Film Micrœview #562: Loulou

08.10.2020 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

An open-ended slice-of-life. A tale of three people from overlapping worlds alternately drawn to each other and repelled. Not as much of a soul-fuck as the other Pialat film I’ve seen, but nonetheless compelling.

Dream 662: Just Like a Bird’s

08.10.2020 § Leave a comment

In the extremely oblong and glossily fluorescent subway below that towering and broad bronze & walnut colored granite mall again, I am in the Chinese section eating noodles in a food court, but avoiding seeming to know too much about Chinese culture e.g. who the actress on the poster on the wall is.

In a great four-way city intersection, giant stuffed dinosaurs play a singing group sumo wrestling game. Each is monochrome but they are each a different bright pastel color. One has to add a new musical thread to the piece to enter the dance circle. The green Triceratops finally enters when it begins to sing the melody to The Little Drummer Boy starting at “Our finest gifts we bring…” The others outside the circle begin to sing the “ra pa pum pum” backing in chorus.

Cut to a distant location within the same city (we can still hear the chanting of the Christmas music), high high up: our super villain approacheth in his black flying saucer, an animated goose with a fuchsia wizard hat, like something Don Bluth would do. The hat has several clean holes through it on the font part of the brim; a first guess might be bulletholes but the even spacing of them suggests on the contrary that it is puncture holes from incisors of some beast. This goose, unimposing as he may seem, is the ruler of this sprawling post-apocalyptic NeoTokyoEsque megalopolis.

It feels vaguely like the Rite of Spring, if only because of the Fantasia dinosaur component. But also very much like Akira, with the Drummer Boy evoking Doll’s Polyphony, and the saucer evoking the Espers’ transports.

I thought we had already defeated the evil goose, but I guess we only took out the second in command, who was weirdly similar but not, something like a pink robotic lamp, maybe out of The Brave Little Toaster.

Film Micrœview #561: Psychomagic

08.09.2020 § Leave a comment

Rating: Dr. Pepper.

“Dali said he wanted to bring dreams into reality. I followed the anti-surrealistic way, the opposite. I said, everything is in the unconscious. One can’t teach the unconscious to speak the language of reality. Reason needs to be taught to speak the language of dreams.”

What Jodorowsky is doing here is dangerous. He is engaging with extremely vulnerable people. He could easily exploit them. But he is clearly not in this for power or control. Occasionally a strong cultish vibe is sensed, which I am deeply allergic too. However, he is not trying to found a movement, or proselytize some new truth. He never claims what he’s doing is revolutionary, or some new movement. Critically he says “without making any promises” before inducing an audience to attempt a miraculous curing of cancer (and said scene is set up with a clearly ironic rhetorical title card, and followed up by the woman never saying her cancer was healed, but that the moment Jodorowsky created for her was nonetheless powerful, beautiful, and helpful). What distinguishes this work from religious practice is that it doesn’t try to lowest common denominate anything; every act is precisely tailored to one specific person at a time. He is trying to teach us that not only can he and others perform psychomagical acts on others, but he has done it on himself, and others can do it on themselves. “Psychomagic cannot change the world, but it can begin to change the world,” he said in the Live Q&A I attended after the film.

I recently watched Bad Trip by Eric Andre which derives much of its energy from subjecting real people to his antics. I think this has more in common with that type of experience than it does with therapy. Jodorowsky still styles himself an artist. Calling this a documentary, I think, is a distortion of the idea. This is not something that would have happened anyway, which some detached force wanted to capture and share with the world. Think of it instead like Jodorowksy making a film with non-professor actors, and working their real problems. How is that really much different than in his other later features? There is a more of a continuum in his films than initially prepared to find (despite a quote from Jodorowsky having been a guiding light for me: “The world is ill; we need therapy films”). Watching these psychomagical acts, the right question to ask is: was that good art? And I say yes. I say it’s pretty damn good watching Eric Andre completely fuck with randos minds, but I say it’s even better to watch Jodorowsky make some good art and at the end of the day also know that at least a few people are probably feeling a lot better.

While I’m not certain Jodorowsky’s specific methods or aesthetics will become a common practice, I think that psychologists and therapists should take notice of his ideas. And I definitely think artists, whether or not they practice an art remotely similar to Jodorowsky’s brand of performance, should take note of his motivations. People speak of the difference between artists who are capable of truly connecting with other people, communicating, rather than merely getting their own ideas out; well, what connection could be greater than empathizing with someone so deeply that you can help them overcome some profound problem in their lives? I believe it would be a common thing to say about art that we go it to expand our minds, and one great way to expand ones mind would be to overcome a major trauma or barrier in ones personal development.

I met Jodorowsky once, in New York City in 2010, at a book signing for Psychomagic, hosted by a group of transhumanists. He called on me and I asked him in front of the room something along the lines of, “You came to this room full of people who believe that humanity will solve the problem of death, and that this is a good thing. Your work, in particularly Holy Mountain, explores the quest for immortality. How do you think your past work will be reinterpreted, and your new work be influenced, by a world without death?” (I probably asked it a lot more nervously and inarticulately than that) to which he responded (paraphrased) “You will die, and you will change.” At the time I was a bit frustrated by this answer. I have since gotten used to the fact that he tends not to answer questions directly. And I won’t say that his answer profoundly uprooted me or anything to that effect. Maybe it was something that was helpful for a lot of the people there to hear. I think that even if we do solve death, and even if that’s not an overall good thing, that he is right in some sense I will die, many many times, and that I was afraid of change, and I think I am less afraid of change, even sudden drastic change, today than I was then.

