LAALLH O, Light! Springing Tentatively in Triangle Film Screenings

April 06, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

 

All hail, Spring is upon us. O Light, let us be careful. Let's feel together, again.

 

Some nice music to accompany your reading.

"Then if you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God, for like is known by like......

make yourself higher than all heights, and lower than all depths, bring together in yourself all opposites of quality....;

think you are everywhere at once...;think that you are not yet begotten, ...that you are in the world beyond the grave;

grasp in your thought all this at once, all times and all places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together;

then you can apprehend God."

From the Corpus Hermeticum book XI. [MacDermot, Violet. The Fall of Sophia. Lindisfarne Books, 2001. p.55)

 

DSC_0353DNGDSC_0353DNG THE FRUIT:

OF KNOWLEDGE.

OF GOOD AND EVIL.

Theorists in the West have tended so strongly toward splitting the subjective from the objective - with a clear preference for objectivity as the source of truth. Not only is this a relatively new invention in human terms, it is also a dogma. Welcome to the Fruit.

One thing I love about movies is how gracefully they call into question our human dogmas and our cultural impulse to separate ourselves from a thing in order to understand it. There is no experience so sweet as being swept away by great cinema the way one can with a great lover. Not only does the lover anticipate ones most unconscious desires, but encourages their expression as one that transcends the feeling of being inside oneself, breaking down the ego barrier via ecstasy.

Every time I see a great film - or, well, metaphor - I wonder whether I'm eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of Life, or both. Genesis.

Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it both? How lonely are we, how isolated, how tortured, to know right from wrong and still to experience things that partake in both simultaneously. Doesn't our light necessitate shadow? So too does shadow have much to teach concerning lessons we are here to learn as human consciousnesses. At some higher level of conscious evolution, perhaps, there is a plateau to be reached when the knowledge, self, truth, light, harmonize as one type of being altogether.

At this stage of ecstasy, mysticism, what have you, the boundaries between what is right and what is wrong both change and find some more substantial ground to stand on.

 

 

The Apple. of. MY. EYE!

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 1.58.48 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-05 at 1.58.48 PM

A mysterious stranger had this to say about CINEMA OVERDRIVE'S presentation of The Apple (1980, dir. Golan) at The Carolina Theatre of Durham on March 20, 2019:

Screening: 10/10. Rating: WORTH IT.

"Absolutely bonkers. Why did Second Joss Ackland show up in a car, and why did it leave without him AND all the people? I love all the trailers fore and aft, especially when Jim [Jim Carl, Senior Director of film programming at the Carolina] tries to show trailers that would have appeared at the time of the feature's original release...The "SPEEEEED" song was just murder on my ears."

In this case, The Carolina Theatre unsurprising wooed the day with a flawless presentation, visual and auditory.

Related image Dear mysterious stranger and friend,

Thank you very much for the compliments. I did not intend that bit with the popcorn but I was thrilled when you pointed it out (I went as The Apple).

I hope you agree that, from the time the film itself begins and until it ends, the preferred way of being is to let the film happen to you and allow yourself the immersion in that experience. Apart from that - whether during trailers or when we're all settling in or filing out - it's healthy to experience the space and its reverent or irreverent anticipations or reactions with other human beings. Say hello next time! Preface it with your favorite color so I know that it's you. Wink.

l'Am merely a humble servant of the light that I love.

Seen a screening lately that you particularly enjoyed (or despised)? Have thoughts or feelings about the experience, the theater, the presenter, the film? Feel free to express yourself here!

FEELINGS | THOUGHTS

My turn.

 

 

One thing I struggle with as I work on this writing is that I'm not so regularly pumping out these appreciations of local programming. In my defense, I've realized how valuable it is to draw similarities of various screenings and experiences. Hopefully, I demonstrate that an individual piece can be appreciated on its own, in relation to other works, as well as in its relation to the viewer. Great works of art can engage easily at each level.

 

THE APPLE (1980, dir. Golan)

3/20 CAROLINA (presented by Cinema Overdrive)

I had so much fun with this absurd movie. I fully expected to hate it and regret the decision to attend this screening rather than the Alamo Drafthouse's concurrent screening of Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! But after a quick Wikipedia search and immediate understanding of the film's relevance to the kind of shit that is constantly on my mind, I decided to approach Menahem Golan's The Apple.

Villains have such a way of utilizing the moral ambiguity of "there is no right, there is no wrong" to justify their ego-maniacal ends. And the sensitivity of feminine divinity approaches wisdom with tenderness, to be so ravaged within. The songs were terrible. The dancing was over-the top, glitzy, but inside...inside this strange film, some morsel of truth, some delight, some redemption.

