veemignon: (Default)
Exceedingly popular, Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up was adored by the public for perhaps all the wrong reasons. It's still upheld as a controversial film and the most memorable scenes involve David Hemmings straddling supermodel Veruschka for a shoot and a menage-a-tois between Hemmings, Jane Birkin, and Gillian Hills. Watching it in hindsight can provide quite a few kicks, considering there is a very young Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in the Yardbirds' line-up and one can spot a poster stating the death of Bob Dylan, at a time when he switched from acoustic to electric.

It's easy to be swayed by the extravagant coating of Blow-Up. It's reminiscent of Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? in that often, the visual images are remembered more than the underlying themes of the film. But it's very easy to be distracted by the painted face of Peggy Moffitt, dressed in full peacock attire. At some point, one has to realize that these depictions of life, these glamorized depictions, are false images. They are an imitation of life.

I am in Paris. )
veemignon: (magictoyshop)

Many a director has pondered what happens to the female identity when a male-dominated society is in place. Watching Kenji Mizoguchi's The Life of Oharu reminded me of various other films I had watched that delve into this territory: Pandora's Box, Camille Claudel, Raise the Red Lanterns, and Ingmar Bergman's Persona. Both Bergman and Mizoguchi were considered feminist directors, perhaps because they focused on the state of a woman's identity when ruled by men who appear to have no power.

The difference is that Mizoguchi focuses on the external consequences while Bergman works with internal. The Life of Oharu is about a woman repeatedly exiled from society due to society disregarding that she has the notion of choice. Persona is about the fragmented female identity, split in two due to warring aspects. Mizoguchi reveals that this golden Edo period is only an illusion and not truly an honor-bound society. Bergman reveals that anyone, regardless of gender, views their life as a film and constructs illusions to suit that.

You do not do, you do not do )
veemignon: (pollymaggoo)
"Yet I am aware how susceptible to illusion we all are. How disturbing it is that our illusions are often our most important beliefs." - Hanif Kureishi

Andrei Tarkovsky's film Solaris is a three hour meditation on the nature of our perceptions and how they keep us from communicating with foreign entities. It is a highly emotional piece, about an Orpheus who can't keep from looking back at his grief until he is trapped in it entirely. Visually mesmerizing, Tarkovsky references Rembrandt and other painters to imply that cinema is worthy of brilliance as those artists were.

It's a film about our plight as human beings, condemned to freedom and our perceptions, condemned to reflection and trapping ourselves in a moment we thought we had passed. Solaris left a mark on me, that image of seaweed undulating in the river. And when I sleep at night, at times my dreams bring that image back to me. It's a brilliant film, worthy of analysis.

We don't need other worlds. We need mirrors. )
veemignon: (magictoyshop2)

"A revolt against nature: a woman genius." - Octave Mirbeau

Nothing that's monstrous is foreign to me. )
veemignon: (julietspirits)
I wrote the prologue in a salon.

Waiting to have my hair cut, I was visited by a vision of violence. I remember thinking I was a horrible person. Who waits in a salon while writing about these sort of things? Why couldn't I just pick up a gossip magazine and immerse myself in the lives of others? I dug through my bag, searching out my school notebook, and began writing immediately. Women gossiping with their hair in foil, the scent of nail polish, and all I could think of was how to describe blood. When my name was called, I barely heard it, hovering over my head like dissipating smoke.

As she cut my hair, she tried engaging me in conversation. I had been lost to another realm. Another me. This other me had succeeded once again in stealing me away. Later, as I looked over what I had written, I was horrified. Is this what Veronica writes? It would take me a full two years to accept that other me. Our wavering relationship; at a younger age, I readily accepted that part of me. But as I grew older, as a feeling of authority washed over me, I had turned my back on it, allowing it to run rampant. That other me, skirting past my eyes when I wasn't looking. We had to make an agreement, this me and I. I had to learn, like Harry Haller, that the other Veronicas were all Veronica.

The other night, I found a collection of older writing. Papers I hadn't thrown away, pieces written for creative writing classes, and even reports from the fifth grade. A time capsule of my mind, opinions I didn't agree with, superfluous writing that had been necessary upon reflection. I went through it all very slowly.

