Monday, April 6, 2009


erik does not blog here anymore.

Monday, March 9, 2009


You know that analogy "he just went video-game on them" that commentators use when the likes of Kobe, D. Wade or Bron Bron completely take over the game...

you can apply that to Zach Snyder's aesthetic aplomb. Especially in Watchmen, his latest smoldering gun of commercial cinema following Dawn of the Dead and 300. Zach goes video-game on em.

In Watchmen, he faithfully stays close not only to the source material, but to the essence of graphic novels and comics as a medium. The result is at the same time admirable and unprecedented and a failure on particular levels.

The comic, as an artistic medium, is fragmented and self-contained in boxes of pop art tableau. Furthermore, the comic itself is inherently a satirized and ironic rendering of reality. The perverse manipulation of reality is the comic's chief device to derive commentary and meaning. You put these two characteristics together and you have a film that can drag and easily detach its audience because it has no flow or any capacity for real emotional investment.

I remember after 300 was released many pundits called the movie homoerotic and essentially, a crap shoot of repressed homosexuality. Watchmen proves that Zach Snyder, if anything and regardless of gender or orientation, is simply an extreme voyeur of reality.

Two things I kept imagining when Dr. Manhattan was on Mars was A) What if Darren Aronofsky (who was briefly attached) co-directed with Snyder for Watchmen... and B) I am so using that monologue about "air turning into gold" that Dr. Manhattan uses on Silk Spectre II next time I'm at the club.

Although, I enjoyed the movie, especially how masterful Snyder controls his aesthetics, I am nervous mass cinema will continue down this direction of fragmented, rhythmless, aesthetic-driven movies that have no sense of narrative flow. Like Transformers. This is disturbing to me.

But what I really wanna know is where does Billy Crudup go after playing a symbolic narrativization of god, and conversely, where does Matthew Goode go after playing the devil?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

nick and norah's infinite playlist

Finally saw it. Oh boy.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist had been a project I'd been keeping notes on for awhile, mainly because I've been anticipating Peter Sollett's follow-up since Raising Victor Vargas. Even with an poorly-coordinated trailer and TV spot campaign, my fascination didn't waver in the movie's potential. Up to this point in cinema, it's been a rare occurrence for a legitimate auteur to take on a commercial teen movie. Ever?

And what we get is a contextual masterpiece. I say contextual because similar to Zach Helm's Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist isn't without an occasional kink or potential unrealized. But, this my friends, is a glimpse into Cinema du Adolescence, and broadly speaking, what the scope of cinema has the potential to become. This is what's it about, the new metapop - the subtle revolutions and reappropriations of mainstream culture.

Most importantly, Peter Sollett and the source material does well to embrace reality, embrace the realism of contemporary society. The confusing exploitation of force-feeding sex, aesthetics, consumption and hedonism to our youth and simultaneously admonishing them for taking interest in those same practices are deconstructed. This movie confronts this reality, in which yes, today's youth are at an accelerated level of perversion, but more profoundly, builds from this pragmatic miscalculation. Because we all simply yearn intimacy, connection, are never too far from an epiphany, from realizing that we are more and deserve more than the crude material that binds our flesh and distorts our soul space.

Two particular moments which stand out to me were the scene which involved Nick's ex-girlfriend flaunting herself music-video-girl-style in beam of the headlights while "I Believe in Miracles", one of the most commodified and degraded songs of history is being played. The other, which is truly indicative of the ideals of this generation, has Norah commenting on The Cure. She likes them, they're alright, but why the name "The Cure"? What are they curing? They should be called "The Cause". Self-loathing, hopelessness, and the nihilization of life is sooooooo pre 9-11. Meaning is the aesthetic.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

bcs analysis

In this bowl season, which has so far been one fused with no shortage of thrills, the Pac-10 swept the competition at 5-0. The non-BCS Mountain West had their solid conference run culminate in a Utah Utes drudging of supposed SEC steamroller 'Bama. And despite the WAC not having as strong a postseason as it has in recent landmark years, we all remember Boise State over Oklahoma.

Why then do the Pac-10 and their regional non-BCS counterparts never get their just props, especially comparatively to the major conferences residing in the South and the East of the country? Every year we see USC not only beat, but entirely smother a Big Ten pretender. We also have seen with increasing bravado a non-BCS team such as Boise State or Utah come into a bowl as a heavy underdog and wreak havoc on some big-time player from the Big 12, SEC and all the other major conferences that year in and year out simply get more respect than them.

It's not just some conference bias, but an outright coastal bias. And every year this perception costs west coast teams street cred and a fair shake at bigger bowls with larger amounts of confetti. It's a constant perpetuation that allows west coast teams little leeway during the season and causes them frequently to drop in and out of the Top 25 at the drop of a dime. It's the old hegemony sticking with outdated tradition disrupting the reality of college football today. And that reality is the west coast is simply cultivating better athletes and in larger and more diverse quantities.

But why? Experts that do agree with this assessment overlook the key components in this equation: the rapid ascent of Orange County and the migration of Pacific Islanders.

Orange County has quickly become in recent years ripe picking grounds for recruits, some of the top nationally. But more importantly, the many lightly-recruited, undersized "athletes" types that end up at Pac-10 and non-BCS west coast schools with little fanfare. Do a study and you'll see that the players taking up scholarships and roster spots in major college sports in major conferences these days from Orange County has risen exponentially with this generation. Heck, Tustin High School currently has the most active players in the NFL, more than Long Beach Poly, more than any school from Texas or Florida or anywhere in the dirty south.

Correlative, a steady portion of these players are of Pacific Islander descent, Polamalu, Moala, Ngata, Maleuaga, Moevao; These Samoan and Tongan families just now having their first generation of American-born children coming-of-age in America.

In unison, these two factors play a significant role in the strength of west coast prep sports (and perhaps why the perception of such suffers). Such an influx, despite maybe not nabbing those blue-chip recruits, gives these teams the luxury of having substantial depth on both sides of the ball; talent and athleticism filling holes and flying around the field at every position.

Wake up college football.

Friday, January 2, 2009

sir clint eastwood

I'll be an honest son of a gun, I've always held a certain resentment for Clint Eastwood-directed movies (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flag Of Our Fathers). I resented how much critical praise they garnered during awards season and how they overshadowed works which I considered entirely more deserving, but merely lacking "Eastwood" emblazoned in the credits. Make no mistake, Eastwood's direction is a thing of savvy, many times engrossing filmmaking, but by no stretch, revelatory. It's apparent Clint Eastwood had found degrees of truth and wisdom in his advanced years, he's a very smart man, and finding truth with age is something that shouldn't be discredited or unappreciated. But that in itself doesn't always translate into genius artistry.

Eastwood's latest, Gran Torino, again is assuredly not one of those works that will resonate for any kind of innovation, but man, does it resonate in the grandest way: simple genius. Eastwood, at his core, is a political artist. Not in the sense of governmental policies or war-time atrocities, but in his vision's straightforwardness and use of cultural-perceptional polarizations. Amidst all the extremism as device, Eastwood achieves an undeniable air of lightness in Gran Torino, and even a disarming sort of old-school whimsy.

What I found most beautiful is Eastwood's own artistic redemption at the end of the story, making amends for not only all the glorification of vigilante violence he portrayed early in his career, but also all the triumphalism that he perpetuated.

Eastwood's gonna undoubtedly make a few more films, but Gran Torino is a beautiful culmination to his legacy. And a revelation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I have never felt less creative than I do in this moment... which I'm only mentioning to qualify the below blog and whatever else follows it while I'm in the funk of an early lifetime.

Just read an article in the Orange County Register --yes, I'm back in The OC and I'm feeling as estranged from my innermost as ever-- in which Adam Shankman, the force behind such spurious studio farces as Bringing Down The House, The Pacifier, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 & Hairspray, is lamely politicking for his upcoming Sandler-starring Bedtime Stories over his weekend competitor the David Frankel directed (Devil Wears Prada) & Owen Wilson-Jennifer Aniston starring Marley & Me.

Like the altruist he is, Shankman deems Marley & Me unfit for family audiences, and his stale, extra-butter popcorn flick the proper choice for crowds seeking safe, wholesome, family fun. This irresponsibility, of course, is infuriating on so many levels, but truly saddening at the most basic level -- the one involving the education of our children, and how that reflects on us.

Shankman calls Bedtime Stories "totally traditionally Disney." That statement and its sentence construction itself speaks semantic volumes. But, more concisely, it mirrors what Disney (along with the majority of manipulative mass-appeal products aimed at our unassuming future) has turned into in these sterilizing days of hyper-capitalism. Fortunately, we have Harry Potter and Pixar, and Zach Helm.

