Archive for December, 2012

Beast of the Southern Wild review making the rounds in my social networks…

If this is the case against the film, I’m not sure it’s going to get past the grand jury.

That reviewer admits the cinematography, score, locations and imagery in the film are top notch. Now, those things are huge. I know narrative is most important and I’ll get to that but, let’s not toss out the ethereal aspects of the film simply because the reviewer has an issue with the story. Because they were pretty amazing. They weren’t just good. They excelled. They greatly enhanced the narrative, enriching the story so much that viewers were immediately captivated. This is something that many, many films fail at from the start. Reviewer asks us to “see past the craft.” Fucking why? So we can understand your point better without this huge aspect of the film’s greatness getting in the way?

So, the Narrative. Some things that should be addressed…
- Hushpuppy wants people in the future to remember her but the viewer knows they won’t. She thinks her writing on a cardboard box will be enough. But we, the audience, are supposed to know better. Most of us did and recognized the helplessness of the character. Probably because no one is going to remember us either. This is a universal plight. Mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation and so forth.

- The Titanic stuff, it’s an age old narrative that probably started before the Buddha but was most historically done by him wherein the privileged child casts aside the networks of their society to a simpler, stripped down existence. Buddha did it. Yuppies do it. Gutter Punks do it. People do it. We have fucking reptile brains deep in there. Smooth, unbundled, savage reptile corpus callosums and we like to sometimes get in touch with it.

Unoriginal? Monomyth!

The rest of the review is the critic making some statements about what he didn’t like about the film but he doesn’t really say why it’s bad. Unless he is suggesting that because he didn’t like it, we shouldn’t. With more critics in the Universe than ever, a simple snarky ripping of a flick isn’t good enough anymore. There are 6.5 billion opinions out there. I need to know why yours is valid. You need to show me why yours is valid. Simply stating “Phony. Phony. Phony” doesn’t quite do it.

But hey the accusation was that noodling was depicted as too easy right? What don’t you know in that scene? Had Wink already seen the Catfish before his dialouge? Was it a spot he knew they lurked? It’s not a 65-pounder they pull up. They are out there to catch fish. The man has supposedly done it his whole life. The film is being critiqued because it looked too easy? It was a small aspect of the flick anyway. And why is it supposed to look hard? How would that advance the narrative?

Then we really get to the real heart of why this critic dislikes Beasts and yes, it involves … standing. It’s his premise and ultimately the basis of his critique that:

Also, call me cynical, but watching po’ black characters deliberately misuse words and grammar in folksy phrases written by white people (“cavemens,” for example) feels hokey at best and offensive at worst. Keep in mind, I knew nothing about the filmmakers before I watched this film. It just reeked of theater kid fantasy, and I’ve seen enough Hurricane Katrina narratives written by liberal arts students in New York to recognize this as one. Art students be lovin’ Katrina narratives like fictional Cajuns love crawdads, you all.

So, there is no way these white art school kids could possibly have anything meaningful or non-stereotypical to say about these poor people who live in the Bathtub? Even if they could tell this story adeptly (which they do) they really can’t because of who they are. The art isn’t allowed to stand alone because it’s this critic’s prejudice against the artist that gets in the way. The story can be told, but not by them so that gives it its cheesy quality. I guess it is safe to assume real poor folks wouldn’t have glamorized their plight but I live in and among them and I see it glamorized all the time. The notion is they can do it, these art school kids can’t, and that’s a case of standing.

And if the film was such a manipulation of poor hurricane-struck folk in Louisiana, wouldn’t Dwight Henry’s starring role have at least added some credibility to that? A life-long New Orleans resident and 7th Ward baker?

And let’s not forget that the Bathtub is indeed a fucking FANTASY WORLD. Yes, the flick is a fantasy movie. So that’s how you approach it. That is dictated to us by the filmmakers pretty early. And that is the mindset in which the film is to be approached from then on. There is magical realism at work here and this critic never even addresses it. It’s based in reality but, once we are shown that huge boars are floating toward Hushpuppy in melting blocks of ice why quibble about noodling? Maybe in the fantasy world of the bathtub, noodling is easy.

And also not mentioned despite it being a huge testament to the film’s greatness is the fact that these were not even actors in these roles. Both Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis acted exceptionally and brilliantly. Astounding because THEY HAD NEVER ACTED BEFORE IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.

So the film excelled in score, setting, cinematography, imagery and acting. I don’t mind monomyth. I prefer monomyth over the overtold stories in flicks today. The original Star Wars was a monomyth. The latest Star Wars films were so overly-complex no one knew what was going on. I don’t mind a complex story but the framework needs to be simple and the complexities within it.

I don’t mind art students writing about Katrina. The more the better. So long as they get it right and these folks did.

