Category Archives: Film notes

Wiener-Dog

Watched Wiener-Dog (2016)

Dir. Todd Solondz

              Professor Phillips
“Celebrity Schmelebrity”
is a terrific script.

               Dave Schmerz
It’s a piece of shit.
I tried to do something good.
It’s… something…
Get into my childhood.
Get into some…
Something real.
Real stuff.
Pain.
Memories.
Dreams.
But I wanted it to be funny.
I wanted people to like it.
I wanted it to sell.
So I threw in
the mixed-up identities…
I threw in the sex jokes.
The Mafia.
A little schtick.
Everyone loves a little schtick.

To Watch: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) Robert Bresson

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Todd Solondz’s Exquisite, Imperfect “Wiener-Dog” The New Yorker Article

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mulberry-crop

Silence

NY Times The Passion of Martin Scorsese article

To watch Silence (2016):

To read: Silence by Shūsaku Endō (1966)

“As the hours passed, the room, already dark, seemed to diminish around us, until it resembled a screening room, or a chapel, a place where questions of how to live are posed through stories and images.”
“The Italian-American Catholicism of the area was centered on street processions devoted to saints brought over from the old country: San Gandolfo for the Sicilians on Elizabeth Street, San Gennaro for the Neapolitans on Mulberry Street.”

Mulberry Street c. 1900. Via Wikimedia/Library of Congress.

To read: Don DeLillo

“Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits)

“The exercises, devised in the 1520s, invite the “exercitant” to use his imagination to place himself in the company of Jesus, at the foot of the cross, among tormented souls in hell.”

To read: Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (1522–1524)

Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins

To watch again The Mission (1986) Roland Joffé

“A.O. Scott, now a chief film critic for The New York Times, once wrote that Scorsese approaches filmmaking as “a priestly avocation, a set of spiritual exercises embedded in technical problems.””

To watch Boxcar Bertha (1972), After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986)

To read: The Last Temptation of Christ (1955) by Nikos Kazantzakis

To watch again The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

 

“Like the novel, the picture interrogates the very idea of Christian martyrdom, by proposing that there are instances when martyrdom — the believer holding fast to Christ to the bitter end — is not holy or even right. It makes in the way of art the arguments made in defense of “Last Temptation”: that an act can’t be fully understood if the intentions behind it aren’t taken into account, and that a seeming act of profanation can be an act of devotion if done out of an underlying faith.”
“He will go to hell — but he will go to hell for their sake.”

To watch: La Strada (1954) Federico Fellini

bitacora. dic. 1

I wake up. Tiny claws scratching the wooden floor. A tongue lapping at the water. The dogs are ready to eat. Boil the water. Soften the food. I put Yolo in the pen. He demands to be set free. Chocolino come here. Treat time. Choco sit, down, beg, spiiiiiin, down, gidaria, eat. Repeat five times. Then his plate. Down. Gidaria. Eat. He wolfs it down.
Out the door. Elevator from the 5th floor to the first. The morning sun is bright. The city has already had a few hours to get started. I wait for 155.
The 155 is almost empty. I sit at the back on one of the single seats, and continue reading The Sound and The Fury. The 155 travels east. We cross the Suyeong at Millak. I look down at the water and try to come up something pretty. Nothing comes up. Just water moving toward more water. In India it would be spiritual. People get off at Centum. We turn north. I read. We turn at Jaesong and climb up toward Jangsan mountain. I hear the bus shift gears. People get off and on. A blue and white bus with red numbers driving up a city built on a mountain slope on a sunny morning in Korea. The market at Banyeo samdong, people with grocery bags, people reading their phones. We descend into Banyeo ildong. The view opens and a large slice of city appears framed by pine forests at each side, rows of tall monolithic white buildings beyond the basin of the Suyeong. The spine of the Geumjeongsan still green. The mountain disappears behind older and smaller houses. We enter Banyeon ildong. Narrow streets. A blue work truck parked at a tight corner. Honking. I read. We turn. The bus gathers speed. I hear the bus shift gears.  We careen down the strip until the overpass. The whiny bell announces a passenger stop. An old lady with curly hair waddles to the backdoor holding the handrails as if enjoying an adventure at a moving jungle gym. I get off at the elementary school. The yellow leaves of the unheng tree strewn on the sidewalk. I think of my dad and how once as a kid I pretended to be a blind boy or an old man, using an imaginary cane to prod my way around the subsuelo hallway of the hotel. My dad frowned and asked me, ¿te haci de ciego o de viejo? I pondered the question. I looked at the corral my dad had been chatting with before he’d decided to test my morals. His friend looked back at me, grinned and waited for my response. I looked at my dad. De viejo, I said. Ah, bien, porque algun dia vai a ser viejo. I buy an ice americano at Amico for 2,500 won. The lady that made it hands it to me and bends the end of my straw so I won’t have to. I sip and exit the coffee shop.

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in-cold-blood-DSC_0722

In Cold Blood | I

Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. New York, New York: Signet,  1965.

“The depot itself, with its peeling sulphur colored paint, is equally melancholy; the Chief, the Super Chief, the El Capitan go by every day, but these celebrated expresses never pause there. No passenger trains do–only an occasional freight. p. 14

AT&SF “Drumhead” logos from the El Capitan passenger trains. Via wikimedia.

This reproduction of a cabinet card tacked to corkboard shows a map of the Grand Canyon Route of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The map title reads: “Through car lines between Chicago, Kansas City and Pacific Coast. Grand Canon Line.” Other notes read: “2731. Poole Bros. Chicago.” Between 1900 and 1905? Via Wikimedia.

Holcomb, Kansas

Chinese elms

“ACAPULCO connoted deep-sea fishing, casinos, anxious rich women; and SIERRA MADRE meant gold, meant Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a movie he had seen eight times.” p. 25

“Since childhood, for more than half his thirty-one years, he had been sending off for literature (“FORTUNES IN DIVING! Train at Home in Your Spare Time. Make Big Money Fast in Skin and Lung Diving. FREE BOOKLETS…”), answering advertisements (“SUNKEN TREASURE! Fifty Genuine Maps! Amazing Offer…”) that stoked a longing to realize an adventure his imagination swiftly and over and over enabled him to experience: the dream of drifting downward through strange waters, of plunging toward a green sea-dusk, sliding past the scaly, savage-eyed protectors of a ship’s hulk that loomed ahead, a Spanish galleon –a drowned cargo of diamonds and pearls, heaping casket of gold.
A car horn honked. At last–Dick.” p. 27-28

“”Anybody wearing the fraternity pin,” he added, and touched a blue dot tattooed under his left eye–an insigne, a visible password, by which certain former prison inmates could identify him.” p. 35

“she had taken an apartment, then found a job–as a file clerk at the Y.W.C.A. Her husband, entirely sympathetic, had encouraged the adventure, but she had liked it too well, so much that it seemed to her unchristian, and the sense of guilt she i consequence developed ultimately outweighed the experiment’s therapeutic value.” p. 39

“A bookmark lay between its pages, a stiff piece of watered silk upon which an admonition had been embroidered: “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”” p. 42

Dick “The tattooed face of a cat, blue and grinning, covered his right hand; on one shoulder a blue rose blossomed. More markings, self-designed and self-executed, ornamented his arms and torso: the head of a dragon with a human skull between its open jaws; bosomy nudes; a gremlin brandishing a pitchfork; the word PEACE accompanied by a cross radiating, in the form of crude strokes, rays of holy light; and two sentimental concoctions–one a bouquet of flowers dedicated to MOTHER-DAD, the other a heart that celebrated the romance of DICK and CAROL,” p. 42

Dick “his eyes not only situated at uneven levels but of uneven size, the left eye being truly serpentine, with a venomous, sickly-blue squint that although it was involuntarily acquired, seemed nevertheless to warn of bitter sediment at the bottom of his nature.” p. 43

Perry “Blue-furred, orange-eyed, red-fanged, a tiger snarled upon his left biceps; a spitting snake, coiled around a dagger, slithered down his arm; and elsewhere skulls gleamed, a tombstone loomed, a chrysanthemum flourished.” p. 44

Dodge City, Kansas

“A hundred miles west and one would be out of the “Bible Belt,” that gospel-haunted strip of American territory in which a man must, if only for business reasons, take his religion with the straightest of faces, but in Finney County one is still within the Bible Belt borders, and therefore a person’s church affiliation is the most important factor influencing his class status.” p. 46

