Monday, February 20, 2017

plato's cave eight (being a film journal) aussie double feature

 - ted kotcheff - wake in fright - 1971
brian west - director of photography

“i wanted to recreate what i felt and saw – the heat, the sweat, the dust, the flies,” says kotcheff. “i said to the set designer and the costume designer, ‘i don’t want to see any cool colours. i don’t want to see blue or green. ever. on anything. all i want is red, yellow, orange, burgundy and brown. all the hot colours. on costumes, sets, everything.’ i wanted people to watch the film and be unconsciously sweating.”

 - david michôd - animal kingdom - 2010
adam arkapaw - director of photography

"you had your hand on your cock. your hands go anywhere near your arse or your cock, you wash 'em after."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

plato's cave seven (being a film journal)

sidney j. furie - the entity - 1982

recent films over the last couple of weeks

tom mccarthy - spotlight - 2015
fourth time watching this film. obviously really like it. one of those films that is made in a way that holds up to many viewings. mccarthy is great in the wire - the breeding ground for so many mf actors you see in contemporary film and television (omar....). the cast certainly has a feeling for actorshippe.

martin scorsese - shutter island - 2010
mentioned earlier on this blog for being a great primer on 20th century classical music. i have yet to see the silence. appears to be another great film from mr scorsese. haven't like much else since goodfellas from 1990. going to film school in the 90s, i remember hearing the grad students constantly obsessing over scorsese's work. i always liked hearing that talk.

shane black - the nice guys - 2016
this really wasn't a great film but it was entertaining. the daughter played by angourie rice stood out.

nicolas winding refn - the neon demon - 2016
jesus this was possibly one of the worst films i have seen in a while. i really like drive and vahalla rising, but this was utter fashionista nonsense. moments of superficiality in his other films (like the music in drive which is the soundtrack to every melon farmer bar in los angeles) is greatly exaggerated in this work.

alan j. pakula - all the president's men - 1976.
one of the first films i saw after moving to new york was pakula's klute in 35mm. had seen a few times and really loved it. hand not seen all the president's men a few for a long while.... great film! really appropriate with what is happening in the world right now.

jean-marc vallée - demolition - 2015
not without interest this film. just watched the once but had moments in it. chris cooper is always someone to watch and he was a great cinematic shitbird here.

david o russell - joy - 2015
i think mr. o russell is a director worth watching, and miss lawrence fine at actorshippe, but this film did not really do anything for me nor his other recent films. but quite possibly it is worth watching.

sidney j. furie - the entity - 1982
watched this for the second time. it is one of those films that despite the imperfections is really stunning. hard to put a finger on it. i have been wanting to gather a list of early 80s films that are in-between the wonderful chaos of the 70s and the brutally boring of the 80s. 1980, 1981, 1982 and maybe 1983 seem to have this oddness that is present and makes the viewing of these films extremely uncomfortable. another film that really works in this ways is jerzy skolimowski's moonlighting film from 1982. there is a slight return to films like this now i believe, with films like 2014's nightcrawler. more on this at a later point. my desire to track down horror films devoid of kitsch and gore brought me to this odd film. more on that later as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

plato's cave six (being a film journal)

clint eastwood - million dollar baby - 2004

have probably seen this film 10-15 times. grows on me more and more each time. possibly a bit overemotional or heavy of ending, that doesn't bother me. one thing - it has such a spare and unique view of the city of angels, it is hard to bring another view of los angeles like this to mind.

the photography by tom stern, who shot many of eastwood's recent classics including mystic river and gran torino, is restricted to a minimal pallet that confuses the viewer in terms of when the film takes place. the trainer's interest in yeats (see below) and gaelic (see above) reflects very nicely with the mood of the film. yet more than anything, the trio of actors; eastwood swank and freeman, encourages multiple viewings. especially mr. freeman. he is outstanding in every film i have seen him in. it gives one goosebumps.

          the lake isle of innisfree

i will arise and go now, and go to innisfree,
and a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
nine bean-rows will i have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

and i shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
there midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
and evening full of the linnet’s wings.

