Friday, May 30, 2008

Lapis Lazuli Dream and Yeats

About a year ago, I had a dream about a stolen lapis lazuli necklace in my pocket. Soon after that dream, I stumbled across Yeats' poem, "Lapis Lazuli". Reading it again led to some online research of analyses of this poem, and I found Dr. Linda Sue Grimes' interesting summary.

Through this lens, I am now finding some fundamental issues with the poem. If indeed we look upon tragedy detached, how do we experience joy or know it? Is joy, then, not experiencing it? Not very Buddhist, at least in relation to the idea of moving toward suffering, if that is what we do to attain enlightenment. We must know pain and move through it. It's the foundation of life, yes?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Last Year at Marienbad"

Alain Resnais

Played at The Music Box.

I have to remark that Italian Neorealism, from which Resnais and other French New Wave directors derive some cinematic style, was immediately apparent to me via the elaborate setting of the French hotel/chateau. Another character in of itself, the chateau was unfurled in all of of its stoic excess; each sequence positioning it as if it were another longing lover in this pseudo-surreal triangle of desire and deception. Enhanced by the director's dedication to capturing the lonely and sterile splendour of the chateau, one is reminded of Fellini's hotel/sanatorium in 8-1/2.

Sequence by sequence, the "stilling" of stifled aristocratic love and trite conversations framed by careful attention to architectural detail, hypnotic narrative/repetition, and frozen socialites made this film interesting at best to watch.

The lovers in the film flit between the majestic scenery of opulent gardens and classical sculpture, diving dream-like in and out of the same conversation: "Were we really together last year, at this hotel, same time? Were we lovers then? Would I wait for you? Would you run away with me? Don't you remember me? Please, leave me alone."

French film foreplay, and some visuals that occasionally stunned for art's sake, yet we leave the film house unsatisfied, most likely like our lovers.

Up: Lurch-esque husband and his card tricks; waiter who expertly/gingerly picks up a broken cocktail glass off of the immaculate floor in art-house fashion.

Down: The hideous bush-league "Hawkman" dressing gown our heroine wears for a night of sweet love down by the fire.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Lilya 4-Ever"

Directed by Swede Lukas Moodysson, Lilya 4-Ever is a wrenching story of a girl who is sold into sex slavery.

In a post-Soviet Estonian slum, sixteen year old Lilya (Oksana Akinshina) is elated when she finds out her mother's new online boyfriend is taking both of them to the States. The day before the trip, Lilya finds out from her mother that she is not invited after all, and that she will be left alone with her battle-axe aunt Anna. Though her mother promises she will send for her, we know this is just the beginning for Lilya bleak existence. "Aunt Anna" steals her mother's flat away from Lilya and forced her to stay in disgusting closet where an old man had just died a week before. With no money, no food, and dwindling hope that her mother will ever send for her, she fends off apartment quad boys sniffing glue in her apartment and making advances, a battle-ax landlady who steals her mail and shuts off her electricity, and a mischievious little boy Volodya (Artyom Bogucharsky). Her friend persuades her to go to the city to prostitute herself, but Lilya does not participate. After she and Volodya become fast friends looking out for one another and helping each other within the apartment quad, Anna shuts Lilya out for good, her friends turn on her, and she is desperate, hungry, and cold. She is then forced to prostitute herself to survive. She is raped in her own apartment. She meets a young man, Andrei (Pavel Ponomaryov), who makes promises to about a better life in Sweden, but when she arrives, she is sold into sex slavery and kills herself.

Do something: