Alright, upon re-reading, I suppose one may have to be a bit of Tolkien geek to appreciate these Oh, and what do I think about the Hobbit movie? I may do a longer post, but in the meantime I am sending this to Peter Jackson for Christmas
I have not read The Borrowers books so I don’t know what sort of fidelity this movie keeps with the source material aside from keeping Arietty’s name. It displays great fidelity and continuity with the aesthetics and vision of Studio Ghibli, however. Afterwards, I remarked to my friends with whom I saw the film that it would almost have been natural, and perhaps even a delightful cameo, if in one of the scenes showing the house from the road, the producers had drawn Chihiro and her family driving by on their way to the action of their own movie, Spirited Away. The setting of a house amongst the woods just outside of a city, is very similar to some of the early scenes in Spirited Away.
And though both movies involve a girl coming of age and boy who protects her, it is here that the similarities end. In contrast to the complex mystical story of Spirited Away, The Secret World of Arietty is a simple tale, more or less grounded in the real world, but equally moving.
Studio Ghibli movies always seem to have wonderful scenes of nature in them, but this one is a true masterpiece, as it focuses in on the very small, both indoors and out–and the colors, lighting, shadows, and depths of focus of the leaves and water droplets and beams of light in the trees and poppies in the meadow are breathtaking. Moreover, often the “camera” angles, from the perspective of a little borrower looking up, add to these effects. And as usual with Studio Ghibli films, it does not matter at all that the visual effects are not at Pixar’s level of algorithmically generated perfection. Indeed, because we are not worried about photographic fidelity, as with some types of painting, we can pay attention to how the artists have captured light and color, and revel in it.
And though this artistry alone makes the film worthy of your attention, and the juxtaposition of miniature and the large items in the household (which seems to perpetually attract us) are wonderfully depicted, it is the character of the story, itself, which moved me the most.
It is also true that Arietty is beautiful and delightful—a true pixie dream girl, to appropriate a trope and leave off the unstable “manic” part—and yet it becomes clear that romance and that sort of happy ending are not really what this film is about. Indeed, the ending leaves one wistful, longing, and deeply moved—moved by the brief interlude of beauty and love that we have seen, between a brave and beautiful and great and wounded heart.
One of the advantages of having had a blog for going on 8 years and switching platforms and even emphases from time to time, is that one can emulate the scribe that Jesus describes in Matthew 13:52 and bring out ‘new treasures as well as the old,’ only in this case that order is inverted as I bring out the old–you can be the judge of its treasure-worthiness. It is true that such sampling of an earlier version might dilute the current “brand” of the blog a bit, but The Dassler Effect is nothing if not a little mixed up
Today on a whim, I priced tickets to Pakistan, not because I am going any time soon, but just out curiosity. I have not been since 1993, and simply thinking of going produces a complex set of emotions. It will happen some time, and hopefully sooner rather than 20 years further on.
Below are a series of poems I wrote in 1994 which have appeared on the blog before and reflect on my last trip to Pakistan. I am very pleased with some of the imagery here, but some needs work and editing.
In truth, I am rather poetically lazy. That is one reason I love haiku so much Though, I love that form also for its own beautiful simplicity and power, and I know when I have written a truly worthy one and when I have merely gone through the paces. Free verse is rather harder for me, and sonnets harder still, but one day I will try to give those forms a go again.
Partially I have to do this because there are some things one simply cannot capture in a haiku. For example, this weekend I was unpacking my mother’s china, some of which she bought piece by piece from a bank in Illinois, moved in barrels on a ship to Pakistan where she was to marry my father, which was most recently in my father’s house in Illinois before he died, and now is in my brand new house. Surely that deserves a poem, with the interweaving of themes from another story of a woman ensconced in and in love with a land not her own– Baroness Blixen’s story in Out of Africa, which my mother was deeply drawn to even though their outlooks on the world were quite different. I tell you, it could be a great poem, but it will surely take some work…
In the meantime, it’s haiku and photos and reprints for you (oh, and the odd essay).
a thousand phrases out of context
sit in these padded chairs
dreaming of verbs
to be and do
a thousand islands float
detached from mainlands
forming these strange archipelagos
these strange bays and headlands
and soon i too will float
trailing a muddy wake
diffusing with the distance
into clear blue
soon i too
ripped from my context
will struggle just to be
bleeding my dependencies
nocturne in limbo, 30,000 feet
this strange stillness soothes
the unending muted roar of engines
envelopes and subdues me
like the roaring of a monsoon on a tin roof
remembered in warm sleep
this stillness seeps
through this inch thick oval of glass
from the moon filled space beyond
that holds separate two seas of black
and i hang in between
and ache for each
the stars for which no earthly metaphor will do
burn their coldness into me
some longing for eternity
quivers and answers
deep unto deep
a cozier vastness beckons me
the desert blackness exhales middle-eastern heat
and in the galaxies of light
that island its entirety
lovers softly sleep
ensconced each in each
i stand and breathe
my last few gulps of air duty-free
shuffling up the aisle of this airlock
soon i will be complete
torn into a duality
that appears unseamed in separate hemispheres
that tears each time they meet
at the touching of my sleeping eastern flesh with east
i walk from the door
and then I’m me
in ways that i have not been for years
as thick warm eastern air enfolds me
and fills my lungs
displacing stale indifference
and leaves me coughing
amidst these warm embraces
invading my protesting western space
amidst these cluttered streets
breaking life into me
more honest and complete
it may take some time to breathe
Aside from the fact that I shoot digital and so no longer experience any of the travail and joys and anticipation of the development process, the visuals in the film, even in the trailer, and the process of “seeing” them, I am sure, will be tingling to behold, provided, that is, that the film maker does not pull a Pleasantville and simply privilege extreme individualism and personal artistic vision above all and to the exclusion of all else.
