Category — Film
In and of Itself:
by Fred Russell
La Moustache (2005), directed by Emmanuel Carrère and adapted from his own novel, is an intriguing film. Call it surrealistic. But what is surrealism? Is it pure and meaningless fantasy, or is it anchored in reality like the dream? I’ve seen it a couple of times and it has stayed with me as few films do.
Marc shaves off his mustache, or so it seems, for no one takes any notice of his new look. This is exasperating, but when he confronts his wife she insists he never had one, and his friends claim he hasn’t had one for 15 years, though he finds a recent picture of himself wearing the mustache. Marc now finds a message from his father on his answering machine but his wife tells him that his father has been dead for a year. She also insists that she doesn’t know who their two best friends are though they had just visited them. Marc then overhears his wife talking to another friend about having Marc committed, for clearly he is delusional, she says. He tries to see his mother but cannot find his childhood home and the familiar telephone number does not exist. Marc now retrieves his passport, which shows him with a mustache, and flies to Hong Kong, where he regrows it after spending some time in a Chinese village. When he returns to his hotel he finds his wife in his room as though they had been vacationing together all the while. She then asks him to shave off the mustache so that she can see what he looks like without it. He does so and she is pleased.
No one has really succeeded in deciphering the film. Some have called it symbolic. Some find the theme of identity in it, and there is indeed something to be said for an interpretation that revolves around the idea of the tenuousness and circumstantiality, the fragility, of human identity, which can be lost in an instant. I think, however, that the film is more in the mode of Alain Robbe-Grillet, that is, meaningless outside its own reality and reference points. In effect, it obliterates the time of the world and demonstrates its disjunction vis-à-vis inner time.
For clearly the film plays against the idea of time. Marc and his wife inhabit two different temporal universes, even parallel universes. In Marc’s universe he shaves off the mustache that he has always worn and his father is still alive. He inhabits a time that has passed, with a link to the present via the people who surround him. When he communicates with them it is from out of this earlier time. In reality, however, such a condition cannot exist unless someone really is delusional. This is not the film’s intention. Marc is not crazy and his wife is not out to drive him crazy. Not being able to find his childhood home underscores the fact that he has stepped out of reality. His time is not really linked to any reality. It is residual in that it bears with it traces of an earlier time but not all of it.
Linear time, however, is not the only time there is. It is the time of the physical and historical world, but it is not the time of the inner world. The mind invokes temporal events in whatever order suits it, or associatively in a subconscious process. This is lateral rather than progressive or chronological time, where all events have equal temporal value. Surrealism never seeks to explain itself. It creates worlds that are extensions of what we consider the real world and follow their own logic. La Moustache is such a film, intriguing only insofar as we wish to know what it means, but in and of itself it is nothing more than a demonstration of how two discordant systems of time are tenuously embedded in human consciousness.
About the reviewer:
Fred Russell is the pen name of an American-born writer living in Israel. His novel Rafi’s World (Fomite Press), dealing with Israel’s emerging criminal class, was published in Feb. 2014 and his stories and essays have appeared in Third Coast, Polluto, Fiction on the Web, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ontologica, Unlikely Stories: Episode 4, Gadfly, Cultural Weekly, In Parenthesis, etc. A second novel, The Links in the Chain, a thriller set in New York with an Arab-Israel background, is also due out in 2014.
October 31, 2014 Comments Off on FILM REVIEW: La Moustache (2005)
by Fred Roberts
Did you ever watch a pot of water come to a boil? First the water is still, then there are a few bubbles, then more and in more places, and all of a sudden many, until finally the boiling point is reached and the water is in a constant state of turmoil. This is what a recent viral video reminded me of, a project by Penn State doctoral candidate John Beieler mapping global protests from 1979 to the present day. It makes sense. Anywhere you look there is something to be concerned about. Corporations out of control, banks out of control, militarization of the police, mass NSA spying, prison as a business model, war as a business model, fracking, mass oil spills, nuclear meltdowns and melt-throughs, genetically corrupted food, global warming, dysfunctional government and a complacent media trying its best to make us feel good along the way to the catastrophe.
In this article I want to share some encounters I’ve made with political statements in music and film in the German language, representing different approaches but sharing a common goal: change.
