Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? (2009)

The true story of Mark Yavorsky, who stabbed his mother with a sabre while under the influence of Aeschylus is a strange one. It’s also bait for Werner Herzog, who obviously has a penchant for stories of the lone individual – and so much the better if that individual happens to be unstable (see also: almost every Herzog film). In ‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?’ Herzog has kept the matricidal component of Yavorsky's story, while substituting his own background and resolution. What results is a chilling, deliberately paced film about madness, and about being blind to that madness.

The film is direct and to the point; rather than build to a dénouement, it starts with one. Within the first ten minutes, we know that Brad (Herzog has changed Mark’s name to Brad McCullum) has killed his mother and is holed up in a house across the street from the crime, surrounded by the police. We also know that this remarkable event is the central event of the movie; the mysteries lie in how this came about, and how it will end.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Pleasure of Being Robbed (2008)

Kleptomania, a compulsion to steal without any motive or thought for what one is stealing. We consider it a disorder, a condition in which the self has no control and acts reactively, thoughtlessly, and at times, foolishly. But how different is this from the vast majority of our everyday existence, in which we react to stimuli, mainly without deep thought or reflection? Sure, we may ponder difficult questions and put a significant amount of time and mental effort into solving problems, but most of what we do is ‘off the cuff’ and mindless.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Speed Clips

'No York City' by Rick Liss is a sped up stroll through NYC of the '80s. There are many things of note in the flick, which seems to represent the coke binges of the time as much as it does the fast-paced nature of 'the city that never sleeps' - the Twin Towers, the Lower East Side as burnt out shells and hulks of empty buildings, mimes in Central Park, street fairs and vendors...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

F*ckin' Fascists

 How do seemingly good people fall prey to the seduction of evil movements? Bernardo Bertolucci and Federico Fellini try to address this question with two differing accounts of the rise of fascism in Italy prior to the Second World War. In both accounts, fascism is an intoxicant, capturing the minds and souls of Italians by appealing to their base instincts and susceptibilities. In Bertolucci's account, fascism appeals to perversion and power lust, and emerges in a horrid expression of anger and ressentiment. Fellini paints a different picture, though; one of misguided Italians, intoxicated by the symbols at play into drunkenness akin to religious zeal. It manifests through a people who are childish and immature, unable to see the ramifications of the movement that they’ve fallen capture to.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What We're Watching: The City Concealed

The City Concealed: High Bridge from on Vimeo.

From Thirteen, an excellent on-going video series exploring the hidden crevasses, structures, history, and parks of New York City. My personal favorite so far is the video of the High Bridge, which spans the Harlem River at 173rd street (from the Manhattan side). It's the oldest surviving bridge in NYC, opening in 1848. If you've driven onto the FDR from the GWB, you've gone under it, and probably wondered what the enormous, unused structure was - made all the more curious by its combination of masonry and steel (awesome picture of the bridge as it originally looked here). Luckily, it will shortly be undergoing similar treatment as the High Line and the newly opened Walkway Over the Hudson, and will open as a pedestrian bridge in a magnificent example of urban reuse.

An introduction to the series is here, and the main page is here.