Saturday, August 30, 2008

but seriously folks

without meaning to sound like shecky greene it would seem that my last couple of posts perhaps sound a bit bitter. perhaps, but the joke about poor seamus i find somehow enlightening and damn funny. it is a proof that no one is above a bit of humility and wonder. that there are things much bigger than we are.

well, as the kids like to remind us: NO DOY!!!!

for a few reasons, some too personal to state publicly, there's been more than a fair share of stress at the moment. what i find fascinating in my life is how poetry is the engine that drives much of my thinking. for better and for worse. e.g. working in the garden and mowing the grass today i found myself thinking of various poetics, my reading practices, how i'd classify myself as a writer even tho i hate systems of classifications.

all this relates somehow to how i live my life. poetry and life are indeed separate entities but i am reminded by what the swedish mystical poet tomas transtromer once snapped at an interviewer. transtromer, a clinical psychologist, wondered why he is always asked how his job influenced his writing but no one ever asked him how his poetry transformed his job.

in other words, the inner life nearly always impacts the outer life. even stevens' suitcase, partitioned as it was by sections for his day job and for drafts of poems, is still one suitcase. here i am as a family man with a mortgage cutting my lawn and thinking of, for lack of a better phrase, my poetics. and i am reminded by the lines of british poet martin stannard on why i love poetry so and how my own poetics seem to be evolving toward i don't know what:

If poems can't slug it out
with kids and mayhem and shopping life
overdrafts and broken cars and jobs
they're not worth shit

['parried endlessly', writing down the days, stride books 2001]

note to self[s]

keep it short

& slow way the fuck down

Friday, August 29, 2008

this is like totally fucked up

every night before i go to bed
                    i go outside to check on the stars
          hope against hope
                              [as mrs mandelstam once wrote]
that they be still blinking
                    in their billions year old cold
then hoping [again] to see a ufo
that could like maybe
                    beam me up like scotty did
once upon a time
                              a long time ago

Thursday, August 28, 2008

some days you feel like a skinned fish

for our hot water heater
a tankless system went kaput
it was only a few years old such state of the art
so in the meantime it is very short cold
showers -- hop in hop out - real quick

which wouldn't be so bad but man
there are days when you feel like
a skinned fish nerves and shit all exposed
or maybe more like that story in
belfast poet ciaran carson's prose
work the star factory where old pious
farmer seamus can't get a break

so one night he implores [i'm paraphrasing],

oh lord, i am a simple soul
with little need or want
i pray to you nightly & everyday
go to church on sunday
work hard my land
but my wife left me
my children never visit
& my potato fields
every year yield little
why lord, why do i not
get a break

then there was a crack of lightening
and whiff of ozone
a giant finger came down from the heavens
and pinned seamus to his wall
and a loud voice cried out


and that was all

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

together they meet in a fight of fright

how could you go wrong with a film titled dracula v. frankenstein? surely such a movie would bring in the bucks from the drive-in crowd. but how to get that crowd interested in seeing such a concoction. film a trailer of course and that will be the hook with which to reel the suckers in.

the hook is sharp and almost 40 years later it is still reeling them in. at least it still reels me in. the filmmaker, al adamson, was a hack par excellence and his films mined the substrata of popular culture of the late 1960s and 1970s. adamson got down-on-their-luck old hollywood actors whose stars had faded to a dim sheen. for this movie we have john carradine, briefly, j. carroll naish, russ tamblyn, lon chaney jr, and jim davis in a film that is a study of post-modernist fragmentation. adamson put together the fragments of what looks like 3 different films: cheap hippy psychedelia, the dracula film of the title, and a mash of horror clippings starring naish as the mad scientist.

question is does the film work. short answer is no of course. if you want to watch a good movie then stay away from this flick. however, if you love a kind of movie-making designed to be screened only at the drive-in when the filmmakers knew that most of the audience would be doing many things other than watching what is onscreen, then this is the shit. i can't recall if i saw this movie at the drive-in when i was only a lad but i certainly recall the trailer, and it is a doozy.

for i love trailers as much as the features themselves. what i find refreshing is that this trailer comes from the ghetto inside poverty-row. so cheap is it that the filmmakers, and i can't be sure it was adamson who made this turkey, used stills in many places with very light-colored fonts for the actors' names, so faint are they that you can't even read them. the film stock looked like throw-aways and i'm sure that the trailer looked old even when it was brand new.

in other words, this is my kind of filmmaking where the art happens out of accident and necessity. the film was successful in part because of its title and also because it was almost immediately vaunted to the top tier of it's-so-bad-it's-good movies. you don't have to watch the film to enjoy adamson's style of exploitation movie-making. you just simply have to sit back and dig this trailer.

