Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the mill and the cross

A few weeks ago I saw Lech Majewski's film, The Mill and the Cross - quite simply, a masterpiece.  The film is based off of Pieter Bruegel's painting, The Way to Calvary, and follows the story of 12 of the 500 or so people in the painting.

It's not your traditional film, though.  The Mill and the Cross, despite having characters, does not have a particular story line as in Girl with a Pearl Earring or other films that are based on works of art.  In fact, the dialogue is sparse (the first spoken words are half an hour into the movie, and even then the man speaks to the audience, not to his wife, who instead sits and reads her book, oblivious to his words).  The emphasis instead goes on the sounds in everyday life - a servant clomping up the huge flight of stairs in the mill, the thunder of horses' hooves as the red-caped Spanish military men ride into sight, the rustle of papers as the artist looks through his sketches.

The lack of words also has another effect - an unnerving one.  As the Spanish beat up a guy on his way to market, strap him to a wheel, raise that wheel several meters into the air on a pole, and leave his eyes to be eaten by the ravens, they do not speak.  And neither does the victim.  It's an incredibly powerful and cringe-worthy scene of cold detachment on the soldiers' end and hopeless submission on the man's end.

Cinematographically speaking, the balance (and ambiguity) between reality and painterliness is mesmerizing.  Majewski actually used a blue screen for some key scenes - like the beginning.  He painted the backdrop (the skies and landscape) and added that in later.  Crazy, huh?  The result is that of seeing people moving around inside the painting.  It's not necessarily stepping into the painting - but rather seeing the painting coming alive...and trying to swallow us up.

So basically...the movie is a must-see, perhaps even for those who are not art enthusiasts.  It has some very powerful scenes, and really gives you an appreciation for the artist (and the Dutch who lived through Philip II's inquisition).

photos courtesy of kino lorber, inc

There's also a lot of cool stuff on the film website,

Saturday, October 15, 2011

betsey johnson in boston - time is of the essence...timing, too.

I've been excited about this Betsey Johnson show ever since I found out about it (and got a press pass) a month ago.  So excited that I somehow got it into my head that it was yesterday, not today.  Yup, that was interesting.  Going through the rain in really painful flats, getting there dry but slightly out of breath...and walking into some sort of arts awards ceremony/reception (I thought it seemed a little to tame for Betsey Johnson...).  Whoops.

Today it was far more festive at the Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts.  First off, I hate to make the comparison, but I felt like I was at a more commercial, less posh (but still posh) version of the pink party in last season's Gossip Girl.  Of course, I wasn't one of Them, a special Upper East Side trust fund baby.  Rather, more like a Brooklynite (albeit a far less cool one).

Speaking of fitting in, here's a word about fashion at fashion shows.   (Based off my one experience, haha).  Seriously, unless you want to be Seen, and want to actually take pictures with your besties there and try to take a picture with Betsey just to show how awesome and posh you are, you don't have to dress up ridiculously.  And if you are one of those press people, then just wear whatever is most comfortable.  People will ignore you anyway.  I know it pains our fragile egos to think that, but it's true.  I wore black skinny jeans, black boots, a silky t-shirt type top, short leather jacket, and black and white polka dot/leopard dots scarf.  I ditched my cutesy little jumpsuit in favor of a-little-better-looking-than-everyday-comfort (the jumpsuit's fine, but the shoes are not), and didn't regret it a bit.  Of course, men are safest with a blazer etc.  Unless you are the type to go in drag (yes, there was one of those).

Once I was there, I forgot about all my fashion dilemmas and began to focus on my camera.  Yes, intelligent me has not used this new fancy schmantzy camera enough to have it completely mastered, and it took me a while to figure out how to switch between different modes.

Before the show - retro models pose on blocks as people mingle around drinking drinks and eating hors d'oeuvres.

So there I was, looking ridiculous as I started messing with the buttons on my camera.  It got worse when the show started.  I totally didn't realize that the runway would be THAT bright, so I had to change modes again, several times, during the show (all while standing on tiptoe behind a crowd of other media people).

It was during this time, and after I got into the rhythm of CALM DOWN, STOP PRESSING DOWN THAT SHUTTER BUTTON LIKE AN IDIOT BEFORE THE MODEL IS AT THE END OF RUNWAY that I realized that a fashion show looks much different through the lens of a camera.  You watch the models come down the runway through your little digital screen, then you wait for them to get to the right place so you can snap the picture, put your camera down and rest your arms for a few seconds.  Only then can you see the runway with your naked eye, so to speak, and see that the models are so much closer than they were when you had your camera up, and notice all the little details that you missed on the screen.

To clear things up, my press pass was not for this blog (I'm not cool enough for that yet, probably).  I promise that I did actually take some really good pictures, I just can't put them up here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

thoughts on a viking movie

I'm taking a class on the Vikings this semester, and it's definitely one of my favorites.  A few weeks ago we watched the 1958 movie The Vikings (pretty corny, but an entertaining watch).  Today, as we were talking about ideal Viking men and women, we started thinking about what actors and actresses we would cast in a Viking movie.  I couldn't really think of anyone right then, so naturally I'm still considering the question.  If I were to remake The Vikings - a grittier version, obviously - who would be my leading men and ladies?

Then I realized that I would probably end up picking half the cast of King Arthur, just because it's easier to visualize Vikings when they're already in medieval getup.  Not to mention Stellan Skarsgård, who actually does play a Viking in the movie.

pretty scary stuff, huh?

Second realization: everyone else would have been in Lord of the Rings (i.e. Viggo Mortenson and Miranda Otto), or at least of Scandinavian descent.

My conclusions?  There's a reason why I'm not in the film industry.  But I do want to see King Arthur again (along with Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven, Lord of the Rings...)