Sunday, 27 November 2011
Ever since seeing Scorsese's masterful and completely enchanting Hugo, I want to seek out and watch all the old silent classics. Les Vampires, The Kid, City Lights, Sherlock Jr, The General, Sunrise, Safety Last. The list goes on. Hugo reminded me why I love movies in the first place: their complete and unparalleled ability to transport me to another place. There's something special about silent movies, something so incredibly pure and trustworthy about the images. Hugo also made me feel slightly guilty aI haven't had the urge in awhile to do a Keaton or Chaplin or Lloyd marathon, but that shall be remedied very soon. I also want to be primed for the release of The Artist, a movie I am very enthusiastically awaiting.
I have their Big Ben in oak, and there are so many more I would love to have in my collection. They are unique yet fashionable watches that won't break the bank. The only thing to watch out for is that ridiculous $40.00 shipping charge to Canada. Ugh.
Theorizing how Breaking Bad will turn out
So will Jesse find out that Walter used Lily of the Valley to poison Brock? And what repercussions will Walt suffer from the murder of Gus Fring? Will Jesse turn out to be the Southern US meth kingpin while Walt continues to make awful choices about his family and career, ultimately leading to his (no doubt) bloody end? How will the showdown of Hank and Walter look? I shudder to think of all the meaty possibilities and glorious directions this show could follow. How does one end the best television program of the last decade? I can't even wait until next summer.
Stay tuned for more obsessions as they envelop me....
Reading tastes vary wildly by individual. One person's classic is another's airport paperback. Thats fine with me, I have no want to argue the merits of the so called classics and where they stand in the pantheon of "great literature" or any such nonsense. To do so is an exercise in foolhardy blowhardism to which I haven't sunk in days. It just so happens, though, that many of my favorite authors and books fall into a certain broad, nebulous non-genre known as postmodernism.
What images are conjured when one rolls the word postmodern around their brain as if sucking on a lozenge? To me, the worst part of art and writing, ironically, come to mind. I picture gigantic pencil sculptures, nonsensical prose, and art installations meant to fulfill the onanistic desire of the artist and no one else. These images are not without merit, sadly, but to dismiss postmodernism entirely based on preconceived notions is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I will address postmodern literature solely and not pretend to know enough about art to justifiably fill an entire blog post worth of ramblings based solely my own ignorance.So, where and with whom do we start? Great question, I am wondering that myself.
Sunday, 13 November 2011
I admit that I am somewhat of a nostalgia junkie, although, unlike some that long for the past, I pine not for a simpler time, but for a more passionate one. A caveat is required for my claim, however. I am not saying that the present day finds nothing to be passionate about, quite the opposite is true for many people around the world. Governments are being overthrown, economies challenged, social order turned on its head, all achieved by people ignited with passion. All the power to them, but I feel removed, at a distance. Ironic seeing as social media places the worlds strife and conflict right on my iPad, but still, there is no connection to the current state of affairs and the fire in my heart.
Recently seeing Woody Allen's most recent film Midnight in Paris stirred up so many wonderful memories and emotions in me. In it, Owen Wilson plays a man so consumed with 1920s Paris, so taken with that era of nostalgia, of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Dali and Modigliani, that he travels back in time every night at midnight, and lives out his fantasies of interacting with his "golden age" heroes. For me, the city is right, but my "Golden age" is about four decades later.
Flash back to Paris 1959, where my passion truly lies. The nouvelle vague seeds of French cinema have been planted by previous eras, specifically Italian neorealism (de Sica and early Fellini), and Hollywood films (Hitchcock and film noir in particular) and bloomed into rare and unnameable roses of cinema. French cinema pre-nouvelle vague is nothing to take for granted, producing incredibly talented filmmakers and some of the most honoured movies of any generation. But for my money, the films produced between 1959 and 1968 represent the most fertile period of filmmaking in history.
What I wouldn't give to have been at the premiere of Jean Luc Godard's 1960 film Breathless. This is the film that arguably started it all, with it's experimental editing, on-the-fly shooting style, and melange of genres. Breathless was a slap in the face to all the stilted, studio-shot, creatively bankrupt films that came before it, in any genre. When viewed alongside Resnais' Hiroshima mon Amour and Truffaut's Les Quatre Cent Coups one can see steps being taken in a new, bold direction embodying politics, love, rebellion, and sex in a whole new way.
