Carnal Knowledge Seminar Response

Women’s experiences are not exclusive to just women. They are affected by men and the societal pressures that are placed on them to behave a certain way that happens to degrade women. I think that the seminar failed to focus on masculinity and Carnal Knowledge’s commentary on how impossible it is to achieve it in perfect form. The men in the film treat their women the same way Francis Bacon treats the subjects of his paintings. However, there is a delusional expectation that the women will remain both loyal and alive when put through this treatment. This can be applied to Last Tango in Paris (1972) as well, making the Bacon reference more relevant.

Susan was not absent in the second half of the film. That is the point. As it was mentioned in seminar, she is indecisive; she is an act. She has no personality, which the reading also says. The fact that she has no personality is equivalent to her being an object, which leads to her ultimate objectification in that split second in Jonathan’s slideshow. She is just a concept to both Jonathan and Sandy even in the beginning. She is a concept and a factor to their level of masculinity.

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I think as film-viewers, we should remember that film characters do not have to be three-dimensional to be successful in invoking something. They can be symbolic of something and they can just be concepts. Jonathan symbolizes society. In other words, he is the rule-maker. Sandy is the conformist. Everything else to them is just tools to making them reach the peak of happiness and relief. This, to them, means the relief of knowing they are masculine.

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“Wondering if you’re happy is a great shortcut to just being depressed.”

“Having your heart broken is a tremendous way to learn about the world.”

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– both said by Dorothea played by Annette Bening in 20th Century Women (2016) directed by Mike Mills

A great study on the unfulfilled and confused desires of the parent-child relationship. Mike Mills opens himself up for us to reveal what every single person can find relatable which is the willingness to be forever uncomfortable for your children.

“Necessity has no ethics, sir!”  – Doctor X (1932) directed by Michael Curtiz

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Fay Wray and Doctor X, what more should I say?

Michael Rennie was ill
The Day the Earth Stood Still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there
In silver underwear
Claude Rains was The Invisible Man
Then something went wrong
For Fay Wray and King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam
Then at a deadly pace
It Came From Outer Space
And this is how the message ran…

Science fiction (ooh ooh ooh) double feature
Doctor X (ooh ooh ooh) will build a creature
See androids fighting (ooh ooh ooh) Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in (ooh ooh ooh) Forbidden Planet
Wo oh oh oh oh oh
At the late night, double feature, picture show

Contemporary Color & the Merging of Arts

I wrote a review for The Film House on The Standard: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/08/21/film-house-contemporary-color-and-the-merging-of-arts

The film starts off with a vague idea of what is about to be revealed to us. However, once you’re there you find yourself learning about something you should’ve known about a long time ago, which is colour guard and David Byrne’s Contemporary Color.

Contemporary Color is a performance event conceived by Byrne, of the new wave band Talking Heads, and co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival.

Byrne had realized that colour guard, an under-appreciated “sport of the arts” that is usually performed during half-time shows at football games, could be transformed into an event specifically showcasing their talents. These high school and college level “dance” groups are used to being secondary entertainment or competing against each other.

In an event like Contemporary Color, 10 lucky 20- to 40-persons teams are chosen to perform in a celebration of what they do. With artists such as Lucius, Nico Muhly and Ira Glass, Nelly Furtado, St. Vincent, Devonté Hynes, How To Dress Well, Zola Jesus, Ad-Rock and Money Mark, Byrne and Tune-Yards pairing up with the teams to create original pieces for them to perform to, it is truly an event like none other. A lover of any of these artists would appreciate these interpretations and, additionally, be introduced to other musicians accompanied by these remarkable visuals.

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Directed by Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV, the film shows us what happens when two arts merge together and interpret each other.

What better place to screen Contemporary Color than at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, a place that celebrates variety and diversity.

