Jodorowsky’s Dune

May 3, 2014


It’s fitting that Frank Pavich’s documentary, Jodoworksy’s Dune, opens with a series of panning close-ups of drawings, models, books, and other esoterica from the titular director’s office, for that is what this film is almost entirely composed of outside of its talking heads.  The film recounts, through interviews and access to original artwork, the two plus years of work Alejandro Jodoworsky and his team of “warriors” put into a cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune that would ultimately be halted before production began when the studios didn’t feel confident enough to pony up the $15 million budget.  What is left is a large, hardcover book of the entire film storyboarded as well as concept art and character design and notations, initially printed and presented to the studios to assure them they knew how to achieve the strange and extravagant vision Jodoworsky was intent on creating.  By the end of the documentary, it seems clear that the book should be reprinted for collectors – I, for once, would jump on the chance to own a copy to thumb through – but it also seems clear that the documentary itself should be included as a bonus for said book rather than a standalone feature.

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May 4, 2011

In attempting to explain a particularly inscrutable dream sequence from his particularly inscrutable TV series John from Cincinnati, David Milch discusses the significance of cave paintings.  The general crux of his argument is that when those early humans scrawled a buffalo onto the wall, it was a signifier that there was a herd nearby.  When they added human characters with spears chasing them down, it became a narrative.  It was the first instance of humans using stories to organize the world around them.  Milch goes on to declare this is how we imitate and connect (and possibly create) God, but the general organizing principle is itself important.  The power of narrative and art to allow us to better understand ourselves and the world around us might be its most important element.

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Black Swan

December 8, 2010

Ballet is a peculiar art form in today’s society.  Now, I’m not just saying that because I don’t understand it, though that is certainly part of it.  I mean that it feels like such an anachronism and yet it surely one of the toughest and most competitive performance arts around.  For something that has become a cultural byword for “boring crap your girlfriend always wants to do”, the physical turmoil for the performers is disproportionately brutal.  Or so it seems to me, for I do not run in circles in which the ballet is a regularly attended event on the social calendar.  All of this is to say that it is something of a niche art form, and one gets the impression only the obsessively dedicated, passionate, and in some ways masochistic ever really make it.  There is a scene in Black Swan in which Nina (Natalie Portman) and her fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis) are in a bar talking to some guys they just met.  They know nothing of the ballet aside from having heard of Swan Lake, and Nina begins to excitedly tell them about it and offer them tickets.  Lily changes the subject, knowing full well that these guys and, well, most people don’t care.  Nina doesn’t understand that.  Her life has been the ballet, and the film is about an obsessive artist who knows nothing else and cannot come to terms with anything beyond it. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve never really liked Banksy. I should add that I have no real eye or understanding of art, so I can’t say much more than ‘while aesthetically pleasing, a majority of his work suffers from insipid political statements about consumerism and war and whatever else.’ The protester is about to launch a molotov cocktail…oh wait a minute, that’s a bouquet of flowers. It’s the kind of half-assed ‘sticking it to The Man’ nonsense that bothers me, so even if the sentiments are generally in the right direction, I snobbishly snub my nose at the kids buying his coffee table book. So with that out of the way, we can press on with Banksy’s first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Read the rest of this entry »