Mr. Clutter “he had no use for card games, golf, cocktails, or buffet suppers served at ten–or, indeed, for any pastime that he felt did not “accomplish something.” p. 47

“Not far from River Valley Farm there is a mysterious stretch of countryside known as the Sand Hills; it is like a beach without an ocean, and at night coyotes slink among the dunes, assembling in hordes to howl. On moonlit evening the boys would descend upon them, set them running, and try to outrace them in the wagon; they seldom did, for the scrawniest coyote can hit fifty miles an hour, whereas the wagon’s tip speed was thirty-five, but it was a wild and beautiful kind of fun, the wagon skidding across the sand, the fleeing coyotes framed against the moon–as Bob said, it sure made your heart hurry.” p. 51-52

“nuns, and anything pertaining to them, were bad luck, and Perry was most respectful of his superstitions. (Some other were the number 15, red hair, white flowers, priests crossing a road, snakes appearing in a dream.)” p. 55

“You are strong, but there is a flaw in your strength, and unless you learn to control it the flaw will prove stronger than your strength and defeat you.” p. 57

“Moreover, unlike Willie-Jay, he was not critical of Perry’s exotic aspirations; he was willing to listen, catch fire, share with him those visions of “guaranteed treasure” lurking in Mexican seas, Brazilian jungles.” p. 58

“A full moon was forming at the edge of the sky.” p. 63

****Susan “But when we got there–I didn’t want to do it. Go inside the house. I was frightened, and I don’t know why, because it never occurred to me…We walked in, and I saw right away that the Clutters hadn’t eaten breakfast; there were no dishes, nothing on the stove. Then I noticed something funny: Nancy’s purse. It was lying on the floor, sort of open. We passed on through the dining room, and stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Nancy’s room is just at the top. I called her name, and started up the stairs, and Nancy Ewalt followed. The sound of our footsteps frightened me more than anything, they were so loud and everything else was so silent. Nancy’s door was open. The curtains hadn’t been drawn, and the room was full of sunlight. I don’t remember screaming. Nancy Ewalt says I did–screamed and screamed. I only remember Nancy’s Teddy bear staring at me. And Nancy. And running…”” p. 75

“There’s been some kind of accident.’ Then we went in the house, the three of us. Went through the kitchen and saw a lady’s purse laying on the floor, and the phone to Nancy’s room, I noticed he kept his hand on it, ready to draw.” p. 78

***”We stepped back into the hall, and looked around. All the other doors were closed. We opened, and that turned out to be a bathroom. Something about it seemed wrong. I decided it was because of the chair–a sort of dining-room chair, that looked out of place in a bathroom.” p. 78

“I remember the sheriff searched around to see if he could find the discharged cartridge. But whoever had done it was much too smart and cool to have left behind any clues like that.” p. 79

“‘Where the devil can Herb be?’ About then we heard footsteps Coming up the stairs from the basement. ‘Who’s that?’ said the sheriff, like he was ready to shoot. And a voice said, ‘It’s me. Wendle.’ Turned out to be Wendle Meier, the undersheriff. Seems he had come to the house and hadn’t seen us, so he’d gone investigating down in the basement.” p. 79-80

“Well, I took one look at Mr. Clutter, and it was hard to look again. I knew plain shooting couldn’t account for that much blood. And I wasn’t wrong.” p. 80

“What he was pointing at was a bloodstained footprint. On the mattress box. A half-sole footprint with circles–two holes in the center like a pair of eyes.” p. 81

“A stocky, weathered widow who wears babushka bandannas and cowboy boots (“Most comfortable things you can put on your feet, soft as a loon feather”), Mother Truitt is the oldest native-born Holcombite.” p. 82

“For, feeling it their duty, a Christian task, these men had volunteered to clean certain of the fourteen rooms in the main house at River Valley Farm: rooms in which four members of the Clutter family have been murdered by, as their death certificates declared, “a person or persons unknown.”” p. 93

