Monday, December 12, 2011

No Talking Tuesday # 219

I made a mistake! FRIGGGG.

Monday nights I teach a digital painting class that goes until midnight. My students don't know about my no talking Tuesdays, and so to spare them the awkwardness, I leave class a few minutes early so that I can safely say goodbye to them before midnight.

This week however I was so wrapped up in a character painting that I didn't notice it was past midnight. My teacher's aid called out to me that it was ten past twelve, and then in the shock of suddenly being pulled out of my painting, I said out loud to the class "Oh! Okay, class is over, see you all Wednesday."

I then realized that not only was class over but that it was Tuesday and that I just spoke past midnight.. I silently cursed myself and began nervously packing my things. I know that the end of class is my student's favorite time to start asking questions and to get my feedback on their paintings. And this time it was no different. Somehow I managed to get through a few such "conversations" with artful use of hand gestures, thumbs up signs and the like. It wasn't totally effective though and a couple of them sensed something was weird, but probably just thought I was acting annoyed or dismissive...

Oh well, I'll have to be more careful in the future with my late Monday classes.
No Talking Tuesday # 218

This Tuesday found me at yet another movie night at work. This time with a double feature by two foreign directors. The first was the Iranian film Close-Up (نمای نزدیک), by director Abbas Kiarostami. The second was Yi Yi (二) by Taiwanese director Edward Yang.

The first film was so brilliant and strange in it's premise and execution. I'm at a loss how to explain it without rambling on for far too long, so I'll simply site it's IMDB description:

"Pretending to be Mohsen Makhmalbaf making his next movie, Ali Sabzian enters the home of a well-to-do family in Tehran, promising it a prominent part in his next movie. The actual people involved in the incident re-enact the actual events, followed by the footage from the actual trial that took place."

The second film was a beautiful meditation on the meaning of contemporary urban life, with it's loneliness, family, relationships, haunting memories, and the search for truth and value in an impersonal landscape. The story follows three generations of a family, with quite dignity, unaffected truth, achingly gorgeous lighting and pacing and acting. Though it made me feel lonely, I thought this film was incredibly beautiful and one of the best I've seen in a long while.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

No Talking Tuesday # 217

This Tuesday found me back in the screening room at work watching the Critereon blue-ray editions of Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Sanjuro.

I'm a bit of a Kurosawa nut, and have seen both films at least five times before. When I was a kid, Yojimbo was my favorite Kurosawa film (and favorite samurai film), but as an adult it's so obvious to me how much better Sanjuro is. Both films deal with the same misanthropist/altruist ronin, wandering in tattered clothes indignant with people, all the while saving/helping them. The ultimate hero with an attitude, played by non other than the brilliant Toshirō Mifune.

My favorite aspect of Sanjuro is the theme of the black/white ruthless logic of the samurai, constantly being usurped by the more subtle, feminine, prudent approach of the female characters. Cleverly revealing at various points in the story the advantages of compassion, mercy, and restraint, over aggressive heroics.

Friday, December 02, 2011

No Talking Tuesday # 216

This Tuesday found me alone at the screening room at work watching the blue ray of Dark Crystal. The classic Jim Henson film about a dualistic fantastical planet, where sin and the sublime are embodied in highly expressive puppeteering and gorgeous and imaginative production design. It's basically what Avatar was trying to do had it been ten times more imaginative.

I first saw the film in the late eighties and was so blown away by it. I had never seen anything like it before and had no context for the thouroughly concieved, bizarre, unnerving creatures and world. I tried to explain it to my friends, who eventually decided I must have dreamed it. For years I tried to find out what the film was called, or someone else who had seen it, (remember this is pre-internet) and it wasn't until the mid nineties that I randomly happened across a VHS tape of it in a local video store that I jumped up in down with excitement to have finally found it again.

For this my third and first viewing to be film quality, I have to say I'm as impressed by the creativity and originality of the film as I ever was (It was made it 1981!), but have to admit it definitely shows it's seams, and is a little rough around the edges at times.

Still a seminal work, and kick-started my new found obsession/admiration for Jim Henson. I've been reading articles about him, watching documentaries, videos and with each new insight into the mans life, mind, compassion, professionalism, and creativity, I'm repeatedly blown away by how amazing and great an artist he was.

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