(je suis)
but also 'lower-case american'

sayeth anselm hollo


Monday, August 25, 2008

first line : last line #003‏

11 p.m. news show voices static from inside wall
or is it from inside my head. can't know

she sleeps on a futon behind the horror of it all
w/ a sheer slip of coverlet shielding her thighs.

hanging in / vicious city / hanging out
hair matted, clothes awry, replacing the 'h' w/ an 'n' in hope

penultimate line up her nose bumping down to her toes
shifts in sleep w/ a shake and wrinkle dreaming of her groove thing

jonathan hayes & richard lopez

Saturday, August 23, 2008

good day sunshine

actually it's pretty damn hot with the sun broiling everything in sac. it is a typical late summer day when the light changes to a hint of fall gold instead of the harsh fluorescent radiation of high summer but the heat sticks like gum on the bottom of your shoe. but what matter is the heat when geof huth drives up for a long visit.

we met at the corner stone, a dive breakfast joint located in midtown on the corner of 24th and j st, where we caught up and the conversation veered from poets, poetry, the states of our health, movies, tattoos [geof reminded me that either i had asked him in an email or maybe i posted on my blog a question to geof if he would consider writing visual poems for the purpose of having them inked on the skin. i think he said he's got a little collection of them now] and so forth. the ease and laughter we shared felt more like we just last saw each other on the previous weekend rather than nearly a year and a half.

after breakfast we turned the corner and walked the 10 steps to the book collector and had an even longer visit with owner/publisher richard hansen. i'm still high from the banter, laughter and atmosphere as if old friends were making a reaquaintance. which it was, i'd say. i regret not taking my camera but the battery has been crapping out very quickly making the thing almost useless. but i knew geof would have his camera and it was a pleasure to watch him go thru richard's store with camera in hand snapping photos and picking up books and ephemera. geof and i exchanged our most recent publications, and geof bought a small stack of books, including several pubs by d.a. levy, while i picked up a couple of chaps from richard's store.

geof's been chronicling his n california tour at his blog and his book-buying binge. i'd be curious to see if he writes about the city of stockton, but i don't know if he's been in that city since he's staying on the outskirts. there are a couple of very good writers who live in stockton, such as poet soterre torregian and horror novelist dennis etchison. however, my city, sac, is not the east bay or sf. duh! it can't be but it does have its small charms, the heat not withstanding. so after a very hectic and stressful week seeing geof again and visiting richard with geof at the book collector was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. the day became good again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

what's going on

so i've lost weight. funny thing about losing weight is that when someone asks if i lost weight and i say yes the next question is, 'on purpose'? sure enough the 3 scariest words in the english language are SUDDEN WEIGHT LOSS. the next question asked is if i'm on a diet. my answer is no. nothing terribly restricting only a modification of eating habits and an increase in healthier eating. but i still eat shit, i just don't eat a lot of shit and make choices in my eating. where i used to eat a lot and all the time now i eat some and at set times. just that.

but then i hear others and their diets and i think never have there been a moment in our history where there is such an abundance of food that we worry about overeating and gaining weight. used to be just the opposite in our history. for that i am grateful to be living in our time. and yet, the future scares the shit out of me, and not because i'm growing old and more hardened. i just find our human behavior to be short-sighted and ravenous. we piss in our own water glass then complain that the water tastes a bit salty and is too warm.

okay, whatever. been a stressful day. i'll leave it at that.

at any rate, going thru some chaps last night i find sf poet david larsen's dogma '01 manifesto where he declares a diy ethos and demands writers forgo all market forces and publish their own work with their own hands. self-publish or perish, and do it in as large numbers as you can manage. as larsen writes:

Dogma '01 rejects the division of labor between writer and publisher that prevails in the literary market-place, and therefore its productions are unfit for all but the most informal modes of distribution (barter, give-aways, and low-volume sales).