i will arise and go now, for always night and day
i hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
while i stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
i hear it in the deep heart’s core.

          w. b. yeats

          morgan freeman

- the pawnbroker (man on the street) - 1964,  sidney lumet
- brubaker - 1980, stuart rosenberg
- driving miss daisy - 1989, bruce beresford
- unforgiven - 1992, clint eastwood
- the shawshank redemption - 1994, frank darabont
- se7en - 1995, david fincher
- million dollar baby - 2004, clint eastwood
- batman begins - 2005, christopher nolan
- war of the worlds - 2005, steven spielberg
- gone baby gone - 2007, ben affleck
- the dark knight - 2008, christopher nolan
- the dark knight rises - 2012,  christopher nolan

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

plato's cave five (being a film journal)

the brothers coen - blood simple - 1984

m emmet walsh gets a knife in his hand. really a fucked up moment in this film, i felt the most brothers coenesque moment in the film debut. walsh is really one sob in this, brings the film to a top notch level. 

the brothers coen - the big lebowski - 1998

all the art nonsense in the film is good business, from the vaginal art to la biennale.  i would pay serious money to see the landlord's dance performance to mussorgsky's pictures at an exhibition.  it is absurd for sure, but there is also something very emotional and transcendental about it. peter stormare's (i always refer to him as pancakes house) nihilism is something of profound inspiration.

the brothers coen - a serious man - 2009

the opening sequence is very cosmic. first couple of times i scratched my head watching. i find uncle arthur (played by richard kind) very mysterious. never read about him nor really analyzed him much, but the "outsider" notebooks, and relationship to the sex pot neighbor are intriguing.

the brothers coen - true grit - 2010

some dark as hell photography from mr. deakins.

re-watching some brothers coen films.  have seen these films many times over the years, never get tired of them. had not seen their debut in a long while, really great film, especially the ending with the knife in m. emmet walsh's hand. as a private dick on a job (or brother shamus), he shares a connection to da fino (jon polito) in the big lebowski; both hanging out in dark streets in an old vw beetle.

there is probably nothing new to be said about these films except that they are truly of great interest. although i included some minimal observations just for to bring together personal connections.

thinking of cinematography - barry sonnenfeld shot blood simple (he also shot miller's crossing and misery) and roger deakins shot a the big lebowski, serious man, and true grit.

Monday, February 13, 2017

plato's cave four (being a film journal) the films of ben mendelsohn & sean babbit

derek cianfrance - the place beyond the pines - 2012

second time watching this film. it is indeed a very fine cinematic experience. the performance of ben mendelsohn is really beyond words in this film and most he has been in. his film presence is incomparable in contemporary cinema. 

years back there was an attempt to document actorshippe on the art of memory, but i ended up doing so more in my head than on this site. as being privy to great actorshippe is one of the foremost reasons for watching cinema, it makes sense to get back to it and list works with mr. mendelsohn. films of interest for me are as follows (am probably missing some?)

ben mendelsohn *

- the new world - 2005, terrence malick
- animal kingdom - 2010, david michôd
- killing them softly - 2010, andrew dominik
- the dark knight rises - 2012, christopher nolan
- the place beyond the pines - 2012, derek cianfrance
- starred up - 2013,  david mackenzie
- mississippi grind - 2015,  anna boden & ryan fleck
- bloodline - 2015 to present,  glenn kessler, todd a. kessler, and daniel zelman
- una - 2016, haven't seen, looks promising

other art of memory obsessions - cinematography

the film was shot by the texas-born british cinematographer sean babbit, responsible for shooting steve mcqueen's hunger, shame and 12 years a slave. a graduate from the gordon willis prince of darkness film school.

steve mcqueen - hunger - 2008, sean babbit dp

steve mcqueen - shame - 2011, sean babbit dp

steve mcqueen - 12 years a slave - 2013, sean babbit dp
third image reminiscent of jon wozencroft's photographs for the uk touch label