What is this idea of "harmless"? Is it the exercises in sentimentality and farce that have given way to the expression "stupid-funny"? Is harmless not only glossing over sex, violence and death, but many times completely avoiding it? Or worse, constructing a false reality that has its inhabitants devoid of any reason whatsoever?

Entertainment is a tool of education and should be handled with care and responsibility.

Monday, December 22, 2008

trailer wrinkle

Something I noticed while watching the tube.

The trailer for the new Underworld flick, Rise of the Lycans, aired today and it attempted something rather novel in terms of TV spots. By the way, viewers caution, this new sequel's not directed by Len Wiseman.

What the trailer did was headlined the movie title and its release date at the top of the screen throughout its entire presentation. This did somewhat disrupt the aesthetic appeal of the trailer itself, kinda like a fly buzzing around eye level, but I suppose it did fulfill its overall intention -- we'll see in a couple days whether the release date survives in my living memory. But more imperatively, if it does, whether I give a hootenanny. Because a marketing strategy can brand and implant all it wants, but if the quality of the product and the quality of the product's persuasion is lacking, well, it's irrelevant.

I also noticed a marketing trend which is gathering steam for movies banking on their top-billing movie stars to draw in their audiences: the (playfully solemn) singular close-up, i.e Will Smith in Seven Pounds & Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button. In my opinion, the megawatt movie star is a near-transition away from becoming wholly passe, but this directness in marketing scheme is something that bodes well for aforementioned transition and indicative of it taking course. Basically, the pussyfooting is cutout. But, it's also very fascinating to gauge the expanse of this strategy seeing as the above-stated exemplars both feature these international movie stars in feathery exercises in commercial sentimentality (though probably still solidly entertainment).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I needed this.

Headphones on listening to Kanyeezy's "Coldest Winter" on repeat.

Graduation was a masterpiece of Hip Hop Pop. This is a masterpiece of transcendent metapop caliber. This album is not Michael Jackson phenomenal. This IS Kanye West.

This is the new. This is Eno Hip Hop. This is Prog Hip Hop. This is headphone revelation. And it's not because of Kanye's vocal range. But it is, in the real sense. You can call it the Pink Floyding of the human aspect. The voice, what is it? Is it Michael Jackson and soaring pipes? Is it American Idol finalists? Or is it one's true voice calling out?

This is cyborg. This is the eternal bind and the inevitable fusion to technology. Technology is the enabler, but we have the great vision. We're both the end and mean, tech only a consummated mean at best.

This is music. It's not a birdlike voice. It's the vision entire of the mind behind its conception. This is Kanye's vision. It's not a beat delivered, song lyrics scribbled and passed on, it's you, your voice, and all the shortcomings that come with you, vocally or otherwise. And obviously, there's still plenty of coming-of-ages to be had.

"Welcome To Heartbreak" and "Coldest Winter" are the gems. Like silk. "Say You Will" is solid, but overextended. "Paranoid" can funk. "RoboCop" is playin. "Street Lights" is a finely anthemic. "See You in my Knightmares" is Kanyeezy and Weezy, two of the brightest.

I'm using "Coldest Winter" as a trailer version for Photosynthesis.

My new remix: finding ambidextrous vision.

Friday, December 5, 2008

charlie kaufman

Last weekend, on the first annual "Saturday Morning at the Cinema" we saw Woody's Vicky Cristina Barcelona & Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York. One was full of a playful skeptic's jostling and quips about art and the condition. The other was the sound of the heart breaking.

Charlie Kaufman's an interesting blend. His screenplays (Being John Malkovich, Human Nature, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine) adapted by Spike & Michel were all instrumental in helping to unearth that compromise of Pop, aesthetics and sincerity. He helped bring about metapop, and is obviously one of the most important minds in cinematic history. But, I say he's an interesting blend because with Synecdoche, New York we see the real Charlie Kaufman. And he's a hopeless romantic, quite metaphysically.

Even though, he's pioneered self-authorship in contemporary art, perhaps the most noticeable difference when taken out of the eyes and hands of whimsical boy auteurs like Spike & Michel is that the cynicism bleeds through when all the cheekiness canvassing it is removed. He sees self-authorship as a timeless trap, not as the ultimate liberation.

When we let our characters die, we live.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

boycott 2012

I'll sacrifice my blogs aesthetic. He doesn't deserve a photo upload.

From Roland Emmerich, the silly-puddy brain that brought you blockbuster farces like Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow & 10,000 BC, comes 2012. Just watched the new trailer and... Alright, I'm a resolute believer in the necessity of everything in the grand transition toward infinity, but a part of me savors the idea of this fellow ceasing to exist.

His movies are so pomo they give my soulpower hairline fractures. Dear Roland Emmerich, have you no sense of responsibility or integrity? How can you so shamelessly polarize such exigent issues, in popcorn flicks intended for the mass no less. Is your mind heartless?

The postmodern retrograde irony is on his Wiki bio under "advocacy" he's worked to raise awareness on Climate Change. Maybe it's some sort of strange, counter-intuitive manifestation of being gay and raised in Germany that cultivated the vain, ended machismo in Emmerich's films. Not sure, never been to Germany. Wiki informs us that he goes through four cig packs a day, let's hope that inhalation takes its toll soon... No no, c'mon that's messed up. Let's hope he retires from the craft, or learns a thing or two about life. Preferably the latter.

In summation, listen here, 2012 is real in its vital symbolism, but the end of the world's not anytime soon. 2012 is whether we consummate this great work or not, whether we embody humanity. And if we don't succeed in this mission, well lads, that's far worse than being extinct.

I suggest we BOYCOTT the 2012 movie when it drops in theaters, NOT rent it on DVD and definitely NOT at your local Blockbuster, and only watch it FREE streaming online, if only out of sheer curiosity and disdain.

...this was by far the most spiteful blog I've ever written, so I apologize to Roland Emmerich. Albeit unsympathetically. Must be reading too much Vice mag lately... Oh yeah, PS:

Dear Vice Magazine, MAN UP.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the new showtime

The Lakers are the last remaining undefeated (the Celts just knocked off the Hawks via Paul Pierce jumper), sitting steady at 7 up, zero down. In this still-infant season all signs, immediate and cosmic, point toward redemption, a destined rematch with those same Boston Celtics in the Finals. Though, last season's mental and physical Finals drudging at the hands of those green-eyes won't likely happen again. History repeats itself, and nothing is more historic than redemption. It's about Time, and it doesn't include unsustainable roster quick-fixes, green, luck or leprechauns.

During last year's playoffs I blogged about the link between postmodernity and new sincerity, between the Celtics and the Lakers, the struggle of the new in overcoming and transitioning past the incumbent hegemony. In quick summation, I mentioned a few things. Last year we weren't yet ready, it wasn't yet meant to be. The Lakers, as sports patterns are early outgrowths of cultural yearnings, are a source of present symbolism and a telling signification of the Great Work. Our maturing offensive flow was disrupted by the fracturing, unforgiving defense of the Celtics (and all their hyper-machismo, pseudo-masculine fits of barking and howling and chest-throttling). Our shortcomings were exposed and mercilessly exploited in all its fragile, inexperienced development. It came down to us lacking that sheer determination, that unwavering focus to triumph. We didn't yet have that hunger to complement our drive, that toughness to complement our offensive and athletic prowess. After all, new sincerity's about striking and consummating that great inner balance, that true dynamic, and a limiting singular excellence.

If you were an avid Laker follower last season, you knew that while every media hound dog and outsider was caught up on the absence of Bynum, there was another youngblood just as revelatory to the Lakeshow's present and future-sustaining success, Trevor. In those 30-odd games he played early in the year last season, he was a defensive ninja and a fast break's dream, and with a newly-polished outside stroke this season, watch yo socks. He's dropping 10, 5 boards and 2 steals in 22 minutes so far in this young season. Sixth Man of the Year?

I realize and you should too, that it's still November. But with faith, just like the simple genius of great universal narrative, we all understand and feel in the eternal waves the beatific outcome. Last season's dismantling in the Finals was more than just a matter of missing personnel, missing Bynum and Ariza. From a numerological holism, 200(8) is when change, in all its torrential growing pains, takes root. 200(9) is when that transition's consummated.

And the numbers are evident, they're locking down their opponents to 86.7 points while averaging 104.7, still have yet to allow a team to break the century mark, 8 players are averaging 20-plus minutes (keep your esteem up Machine and Luke, we'll need you). But most impressively, at 35 minutes a game, Dobermamba's playing nearly 4 minutes less per outing than last season.