“not the slightest echo of gun thunder” p. 94

****”But the diary notation that most tantalized Dewey was unrelated to the Clutter-Rupp, Methodist-Catholic impasse. Rather, it concerned a cat, the mysterious demise of Nancy’s favorite pet, Boobs, whom, according to an entry dated two weeks prior to her own death, she’d found “lying in the barn,” the victim, or so she suspected (without saying why), of a poisoner: “Poor Boobs. I buried him in a special place.” On reading this… He determined to find the “special place” where Nancy had buried her pet, even though it meant combing the vast whole of River Valley Farm.” p. 101

“Outside, Dick said, “So you’re getting married next week? Well, you’ll need a ring.” … Perry was sorry to see them go. He’d began to half credit the make-believe bride, though in his conception of her, as opposed to Dick’s, she was not rich, nor beautiful; rather, she was nicely groomed, gently spoken, was conceivably “a college graduate,” in any event “a very intellectual type.”–a sort of girl he’d always wanted to meet but in fact never had.” p. 116

Perry “had lost his mother as well, learned to “despise” her; liquor had blurred the face, swollen the figure of the once sinewy, limber Cherokee girl, had “soured her soul,” honed her tongue to the wickedest point,” 153-154

“In Alaska, Tex taught his son to dream of gold, to hunt for it in the sandy beds of snow-water streams, and there, too, Perry learned to use a gun, skin a bear, track wolves and deer.” p. 155

“It would have been O.K. if only I hadn’t grown up; the older I got, the less I was able to appreciate Dad.” p. 155

“I had this great natural musical ability. Which Dad didn’t recognized. Or care about. I liked to read, too. Improve my vocabulary. Make up songs. And I could draw. but I never got any encouragement–from him or anybody else.” p. 155

“Well, while I was still in the Army, stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, I’d bought a motorcycle (murdercycle, they ought to call them), and as soon as I got discharged I headed for Alaska. Got as far as Bellingham. Up there on the border. It was raining. My bike went into a skid.” p. 156

Letter from Perry’s sister Barbara “”Now, first, & most important–Dad is not responsible for your wrong doings or your good deeds. What you have done, whether right or wrong, is your own doing… Your letter implies that the blame of all your problems is that of someone else, but never you.” p. 163

Courthouse Pete “Pete, a tiger-striped tom weighing fifteen pounds, is a well-known character around Garden City, famous for his pugnacity, which was the cause of his current hospitalization; a battle lost to a boxer dog had left him with wounds necessitating both stitches and antibiotics.” p. 172

***”During this visit Dewey paused at an upstairs window, his attention caught by something seen in the near distance–a scarecrow amid the wheat stubble. The scarecrow wore a man’s hunting cap and a dress of weather-faded flowered calico. (Surely an old dress of Bonnie Clutter’s?) Wind frolicked the skirt and made the scarecrow sway–make it seem a creature forlornly dancing in the cold December field.” p. 177

“And listening to Dick’s conceited chatter, hearing him start to describe his Mexican “amorous conquests,” he thought how “queer” it was, “egomaniacal.” Imagine going all out to impress a man you were going to kill, a man who wouldn’t be alive ten minutes from now” p. 198

to read:

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

to watch:

In Cold Blood (1967) dir. Richard Brooks. DP: Conrad Hall

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Stanley Kubrick: Interviews, and BIFF Cinema Library

Found the Cinema Library at BIFF hill. shhhhh. no backpacks.

Stanley Kubrick Interviews by Gene D. Phillips.

“Kubrick is fiercely concerned with the accuracy of the small details that make up the background of his films, because he feels that helps the audience to believe what they see on screen.” viii

“Kubrick sometimes nursed ideas over long periods before he was able to bring them to fruition.” viii

“directing a film can be like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car at an amusement park, when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal that feeling.” p. xii

Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler

Clean Break by Lionel White

To Read at the library:

book of essays and interviews on Wes Anderson

World Cinema by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith

John Ford

Planet Hong Kong by David Bordwell

Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford by Scott Eyman

The Passion of David Lynch

books on Stanley Kubrick

Interviews with Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Kubrick, Bertolucci, Michael Mann.

books on Kurosawa

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels screenplay

Mediated Sex: Pornography and Postmodern Culture.

Goodfellas script

books on Cinematography

Eyes Wide Shut screenplay

The Making of Blade Runner

Boogie Nights script

Dark City (book on film noir)