It would be too simple and too narrow a description to call Contemporary Colorjust a documentary. It does more than that. It introduces us to the world of interpretive art. The musicians, the dancers and the filmmakers are all given that challenge to understand each other art. What is difficult here is the openness and the receptivity that is required to do well in communication such as this.

As the audience, we can only appreciate this type of silent art with what the Ross brothers choose to translate to us. There are no flashbacks and no over-used backstories. There is only the respect that they all have for each other, knowing the time and effort it has taken to get to where they were. By the end of it, we are able to see all the many different elements that had to come together to produce something so transcendental.

With such silent non-explanations for the determination it takes for them to do what they are doing, the film resembles the films shown at the time of Expo 67. Hearing the voice-overs, seeing them perform at their neighbourhoods, the superimpositions, the slow zooms and even the music itself all give the film a dream-like and almost hallucinatory energy. As a result we are given these peculiar visuals of the merging of the arts.

Contemporary Color is an educational, entertaining and unique experience. It is so captivating that you leave unsure of whether you want more films like this or if you want to go see Contemporary Color live.

“the frightening woman whose fear ate her sanity.”

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Courtesy of The New Yorker

Sex and the City is the reason I believe that masterpieces don’t have to be timeless.

Sex and the City was a stepping stone and thats what makes a masterpiece.

 

“Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly … and that’s shade.” – Dorian Corey in Paris is Burning (1990) directed by Jennie Levingston

The difference between shade and reading somebody by the great Dorian Corey.

A timeless film about the importance of family and culture in the world of drag.

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A Ghost Story & How Ignorance is Bliss

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/07/30/film-house-a-ghost-story-ignorance-is-bliss

A Ghost Story is an experimental film that goes beyond expectations with each scene. It’s a trip without the hallucinogens, one that brings on a sense of calm yet will also leave you uneasy and tense.

Written and directed by David Lowery, A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck, an actor whose career has seemed to reside on the fringes of Hollywood. However, since his Oscar win for his starring role in Manchester by the Sea this February, he has been working non-stop. Emerging from his brother Ben Affleck’s shadow, Casey has solidified his place as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors.

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The film also stars Rooney Mara of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Fresh off the buzz of the much talked about Carol, Mara surprises us again with a completely different choice in role.

Affleck and Mara play C and M, a couple who seem to see each other as the only people in the world, their world; the only place they feel safe. The characters are genuine. They disagree with each other, they reconcile, they kiss and they caress one another. There are walls but there is understanding. Not long after we come to understand their love, C dies in a car crash. From this point on C is a ghost, a bed sheet over his head like a lazy kid dressed up for Halloween.

The plainness of C’s ghost somehow makes the character both ominous and melancholic as he drifts through scenes unnoticed. He watches his partner’s journey through mourning and he becomes fixated on reading a note that she has left but the pace of the world and the people in it makes this difficult. C’s ghost can only observe.

His helplessness and the frustration that accompanies it is what keep your attention rapt. There are people who suffer and there are witnesses to suffering, but there’s little that can be done. This becomes the film’s unique perspective.

The film makes us wonder about the continuity of history and the never-ending changes that build it. What happens today isn’t likely to matter in a few years as there are so many experiences both good and bad that await us.

A Ghost Story also calls into question notions of life after death. Do the dead, especially those who haven’t lived a completely fulfilled life, witness the ignorance of the living? The realization that mistakes are repeated and poor decisions will always keep being made is an idea that haunts this film. It explores the strength we must maintain to endure our own foibles. The source of this strength is the love that C and M have for one another. For the ghost of C, the note he’s desperately seeking to read represents that.

A Ghost Story is a film that could easily play on clichés and horror tropes but it avoids them. It’s a cosmic trip that actually explores these clichés and why they’re so prevalent. There are scenes that are filmed seemingly in real-time and then there are scenes that skip generations, all revolving around one unchanging element, the ghost, the watcher.

A Ghost Story will leave you with many questions: What is history? What is spirituality? And what is good and what is evil when love is not absolute?