Trayvon Martin…repost

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Her heart is huge

I have had the wonderful experience of working with a local Edmonton musician, Ariane Mahrÿke Lemire. I met Ariane because she was collaborating with my husband, violin player Cam Boyce.  And am I ever so grateful for that collaboration!

Ariane is not what I would consider your typical musician as she lacks the ego that I find in so many.  Instead, what you have  is an extremely honest, warm, caring, hilarious woman who out performs most live acts.  Her work ethic is incredible.  Her laugh contagious.  Her heart is huge.  And what she writes is true.  Here are the images that I took for her most recent album, Wrecked Tangles and Love Knots.  If you are curious as to the sound of her music (which you should be), please visit her website —–> here.  You will also find some more photographs on her site that I have taken, including some live performance shots.  I’m also going to include one of my favorite photos of her here. Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Boyce / 2011


And finally, a beautiful video that Ariane and a friend created, shot and edited in a mere week.

This takes that to a whole new level

There’s something to be said about exploring a city surface with a map.  And there’s even more to be said about getting to know cities a bit further….meaning breaking in.  When I lived in Seattle a long long time ago, I knew some kids that were adventuring into the city beneath the city….read about it here (thanks Jessica Amanda Salmonson)

Because of those stories, I adventured.  I slept in places I should never have slept in New Orleans….I busted into some old warehouses in Milwaukee, an abandoned flat in London (needlessly scaring squatters…sorry folks!), ventured into the steam tunnels at Washington State University, scramblin around and emerging in completely unexpected places…..I even broke into an abandoned shopping mall in Taichung City…but this takes that to a whole new level.  Bravo to these brave folks and their video cameras.  Bravo to scramblin!!

WATCH—> Take Shelter …..

I have a list of films ….. 2011’s best of the best according to the local newspaper….I’m putting their list to the test.

I started with The Tree of Life and could only manage to get half way through….I’ll try again later….with more coffee and renewed interest.  It was beautiful but nothing caught me.

So the next up was Jeff Nichol’s Take Shelter.

This film is worth watching.   Twice.   I plan on watching it again this evening.  I’m telling all of my friends about it.  I didn’t expect to need a tissue, but if you have a couple handy….it’s better than using your sleeve.   Don’t worry, this is no sob story drama but instead, the film provides raw insight into the world of fear….fear of one’s mind and the fear of what’s coming.

Here’s a review by Mike McCahill from Seven Magazine because I’m out of time and why not leave the film review writing to the writers?

The tall, wiry, reliably compelling actor Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) lands a plum role in Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter as Curtis LaForche, an Ohioan construction worker suddenly plagued by apocalyptic visions. A practical man, Curtis’s instinct is not to reach out – his loving wife (Jessica Chastain) remains a helpless onlooker – but to retreat: first into himself, then into an abandoned storm shelter.

Crucially, Curtis is no loon. Even as he obsessively refashions the shelter, we gather he’s still well-adjusted enough to question why he’s been led to these extremes. Latent schizophrenia? Or is it some vague primal duty, as his family’s protector?

Part CGI-enhanced horror pic, part American art-movie, this film displays fascinatingly diverse influences. Nichols, a graduate of the Terrence Malick school, gives stupendous, screen-filling sky, but he also spots those niggling quotidian concerns – reddening budget sheets, layoffs – presently driving many on the ground to derangement. There’s clear metaphorical value in Curtis’s predicament, and the film hardly reassures us in forecasting worse weather to come.

Nichols and Shannon burrow further into the darkness, leading us to wonder how we’re ever going to emerge. That Take Shelter eventually finds an exit without short-changing either its scenario or its audience makes it one of 2011’s great cinematic achievements.

 

 

REBLOG —-> Sundance Online Shorts via shortstack

REBLOG –> shortstack.wordpress.com

 

Managing Cynicism: This Year’s Great Crop of Sundance Online Shorts

25JAN

Maybe I’m a bit cynical. That’s not true. I’m excessively cynical. I could claim it comes naturally once you’ve seen too many movies, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough excuse. And the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s online shorts are a perfectly illustrative example of why any exhausted approach to new movies is a bad idea.

