Mindless entertainment

Terence Malick may be my favourite American filmmaker. I’ve seen six of his scant eight movies, four of which I consider to be unassailable masterpieces that speak to me very personally, one of which is merely ok, and the last being a solid ?????. It’s a pretty impressive track record.

Anyway, I’m interested in talking about that ????? one, by which I mean 2015’s Knight of Cups. It got a pretty bad critical thrashing upon release, and I’m not yet sure if I’d even say that it’s a good movie. But it is a capital I Interesting movie, the kind where even the ways in which it goes wrong are kinda fascinating.

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Oh hey, this book is about as old as I am

As a kid, I read the first volume of Tad Williams’ Otherland series, and have memories of it being just this massive, epic tome I conquered over a long period of time. I’ve assumed that these memories were, of course, somewhat exaggerated, and that as a more seasoned adult reader, I’d likely find it a little more brisk.

But then I finally got around to reading another one of Williams’ works: The Dragonbone Chair, which is the first volume in his fantasy trilogy, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (let’s call it MST). It turns out that the man is just in the habit of writing long-winded books.

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Yes, I am doing another top ten movies list

I think a big part of why I like talking about movies so much here is that they’re not related to my academic background, nor do I have any personal stake in them, so there’s a very loose, noncommittal feel to it. Also, while I’m on a steady diet of comics, but my enthusiasm for the medium more easily manifests itself in drawing comics rather than talking about them. Talking about movies right now feels more like a crutch for when inspiration is flagging, but when I still want my hands and mind to be productive.

As is the case right now. Anyway, I needed to figure out how Malick figured into things.

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Movie magic

I’m not sure if I have any new insights to bring to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which is near-universally regarded as one of the best and most classic of movie fantasies. But I need to give some reminder that this blog is still alive, and I think it may prove a useful peg on which to hang a couple of thoughts.

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So, uh, yeah

I’m not sure if I really have a coherent followup to my previous post of gay Catholic angst and weird body horror (only at Res Studiorum et Ludorum!), but it did kinda leave things hanging. So here are just some disorganized thoughts that have flickered through my mind recently.

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Gay Catholic drama is the only kind I’m good at, apparently

As my previous post suggested, I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching lately, having arrived at a realization that has thrown me off balance these past few days. In essence: although I believe in what the Church teaches viz-a-viz homosexuality* and what it implies for my own kinda really gay proclivities, I am still nowhere near to being at peace with it. But I managed to trick myself into thinking that I had at least achieved that much.

Now I have to actually deal with this.

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On the other hand

This blog used to be a lot more personal, and a lot more willing to look at my whole Cathlolic schtick from a more personal angle. In recent years I’ve retreated from that. It’s certainly made this blog a less awkward and more comfortable place, though I have at times felt the absence.

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Buying that drafting table was a good idea after all

Last summer, I set myself a goal of producing fifty pages of comics within a year (from September to September) so that I could test the waters of the medium. And also, I hoped, escape the desperation I felt myself sinking into as the end of my academic career left me without a sense of purpose.

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Living trees

I might as well begin with the controversial: movies have a bad track record in dealing earnestly with the spiritual, not just because of the usual cultural pressures, but because the medium itself is at a bit of a disadvantage. Movies, by their nature, envelop and dominate an essentially passive audience; it foists a very concrete experience on you in a manner that doesn’t invite much engagement. During a movie, you have no aesthetic “I”, only the “I” of the camera. Say what you will about the aesthetic merits of any given Bible movie, but you ultimately cannot contemplate a cinematic depiction of the Crucifixion in the way that you can, say, a painted one.

When I think of the movies that strike me as the most spiritual, they tend to be the ones that break the most with conventional cinematic language to approximate an effect closer to that of the fine arts or music or whathaveyou – in this case, Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life, in a review that has been a long time coming.

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The king of elfland’s daughter’s friend

I’ve been making a greater effort to reconnect with my weeb roots lately, and it occurs to me that anime is one medium that seems to be doing a good job of retaining its quality – if not getting better.

This has less to do with the intrinsic qualities of anime than it does with economics, I think. Movies and video games, for instance, have an ever-increasing amount of money riding on them, and so you see increasingly safe bets being made, with a lot of the same properties being rehashed and a greater push towards homogenization in general. There’s greater quality control, but much less of a chance of discovering something new that just takes you completely off guard.

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