larsen is referencing chapbook production but i would also include publishing your own work, and the work of others you like and admire, on blogs and other e-media.

do it now. you might be a genius but don't expect anyone to recognize it right away and fall over themselves to publish your collected. do it now and for yourself and the readers will follow. now larsen's dogma '01 is not some absolute tract to be taken religiously. even larsen has a book out, the thorn, by faux press.

but perhaps it's simply me. are there any other poets around who would feel guilty that third party spent potential thousands of dollars and much time and energy publishing your book that will maybe sell a couple dozen? would it not be better to publish it on your own on the cheap and send copies out to friends, family and fellow poets? the number of readers would probably be the same.

it's not that i don't participate in the market economy. i buy shitloads of books and love books and think that there are many presses, such as bootstrap productions and meritage press, that are worth our support. i've participated in eileen tabios's online survey of poetry book-buying habits with her analysis here and the raw data here. but as for me i would indeed feel guilty about a small press spending the kind of bucks it takes to get a book of mine in print when i can publish my work myself for a couple hundred bucks at the most. i prefer chapbooks anyway and i don't have a cv to update.

no one is asking anyway. but then again, if asked i think i might say OKAY!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

when we pretend that we're dead

the film mirrors just opened and it looks interesting enough to seek out in the theater. at least the young director, alexandre aja, hails from france and his first feature, haute tension, about a very dysfunctional relationship, is a very rare french filmmaker in that he loves the horror genre and seriously amps the gore. in aja's films there's just buckets of the red stuff sloshing about everywhere.

now if that is not a recommendation for a filmmaker then i don't know what is. seriously, when the stress level in our human lives begins to redline then a good horror film, and no it doesn't have to be about the gore, can be a palliative against the anxiety. horror is most bodily in its cerebration. jeez, can that sound any geekier? nevertheless, horror allows us to confront the frailty of the human body as it also places us face to face with mortality. watching a good horror film we think thru and with our bodies. we are not detached from pain as we look upon death within the frame of our minds. our perspectives are thus enlarged as we engage and experience the frightening reality of our eventual deaths. horror then offers a build-up and release and the phew! feeling of survival. it places petty annoyances and bothers in check. we glance at the unknown and not shrink from it nor do we shirk from our viewing. that is the metaphysics of good horror, even at its most bloody and visceral, and why i love the genre so.

Monday, August 18, 2008

summer is nearly over, it feels like summer

to me summer feels like the sort of movie you would have seen in a matinee movie house where you'd sit thru three separate 3rd run features, with an assortment of trailers and cartoons. it is the kind of movie-going experience that's been dead since the advent of the vcr, when watching movies turned from a daylong experience sitting in a darkened theater with the air chilled to just above freezing and redolent of burned popcorn and the floor sticky with spilled coca cola, to picking up either a beta or vhs tape from the local mom&pop video shop and heading for the privacy of your living room. that experience had its pleasures too and it is astonishing to consider that even so revolutionary change in movie-viewing has metamorphosed into netflix and downloading from the internet.

times have changed and will probably continue in their changes until we have become cyborg units plugging in to our entertainments via a cable directly to the hardpan underneath our scalps. but even so, the deep, profound pleasures of the movies remain just as they were when moving pictures were first shown at the old nickelodeons. there is a power in that magic that technologies can't erase. watching films we are still like our ancestors around the campfire watching the flames imagining every sort of horror and uplift and being transported by the experience.

perhaps it is significant that i watched a love-letter to the old monster movies and matinee movie houses on vhs last night. filmmaker joe dante, who's better known for his gremlins films featuring the beautiful phoebe cates in the 1980s, crafted a paean to a long vanished form of movie-going with his movie matinee. i've written about this film before, however, the movie's long been out of print and has yet to get a dvd release. i bought a used vhs videocassette copy a few months ago but did not view it until last night when i realized that the summer is coming to a close and i've still to go thru what is nearly a summer ritual for me, which is to watch a handful of films that would've played at a 3rd run movie house, the kind of place i spent hours upon hours in transfixed by not only what was playing onscreen but what posters were hanging in the lobby, how the seats felt and what smells were in the air.

