Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where I'm at, and where I'm going...

The following may come across as "Duh!?" for some, but maybe not:

It has occurred to me that I must struggle. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, because let's face it, most of us are lazy and want happiness thrust upon us. I've realized that without a bit of struggle, without throwing my world into upheaval, I will die miserable, and probably alone.

Incidentally, I came across this quote by George Stroumboulopoulos earlier today:

"I don’t have a balanced life, and I don’t want one. I need to be erratic. I need to be driven by high highs and low lows. I want emotional range in my life. I don’t want my life to be easy. You know people say, I just want a good life. I don’t fuckin’ want a good life. What is that? I want to feel things. The most important lyric for me is Bob Dylan’s ‘He not busy being born, is busy dying.’ So which guy do I want to be?"

Since my MELTDOWN in November whereby my future was considered for the first time in ages, I've done some serious contemplation. I realized that my life had been one of complete convenience, without a shred of struggle, and that my future was also doomed to the same stagnancy that corrupted my youth. It is quite amazing how long people can live lying to themselves, denying their true desires, goals, and ambitions.

Dillon departing for Korea made me think long and hard as to whether or not I'd be on the next plane over, following in his footsteps. I did want to teach, after all, and the experience would certainly look good on my teachers college application. And the money--the money would be nice too.

Course selection for Winter 09 classes begin. I can either kill myself to pursue my prestigious double-major, or I can take a couple classes and ultimately finish with a B.A. English without exertion. I think long and hard. I call around and ask people what they think. Do I need a double major? Should I just be done with school and actually start my life?

I was never unhappy, at least I don't think I was, but November brought upon a tinge of depression as great change suddenly side-swiped my unassuming ass. I woke up one day and realized, " Fool! You don't want to be a teacher! You want to string words together and have people think you're important!" I have always wanted to write, but I was certain I needed a "back-up". Realizing the "back-up" (ie, teaching) was something I had zero passion for, I started looking for "back-ups" that would suit my passions.

At the time I was reading The New Kings of Non-Fiction, and found myself invigorated by the possibilities of contemporary journalism. "I can be a journalist!" I told myself. Journalism would be the ideal back-up as I'd be doing some kind of writing on a daily basis. Then the search for schools began. Humber College seemed ideal for this new life-plan, but upon my research I came across another program: Writing for Television. Fools, I thought, breaking into film and television is a tough gig--good luck! Meanwhile, I'm attending Journalism seminars, half-listening because I'm plotting out a screenplay in my head.

One day I call Chris Richard, with tears in my eyes, and tell him about my disposition. I tell him the future is uncertain and it scares the shit out of me. He says, "I don't see that as a bad thing at all. The fact that you're calling me about this tells me you're unhappy on your current path, so think about it what's really important to you, and act on it." I thank him and hang up the phone. How can uncertainty be a positive thing? Naive bastard, I thought.

Sometime after this I lay in bed and cry, utterly confused and wondering "The universe is gonna fizzle out anyway, so what's the fucking point!? Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!" followed by more tears and more confusion. Not long after my sissy-period I come across this nugget of truth, thanks to Tim:

"To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest...

...What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"

--Sterling Hayden

In other words: Shut the fuck up, stop worrying about the "back-up", neglect so-called comfort and pursue your dreams. Back in November when I'd look to my future, I saw nothing but fog and it scared the shit out of me. I was in the process of derailing my life and my predetermined future was imploding inside my mind.

I decided to do away with the double-major and settled for the less prestigious B.A. English. Now I look to the future and I see that once foolish Writing for Television program at Humber, living in Toronto, and most importantly--WRITING. All the while, the forecast calls for poverty, unease, and anxiety ridden nights where I'll crouch in a corner, thumb in my mouth, weeping, "When will it happen? When will I be published? When will I have a film produced?" Nothing will go as planned and I'll lay awake most nights, restless.

I know it sounds all kinds of dreary, but it really isn't. It won't be easy, but it shouldn't be. I'm not deluded enough to think I'll be some measure of professional anytime soon, but goddamnit, for the first time in my life I'm doing away with convenience and I'm accepting the struggle required to achieve my dreams. Without struggling, I will grow conformable, and with that comes a lifetime of working at Zellers, hating my existence because I settled for a soul-crushing lot in life.