Sunday, February 12, 2017

plato's cave three (being a film journal)

jim jarmusch - paterson - 2016

went to the sunshine cinema with my lovely wife a couple of weeks ago to see the new jim jarmusch film, which has the title of paterson; both the hero's name and the town in which he lives. this double naming is quite a lovely bit i believe.

it was really a pleasant film to watch from beginning to end, with maybe the exception of a few moments with bored behavior from the character's better half.  vaguely jeanne dielmanesque in structure - finding the character waking up and looking at his watch (no portable telephone, as he does not find a need for them except later in the film to borrow someones for a slight emergency), kissing his women, and going about his day. toward the end of each day he goes to the pub, adding this bit of pleasure whilst he walks the dog named nellie as played by marvin. the moments in the pub (and getting there) where highlights, with moments of unrequited love, violence, angry wives, and chess happening within.

here and there paterson writes a poem. maybe walser in nature slightly as he wakes to him every morning. the poems are interesting as they are as simple as they are heavy. this quality is accentuated by the way the poems are read - with the hero's words layered slightly sonically (or at least i heard them that way) and happening quite slowly and with intermissions that can be seconds or minutes.

the imaginary poems of masatoshi nagase's character "japanese poet" are evocative and sublime, and poems i would very much love to read. as are rod padgett's for the film :

when you’re a child
you learn
there are three dimensions:
height, width, and a shoebox.
then later you hear
there’s a fourth dimension:
then some say
there can be five, six, seven…

i knock off work,
have a beer
at the bar.
i look down at the glass
and feel glad.

ron padgett

plato's cave two (being a film journal)

ken loach - i, daniel blake - 2016

lately have been thinking quite a bit about ken loach, mike leigh and alan clarke. great british filmmakers. would love to get the alan clarke boxset to rewatch films like the firm (with gary oldman) which i saw in the mid nineties and it never left my mind. one hell of a film! also re-watching mike leigh as always, as his films are so rewarding over multiple viewings. his last film mr. turner is one of the most outstanding films of the last few years. i get the feeling people didn't notice that?

i had never watched films by ken loach except kes, and was very excited to see i, daniel blake after seeing the trailer and reading about it.  such a subtle and lovely film, very sad in a way, in a way that is gratifying to be exposed to if you have experienced tragedy at some point in yr life.  dave johns and hayley squires are really quite something, they take your breath away as actors.

also, have been watching films shot by the irishman robbie ryan lately. this chap doesn't mess around. some films my friends mr. spell and morely recommended to me recently were shot by him : american honey, catch me daddy and philomena. he also shot fish tank which i didn't like much but thought fassbender played a classic dirt bag in, perhaps always necessary for the art of cinema to have dirt bags along with angels?

one last observation - the moments shot on the street in this film were quite stunning in their grittyness and everydayness.  reminded me of chantal akerman's news from home or ernie gehr's nyc work, or the french connection. this was covered elsewhere on this blog a bit.

plato's cave one (being a film journal)

lucien castaing-taylor & véréna paravel - leviathan - 2012

second time seeing this film. both filmmakers working in the the sensory ethnography lab at harvard university, those three words are very evocative together. sound is by ernst karel, jacob ribicoff and the two directors. unreal sound and image work! especially when the camera is going in and out of water with birds chasing blood (image above). these turneresque moments are sublime, some other ideas the film investigates seem more suitable for a second film, but they are not without interest here but do slow it down a bit for this viewer.
my wife and i had much amusement reading negative reviews of this film on line. very funny business! they are not understanding the beauty of plato's cave i believe.

~film journal~

there has been a good amount of film watching by the art of memory lately, mostly at home on an hd projector, or screenings in and around nyc.
thinking about the essential cinema list, which was one of the first art of memory lists, there has been much re-watching films from that list and trying to add to it as much as possible. it was created when there was a little more snobbishness in the air, than now in chez art of memory.

here is the beginnings of a film log which includes films seen, brief notes on these films and sometimes pertinent filmographies or other interesting miscellanies. some films high brow some lower on the brow.

“behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads........." plato's allegory on film viewing (first brought to my attention by mr. steve anker in film school, thank you sir)

Monday, January 23, 2017

song of the unvanquished

~ from framework radio ~

this edition, entitled song of the unvanquished, is the second of two produced in the united states by matthew swiezynski, featuring the sound design of the satyajit ray films in the apu trilogy. this edition focuses on the films aparajito from 1956 and andapur sansar from 1959. for more information on matthew’s work, see the artists page at
producer’s notes:
song of the unvanquished
second reinterpretation of the sound-design in satyajit ray’s apu trilogy, focusing on the films aparajito (the unvanquished) (1956) & andapur sansar (the world of apu) (1959), with music by ravi shankar and sound by durgadas mitra, bishnu paridha, ranajit singha roy, satyen chatterjee, kali das, and robin sengupta. remixed and reimagined by matthew swiezynski.
the transfer/conveyance, mixing, and layering of the soundtrack was guided along the pathways of the sky with attention to these simple ideas :
– reoccurring moments of sound/music
– structural patterns, both simple and complex, broken and unbroken
– repetition used in noticeable ways and invisible ways
– errors or imperfections in editing highlighted and often times exaggerated
– creating trance moments to get lost in, and heighten awareness to what proceeds and follows
– attention to fuzz, scratches and other virtues of 35mm film
– removal of dialogue except for tiny moments that are more musical than narrative

Thursday, January 12, 2017

the eye of the watching sea

keith berry et ingenting kollektiva
the eye of the watching sea

Monday, January 2, 2017

in the year of our lord 2016. bleak and bleak and bleak

music, film, art and books of 2016

with yet another year of treachery from police, politicians and terrorists (foreign and domestic), it was comforting to have some bits of pleasure here and there to remind us that there is still some beauty in this world, even when it seems so damn bleak. not surprising that bleak art speaks more strongly than “put a smile on yr face sonny”. just listen to jóhann jóhannsson’s song a sparrow alighted upon our shoulder to understand what we mean by that.

here are some moments of bliss for the art of memory in the year of our lord, 2016.

 ~ music ~

autechre - elseq 1-5 - warp records
digital only album. i have listened to this release endlessly this year, taking the train in manhattan, harlem and brooklyn, where the only way to deal with the constant chaos is to have a good book and/or something provocative on the headphones. this music is beautiful, gritty, melodic and poisonous. saw autechre live in portland late 2015 and it was surely one of the most transcendent live shows i have encountered, volumes so un-christian that the entire body and mind swayed and floated like the trash in bela tarr's wonderous scene in sátántangó where the two buggers walk down the deserted street in a storm of abjectiles and garbage.

jeremy bible ‎- music for black holes - aole
4 hours of transcendent musical drones from mr. bible’s private archives. this release really lives up to the title. this is a music that invites repetitive listens; the listener again and again looks forward to yet another experience where he or she can get a closer intimacy with the textures and moods found within. in this way the music is quite erotic and sexual.

biosphere - departed glories - small-town supersound
based on a theme close to my heart: polish citizens executed during world war II.  using akira rabelais’ argeïphontes lyre software to mystify/bewilder samples of eastern european folk music, mr. jenssen discovers a music that is close to what aliens far off in the cosmos hear when they use some unimaginable devise to listen to a codger on earth playing a 78 of béla bartók’s field recordings of romanian folk dances.....

thomas brinkmann - a certain degree of stasis - frozen reeds
really lovely structure, textures, and movements. and the relationship to our lord and father mr. morton feldman. something i would like to hear in a better environment than i have right now, with 4 speakers in a huge space.

brian eno - the ship - warp records
mr. eno’s new album, referencing the sinking of titanic and world war i. drones, melodies, and textures float alongside eno's deepening voice. very exciting business.

james hamilton - archive series
have yet to listen to all of these closely but i love the idea of them, and the art work is beyond compare. the ones i have listened to so far are quite nice, like vol. x featuring ghost paths.  those ghosts play some of the best guitar i have heard. the discotheque album (vol. iv) quite shocked my rabbit leviathan when i put it on.

