A clip from Terrence Malick’s upcoming film, To The Wonder.
I’m always struck when a new Malick film rolls around, struck at how curious and spontaneous the camera is compared to everything else out there. Sure, one of the main concerns, like any serious movie, is composition—aesthetics—and that’s never missing in one of his films. But, in addition, the camera is also always searching, always moving in unexpected ways and to unexpected places, not content to stand still and observe statically. The abstract voice-overs pose the questions, and the camera looks for answers. It’s almost like this model of a curious artist’s mind’s eye: scanning, shifting viewpoints. It’s an awesome kind of philosophical dialogue anchored by raw emotion. He has to be the most intuitive of filmmakers alive today. This is also reflected in how he finds the narrative while editing, and not prescribing it prior to or during filming.
You hear stories about how all these big name actors who sign up to work on his films end up not appearing much in the films, and their egos are hurt because for some reason they didn’t expect it would happen to them; or they complain about how they’re not the center of attention in scenes because the camera will suddenly veer off to observe something else happening in the surroundings. Well, that’s because of Malick’s method of filming a ton and finding some manifest narrative throughline. That, to me, is more appealing than most of the stuff out their in cinema.
My personal, totally subjective pick for Favorite Song of 2012. Mainly because I can’t comprehend how words can be this poetically rendered in a catchy pop song. James Mercer has a way of phrasing that makes it seem like his songs talk about a world separate from ours, but in a way that seems like it is the most natural thing to talk about.
Playboy: Much of the controversy surrounding 2001 deals with the meaning of the metaphysical symbols that abound in the film — the polished black monoliths, the orbital conjunction of Earth, Moon and sun at each stage of the monoliths’ intervention in human destiny, the stunning final kaleidoscopic maelstrom of time and space that engulfs the surviving astronaut and sets the stage for his rebirth as a “star-child” drifting toward Earth in a translucent placenta. One critic even called 2001 “the first Nietzschean film,” contending that its essential theme is Nietzsche’s concept of man’s evolution from ape to human to superman. What was the metaphysical message of 2001?
Kubrick: It’s not a message that I ever intend to convey in words. 2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialog. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content. To convolute McLuhan, in 2001 the message is the medium. I intended the film to be an intensely subjective experience that reaches the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does; to “explain” a Beethoven symphony would be to emasculate it by erecting an artificial barrier between conception and appreciation. You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film — and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level — but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point. I think that if 2001 succeeds at all, it is in reaching a wide spectrum of people who would not often give a thought to man’s destiny, his role in the cosmos and his relationship to higher forms of life. But even in the case of someone who is highly intelligent, certain ideas found in 2001 would, if presented as abstractions, fall rather lifelessly and be automatically assigned to pat intellectual categories; experienced in a moving visual and emotional context, however, they can resonate within the deepest fibers of one’s being.
“I like to make films because I like to go into another world. I like to get lost in another world. And film to me is a magical medium that makes you dream…allows you to dream in the dark. It’s just a fantastic thing, to get lost inside the world of film.”
I don’t even have to look at the credits or anything to know if David Lynch directed any given episode of Twin Peaks. His vision and weird flourishes boldly stick out. Example: episode 2.2 when Donna, Maddy and James are sitting in the floor singing some kind of insane, bizarro retro pop song (sounds like something Lynch would be involved in these days!) Or episode 2.1 and the entire, absurdly brilliant scene between the old room service guy and Agent Cooper after he was shot. Or episode 2.2 when Donna starts Laura’s meals-on-wheels route and comes across the David Lynch mini-me kid and his cream corn magic tricks. Now, contrast that with episode 2.4—directed by a Todd Holland—and the horrible fight scene at the end between Josie’s cousin Jonathan and Hank Jennings.
It is in the contrasts of quality like the above that results in the de facto recognition that Twin Peaks’ enduring legacy is mostly a product of the visionary artistry of David Lynch.
Just after nightfall at the Outside Lands festival, the Shins took the stage for their first tour in years. The band’s most recent album, Wincing the Night Away, was released in January 2007; they last toured in 2009. They picked up their instruments and…
James Mercer: pop-music perfectionist and auteur. Sometimes, as an artist, you have to be a dick to create space for your vision (as detailed in this article). The tricky part is if the end justifies the means, if you made the right calculations, if the worthiness of the vision holds up. I have every reason to believe it will for James Mercer. He has unbelievable musical instincts.
Ali Ferzat is Syria’s best known political cartoonist, a mixture of the UK’s Steve Bell or Gerald Scarfe. At 4am on Thursday morning he was picked up off the street in Damascus and dragged into a 4x4 by armed masked men.
They beat him as they drove to the airport road and said: “We will break your hands so that you’ll stop drawing.”
Then they broke both the bones in both of his hands. His beard was singed, a bag was put over his head before he was dumped by the roadside and told: “This is just a warning.”
Mr Ferzat is now in hospital.
Seriously, do these despotic regimes and those who support them—to such a degree that they would break an artist’s hands as a warning—really think that this kind of brutality and oppression is going to continue working? It’s only a matter of time before Syria is the next Libya. People reach a point where living under certain oppressive conditions becomes spiritually, mentally and emotionally unsustainable, causing fear to disintegrate and for death to be a welcome outcome if they fall in the pursuit of changing their situation.