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 »


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 »

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 »

Folk and Its Discontents

December 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

For me, someone like Dylan contributed more to defining postmodernism with the (now rather pathetic) title to his 1964 opus The Times They Are a-Changin’ than a dozen obscurantist Lyotard essays ever did. If taken in a purely ironic way, postmodernism is the true advent of Dylan’s declaration, for it’s precisely this album—arguably Dylan’s most valiantly self-serious and tragically sincere—that stands to remind us all of just how little times had really changed and how silly it was, and still is, to expect signs of change from pop music. Stripping away the ideology, we can finally see how this premature rallying cry of The Times They Are a-Changin’ was really nothing more than a futile yearning for postmodernism’s true cultural arrival. « Read the rest of this entry »

On Fall (defining the question)

October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Tell me, Galileo, of this silly poesy we call autumn. Tell me of its φυσικός: its interlocking clockwork; tell me of what Keats—that dripping Romantic—so delightfully mystified with his provocative magic. Tell me this, Galileo, and prove it to me; geometrically, if you must. Whichever method, I know that it will be a beautiful proof, for could there ever be a rapport more esthetically sublime than that of a proposition with its “Q.E.D.”? « Read the rest of this entry »

Zero-level Encounter in Mike Leigh’s ‘Naked’

September 12, 2010 § 3 Comments

To be both a nihilist and a follower of prophecy is to embody a very rare species of contradiction which very few characters in the past—Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov—have been able to properly contain. David Thewlis’s startling portrayal of Johnny in Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993) is one of these singular characters. Midway through the film, Johnny is taken aback at the claim that he does not believe in God and indignantly replies, “of course I believe in God!” This comes from the same man who, in the initial shot of film, is shown to be either raping or abusing a prostitute and, soon after, steals a car to avoid getting a beating from the prostitute’s friends. « Read the rest of this entry »