in the spirit of summer films, such as the mid-60s beach movies, or creature from the black lagoon, or cheapjack badly dubbed kung fu flicks from hong kong, or the tremors franchise, i hooked up our old vcr and watched matinee. the movie stars john goodman as a william castle-like showman whose latest horror offering is mant! with the tagline 'half-man, half-ant, all terror'! who comes to key west to shill his latest film shown in atomo! vision and rumble rama! these gimmicks are based on real tricks pioneered by the great castle in the late 1950s and early 1960s. castle was such a showman that he wired the audienced seats so that at key points in his film, e.g. the vincent price vehicle the tingler, he'd shock the audience with just a little bit of electricity.

set during the cuban missile crisis goodman's character lawrence woolsey arrives in town much to the delight of monster movie nut 15-year-old gene loomis [simon fenton] and his little brother whose father is in the navy and serving onboard a blockade ship just off the coast of cuba. dante sets the tone of the era by highlighting the nuclear fears and the absurdity of our responses to it, such as having schoolchildren practice 'duck and cover' routines in case of nuclear attack. yet dante's tone is light rather than harsh for this is obviously his era of childhood. time and circumstances do change but absurdity still remains abundant no matter the era.

however, the main focus of the film is young gene's love of horror movies and the way they were once presented. woolsey outfits the theater with electric charges and smoke devices as well as paying a young punk, a deliciously daft poet, harvey starkweather [james villemaire] who just got out of reform school in order to win back the love the much younger sherry [kellie martin] to dress as a mant and terrorize the audience during key points of the film. i fucking loved the starkweather character who's poems were described as 'utterly primitive' and who told sherry's new love interest, gene's newfound friend stan [omri katz], to stay away from sherry because 'tomorrow's a knife, a big knife'. when stan said he didn't get it harvey stretched out the words, 'it's abstract'!

it is because of starkweather that things go awry during the film all the while the theater owner gets seriously freaked thinking the bombs are falling forgetting about woolsey's devices that are shaking the theater. thus we get a not too subtle comparison of the magic of cinema and the power of world politics on individual perception. the main point is that dante's is a geeky fanboy and that he made a lovingly rich and detailed film about watching monster movies.

which is why i find the movie so enjoyable. dante got his start in roger corman's factory and helmed the film piranha which was written by john sayles and featuring b-movie stalwart dick miller. both miller and sayles are in matinee as two tough guys who work for woolsey both as actors for his films and as a couple of conservative citizens who stage fake protests of woolsey's movies in order to drum up controversy. when these two hombres corner starkweather after the poet tried to still their wallets i was laughing so hard i thought i'd break a rib. starkweather nervously asked if they wanted to hear a poem, which miller replied, 'i don't think so', and then told the young man to get a 'square job' because he was no good at thievery.

a lesson in poetics it seems because starkweather ignores miller's advice and proceeds to be the engine to drive the rest of the movie's plot. the film within a film hits the tone of the era's nuclear paranoia in the form of mutant monsters. dante again uses actors from the era, such as kevin mccarthy, in his meta-film to achieve his tone of loving respect and ruefulness of a vanished era of filmmaking and movie-viewing.

this is a sheer delight of a movie, one that i've not forgetton when i first saw it upon it's release in 1993. oh, and i can't forget about the acid humor of cathy moriarty who plays woolsey's girlfriend and partner in crime, she is the wife of mant! and also a wisecracking nurse who is present at the theater just in case an audience member nearly dies of fright and also has the audience members sign releases as they enter the theater.

matinee is a movie for any time of year yet i think of it as a summer movie for it's tone and subject matter. it is the perfect film to watch on a lazy saturday or sunday when very little is stirring except for a certain nostalgia of movie-going that can never be replicated but can be conjured up again for movies are magic and in their thrall we are kids again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

how is it the mind can recall a song, lyrics, melody, pitch maybe, from the moment we hear it even if it might be decades since we heard the piece last.

this evening i caught a bit of an interview on national public radio with a brain researcher and musicologist about the evolution of music within our species.

we have a biological need for music it seems. and by extension, i would also include poetry. not that i'm a guild man nor do i liken poetry to song -- exactly.

but like music, poetry i think lights up many parts of the brain at once. how else would you account for its deep pleasure giving and intellectual stimulating and genitals heating up.

even more, poetry is the language speaking as it speaks thru the human voice. logos is what i'm talking about. in the beginning was the word and the word made flesh.

