M. Leary

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  1. Yes. The conflation of the "One Week" part of the time sequence does not quite work. I think we are meant to assume that the unseen week passage of time accounts for the massive amount of people movement on the beaches.
  2. On that point, Andrew: " I never felt the main characters in these scenes were actually in grave danger" I did only when prompted to by the score, which in IMAX was not merely a matter of sound, but a felt experience of alarming rumbles and seat-shaking. This film was the most physical experience I have had in a theater, given what I can only assume was in intentional side effect of the amped up score. And I say "score" loosely, as a lot of this prompting to feel danger came from very low register rumbles, kind of a Zimmer sensory assault (low-flying panic attack?), which was often coupled with gunfire or bombs. At other times it was present beneath engine noise from the airplanes. But then at other occasions, the idea that something life-threatening was about to happen was signaled by a deep, room shaking, crackly base note. I am familiar with this particular kind of sound from various industrial concerts in the 90s. This was unnerving for me throughout. I get what Nolan was doing technically, or even formally, there. I did somewhat appreciate the sound design around gun activity, as I hate the way films sanitize what guns actually sound like. But the overlap between score and sheer sensory assault rankled my convictions about cinema, verite, and all that.
  3. I think there is some kind of Interstellar Preference Nolan Club out there. Dude does sci-fi with such aching precision, I wish he would indulge more. The only other director I could compare to Nolan's sci-fi acumen is Tarkovsky, as Solaris is probably the closest companion piece to Interstellar genre-wise. If Nolan could spend the next decade adapting Bradbury, we would all be in his debt. Sorry for the off topic post though, I look forward to your responses should you catch Dunkirk.
  4. I do not connect to Nolan (other than Interstellar, which I like a lot). But I do like hearing people describe their connection to a director in this way. What do you think are his primary priorities? There is the obvious technical stuff, which always makes him must-see regardless of what I think about his scripting. Thematically though, what do you see there? I do think Nolan takes camaraderie seriously kind of an ideal human experience. Memory for sure. But what in Dunkirk strikes you as essentially Nolan?
  5. If I could have just watched Mark Rylance pilot a boat and Tom Hardy land a plane in IMAX for 1.5 hours, I would be thrilled. That last sequence with Hardy over the beach was really stunning. I am imagining Michael Snow cutting back and forth between the two. I otherwise resonate with reservations about the light or clumsy approach to script here. This story about coastal Brits rising to such epic bravery is always so thrilling for me to hear or read about. But every time the script lands heavily on dialogue or plot advance, it just feels like necessary mechanics to prop up the pretty stunning visual work.
  6. I do not see any direct Christian reference in this season, either by image, narrative, or symbol. This was not the case for season 1:4, which had a really unexpected scene of Bobby remonstrating before a crucifix in his house. Generally, Lynch just does not work with Christian imagery or archetype, which often creates a bit of tension given what you describe above in terms of his evocation of 1950's America. Here is a short list of direct references to material religion in his work, there are surely a few I have missed: Christian Imagery Angel imagery, crucifix scene, "Trinity" test (Twin Peaks) Bible/crucifix/cathedrals/scripture reference (Psalm 23) (Elephant Man) Church and crucifix (the Grotto) (A Straight Story) A church (Blue Velvet) The images in Elephant Man and A Straight Story are important as they connect directly to the plight of the lead in each film, who we are to suppose are translating their experiences through a set of Christian motifs (this is clearer in Elephant Man than A Straight Story). The TP and Blue Velvet examples are difficult, as they seem to do little more than evoke the absence of any expected Christian imagery. In none of these cases does Lynch use the Christian image as a template for the viewer, leading us to experience the film as an evocation of a traditional Christian narrative ideal. Buddhist Imagery: Tibetan Book of the Dead (Twin Peaks) This reference is immensely important, present at what is arguably the apex of the series. In addition, the concept here of something immaterial leaving the human body and passing through a series of abstractions toward oblivion - wherein each stage of passage has its own narrative and symbolic sense - is intimately tied to the plot of Twin Peaks. So much so that I don't think one can really get Twin Peaks without at least passing knowledge of bardo. -- So here is the case I would make: Lynch is consciously working as a secular filmmaker, playing with common codes and symbols in the US post-WW II through a kind of Geertz fantasy. One of the deep ironies of Lynch's filmmaking is that he no longer finds the Christian symbol necessary to make a connection with his audience. We are all now more immediately connected by gestures and expressions of violence and conflict, his characters all marred by domestic violence, war trauma, commerce, economy, or now - the Trinity test. That whole Christian narrative arc of death/resurrection or failure/redemption is alien to Lynch's work, as the related psychology is too thin to really capture the way we process trauma. So instead of Jesus, we get Wally Brando. Instead of a redemption arc, we get Alvin on his tractor. Lynch has had to draft a whole new grammar to do what he wants to do. The other issue here, though, is the dualism which has always been present in Twin Peaks. This is far more Eastern than Western in scope, though we don't quite know how it will play out.
