Category Archives: movies

primer

primer
what if it actually worked?

i’m not sure. one thing i can say, though, is that primer is a gem of a movie, albeit one refined on planet claire. it’s an amazing piece of filmmaking, both because it was made for about $7000 and because it is so simultaneously involving and baffling. it also won a boatload of awards and acclaim for the mathematician–turned–filmmaker who created it.
i don’t know that i understood it in its entirety. i don’t even know if i understood it in its partiality. i’ll need to watch it a few more times before i can make more intelligible comments. however, i definitely enjoyed it, maybe precisely because i didn’t understand it.

this is the kind of film that inspires the geek in me to sit down and start drawing diagrams involving timelines and decision trees. not only did it tweak my noodle, it was beautiful to watch. i don’t know how shane carruth did it. well, in an interview i read, it seems he did it by shooting on Super–16, transferring to DV, editing on his PC, and not paying any of the cast (yet).

anything more i could say at this moment would constitute a spoiler, and not one that goes far beyond plot synopsis. after i watch it again, i’ll write more. in the meantime, if you feel like an in–depth analysis, check out my buddy chooky’s review.

winged migration

winged migration
if there is a modern antithesis to alfred hitchcock’s the birds, it is winged migration, the french documentary about (you guessed it) migratory birds.

after languishing in a netflix envelope for a few weeks (months?), elaine and i finally got around to watching it. we had heard so many good things, and as avid baraka fans, we were both looking forward to a nature film.

so did it live up to our expectations?

Continue reading

the conversation

the conversation
i just watched ‘The Conversation,’ an intriguing movie that explores issues surrounding personal privacy, responsibility, and social isolation. it’s funny, but it was produced in the 70s, yet all of these themes have resonance today.

why do we value privacy? it seems like an obvious question, but after watching this film, and thinking about it a bit, the answer is anything but obvious to me. do we want privacy to conceal things that we consider embarrassing? or perhaps to conceal crimes, however minor? what about retaining a sense of individuality within mass culture, having a sense that there are certain things that belong to us as individuals, and no one else? the last seems the most promising alternative, although the others could come into play, given the right circumstances.
privacy. individuality. socially imposed morality. anonymity. somehow these issues seem tied together in a gordian knot.

it reminds me of a book that a friend loaned to me (last year, i think): ‘how to be invisible’ (in the societal and economical, not physical, senses). a hundred years ago, being invisible would have been easy: leave town, don’t tell anyone, and try to lay low. now our fingerprints are everywhere. the digital age has given us many freedoms, a world of information at our fingertips. it has also made us visible…credit card traces, information stored in unknown databases, a wealth of statistics available to many bidders. and what about all those vidcaps of you standing at the teller machine or walking through the airport or doing XYZ? sureveillance is everywhere (i’m not being paranoid – just look for the cameras, and you’ll see more than you might like…).

is this bad or good? in the liberal information age, freedom of information is often considered good. information wants to be free. but what about freedom of your information? there is a curious double standard we set up here regarding information that is considered relevant to the public (and therefore consumable), and information that is private, sacrosanct, visible only to us and those we consider trustworthy.

i dunno. maybe having a PO box wouldn’t hurt after all…

waking life

waking life
i think i just experienced a buffer overflow in my brain.

‘waking life,’ by Richard Linklater, was my entertainment for the evening, and unfortunately it has reduced me to incoherence. as the dvd spun, the images and thoughts and ideas kept cramming themselves into my head, like laundry into a hamper, and now i’m full.

people in Linklater films always seem so witty and energized and filled with curiosity and wonder. even the insane spew venom in an articulate way. their narratives and fantastic philosophies seem to unfold in real time like some renaissance tapestry, thrown off the loom as fast as a cheap t-shirt. no stuttering or hemming or hawing – not even an ‘um’ to break the existentialist train of thought. people are insightful or crazy or hysterical, all at the speed of sound. it’s not always perfect, and occasionally borders on mental masturbation, but it’s still a fun ride.

but it’s all just a simulacrum (a dream, maybe?)…in the real deal, we don’t really get to rehearse. it all just happens.

just think how different life would be if we could say, “Cut! ok…i didn’t sound really coherent there. let me try again, and this time i’m gonna do it like some crazy french philosopher who’s had one too many espressos. ok…ready…Rrrrroll it!”