language is not music, but poetry might be. it also might be film too.

which might explain why i'm attracted to poetry that reads like a film with a lot of editing. often i recall just moments from film, but sometimes whole films too. some movies i can almost replay in my head from start to finish. but mostly i recall bits and pieces.

there is one film i saw at mather auto movies, a long-defunct drive-in, the chinese connection starring bruce lee, when i was a pup. the scene i remember the most is when lee humiliates one of the bad guys by taking a part of scroll of calligraphy from a broken picture frame, sweeping off the shards of glass, and making the bad guy eat his words.

that what stands out is an image of eating language, hungering for words. i am haunted by that image of film. it was, perhaps by a longshot, but it was just the same, my first lesson in poetry.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

derek motion on the subject of cool

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


        the old bum
truck exhaust
        the old moon

                              grafted on the rose bush
                carpenter bee
                              punk to light the dusk

walking the street
        she sways in the grey
light of evening

                              sitting crosslegged
                    in front of the starbucks
                              smeared ink on cardboard sign

hey man, he calls out
                do you have change
it's too hot to change

[on the way home, evening 8/13/08, in sac]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

pics from the road

the film adaption of cormac mccarthy's novel is due out in late november. i've already wrote about how much i want to see this movie. i'm surprised and a bit bummed that there is no teaser trailer for it yet. instead of moping about the lack of a trailer i found some more pics from the film. see them here.

amy king is putting together a remarkable list of poetry and film. as i was reading her list i was making my own notes about poetry and film too. but rather than make such a list myself, i have done just that in the past, i thought of one film in particular that i believe does an interesting job of integrating a poet, a line of poetry and the film itself.

i found songs from the second floor a couple years ago on the shelf of the local blockbuster. not familiar with the director roy andersson's work and the premise as it read on the back video sleeve, a film about millenial fears at the end of 1999 siphoned thru the lens of a comic romero, certainly grabbed me by the collar and demanded that i watch it.

andersson i later learned spent many years working in swedish tv. you wouldn't know that from the cool surrealism of the movie. it would seem stockholm is frozen in a perpetual traffic jam. the markets are doing poorly so the traders, market analysts, corporate ceo's, ad infinitum have have taken to the streets and become flagellants in order to appease the gods of finance.

these flagellants, which echo the danse macabre in bergman's the seventh seal, are a near constant presence in the background. there is also street violence of the sort which is racially motivated, callous employers who fire a luckless soul who must return to his home and face his wife which underscores the deep fears of facing an unknown and unstable future that is at hand. there is also an old tired magician who performs before a group of slack voyeurs and really, by accident, saws a person in half.

yet, the film is inspired by a line of verse by cesar vallejo, BLESSED BE THE ONE WHO SITS DOWN, which again is a bit of refrain thru out the running time of the film. in all the odd, violent background of financial unease and social unrest the film is about a family, 2 brothers, the wife of the brother who is a poet and in a mental ward, and the brothers' distraught parents. the father keeps yelling to anyone who will listen about his poet son, 'he went crazy from writing poetry'!

but not much happens during the length of the film. it's been a couple of years since i've watched the movie and my memory of it is reduced to scenes rather than the whole. perhaps that is not only from my shitty memory, but also is a result of andersson's grammar of filmmaking. the camera barely moved as andersson perpetuated the frozen economy and the social stasis, symbolized by the traffic jam, and those who do harm to themselves by attemping to appease a figment of their superstition, is on the surface very funny, as surrealism sometimes can be. but the overall effect is one of extreme ennui. i could've used one of romero's zombies to liven things up as i watched misadventure after misadventure.

still, the photography is accomplished bordering on lush. andersson has a message to tell and yet perhaps that message was lost as we turned the millenium and started upon the 21st century. the poetry is locked up in the mind of the poet son and in that line by vallejo as andersson's camera is simply content to sit still among the ruins. watching andersson's movie i was struck by his need to telaport the viewer into some transcendent plane and not getting much lift. and yet, i remember the movie and am still haunted by some of its images and by the very presence of a line of poetry in the film, from vallejo, an early favorite of mine. that was, i guess, all the lift i could muster.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

ramblin' on

it seems obigatory but i did it just the same, watched the opening ceremony of the olympics last night. usually i'm bored outta my mind by the pageantry of such events. still, i watch anyhow, and last night while i loosened up with a couple of beers the opening ceremony of the beijing olympics was spectacular. i couldn't believe how it was both hi-tech and ancient at the same time. like marrying new technologies to old traditions. the results were mesmerizing. i think london, where the next olympics are to be hosted, now has the bar raised for the opening ceremony.