This new incarnation of the glitzy 80s Showtime are the Real Showtime, a consummating perfection of their harbinger. They're a deep, cohesive group who can score lights out, can run, spread the floor, execute half-court, and most importantly and tellingly, have realized that brazen focus. They're an ensemble cast of role players, including Mamba himself. Lights, camera, live action.

remakes are for do-overs

Let The Right One In, the Swedish romantic horror directed by Tomas Alfredson and written by John Ajvide Lindqvist (based on his novel) is in talks to be remade by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield). I'm with Alfredson on the economy of remakes, "Remakes should be made of movies that aren’t very good, that gives you the chance to fix whatever has gone wrong." One day I'm gonna remake Neverending Story... then wed the beauty I cast as Childlike Empress.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Throwing up the inverted peace sign. It bothers me. So does nihilism.

So here's another remix on the freewill of destiny: ordained solipsism.

Posit it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

poster stroodles: horror

Finishing my "domestic possession" horror; Here are a handful of superb poster arts of the genre.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

scaling kilimanjaro

The world's in breathless, united apparition. So many are once again, many for the first time, proud to be an American. Ghettos and cul-de-sacs and streets are canvassed in exhilarated celebration. Faith, that eternally puissant soul power, has been rousingly and poetically restored, reclaiming its rightful place alongside the Will of Man. For most of us, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Gen-X, Gen-Y, azure, iridescent, as Andy put it, the 2008 presidential election is the most influential thing we've done so far in our lifetime outside of buying and consuming. For me, it was more a sense of suspended, cathartic relief, soon replaced by an endowing determination for tomorrow's horizon. The celebration ended as soon as Barack stepped resolutely to the podium for our victory speech. We're living history, now it's about Time we make it. This mission which lies ahead, this consummation, will be the most trying struggle of all.

I'm keeping this blog short. We have poured the wine, now let us take a moment to celebrate. But, let us not get wine-flushed and forget in our basking that this is merely the first step of this emancipating journey. Secondly, don't disillusion the significance of this moment by investing your entire, unquestioned faith into Barack. By doing this, you're robbing, degrading and rendering illegitimate this beautiful moment, the man himself, and what we have all yearned and worked for. Don't lose the strength of your own resolve in the lingering romanticism of Barack. More than anything, Barack is the symbol, the enabler we needed to press ahead in this journey. But, moving forward he will need our enduring resolve as much as we'll need his. We finally received the opportunity for a true democracy, one that is a dynamic, not a dictatorship. Now it's our responsibility to uphold our end of the birdsong.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Our stories are singular but our destiny is shared." -Barack

raves reviews revelations


After back-to-back missteps of vacuity, i.e Blades of Glory, Semi-Pro, Will Ferrell gets it on like he should with Adam McKay, their 3rd whimsically vulgar collaboration following Anchorman and Talladega Nights, drag-assing the indomitably ethereal John C. Reilly along for some ebullient, wide-eyed and high-hearted bumpus time. With Step Brothers, McKay and Ferrell again use the built-in genre excesses of frat-row comedy to deftly probe what's steadily becoming their intaglio MO: monochromatic social congeniality and formality as cultivated and disillusioned by cultural susceptibilities to submit to the stagnancy of comfort and convenience as manifested from economic and consumptive disenfranchisement and fear of change, as well as the bungling and sophomoric American expression of male bond and sexuality. Mouthful.

Step Brothers was one of the most solid and entertaining comedic chestnuts of the last couple years and a tender keeper. But, as much as I regret to say this to a fellow alum, Will Ferrell's brand of wide-eyed, trusting, irreverently spirited comedic sentiment is nearing its course's end. Maybe within the next half-decade there'll be a tangible transition toward a sense of comedy elaborating on Ferrell's ironic search for sincerity, something that strokes with more focused self-awareness and resolve while sustaining that cherub wonderment. Step Brothers, the title suggests a yearn beyond cynical irony, a near-genuine yearning for brotherly unanimity.

Will Ferrell is the most important comedian of the 21st century, at least. Steve Carrell gets honorable mention.


Pixar delivers another gem, possibly the studio's masterpiece so far. Apart from Cars, Pixar Animation hasn't miscued. What makes Wall-E particularly brilliant and revelatory is its ability to communicate with enduring simplicity its universals of Love, Purpose and Responsibility, all basically without the crutch of talk and rhetoric. This is what children's high-fantasy and Horror as polarized genres can achieve, the purity and universality of the eternal laws governing us, of the potentials we have to ascend and of the temptations which cause us to fall.

I'm searching for my Eva...


Splat Pack members Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur return with their 3rd gore galore (High Tension, Hills Have Eyes), and it's a studiously adept if underwhelming massacre. I applaud them, at the very least, for attempting to construct and examine the social and perceptional ramifications of mirrors as literal and symbolic artifact for vanity, consumer culture and existential distortion. But generally, the French haven't got the eyes for real, raw horror. Their experienced, fluid narrative romanticism works against them in this genre, aesthetically and sentimentally. Some of these directors included loosely in the Splat Pack don't make the grade; of the ones listed on Wiki (Aja, Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall, Greg McLean, Eli Roth, James Wan & Leigh Whannell and Rob Zombie) I would in all generosity drop Bousman, Wan & Whannell. The Saw series is like all the insulting sequels to Friday the 13th and Halloween packaged into something slightly and modernly less inane. Wolf Creek by McLean was frenetic and a skilled orchestration, but all aesthetic. Neil Marshall's a solid commercial director and The Descent was one of the best Horror films of the past few years, but Doomsday was a huge letdown. I liked Zombie's Devil's Rejects, but he's obviously limited. Of this list, Eli Roth is the only true auteur. He could potentially be one of the finest auteurs in cinema's future, if he doesn't let the celebrity get to his creative virility, which is very viable risk with Eli.

Speaking of the Horror genre, look out for the writer/director of Transmission 1 from The Signal.


I felt cheated. Rather, my feelings were voided. So po-mo. Similar to Iron Man, Hancock was just a fragmented, postmodern collage of scenes brusquely and clumsily strung together to construct some undercooked narrative of coolness. In another potential-unrealized flop by Will Smith (the other being I Am Legend), Hancock was particularly a frustrating disappointment because there were many flowers which under the brass knuckle direction of Peter Berg weren't able to blossom. Hancock was the epitome of manufactured sincerity and the aesthetic cover-up of a film under-conceived. This hearkens back to the Iron Man comparison because Berg and Favreau are both comedic actors-turned empty flash directors and were co-stars in Very Bad Things. Now, as directors they suffer from the same postmodern symptom, overstatement and lack of fluidity. There's more to say, especially about the amateurish subterranean commentary on true masculinity, but I'm over this blog. I will give props Jason Bateman, as well as Vincent Ngo, my fellow Vietnamer, for writing the script 12 years ago.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

mumblecore, or

Just finished watching Quiet City, a trailer I spotlighted awhile ago, and was softly charmed by its nascent looseness and its oft-inverting depiction of a modern romance.
The mumblecore movement, or alternatively, the Slackavetes, emerged correspondingly in the early-2000s embracing & realizing a consortium of tenets which New Sincerity strives for: D.I.Y., collaboration, economic frugality, and an exacting of self-authorship. Aesthetically and economically, mumblecore recalls the focused improvisation of French New Wave & Cassavetes, and dawdles in the scenes and compulsions of sparkless twenty-somethings.
I blogged about Hannah Takes The Stairs, another mumblecore effort, when it came out on DVD, using it as a platform conceptually for meaning becoming the aesthetic. However, my perspective on such compromise has taken broader perspective since reading Saramago and watching Blindness onscreen, along with of course the passing of Time.
For the many reasons mumblecore is contextually innovative and necessary, these same qualities are also its weaknesses moving forward, ultimately speaking. These flicks are being done by artists generationally at the Gen X-Gen Y intermingling. This is to say that in these works there are the spirited manifestations of New Sincerity as well as the perspective and symptomatic reflections of Gen-X postmodernity. The movement of mumblecore into the next realm revolves around the consummation of these latter tendencies.
In its focus on interpersonal relationships, mumblecore cinema subversively comments on our subsisting cultural contrivances, primarily communication and sexuality. This is usually done by inversion - in Quiet City, moments usually resulting into kisses don't - and by scenes capturing a moment of vulnerable musing away from the hustle. These subversive hints are in a way passive-aggressive. Hints, without the risk of accountability or more semantically, responsibility. Slackavetes.
So this conflict I'm having with mumblecore doesn't remain in the cinema itself, but in its inherent reflection of our potential unfulfilled. Can we find compromise to passive-aggressiveness and find a potent, gentle force? French New Wave captured these same relational dynamics, but more significantly, used cinema as a platform and breeding ground to not just capture these relationships but to doctorally observe them. (Furthermore, French New Wave was a battle for liberation of aesthetics). Mumblecore, however, projects inherently a certain postmodern nihilism in its immediacy, or rather its immediacy without arching tenet of greater purpose blanketing its narrative. In this sense, all this capturing is merely a shapeless cataloging - to be incisive, a postmodern form of vanity and hedonism.
In Quiet City, sure it celebrates the elementary beauties of collaboration and teamwork (making music on the keyboard together, getting help over the wall), but in what seems to be the overriding trait of mumblecore and late Gen-X cultivation, the twenty-somethings are unambitious, immature and utterly irresolute. They do cute, random things for attention, they own and collect cute, random, usually nostalgic blasts from the pasts. But they're not immature because they can be a degree of blithe in moments, it's because their co-dependency, their unsureness and inability to show resolve and composure becomes kiddish, in the most detrimental way. All this vagrant cuteness reverts back to an ironic kitsch. And that's exactly it, it's lacking in that last consummation of sincerity, to no fault of its own.
So, the consummation that follows mumblecore is enabling and sustaining such hypercapitalism killers as self-authorship, D.I.Y. and frugal economy and channeling them into works that focus and weave together all that yearning and enervating spontaneity into something purposefully interconnected and holistic.