heron oblivion - heron oblivion - sub pop
my wife got this LP in the beginning of the year and i have heard her listen to it what seems like 50 times. such a preposterously killer band for meg baird to record with. with so many extremely popular singers right now that make reference to folk psychedelia and folk britannia, the only one for me in america is really meg baird.

kassel jaeger, stephan mathieu and akira rabelais - zauberberg - shelter press
music revolving around thomas mann’s lovely novel the magic mountain; a microcosm of a world textured by birds, piano, vocals, melodies, and rhythms - all situating the listener in an imaginary swiss sanatorium. includes a fantastic cover by caro mikalef.

jóhann jóhannsson - orphée - deutsche grammophon
jóhann jóhannsson - arrival - deutsche grammophon
two subtle and otherworldly albums from mr. jóhannsson. one a blissed out perusal into “change, mutability, death, rebirth, the elusive nature of beauty”, and the other an overwhelmingly pleasing soundtrack, in what is getting to be a long line of many from him. jóhannsson’s first few albums for touch i thought were “not without interest”, but the last few years he has grown into one of my favourites. his interest and virtuosity in composition and its relationship to sound-texture is clearly unsurpassed. hard to imagine the films he scores being half as interesting without his contribution.

bethan kellough ‎- aven - touch
this is a quite lovely album, but when i for the first time played it and the last track low came on, i was stopped dead in me tracks and i must have listened to it 10 times. one of the best tracks on any touch release that i can think of.

jacob kirkegaard - arc - holotype-editions
kirkegaard’s newly commissioned soundtrack for carl th. dryer’s the passion of joan of arc, using fragments and sketches of music from the times of joan of arc. stunning and ends with a bang!

lustmord - dark matter - touch
i had been waiting for this album for a while after hearing some clips, seeing the artwork, and later being drawn to the idea (music derived from an audio library of cosmological activity collected between 1993 and 2003; sources include NASA, the national radio astronomy observatory, and various public and private collections in the US). the album went way beyond my expeditions and has become one of the most listened to albums of the year. being a strong advocate of dubuffet's texturologies, the history of 19th century cosmos photography, and vija celmin's star drawings - this music is really something.

stephan mathieu - radiance series
drones that move through the atmosphere - slowly shifting and radiating energy, the origin is angelic. if you are present as they radiate by you; then there are goosebumps and other things that are not as easily explained going on in your corp. so pleasing the references mr. fludd, moonlight, 78 record needles and other enchantments.

tomonari nozaki - triptych - forwind
a trio of works on one cd from mr. nozaki. aggressive hickups on the tape machine peaking out over a body of drones that remind one of sugimoto's seascapes (both tranquil and an imagined non-tranquil versions). very heavy music. he gets better with each release.

radiohead - a moon shaped pool - xl recordings
a very nice and proper new album from radiohead, initially was quite drawn to it after reading about the recording process in an old mill near saint-rémy-de-provence in southern france (la fabrique recording studio). regarding the artwork, adam thorpe said: “in one of the larger granges, numerous canvases display abstract explosions of colour. the barn’s speakers are wired up to the recording studios: the band’s resident artist stanley donwood reacts in acrylic to what he hears, the results to be modified and manipulated on computer for the LP’s cover.” also of interest is pt anderson’s video for the track daydreaming.

maja s.k. ratkje - crepuscular hour - rune grammofon
an engulfing and debuggering penderecki/scelsi/nonoesque whirlpool of vocals, strings, and organ drones that leave you in a bewildering place not dissimilar to the immediate state of consciousness after 20 minutes of spinning through a crepuscular forest. once you recover from the fall and your eyes start to focus on the spinning trees, the world beyond the world is revealed.