Deus. Ex. Machina. It doesn't get any more on the nose than this.

In case you missed it, this title is streaming on Amazon Prime!

 

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1976, dir. Gessner)

3/4 ALAMO (presented by Cinema Overdrive)

I went seeking some idea of whether or not this film relates to how David Lynch and Mark Frost RETURNed to the town of TWIN PEAKS in 2017. I would have to say that Martin Sheen's character, and Jodie Foster's age, may indeed echo through time to become the Bob and Laura Palmer we came to know in later times. "We'll be friends, you and I."

Friends. Right.

Image result for i'm no angel mae west
I’M NO ANGEL (1933, dir. Ruggles)

3/13 CAROLINA (presented by MovieDiva)

God bless Mae West schooling Cary Grant on things he'd rather assume than understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRAINSTORM (1983, dir. Trumbull)

3/19 VARSITY (in partnership with the Ackland Film Forum)

 

Image result for brainstorm movie

 

Some minds are unprepared to take on the responsibility of what can be known about that sublime space between life and death. I'm making it my personal responsibility to find the incredible modernist industrial masterpiece which served as the exterior (and also possibly interior) location for the lab in Trumbull's solidly fun and fascinating film. Plenty of juice here concerning the barrier between the objective and the subjective, and comfortably within the realm of narrative storytelling. Appropriate use of special effects and very engaging manipulation of the frame itself.

 

Radical begins and ends when feelings and thoughts and lovers and friends come together again.

 

Observando el Cielo (Jeanne Liotta, 2017)

from Jeanne Liotta's Observando el Cielo (2017)

Breaking Stasis: Experimental 'Screenings' and the (Meta)Physics of Light

 

February and March of 2019 were chock full of inspiring, experimental cinema.

I had the pleasure of attending a few screenings which challenged the boundary of the frame, the movies as a medium, and had me thinking deeply about the nature of cinema itself. These experiences, and the pieces I witnesses, transcend my rating system because you literally had to be there. I hope this can inspire some of you to also seek this aspect of the experience of the moving image. Sometimes, it involves a performative aspect that like other genres of performance - whether live music, dance, or other - occurs the one time and differently, in a sense, for each member of the audience. So too is it unique in that attempts to capture such a thing would be impossible.

As we can know from the toils of folks like Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, the measurement - the observation of a thing as such - directly impacts its manifestation and expression.

JEANNE LIOTTA: PAST | PRESENT | LIVE (RUBY) February 18, 2019

MANUAL CINEMA; ADA AND AVA (REYNOLDS THEATER) February 9, 2019

CHEVYS AND LANDSCAPES (DURHAM CINEMATHEQUE) March 17, 2019

 

Jeanne Liotta is an accomplished, well-regarded video artist and attended the screening and performance of a number of works spanning the entirety of her career. It was such a pleasure to have a dialog with her after the fact, inquiring about her process, especially as it related to her short piece SPAZIO (2018). In the work we see glimpses of a figure thumbing a rare volume about the work of a monk by the name of Giordano Bruno, with some fascinating visuals of esoteric diagrams of space that this martyred 1600s esotericist created in his lifetime.

For some added SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE, this name would recur in my own life in relation to some research into SOPHIA mythos and scholarship in preparation for Netflix's June 2019 release of the anime series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION.

Manual Cinema, a Chicago-based troupe of light artists who create live cinema using a system of projectors, actors, and silhouetted puppets thrilled the part of me that dreams in terms of light, and depth, and parallax, and practical effects, and the responsibility and wonder at the witnessing of light with art, feeling, intention behind it. It was a unique and beautiful experience and a phenomenal piece, that helped to heal pieces of me that hurt from the loss of those I love in the lived experience of my life.

CHEVYS AND LANDSCAPES was such a transcendent experience that instead of describing how much I loved the opportunity to enjoy the Analog Museum at the Durham Cinematheque, or how blown away I was by Tom Whitehead's work in 16mm, I'm just gonna say GO.

In the end, with each piece, I felt drunk in light and how it had also moved over and inside of me within the context of performative pieces that would never happen again and would always be happening for me at the same time.

What is the significance of the moving image? How does interaction - exhibition, or as a viewer - translate to lived experience? What does this experience have to do with theoretical frameworks in the physics of light and its relationship to human consciousness and expression?

 

LOCAL, HONEY: Movies, Experience, Immunotherapy

FOREIGN BODY (2016, dir. Amari)  2/20 RUBY

There are a few characters I tend to see around all the same screenings, but it’s almost impossible to go to a screening that Kevin isn’t attending.