PS I fell for Erin Fisher.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

on the road with beatification

I think of Dean Moriarty...
I've finally read those final touching words from Kerouac's contextual masterpiece On The Road. Holy molasses, was it a long, persevering endurance test to get there. From when I first cracked the book to when I finished, I read two Saramagos (Seeing, Gospel According to Jesus Christ) & went a couple chapters deep into Last Unicorn & a Ho Chi Minh biography. Capote called On The Road typing. Not necessarily a harsh reduction, but an creative innovation missed & misunderstood on Capote's part.
On The Road & The Beats revolutionized, or rather socialized, the expressive form of writing, helping to channel the Self, loosening it from the grips of privileged, hierarchical modes & systems.
It was visceral, immediate, unabashedly autobiographical. It was wide-eyed, sloppy, fervent, had a devouring curiosity & tragedy, it saw us as eternal brothers, had the search of empathy at its core. It was also a precursor & the opening in which postmodern semantic deconstruction of rhetoric and semiotics slithered through to find us at superfluous dribbles & purposelessly excessive word counts; It was fast, loose & instant. It trampled concisely meditated prose, but was necessary to the movement. This is also to say, I will probably never read another Kerouac novel again, but that doesn't mean his contribution was any less admirable.
The thing is, like a hyper-explosion, The Beats in literature blew communication into smithereens, and we've only gotten faster, more brusquely so, since. But it's about moderation, compromise. In this case, slow down but sustain those big-wondering eyes, be cool but be intimate & engaged, loosen up form but don't lose form, be autobiographical but deliberate it a bit. The Beats were one of our prophets, one of our direct mystic providers, they asked us, their future nephews to find equanimity, to fill that emptiness that ached them & embody sincerity, to become, to arrive. And like the eternal Law of the Universe, they delivered us the tools to blunt something they themself helped create & diminish all at the same Time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

marvel universe

Just finished watching Incredible Hulk, or rather Beauty & the Beast...wait...King Kong...wait...the eternal battle between the physical & harnessing one's innermost, taming the beast within. So unpredictable & unoriginal, not complex at all -

No, you academic, you big thinker, it's not complex. It's a universal narrative. As a culture, this is something we need to get through our thick, instant-coffee meta barrier - that originality's an illusion, works-in-progress are never failures & innovations are linked to the infinite predecessor. So, if you didn't like Children of Men because it was predictable, good man, you missed its benefit & you need to broaden your holism. I got sidetracked...this blog is supposed to be about Marvel Studios.

Ahem, Marvel Studios, as you know have become its own independent studio & has already made under its banner two blockbuster superhero flicks, Iron Man & Incredible Hulk. Despite the critical & overwhelming commercial success of Iron Man, I preferred Incredible Hulk; Leterrier despite his hyper-machismo still pulled off that particular French flow, which is to say, the French have a certain narrative seamlessness, a gift for that grand, romantic storytelling. Iron Man, on the other hand, was the epitome of an American symptom infecting the world, empty flash, rock star mentality. Listen, Downey Jr. was spot-on wit & Paltrow was smokin', but that's all it was - it was choppy, it was aesthetic-driven, it was an array of setup scenes only there to cap off with a catchy punch-line or something instantly cool, it was hyper-postmodern.

But for Favreau, as a director, that's his weakness, fluidity. For all the solid comedy skits strung together & a decent aesthetic eye, Iron Man, Zathura, Elf & Made all lack that essential distinction between artist & technician: heart, soul. But, again, this blog is not a roast of Favreau because in this case it's not just Favreau, it's symbolic. We need to semantically take back Art, the word, give it meaning again. That's all on that, I'll move on. Marvel Studios, whom in the past licensed off their characters & plots only to sadly see horrible cinematic adaptations, many b-movie level, movies made as stand-alone productions, for reasons of financial safe-guarding & also due to contextual cultural perspective. Moving on to today, we're yearning for that sense of cohesiveness, for that unanimity, for that Great Work, for universality. What's simply brilliant, financially & metaphysically, about Marvel is that they're consciously building a community, a universe, intertwining their blockbusters the same way they did comic books, characters revolving & appearing in one another's stories, the ever-expansive web of life being reflected in commercial cinema the same way great authors like Salinger or auteurs like Almodovar have glimpsed at. I for one, will always have these degrees of transconnection in my works - it's reality.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

purposed irony is our way to sincerity

When New Sincerity emerged in the early scatters of the millennium, as has been well-espoused in this blog, the pundits all unverifiably claimed irony itself finito. dunndada. see ya later innovator. We, the culture of our collective esteem, were on an exacting track toward a struggle of extremes - a struggle we're still in the midst of & trying to find compromise & consummation in.

Did you catch my rhetorical wink-nod using unverifiably? wah wah wah.

Thing is, Life, our very root existence itself as gamed by Godhead, is an inherent contradiction. We are of the most dynamic romantic dramedy. But, you know what God wants of Us... extraordinary me and you, to finally become God. The elder statesman, the mama-papa bear's getting old (somewhere in Time), and the Will's been signed. But before we can inherit the diaspora of splendor, cool things of great worth & superfly magic vision, as only a well-meaning, somewhat masochistic parent would, God has given his children a series of obstacles, or rather holistically speaking, one very labyrinthine obstacle. A divinely assembled coalescing of temptations, vanities & intellectual smut to test our emotional reasoning, also known as our soul power. Judgment Day, or those last filial nudges a parent gives to their son or daughter whom is transitioning from the immaturity & apathy of adolescence to the actionable, focused resolve of young adulthood.

...From young adulthood, it'll be up to us to become sage, but first thing's first, let's work on presence and now.

In this struggle, irony has become a surgeon's knife, albeit sometimes blunted & not always disinfected. First out of a young generation seeped in sarcasm's yearning for something real, or more real, instead of the contrived hypercapitalist gloss they were born & cultivated in. Not to say, we're not contrived & mirror-adoring, we are, but we understand it, we self-mock it. Therein lies the intervention of our self-involvement, our supreme sense of self-authorship.

Rather than the closeted, nose-thumbing & wrap-around perverse exploitation of it, the impossible blockbuster action movie with meta-erectile dysfunction or the male hegemonic packaged rom-coms with meta-silicone sandbags pawning themselves off as this is how it should be. We embrace it. We were raised, innocents, in the pinnacle of postmodernity's takeover & took with us the sardonic sword & have learned the fullest grasp of aesthetic. We have all the tools of the hegemony to use against it. And we're more skilled & less self-deceiving about it. We've used self-effacing kitsch & irony to deconstruct every gloss-lipstick of former cultures, pop & otherwise, integrating them tongue-in-cheek into our hyper-mash-up style. Now the final piece of the puzzle, the consummation: Can we find focus of our potential? Because irony without purpose is a dead end. Rather, irony, ultimately speaking, that deconstructs without the intention of reconstructing is ironic, tragically so. So, can we get our tongues off outta our cheeks & smile sincere?

The above trailer, Van Damme's newest, is an exemplar of this deconstruction, this perceptive & economical shift that promises one step closer to sincerity, or as I like to see it, our kingdom of heaven.

Monday, September 29, 2008

shymalan's the happening

Gee whiz, M. Night Shymalan, what a fall from grace you've had. Not only commercially, but cinematically, the once-heralded Spielberg-Hitchcock popcorn successor, has plunged into the darkest of artistic recessions, that quite frankly, sees almost insurmountable odds of reprisal. I've never been a bandwagoner (jumping on or off it) of Shymalan, though I've always respected his commercially-adroit & manufactured craftsmanship. With The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable & Signs (his masterpiece), he established himself as a solid, even premier, commercial genre auteur, one adeptly attuned to genre conventions & appeals. He's a prime exemplar of critic fickleness, they took him in & praised him & just as swiftly pounced on him like hyenas. The pouncing began with his 4th feature, The Village, which despite the overwhelmingly negative reaction still generated $100m-plus box office, & I must say up until his patented-twist ending turned on him, was a solid, if not impressive, outing. Then, Disney lost faith in him, jumped the boat, & he went from prize-winning horse to a limping, woebegone gamble.

