My scattered thoughts on a dustbin of films that I’ve watched recently.
The road is in the haze of mist
Fine dust to drink hard
It doesn’t rain
My bare soles
I burn it white every day
So that all the missing muscles burn
Sweep and push and wipe
I grab it again
Now my hard palm
When cold soju spills into the glass
Moist under the nails
Rain clouds on dry sky
Get a little push
When this bitter soju spills on the glass
Moist under the nails
Red on my right cheek
This is a clumsy, weirdly poetic english translation of the credits track – capitalism as soju (opium) of the people: a pleasure you pay for and a reflection of unrestrainable abuses rooted in economics. A perfect summation of a film about society only being as strong as its working (and most exploited) class.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
I’m so glad that I finally got around to watching this when I did. A parable of sickness and the four humors (blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm) in a hellish nexus with the early days of modern capitalism.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
It’s been nearly two years since I first watched this. When watching it through this time, I was unconsciously reminded of my old therapist telling me that I sounded like a character in a book, Werther.
The Sorrows of Young Werther // Call Me by Your Name
“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it. […] No one is willing to believe that adults too, like children, wander about this earth in a daze and, like children, do not know where they come from or where they are going, act as rarely as they do according to genuine motives, and are as thoroughly governed as they are by biscuits and cake and the rod. […] I have so much in me, and the feeling for [him] absorbs it all; I have so much, and without [him] it all comes to nothing. […] Sometimes I don’t understand how another can love [him], is allowed to love [him], since I love [him] so completely myself, so intensely, so fully, grasp nothing, know nothing, have nothing but [him]! […] It’s true that nothing in this world makes us so necessary to others as the affection we have for them. […] We often feel that we lack something, and seem to see that very quality in someone else, promptly attributing all our own qualities to him too, and a kind of ideal contentment as well. And so the happy mortal is a model of complete perfection–which we have ourselves created. […] I am proud of my heart alone, it is the sole source of everything, all our strength, happiness and misery. All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.”
Coincidentally, she would have said this to me around the first time that I saw CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. I never looked him up prior to writing this. I think I just vaguely remembered the content of the session in rewatching the film, how it feels to be unsure of yourself, figuring out how you can possibly let somebody know that they’ve captured your heart.
Needless to say I liked the film more this time. Getting weird Section 28 vibes from the people who are still claiming this movie is about pedophilia when a young adult consistently checking for consent, an infatuated teen (who is of age, and just seven years younger) and his two parents are the people involved in the relationship. Guess we have to reconcile with the fact that there’s an entire generation of kids now with a totally infantile, pinkwashed approximation of queer identities.
Ok so the scene with Phoenix on the staircase is not only annoying because it’s uninteresting yet being praised as one of the greatest of its kind but also because the editing is terrible.
The transition from music to score is grating and doesn’t work (I guess I know why this decision is there but it doesn’t work. No. Stop it. It doesn’t work) but even worse is the moment-to-moment cuts. Scenes like this desperately need to hold a shot or it becomes ‘madness…… but choreographed’, which communicates to me that the Joker isn’t the sadist, or left-behind or sociopath that you want him to be – he’s just some kind of corny performance artist. It’s less the scope of total anarchy and more trivial performative shit like “I want to be able to drive around with an AK47 in my passenger seat without being pulled over” libertarianism.
This isn’t a minor problem that I had with Joker either because it’s emblematic of the issues I have with the whole thing. Those same piss-stained hands responsible for that scene are all over the rest of the film too. This is not a ‘dangerous film that you’d miss at your peril’ or whatever media outlets want to frame this as. It’s not good because Todd Phillips is not a good filmmaker.
The Beach Bum (2019)
Delightful. An anthropologist’s dream case study with clear enquiry into ritual, economy and attitudes to life & death. A Beach Bum is proof a film can use an auto-ethnographical style without an emphasis on narrative and still be perfect. “I believe the earth is conspiring to make me happy” is a great line, though totally antithetical to the world I know.
Every frame is like a Hiroshi Nagai painting.
The Handmaiden (2016)
This film is almost singular. The difference between it and most others is like the difference between a 240p and 1080p render; you see everything with more clarity and get a little dopamine hit scene-to-scene from just relishing the comparative quality. You’re suddenly inexorably drawn to smaller details and colours, visuals, sound are all far superior here, you engage with what’s going on in more meaningful ways.
Posing as an apathetic, misanthropic outsider lacking in any empathy is perhaps the easiest thing in the world that one can do. And generally being a creep, whose whole thing is just to call everyone and everything bullshit, doesn’t tend to manifest good art for me.