Last year, local cinephile Kevin managed to attend over 500 screenings. So when Kevin told me that this was one of his favorites from 2017, I made it a point to see this excellent independent film screening as part of the African Film Festival at Duke’s Rubenstein Center.

Following the trials and tribulations of a youthful woman, an illegal immigrant to France, Foreign Body asks radical questions of faith, nationhood, identity, and what freedom can and can’t look like when the traumas visited upon us have no reckoning. The film was beautiful in both form and content.

Image result for black cat white cat
BLACK CAT, WHITE CAT (1998, dir. Kustirica) 2/21 MovieLoft at SHADOWBOX

These have become some of my favorite local screenings and the folks who run the Shadowbox Studio couldn’t be warmer or cooler than they already are. This screening was a raucous romp on the banks of the Danube in Serbia, and hearkened a familiar face back to the fore of my consciousness. Amidst the peculiarly ordered chaos and kinetic energy of the film, the face of Branka Katić - so familiar!

Then I remembered her. I’ve been binging HBO’s BIG LOVE ever since, in a welcome re-watching of one of my FAVORITE series ever.

 

Image result for on dangerous ground 1951


ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951, dir. Ray, Lupino) 2/25 RUBY

In a continuation of last month’s post on local Film Noir screenings, they came to a head with this wonderful screening of Nicholas Ray and Ida Lupino’s masterwork.

The mastery has a markedly subjective component for me. As soon as Lupino appeared on screen as Mary, my eyes immediately welled up with tears. She reminded me so much of my Mother.

My mother was disabled for the last 10 years of her life, which came to a grief-ridden end on November 25, 2013. Lupino was her. The big wide eyes, the free expression of her feelings writ all over her sweet face, the careful way she moved in space, her vulnerability and forthrightness and courage. So, too, in lines like

“I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.”

I was a goddamn mess and I wept and then I went home and I sobbed and now I’m crying again.

 

CLIMAX (2019, dir. Noe) 3/3 DUKE (Special early screening presented by A24)

Cut through this sentimentality like a slow, dull axe. And all the hell of this brutal blow was an inversion of every ecstatic little death.

This wasn’t my first experience with a Noe film, but it was the first time I made it through. The first was an attempted viewing of 2009’s Enter the Void, which was unwatchable for me because of the artificiality of wide angle shots (which comprised the entirety of the film). This formal assault was too much for me, but the content of Climax, mirroring this brutality, was a delicious descent into Hell itself.

The glory of expression perverted. The film documents artists who excel at their craft lumped together in an isolated workshop to dance through the pain of existence. In the beginning, we get each of them individually, speaking to us, lo fi and with clear cuts. As the film progresses the boundaries between each begin to dissolve and their shared horrors rise like a dark tide, as the film itself becomes a semblance of one long, uninterrupted shot. It’s as if all the pain bound up and expressed seeps immanently into the boundaries of their closed experience. This pandora’s box of suffering let loose by artificial hallucinogens and ignorance, floods the frame and the consciousness of the audience.

Welcome to hell. Everyone here is dead. There is no love or life left anywhere. Le petit mort.

Image result for noe climax

 

FREE: FEELINGS & FILMS

A good number of the films

listed on the ART | HOUSE screenings calendar

are free to the public

(especially for those of you lucky enough to call Durham your home!)

SCREEN/SOCIETY breaks from the exclusivity of the Private University atmosphere to feature free screenings, many of which are brilliant works of art. Now that they are coming to the close of their Winter/Spring 2019 season, a heartfelt thank you to Jason Sudek and Hank Okazaki of The Art of the Moving Image department at Duke University.

MovieLoft, presented and hosted by Shadowbox Studio in Durham, takes donations for what has proved to be a FANTASTIC film selection so far. Also, hot dogs! I'm making it a point to attend as many of these screenings as possible.

As one of my favorite film professors used to regularly charge - Watch movies, folks.

 

 

EPILOGUE: JUST DUMB ENOUGH TO TRY

For months, once or twice a month, we touched. And in that touch something sacred, forgiveness meet sin. The above like the below and the outside in the in. For about the same number of months I could see and I could hear. Like cinema. There was no touch.

Unlike cinema, there was only darkness. No light, no life, like it always was in the end.

I grieved.

In the separation I grieved the misplacement of trust, the gifts ungratefully received. I grieved the innocence with which such gifts were given and the holiness spoiled by evil and deceit. I grieved the loss of my glimpse of The Gate and the Light therein.

Pain or scorn or strife and more. My lover, my friend, and neither in the end. In the end, we begin.

 


And so it was with each goodbye. And as the long goodbye never seemed to end, I struggled for peace and found it within. Like an animal, I'll fight to keep it, grow and nurture it, and will never let you reduce it again.

 


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