In 2006, with much anticipation of a bounce back from the disappointment of The Village (or for industry insiders, the affirming failure) came Lady in the Water, again starring a fantastic ensemble cast headlined by Giamatti & Bryce Dallas Howard. No critical punches were pulled for this one, it was almost in snickering glee nationally panned & generated only a notch above $40m domestic. Again, I disagree with the reception, which seems to me blatantly fueled not by critical objectiveness but by prebiased emotion. I found Lady in the Water to be a well-directed, well-intentioned children's high-fantasy in which Shymalan matured as an artist in his dwellings on the inner workings of "fate" & "destiny". He found a dab of sincerity in Lady in the Water, which can easily be said Shymalan lacks in his generally contrived & conventional directorial manner. This was all lost in the shuffle, & the critics focused on Shymalan's role in his own film as a struggling artist who becomes a future prophet. It was egotistical, megalomaniacal, they said. In a sense, yes, they were right, & considering Shymalan's artistic vision, he's somewhat disillusioned of his own ability, but it was also audacious & if not that, honest. Because in all truthfulness, he simply embodied what all artists, great or think such, see themselves as: prophets.

Okay, The Happening. This, is perhaps, the case of an auteur who's lost almost entirely, the belief in himself & his personal vision. An artist who tried to please everybody, work outside of his own capability & in the end, made thus far, his very worst film. To see such a solid director fall & dissipate so tremendously, even from one film to the next, is remarkable & horrific. Everything was off in The Happening. The casting, which Mark Wahlberg & Zooey Deschanel, two very specific role actors, completely stunk up the joint. The usually taut, sure-handed tension, which was replaced by merely the absurdly grotesque. & the humor & satire which was without balance & came in excessive amounts & at moments completely out of wack with the flow of the film. In his past efforts, Shymalan's manufactured sincerity was well-enough glossed over by the entertainment of its package, but with The Happening everything has completely unraveled, making one of the most wooden, contrived films probably in cinematic history. Shymalan, was perhaps, just that last postmodern blockbuster director that came in the flicker of the right pre-millenium dawn & now in our cultural yearn for sincerity, has faded just as fast.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

speed racer

I rented & watched it yesterday. I enjoyed it, but I understand why the critical forum gave it a lukewarm reception. There's an expectation coming into a Wachowski flick, audiences want raw, subversive & for all intensive purposes "adult". The sibling auteurs this time around chose to honor the source-material & tame their trademark subterranean political commentary. In time, this integration & compromise the Wachowskis made in the stylization of Speed Racer will be imitated & improved on the same way The Matrix Trilogy trickled into popular cinema stylings. But, again, this brings to light the selfish double-standard that the critical circle suffers from. They've lost the ability to empathize with cinema made for a youth's eye's perspective.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

midnight meat train

Saw this contemporary horror classic a few weeks ago at the Fantasia Fest in MTL. The word on the street's that due to some internal studio politics the movie got only a very limited release, a fuck-all shame in my opinion. This one garnered much buzz being a Clive Barker bullet, and with sure-handed direction from Asian import Ryuhei Kitamura it didn't disappoint - and actually surpassed my expectations. Kitamura's one of the rare Asian horror imports that didn't implode under the anxiety of cultural turn-over. Though, he did have some issues with capture and pace with the few domestic-related scenes, but gets a mulligan. Midnight Meat Train was a kitsch, moody, gory, technically-adept crowd-pleaser, all the components of a solid post-millennium horror flick. The separation from its inept, manufactured contemporaries lies in its meta.

Firstly, the fact alone that it had exegesis should be applauded in a film. You could say MMT was a riff on Blow-Up, but cultivated from one of the premier exemplars of postmodern manifest, Clive Barker. He asks us: Who is the killer, the actionable party or the voyeur capturing the action? Who is the grander perpetuator, the media who feeds us or us who feed the culture of the media? Who's more perverse, who's the pervert, the criminal? The line's atom-thin between perpetrator and perpetuator. The voyeur becomes what he shoots. His perception of reality suffers and turns into depraved disillusionment.

Though, my only dissatisfaction of MMT was the concluding anti-hero nihilism: that you, in fact, become in the flesh what you shoot, embody it and redemption turns a way of succumbing. I mention "anti-hero" because in a grander postmodern sentiment, Bradley Cooper's character's a guardian of sorts, maintaining the equilibrium of two disjunctive realities from colliding. This, though quintessential artifact of the last whimpers of postmodernity, works as a sterling reminder to our moment that cuts the glossy crust away from manufactured sincerity and aesthetic dismemberment that still pervades.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

artist log: zach helm

Stranger Than Fiction (writer)
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (auteur)

Zach Helm is real. With his latest, Wonder Emporium, he's shown us something we maybe lost, a move away from the productized, insincerely sentimentalized gloss of the contemporary children movie -- each contrived moment merely building up to the next shamelessly saccharine scene. Helm has concocted a glimpse into what "cinema childhood" can be -- something greater, something that relates the universe to us, no matter age. Refreshingly classic like children's literature of the past, before commerce got its imposing paws on it, before this hyper-capitalistic beast spotted and removed that last remnant of sincerity - The moral journey being too controversial for blockbusters and mass appeal. Like horror, children fare has the ability to project our carnalities, to polarize us. In horror, we see our true fragility, that paper-thin line separating us from barbarianism and absolute perversion. In children fare, beauty, innocence, fulfillment. Capitalism knows this, reducing both to inanimateness, degrading them to genres of guilty pleasure. Both avenues made into pornos. Respect to Eli Roth and Harry Potter 3, 4 and 5 -- Cuaron, Newell, and Yates.

Wonder Emporium is a rough draft, still raw. From the tone, to the composition, to the acting, cinematic flaws abound. The film is many times dull, the whimsy underrealized. Helm, though, has a depth of storytelling and wordplay more refined than his counterpart auteurs. He is first a marvelous rhetorical mind, and second a visualist. The latter still needing polishing. He's a pop Ashby, except flipped -- Ashby foremost an instinctive visualizer, a channeler. But let's not confuse space and time, Wonder Emporium is Helm's directorial debut. He's a first-round draft pick from paper-whiz university, give him some more p.t. and he'll be a complete dream-teamer. At 32, Helm's just barely getting his wiggle room professionally, but down to his knack for costume/production design coloration, the potential is apparent. He may be one of the most encouraging signs to come -

The man has cross-over appeal. His pieces so far, Stranger Than Fiction & Wonder Emporium, have been peeks into the next evolution of pop: existential, profoundly simple, and most importantly, entertaining. Look at this prototypically, not as a faulty singular work by an individual. Zach Helm is real. He's a romantist. He's Pop New Wave. He's magic. Chauncey Gardener tips his hat.

i am legend

This is a blog from December when I Am Legend released, and a comment posted on it.

I Am Legend
Starring Will Smith
Directed by Francis Lawrence

We live in a detached hyper-reality. The blockbuster reaffirms this detachment, this problematic disconnect from cinema, the primary constructor of aforementioned hyper-reality. We look for titillation, cheap thrills, and commerce acting as it only knows how, treats us to such. The blockbuster, especially I Am Legend with its post-apocalyptic topicality, can be so much more. It can be real. It can be inspiring. It can be a MANIFESTO.

It doesn't have to cheat essence to be entertaining. But we let it do so, and thus it stays on the surface, never exploring what we truly need it to. In these fragile moments, I Am Legend could've shown us, taught us, inspired us, had meaning. Blockbusters like I Am Legend can be more, they can be projects for humanity. Cinema of this magnitude has the potential to enable the most visceral message. It gives us the opportunity to embody, to empathize with the context, the situation, our mistakes. Imagine the beauty of a visual manifesto. Entertaining, but uncompromising to its sincerity.

Socialized cinema in America would be a beautiful revelation. I kept thinking what if Malick did this or Aronofsky. What if we funded films like this for the best American auteurs to create together? Collaborations of the most profound, of the most timely, of the greatest purpose. Perhaps, better in theory, than practice.

Yet, we can embody this hyper-reality we have constructed. Art imitating Life. Life imitating Art. Life becoming Art. Such is the cycle. Such is the most universal, revelatory human narrative: Redemption.