But it is not merely the abundance of great films, directors, and actors that make me longingly gaze into the past. It is what these films meant to and the passion they ignited in the people of France at the time that make this a golden age for me, and here's where my nostalgia kicks in at full force. People cared about cinema, they argued ceaselessly over the filmmaker's message. They were passionate and engaged. They thought that movies could change the world, shape the war, or make a girl fall in love with you. And they could. Nowadays, you get blockbusters and indie films, a few great, some good, most not. But even the great ones never feel dangerous, like they could incite riots or change peoples' long held beliefs. I long for a time when people young and old protested the forced resignation of Henri Langlois, the co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française theatre, causing an international uproar so deafening that the Cannes Film Festival was put on hold that year. Needless to say, Langlois stayed put. Had I been alive in 1968, I would have chained myself to the gates of the Cinémathèque alongside countless other protesting cinephiles with pleasure.
Some say nostalgia is a dangerous pastime relegated to those who haven't the constitution to deal with the present. I cannot embrace this logic, insofar as the past is inextricably linked to the present, or, as the old adage goes, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Of course (and this point is made beautifully in Midnight in Paris) someone's past is another's present. I often wonder if people living in '68 Paris knew how influential their era truly was. I would imagine not, which begs the question of how will 2011 be remembered and immortalized a generation or two down the line?
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a flux capacitor to repair.
Sunday, 6 November 2011
2011 has been quite the year for technology. As the dominance of the smartphone continues, information has travelled faster from user to user than ever before, creating a world where the only limits are put into place by how far people are willing to dip their toes into this vast ocean of information. We are instantly connected to our own social networks comprised of friends, family, and acquaintances, allowing them to see what we are doing, who we are with, and where we are at any time of the day. Text messages, Facebook updates, Foursquare check-ins, and Google map queries are all leaving their mark on our daily lives, whether we like it or not. The worrisome part of this is that the entire process is invisible, little ones and zeroes embedded in the ether long after we delete our texts, updates, photos, and emails.
In the back of my mind I was aware of this digital permanence, hence my shying away from social networking sites (not that I have anything to hide, per se). But my eyes were opened Ludivico-style when I came across an article in none other than Vanity Fair about Kruse Wellwood and Cameron Moffatt, the two teens convicted of beating, raping, and murdering Kimberly Proctor in Langford last March. The various text messages and World of Warcraft chat logs are reproduced ver batim, as if they were just written. In fact, the Tech Crimes Unit amassed the equivalent to 1.4 billion sheets of paper on the two teens. That's not a typo. Billion. Everything from Google and Wikipedia searches (for items like camp fuel, Lithotomy position, and inside body parts) to google map queries (for wooded areas best to dump the body) and YouTube videos (Florence and the Machine's Blinding). The case against the two was so airtight that they both pleaded guilty of first degree murder. There is a news story making the rounds about a Hillary Adams, 21, who at 14 was beaten with a belt by her father for downloading music illegally from the Internet. The catch? (because there's always one of those). Her father is a prominent judge. She posted the video to Reddit, where it obviously gained hits, resulting in Facebook groups calling for her father to step down. And then there is the case of a Harvard Law student who sent an email to a trusted friend about the link of intelligence to genetics, and therefore race. The email was saved, and the friendship eventually dissolved. What's an ex-friend to do? Why, send the aforementioned email to the Harvard's Black Student Association. The email sender is now permanently and digitally branded as racist for as long as the Internet sticks around.
It seems that as the usage of social media and technology increases, so decreases people's common sense. Information is shared freely and publicly. Incriminating secrets are relayed via text messages. Data is stored for decades without people even knowing it. Has anyone even read the 6000 word privacy agreement from Facebook? Inherent trust is being placed into huge companies who make money off of selling the very information we are serving to them on a silver platter. It may seem of no consequence to post some pictures, email something off color to a friend, or update your status to something that may offend someone, but you must realize that everything is permanent and retrievable. Removing it is like uncooking an egg or removing food coloring from a glass of water.
This post is not meant as a dire warning against the use of technology from the point of view of an old man shaking his fist at the younger generation. I embrace technology more than the average person, in fact. But a certain amount of digital responsibility must be implemented before you press send, because you may as well be chiseling it into stone.