January 19th, 2010
This has been movie week. John Guare has showed up with many films that might be nominated for Academy Awards upcoming. Mostly they are not my cup of tea but good to see Hurt Locker for sure. I am hoping it wins best film in terms of public political attention to a useless and mismanaged war —though the film’s close, with sentimental music appearing “out of the blue (non-diegetic: no better word here) accompanying pathetic dialogue, would be better cut.
Almodovar’s Broken Embraces was also fun: too long, awkwardly heterosexual, but wonderful to look at as always, a bit crazy and fabulously cinematic: film within film within film. Chinese boxes galore. Saw Up In The Air as well which was interestingly on ‘time’ in its referencing downsizing and firing, but cold, thin and ultimately, saying ‘wife and kids = family = key to happiness!? Wouldst indeed Hollywood was the Liberal bastion it’s made out to be. Instead the subtext is more often deeply profoundly conservative.
I’ve been watching the Wire at nights since David came for Christmas/ New Years (as obsessive as I, we would look at two shows a night!). A Fellow has all four seasons (so it takes a while). Touching, sad and true, it seems to me who has worked (and walked) urban streets. Back in the 70s I was reporting for NBC news, director-producer. The city was much tougher then and the South Bronx in the mid 70s was un-policeable. Fire trucks wouldn’t go down streets, just parked at the end and let the building burn. Because of my early documentary GAME on a street prostitute and her pimp, I was assigned to cover street gangs. It was eye-opening to say the least; I took out time in the month of August before the gig for (unpaid) research. Black and Puerto Rican gangs; fabulous colors; filthy streets; beyond inhabitable ‘pads’; kids who had seen their father’s throat slit; disturbed kids who would slit your throat on a dare. Don Byron was growing up close by a bit north of where I was working. Frightening and super sad: I felt one-third of these children (and they were children) were going to go to jail, one-third would be dead before 21 and the last third might escape. It was my moment to have a gun cocked at my head, but in my innocence I was not frightened. Why we send 18 year olds to war.
Anyway—the Wire is long form television so fun to see ala l9th century novels. The kind that is in parts (to sell and keep you reading/viewing) and goes on and on and on and on. The sublimation of the real in the model. But yet, ultimately it is TV, and what do I mean by that? A box, a sizing, always dialogue, not enough visual surprises, plot and event twisting—great acting, truthful neorealism…..yet, maybe…. not enough poetry? That it ends for the next show. That it is slotted. That it takes it’s form. The wire is great within this form. No question about it. But it makes me understand more deeply perhaps why the time-artists of the late 60s and 70s, seizing on the tv speeding increasingly form-u-liz-ing moment(s) of our communal screen, make expanded durational pieces, that sprawl ambitiously and out of control throughout the culture landscape: whether Morton Feldman or Ken Jacobs or Michael Snow or Lamont Young. A kind of why not? But also take that.
What do we need now: Our face to the mirror? Our face in sand? Our face to the other? Our face to the ground? Sending money to Haiti is essential —but I want to destabilize the infrastructure, remake it —so a Haiti-as-is doesn’t happen in the future. As my friends write, Haiti is not a natural disaster. And the bankers and brokers remain insufferably inhumane, their violence covert, their actions radiating death rays out on the streets into our cities. Who will make the addition?