American independent film has arguably hit a point of stylistic ferment. There’s a ton of exciting and innovative new work produced every year, but there’s also a growing list of aggravating indie film trends. Documentaries about cute old people doing something unexpected en masse, raucous banter-heavy family comedies, quirky teenagers that talk like cynical 30-somethings. It’s true that each of these styles initially caught on because of some genuinely excellent films, but that doesn’t make the inferior ones any less irritating. If I were to say “oh, it was just another bad Sundance movie” a lot of people would have a pretty clear stereotypical image, though it might vary based on the individual.

All of that drives the cynicism. You can sense a dreadful movie in its first few minutes; it’s so easy to put it into a box. Yet take heed! Apparently it doesn’t always work that way (I know, duh). Sometimes that instant recognition is right (see Jesus Henry Christ). But often it’s totally wrong. Seven of the nine Sundance online short films had me convinced for a good 1-3 minutes that they were going to be predictable and frustrating. Each one of them proved me wrong.

Click on the images to go watch the shorts!

Una Hora por Favora, by Jill Soloway

I got pretty invested in the apparent genre of this short film rather quickly. The set-up is as follows: a single woman inCalifornia, constantly harassed by her mother, ends up hiring a day laborer to come fix her shower. Lonely and neurotic, it becomes inevitable that she’s going to hit on him. Movies about middle-class white urbanites having a roll in the hay with the help, without any effort to resolve the whole objectification-exoticizing thing, are really irritating. Mercifully, this turns into a satire and by the end has supplied enough ridiculous neurotic behavior that I’m confident it knows what it’s doing. I think.

Henley, by Craig Macneill

Sometimes a short film can be a bit too long. It sounds silly, but it’s actually a lot easier for a short to overstay its welcome than a feature. Shorts need to validate every second. Henley just takes too much time to wind up. Ted is nine years old and has an unsettling hobby, like many of his Sundance-y brethren. He collects dead animals from off the road by his father’s motel. For most of the short he just keeps gathering and experimenting. Director Craig Macneill is very deliberate in slowing down the kid’s process of inspiration. Yet the last half is redemptive, and the final moments of the short show that Macneill really does know what’s up.

Odysseus’ Gambit, by Àlex Lora Cercos

Documentaries about the really entertaining and socially excluded person hanging out in the park (or any other public place) often come from a genuinely selfless place and turn out to be impressively self-indulgent. I worried aboutOdysseus’ Gambit from the beginning, but that was mostly because I really need to get my cynicism checked out by a doctor. Admittedly the intertitles aren’t the best device and the audience could easily build a story without them (they could certainly be in a better font). But once Saravuth gets around to telling his story things lift off. Sometimes a human life gets caught in the mess of a filmmaker desperately trying to tell it. By the end of this short, its subject’s fascinating character absolutely gets through.

’92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card, by Todd Sklar

Bros acting ridiculous can get really tiring, whether or not they are actually brothers. Adults acting like adolescents, especially in some recent “homecoming of age” movies (™ Christopher Campbell), behave badly and only learn once the plot forces them into obligatory heartwarming Act III. Todd Sklar miraculously doesn’t let that happen, despite some early warning signs: comically large diner orders, inexplicable childish costume choices and other irritating antics. Yet the relationship between these brothers feels genuine by the end, and somehow you end up liking both of them. It does feel top heavy in structure but there’s enough humor to keep you going for the very empathetically written last few minutes.

The Arm, by Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos and Jessie Ennis

Children talking like adults, if those adults were disaffected 30-somethings, are arguably Diablo Cody’s fault (and I’m not even one of the bitter Juno haters.) Texting jokes can easily go the route of terrible New Yorker cartoons. When you put the two together, failure is practically guaranteed. Jessie Ennis, Sarah Ramos and Brie Larson (who may have picked up the teenager-speak thing on the set ofThe United States of Tara) pull this off with flying colors. Two teens have a relationship that consists entirely of text messages. One of them dies, while texting. What’s the emotional impact? Is there an emotional impact? Whimsically metaphorical instead of moralizing and oblivious, The Arm asks some questions without presuming to know all the answers. That’s why it keeps both funny and intriguing throughout.

Aquadettes, by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari

Old women synchronized swimming is not, at core, enough for a movie. Not even a ten minute movie. Thankfully, these two filmmakers are much less concerned with making us awwww for the duration of their project à la Young@Heart than they are with telling a single story. Margo is getting older, and uses the swimming pool and medical marijuana as a way to cope. We learn about her life from a simple one-to-one perspective, seeing her truth instead of (only) how cute she is. It’s refreshing and delightful.

