Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Just watched...

...the beautiful, mysterious "Cemetery of Splendor."

When I saw Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's gloriously magical film "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" (previously here) I was smitten. It is a languid, ravishingly beautiful meditation on nature, mortality, and metaphysics. So when I saw in 2015 that he released another film called "Cemetery of Splendor" which debuted in the Un Certain Regard section of that year's Cannes Film Festival, I was already on board. And I finally cycled through the Netflix queue to get to it.

After a group of soldiers who have fallen ill with a strange sleeping sickness get set up in a makeshift hospital, a middle-aged housewife volunteers her services and time to care for them. But the hospital turns out to be in what was once her grade school, triggering long-forgotten memories. She is drawn to one soldier in particluar and in tending to him in his sleep, she begins to have a series of unexplained experiences. As with "Uncle Boonmee," mysterious, otherworldly phenomena exist comfortably alongside our physical world. Everything in "Cemetery of Splendor" is eventually attached to and supported by an unseen layer below. It is an approach to storytellling and film making that is natural to Weerasethakul who grew up in the small village shown in the film. This area of Thailand is heavily influenced by myths, stories, legends, and animism all of which make their way into this film.

Visually stunning, "Cemetery" takes its time with the narrative, pausing to contemplate a ceiling fan or a view out of a window, the way one's mind does when one is daydreaming. In this way, Weerasethakul reminds me of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (previously here and here) whose camera lingered on rain falling on a tree leaf...there is beauty to be found in simple, static elements. Weerasethakul's Director of Photography Diego Garcia makes the most of natural light both day and night and comes up with a crystal clear sense to the film that is all the more startling given the murky, enigmatic happenings. The director has said that this film "can be a dream of being awake or a reality that is seemingly like a dream."

And I must say that Jenjira Pongpas as the volunteer at the hospital is just a miracle of subtlety and restraint in acting. Her performance is a master class in naturalism and not being aware of the camera, at all. She has only ever worked with Weerasethakul having appeared in nearly every film he's made and they have a special relationship...so much so that he wrote her part based on her real life.

Recommend? Oh yes, absolutely. It is a lovely film, magical, and full of humanity and understanding.


Monday, July 30, 2018

"I Dreamt We Spoke Again" by Death Cab For Cutie

I identify with this song: "I Dreamt We Spoke Again" by Death Cab For Cutie (out August 17, 2018 on their new release "Thank You for Today"). I dream often of all the people I have loved who have died...they come to me at night to say hi. They are always so thrilled with the element of surprise, so thrilled to pop in on me and hug me, wish me well, or sometimes just smile and laugh. These dreams feel different from other, "regular" dreams and I wonder if they are emanating from some alternate plane of vibration. If they are just energy now, can they get to me when my brain waves are different?


Sunday, July 29, 2018

BEAUTY: Painting--Ron Griswold

For painter Ron Griswold, early inspiration came from Tiepolo, Chardin, Inness, Titian, Michelangelo, Rembrant...and Warhol, Picasso, and Duchamp in equal measures. And his male portraiture certainly looks like it owes a debt to classical painters and modernist conceptual artists...

Top to bottom: Looking Through Red; Portrait Study 122214; Portrait Study, Boxer; Profile Of A Youth; Sunshine; The Seeker; Blue Paris; Head Study, Red On Yellow; Headshot 2


Saturday, July 28, 2018

BEAUTY: Painting--Ekaterina Popova

There is something charming, soothing, and sweet about these domestic interior images by Ekaterina Popova. But the longer I look at them, there is something heartbreaking about them too...the intimacy and tenderness...the view of a private place, the kind of place we all have, where we let down our guard, fall asleep and dream. It is a little corner that belongs to us, small and fragile. It recalls Van Gogh's painting of his bedroom in Arles, his floor swept clean, his belongings neatly organized, the little yellow chair next to his bed set just so...these are the things that whisper, "I am me, I only take up this little amount of room, please just let me exist."

Top to bottom: Bedroom Study; Bedtime Stories; First Apartment; Guest Room; Memories Remain; Restful; untitled; Vermont III; Vermont


Friday, July 27, 2018

"I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it" by The 1975

"I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it" by The 1975. Because of the following lyrics:

"Before you go
(Please don't go)
Turn the big light off"


Thursday, July 26, 2018

BEAUTY: Photography--Lucia Fainzilber

Argentinian photographer Lucia Fainzilber cites being an immigrant as an inspiration for her Cookbook series but the Fauvist in me is only interested in the color! And the texture. What a lovely sense of composition she has! Simply amazing in its subtlety and organization of hues!

"Being an immigrant made me think about identity in a way I never thought before. How our ingredients combine and blend with a new surrounding? No matter how permeable we can be to adopt another culture, or how hegemonic a culture can be to penetrate us, our identity resists. This project is an evolution of my first project “Somewear”, in which this theme is developed using fabric as the skin we live in, as a second house we carry and speaks by itself. In The Cookbook I intend to use food as another prime element in our lives as immigrants. There might be trends, star ingredients and healthy habits, but our memories cannot be replaced by another ‘filling’. Each dish carries a different combination of ingredients, which try to live together creating a harmonic symphony for the eye. As in any recipe we are part of the ingredients list, which are mixed together blending into each other at a certain temperature and with a specific method, resulting into a new dish of the modern Course Menu.
--Lucia Fainzilber"


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Mid-Century Modern Photography of Marvin Rand

I seem to be working with variations on a theme here for the last few days, with images reminiscent of summers gone by--the vintage motels of Seth Smith (here) and the neon retro signage of Kellie Talbot (here). So along the same lines, I want to share with you the vintage photography of Marvin Rand who captured images of Mid-Century architecture--both commercial and residential--in and around Los Angeles during this lovely post-war time period.

Rand started his studio in 1950 photographing products for advertising campaigns but soon switched to architectural photography, chronicling the exciting boom in building that Los Angeles experienced in the 50s and 60s. His sense of California modernism is now available for all to see in a beautiful book called CALIFORNIA CAPTURED by Marvin Rand available through Phaidon books, linked below.

Top to bottom: Tiny Naylor's; Capitol Records building; Cinerama; Equitable; Honnold and Rex building; LAX; Pereira Residence; Steeves Residence; Stone Stuart Pharmaceutical Offices


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

BEAUTY: Painting--Kellie Talbot

Hot on the heels of my post yesterday about the wonderful art of Seth Smith, here, in which he paints scenes of vintage motels and their pools, here is the work of Kellie Talbot who paints photorealist snippets of vintage neon signs that one would see in front of such motels. Like I said in the post of Seth Smith's work, it all reminds me so much of my childhood and how my family would drive (in a little VW bug!) from Miami to our hometown in New York so we could visit for the summer. Along the way, we would stay overnight at motels with names and signs like these...

Top to bottom: Balboa; Big Bridge; Color; Desert Grove; Fabulous Seven; Q; Sands; Capri Motel; Stardust Hotel; Surf Haven Motel