I will not have my dreams go unchallenged. I will not have my dreams mutate into nightmares that mock me for never realizing them. I look to the future and it's still really foggy, but I'm finally okay with that, because I'll actually be doing what I want to do.

Perhaps Chris wasn't so naive after all. Thanks, Chris, wherever you are...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why Tweens Shouldn't Have Disposable Income

After a mildly interesting first half, the film devolves into a poorly paced, incredibly soulless second half. How does one make a film about vampire love so fucking boring? Was it the superficial characters and relationships without any real substance? Yes, but it doesn't end there. Stephanie Meyer, the author of the books, has taken the piss out of vampires. She has sanitized them into something silly, as opposed to monstrous. Vampires are meant to be wildly erotic, unleashing sexuality. At least, that's how Bram Stoker wrote them--and that's worked for over 100 years, so why change it?

Stephanie Meyer is interested in telling a story about abstinence. She is a strict Mormon, and she's using vampire mythology to tell a story about resisting the urge to "drink blood"--Sorry, FUCK. Boring.

Did you know that Meyer's vampires sparkle in the sun? I don't care how you cut it, that's fucking stupid.

I realize that I'm not the target audience for this film, but that shouldn't matter. Good art, and good storytelling transcends demographics. I'm a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which has already told this story--much, much better. The reason Twilight has become so popular is because Tweens don't know better, and they have disposable income. Thankfully, Twilight will just be another passing fad. At least, I hope so, or our culture's in trouble.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Synecdoche, New York Review (That is, an Attempted Review)

I've taken the time to establish some distance from Synecdoche, New York--and as it turns out, I'm still not certain what to think of it. I will say, however, that I think about it often. Even though I was initially disappointed with the film, it has had a lasting effect on me. It is rare for a film to linger, unprovoked, in my waking thoughts, but Synecdoche seems to have that power. Which is saying a lot. It is a film brimming with ideas, which make it feel somewhat bloated. As to whether or not the film's bloated nature is a slight against it, I'm not sure. 

It is not possible to think of Synecdoche, New York as you would other films. It is trying something different by existing outside the standard. Call it pretentious, call it whatever--it is an attempt at something truthful, and something meaningful. That needs to be recognized, despite the films failures. Charlie Kaufman is not an untalented individual, and he lends authenticity to whatever artistic endeavor he pursues. Therefore, to immediately dismiss or discount the ideas in Synecdoche is a mistake. There is something beneath the surface. Something worth digging up.

Although it is ultimately unsuccessful as a conventional "film", Synecdoche remains compelling. I must see it again, and perhaps again after that. I honestly don't think Synecdoche is a film you like or dislike. It is a film to be considered. So, if you would be so kind--consider it. When you watch it, don't think of it as a movie, but a labyrinth of ideas. I'd call it art, you may call it something else. At the end of the day, however, it is nearly impossible not to admire it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More stuff...

These were done with pen and marker. I feel I'm starting to develop a consistent style I'm satisfied with.

New Sketches!

I should really draw more. Here are some recent sketches I did with a brush--a tool I feel I'll never get the hang of.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yes, I loved Quantum of Solace. Sue me.

I must say I was shocked to discover everyone but me (and a few others) had a negative experience with Quantum of Solace. I truly feel I've entered the Twilight Zone where everyone seems to have gone Bizzaro on me.

I get that Quantum of Solace isn't as good as Casino Royale. That's a given. Casino Royale was damn near perfect. You can't, however, catch lightning in a bottle--which seems to be what people were expecting with Quantum.

I hear people saying Quantum has no plot. Does it really have any less of a plot than Casino Royale? Think about it. Bond films always have an improvised feel, whereby information, and the acquisition of information dictates the plot. Not much really happens in Casino Royale, we only learn bits of information that lead to other bits. The most significant aspect of Casino Royale is Bond's character arc which is well handled, but far from perfect. It does a great job of setting up Ian Fleming's Bond for a 21st century audience. Quantum of Solace is a continuation of that.

