Monday, December 8, 2008


Keyhole Magazine has published a poem of mine called Silent Spring. Its an older poem. Peter has also accepted two poems for the Nashville is Reads project, where small broadsides are printed and posted on street signs and walls around the city. I've been to Nashville. I like it there. I'm glad to have an ambassador in Nashville, even when it becomes wet and falls into a gutter.

I have two new poems coming from Rain Fade as well. Rain Fade is a fresh little magazine that's already posted some interesting poems by K. Silem Mohammad, Mike Young, and Juliet Cook. I like the way it cooks. Submit.

I sometimes wonder if its obnoxious to post announcements about your poetry. Then I remember that I am in a lonely vacuum and a blog is not the place to practice modest.y I'm not going to lie. This blog exists because I want you to read my poems. I am here to indulge.

Speaking of K Silem Mohammad, he has a movie diary blog. I like KSM's taste. It runs extremely similar to mine. He watches lots of movies starring Anna Farris. He watches old noir. He is my Ebert.

Recently watched movies -

The Bridge
Synedoche, NY
Funny Ha Ha
The Kingdom: series one
Spaced: complete television series
Benny's Video
Iron Man

I was so utterly ravaged by the solipsism in Synedoche, NY. I have never seen a more perilously self indulgent film. The Brown Bunny is a close runner up, but at least there is a memorable blow job scene and Gordon Lightfoot on the soundtrack. There were a some imaginative and brave ideas - the confusion of alternate reality mixing with reality, an endless play with a scope that is seemingly infinite, the tiny paintings - but all of these flashes of intrigue were lost and corrupted in the neuroses of the director/writer. The presence of the director/writer, to me, was felt in every frame, kind of like a trauma of a rape victim. His tendency to lapse into surrealism I thought was amateurish and without merit. During Phillip Seymor Hoffman's attempts at the degradation of loneliness (again), I felt as if I were a child being coerced with candy into a strangers' van, totally exploited and undervalued as a viewer. And like a lover who slaps their girlfriend then regrets it out loud, the end, no matter how apologetic and willfully poignant, does not justify the means.
Is this the mind that scribbled Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich? Was Adaptation a warning sign? Apparently. Synedoche, NY was not a film I hated. As someone who once ate film and breathed in a celluloid dark, for all my weird tastes ,this,I can honestly say, was a film I believe should never have been made. Duped. Totally duped.


SIR! received a lot of submissions this past week. Its impressive how many people are writing today, and with a certain sense of humor. If you've been thinking about submitting, please don't hesitate to send work.


Elisa said...

I freaking love Funny Ha-Ha.

While I agree Synecdoche, NY is (deeply?) flawed, I disagree that that movie is solipsistic so much as it's a movie about a solipsistic character (the solipsism of the artist, or anyone for that matter); why do characters have to be likable?

But then, I thought Being John Malkovich was stupid. Nudge-nudge-wink-wink on the level of Oceans Twelve.

Mike Young said...

That's intense, your negative reaction to SNY. I had a very positive reaction to it. There were moments in it that were so good they opened me up to allow pretty much anything and everything, including the solipsism. But I also felt the solipsism was not sincere and was very self-critical, so there's that.

Are there other movies you recommend that make you think of SNY as amateurish and dupish? I ask because usually when I react really negatively to something, it's in the context of something else, and I maybe haven't seen enough movies to not be impressed by SNY. I've seen all K's other movies, but recommend some new ones for me.

Brian Foley said...

Elisa, I watched Funny Ha Ha because of you. I wanted to like it, but wasn't crazy about it.

I do not believe characters have to be likable. In fact, most of my imaginary obsessions -fictional, film, literature, music, or otherwise - are tied up with unlikeable characters. But in what way are they unlikable? Maybe they have a certain characteristic trend among them,a vicious streak, i dunno, but I can say that an unrelenting neurosis is not one of the traits among them. This aversion is a personnel preference and the reason I often often can't read Philip Roth.
I found Caden, despite his own creative genius, to be uninspired. The choices the character made, despite surreal scenarios, became a stereotypical role for PSH. I didn't have to like him, but it sure didn't believe him.

The film to me became exploitive when, as I've often felt Kaufman and many other modern directors today , use their characters desperation and sadness as a form of pornography. Scenes with no previous inertia or build become exacerbated with tears and de facto emotional pain as a means to represent. Just as in pornography, it creates shortcuts to prey on familiar sympathies. It is a manipulation not earned. Its reality tv.
This isn't a belief I'm rigid on, (i watch reality tv) but in the case of this film I think it was amateurish and, as Mike said, insincere.

As far as the solipsism goes the movie became more frustrating when it crossed over from Caden's destructive solipsism and into a self referential critique of its own ego. I think this happened because of the films inherent schizophrenia - 20 odd stories going at the same time. This doesn't translate into the viewer's (mine) need for a linear storyline. But I don't have to accept something as a difficult film because its unrealized and unfocused.

Mike, the first thing I did after seeing this movie was go online as see how other people felt. I like to go into movies as blind as possible. I know a lot of other people that like Synedoche, and not because they haven't seen Bunuel or something. I don't have a context, other than Kaufman's other films.
Syncdoche made me think of Adaptation, had CK has full creative control. And maybe that's a plus for Kaufman, because I cannot think of a similar film (at least for the moment) where a just comparison could be derived, except from one of his own.

Axelphoto said...

Wow, Brian. What do you *really* think about that film? I haven't heard one good thing about it. Like, not one. Especially from people I know (like yourself) whose opinion I trust.

Did you at least like 'Iron Man'? (please say yes).

Mike Young said...

Brian, I think I'm with you on what you're saying, but I felt as though the movie's self-referential critique of its own ego--or to put it differently, that sense of "am I, the movie, really saying this? is that okay?"--was part of the movie's transcendence for me and felt really exciting, like the movie was putting forth a bunch of things and testing them as it was putting them forth. When I say the solipsism felt insincere, that's what I meant: it felt self-conscious, like "if my philosophy as a movie starts out vaguely solipsistic and I feel weird about that, why don't I just try to be as solipsistic as I possibly can to 'get it out of my system' and see what happens?"

Like that scene (SPOILER) where Cayden gets the dead dad phone call and literally everything that we fear just happens to him: the dad regrets his life, wishes the son were there, makes a really long deathbed speech that the son misses--nowhere in all that is the consolation typically available to us in myth, consolation that translates into the instructive or moral power of myth, like "here's what I the myth am saying: if you just don't regret your life when you die, it will be okay." SNY, meanwhile, says "Well, okay, thanks, but what if everything goes wrong? Can I get instructions for that scenario?" I felt that wasn't really self-indulgent so much as very brave.

In conclusion, the movie (I just saw it a second time, ha!) made me feel high in a way few texts do or have.

Once I come down, I will probably think different things, but until then I will obnoxiously espouse my wonderment at the movie and putty in its movie-hands and feel comfortable doing so, knowing I might feel embarrassed later that I liked it so much and it made me think and say such grand[iose] things.