Dol (First Birthday), by Andrew Ahn

I have seen this film too many times: A single cultural event brings a family together, but the gay protagonist is left isolated either internally or explicitly and it becomes an opportunity for conflict, growth and a heart-warming conclusion. Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet is excellent. Many other films are not. The one biggest weakness they have is their inability to let loose the reins and give the audience an opportunity to gather up emotions independently. Writer/director Andrew Ahn gives us a little space. There’s no open conflict but there’s also no painfully obvious guilt. There is only the basic element of longing, a wish for the real traditional values of family that might not be open to some because of the so-called “traditional values” that stand in the way. With an unexpected closing shot that oddly enough recalls last year’s Sundance hit Like Crazy¸ Dol shows us the ambiguity of a gay Korean American’s life without needing a thematic cudgel.

Where’s my harmonica??

Last night we had some people over for a movie.  Luckily, we have been given a projector on loan while a family member is away, and so we are putting it to it’s full and good use.  Hoping to run this event on a weekly/biweekly schedule, we’ve come up with the idea to create a list of must see movies.  So that everyone gets a shot at being the film curator of the evening, we’re drawing names or titles thrown into a hat.  And we have plenty of hats around for this purpose.

Last night we watched the classic western Once Upon a Time in the West.  Directed by Sergio Leone it features Henry Fonda as “the villain”, Charles Bronson (sans his notorious moustache) as the arch nemesis, Jason Robards as a surly bandit and Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed  prostitute who will never escape her past as easily as she escapes her wardrobe.   The cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli is no doubt some of the first of its kind, an exemple of what modern film makers still mimic today.  The film score by Ennio Morricone was incredible.    Morricone’s genius is in his use of  the shrill screams of trains, the repetitive squeaking of a lone windmill, the tense buzz of cicadas and startled flocks of sage grouse as part of the score.   And his abilities are also exemplified by his unforgettable harmonica melody that haunts the film from beginning to end (and at times, I must admit, bordering on hilarity).   A great film, definitely deserving of it’s classic status.  I have yet to see Quentin Tarantino’s remake of the film…..I’m not sure if I will even bother.

The opening scene:  —-> here


It is my firm belief, and I say this as a dictum, that all these tools now at our disposal, these things part of of this explosive evolution of means of communication, mean we are now heading for an era of solitude. Along with this rapid growth of forms of communication at our disposal – be it fax, phone, email, Internet or whatever – human solitude will increase in direct proportion. -Werner Herzog

 –>repost from hilitehead (thank you)

Hands down, Werner Herzog has to be one of my favorite directors out there today. Known for his versatility, creativity, incessant curiosity, and willingness to take risks, Herzog has created a formidable body of work with films that prove as epic and probing in documentary form as they do in the monumental fictions for which he’s most known. His films focus on a variety of subjects: the strange language of cattle auctioneers, a ski jumper who starts jumping too far to stay safe, an island abandoned in the face of imminent destruction by volcano (abandoned, of course, except for a handful of stragglers and Herzog himself). His method involves a certain amount of shaping and arranging behind the camera, but Herzog’s stories tend to rise above questions of their provenance,  encompassing an array of trademarks I find most appealing – long extended landscape shots paired with grand scores of silence and violin music, themes centered around the natural world, and driven protagonists on the brink of madness who often find themself against the greater forces of nature.

His films always have a particular way of finding beauty and poetry among the most darkest of subject matters. He’s an interesting figure with an intriguing view on nature. Plus, he deserves all kudos for doing the impossible… dragging a steamship on top of a mountain, throwing himself into a bed of cactus, eating his own shoe, having made films on the seven continents, getting shot during an interview and insisting on finishing, and once threatening to shoot Klaus Kinski – his leading actor.

Filmmaker. Eccentric. Superhero. Here are some of my favorite quotes from Herzog that I compiled during my brief stint in time, I hope you will find some humor and truth in them as much as I did:

– Perhaps I seek certain Utopian things, space for human honour and respect, landscapes not yet offended, planets that do not exist yet, dreamed landscapes. Very few people seek these images today.

– .. So, you have to be daring to do things like this, because the world is not easily accepting of film making. There will always be some sort of an obstacle, and the worst of all obstacles is the spirit of bureaucracy. You have to find your way to battle bureaucracy. You have to outsmart it, to out gut it, to outnumber it, to outfilm them — that’s what you have to do.