Comment by Syd:

Since the end of tribalism, cannibalism and the formation of civilization, evolution seems to manifest culturally before physically. And since civilization, or at least Herodotus’ time, the world has been divided into EAST and WEST. And since the edification of civilization and thus, society as an evolutionary petri dish, the greatest strides in human evolution seem to come as a result of interactions between east and west... (for example, the Renaissance and Mercantilism in Venice, then Impressionism later, up until the turn of the 20th Century where two World Wars brought people from all walks of life into the Pacific theater, the beginning of socialized globalization rather than colonialism.) The science fiction writers of the 1960s and 1970s were continuing this story of humanity, east and west. Coming off of the trend of earlier 20th Century Western philosophers writing in the 1880's to 1950's(Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, Charles MaCkay and infamously Aleister Crowley) who at the turn of the Century traveled to the East, and then came back West to open schools and publish books mixing Philosophies, histories, psychology, ontology, epistemology and a tad of the occult, delivering it all in the Eastern style of education: teaching their “worldly” knowledge, recruiting monks rather than students and focusing on personal growth rather than group performance— the scifi-authors of the seventies were a mixture of novelty and prophecy... This association somewhat discredited them over the years in Academia. Just as their aforementioned predecessors from the 1880's-1950s, the 1970s scifi gurus represented the most recent cultural interaction between east and west, and thus, a stride in evolution.

They all saw something, a glimpse into a possible future. Authors such as Philllip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Pyncheon, Asimov and of course Hubbard where all given access to privy knowledge— whether through legit insanity and dreams, LSD and drug use, or backgrounds in government and military that exposed them to information, they all saw and knew something. Reacting to the previous generations of authors who were the brilliant products of East and West interactions under post-colonial Modernity, the scifi gurus of the 1970s wrote their own philosophies. Some, like Hubbard, were able to convince masses. But since the trend of establishing schools in the Eastern-style of education faded, (due to elitism), these neo-philosophers lost their academic audiences. When I AM LEGED by Richard Matheson was written the world was changing. 1977, the year it was written, was the year of Aquarius and the beginning of that age. The Earth’s poles began to shift. Hip Hop and Rock were emerging as eternal as our bodies learned to move anew. The art scene was bursting while socially, the Bronx was Burning. It was the Summer of Sam and the beginning of the end for most. For the first time, we had no prophets telling us what was going to happen…enter the era of great scifi guru. Unlike the previous era (1880’s-1950s) where metaphysical philosophies were abundant and often accepted as commonplace even having not read them, those who read scifi knew it was more, but those who didn’t had no idea. So if you really want to know what is going to happen, just read it. They all say the same thing through different stories. The end began back in 1977 and has been going on since. In 2009 something bad will happen as it all comes to a head. In 2012 a resolution will happen. As for translating these works into cinema, I think we need to evaluate “cinema prophecy”— how can cinema, like the other art forms, be used to signify the future? In order to do this, we must find a visual language that cinematically accomplishes this. The last film to accomplish cinematic prophecy was Star Wars— the last film to have truly changed the world. My friend Ana just saw Kurosawa’s RAN. She remarked how she knew Lucas had looked to Kurosawa and his films for inspiration, but she had no idea that he had made a shot for shot remake of RAN. Lucas relied on Kurosawa’s visual language to tell his prophecy and as Ana pointed out, the last film to truly change the world is clearly an interaction between East and West. Upon watching recent Asian films, particularly horror, it is obvious that this is the solution to creating cinema prophecy in our time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hope can only endure for so long - to persevere one's peace of mind for so long - until it turns into despair, changes from boon to detriment. Hope without resolve of willpower is like man without woman - it lingers, fading into the night without consummation.

the collaborative

Contextually and semantically the collective, although with the most virtuous intention is a bygone byproduct. The conflict lies not as much in its naive romantic idealism, but in its inherent oppressive property - that in a collective, there remains no individual. In theory, like anarchy, this sentimental anthropological homogenization courses unblemished. But not in application, not in the manifest esteem post-capitalism, not in nature.

Within collective, there remains an aimlessness, minds saturating into one, succinct mind - the misplaced glorification of the collective can be traced to the universal allure of Eastern spiritualism. Yet, don't be prejudiced in the longview alms of Western thinking because both are needed, necessary: dark and light, ying and yang. The collective may be the romantic end we're struggling and striving toward, but not the means to arrive. The collective forms as one without resolve, only contentment, to be. Beautiful in itself, the poetic, uniform mind being as one, but in the ultimate struggle, incorporeal and selflessly selfish. Surely, the East holds the gift of sage universalism, but the West holds equal parts - this baby a whole not a half. Collaboration is compromise, individual minds coming together, and although not submitting to oneness of mind, coming together as individuals with purpose - to birth, to conceive a design of oneness.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We are not born sinner, we are made such. We are spurred into arrest. Yet, we can - and this is the journey to embodiment - strive to become creator, to be released from detention and imposition, understand the grand pattern and come to be our own author. And if this struggle, long and trying, is consummated, we have found the kingdom - our innermost self, the self whom bears wings.

manifesto of the new

Aesthetics are dead. More concisely, they're on life support. The New will be the consummating movement. What a graced vision, what a fantasy realized when like previous eras all the great artists were chums, were sentient penners and painters in their intended innovation and motion. The Beats, The Dadaists, The Surrealists, Italian Neorealists, French New Wave, New Hollywood, Pop New Wave... man, my heart churns just grasping a conception of it, being in the company of peers, out to enable transition, like minds with like force.

But, with our movement it will not be distinguished by a radical or reactionary shift in aesthetic, or to be more precise, in aesthetic as device for expressing intent, subversively or idealistically. So, that is to say, with this movement the aesthetic, that pertaining to the sensory of visual prettiness (and to a lesser degree sentimentality), will not be the driving impetus for revolution. In our state of empty flash and hyper-sensory, where aesthetic has overtaken and disillusioned meaning, becoming meaningless unto itself, there is nothing left to counteract or reflex. Thus, the revelation of The New will provide absolutely nothing new at all. Why?

We are at a fusing nexus of motley, multiform, re-appropriating retro-cool where aesthetic has reached its stylistic climax - from conceptual black and white to the last remnants of postmodern marquee neon, to The New: humanity, incandescent. The New has all forms and isms at our disposal, we will be a movement conducted of any style and any form to enable and consummate our purpose. And therein lies the revelation of The New, the reinsertion of purpose, of meaning, of the answer and re-construction of "what is art?" What a fluid, potent combination: image and intent. What compelling call when the prettiness finds Truth and becomes Beauty! The New is compromise, collaboration and destiny manifest. Best believe.

elementary zen

Siddharta will one day be the bedtime book I read to my children, Gotama Freeman and Franny Afrika Ta. The simple prose, that writing given to sage hymn and to be recited and shared aloud, has been lost in contemporary literature with the postmodern deconstruction of semantics - the cleverness and glutted prose killing the simple profundity, the ambitions for intellectual caste outshining universality. So, I divine that day when I will fatherly tuck my little bundles into bed, and settle beside them to read Siddharta.

dream log: one big family

Incidentally, this dream log suffers from potential unrealized - that being because like a lazy bones I insouciantly put off jotting them down, and like a fugitive, the clarity of those dreams were paroled by the fleetings of memory. There were 3, all incandescently brilliant, and strangely with each transmission into the next dream, the intonations became more dark and severe - dark in the sense of how my dream realm draws: sheer, overwhelming resolve in apocalyptic tumult. I wish I could've indulged you in the latter 2, but we'll have to suffice with the one I recall, a domestic heart-warmer:

I'm throwing a house party, an enchanting, winning house party. The corridors and hallways of the house are infinite, they go on forever like sprawling portals. Everyone is here, and I can't recount most of the names or faces, but let's simply say everyone who has ever stamped himself in my memory, from Allen Ginsberg to my best bud in 3rd grade. And, of course, that one romantic meta-charmer whom always seems to pop here beautiful expression around even when she's far removed from my thoughts. She was there too, and we shared company, flirted, became close, and I felt we were meant to be coupled as one. As the night roared on, then lulled down to an end and my friends dispersed, the house became barren of what was just moments ago an infectious vitality. The portals receded and became immediate, the house dimmed and felt closeted. This manifestation most positively one derived from my current apartment situation, a vagabond living alone in a 4 bedroom.

As I drifted the emptied hallways, struck by a case of abandonment, a noise coming from downstairs rattles me. I hesitantly set out, arming myself with closest metal object, tip-toeing hesitantly to find out what the sound might be, milieu or menace. Standing in front of the glass sliding door, the noise declares itself, and as my attention turns toward it, a man emerges from the shadow of the computer room. I pounce back, startled, and reflex defensively. But, then, I notice behind him are also women and other men, and realize the tenderness exuding from all their eyes, and release my defenses.