~ films ~

barry jenkins - moonlight
this film is fantastic from the beginning on, with its lovely formal virtuosity and superb acting. once it gets going, the emotional and intellectual qualities bring you basically to tears. one hell of a good film, hats off to this chap.

yorgos lanthimos - the lobster 
(2015 film with a 2016 theatrical release)
this film really reminds of the excitement i felt when reading authors in my youth that pushed the potential and the idea of "narrative". mainly after reading the works of robert walser. couldn't really think of another film that came close, def not the brothers q. whom seem to miss the point - being too caught up in artifice.

kenneth lonergan - manchester by the sea
my wife and i have been watching mr. longergan's films quite a bit lately, after thinking about films that had been really inspiring in times past, and after some years had improved like a wine. you can count on me is truly profound. this new film by him is not really my favourite but i loved every second of it. lonergan's hitchcockian cameo was so brilliant.

denis villeneuve - arrival
i have really love villeneuve's films over the years. after an initial viewing of arrival, i was possibly thinking that it was not my favourites of his, but i had to admit to being taken in by the look and sound of it, and by the performances. forest whitaker - what an underrated actor - to have lived without seeing him in the crying game, smoke, or bird; i do not want to imagine.

david mackenzie - hell or high water
nice bit of tejas business and always a pleasure to see mr. bridges.

jeff nichols - midnight special
this is one strange film. was not totally behind it or understanding it but very much looking forward to a second viewing. michael shannon! the fucker doesn't mess around. i also enjoyed him in nocturnal animals.

dan trachtenberg - 10 cloverfield lane
john goodman is wonderful to watch in this film. not easy going..... very nice bit of variation on the end of the world film.

did not get a chance to see scorsese's silence, but looks like one for this list.

maren ade - toni erdmann 

chan-wook park - the handmaiden

~ television ~

louis c.k. - horace and pete
louis c.k. is one hell of a filmmaker, thinker and artist. anyone not sure of that should listen to him on maron's what the heck, this show horace and pete, self-released by him this year, is truly profound and has some of the best writing and acting on television. being someone that has devoted his life to film and has been "around the block" with the classics, i tend to get irritated by the lack of quality on television. i love the way the light feels on my eyes though, so i don't restrict myself to film and watch a ton of tv. i often times though just find myself totally alienated by what i am watching (westworld....stranger things), or uncomfortable that i have spent so much time with a show (to many to name). most creators of television seemed to not understand the concept of editing. horace and pete is as tight as a nun's habit.

steven zaillian & richard price - the night of
not a great show but i really enjoyed the subtle moments found within, like the eczema in mr. turturro's feet and how he deals with it, and his relationship with the lovely cat. the detective dennis box and his melancholia with his own laziness and lack of integrity. reminds me of a much more subtle and less deranged character that harvey keitel played in bad lieutenant. great looking too, with impressive sound design.
allan cubitt - the fall, season three
did not enjoy as much as the first season, but it is lovely on the eyes and ears, especially gillian anderson and john lynch.

~ live shows ~ 

andy stott at analog bkny

alessandro cortini at analog bkny

dylan carlson at the cloisters

yoshi wada at yale union

philip jeck at holocene

bill orcutt at turn turn turn

~ museum/gallery exhibitions ~

bruce conner at moma

agnes martin at guggenheim

hilma af klint, ydessa hendeles, harry smith, & wilson bentley at the new museum (the keeper)

mark rothko dark palette at pace gallery

malevich, mondrian, newman, pollock, rothko and still at di donna

un-finished: thoughts left visible at met breuer

nasreen mohamedi at met breuer

jmw turner whaling pictures at the met

marianna olinger at national academy museum & school

jean dubuffet and hans memling at the morgan library

richard serra at gagosian

gabriel de la mora at the drawing center

eric graham at black ball projects

nicholas roerich at nicholas roerich museum (ongoing)

~ books ~

nasreen mohamedi. waiting is a part of intense living - the metropolitan museum of art / museo nacional centro de arte reina sofía

bruce conner: it's all true - university of california press

abstract expressionism by david anfam - royal academy books

dubuffet drawings 1935-1962 - thames & hudson

jean dubuffet: anticultural positions - acquavella/rizzoli

the voynich manuscript - yale university press