Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Things I Learnt Today (Dec 4th)

1. Michel Gondry has a brother almost as talented as him.

If I were to name the artist I derive the most inspiration from, it would have to be Michel Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Human Nature, and some of the greatest music videos ever created. The DVD, The Work of Michel Gondry is the one I would save from a burning building, as it features so many little works and touches and thoughts and clever little moments that I'm inspired to just devote my life to creating art every time I watch it (and then I forget to, but that's my fault, not Gondry's). I love that his philosophy of lo-fi DIY filmmaking not only informs how he makes his movies (The Science of Sleep's on-set physical effects), but also the projects he chooses (the wondrous Dave Chappelle's Block Party, in which Chappelle throws a huge party seemingly on the spur of the moment and basically wings it), and the plots of new projects. Case in point; his next movie Be Kind Rewind, which looks to be about taking art back from the corporations and making stories for yourself and your friends and relatives. It's a charming idea, and even better it stars Jack Black and Mos Def, two actor/musicians who seem to annoy a lot of people but fill me with joy.

Anyway, it turns out his brother, Oliver "Twist" Gondry, is also a filmmaker/animator, and has worked on many ads, some of which are quite beautiful. This is my favourite; a Hewlett Packard ad that features Michel talking about his philosophy, as well as his family.

On the Works DVD, he idolises his son and has an endearing rapport with him. Hearing him talk about him here in the advert made me realise how unpretentious he is, how happy he is to mesh his life and his art, and how his need to keep creating things keeps him so centred. He truly is an inspiration.

2. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are playing another stadium gig in London next May.

I am, of course, thrilled to hear this, but of course if I can't get a ticket, I will be very very sad and might have a horrible strop not unlike earlier tonight when I spilled a carton of double cream on the floor.

3. Do not spray Mr. Muscle Multi-Cleaner on spilled double cream.

They say don't cry over spilled milk, but having a screaming fit over spilled cream is just fine. It's hard enough to get off the floor as it is, but upon trying to wash up the last bits, I applied a Mr. Muscle variant which instantly curdled the cream, turning it into a viscous substance not unlike the glue we used to use in primary school. It had to be almost pulled off the floor, it was so tenacious. Without my wake-up coffee, and in desperate need of a shower, the last thing I needed was to wrestle with some dairy-based epoxy. That the kitchen didn't get demolished by my subsequent Hulk-like tantrum is a testament to some vestige of restraint within myself.

4. Cutthroat Bitch Amber might make a return to House.

This was posted on Michael Ausiello's blog last week, but I only just noticed it tonight. Seems Anne Dudek made a big impression on the House showrunners, as producer Katie Jacobs explains.

Michael Ausiello: Why'd you cut the Cutthroat Bitch! I loved her!
Katie Jacobs: I can tell you that it was a phenomenally difficult decision. When we decided to go in this [Survivor-like] direction this season, [fellow exec producer] David Shore and I never anticipated that we'd fall in love with as many of the characters as we did — and [Cutthroat Bitch] was certainly one of those. But I would say that, if you want to see more of her, so do we. And I think that that might happen. She's terrific, and she adds a really great color to the group. I'm looking forward to finding a way that she could come back into the fold.

While I maintain she would not be a good fit as a member of the Cottages, Dudek was enormous fun this season, and it would be great to get her back in some capacity.

5. Many years ago, it was illegal to smile in Russia, except for propaganda purposes.

While searching for information on Ayn Rand (I'm currently reading The Fountainhead in order to back up or dispel certain comments I made in a Ratatouille post some weeks ago), I found a transcript of her perfectly charming testimony in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, during the McCarthy period. She talks of a movie made during WWII called Song of Russia, made to bolster the relationship between American and Russian troops united against the Nazis, in much the same way that Poweel and Pressburger made A Matter of Life and Death to engender fond feelings between Yanks and Limeys. With the war over, Rand explained why she thought the film showed a false image of Russia, based on her time there.

Also realize that when all this sweetness and light was going on in the first part of the picture, with all these happy, free people, there was not a GPU agent among them, with no food lines, no persecution -- complete freedom and happiness, with everybody smiling. Incidentally, I have never seen so much smiling in my life, except on the murals of the world's fair pavilion of the Soviets. If any one of you have seen it, you can appreciate it. It is one of the stock propaganda tricks of the Communists, to show these people smiling. That is all they can show.