Cluttered in that small space are about 25 of them, of various ages and backgrounds.
- How'd you get in?
- We were working the party and discreetly stuck around. We're part of the Painters' Union. We'll leave if you want. We're just looking for shelter.
- No! Stay until Friday. I have the place for 2 more weeks. Maybe if all goes splendid you can stay until then.

And so they stay. My only requisite is that they don't disturb my bathroom situation, meaning I ain't sharing my bathroom space. Their presence invigorates me, transforms the house into a home, and we become a family, a circus juggling one another's distinctions and learning to love them. And me, I am the guiding patriarch: warm, gentle, empathetic.

the dark light

And people clapped beautifully. And we all understood, believed the same, even if for a spellbound moment. A glimmer of truth arose and spread its iridescent wings and encompassed us all in the dark auditorium, reminding us of sincere beauty, reclaiming it from the cryptic night - of what can be, what we will consummate. I thank from the bottom of my timeworn soul the Nolan brethren and all whom collaborated for The Dark Knight.

It is not too bold to declare this film, this exemplar of compromise, the most all-encompassing cinematic achievement of our history - so comely a message blazoned for the most embracing medium: the masses. The Dark Knight is "pitched at the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment", as Manohla Dargis (who has become to me the beacon of critical sanctity) annotates. This compromise, this consummation of the theatrical and sincere and of art and commodification encapsulates New Sincerity. Such the potential of Pop that it can enthrall and evoke, amuse and muse.

Furthermore, though tragic, I discover resplendent, purifying symbolism in the death of Heath Ledger, an artist lost before we were able to receive fully his alms. Beyond the exploration of primal moral complexities, The Dark Knight is the reflection, the symptomatic mirror, of an existence yearning to transition from the postmodern nihilism which broodingly afflicts it. The Joker, that projective figure of all damned postmodern indulgence, devices to triumphantly express to us, those seethed in caustic recklessness, that we are better than that, we are sheer potential ready to be noble. And more emphatically, revealing what we are not: chaotic, depraved, manufactured - this impediment something we were contrived and deceived into thinking. But, magnificently and humanly so, never believing.

As Batman himself espouses, and this not verbatim, Gotham needs a hero with a face, not a mask. Heath Ledger as The Joker embodies that last fancy of the antihero, of the masquerading figure which only desires glorification. In his last role, he became a martyr. For us, he died incarnating postmodernity, he died so that we could awaken truth in the symbolic manifest destiny of the film. As in art is in life, Heath's Joker symbolized the receding dark waves of postmodern excess and the coming tides of solace of New Sincerity. It was destined and it is to be willed!

The new artist will no longer be a veil, a face of many revolving mysteries. No, he will simply be - embracing his commodification, but not indulging it, endowing his real namesake, signifying wisdom over tact, purpose over advancement of personal celebrity.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

weezy: dr. carter

Intro (Lil Wayne & Nurse)]
Where's my coffee?
Good Morning Doctor Carter (Hey Sweetie)
Looks like its going to be a long day. (Ahh another one what we got?)
Your first patient (Yeah)
Is suffering from a lack of concept (Uh-Huh)
Originality (Ugh)
His flow is weak (Another one)
And he has no style (Ugh)
Whatcha got for um?

[Verse 1 (Lil Wayne)]
Ok.Let me put my gloves on and my scrubs on.
Dr.Carter to the rescue. Excuse me if I'm late,
But like a thief it takes time to be this great.
Ha! so just wait. Your style is a disgrace,
Your rhymes are fifth place and im just grace.
One, Uno, Ace and im tryin to make your heart beat like bass,
But your sweet like cake and i come to fix
Whatever you shall break. Where is your originality?
You are so fake so picture me like a gallery.
Capture What i say. All i need is one mic. All i need is one take.
Like hey, brighter then the sun ray got a pistols on the playground.
Watch the gunplay like.No kidding. No kids in the way,
But the kids do watch. Gotta Watch what we say. Gotta work everyday.
Gotta not be Cliche.
Gotta stand out like Andre 3K.
Gotta kick it kick it like the sensai.
You gotta have faith you gotta gotta wait wait..

[Verse 2 (Lil Wayne)]
Respect is in the heart.
So thats where i'ma start.
And a lot of heart patients don't make it.
Now hey kids
Plural I graduated
Cause you could get through anything if Magic made it.
And that was called recycling
Or rereciting
Something cause you just like it
So you say it just like it.
Some say its biting
But i say its enlightning
Besides Dr. Kanye West is one of the brightest.

And Dr. Swizz can stitch your track up the tightest.
And Dr. Jeezy can fix your back up the nicest.
Authritist in my hand from writing.
But i'ma docter they don't understand my writing.
So i stop writing.
Now i'm like lighting.
And you ain't Fish Young so don't clash with the Titans.
Fast and exciting.
My Passion is Frighting.
Now let me put some more Vocab in your I.V.
Here take this Vicatin
Like it and love it
And confidence has no budget so pay me no mind i don't walk like i talk it cause i'm running
I don't do it cause i done it and i'm in the emergency punnet.

[Verse 3 (Lil Wayne)]
Swagger Tighter Then A Yeast Infection.
Fly Go Hard Like Geast Erection.
Fashion Patrol Police Detection.
I Stay Tight Like Chinese Connection.
I Stay Tight Like Pussy At Night.
Baby Don't Get Me Wrong I Could Do That Pussy Right.
But I'm Too Wrong To Write.
Too Fresh To Fight.
Too Paid To Freestyle.
Too Paid To Freestyle.
I Had To Say It Twice
Swagger So Nice.
And Don't Ask Me Shit Unless It Concern A Price.
And I Don't Rap Fast I Rap Slow.
Cause I Mean Every Letter In The Words In The Setence Of My Quotes.
Swagger Just Flow Sweeter Then Honey Oats.
That Swagger I Got It I Wear It Like A Coat.
Wait, As I Put The Light Down His Throat.
I Can Only See Flow.
His Blood Starting To Flow.
His Lungs Starting To Grow.
This One Starting To Show.
Strong Signs Of Life.
Wheres The Stiches Heres The Knife.
Smack His Face His Eyes Open.
I Reply With A Nice Welcome Back.
Hip Hop I Saved Your Life.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


First off, man the 80s were full of nightmares. Such depravation, such deconstruction of the dream, such perversion of the romantic must have been daggers. And I can understand how the esteem suffered, how our breath of life was sucked from us during this tragically nihilistic era. But, you know, it was necessary, we effectually hardened. The naivete corrupted soon becomes sage learned.

Principally, I believe it's most opportune to avoid the cynical, culturally-debilitating habit of 'who's better, who's best'. This approach detrimental not only to the artisans in discussion, but to the audiences in reception. Of course, such subjectivity falls prey to fragility, but ambigiously or not, let's restrain such old-school debunking techniques to artist whom are not artist at all: manufactured empty flashers, meaningless aestheticians, and above all, work which does not inspire and evoke change in the human heart.

So, that being said, let's roll. Cronenberg and Lynch. Wait, another precursor before we trailblaze ahead: This may be a hurried observation seeing as I've experienced the entire Cronenberg catalogue, and have only experienced Lynch (during sporadic, sometimes unintelligible moments of my personal maturation where upon true understanding might've been hindered) through Elephant Man, Wild At Heart, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive. But, the following thesis accounts primarily using his seminal work, Blue Velvet, and in an effort for objectivity, I'll try keenly to compare early work with early work.

I prefer Cronenberg to Lynch. Until today, I've never been into Lynch, or the trendy, pretentious aura that surrounds him, not as much him as an artist, but the film-school pseudos that adore him - those that are titillated by attaching themself to any artifact seemingly abstract merely as compensation, to be snarky. This a generalization obviously not intended for all because I have a couple buddies that are up on Lynch whom are not at all this way. In actuality, they're similar to me: kinda perverse, kinda depraved. But, now, since watching Blue Velvet, although my preference hasn't wavered in regards to these auteurs, I now understand the Lynchian appeal.

I find Lynch and Cronenberg counterparts, almost in the same manner I see Almodovar and Cronenberg counterparts (except, Almodovar and Cronenberg are equivalents). On the metasurface, Cronenberg deals in the arena of body politics, the struggle between the flesh and the according evolution and perversion of higher intellect. But, more imperatively, his work, early and present, observe prophetically the perversion of the dream of reality, of a treacherous hyperreality unescaped, unconsummated.