A German film released in 1984 – “Decoder”, was just about 30 years ahead of its time. It is a must see today: a counterculture film of post-punk protest – surely not one to catch on in the mainstream of the mid 1980s. Too radical, although indeed the film did make its mark in Italy. During Italy’s period of social unrest an early version of the chaos club showed the film at all of its events and garnered it a faithful cult following. The film was inspired by the writings of William S. Burroughs and includes tracks by Einstürzende Neubauten, Soft Cell and The The, with additional music composed especially for the film by members of Soft Cell (Genesis P-Orridge and Dave Ball) and of Einstürzende Neubauten (FM Einheit, Alexander Hacke, and Jon Caffery). Burroughs had a small role in the film, as well, which is an unimpeachable confirmation of the film’s integrity. The lack of distribution apart from the Italian exception counts the film as a forgotten classic today.
The film is set in a dystopian present in which muzak is used to hold the population under control. The imagery is of fascism, a howling wind, a nameless agent walking along an urban landscape into a faceless bureaucracy, then through endless, anonymous corridors. It looks creepy and hypermodern. Many shadows. The lighting creates a dark mood, similar as in films like “Blade Runner” or the TV series “Max Headroom.”
The main character, FM Einheit, discovers that by playing back certain music/sounds, he can counteract the muzak and cause people to revolt. He carries out his experiments in, of all places, a fast food restaurant. All the while he is pursued by the shadowy agent (Bill Rice) out to eliminate him, but also following an obsession with FM Einheit’s girlfriend, played by Christine F, of the famed book “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo.” In a key scene, Genesis P-Orridge states: “Information is like a bank. Some of us are rich. Some of us are poor with information. All of us can be rich. Our job, your job, is to rob the bank, to kill the guards, to go out there to destroy everybody who keeps and hides the whole information… Information. Power!” Later, during the riotous endgame, one of the leaders reflects the converse of this idea: There will be no news blackout. It is an information blackout.
The film metaphorically portrays today’s powers as they stand before us with the curtain drawn back and their masks torn away. This has been brought about as much by the lack of real change over the decades as by the new awareness given by Wikileaks and Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. “Decoder” captures the moment of the boiling point when the powers that be are no longer able to control the masses. This is what makes the film so remarkable and essential viewing today. There has been a US DVD release of the film, albeit out of print, but according to the film’s author Klaus Maeck, a European DVD release is planned for 2014.
Anyone who is a fan of Tom Lehrer will probably be astonished to learn about Georg Kreisler (1922-2011). Kreisler was a Jewish-Austrian who emigrated to America with his parents in 1938 just after Hitler had taken over in Austria. Kreisler began performing macabre, sarcastic songs in a similar vein to Lehrer but by the mid 1950s returned to Austria, continuing the same in German, developing over the years a repertoire of several hundred songs of social and political criticism, ironic, satirical and often quite dark texts. Kreisler coined the term “everblacks” for this type of song. His performances were cabaret style, accompanying himself on piano. In learning about his work, I came across many gems with head-on attacks on the reality of society’s institutions. It is punk protest in a charming, old-school manner, often praising his targets to death. Many of the songs were banned from radio and according to an intro to one of his songs, Austrian state radio was reluctant to play even his apparently harmless songs, as they were afraid he might be saying something they did not understand.
Some examples: “Der Euro” (1996) starts by listing all the historical landmarks of Europe which will soon fade into oblivion, overshadowed by the all-powerful Euro. “Who needs culture when you have the Euro? It can bribe politicians, build banks rising to the stars. It can build McDonalds and military barracks, poets will die for it and the masses will learn to worship it.”
Another song is a chilling psychogram of a sociopathic politician: “Der Politiker.” With each verse he captures some aspect we will recognize in some politician somewhere: “I see homeless freezing under bridges, unemployed who are ashamed before their own children, war refugees, burning villages, and freshly raped women. My one thought in all this: How can I help my party?” Another remarkable song laments the fact that there is a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and also to nearly every class of person, but not a society for the prevention of cruelty to the police: “If a student goes for a walk before parliament / He should desist and cease / Let’s protect the police.” Over and over he decries ad absurdum, “who will protect the police?”
