Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’

July 1, 2011 § 8 Comments

Two main controversies surround The Tree of Life. First is the daring inclusion of a largely autonomous VFX sequence depicting the birth of the universe, the coagulation of the solar system, the evolution of life on Earth up to the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction, and a brief bookend presaging Earth’s annihilation. Second is the inclusion of a heavily symbolic finale sequence—reminiscent of the coalescence of dream and memory in —which finds scattered precedents towards the beginning of the film and delimits the creation sequence. Both mark entirely new territory for Malick. Whereas his previous films seemed mired in the pure, unfettered presentation of a self-enclosed, human-disclosed world, here Malick takes us beyond the option of worldhood in two temporal directions: both the ancestral and the terminal. For the first time Malick explores the radical contingency of the material universe in the utter absence of any Dasein whatsoever. It is also the first time that, as far as my interpretation will go, Malick attempts to actually picture the scene of Dasein in its primacy as a concept. « Read the rest of this entry »


Cymatics and the Galactic Opinion

June 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Cymatics is a breakthrough into the amorphousness and adaptive elements of matter through introduction of sound (video 1 here). There are no claims as to what this means relative to Earth’s or any organism’s evolution, however it brings to mind a number of paths worth exploring. Primarily, what is the music of the spheres if not music of organic energy, something all life would possess, say, through chakra. Secondly, what does this mean for the music we create through the influence, or lack thereof, of this “hidden music”? Thirdly, the definition of opinions on sounds (music) becomes less of an opinion and more of a stubborn hindrance. Fourthly, I’m sure I’ll think of another topic. « Read the rest of this entry »

J. J. Abrams’ Super 8

June 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

Could there be a greater megalomania than overseeing one’s own homage? Or perhaps there is always some inherent legitimacy in speaking of a past self as if it were already dead. What then is Abrams’ Super 8 but a move beyond our mourning for this dead? A temporally incongruous elegy set to the glory of visual effects? Here, Spielberg himself stands at his own funeral. « Read the rest of this entry »

Harakiri/13 Assassins Double Feature (and other ramblings)

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

The other day, after introducing a friend to the world of Kobayashi through his anti-feudalist masterpiece Harakiri, it occurred to me immediately I had just seen a more recent film with similar themes and time periods, so right when Harakiri ended I put in Takashi Miike’s wildly fun and semi-smart remake of 13 Assassins. It actually didn’t take place in the same time period, (they’re actually set 200 years apart) but both are set in ages of peace, both implement hara-kiri as a main theme, and both use the allegory of the time to parallel the emptiness of feudal/political/social honor. So what’s the significance of this mild discovery? Well, at the time none, I guess, other than sharing the wonderfully astute aesthetics of Japanese cinema with a friend based on impulse . . .  it’s just this hilarious coincidence then that Takashi Miike has very recently announced at Cannes 2011 that he’s remaking Harakiri. Trailer below: « Read the rest of this entry »

Woman in the Dunes: Geology as Sociology

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

woman in the dunes

Teshigahara might not be Japanese cinema’s most subtle symbolist or innovative formalist, but his uncanny ability to craft startling depictions of existential deadlock has cast him as one of the most enduring figures of the New Wave despite his relatively concise body of feature work. While one can find many parallels between his films and those of Antonioni, Resnais (another veteran of the documentary form) or even Bergman at his more abstruse, it could be said that Teshigahara’s greatest spiritual contemporary is none other than Rod Sterling’s immortal television series The Twilight Zone and its countless short form excursions into the impenetrable irreal that haunts all four of Teshigahara’s collaborations with novelist Kōbō Abe. Internationally hailed as a  masterpiece, his Woman in the Dunes (1964) has largely been seen the artistic peak of this tetralogy—the first of which being Pitfall (1962), a wonderful analysis of which can be found [here] by our very own Mr. Triangles.

By way of the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, I seek to continue Mr. Triangles’ Neo-Marxian reading of Pitfall into Woman in the Dunes with the specific concerns of connecting the radical implications of Deleuzian materialism with the influence of Kiyoteru Hanada’s “mineralism” on Kōbō Abe’s post-Communist political attitudes and subsequently Teshigahara’s cinematic interpretations of his works. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cahiers Collection © – Spine #2

February 6, 2011 § 1 Comment


Surrealism naturally resists the hermeneutic. But let’s be very clear; Daedelus’s Exquisite Corpse is no more an authentic work of surrealism qua surrealism than The Avalanches’ Since I Left You or Susumu Yokota’s Symbol. Rather, it would seem to be his first work not deserving of this title. Still, one gets the sense that, among Los Angeles’s near-mystical hotbed brood of sample musicians, it is Daedelus alone who—through his bold, Schaefferian exploits in jeu—has finally managed to tap into at least a minimal pocket of the kind of automatist compositional nirvāna first rumored by the infamous obscurantist himself, André Breton: the Marvelous event of song. « Read the rest of this entry »

Pitfall: Dirt As People

January 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

In the work of Teshigahara, the influence of literature was present regardless of Kobo Abe’s presence in collaboration because the melting pot that was his films held no constriction to genres or customs in order to get an idea across. The famous words, documentary-fantasy, are really not all that paradoxyl, for what else is art but a bunch of truth-telling lies? Aside from that, in an interview he stated he wanted to do a film about the coal industry at the time, and so he used this urge as a conduit for his social and political views, as well as experience since Pitfall would be his first feature film (as he had only done documentaries previously). « Read the rest of this entry »