Wednesday, January 28, 2009

taylor swift is a genius.

this little girl has managed to break all these records, becoming the best-selling artist in '08, the only artist ever to have two albums in the end-of-year top ten, tied in second place with mariah carey and the beatles for the most singles in the billboard top 20, spending all this time at number one on different charts across different genres, all because she makes good music. yes, it's the music of young girls, but it's not like the music of other young girls. yes, while most of what she talks about is boys, she imagines that interaction as abstractly romanticised (romeo and juliet), but while using mundane imagery (throwing rocks at the window). one is forced, by the coherence of her lyrics, to leave aside the moralising concerns of a society that legitimates the prioritization of romantic ideas for young girls. one is forced, by the variety and excitement of her musical prowess, to forget that she's a young girl. this is her most intriguing and intoxicating feat: she's managed to marry honest, personal, interesting lyrics with powerful, evocative, and emotional music. the production of her work is rather unbelievably magical, mostly because it's entirely unexpected. but, despite the fallacy of expectation, what we are left with is a genius who knows how to create songs that are both meaningful and popular, who began writing at age ten, made her first multi-platinum album at age sixteen, and by age eighteen, with only her second album, has reached the sorts of financial and artistic peaks that almost no one ever does.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

mindquesting by moleskine.

a discernible comfort in having always in one's back pocket the flexible soft cover to fill with one's lists notes thoughts-more-significant in a presence more ordered than one's iphone whose slow slow slowness bogs down its usefulness and disturbs one's thought-trains unlike the eveready quickness with which one scribbles all things necessary and not in the pages of this thick deep leather simplicity-personified beauty easily reached and kept shut by its overwrapping elastic strap trapping within it pages separated precisely by the ribbon that ends perpetual pageseeking and commences perpetual mindquesting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

doubt -- excellent

this is what a character piece should look like. meryl streep really was spectacular. she deserves the sag. p.s.h. (phil s. hoffman) was really good, but he seemed not to pop out nearly as much as streep. weird seeing amy adams in a serious role; was hard not to laugh at times.

some of the shots were sideways; i guess that was so we wouldn't get bored? nice device of using the sermons to address themes the three characters were discussing. very nice boxing the film with p.s.h. talking about doubt at the beginning, and m.s. confessing it at the end. very interesting/cool how the film was never really explicit about the issue the characters were dealing with; it focussed on the characters' reactions.

ultimately, an engrossing story really well told simply through subtle scenes revealing the character's characters.

meryl streep really was spectacular. haven't seen a performance like that in a long time.

Friday, January 23, 2009


acid-pleasure pure-leisure bell-bottle pulp-brothel.

benjamin button -- good to very good

acting was quite good. story interesting and poignant. aesthetically very nice, interesting to see range of history. but perhaps because it was so expansive, one doesn't connect very deeply with the characters. 'doubt' and 'wrestler' took place in one location and over a very short period of time, thus concentrating on the depth and development of the characters, allowing the audience to connect with them emotionally. ben button, though good, didn't have the same effect. brad pitt's a great actor, constantly underrated. he did a great job of acting different ages, and he looked the part; it was surprising how young he looked at the end, like a 20 yr old. and it was surprising how well he played the part of an 80 yr old.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

wild roses

new cbc show. it's well-acted. it's well-made. it's canadian.

i like that it takes place in calgary. i like the dynamics between the characters, and the diversity of character types, which reflect parts of the canadian identity. i like the juxtaposition of the two families, rich/poor, male/female, wilfull/less-wilfull. i like the story, and its unfolding, which is gradual and careful. not like a fox show, where the emphasis is on showmanship.
try it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"bride wars" and the diminution of half the human population.

i'm bored of ill-constructed, stock movies with stock characters and stock plots. i'm also bored of the idea that the the only thing women care about is being in a relationship. that's what many movies suggest, explicitly. it's rampant in this society, in songs, art, advertising. being in a relationship is part and parcel of the culture of materialism that is incessantly promoted by the market's propaganda machine. in this conception, 'being with someone' is like having a bally bag or a lexus car. the pursuit of knowledge has no value; a life of careful morality and compassion is not considered. all that matters is that you're 'with someone'. gleeful faces in elongated shrieks, 'i met someoneeee!'; sorrowful singles. nothing else cheers, nothing else matters. identities are not shaped by contemplating who we are or what we want in life, but, rather, the romantic relationship. characters like this seem to live life by trial and error, flailing about this way and that, without any guidance or anchor. and, if they're in a movie, eventually erupting in dramatic outbursts in public places. it's sad that so many people, especially girls (so it seems to be, anyway), go through life with such confusion and insecurity, not knowing their purpose or goal, tying up their essences and identities into an attachment with another person. some may argue that by going through many relationships we come to learn more about ourselves and what we want. of course it's true. but what wasted time. life is about balance: love and learn.

there were some really funny lines from kate hudson's assistant.

an exercise in bret ellis: fictional account of lackadaisical life in first-person narrative

I’m sitting on my couch at 7 p.m. watching this show about two guys and some chick eating pizza and my phone rings. My friend wants me to pick her up to go get a crepe. An hour later we’re sitting with a plain nutella crepe between us and she’s telling me a story about how she was such a mischievous kid and when some silly song starts to play I say I like this track but she just gives me a face. We leave and run into a couple of friends who’re going for shisha and so we join them. Three hours later I’m feeling dizzy from the smoke but it’s not bad, and everyone is tired so we end up at my place smoking and drinking and watching a movie that half of us have seen already, but nobody minds. Everyone leaves before the sun comes up and I lie back listening to that same silly song, not wondering what I’m going to do tomorrow, ‘cause I already know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

live freedom freely

i am pleased that we live in a country that is not obsessed with itself, with its own augustness, but, rather, concerns itself explicitly with a concern for others. i am pleased that we live in a country in which we are unafraid to wear our skin on our sleeves and our ideologies on our heads. we live in a country in which we aim for plainness and honesty, not only through the behaviour of our people, but also through our state's ideology. we are not perpetually diminishing the role of public religion while at the same time infusing our public pageantry with the trappings of the dominant one. we are not concerned with raising ourselves to a position of physical dominance, but, rather, to be a force of morality among other forces of morality, in a co-operation of communities that struggles to ensure the upliftment of humanity at large, that commits itself to the freedom of every human individual, regardless of nationality, in a fraternity of humanity. we do not say we will help you, rather, we say we are united with you, and compassion is a given. to be canadian is to be human.

Monday, January 19, 2009

the wrestler, brilliance, and humanity.

a brilliant film. a paragon of storytelling. a work of art.

the film is full of humanity. and that condition is its showcase as well. mickey rourke creates a character of careful grandeur (randy 'the ram'), whose depths are slowly glinted at through darren aronofsky's subtle storytelling. randy's redemptive road begins with light-heartedness, despite an obvious sense of despair about life's unfolding. as the film progresses, randy's attempts at love and reconciliation are sabotaged by his failings in the aspects of life that compose the 'real world'. despite his health, he recedes into his alter-ego as a wrestler, 'the ram'; though he is old, in the ring his fans, 'family', never make him feel out-of-date or invalidated. rather, it is only in that persona that he realises freedom. the oppressiveness of reality is a theme mirrored in marisa tomei's well-crafted character, who herself has two personae (cassidy/pam), though she chooses the responsibilites of the 'real world' and gives up her life as a stripper, where she feels invalidated and out-of-date.

an excellent device used by aronofsky was to film rourke from behind, as he walks. this is done a few times, in different circumstances, and gives the effect of anticipation, as we cannot see his face, and we can only hear the roar of the crowd who are themselves anticipating him. the genius of this device is that aronofsky used it in mundane situations as well, which served to juxtapose 'the ram's glamourous life (as he walks onto the stage) with randy's mundane one (as he walks from the kitchen to the deli counter).

the film was entirely emotional, and rourke was spectucualar, and human. nothing was more poignant than the last scene, in which so much was conveyed by randy's decision to fight, pam's decision to leave, and aronofsky's decision to leave the audience in wonder.

kanye's new album.

powerful in its simplicity. (cliched, perhaps.) most of the album is just beats from the 808 drum machine. the starkness of the music is mirrored by his austere auto-tune voice and the simple depth of the lyrics, which, though dealing with cliched subject matter remains full of interesting imagery. everyone loves 'love lockdown', and so do i, but the first track is perhaps my favourite:

duty/free [manifesto]

a life of contemplation without action is a life lived lame. a life of apathetic experience is insubstantial. but in combination you have a whole: a life of both active contemplation and impassioned experience is a balanced life. in the actualisation of both/all aspects of life is life's real pleasure - experiencing the whole, wholly. in the acceptance of all our diverse and conflicting components is freedom. freedom is being whole. it is our duty to be free.