Trust is like a muscle. It must be used and tested to grow in its potential.

If those gambles of trust aren’t made, it’s fear that grows.

April 30, 2022

20220430 Watched Kimi (2022, Soderbergh) Very good. Form: Loved the high angle shots and handheld styling for the agoraphobic sequences. Nice natural light work, esp. for the home sequences. Very curious how lightly it was crewed. Silence for headphones on” well evoked the ear-suck of ANC tech. Relaly nice tempo, great editing. Content: HR rep being referred to as Organics” and purely looking out for the company was really nice. The most W. Gibsonian film I’ve seen yet. Could’ve elaborated and exaggerated domestic luxuries favored by Angela, a kind of power-WFH comfort otaku with some very sensory textural stuff going on. Nice use of teal and orange and fabrics as it is. Nice Massive Attack use. Kinda wish there was explicitly reverse phase of the song and tweaking through room reverb modelling and modelling the Kimi mic. Other: watched Ocean’s Eleven last night and this feels like Soderbergh in similar form.

April 30, 2022

The value of an effort (a project, event, action) is currently determined by its ability to justify the production of images, and the quality of those images (in content and form).

April 26, 2022

20220330 A STATE OF GRACE

I like the idea that we’re all captivated by both the experience and the spectacle of grace. That grace being: when someone pursues their desires in such perfect harmony with their environment that obstacles are avoided or overcome without any apparent exertion. THeir actions are like a dance in perfect tune and rythmn with the cosmos, with fate.

In balletic action films - a la The Matrix, Equilibrium, John Wick, Crouching Tiger, - the subject is wants to kill and destroy, or is desiring to move through a space filled with opposing agents and obstacles who are, most simply for them, obliterated. I cannot think of a film of this type which is not successful, though that could easily be confirmation bias.

There is something of this in (Rube Goldbergy) musicals (if the first 10 minutes of In The Heights that I watched on the plane are anything to go by), although they have a fairy fixed and obvious tempo which distracts from the hidden internal grace which we yearn for.

The pandemic time loop fascination has lead to a core trope of the genre - at a certain point in their looping, the looped person achieves perfect grace with their environment, this time because they have learned it perfectly. We see this in Groundhog Day, Palm Springs and Russian Doll. Video games often repeatably programmed environments, particularly immersion sims like Thief and Dishonored, though I’d highlight also FromSoft games - which can induce in the player a similar experience (with reduced complexity and option for interaction)

There are other examples which use fate by another name - luck - to drive this harmony. Harry Potter and his luck potion in The Half Blood Prince is the high point of that text. More recent and spectacular, though, is amazing Zazzie Beats as Domino walking scene. On a similar note, the much beloved Quicksilver scenes of the recent X-Men films.

I have a great desire for a spectacle of this type where the desire is the opposite of ambivalent desctruction. I want a grace of love and courage. Does this have a place in modern cinema? Would this figure seem undesirably messianic if witnessed at length? Would there need to breaks in their action? A budget for their elegance? Or perhaps a reluctance to live that way because they desire resistance and struggle? I could not relate to the latter as much as the former, though I find the idea fascinating, and has a certain resonance with the pan-spiritual notion of the human as an omnipotent being choosing a limited perspective to enable it to experience time and change and so on as a product of that finitude.

In this perfect harmony, one acts as if divine: with perfect efficiency, total effect and beauty of movement. It is a power fantasy.

I think MLKs quote about the relationship between power and love goes along way to explaining my desire for this state of grace in compassionate action. The action films intially referenced above mostly position their narratives within altruistic terms, and sometimes outright loving. It is a good sign, that we would not enjoy these films as much (I don’t think) if they were nihilistic or cruel.

It’s probably a sign of the limits in which we desire that one of my first thoughts on this was I want more movies like this” when this desire comes from the lived experience and profound happiness that comes from experiencing this, especially for en extended period of time. It’s something I will continue to seek in my own living, rather than settling for as spectacle, though I love a good spectacle, as much as I can.

March 30, 2022

Best In Class Visual Narratives (occasionally updated)

Maniac (2018)

Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999)

Stoker

Sicario

Blade Runner

Blade Runner 2049

Alien

Dredd

Ex Machina

Dune (2021)

The Batman (2022)

Winter’s Bone

Evangelion

November 8, 2021

SOME RULES FOR MAKING BETTER FILMS

Maximise new world-building in each scene. Even if we’re in The Real World Today, there are so many opportunities to show character and novelty in each environment. What are the bits of the world that the character holds close. What are the things they crerate and use. Even if we’re going in on a single vibe, eg. gothic, take us on a tour of all of the settings appropriate to that genre (see: Guillermo Del Toro’s work from Pacific Rim onward.

Show us how people live. Give us that slice of life to help establish a setting. Having a few different everyday interactions is good because it gives a sense of the neighbourhood, and a sense of normalcy. Also, more novelty is more satisfying and builds up the foundation of the world. The foundation is what is normal and if that happens to be both very familiar but in some way exceptional, you win. Consider filming your fantasy (and every film is a fantasy) like it’s a documentary in those moments between the drama.

Let us hang out with the characters. Talk is cheap, so once you created a space, let us luxuriate in it, and discover new details from shot to shot.

Use as few shots as possible. Be economical. Fewer setups, means more time, means more budget. And more deliberate framing means that art dept can focus there efforts on the places we’re actually going to see. This applies especially to the drama. Do not be stingy. The first two points rely on you showing more of the world than most do.

Univisium by default. 16:9, or even DCI is out. Univisium is in. It’s the baseline. Go for wider ratio if you want, but no taller than Univisium for films.

Non-breathing spherical lenses by default. If you’ve got a good reason to use messy glass, by all means. Sometimes it’s easier to bury digital set extension in the mix. Sometimes it helps sell the fantasy. Maybe our perspective involves seeing the world through glass and distortions. If you’re not going to wear pants, though, have a good reason.

The poor tend toward cool; the super rich tend toward depravity. This is just a way to do some fun politics through film, and avoid material status as a character trait/virtue.

On set, best idea wins.

It’s gotta be a tight ninety. If you want more, you’ve gotta earn it.

October 21, 2021