I have high hopes that he will not, but rather deal sensitively with the tragedy of being caught in a failed, abusive marriage and still doing right by one’s family and while still fostering an artistic vision. It is an intersting and open question to see if that is even a possibility-it seems something would have to give. And yet whatever does give, however, I don’t want the backward orthodoxy of Pleasantville, wherein personal expression and choice seems to trump all else.
Sadly, this film may not even make it to St. Louis until it does so in DVD form. It is going to be on pay-per-view, though, so I might have to find someone who has cable and see if I can mooch an invitation
Having written this blog post, it is only fair that I mention that the two child actors seem to be getting more useful compensation, even as they head off to the Oscars to make Hollywood celebrities feel better about themselves.
In my review of the movie I did not exactly predict that the reception of Slumdog Millionaire in India would be mixed and problematic, though I had wondered since writing it what the reception in India, indeed, would be.
This article from the BBC informs me that the movie is only just opening in India, and that, yes, the reaction is mixed. I am interested to see how the film fares. One aspect of my review does seem borne out, though, and that is the relative shallowness of the story of love and riches in comparison to the depth of human suffering in Mumbai and India at large, which the movie, to its credit, does touch upon in fairly artful and sensitive ways.
Also, in sharp contrast to the film, the two youngest versions of the protagonists in the film still live in a slum! On some levels this should not be shocking–perhaps it would be false to pluck them out of their lives with a new house, etc. simply for being in the film–and yet if there lives have not been bettered in some way (and they may have been in ways that this article does not allude to), their use does seem a touch exploitive, especially seeing the film has turned out to be such a blockbuster.
Thoughts? For a sample of some more articles, search articles from the Times of India.
Well, this new version of The Dassler Effect has had a more promising start than I could have imagined. And yet its previous incarnation was no slouch either (it still shows up first on Google). Because it was around for longer, it has far more more photos on it than the current blog and there is a far sight more writing of various types on it as well. Here are links to its categores. A word of warning: the photo and art pages do take a rather long time to load:
- Ache for Eternity
- And Wears Man’s Smudge
- C. S. Lewis
- Church Life and Theology
- Film, Music, Television, Books
- Food and Such
- J. R. R. Tolkien
- Lit and Library Stuff
- Personal Growth or Lack Thereof
- Photos and Art
- Photos and Art II
- Photos and Art III
- Politics and Culture Wrestling
- Pure Northerness
- Pure Silliness
- Random Poetry
- Science, Theology, and Ethics
- We Are Family
- Word Association
- World Affairs
A new issue of catapult, “Duck, Duck, Goose,” about “our attempts and failures, intentional or otherwise, to fit in” is out. In it, I have a review of a film currently showing in cinemas which is set in India and….well, I will just let the review do the talking.
Also, my author page on catapult was recently fixed and now shows my complete output there.
Ah, the MPDG, also known as Manic Pixie Dream Girl, is featured in this fascinating NPR story. She is defined variously as:
- “That bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
- And as a girl who has no apparent inner life or job, other than to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.
Make sure to listen to the story as well to check out the embedded video, and to check out of the list of top 16 MPDGs of all time (though according to the criteria, I would have ranked Natalie Portman in Garden State over Kirsten Dunst, even if the latter has an impressive list of movies on her MPDG resume). This all leads the authors to ask fascinating questions such as,
- “Does Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind count as an MPDG, or does she evince signs of an inner life?”
- “What about Maggie Gyllenhaal, in Stranger Than Fiction? “
- “Is Ruth Gordon, in Harold and Maude, too old to be an MPDG?”
- “And is there such a thing as a Manic Pixie Dream Guy?”
Perhaps Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine and Angelina Jolie in the movie Playing By Heart, and I am sure in other of her movies, might be classified as MPDGs, only with a little nightmare thrown in. And does Sandra Bullock in While You are Sleeping qualify as a Depressive Pixie Dream Girl? Is Audrey Hepburn, who is mentioned for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, also an MPDG in the brilliant Roman Holiday?
Well, you get the idea. Do you have a favorite MPDG? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Is this a true cinematic type at all? Oh, and in theaters today is Poppy, who the authors claim is the latest MPDG.