Everyone has their voice. It’s always there. It’s processed through five senses into your mind and then assembled into ideas and then deposited out through those same five senses. Think of conveyor belts bringing goods into the factory of your mind through your hands, eyes ears, nose and mouth and a different set of belts bringing repackaged goods out wrapped up as ideas. Sometimes improvements have been made on the ideas. Sometimes they have been completely reassembled into something new. Sometime simply a sticker has been put on them that says “approved for redistribution.” Sometimes they are tossed into the furnace.

It is not only the so-called “brilliant” minds that run these factories, it is us all. And when the factory really starts going, it begins producing enough products that it needs to find methods of distributing them. And lucky for us all, in this day and age, there are plenty of those. So everyone’s idea factory is exporting at high levels and their products are global commerce.

Some aren’t very good. But somewhere in there, more ideas HAS to eventually mean better ones.

The conveyor belts coming into the factory are filling it up very fast. The furnace fires are burning bright. The smoke is billowing out of the smokestacks. And it’s not just the useless, repetitive ideas they are burning up in there anymore. Now it’s the stuff they just can’t even get to. The warehouses are filling up and there just isn’t time to get to it and more stuff is coming in and what’s the CEO to do? He has to just run at maximum capacity and throw the other stuff in the furnace.

And you don’t want that stuff piling up in there. Some of the packages are hazardous materials. Some contain rare bugs that need to be dealt with and, if ignored, the bugs will get out and eat up the walls of the factory. Some have containers of poisonous gasses that can break and harm the factory workers.

So the factory has to be run well just to keep all this stuff in order. The conveyor belts that export the repackaged and hopefully improved upon goods have to be flowing and the smokestacks need to be billowing. That way the factory can pass all it’s safety inspections and keep producing.

For a long time The Chicory was a great method of distribution for my factory. After the Flood, it helped me sort out and package and record and redistribute the packages that were coming in. Most of the best products from The Chicory came from the “Commentary” category where the more carefully prepared posts were placed. “On The Second Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina” was perhaps the clearest example of this time. The ideas were coming in through many other local bloggers (and the steadily churning factories of their minds) and were used to build other ideas in my own. Like global commerce, these other factories were essential building materials needed to make my own product.

Business at the factory was booming. It was a time when many factories were working overtime. Three shifts. A 24-hour operation. The voices were strong and The Chicory was an excellent method of distribution for all the packages I was shipping and the ones I was redistributing. All our voices were strong. Research and Development could barely keep up with what we were putting out.

But then there began to be other methods of distribution. The smaller, less complex packages began being distributed through Twitter. And the less profane, more middle of the road stuff through Facebook.

And then there came another, weirder, more esoteric method of distribution.

And then slowly the old Chicory “super highway” of distribution began to slowly trickle down. And not without good reason. The Chicory is a time consumer. Blogging is a time consumer. I am already over the estimated amount of time I mentally budgeted on THIS post. So resources to process the ideas are being used up. Linking, fact-checking, spell-checking, making-sure-nothing-you-said-is-stupid, it all takes time.

And also, the recovery of New Orleans after the Federal Flood (which fueled the factory) is set in motion. It isn’t complete but, there is certainly a notion that it doesn’t need to BECOME something now that it IS something. For better or worse it’s under way in its current form. And there is nothing The Chicory is going to do now that it didn’t do in the past in hopefully some small way.

So while the ideas are certainly not in any sort of era of austerity, the usefulness of The Chicory isn’t the same as it used to be. This conveyor belt is being refitted.

I used to have a strict “all New Orleans,” rule here. I didn’t think anyone cared about the personal mind farts of my life and I didn’t blog about that. If I did, I made sure I showed that it tied into some bigger picture somehow. At least I tried to. The Chicory was essentially a “recovery blog.” One of many and they were all fucking beautiful. Amazing factories churning out and distributing exquisite ideas about exactly what New Orleans needed to be after the storm. And I am glad the answer was, “as close to what it was before as possible.”

I think it’s safe to expand now. What R&D has come up with is to process products from the factory that deal with humanity. Humanity right now. How a factory can process its ideas. What those are. How being “spiritual” should really mean being “human.” Not the idealized human but the real human. How we fit in here.

I am going to try and make some art that fits the theme of blog posts as sort of a visual component as well.

And if anyone has ever heard me speak, it’s will unfortunately be profane. I fit into the Universe by being the son of a sailor and a social worker. Both of who in other lives were a mechanic and a waitress. So I’m never going to be able to shake that necessity to take things right down to their filthy base. Where sometimes they belong. We do come from the dirt you know. The flowers in the Spring come from the dead.

As a lover of the absurd nature of The Universe I promise not to take myself to seriously. Though, I certainly will at times.

So The Chicory is going to be about being human. And more importantly, human in New Orleans.