Contrastly, in Lynch, we find emotion, a sprawling, romantic vision corrupted. In the Lynchian world, the reality has become the dream, and the dream has gone astray. His subversion expresses itself in the manufactured sentimentality of his tone, of the brooding satirical kitsch, of emotional paralysis. His brand of satirical kistch taking cinema over 20 years to transition pass. It's quite simple, Cronenberg is the intellect, the thinker. Lynch is the romantic, the feeler, and his childlike dreamery is one battling the perversion of his fantasy. Indeed, the artist is a product of their context, of their cultivation, and thus, Lynch is that of the American heart, of the naive poetry corrupted. Cronenberg is the more traditional European intellect, that naivete perhaps gone long ago. In technique and tone, Cronenberg's aesthetics are cold, voyeuristic, unpoetic. Both are necessary and both are appreciated, but I still prefer Cronenberg in this case, not only because of his elaboration of cause and effect, but bluntly for the reason he's more adept.

Monday, July 7, 2008

interpol: pace is the trick

You can't hold it to tight
These matters of security
You don't have to be wound so tight
Smoking on the balcony
But it's that sleaze in a park
You women you have no self-control,
The angels remark outside
You were known for insatiable means
I don't know a thing

I've seen love, and I followed the speeding of starlight
I've seen love, and I followed the speeding of starswept night

Yeah pace is the trick

And to all the destruction in men
Well I see you as you take your pride
My lioness your defenses seem wise I cannot press
And detentions are demised, my lioness
Can't you hurt it some, think I hurt it

I've seen love, and I followed the speeding of starlight
I've seen love and I followed the speeding of starswept night

And now I select you, slow down I let you
See how I stun, see how I stun
And now I select you, slow down I let you
See how I stun, see how I stun

And to all the destruction in men
And to all the corruption in my hand
And now I select you, slow down I let you
See how I stun see how I stun [3x]
And now I select you, slow down I let you
I always follow the speeding of starswept night

You don't hold... candle. [x4]

Sunday, July 6, 2008

agent zero promotes sustainability

Agent Zero recently accepted a contract extension from the Washington Wizards for $111 milli, the team which he's spent the last 5 years, the place where's he's blossomed into one of franchise faces of the NBA. Initially, the Wiz offered Gilbert $127m. A few other suitors looking to lure him away from DC also offered up max contracts. But, in the end, the man took the the $111m. Why? Gilbert: "What can I do for my family with $127 million that I can't do with $111 million? This is in line with what I've been saying the whole time. You see players take max deals and they financially bind their teams. I don't wanna be one of those players and three years down the road your team is strapped and can't do anything about it."

Skeptics, I know you're hovering. The professional athlete makes too much... Here's what you would say, and as a precursor, I'm not saying I disagree, but here's your rebuttal:
A) Well, shit, when you're making that much money, what's $16 mill to him? Why not $50 mill?

B) The man's just doing this for publicity, for the promotion of his public image, for more ad space.

I say, so what?! His motives, who knows, except Agent Zero himself. But, Gil's not being insincere. Not saying he's being all sacrificial, either. The key is that the man did it, no matter what his motives, whether sincere, partially sincere, or outright phony. He said he'd return once Antawn Jamison was resigned, and carried out his word to the team. Sure, you could debate that he could've taken even more of a discount, but regardless, that $16 milli will help his team pursue a couple more valuable components. This existence of ours, one that has been dragged in the dirt by the predatory insatiability of hypercapitalism, is an existence that needs to find compromise between commercial demands and humanity. That's the bottom-line. And this, what Gilbert did, extraordinary or disingenious, is a step in the right direction, toward sustainability. Really, Gil has made the most business savvy decision of all - one that was forgotten in the get-rich-quick irony of hypercapitalism - investing in the future, building a sustainable presence. That in which you invest in will ultimately reward its benefactor threefold. The longview is simple: he knows that little discount will give management more opportunity to build a better team around him, keep his teammates, his friends, and in effect, from having a stronger unit, win more games, and thus, expand his own celebrity. Duh. Whether it's $16 mill or $5 g's or $1, it's enough. Make steps and soon they'll become strides.

Drop the gospel, Gil: "Your whole city is depending on you, wondering if you're going to make the right decision. I'm a franchise player and sometimes franchise players need to make franchise decisions."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

horror for your soul power

I proclaim this without exagerration: The Signal possesses (semantically deliberate, it POSSESSES) one of the most intensely and triumphantly frightening introductions in horror cinema history. In every cinematic facet, the first 30 minutes, or Transmission 1, are near flawless evocation of carnal horror.

The flick is segmented into 3 sections, or Transmissions, and each is composed and directed with variant and purposeful tone by three singular minds, with extraordinary results. The Signal, thus far, is the nearest to New Sincerity horror, in execution and purpose, I've yet to see. An apocalyptic narrative set in a city aptly named Terminus, The narrative follows a man searching for his love as the existence around him crumbles into primordial violence and irrationability stemming from a seductively-mysterious transmission coming from all forms of airwaves. Transmission 1 may be the hallmark of the 3 transmissions, filmed in a unsettlingly realist style, and works in the broader conceptual theme as Modernity - linear and at-your-door.

Transmission 2, however, derails the momentum that its predecessor builds by escaping into a satirical, sitcomesque tone. Though, in itself a letup, this segment is equally deliberate and vital to the film. It's not only necessary, but a sacrifice on the part of the craftsmen in favor of the greater meaning of their work. I applaud their nobbility even if the results sour the film's entertainment value. The surrealism of Transmission 2 is that of postmodernity - the detachment and satirization of the present danger, one of which we all know very well and one that still lingers in our collective consciousness.

In Transmission 3, the conflict of the film is fully realized: the abstraction of reality by aforementioned transmission, the perversion that has led us to unravel and in the process, lose our self-identity, our soul. This last trasmission an exemplary artifact in examining the artistic tenets of New Sincerity. Throughout, it weaves seamlessly, even deceivingly (but relative to postmodernity, with purposeful aim), between linearity and perceptional disorientation. Compositionally and tonally, it flows with naturalistic style, like the natural world, unsentimentalized, but at the same time, grounded and romantic.

The degrading transmission is not just that of media. No, it is that of meaningless aesthetics and nothingness. These are such perversions of our reality that corrupt our identity and the potential of our current reality. Before the film comes to a close, we are thrown a last deception, one that flashes forward and shows the two main characters successfully escaping from Terminus, alive and lovingly in each other's warm embrace. But we are jolted back into the blunt reality, that this was only a daydream. The woman lies still, numb, comatose, and the man desperately scrambles to save her from the sickeningly-convuluted transmission. The prior would be a cop-out, a submission to the transmission itself. For the ending would be sentimentalized and void of true repercussion, and thus, true redemption. Because in our current juncture, we may be there, but we are not yet. This struggle of ours is still fragilely open-ended. Will we find again our identity, muddled and masked behind all the hollow currents of transmission? Will we find our purpose, the art that is us?

The Signal ends, or rather begins, with the man sliding headphones onto the woman, seated, wrestled and suffocated by the transmission into a state of empty stagnation, and as a cover of Joy Division's "Atmosphere" fills her ears, a tear falls. Feeling, emotion, if even only a glimpse. Through all the barriers of transmission that have cheapend and robbed us of emotion and sincerity, she rediscovers such with the help of meaningful art.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

heaven can wait

"Heaven Can Wait"

As the headline on reads, The Boston Tea Party all smiles hoisting the organization's 17th NBA title trophy. A well-deserved victory.

Before the series began I already understood deep inside my romantic cognition that this year, 2008, was not meant to be. But, believing and willing is all you can do. Even though there lied an innate sense of inevitable loss, you must always maintain hope and support. What would we be without? See, 2008, the number eight, is the year that the genesis of change, turnover, and upheaval take motion. I knew this. This journey to the finals, if we would have won, would have been nothing short of a unlikely fairy tale. And this, the age of humanity, is no such fairy tale. It's more beautiful than that. We rode into the finals with athleticism and potential. We didn't have Bynum. Ariza was still rusty from his early-season injury. These two the defensive forces that were lacking in the finals against the more aggressive, hungrier team, the Celtics.

We often talk about how the Lakers, as the official channel of Los Angeles sports, has the potential to drastically influence the collective esteem of a city detached and superficial. And, during the finals, the crowd was called out, for what else, lack of passion. In that Game 5 win, they responded. In the end, it came down to desire and experience. Jordan, Sasha, Ronny, and the young tyke bench fell short this year, but assuredly, they're quick learners and next year will come sage. We are a fragile cause, a movement barely out of infancy and already thrust into young adulthood, and indicatively, sometimes when we fail, we do so catastrophically, as in last night. We don't hold grudges, but do the ultimate motivator, a chip on our stubborn shoulder.

So, this headline "Heaven Can Wait", means something so much more profound and symbolic than the cliche reference suggests. New Sincerity is the journey toward sincerity, heaven on earth. Scroll down and peep my other blogs for further elaboration. But, surely, it can wait. Not much longer, but it can wait. I'm patient, and in a year, in 2009, we will be ready to consummate change. The number 9 is brilliant, it is conception.