Monday, January 5, 2009

One Year Gone

It's been, give or take a week or two, one year since I started this blog. I guess it's a time for reflection, but for the life of me I can't find a steady trajectory over the last twelve months. It's just been whirling and wandering and losing all conceivable sense of direction in a forest of mishap.
There was an EP.
There was a job.
There was another year of Uni.
There was an apartment.
There were other things.

And all of them collapse in a tumble of inadequate words. Fuck words. I'm not writing here anymore.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Me and my friends, we're all misunderstood

There are some people who will tell you that youth in mass is an inherently animalistic, base and destructive thing; that, given a chance, young people will make life worse for people because that's what their idea of a good time is. There is a subliminal cultural mentality, I think, that has always been around, that decency has to be forced on the incoming generation.

At Andrew's 21st last week, I witnessed one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. Given the very chance I have already mentioned, allowed any and all sorts of shenanigans (as is the custom of the twenty first birthday celebration), the not-inconsiderable mass of youth that I was in the company of could think of nothing more enjoyable or worthy of their time than to gather on the dancing floor and sing along with drunken and endlessly good natured luster to Go West's The King of Wishful Thinking.

I was genuinely, absolutely awed, and monumentally proud to be young.


We were incensed
by martyrs against
admitting we were sitting on the world's ideological fence.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

That Measured Melbournian Poetry of Jordie Lane

I knew Jordie Lane tangentially in high school as the senior king of guitar, and indeed he was in those days something of a technical and musical wizard. What the young performer has grown into, however, is an artist of astounding tastefulness, one whose poetry is fused into treasure somewhere between the beauty of music and the bare honesty of lyric. The more that I listen to his reflective ballad I Could Die Looking At You, the more I become disturbed by the certainty that it is, however obscure, one of the great Australian songs of our time.

Have a listen for yourself:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Robin Wood on "Taxi Driver"

While rushing to finish a belated essay on famed film critic Robin Wood, I came across what I considered to be a rather interesting factoid. Wood contends that Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver (1976) is an exemplary work of what he calls 'The Incoherent Text' of the seventies. Basically he argues that the movie avoids success and never finds equilibrium on its own terms because it is fundamentally 'incoherent'. I don't want to go on qualifying the words of someone else, but I have to: he doesn't mean that the film doesn't makes sense, merely that "it doesn't know what it's trying to say."

Now, I must thank Mr. Wood for discovering and illustrating for me probably the main reason I think Taxi Driver is such a great film. He didn't mean to, I don't think. He doesn't think it's great, only interesting, and he chalks up its ultimate incoherence to the auteurial collision of Martin Scorcese and Paul Schrader. But in doing so I think he's hit the nail on the head for us yea-sayers.

Taxi Driuer is absolutely an incoherent film; such an amazing, stylish and masterfully created incoherent film that it couldn't help but tap into the innate incoherence of the human condition and become the artistic champion for our disillusionment, open-nerve-anger and fucked-upness. In fact, I would probably describe the film as schizophrenic; it's a Hellish, urban confusion in which every scene has nearly opposite but equal motives running through it; a dash of light shed on the inner most turmoil of every young man's soul; film noir on acid. It's not just Travis (Robert DeNiro) that lends the film these psychotic qualities: they are tied to and revolve around him but sink deep into every facet of the film, from direction to music to editing to the reactionary performances of Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel. I'm sure the film struck a chord with a certain nation still shaking from the rude awakening that was the Vietnam war, but I think its significance does deeper and further than that. I think this is a film whose incoherence only sweetens it, whose confusion over "what it wants to say" results in a overarching message that can only be felt and that only confusion can bring: I hurt and I want it to end.

To hell with what Wood thought Taxi Driver's incoherence meant: I say it was fucking integral to what makes the film an immaculate cinematic prayer and goodnight to everyone who ever felt like "God's lonely man."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Getaway Car" by Audioslave

Is a supremely sexy, suave and sad song.

For my money, it was the group's finest hour.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

And the movies, like the world, turned black...

It takes a lot to laugh, it takes even more to explain exactly what the beast that is film noir... is. The historical story, as I see it: film noir, as it would later be named by the French when a big glut of American films hit them after the war, was cinema's adolescence. It was the period when the injustice and agony of the world came tumbling down on Hollywood's head and it no longer had the guilelessness of newborn innocence to protect it. And like do us all at that troubled time in our lives, it lost its mind a little.

Because they were the most convenient and appropriate examples of the "social fantastic" (Tom Conley), the things you have to look out for are:

  • A Hard-Boiled Detective Who Has Either Never Loved Or Loved So Strongly It Broke Him And Now There's No One Home
  • A Rainy City
  • A Dame With Big Eyes Who's Not What She Seems
  • One Or More Guns
  • Hats And Coats
  • Complication After Mind Bending Complication To The Central Case That The Detective Is Working On
  • Edward G. Robinson
  • An Unhappy Ending
Aside from that, the spirit of noir lives on, no matter the vibrancy of color. We're not talking about pictures on a screen here, but a way of life, perhaps the oldest and most seductive of all. The term may technically translate as "black movie", but film noir means Shit Is Fucked Up. It looks like its going to take a whole semester of explaining all the intricacies of the matter, the societal disillusionment that washed America white after the Second World War, the pop culture of the nation consistently blaring the worst nightmares of its nuclear-family, bomb-shelter-conscious, gosh-darn-steak-and-brussel-sprouts audience right in their face. But I think James Naremore summed it all up nicely when he spoke simply of the faded night-club star, as she "imagines again the dazzle of her debut through the bottom of her bourbon".