Dream 661: Mirror, Mirror, on the Floor

08.02.2020 § Leave a comment

Looking straight upward from the floor across my own face, I can see that my eyebrow hairs stick straight outwards (something you never notice when looking at your face straight on!), and moreover they suddenly get much longer in the section of each eyebrow closest to the gap between them.

Film Micrœview #560: Elle

08.02.2020 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

This movie answers the question: what does it look like to mindrape someone while they are physically raping you. And for that it gets a nod of approval. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. With such an excess of plot but every thread infused with thematic material, and a sort of dubious flat but unconvincing naturalism to everything, I wouldn’t want to deal with it again. Perhaps someone like Kiyoshi Kurosawa or Leos Carax could have replaced the boring dread (in the score) with something a little artsier or more surreal, or Lars von Trier might have made it believably naturalistic. Huppert of course was amazing and without elle the movie wouldn’t have worked at all.

Film Micrœview #559: Hereditary

07.28.2020 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

** SPOILERS **

This has way better dialog and delivery than any horror film has any right to boast. What Aster has done here is not taken a horror film and elevate its dramatic component to a higher tier. It doesn’t explain anything more than it has to; it’s not about world-building a horror plot situation. What he has done is taken a drama film and used horrific fantastical elements to bring its emotional truths to life (or rather, to death). Sure, in some moments it’s a Carpenter film, but at its core it’s more of a Bergman film.

For me the absolutely most critical moment is the change in expression on the mother’s face once her husband is dead. My reading of the film is that the whole “the demon covets a male body” idea represents the mother’s desire to be liberated from the expectations of her gender role with respect to the emotional labor of grief. The father character is by no means a caricature of emotional laziness; he tries… a bit. He misguidedly tries to keep what he knows about the grave desecration from his wife, because he doesn’t trust her to handle it. He doesn’t believe her when she tries to explain her perspective on the situation. He resorts to threats to break the family apart to protect their son. He obviously loves her and the kids. What’s fascinating is that no one is completely to blame here or evil. It’s got deeply tragic elements in that sense. It’s about mental illness and how feelings that are deeply real to one person can seem like an unhealthy fantasy to someone else. The mother’s art is an attempt to rationalize and compartmentalize and control her world, but it’s flimsy and doomed to fail. She thinks she wants to nobly sacrifice herself for her family, but truly underneath she wants to give up and check out and have power.

 

Dream 660: Grimm Therapy

07.26.2020 § Leave a comment

I’ve been sent off to a new form of therapy which involves participatory theater. You visit a multistory complex which has entrances to performances of various fairy tales. I’ve been prescribed Hansel and Gretel.

Unfortunately I don’t feel confident about my entrance, as I see several dark spooky path through the woods style areas.

I spy a well-kempt hipstery ginger bearded dude sweeping up another sunny cottage stage, and approach him, asking for directions. His response is unintelligible. Something about another guy who is working on something. It definitely was somehow instructions for finding the Hansel and Gretel level, but no idea how to act on it. Nonetheless, I shuffle off, hoping he doesn’t judge me if I go the wrong way.

Eventually I find it. I have to wait in a long line. Waiting with other people who have also been prescribed Hansel and Gretel treatment is awkward enough, but on top of that the employees of the facility are sitting on a ledge right next to us, their feet dangling into the queue space, and they’re griping about their jobs, completely demystifying things for us. One of them is a middle-aged Filipino looking guy with stubble and stubble for hair.

In front of me in line, two black women in Stanford hoodies are having a blast playing one of the harpsichords in the lobby just before the experience begins. I can tell that everyone behind me is grumpy that I’m refusing to join in, since I will break the chain of joviality and it will be tougher for them to restart it.

Dream 659: Boxanne

07.18.2020 § Leave a comment

“Boxanne”, hahahahaha.

Dream 658: Soulless Food

07.10.2020 § Leave a comment

In a doorway, a young Mexican boy stands in his pajamas, traumatized. He just made a phone call to the hospital – of dubious moral justification but of innocent intent – to save the skin of a family member. However, while his effort turned out to be unnecessary, the call has tragically resulted in a stranger’s infant being taken away.

In the next scene, this same kid, now slightly older and female, rocks in a hammock strung in the corner of a towering kitchen like a cobweb, naked, the entrails and blood of a pig smeared over her pubescent torso. Her voice over narration laconically recounts how she’d lost a bet with herself on this late Thursday night / early Friday morning and now she finds herself consuming such richly flavored yet soulless foods. Her jaw is enormous, as if the neck beard of an ancient Greek warrior had solidified into bone with skin stretched over it. She continues, musing about how while digesting what was already being digested is easier, it is outweighed by how tremendously more difficult it is to digest that which is designed to digest and thus resist (its own self-)digestion.

Clearly this is some art-house-foreigner-came-to-Hollywood-and-sold-out-for-Oscar-bait coming-of-age film.

Dream 657: Chalkway

07.04.2020 § Leave a comment

Hilarious lizards chase each other, running on their hind legs. They are very wide and very flat, like they swallowed some credit cards or something.

Dinosaurs trapeze in great windowed garage.

The black singer of an otherwise white band is naked and frantically guiding us down the dungeon steps to the salt flat surface with his triple penis (he has no balls, each of his balls is instead another penis) which is extruding multicolored chalk pathways we can safely take. We have to continuously crumple up the pieces of chalk with the dirt, further and further diluting, to progress, as we wait for new chalk targets to spawn increasingly weaker and slower and rarer. We might not even make it back, our guide long gone, we’re nothing but a ball of dirt with haze of rainbow chalk composition.

The toy collection around the edges of the room has seemed to grow tremendously as I try to organize things. This is taking much longer than I’d initially planned and Karin is angry.

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