Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ah Pook Is Here

Writers work with words and voices just as painters work with colors; and where do these words and voices come from? Many sources; conversations heard and overheard, movies and radio broadcasts, newspapers, magazines, yes, and other writers.--William Seward Burroughs.

The title of this blog, which, I must say is brilliant, was stolen from two sources. The first, Old Bull Lee himself. He was writing a book way back when that was never published called "Ah Pook Was Here?" The other source is public restroom inscriptions like "Salt Chunk Mary was Here," or, "Edna Million was here, 2009." I stole these two ideas and created one amazing blog title. The addition I made was to turn the "was" into an "is" because only a fool would write they "was" somewhere. You "is" somewhere. Right?

Godard has created the most amazing film-universe through savage thievery. (That's the trick, you can't be a cautious or lazy thief) It is his gift to us, for now we may walk in its cruel and familiar beauty.

Everything belongs to the inspired and dedicated thief.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Filmmakers on the Loose

Our first real Cinema Caldera business trip; we headed down to Sonoma County to film some kids from the Boys and Girls Club going to see the Santa Rosa Symphony.

We traveled all four corners of lovely Sonoma County, from Rohnert Park to Healdsburg to Sonoma town to Guerneville. All purple and gold and green with heavy grapevines in the sun as far as the eye can see.

In the meantime, we hit the cute little downtown market in Santa Rosa wednesday night for supplies.

We also got a chance to meet up with our friend Dan Donahoe of Teira Wines and Hudson Street Wineries to finalize some shots for his video and to share A LOT of delicious wine. And to have pizza with his lovely daughters and hang out in the grand event space there which we decked out for the video.

Darin and Stan began to bear an uncanny resemblance in aspect and demeanor. They even accidentally donned matching clothes which we lovingly called their Cinema Caldera uniforms: Columbia shorts with royal blue sweatshirts. Stan was too embarrassed to fully rock the twin look here but I think you can detect their odd alliance.

Film-makers at work.
and loving it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Balance Your Maps with Mystery

Some Thoughts on Tarkovsky

Anrei Tarkovsky is a heavy-handed sleight-of-hand artist. Some of his images are so weighted, so full of melodramatic religious existentialism, that they risk absurdity. Somehow, he always avoids the grotesque. Somehow, he always pulls it off. He's part magician, part mystic. Even with his obsessively repeated images, I'm thinking levitating lovers, burning houses, writhing women, indoor rain, his films always refresh me. The camera movements, the precise color pallets, the sounds of Artemyev, have a calming effect on my internal organs. Seriously. After watching Solaris, I lived inside the movie, or the movie entered my realm, for weeks. The same thing happened with Stalker and The Mirror. I was as confused as Kris Kelvin. One should watch his films on a rainy day or late at night.

The Sacrifice, Tarkovsky's last film, is just as heavy and deep as his others. You get the sense that this is the film of a dying man. A Dark Night of the Soul. There is one funny image though, a weighted-funny image but still funny. Alexander, played by Bergman actor Erland Josephson, madly limping around his house in a black robe with a yin/yang on the back. He even sets his house on fire with it on. I almost laughed.

Roland Barthes said "Trauma is a news photo without a caption," and Tarkovsky is an artist who understands this truth. I am thinking of the black and white shots of crowds running through city streets that enter the film seemingly out of nowhere and are never explained. Are they dreams or scenes from World War Three? Is this what the postman-philosopher Otto means when he says "I've always been terrified of Leonardo"? The trauma in this film, which is of truly epochal proportions, has no captions, as all art does not.

Finally, I have to mention the map. Alexander receives an old map of Europe from Otto. He sits on the floor staring at it like a child. Its borders and dimensions obviously wrong by modern standards. But the modern standards are just as untrue as the old, as Alexander observes. Otto says "We are blind. Simply, we know nothing." Like myself, Tarkovsky believes in balancing one's maps with mystery.

Lastly, I'd like point out Susan Sontag's 1995 lament of "the death of the cinephile." This lament came 100 years after the birth of cinema. For a variety of reasons(faster cutting, general commercialism, mass stupidity) cinema "doesn't demand anyone's full attention," she says. I would like to encourage anyone reading this to rent a very long film (The Sacrifice, Solaris, Seven Samurai, Bela Tar's Satantango if you're really up for it) and set aside 2,3,4 hours to watch the film. Don't answer the phone, pee before you start it, get some snacks and drinks ready.

blog by darin

Saturday, July 25, 2009