Words of encouragement )
veemignon: (galaxy)
I once read a review that likened Wes Anderson's sets to dollhouses. This is perhaps the most apt statement I have read about his work. Every little detail is important and it has made me extra vigilant in catching the small details. There is importance in everything in Moonrise Kingdom, down to the binoculars that Suzy constantly gazes through.

This is the kind of film that makes the analyzer in me very excited. While Anderson has disappointed me from time to time, it isn't the horribly depressed disappointment that leads to anger. And while I haven't loved everything he's released, his films are always interesting. I didn't love The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, but it's an interesting film. Films like The Royal Tennenbaums and Rushmore make me continually return to Anderson. And now I can say that films like Moonrise Kingdom make me return to his work.

I love you, but you don't know what you're talking about. )
veemignon: (alicewonderland)
The word "perception" came from Latin, originally meaning, "receiving, collection." A collection of senses make up our memories. Sight is usually the strongest, but smell and hearing and sometimes even tactile experiences are lodged in our memories. They play out when one is walking down a street, passing a hot-dog vendor while a childhood memory about grilling flits by one's mind. Or one sees the waves rolling in at the beach and an image is sparked in the mind, that of running across the beach with parents. But these memories are perceived solely through our senses. Filtered through our visions.

Perhaps you never went to the beach with your parents as a small child, but somehow, that image is lodged into your head. Who's to say that you're telling a lie? If what you perceive is the truth, than everything you've ever lived is a lie, because no one else can perceive the truth as you have.

This is what Umberto Eco's Baudolino focuses on. Baudolino is seen as a liar. He was adopted by an emperor, trained in Paris, and created a city simply with words. Niketas doesn't believe him. What Niketas writes down is perceived as history. But history isn't through one pair of eyes, it's through a collection of memories. And I think, by becoming the storyteller that he is, Baudolino has become a collection of people rather than himself. His body houses history; whether it's true or not is up to the reader.

. . . I always felt like a prisoner of something that surpassed the powers of my imagination. )
veemignon: (ghostworld)
As a student who majored in English, it's a good idea to make best friends with any number of online etymology sites (my favorite's here). In one class, I was required to find a word I liked in Paradise Lost, research the history of the word, and then write an essay on why Milton would have used that word, considering the context as well. This breeds great habits in readers (and possibly writers, I hope). When I was reading The Brothers Karamazov, I noticed that Dostoevsky used the word "despair" constantly. After 700 pages, I realized that there were many words Dostoevsky focused on. Susan Howe gave me "categories," considering that she is a collector of words. And while reading The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, I noticed a particular emphasis on the word "definition." This makes things especially eerie when the word the writer has chosen to focus on is pertinent to their history.

Virginia Woolf was a writer I had every intention to dislike. There was something about her prose that rubbed me in the wrong way when I first read Mrs. Dalloway at the tender age of twenty. I picked it up again at twenty-five, hoping to have my mind blown by all the content I had missed. My mind was not blown, but I was writing furiously, jotting down notes in the margins, looking up the etymological history of words; this is a sign of adoration on my part. I was surprised to find that I loved this book and that it spoke to me in perhaps one of the worst parts of the year. The word that Virginia Woolf focuses on is "plunge."

. . . passing invisibly, inaudibly, like a cloud, swift, veil-like upon hills, falling indeed with something of a cloud's sudden sobriety and stillness upon faces which a second before had been utterly disorderly. )
veemignon: (Default)
Upon first waltzing into the theater with expectations of an adorable film to soothe my unexplainable crush on Zooey Deschanel, I realized that I had just seen a film that was not a love story. And yet, everyone I came across insisted that (500) Days of Summer was, in fact, a love story. These few people told me that the reason why the movie sucked was because it was a love story and it told the viewer that people were compatible solely on music taste. Why would they think that the movie was a love story when in the first ten minutes, it informs you that it isn't a love story?

If I were to say that this film was really about absurdism and the difference between order and chaos in a city, you would probably think that I am bullshitting you. But I am an English major and that is what I do. That's what a professor told me I had to say to everyone from now on. I bullshit. And here I am, bullshitting you, telling you that a film that isn't a love story is actually a film about a man and his encounter with an agent of chaos. Set to the tune of The Smiths and Hall & Oates!

We don't have to put a label on it. )


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February 2013

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