Those songs are just the tip of the iceberg. I ventured a translation of one of Kreisler’s works which struck me as the most bitterly sarcastic song I’d ever heard. As I translated, it terrified me that this is a perfect snapshot of America today. Do I need to give examples? Warning: the language is graphic and racist:Shoot them Dead If children playing bothers you – Shoot them dead! Even if the father’s you – Shoot them dead! If a Jew excites your fury Go and play his judge and jury – Shoot him simply stone cold dead! If you see a nigger ape – Shoot him dead! If your neighbor looks agape – Shoot him dead! You don’t have to be ashamed You will never once be blamed – Shoot them simply stone cold dead! Turkish, Kurdish, Lebanese, and sometimes white – Worthless human specimens are a blight Communists and anarchists and bleeding hearts – Don’t you lose your sleep at night! Attorneys and employees and pacifists – Anyone who still believes that good exists In the gutter, in the trash! With a weapon flash! Does someone have prosthetic legs – Shoot him dead! Has he joined the reader dregs – Shoot him dead! Homeless bums or slacker swine And the Gypsies first in line Shoot them simply stone code dead! Don’t come to me with democrats – Gas them, squash them! Let them die like traitor rats – No one wants them! Father, mother, sisters, brothers, and old friends There’s something you need them for? Pastors, teachers, city libruls – kill and crate them! All the stupid poet souls – Eliminate them! Know one thing: you are strong! All the rest are wrong! Let’s go to war in foreign places – Shoot them dead! Decimate entire races – Shoot them dead! When they’re in the cemetery You will feel so legendary – So shoot them stone cold dead! Stone cold dead – Eats no bread Get them and shoot them dead!
Songs like this unmask a harsh reality, make us uncomfortable, and hopefully catalyze us into effective action. Another key song of Kreisler’s “Vorletztes Lied” (Next to Last Song) captures the idea that it is too late to write songs, jokes, words to change the establishment. It is time to do something. That is where we are today.
Photo by Robin Hinsch: http://www.robinhinsch.com/
Austria, the land that gave us Gustav Mahler and Gustav Meyrink also gives us the lady Gustav. Gustav is the pseudonym under which electronic musician Eva Jantschitsch writes and performs songs that follow on the idea of Kreisler’s “Vorletztes Lied.” Her texts (in both English and German) are determined attempts to slap us out of our stupor before it is too late, and in some cases with the undertone that it already is. Her debut “Rettet die Wale” (Save the Whales) was released late 2004 and became an immediate favorite of mine. The American war against Iraq was in full drive and headlines sometimes took on surrealistic proportions. In 2008 she followed up with “Verlass die Stadt” (Leave the City), but most of her time in the past years has been devoted to theater projects.
The first song on her debut “We Shall Overcome” is a cousin to the civil rights song of the same name. It is about seeing through the superficialities of modern society and breaking the chains of manipulation, to ultimately overcome the repression. It also immediately establishes her style of songwriting. Most of her songs are a challenge to interpret. The texts bombard the listener with the same idea presented in different ways in semi-enigmatic references, for example: “when all the beauty just seems to be wrong”, “we dance to their music”, “we all are invited to their big bingo show.” The advantage: the songs stay up to date and allow listeners to relate the ideas to their own perceptions. Some songs have a strong feminist message: “One Hand Mona” describes the situation of a woman becoming a man’s wife, calling it the same as losing an arm (ceasing to be his equal) – the modern violin accompaniment lends an extreme sense of urgency to the situation. “Mein Bruder” is like a song out of the end times of permanent war, repeating the mantra “my brother was an American patriot, brave, strong, a believer, family man and pilot” alternating it with the details and repercussions of his death in battle.
The loveliest and most fascinating song on the album is “Rettet die Wale” (Save the whales), with sugar sweet vocals and orchestral accompaniment, it sounds like a sister to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” but is instead an aggressive attack on complacency and the idea that by correctly sorting your garbage and using all the politically correct terms you will save the world. Gustav performed in Hamburg several weeks ago and sang it like a long, slow kiss with the audience. The final suggestion, take each other by the hand and make love every day, has the implication that maybe all we have left to make this world a better place is to reach out to one another on an individual level.
