Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Here's to Love"

Happy Valentines' Day, everyone. I've been chopping up cherries for my oatmeal lately and I realised the pits look like rat hearts;

I watched Mullholland Drive last night. I think it'd been at least five years since I last saw it but I could barely believe it's a ten year old film. It felt oddly like I was revisiting a real me I've been taking a break from for the past couple years, which I guess is appropriate. Like the first few years of the 00s were my real life, and now is something else I'm doing. It's not quite a positive or a negative feeling, except I found myself missing again how much time I used to have for books and movies.

Of course, I was delighted again by all the references to Vertigo, another of my favourite films about self perception. I love that Naomi Watts, like Kim Novak before her, is a blond in a grey suit;

Mullholland Drive kind of combines the James Stewart character with the Kim Novak character, as the idealised woman, the woman in the grey suit, is here Diane's fantasy where Madeleine is Scottie's, though I think Judy, "Madeleine"'s real identity, gets a lot out of it.

Of course, I was also thinking of Mullholland Drive being ranked as the best movie of the decade, not just on my list but on several others. I thought about how it reflected the decade, and I could see it sort of does--as Diane's fantasy of Betty reorganises the people and events of her life into something more palatable, something where she can have a more positive perception of herself, movies from The Dark Knight to 300 to Inglourious Basterds to Avatar are popular American fantasies perhaps because they represent the people as they'd like to have been rather than what they managed to be--strong, effective, unhesitant warriors who respected their own moral beliefs as they achieved victory. Instead of a people who bought into a fantasy presented by a smirking President Bush and achieving neither victory nor moral superiority in the first really self conscious steps towards environmental and societal ruin.

Believing we're good people even as we commit actions that hurt the very things that we claim to value in order to satisfy short term needs, which aren't trivial. One wants to see 9/11 answered for, one wants energy sources established to be reliable, and one wants to stay with a system that seems to have worked until now

I was thinking the great stories of the human mind can actually seem pretty small when plainly stated--Citizen Kane's about a man unable to love but who needs to be loved, Vertigo and Mulholland Drive are about creating something beautiful out of people who fail themselves very, very painfully. If these things remain as transmissions in space after we're gone, I wondered if an alien race finally deciphering them might say, "As the fundamental struggles of sentient species go, this one gets, hmm, a B-. It's okay."

Which is sort of why I consider the Club Silencio scene in Mullholland Drive one of the best and most eloquent scenes in movie history--the outpouring of emotion achieved by the woman singing, the raw feeling of a familiar song about crying sung in a language unfamiliar to the protagonist, is countered by the cold realisation, as the stern man at the beginning had said, that the song is just a recording. Betty/Diane's feelings are not valid according to her own heart. Feelings of grief over Camilla's abandonment of her aren't something Diane can feel justified in indulging in, because she sees herself as the person both who has been deemed unworthy by Camilla and as the person who's killed Camilla. It's like a person's heart laid totally bare to an alien audience who says, "Eh. It's nothing significant, really."

I went to the mall with Tim yesterday and I bought myself a five dollar glass chess set. I played against myself last night and felt curiously as though I lost when I was done. See, I played one side as "me" and the other as what I expected my opponent to do. Technically, I was making decisions for both sides. What this tells me is that my imagination works better in terms of what can go wrong rather than it does in terms of what I can do to get what I want. Maybe I should put an action figure at the other end of the board so I can have someone to confront next time.

Last night's tweets;

Private beauty's stretched to public foulness.
Sweet smelling flowers planted in ground Pez.
Consumer oxen yoked by their own mass.
Sugar mist fills complex candy saunas.

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