  7. Really struggled with this one, and am looking forward to more comments on it here. A few sequences are just gorgeous - live-action Miyazaki. I found the pacing in the script very wonky, with the various monologues scattered throughout feeling like a justification for the A-level talent. But the coda was a lovely way to wind everything down. Some of the little flourishes of whimsical set design or wardrobe detail felt out of place - specifically the ones garnering Wes Anderson comparisons. A good example: There is quite a bit of camera attention on the fact that her dress is designed and signed by Lucy, though there is never any real payoff on this point. I wonder what the film would have felt like if layered with a more 80s eco-action film earnestness rather than an early 2000s twee indie vibe. The biggest problem I had was with depicting the ALF as a kindly, pacifist bunch. I am willing to accept there are more nonviolent cells out there. But I do have very personal experience of far less pacifist and threatening ALF work. I am not sure why the director needed to tie the film to an actual movement, rather than picking something more generic. Bong says here: “There’s definitely a level of contradiction within the ALF group. In the film, the ALF claim that they hate violence, but you can see throughout that they constantly inflict it too. They have a very noble cause, and you can understand that cause, but the movie also portrays them as at times looking foolish, and making very human mistakes. Simply put, they’re people just like us.” Well - kind of. ALF does a lot of things I can't chalk up to "human mistakes," which are very violent and threatening. This misalignment between the film and reality is jarring at best, but propaganda at worst.
  8. Nice. My immediate response was Decay of Fiction, with the multiple exposures. This is it right here. Parts of St. Louis are little more than "time displaced" 1950s towns, incubators of that very tension you are describing. Lynch seems to reveal or uncover this brute American fact. Hope you write more on this somewhere.
  9. Such a great list of references here, especially The Last Wave. I have seen a few references to Brakhage, which I don't think quite fit. The charcoal folk run very close to Pat O'Neill. The seamless blend of practical and special effects is exhilarating. I couldn't help but think of Lynch's early shorts throughout this entire middle sequence. I would love to hear every detail about the effects production for the nuclear piece. The gradation detail on the dust clouds at the base of the blast is so exquisite. I have never seen anything like that. The intense colorific parts were familiar - as this is the same bunch who ran the effects for Noe's Enter the Void. But if we could get a second by second technical commentary on everything between NIN and the bobfrog, that would be great. From a historical perspective, this connection between atomic sciences and a particularly late 20th century brand of evil intriguing. Cities which participated in developing raw materials for the Manhattan Project (like St. Louis) are starting to have difficulty in figuring out how to handle the hazardous waste from uranium production dumped fairly carelessly so long ago. In terms of St. Louis history, it is very hard not to draw a direct line between the dumping of such waste in north/northwest parts of our city and dramatic crime, education, health, and quality of life disparities in those same areas.
  10. So pleasant when that happens. Currently having this experience with every Kubrick film.
  11. A case could be made that there is a good version of this guy and a bad version of this guy. I do not have any good examples of the latter at hand, but surely there are some.
  12. This is not my favorite Jarmusch film, so take what I have to offer with a grain of salt. I have been thinking about Darren's tweet since I saw it, as I felt the same tension while watching Paterson the first time. But Paterson as a character definitely fits into the Jarmusch universe, which is populated by wanderers and dreamers who don't quite fit into what happens around them. Jarmusch films typically operate on two planes at the same time - a mainstream, normal, public stage which constantly runs in the background, and a character self-isolated from that mainstream in a variety of ways (beatnik, lower class, odd criminality, drug induced stupor, being an immortal vampire, etc...). While Jarmusch clearly identifies with this outsider motif, we always have to suspend a little belief to get into the same empathetic space. I tend to think of Jarmusch characters as occupying a bubble in the real world, and because typical narrative rules are suspended in this bubble, they are able to encounter gradations of grace, mirth, and decrepitude which one does not normally encounter "out there in the real world." So Paterson is a lot like Ghost Dog or even Adam (in Only Lovers...). His sense for poetry and desire to write pushes him outside the mainstream flow of life into this calm little eddy Jarmusch has constructed. Laura is beautiful, supportive, and because of that a little impossible to accept as a realistic human. But the supportive encouragement she offers is exactly what any artist longs for, so Jarmusch graciously gives that to Paterson. And it works. And to be fair, I have seen Laura in other women, so she may be less hard to imagine than we think. When she claims she loves his cooking, the smell of the bar on his body, etc... I am willing to accept this claim because elements of that are certainly true. This may be the closest Jarmusch has gotten to a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but she also makes good sense in context of WCW's Paterson line "Besides, I know myself to be more the woman than the poet..." - there being a subtle collapse in the film between this male and female character. And the genius of Jarmusch is how he finds ways for the bubbles he constructs to overlap with what we feel is more realistic, part of the mainstream plane we inhabit as the audience. He sends us out of the theater primed for a Binx Bolling response to reality. In this case, when Paterson sits on the bench next to the Japanese man reading William Carlos Williams, they have a conversation which ties the entire film into a real state of affairs. William Carlos Williams did write, he wrote Paterson, and people like this Japanese man sit on benches in Paterson reading his words. And people do this because they find something more real and coherent in poetry than they do in the other areas of their life. I guess Jarmusch is willing to risk making a film feel tawdry or cockamamie in order to show us someone passing through that very experience.
  13. For those following Stephen Cone's work, I noticed BAM is playing his latest film, Princess Cyd. Seems to veer a bit from the Evangelical setting of the last two, but perhaps not? From this Salon interview:
  14. There were two shots in this last episode which I can't recall seeing elsewhere in Lynch:
  15. I have watched the whole thing, as it does speak well at times to issues of faith and trauma. But I just do not respond well to Lindelof screenwriting. He constructs storylines the same way my kids and I decorate our Christmas tree. Keep piling stuff on until it is effulgent. If you look too close, it won't bear up to much scrutiny in terms of proportion, scale, or coherency. But it is pleasant to look at from a distance. The last two episode prior to the finale are good examples of this, as they veered pretty wildly away from any and all plotting undertaken in Seasons 1-3.2 in an overt attempt to set up for a hugely meaningful finale. And Lindelof certainly delivers on that. But as a counter-example, something like Rectify does more heavy lifting with far less.