– I love nature but against my better judgment.

– If I had to climb into hell and wrestle the devil himself for one of my films, I would do it.

– Film should be looked at straight on, it is not the art of scholars but of illiterates.

– Through invention, through imagination, through fabrication, I become more truthful than the little bureaucrats.

– At my utopian film academy I would have students do athletic things with real physical contact, like boxing, something that would teach them to be unafraid. I would have a loft with a lot of space where in one corner there would be a boxing ring. Students would train every evening from eight to ten with a boxing instructor: sparring, somersaulting (backwards and forwards), juggling, magic card tricks. Whether or not you would be filmmaker by the end I do not know, but at least you would come out as an athlete.

– I despise formal restaurants. I find all of that formality to be very base and vile. I would much rather eat potato chips on the sidewalk.

– I have the impression that the images that surround us today are worn out, they are abused and useless and exhausted. They are limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution. When I look at the postcards in tourist shops and the images and advertisements that surround us in magazines, or I turn on the television, or if I walk into a travel agency and see those huge posters with that same tedious and rickety image of the Grand Canyon on them, I truly feel there is something dangerous emerging here. The biggest danger, in my opinion, is television because to a certain degree it ruins our vision and makes us very sad and lonesome. Our grandchildren will blame us for not having tossing hand-grenades into TV stations because of commercials. Television kills our imagination and what we end up with are worn out images because of the inability of too many people to seek out fresh ones.

– Actually, for some time now I have given some thought to opening a film school. But if I did start one up you would only be allowed to fill out an application form after you have walked alone on foot, let’s say from Madrid to Kiev, a distance of about five thousand kilometres. While walking, write. Write about your experiences and give me your notebooks. I would be able to tell who had really walked the distance and who had not. While you are walking you would learn much more about film making and what it truly involves than you ever would sitting in a classroom. During your voyage you will learn more about what your future holds than in five years at film school. Your experiences would be the very opposite of academic knowledge, for academia is the death of cinema. It is the very opposite of passion.

– Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.

– Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from abstract academic thinking; it comes from your knees and thighs.

– Film is not analysis, it is the agitation of mind; cinema comes from the country fair and the circus, not from art and academicism.

– Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good Kung Fu film.

– Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of cowards who do not trust in their own imagination and who are slaves of a matrix… If you get used to planning your shots based solely on aesthetics, you are never that far from kitsch.

– I invite any sort of myths [about myself] because I like the stooges and doppelgangers and doubles out there. I feel protected behind all these things. Let them blossom! I do not plant them, I do not throw out the seeds. I advise you to read Herzog on Herzog because there you see a few clarifications.

– It is my firm belief, and I say this as a dictum, that all these tools now at our disposal, these things part of of this explosive evolution of means of communication, mean we are now heading for an era of solitude. Along with this rapid growth of forms of communication at our disposal – be it fax, phone, email, Internet or whatever – human solitude will increase in direct proportion.

– To me, adventure is a concept that applies only to those men and women of earlier historical times, like the medieval knights who traveled into the unknown. The concept has degenerated constantly since then… I absolutely loathe adventurers, and I particularly hate this old pseudo-adventurism where the mountain climb becomes about confronting the extremes of humanity.

– If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe.

– Your film is like your children. You might want a child with certain qualities, but you are never going to get the exact specification right. The film has a privilege to live its own life and develop its own character. To suppress this is dangerous. It is an approach that works the other way too: sometimes the footage has amazing qualities that you did not expect.

– It is not only my dreams, my belief is that all these dreams are your’s as well. The only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate them. And that is what poetry or painting or literature or film making is all about… it’s as simple as that. I make films because I have not learned anything else and I know I can do it to a certain degree. And it is my duty because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are. We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field.

– I’m not out to win prizes – that’s for dogs and horses.

– I have always postulated that we have to find a new way to deal with reality. It’s not so much facts that interest me, but a deeper truth in them—an ecstasy of truth, an ecstatic truth that illuminates us. That’s what I’ve been after. And in order to find it, you have to be imaginative. You have to invent. You have to stylize. There’s absolutely no danger in that. The danger is to stupidly believe that depicting facts gives us much insight. If facts were the only thing that counted, the telephone directory would be the book of books.