What I loved about Quantum of Solace is that they didn't feature Bond sitting on a beach being pensive. Depressed. Fuck no. He gets right back into it. He follows the information. That information leads to Bolivia, where we learn of a global-level plot that's aimed at knocking the earth of its axis, so to speak. All the while Bond deals with his heartache the way Bond would. He drinks and fucks. He kills people. He keeps himself busy, and follows the information.

At first, Bond's intention is to get some kind of revenge. Incidentally he gets to witness, first hand, Olga's vengeance. It leaves her empty--much like Bond had been feeling the whole film, if you weren't paying attention. He decides against his personal vendetta and follows through with his duty. He is going to follow the information, and uncover the real reason Vesper lost her life. He's going to do it as an agent, not as a rogue. Going rogue is counter-intuitive.

Quantum of Solace could have easily been about Bond's revenge. He couldve followed through with it and murdered that guy. That could have been the whole film. Was that what people were expecting? Quantum of Solace is smarter than that. It chooses to be a meditation on the nature revenge, and that's why I admire it. Sure it's superficial, but it's Bond. Superficiality comes with the territory.

Yes, Quantum of Solace is flawed. I have many of the same problems with it as you do. Although I love the style of the action, I have to admit the boat chase is a messy bit of editing. It's the only action beat that falls flat, I think. Furthermore, on a more fundamental level, the villain was weak. For comparissons sake, however, he ain't that much more exciting than Le Chiffre. They should've tried harder.

I love the way this film unfolds. Once again, its about a labyrinth of information being uncovered, and trying to make some semblance of what it could all mean. The film raises interesting questions, and I have no doubt that much of what we saw in Quantum will be elaborated on in the next film.

I love the Bond/Mathis stuff. Every Bond/M scene is terrific. Craig and Dench have great chemistry.

I love that Olga (the Bond girl) isn't a waste of flesh. Firstly, she doesn't fuck Bond. Secondly, she actually has a story arc which informs the themes of the film. Furthermore, I really dug the fact she was physically scared. Her disfigurement lent her authenticity. It made her human, not just some piece of meant to gawk at. It was pretty bold to give the Bond girl a wretched scar on her back, in plain view.

Speaking of Bond girls: Strawberry Fields. She was terrific. What happens to her as a result of Bond's carelessness is not necessarily new (ie, it was a pretty clear nod to Goldfinger) but the way the scene was handled was fantastic.

Most importantly, Quantum of Solace was fun. It was lean, and took a more action oriented route. The film rarely settles for a quiet moment, so it uses action to tell the story. Bond films will always be action films. I've realized that. So I rolled with it this time, instead of bitching about how I wanted more espionage, more intrigue. That is, more of what the novels offer.

On that note, I love the way action is handled in this film. I really dug the choice to have the environment around the action also be part of the action. That Opera scene is breathtaking. The action in this film is so stylish, so rough and quick. The grit just gets under your fingernails.

Speaking of style, the film has it to spare. Regardless of what you think of the action, the film is gorgeous, there's no denying that.

James Bond is based on a series of trashy, pulpy, spy novels. Fleming's Bond is an unquestionable badass, and Craig certainly captures that. But at the same time, he isn't Jason Bourne. Remember: PULP. He isn't meant to be overly complex. That's not to say I want dumb action movies. We've had enough of that Bond. What I want are competent action films, and that's what Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace have delivered so far. In Casino Royale, Bond falls in love and has his heart ripped out as a result. Quantum deals with his grief through action beats, never letting down the pulpy nature of our hero. I think that's what people have failed to realize.

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. That mind set, however, helped me to dig the fuck out of Quantum of Solace. Casino Royale gave me a pulp spy story. Pulp was what I was expecting from Quantum of Solace, and pulp is what I got.

I understand peoples concerns with Quantum of Solace, however. I share them, for the most part. The film does kind of feel like an interlude between Casino Royale and whatever comes next. The villain is terrible. Where I differ in opinion, it seems, is that I don't think that Quantum's flaws make it a piece of shit. They just make it less than the near-perfect Casino Royale.