But the filmmakers, its participants and others would revere Crumb as some kind of genius, a Goya of his day. The middle classes are a bunch of idiots though. They lap it up if you draw a homeless person fucking their dog or whatever. Even his critics would rather talk about the merits (or not) of his offensive depictions of women and black people, rather than questioning why underground comics were pretty much exclusively the domain of white men with the cultural capital to be influencing the discussions they were having.
I want to give my thanks to everyone for everything,
and as a token of my appreciation,
I want to offer back to you all my good and bad habits
as magnificent priceless jewels,
wish-fulfilling gems satisfying everything you need and want,
thank you, thank you, thank you,
May every drug I ever took
come back and get you high,
may every glass of vodka and wine I’ve drunk
come back and make you feel really good,
numbing your nerve ends
allowing the natural clarity of your mind to flow free,
may all the suicides be songs of aspiration,
thanks that bad news is always true,
may all the chocolate I ever eaten
come back rushing through your bloodstream
and make you feel happy,
thanks for allowing me to be a poet
a noble effort, doomed, but the only choice.
I want to thank you for your kindness and praise,
thanks for celebrating me,
thanks for the resounding applause,
I want to thank you for taking everything for yourself
and giving nothing back,
you were always only self-serving,
thanks for exploiting my big ego
and making me a star for your own benefit,
thanks that you never paid me,
thanks for all the sleaze,
thanks for being mean and rude
and smiling at my face,
I am happy that you robbed me,
I am happy that you lied
I am happy that you helped me,
thanks, grazie, merci beaucoup.
May you smoke a joint with William,
and spend intimate time with his mind,
more profound than any book he wrote,
I give enormous thanks to all my lovers,
beautiful men with brilliant minds,
Bob, Jasper, Ugo,
may they come here now
and make love to you,
and may my many other lovers
of totally great sex,
of boundless fabulous sex
countless lovers of boundless fabulous sex
countless lovers of boundless
in the golden age
may they all come here now,
and make love to you,
if you want,
may each of them
hold each of you in their arms
to your hearts
balling to your hearts
your hearts delight
balling to your hearts delight.
May all the people who are dead
Allen, Brion, Lita, Jack,
and I do not miss any of you
I don’t miss any of them,
it was wonderful we loved each other
but I don’t want any of them back,
now, if any of you
are attracted to any of them,
may they come back from the dead,
and do whatever is your pleasure,
may they multiply,
and be the slaves
of whomever wants them,
fulfilling your every wish and desire,
(but you won’t want them as masters,
as they’re demons),
may Andy come here
fall in love with you
and make each of you a superstar,
everyone can have
everyone can have Andy,
everyone can have an Andy.
Huge hugs to the friends who betrayed me,
every friend became an enemy,
sooner or later,
I am delighted you are vacuum cleaners
sucking everything into your dirt bags,
you are none other than a reflection of my mind.
Thanks for the depression problem
and feeling like suicide
everyday of my life,
and now that I’m seventy,
I am happily almost there.
Twenty billion years ago,
in the primordial wisdom soup
beyond comprehension and indescribable,
something without substance moved slightly,
and became something imperceptible,
moved again and became something invisible,
moved again and produced a particle and particles,
moved again and became a quark,
again and became quarks,
moved again and again and became protons and neutrons,
and the twelve dimensions of space,
tiny fire balls of primordial energy
bits tossed back and forth
in a game of catch between particles,
transmitting electromagnetic light
and going fast, 40 million times a second,
where the pebble hits the water,
that is where the trouble began,
something without substance became something with substance,
why did it happen?
because something substance less
had a feeling of missing out on something,
was not getting it
not getting it,
not getting it,
imperceptibly not having something
when there was nothing to have,
clinging to a notion of reality;
from the primordially endless potential,
to modern day reality,
twenty billion years later,
has produced me,
gave birth to me and my stupid grasping mind,
made me and you and my grasping mind.
May Rinpoche and all the great Tibetan teachers who loved me,
come back and love you more,
hold you in their wisdom hearts,
bathe you in all-pervasive compassion,
give you pith instructions,
and may you with the diligence of Olympic athletes
do meditation practice,
and may you with direct confidence
realize the true nature of mind.
[Britain], thanks for the neglect,
I did it without you,
let us celebrate poetic justice,
you and I never were,
never tried to do anything,
and never succeeded,
I want to thank you for introducing me to
the face of the naked mind,