Her concert at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel Club was also the occasion for me to learn about her newer songs including a lullaby about the riders of the apocalypse and the amazing “Soldatin oder Veteran.” It is classic Gustav, asking the question: are you a good soldier, or a veteran of that belief? Are you a conformist or a fighter? The idea is presented again and again in diverse variations: when you dream are you someone who resists? It’s the kind of song that makes you want to open a club, just to play it – because it rocks that much.
Gustav has received positive reviews for rescuing the genre of protest songs, but her songs are not exactly protests. They are not songs to sing at the demonstrations but rather to get us there. In a sense we are living in Metropolis and Gustav is Maria, calling us into action.
Gustav’s Website: http://gustav.me/
Maybe contemporary events are so far along now that we can only despair. I hope not, but to paraphrase Georg Kreisler, the time for writing songs has long passed. It is time for action. Gustav’s music is a wakeup call to all those who have missed that message. The film Decoder shows us the prerequisite for change. We need to fully understand what is going on in the world in order to correct it. So what do we do now? Something, I hope.
About the reviewer:
Fred Roberts, contributing Music Editor. A native of Cincinnati living in Germany since 1987, Fred enjoys subverting the arbitrary commercial process in which great works often go unrecognized. He is creator and designer of Elbot.com, an award-winning AI system. His interests include literature, film, photography and discovering all the well-kept secrets Europe has to offer. You can read more about him in About Us.
November 2, 2013 Comments Off on Fred Roberts – World Out of Control
Our friend Scoe Betsill had his behind-the-scenes part
in this Grey Goose Cherry Noir ad…
Check it out. It’s hot.
Grey Goose Cherry Noir … Making of an ad
“Three 12-hour days yielded one 30-second spot.
“You won’t see me, but any time you see a glass or ice bucket filled with perfect cubes, vodka being poured, or that quintessential cherry noir being dropped into a cocktail —
“I assure you I was no more that 3 feet away. And that frosty smoke (smoky frost?) coming out of the uncorked bottle is Real. Cheers!”
A reminder the good old days are with us still.
April 27, 2012 Comments Off on Grey Goose Cherry Noir
“Draw until your hand feels numb…”
An Interview with Herb Moore
by Mike Foldes
The following interview with cartoonist Herb Moore was conducted via e-mail exchange in April 2011.
Q: When I look at your drawings on your web site, it seems like I’ve seen these somewhere before. How long have you been at this, and where does your work typically appear?
Herb Moore: I was a doodler in school but it was more to escape listening to the teacher than for a love of drawing, ha, ha.
Mike, I’ve been in this business for twenty years and have worked at almost every major studio in Hollywood, with the exception of Dreamworks and Sony, but I’ve pitched project ideas to both. I’ve spent most of my time working at Warner Bros. and so maybe some of their style rubbed off on me, ha, ha. I was always a fan of the Warner Bros. cartoons when I was a kid because the characters seemed to have some bite to them. They developed some great characters and character duos. Now I’m working on Phineas & Ferb, during the day, and it has to be one of the best productions that I’ve ever been on both because of the staff and the show itself. Finally, my website has been an opportunity to showcase some of my personal work as well as a place to host any new content that I create. I’m soon to release a new animated short titled, “Duffy McTaggart and the 19th Hole” and I’m co-developing several mobisode series of animations for a client outside of the United States. I’m very proud of animationsoup.net and I look forward to creating even more content to showcase at my website.
Q: Where did you study animation techniques, or did you have on-the-job training?
HM: I passionately studied animation on my own as I obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I knew that I needed to draw as much as possible, and really had no solid guidance as to what I “should” do exactly, but I wasn’t going to be stopped. Once I got my foot in the door at my first “industry” job, that’s when finding work became a little bit easier. I actually learned more on the job than I possibly could have been taught in school. I’ll admit, an education in an animation program would have helped, but really, once I got my foot in the door, and I demonstrated my desire to work hard and learn, I did fine, (and will continue to).
Q: In becoming a cartoonist, did you distinguish between what apparently came naturally to you and the classical concepts of ‘fine art’? In your mind, what’s the distinction?