and but then, anna and i were looking at tours of the winchester mystery house which i've not been to since i was around nicholas's age. i love the freaky and the paranormal and there are these 'flashlight' tours offered in the fall where you are guided thru the maze of a home with only a flashlight for illumination. you don't have to scare yourself with your own desert places because this tour will do the scaring for you. nicholas is too young for such an adventure, but perhaps anna and i will see what's to see this fall at what is surely one of the strangest structures ever built upon fear and superstition. and surely, if there are ghosts indeed, it stands to follow that here there be a few spirits. i think. . .well, hmmm . . .

speaking of the silly and supernatural, here is a web museum of ouija boards including an online board here. sure it's goofy, but it's also a blast. i've been wanting to get a ouija bourd for some time to freak myself out.

also, do check out these sonnets by british poet jeff hilson. they are killers.

peace out

Thursday, August 07, 2008

from the moleskin

                   thinking about writing 2 poems in prose
each about gender / ambiguity using the filter of tobe hooper's film

          1/ leatherface
         the blubbering neutered
         hyperviolent apostate

          2/ sally
         as THE FINAL GIRL
         re: carol clover's 1987 essay
         'gender in the slasher film'

as quoted by critic alan young in his essay 'the final girl in folktale and horror film':




[flesh & blood compendium; fab press 2003, p. 226]


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

first line : last line #002

scrubbing the smile from my face i turn
cocaine binge of dr. jekyll and mr. hyde

& write in dark red lipstick on the bathroom mirror
spun beat of an organ drum: red rum / red rum

to wit i then sd, i quit this shit
& a bat flew outta his skoal dip lip

time for slime as a glob of spit
falls from stalactite batwanking gnatfornica

richard lopez & jonathan hayes

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It's fair.

says the joker to aaron eckhart's harvey dent as dent is pushed by the joker to become the villain: two-face. i've had that line buzzing around for a couple days now because it sounds about right, the idea of chance and chaos, which is the driving theme of the dark knight, as more fair and balanced than our general ideas of right and wrong. but it is a false premise. chaos is a neutral state. it knows neither what is fair or good. it exists as it stands, unpredictable and sloppy. the idea of fairness presupposes a balance of goodness, which is counter to chaos. so the joker as portrayed by the brilliant heath ledger goes about without a plan to scare the shit out of our sense of the rightness of the world.

and yet, the joker does have a plan as is exemplified by his orchestrations of violent action in the narration. without an organizing principle nothing can be done. it can be argued that luck played a great role in the joker's success as a leader and as an agent of destruction, and luck indeed plays a great role as it is enacted by dent's gambit that the batman will do the right thing at the crucial moment. that the batman does indeed do the hoped for thing underscores both the need for luck in order for the plan to succeed. which is why maybe this film speaks to us now. and why some of the reviews i've read of the movie are sharply critical of christopher nolan's embrace of the macabre and bleak violent action.

'existence before essence' goes the old existentialist mantra. this film is nothing but the will as it creates itself. the joker wears make-up in much the way bluebeard put candles in his hair, in order to provoke fear. bruce wayne is seen as a rather fey billionaire playboy, but with a cape and mask he also becomes a creature of violence. dent's downfall is not so hard to fathom even if it is rather sudden for he was in great physical pain and tremendous anguish and his brilliant mind sharpened its focus to a single goal: revenge. he remade himself as well by an effort of will into a malevolent spirit. evidence of this change was presaged in an earlier scene when the public servant dent, bound and sworn to uphold the law, was turned by his frustration to an almost gleeful ability to torture a prisoner.

a few of the scenes standout as well. the shot of the joker with his head out the police car window his painted face haloed by the blurred city lights as the soundtrack turns into a hissy sinewave was near-brilliant. the joker in a nurse's uniform and woman's wig while in full make-up as dent twists in utter rage. and a few of the set pieces were a bit silly. the extraordinary rendition [to use the phrase of the current administration (and by using the phrase in the service of my little essay puts a chill down my spine - oh, look how far we've come)] of the hong kong money man was a bit much of too much.

