I'm going to the store to try to find a copy of 7 Samurai or 8 1/2. I've been searching for a good copy of 7 Samurai for a few weeks, hoping I'll come across it and not have to use Amazon. Meanwhile 8 1/2 is just for an upgrade from my MPI Home Video version that I picked up in a Blockbuster years upon years ago.
I wanted to go out and watch Chappie but it was going to be almost an hour and a half wait, but I'd try to spend as much time in the store as possible looking for my 2 films. I mean there was a time when I could, errr, kill time with the best of them. Uggh, I feel like I'm failing this already by my word choices. I could say "i'ma be me" but your writing should be like a line, pulling the reader along smoothly. Using words too often or any number of things can slow this down. This is getting awkward.
So I am at Blockbuster something like 10 years ago and I see they are having a VHS sale. (Kids ask your parents what a VHS is. For bonus points ask what a cassette was.) DVDs were the thing now, and so you would often see these sales. It was actually a good time to be a fan of these movies since a lot of them would take a while to get actual DVD releases. Not that I was a fan, I think I mostly just watched comedies at the time. Or was it Korean Sci Fi? Same dif, anyways I almost got a shitty movie but I decided something about 8 1/2 just stood out to me.
As the back of the box read "Fedrico Fellini's great comic fantasy - is the most influential picture of the last quarter of a century." You're showing your age back of the VHS box. The film was something that just immediately knocked me out of my socks. I'd heard like everyone else about weird foreign art films, but this wasn't what I was expecting. A-it has a story, and B-it's not hard to understand. This is a clear story of a director taking a rest in some "medical hot springs" type area to relax and work on finishing up his planning on a movie he's about to make. It's going to be a big Sci Fi movie, all that good stuff, but it's getting to him. The stress of being a part of a big machine designed to make pictures.
So of course he invites his wife to the springs, his business friends, his girlfriends, and things get really hectic. It's definitely a "funny" movie, good repartee between the actors in the scenes; and it's a beautiful move with some of these images sticking with you likely till the day you die. God, the scene where his mistress does her eyebrow makeup like a prostitute.
Un Chien Andalou has images that won't leave you ever either, but it's just not the same thing. So walking around the store I look at all the blu rays. So many movies on blu ray now. I think they're hurting themselves. Nightcrawler for like $20 or $5 more for a blu ray? Hmmm, for a movie I'm probably watching once?
And for some reason the blu ray section only has 3 "areas" in a sort of large vague newer release area, a section of musical and a section of westerns. As per usual I go to the foreign film area, a trip I've got pretty used to making. In case you're wondering there are more blu rays, but only for box sets of TV shows and animes, none of which I'm worried about right now. There was a time when I was very into both of those things.
TV shot itself in the foot. After Lost came out and 24 there was a growth of us, people who wanted these sort of ongoing series that tried to keep the story going. I mean look at anime, you see those all come out as a series. Yet in the states we get show after show that they would just cancel. They had gone to the effort to teach us to watch something each week then put the effort in to undo that. They deserve to be getting run into the ground by Netflix. Basically post Breaking Bad all TV is complete garbage. You have the endless masturbation of HBO shows like Girls or whatever, and then more Walking Dead. You can't get excited for anything any more, cause it's going to get cancelled. Or it gets picked up by an HBO or whatever, and it will probably still suck.
I always accidentally walk to Special Interest first, which often means as my eyes focus I realize I'm staring at the porno section. Not the right special interest. Also loads of movies about Hitler. Yeah this section is oddly creepy now that I think about it.
Finally make my way to the correct section. Apparently British films and series are "foreign" now. I just keep thinking they're taking up space that could be used for actual interesting films. Doctor Who is fine, but it should go in the TV area. In fact everything from the British section is actually TV. Misfits, Doctor Who, all the mystery shows. Don't get me wrong, this stuff is all good. Or at least some of it's good. But when I think about all that foreign film is, how many amazing pictures have come and really transformed the medium we call film, Doctor Who just doesn't compare. It's TV, it's not really breaking the limits in the same way even on it's best day.
8 1/2 starts with Guido, our protagonist played by Marcello Mastroianni(the original Mr. Cool), waiting in traffic.
I can't tell you why anything happens or what it means. I understand it, I appreciate it, but really telling you what is going on short circuits this process. This film is full of fantasy and magic and memories. A lot of these themes play off the others, a person might upload a clip of a scene to youtube but you don't really understand how it fits into the chronology of our little tale.
Fun fact: Fellini was actually going to make a big sci fi movie. That's what this movie was going to be, the set this movie shows that's supposed to be Guido's film's set? That's where this movie was supposed to be set. Federico decided at some point he wanted to tell a different story. Good decision.
You can't imagine anyone doing this now. Even if they suddenly decided "screw this space epic I want to tell a story about me and my mom" everything's in CGI now. What is shot just isn't the movie now. It's a tiny part of it. Fellini would literally go out partying until 4 am writing bits of a scene, and the next day that's what they would shoot.
Checking out the foreign films there's a lot to digest. No 7 Samourai or 8 1/2. But there's definitely a few contenders to get picked up.