HM: That’s a heavy question for a lite mind like mine, ha, ha. As I studied “fine art” in college, I initially knew I needed to draw as much as possible and fine art allowed that, but what I gained was an appreciation for true art and what it takes to create it. I knew that I could tell an entertaining story, as well as act funny, and I felt that I could back that up with great drawings “eventually,” as I worked at drawing, but I had no appreciation for what it actually took to create through art. Fine art to me is the ability to create something artistically that can be appreciated in one way or another, that is unique, born out of it’s creators experiences, feelings, imagination, and is one’s own personal expression. Wow, that’s good stuff, I have to write that down.
Q: I take it you’ve worked with quite a number of other cartoonists over the years. Who do you recall as being most memorable, or fun to work with?
HM: When I worked at Warner Bros. several years ago, I worked with Bob Doucette who was probably one of the most enjoyable artists for me to work ever with because he was so pleasant, as well as extremely talented. I learned so much from him and had a great time. Currently, Rob Hughes at Disney is the most fun because he knows funny, he knows how to make people laugh with his artwork, as well as his writing. I have never laughed so hard as when I’m working with Rob. I have been extremely blessed to have worked with some very talented and enjoyable people who have eventually turned into great friends.
Q: What do you think of the “Beavis and Butthead” or “South Park” programs? Anime? Any favorite styles?
HM: I love animation, unless it’s totally crap and I just don’t watch crap. Shows like “Beavis and Butthead”, as well as “South Park”, are great shows. I was so happy when “South Park” won an Emmy a few years ago. It’s hard for me to say I have a favorite style, but I will say this, I love independent animation productions both feature films and short form. Some of the most creative and well thought out animation seems to come from independent productions.
Q: Herb, I imagine both hardware and software have changed a lot since you started out, and there is the fear technology is taking over for pushing pencils and papers (people). How has the business changed technically since you started out and is how is demand these days for good cartoonists? Where is that demand coming from (if it is)?
HM: Things have definitely changed but technology is simply allowing us to do more things faster. Yes, you have to know more than just how to draw but the possiblities in animation are broader today than ever before. Personally, I believe “demand” for talented artists and animators is quite healthy these days, in most if not all areas of animation. And, you don’t have to live in Los Angeles or New York, etc., to be consistently busy within this industry. The internet has obviously open up a lot of opportunities for animators and I only see that increasing. Also, animation in the games business is growing rapidly, all due to the blossoming of the digital age.
Q: What computer programs do you find most helpful to produce your cartoons?
HM: I use Sketchbook Pro for creating and developing ideas, such as backgrounds and characters, and then I do my animations in Adobe Flash. I often use Photoshop in creating or touching up artwork for my website or for presentation. I’ll also use Adobe Premiere to assemble my animatics as well as my final output of my latest animted short film.
Q: Any tips for the aspiring cartoonist?
HM: Well, yes. Not only do you need to draw until your hand feels numb every waking hour of the day, and you must continue to study great shows, films and great stories, but you have to be technologically prepared for drawing on digital tablets, like the various Wacom tablets, and you have to know a variety of software, and then be able to manipulate your images in different ways. Younger people have such a great opportunity to impact the world through their creations because we’re linked together now more than ever, so be prepared.
Visit Moore’s web site at: http://www.animationsoup.net
May 1, 2011 2 Comments
Film Clips from Leonora
“A dark drama of sexual sorcery and crippled creatures in the throes of a primitive passion that defies decency! A shadowy work of naked fury that will plunge the viewer into a cesspoolof sinister slime and shocking shame! Experience the excrement of Satanic savagery as it smears across the screen in a rage of voluminous vitriol. A work of brutal beauty and torrid terrors that will titillate the timid with its vision of a world gone mad with sensual secretions. Experience the wetness and rejoice in its recuperative re-birth!”
— George Kuchar
Catch the Ragazine preview here:
About the filmmaker:
Eliane Lima is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In the early ’90s, she met Brazilian philosopher Claudio Ulpiano, became his student and friend, and decided to leave the music business in which she was engaged at the time. In 2007, she went back to school, attending Binghamton University in upstate New York, where she received a BA in Cinema. She is in her second semester of the MFA Film program at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA.