fear needs a plan. again, look to this administration and you'll find ample evidence of that. the joker strikes fear but in order for him to succeed he must know how to plan and organize. and he does. an agent of chaos is also a liar and will tell us anything to keep us off-balance, which, if lucky, goes according to plan, will scare us to submit and attack each other. again, look to this administration for evidence of that. however, rather than turn this little review into a political rant i'll point out the talents of ledger, eckhart, oldman and christopher nolan in this rather bleak rendering of the batman mythos. still, the movie is rated pg-13 and most of the violence is done out of the frame or blazing fast. ledger did indeed create one sick and twisted genius of a fuck who is awfully frightening. but the cinema is awash with psychopaths. recall frank played by dennis hopper in david lynch's blue velvet. frank out-psychos every freak, including the joker, in this movie. frank makes my stomach churn and i feel the need to take a shower to get all the grime off each time i see lynch's masterpiece. and i can't help wondering how dark the batman franchise could get in the hands of a true weird worker like david lynch. is the world ready for such a vision? i doubt it. that is the subject of another essay, i think.

Monday, August 04, 2008

poems should be written about the experience of sitting thru 1/2 hr of trailers when waiting for the main feature cuz that is one of the best experiences to be had on this earth. does that sound like hyperbole? i assure you, it ain't. i'm a bit zonked tonight so my little essay-rant for the dark knight will have to wait until tomorrow. but i've been thinking about the round of trailers i watched last night, including a film based on the graphic novel watchmen and what looks like an interesting flick, blindness, based on a novel by jose saramago and starring julianne moore.

sometimes sitting thru a fistful of trailers is better than watching the movie you paid nearly 10 bucks to see. i love them, really. sort of like being in plato's cave watching the shadows on the wall trying to decipher what is real. it is only what we find and experience i suppose that we could use to define reality. but really, is that so, or could there be trapdoors that lead to more doors and so forth. at any rate, trailers [which are shown before the feature film but used to be shown after the movie (which you already know) and the name simply stuck] are very like the doors which lead us into the darker depths of our human being begging us to decipher the known and the nearly-known. trailers are the selling of the soul that sometimes saves it. trailers are where commerce and art meet. yes, virginia, trailers are also the beginning of metaphysics.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

just back from catching the dark knight. i've read so many positive reviews and a couple of not-so-hot reviews from a few poet-bloggers whose opinions i have the highest regard. what to make the of film? too many jumbled thoughts tonight so only a few notations.

does the joker behave as a 'terrorist' which he is called repeatedly in the film. well, he is and no he isn't. he's more an agent of mischief, or anarchy and chaos as he called himself, kind of like a loki figure. yet, during the narrative i couldn't help but think that movies reflect the times in which they are made. director christopher nolan's vision of the batman and the joker is intense centered upon moral ambiguity and the need for action being paramount. if this film reflects our own so-called 'war on terror' then it does so in a way that the dirty harry and charles bronson deathwish vehicles mirrored our fear of violent crime in the 1970s. the good guys are anti-heros who do ugly things to put away the bad guys.

frankly, i was unmoved by the first two reels where the action and such is more like the summer blockbuster explosions and crap. but by the last reel i was deep within the picture. the great actor i think in this movie is not just heath ledger but the seriously great gary oldman. oldman is a chamoleon in his roles where he becomes the character so much so that his own physicality is blurred. oldman is commissioner gordon as he is sid vicious in alex cox's biopic sid and nancy. gordon is the constant presence of decency and moral order in this story and when we get to the final reel his travails in the hands of aaron eckart's two-face is hard to bear.

i'll write more about this flick tomorrow night. i think reading so many reviews colored my expectations. i should've avoided reading them as i normally do before seeing a greatly anticipated film. and yet, it was because of those reviews i wanted to see it. i had lost interest in the batman franchise after tim burton's first feature and so stopped paying attention. i wasn't planning on seeing this movie and i have yet to see christopher nolan's first effort in the franchise batman begins. so there i was sitting in the darkened theater tonight expecting a transcendant experience. i didn't get that experience. but i did find a film that speaks to the fear of our time and watched two great performances by heath ledger and gary oldman. for the moment, that is enough.