House is a film that just from it's description you either get the references or you don't. I actually kind of feel bad since I obviously passed the test and understood what they meant, but any time a film is described as "psychedelia" I immediately turn off. Some Gordon Liu movies, Barking Dogs Never Bite, and as ever no one has picked up the I am Curios films yet. But apparently Salo is gone, so yeah. I don't get that movie.
Anyways to get to the point I can't find the pictures I want. Still a long time until Chappie, so I go check out the anime section. Well I look for the anime section. Walking past comics and records(really?) and so many random products for iPhones. Oh and posters. Really?
All these things just seem like dead ends. I contemplate whether I should pick up Porco Rosso. Seems like the only thing that ever happens. Anime seems to have completely gone up it's own ass. Or it's fans asses. Either you're up in a specific loop or it's all sort of meaningless. But there isn't much effort made to get the word out on unique stuff beyond the people already interested. So much repetition-"you like sports anime? here you'll buy this one too then." Really though everyone is just using Crunchyroll now, I guess. So maybe it makes sense that the market for physical goods is kind of bizarre now. It's stuck with these shows from years ago.
Part of what stands out about 8 1/2 is the point of view it takes on art. Guido is apparently getting choked out by the anxieties of working in the movie business. We don't get an anxious character though, we get a tour of all these thoughts and memories he's dealing with.
I end up grabbing a copy of a book. I get out of the store and check the time. Fuck waiting this late for a movie to open up. There's this crunch now, as people get more used to media on their time and convenience. It's already completely screwed up TV news since basically you can actually read an article on something after it happens or watch a thin produced for TV piece after a commercial break. Hmmm, which option? Oh, and making half the news about plane crashes doesn't help either. I don't care about some kid who disappeared. It's always terrible, but it's also not changing my life. Meanwhile governments and corporations and whoever else wants to change the world is doing so and all the TV news seems to think I deserve is more stories about snow and plane crashes. Oh and debates between ideologues, you can't miss that.
There's just a point where they so lose the plot that, as an adult, it's absurd. I mean we really live in this crazy world like a Sci Fi novel would prophecy. Every time you turn on a TV or go to a site like Kotaku you see people writing about things, but being so far off from the point. Like all the talk about VR. People seem to just want to will it into being. Everyone wants to live in the future so badly. Watching John Carmack talk about VR it really hit me how fucked it is. The money guys have got in and are already completely trying to fuck everything up from it's core. Big technology is weird.
We have books, we can't imagine being without books. People seem to fail to appreciate the time between when we could make books and when people started writing novels. It took centuries. Or look at guns, you know how long it took for guns to go from existing to being the standard for waging war?
Art is like a display window in a store window. There's a sense of perspective for the outsider, there's the process of making the display, and if we want to get cynical there's a store in the back willing to take your money. That part's not necessary, but still we can be cynical. VR fans are all so interested in the tech and the possibility that they aren't really appreciating any of the realities of the whole thing.
When the NES came out, it had Mario. Mario was an example of everything that was now possible because of the NES. Seriously this game is like the bible you can't overstate it's importance. Players had control of a character, this built a bond. The responsiveness created a sense of skill that could be developed, furthering this bond. While it's hard to appreciate now the graphics were blowing Atari out of the water. Atari also had fun games in the same line as Mario, but the controllers were a little weak, the sound could be grating, and Mario raised the difficulty curve just enough that you would actually see some different environments as your skill raised. Atari games often had to get by with simply changing the colors of levels.
VR has the problem that it finds itself piggy backing on all these other mediums. I mean it can work for games, but honestly VR mechanics are still in their infancy with the tech only beginning to solve the problems that kept it from exploding in the past 20 years. So what about other options, like as a tool for industry and education? Well, yeah that hopefully happens, but it's still price prohibitive and likely to stay that way for a while.
Even then I think it's entertainment uses are still going to be stuck behind basically having a VR "option" for games and movies. Not many things are really going to go for the "only VR" road. Grayson wrote a piece on VR porn, and he describes it as being like you imagine. A person without a person. Little things not really matching up. This is the problem. Imagine a big concert with a VR option. You miss out on the smells, on the crappy concert food, on randomly making friends and having a drink and a smoke afterwards. Though the ability to skip concert restrooms is kind of amazing. God the more I think about it I got to get into VR. I don't have any pretense left that I'm going to go to a concert and make friends. Who cares? Watch the show, use your own toilet, and sleep in your own bed. Wow, the future is going to be amazing.
8 1/2 leaves us with a few questions. The last movie I saw in theaters was Birdman, and it left me in awe that people seemed to only want to talk about whether he died at the end. That movie covered a lot of ground and that's what you're interested in?
But the film gives us this self resolving look at a person, at the fear and the drama we all cause, and somehow finds a way to not make you suicidal or emo afterwards. It was transformative for me. I mean not that I went out and became a good person or anything, just it was a rad film. Film, not movie. OK, movie. Fellini had this way of populating his films with weirdos and just letting things happen.
"Destroying is better when creating when we're not creating those few necessary things."