Her film Djinn was included in film festivals in New York, Los Angeles and Cuba, and recently was an official selection in Sacramento International Film Festival with a screening at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA. Djinn won two prizes in Los Angeles, The Best Student Short Film and Audience Choice at 2010 HollyShorts Film Festival; it was screened at the 2011 Liverpool Biennial, UK, and represented Brazil in the International Art Event, Identity Exchange 2011, at SFAI.
Leonora, a 6 minute, super 8 and 16mm, color and BW film, was inspired by the film Begotten and George Kuchar’s class, and was produced with the support of SFAI Film Department and an Eastman Product Grant from Eastman Kodak Company.
Lima is working on a trilogy, Fantastic Spaces in Cinema, inspired by “The Garden of the Forking Paths,” by Jorge Luis Borges, that includes studies of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, David Lynch’s Inland Empire, and Jan Svankmajer’s Alice.
Her short film Albertine is “on the side” while she finalizes support.
May 1, 2011 Comments Off on Eliane Lima Profile/Film
Review: Dhobi Ghat
By Zaira Rahman
Dhobi Ghat is a short movie – barely 90 minutes of an interesting work of art. The movie is written and directed by Kiran Rao. It was her first effort as a director. She has worked immensely hard on the details, and the script is definitely one of the strongest parts of the movie.
The film is about four characters belonging to different social classes. All of them get a chance to interact with each other in different circumstances in Mumbai. The movie revolves around their interactions and how their relationships will develop, even though they belong to very different social classes.
Aamir Khan plays the role of Arun — a renowned painter and recluse. Arun keeps to himself, not even making appearances at his own exhibitions. Aamir Khan, one of the most talented actors of Indian cinema, is Rao’s husband and producer of the film. He didn’t disappoint his fans in this portrayal, brilliantly essaying the role of a reclusive painter by delivering extremely natural dialogue that sets him apart from tmany other actors in India who are way too loud, flashy and commercial.
Prateik on the other hand is a poor dhobi guy — Munna. He works in the dhobi ghat (an open air laundromat) during the day, and as a rat at killer at night to earn extra money. But he likes to work out, dress up well and dreams of working in Hindi movies. Munna seems to be a Salman Khan fan – as he worked out regularly, there was a Salman Khan poster in his house and he also wore a replica bracelet, similar to what Salman Khan wears in both his real and reel life. Prateik is a born artist and truly represents the fact that acting runs in his blood. Like his parents Smita Patel and Raj Babbar – he delivers dialogues in a natural flow and gives apt expressions as and when required. Although he portrays the role of a poor boy, his character is quite sorted out and hard working from the beginning till the end.
Monica Dogra plays the role of an American banker (Shai) who has come to Mumbai while taking break from work. She belongs to an elite family. She believes in equality and becomes friendly with Munna despite their huge class difference. She asks Munna to show her the dhobi ghat and other places so that she could photograph them. She and Arun have a few romantic sparks. Arun, however, becomes agitated quickly before their relationship could go any further and there a gap develops between the two. Shai does think that there is an unfinished business between them and wants to sort things out. Monica Dogra’s character is an integral part of the movie, but her over all screen presence and appearance is not that memorable. Though as you watch the movie, you do get used to seeing her.
The fourth character is played by Kriti Malhotra – another new comer. She plays the role of Yasmin. Arun finds a few tapes in his new flat in which he sees Yasmin talking to her family. She was a young girl who recently got married, missed her family a lot and was always alone. Arun is inspired by her natural way of expressing things. He felt her emotions, her pain, her loneliness and tried to understand her life through her tapes. Yasmin lived in the same flat in which Arun lives now. Kriti Malhotra had a very inartificial way of conversing. The way she goes on talking about the things that we often ignore in our daily lives is very thought provoking.
For Kiran Rao’s first directorial work she did well. The story and the script were quite well thought out. Aamir and Prateik were fantastic to watch. Though before the movie was released, it was promoted that it is Prateik’s film, but if you watch closely, almost all the characters are equally important. The girls were relatively unknown actresses and performed well in this niche film. The cast selection was impressive, as each actor did a good job of portraying his or her class. “Dobi Ghat” is a clean movie, and not at all commercial. Most art film fans and people who look for movies with some depth will like it.
