we had just climbed. It was solid and gave us no reason to think it might be unsafe.

An hour later we had fixed a handrail safety rope, strung between an old ring peg and a spike of rock, clipped ourselves in and settled down to sleep.

The next few seconds were unforgettable.

I was inside a protective waterproof bivouac bag, half-asleep, and Ian was making final adjustments to his safety line. Suddenly and without warning, I felt myself drop swiftly. Simultaneously there was an ear-splitting roar and grinding. With my head inside the bag and my arms flailing outside the opening at my chest I knew nothing except the sickening dread as I went plummeting down into the 2,000-foot abyss below. I heard a high-pitched yelp of fear amid the heavy roaring, then felt a springy recoil. The safety rope had held. All my weight was held on my armpits, as I had accidentally caught the safety rope in the fall. I swung gently on the rope, trying to remember whether I had tied-in to the rope and gripping my arms tight just in case.

The thunderous sound of tons of granite plunging down the pillar echoed and then died to silence. I was completely disorientated. The silence seemed frighteningly ominous. Where was Ian? I thought of that fleeting yelp, and was horrified by the idea that perhaps he had not tied-on after all... "


Last Life In The Universe

A few months since I've seen this and I still find myself thinking about it. Been wanting to write about it but really feel at a loss. How to describe it? The dilemma reminds me of an interview with Cocteau Twins. When asked what the deal was with their music they said (something like): "hey, we're musicians, if we could say it with words we would be writers instead!"

The film captured for me a feeling I frequently have. One that's hard to describe, but let's see... a feeling of melancoly upon meeting people. Sometimes when I meet people I have the sense that there is some spiritual connection that we were fated to meet--yeah, I know this sounds corny--but inevitably no matter how close you get to someone each of us is still fundamentally alone. Make any sense?

Hmm... maybe it's easier to talk about what happens in this movie than to say what it was about:

An obsessive compulsive neat freak librarian stands on a pile of books. A noose around his neck. In his hand a note: "This is bliss". He's interrupted from suicide by the insistent ringing of the doorbell. It's his brother, a japanese gangster who is on the run from the yakusa in Osaka. He slept with the boss's daughter...

Their relationship is one of contrast. Kenji--neat, quiet, unassuming; the brother loud, obnoxious, messy. While he drops cigarette ash onto the carpet, his feet on the coffee table, Kenji carefully places a six pack of beer in the refrigerator, turning each can so it's label faces forward.

Working at the library Kenji catches a glimpse of a young women dressed in a school girl's uniform. Turns out the woman is a bar hostess and her mode of dress serves as another type of uniform. She works with her sister in a club that caters to men's fantasies.

Curious about the girl, Kenji checks out the children's book she was reading and leaves work. On his way home he stops on a bridge to comtemplate suicide. As He stands on the railing preparing to jump, he turns and sees the same girl in her school girl uniform. The exchanged glance and recognition distracts them both. Him from his suicide and her from the approaching car which stikes and kills her.

Since Kenji has killed a hitman who has killed his brother--leaving their bodies in his apartment--having no where else to go, he goes to live with in the countryside with the grieving sister--also a bar hostess/prostitute/sex worker.

The rest of the story concerns the relationship that develops between this unlikely pair.

The film is more about mood and character than story. For me it evoked a sense of the tenuous nature of relationships and life. How it can be sweet and sad at the same time. That feeling I get sometimes upon meeting someone. Some meaning or connection underlying things that somehow eludes me.

Jessica Winter, Village Voice: Suicidal Librarian, Chain-Smoking Slob Discover Life's Elusive Symmetries


Towards The Center

Taken to studying Python past couple of days. Figure it's like any other language. I'll immerse myself in it and not come up for air till I figure it out.

Did some interesting experiments with dns too. And they worked... So now bind is running on my box. What good is that without a static ip address? That's what I thought too, heh. Maybe I'll write about it later. When I finished working thru that set of challenges I got this big smile on my face, it's there now as well.

Been meaning to mention the new color schemes for the site. As if nobody had noticed. Took a whole day, that. Used to be when I would do a color scheme for a web site I went and cribbed it somewhere else. This is the first time I haven't done that. I'm quite happy with the results. Used the "scientific method" this time. Went off and studied color theory --what I could find to read about it on the web. And then went about creating an entire scheme for each of the various sections of the site. I will be switching them so that rather than having a different color for each section, the entire site will change based on day of the week. I think I like that better as so few visitors seem to actually click around thru the site anyway.

I'm particularly pleased with the color scheme for the comics section. I puzzled over that one a bit. Then it came to me --Mondrian throwing a fit while working in a crayon factory! They're comics after all... I am still working on it but I like the basic idea.

The site is starting to take the form that I had envisioned so long ago. So much is still temporary. The logo flavor bars and the categories themselves --all temporary. I needed them to work around towards that vision I had, but now what? And isn't life just like that...

Reminds me of that scene in El Topo when he's describing his plan and draws a spiral in the sand. The destination? The center, of course!



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