I’ve been gathering websites and materials for the upcoming courses I’m teaching and BJ has been a huge help with finding art history related lectures and movies. Last night, we finished watching, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a beautiful documentary about the Chauvet Cave in France. I can’t recommend it enough! The glittering stalagmites, the handprints scattered through the caves, the expressive horse paintings, the 30,000+ years of history all adds to the overwhelming sense of awe. We’ve also watched the Caravaggio episode of Simon Schama’s The Power of Art, which is presented in a more passionate and dramatic fashion than most art history videos – it works though. I’ll post any other good finds we come across this summer.
BJ loves, loves going to the movies. I feel bad, because I only feel the urge once in awhile. When I get to the theater, I’m usually glad I went, but I generally prefer watching movies at home. But after watching these trailers, I’m looking forward to catching Museum Hours and The Spectacular Now on the big screeb. They look promising, right?
We watched Before Sunrise today as a refresher for Before Midnight. The first time I viewed this movie, it was on a VHS tape my sisters and I rented from the local Krogers. I love that you’re able to grow with the characters, and now reflect on where you were at when the 1st and 2nd movie came out. Watching it again, they seem so young, and Ethan Hawke comes off as a cynic and Julie Delphy very passionate about everything. It works though and seems very appropriate for who they were in the first movie.
I loved reading about Robin Wood’s thoughts on one of my favorite scenes – the listening booth scene. Found here:
“I have to confess, at this point, to a failure: even on first viewing I told myself that I would ‘one day’ analyze in detail the scene in the listening booth of the record store, in which nothing happens except that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy either do or don’t look at each other, their eyes never quite meeting. After a dozen viewings I abandoned the project. I suppose one might try an elaborate system of charts and timings, annotating ‘direction of the gaze’, when and how long each looks (or doesn’t)… which would demonstrate nothing of the least importance. With no camera-movement, no editing, no movement within the frame except for the slight movements of the actors’ heads, nothing on the soundtrack but a not-very-distinguished song that may vaguely suggest what is going on in the characters’ minds and seems sometimes to motivate their ‘looks’ (“Though I’m not impossible to touch / I have never wanted you so much / Come here”), the shot seems to me a model of ‘pure cinema’ in ways Hitchcock never dreamed of (not merely ‘photographs of people talking’, but photographs of them not talking), precisely because it completely resists analysis, defies verbal description. All one can say is that it is the cinema’s most perfect depiction, in just over one minute of ‘real’ time, at once concrete and intangible, of two people beginning to realize that they are falling in love.”
On Thursday night, BJ and I had dinner at our friends and we all watched A Model For Matisse on Netflix. The film tells the story of Matisse’s unlikely friendship and work with Sister Jacques- Marie on the Chapel of the Rosary. It may have been an unusually Valentine’s movie pick, but by the end, it made sense. I was a little caught off guard by how moved and inspired I was after watching both by the tenderness of their bond and the drive Matisse had even in his aging years.
Already a fan of Matisse, especially his paper cuts, I have an even bigger admiration for his work created after he became less mobile. Here he is in poor health, drawing with a 9 foot pole, climbing dressers to reach higher spots. I can’t imagine anyone else during that time who could have gotten away with creating such modern imagery for a chapel. I can see how some of the nuns were up in arms!
I love the little details that went into planning of the chapel down to the priest’s chasubles, which Matisse first drafted with paper cut outs. There were several proposals for the stained glass, and one of my favorites that didn’t make it was the piece above called The Bees, which captured an overhead view of nuns in their habit. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already!
BJ and I saw The Deep Blue Sea over the weekend. The pace was slow and natural, the sweet scenes were super tender making the dark ones even darker, and I thought this one of the few movies that examined love in a different light. Rachel Weisz was beautiful as always. If you see it, I would love to hear what you think.
One of my favorite scenes played You Belong To Me by Jo Stafford. And it’s one of the few youtube comment sections worth reading.
Our friends Andrew and Bridget were married on April 30th. Imagination and care could be discerned in every facet of their wedding: the words, the prayers, the places, the songs. It was a triumph. As a bonus, we got to see many of our favorite people in one of our favorite cities.
Of course, I forgot the camera charger and used my phone as alternative for most of the trip. It ended working out. Enjoy!
Still rolling Sofia Coppola’s movie around in the mind. It has its share of critics, which is fine, but I think a lot of them are missing the point, and revealing their own hang-ups with her charmed life and career. Better to set that aside.
As I see it, Johnny Marco suffers from a malady called celebrity. The entertainer can’t be entertained: a steady stream of Hollywood pleasure-on-demand has deadened his nerve endings. Joy must belong to his humbler past. Things are different now: all that material success has led to an inner failure, something nicely hit upon by Walter Benjamin (1928: success dulls the mind) and Willie Nelson (1977: so-called successful lives leave behind the basics of love).
In Johnny’s pampered present, he’s absent. Physically he’s there, drifting through the parties and the junkets, into the anonymous bedrooms. But he’s emotionally elsewhere. Often seen as the summit of American success—the rise from mere man to big-screen hero—Coppola gives us an insider’s view of stardom as a somewhat tragicomic condition of existence. From her casting (Chris Pontius, the girl from the Office) to her art direction (the spot-on “Berlin Agenda” poster) one can safely infer that she has a sense of humor about this: the crucial “comic” in “tragicomic.” After all, it is not exactly profound or innovative to argue that money and fame do not beget happiness; this is not Somewhere’s aim. Instead the film serves more as evocation than argument, watching with sympathy and patience and even humor how today’s cultural gods reveal and cherish their humanity, how they mourn its surrender, and ache for its recovery.