Mr. [John] McDowell: You paint a very dismal picture of Russia. You made a great point about the number of children who were unhappy. Doesn't anybody smile in Russia any more?
Miss Rand: Well, if you ask me literally, pretty much no.
Mr. McDowell: They don't smile?
Miss Rand: Not quite that way; no. If they do, it is privately and accidentally. Certainly, it is not social. They don't smile in approval of their system.
Mr. McDowell: Well, all they do is talk about food.
Miss Rand: That is right.

Also no one could look at each other, and if you had food, watch out because everyone will rip you to shreds to get at it, even though it was probably horrible beetroot soup!
In my time we were a bunch of ragged, starved, dirty, miserable people who had only two thoughts in our mind. That was our complete terror -- afraid to look at one another, afraid to say anything for fear of who is listening and would report us -- and where to get the next meal. You have no idea what it means to live in a country where nobody has any concern except food, where all the conversation is about food because everybody is so hungry that that is all they can think about and that is all they can afford to do. They have no idea of politics. They have no idea of any pleasant romances or love -- nothing but food and fear...

Now, here is the life in the Soviet village as presented in Song Of Russia. You see the happy peasants. You see they are meeting the hero at the station with bands, with beautiful blouses and shoes, such as they never wore anywhere. You see children with operetta costumes on them and with a brass band which they could never afford. You see the manicured starlets driving tractors and the happy women who come from work singing. You see a peasant at home with a close-up of food for which anyone there would have been murdered. If anybody had such food in Russia in that time he couldn't remain alive, because he would have been torn apart by neighbors trying to get food.

::sigh:: Oh Ayn, you kooky old bird! You need to buy yourself a rootbeer float to cheer yourself up. Have a dollar on me. Or should I say, as my copy of The Fountainhead tells me, have a colophon of the philosophy of Objectivism on me, whatever the hell that means.

As for Brad Bird, I also found out he denies being an Objectivist in a NY Post interview with Lou Lumenick.

Bird: The idea that "The Incredibles," a mainstream animated feature, was thought of as provocative was wonderful to me. I was very gratified, though I thought some of the analysis was really kind of goofy.
Lumenick: Such as?
Bird: Some pieces compared the viewpoint to the objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand. I thought that was silly and the writers were humorless. I was into Rand for about six months when I was 20, but you outgrow that narrow point of view. Some compromise is necessary in life.

Knowing that, I might just give up on this damn book now, except that it's so overwrought and funny. Hell, even though I find her philosophy unpleasant, and her alliance with HUAC detestable, I owe it to her and myself to at least give it a try. I guess. [Thanks to decca for inspiring me to find that crazy transcript.]

6. I'm so envious of Americans because John C. Reilly is touring as Dewey Cox.

Canyon has already written a post about Walk The Line and how excited we are at the imminent release of the spoof Walk Hard, but now I see John C. Reilly is touring the US. He'll be in character as Dewey Cox, and will be backed by his band the Hard Walkers. It's sold out already, which bodes well for the movie box office (unless the gigs suck and annoy the audience, of course). There's no plan to tour the UK, obviously, as we're just Airstrip One, after all. The movie isn't coming out on time here either, thus increasing my ire. Still, at least this perfect poster eases the pain somewhat.

Plus, we're getting Springsteen in London! Beat that, America! ::pokes out tongue::

ETA: 7: It seems my Ticketmaster account was out of date:

While buying Springsteen tickets, I found, to my great amusement, that I haven't used my Ticketmaster account since living elsewhere. As a result, my bank card was out of date and my old address was listed. I'm not good in stressful situations, and the purchasing of popular tickets within a very small window is one of the most pulse-stretching things I can do, so it was not much fun to have to change everything while a little message tells me I only have one minute to confirm the purchase. But I did it! And I have tickets! Directly opposite the stage, and therefore several miles away from Bruce, Clarence, Little Steven, Max Weinberg and the rest, but it's better than nothing. Much better. Because it is a Bruce Springsteen gig, and as Jon Stewart said recently, they are pure joy.


Jaredan said...

Ok now I'm jealous, it was great to see you both btw.

Admiral Neck said...

It was great to see you too, young sir, and not just because I thoroughly enjoyed my split beef Cracker Barrel sandwich (I really wish they'd change that name, it wounds obscene).