Friday, May 22, 2009

Young American Bodies: Season 1

Unidentifiable Effing Objects /
Young American Spirits

I'm fulfilling a contract with myself here. Notes on the now-three-years-old first season of Joe Swanberg's web-serial. You can figure out how to find it if you want to watch it...

For Swanberg, there can be no right way to frame them for Nerve/, these UFOs. The imposition of dramatic heft at the moment of incidental music cues. Just have the characters talk about willpower, and in their talking pretend the feelings don't count. "You build yourself a structure," says Casey / Eve Rounds, the moral conscience of the show.

"A lot of my friends are going out with me, tonight, to a club, and I just wanted to invite you to come." "Okay..." — cut to Greta Gerwig, etc.

"You can go online, you can find your bed-and-breakfasts..."

The stairwell communal space is the Sign of the Dorm. It spills over no matter how many years you're out of the institution, because you'll keep building others, your own, to recapture. "You want to tell me what happened last night?" All of life is a fort.

And here's the word: "Fine." Even still there are others. And I'm glad I'm not 23 anymore.

Things presented via the word "they" as universals. But there's a gigantic divide between what's filmed, or narrativized, and what's actual. The sincerity of Ben/Swanberg pulls this apart. Every 'serial episode' here carries the danger and the step-to and step-back of a modern and early-twentysomething Eyes Wide Shut. "Communication's... what you don't have."

"I think so..." — Picking up from the sedimented balls-of-feet of Kissing on the Mouth. "I dunno, he really wants to, y'know?"

Free-jazz-like disasters and general vacuity make me throw up. And then you get a sense that human beings still care for each other —

"I want to do whatever it takes to make it work." You get tenderness, and perfect teeth.

"It's so crazy that people are starting to get married. ... It's like, adult. ... I guess I didn't think that I would be... that, that I would be, last... y'know... not like I'm sure I'd be last, but I guess I never thought..."

Theme-music cue-cut as self-dramatization of importance of totally transitory events. Swanberg cuts OUT of an episode the same way you can drop a chapter-stop at any random point in the drama of life's goings-on — really, everything has meaning.

Missed connections — followed by communication and discussion. Completely unlike the Hollywood movies where everything is irrevocable and "fate"-driven.

"I think it's definitely awesome that you guys are hanging out, I think it's really good for him." "Yeah, I'm a good influence, on everyone." "Not that he's like lame or anything — he's totally cool."

"Hey Casey, it's Ben, um... soooo... yeah, um, shoot, I was hopin' to talk to you, but um call me back, when you can, I want to make sure that whatever's going on, it doesn't get in the way of us hanging out and spending time together, because, I really like that... So... umm... hopefully I hear from you soon — and, if, oh actually maybe I hear you on the stairs right now, so, um, maybe I, will, see you in a second?, and if not, then, call me back?, when you can? Okay. Talk to you soon."

Jealousy'ish movement-things. It'll be okay. Just stop by.



No eyeline countergaze dénouements. Swanberg cuts at the end of the last episode before the eyeline takes hold. Noble ending to the season, inside-out version of a Sopranos season-end, — and very strong for the fact.

Young American Bodies: Season 1 by Joe Swanberg, 2006:


Something different (put it in your heart where tomorrow shines) —

Social Olympics from Craig Keller on Vimeo.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Social Olympics

Social Olympics from Craig Keller on Vimeo.

SOCIAL OLYMPICS - a new small-movie I made - 2009. SD / 15 frames per second / 1.33. Currently hosted at Vimeo. And currently the compression and blocky artifacts are pretty shit, which'll be remedied upon my upgrading to Vimeo Plus in the next few days, at which point the current version will be replaced with a less digi-blocky version — please be patient, and enjoy this at least as a preview version. The (slight) interlacing will be vanquished once I finesse the export settings, too.


For the time being, I'm extremely tired of writing here about movies. They're not saying anything to me right now, and I don't know whom I'm writing for — all I know is I've got no zealous compulsion (anymore? ever had?) to communicate via this blog with the Movie-Cultists, the Cinephiles, or the Aesthetico-Plastico-Dogmatists, who in spite of all sincerely good intentions describe one face of a pyramid I can no longer comprehend. This is not the fault of my readers, but of myself — and the fact that my readership is probably 96% male (again, nobody's fault but my own) makes me, theoretically, puke. The fact that I can describe the nuances of a Jerry Lewis movie that I find very beautiful (Lewis who, by the way, has been appropriated, like Ford, by the aforebrushstroked Aesthetico-Plastico-Dogmatists of Political/Moralistic Ordure) does not, never does, and I-don't-know-why-it-even-should, feed back into my actual non-virtual life. At the present, I only want to write for close friends and farther strangers — and write what? I don't know today. I have a good mind to devote myself purely to comic sketches and madrigals. Writing here about cinema exaggerates (in my own mind) a divide between my inner-life and that of those I'm near to — which divide, in all actuality, is a negligible, purely nominal chasm, — because the cinema is something I want (and need) to carry inside more than to proselytize, and does not regulate connections "as [with] a credit card, yes," or so once said Godard. If anything, when friends visit this blog, or pick up something I've written about a movie elsewhere, it's — all postures aside — as exciting for them to read as if they were thumbing through a copy of the fucking tax-code. Though a movie is direct communication, the writing about it's the obfuscation, — is that which precisely inhibits communication.

I reserve the right to think about, and to write here about, a film, films, etc., of course — and it's part of my job, which I care deeply about and which trumps this space — but the present fact is that the same-old-same broadcasts here at Cinemasparagus seem to me to parley in an echo-chamber, and this distresses me, and their reverberation sounds like "Rename it 'My Nebbish Hobby'."

This does not edify. Or, at least, does not bring as much comfort as Murmur, Fables of the Reconstruction, Automatic for the People, or The Reminder — which is a problem.

That said, here are some song lyrics from a notebook of mine I found. Enjoy. —


Oak Tapped-Barrel Song

The guests have walked in.
It's time for me to leave.
They're reading Bakhtin.
Really time for me to leave.
I'm leaving early —
I'm leaving old —
I'm leaving with a girl on my soul.

Square-jawed vacationers,
And it's time for me to leave.
Outlaw sensations
Or just time for me to leave?
If they're leaving confused —
Or if they're leaving on time —
They can't leave those abuses behind.

"It's just a Category 2," they said in a huff.
I know storms well — I've smelled them enough.

Someone mentions that payola talks,
And it's time for me to leave.
Cigarettes in the Crayola box —
Now it's time for me to leave.
I'll leave by myself —
I'll leave with a friend —
I'll get left on the shelf till the end.

Boston prick's got a charter,
Claims it's time for me to leave.
Can't tell if he said "Carter" or "Cotter,"
But it's time for me to leave.
I'll leave here alive —
I'll feel fortified —
There's not one man alive with God on his side.

A hundred percent of emotion's invisible.
The atoms between us have proven divisible.

I've been waiting for hours.
Now it's time for me to leave.
Been drained of my powers,
So it's time for me to leave.
But I'll leave you something —
I'll leave it inside.
I'll leave you something about breadbox-size.

The onslaught of arrows
Says it's time for me to leave.
And Inês de Medeiros
Says it's time for me to leave.
I'll leave in a dust-cloud
The way some leave in a Hearse,
But I'll make sure I'm loud when I curse you.


Friday, May 08, 2009


[Vimeo video was removed]

HD trailer for the new film by Jean-Luc Godard. True 1.78:1 ratio. Shot in 24-frame HD. Alain Badiou. Patti Smith. Silence is golden.