About the reviewer:
Zaira Rahman is the author of “Pakistani Media: The Way Things Are”, available through Amazon.com, and “If Mortals Had Been Immortals & Other Short Stories.” Rahman is a writer, blogger and human & animal rights activist in Karachi, Pakistan. She writes frequently about Bollywood film productions.
March 31, 2011 Comments Off on FILM/Bollywood Report
Biograph: The Southern Tier
Andrei Guruianu, Poetry
John Brunelli, Photography
Artist-Photographer John Brunelli and poet Andrei Guruianu recently teamed up to produce a book documenting with poems and photos the present state of being of the upstate New York area around Binghamton, known collectively as The Southern Tier. In a forward to their book, “How We Are Now,” Guruianu writes of engaging “in artistic dialogue that benefits both artists and audience,” in other words, a collaborative effort in which one and one make three.
Many of the depictions, in both word and image, characterize changes taking place not only in the aging rust belt cities of the northeast, but also in communities around the world. Here, the new has become old. but there is also the moment of silence or longing captured that in and of itself becomes monumental.
The Last Man Standing
I am tired of living in a dying village
counting what hasn’t been lost yet
until I am withered and I fall asleep
… tired of looking outside the window
at dust of the past and plow of the future
kicking up choking on even more dust.
I am tired of always opening
my two swollen eyes in an empty white room
from which I am conspicuously absent.
… tired of my inflated non-being
standing there taking up too much space
like a reflection in a hall of carnival mirrors.
I am tired of distorting the truth
to satisfy an-already-come-to conclusion
writhing in the strangle hold of consequence
… tired of sweeping the trail day and night
Eternity complicit in the crumbs I find
between the guilty pages of a red carnet.
Perfect Blue Houses
This could be the poster town of uncorruptable good.
The old scent of coffee chasing a distant memory.
This could be the river screwed into a time and place,
the lights unharvested and steady covering the rust.
This is silence housed in layers of paint and clapboard,
falling leaves that muscle in on the turf.
This is the formula for hiding what is empty.
Nights of many matches burning down to your fingertips.
Where I Lay My Head…
When I say girl I am referring to an ideal.
It crumbles like a weakness in the face of standards.
Impossibly perfect alignments—
flesh and stars
steel and patent leather
hair the color of your own perspective
When I say girl I mean the roundness of blue,
the soft angle of shoulders.
Two arcs of light folded over the edge of darkness.
When I say girl I wish to seal a forgotten promise,
begin telling the story whose ending is yet to be written.
Under a requisite black sky; everything veiled and out in the open.
“How We Are Now” was published by Split Oak Press, Vestal, New York, with financial assistance from the Chenango County Council on the Arts. Copies are available for $10.00 each from the press, and from Brunelli or Guruianu. See also, www.johnbrunelli.com and www.andreiguruianu.com.
April 21, 2010 Comments Off on Guruianu-Brunelli
Giving a Hand, Not a Handout
From “The Iraqi Seed Project” Newsletter, Vol. 1
Background: Iraq and the Fertile Crescent are often referred to as the birthplace of agriculture. Crops such as wheat, barley, lentils and chickpeas were first cultivated there over 7,000 years ago. After years of war, sanctions and environmental degradation many Iraqi farmers are now struggling to feed their families. Today Iraq imports much of its food supply. Wheat, which originated in the region, is now imported from the United States and Australia, and Iraq is now one of the fastest growing markets for US agricultural exports.
The Iraqi Seed Project seeks to document the daily reality of farmers on the ground and to honor the rich history of farming in the Fertile Crescent. The hope is to connect Iraqi farmers and agricultural policy makers to counterparts abroad who are working to promote crop diversity and environmentally sustainable growing practices.
The Iraqi Seed Project will consist of a short film, interactive website and real life exchange; it is intended as a creative work as well as useful resource to those working in the field. The project currently is in pre-production, with plans to begin filming early this spring.
• The film explores daily life on an Iraqi farm • The website shares research in the form of video interviews, essays, articles, and discussions related to the history and current realities of farming in Iraq • The exchange – part of The Iraqi Seed Project’s mission is to facilitate a real life exchange between farmers in Iraq and farmers abroad. Seed swaps, workshops and correspondence are just some of the intended ways to accomplish this.
February 20, 2010 Comments Off on Iraqi Seed Project