As Above, So Below
It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…
Kartina Richardson is a filmmaker and founder of Mirrorfilm.org, a
film commentary and video essay site. For Richardson, film is first and
foremost an emotional and existential medium, creating experiences for
viewers that can't be explained intellectually.
"I grew up
watching classic and foreign films nonstop," she said, "and I try to
discuss film in a way that maintains its magic, that doesn't
one-dimensionalize it," Richardson, who is multiracial, often felt a
stranger in her devotion to and knowledge of American and European film.
now explores representations of people of color in the films she loves
in her series 'Race in Film' at MirrorFilm.org. Her musings appear at
her site thismoi.com.
"Eyjafjallalokull" is a stunning and moving video art installation that played at Sundance in the "New Frontier" art exhibition space. I visited the piece several times. Nicolas Boritch, director of the AntiVJ visual label and producer of "Eyjafjallalokull" ("The Volcano" for short) wants to put viewers in a space where "they just forget where they are and they forget about understanding anything because we want to leave a lot of space for the audience to create their own story or to find whatever they want to find."
Paul Rudd walked by me on Main Street in Park City wearing reflective sunglasses so I couldn't see if his eyes could see that my eyes saw him and were staring. I knew it was him from the way he walked. I can recognize a gait a mile away. But I didn't know yet that "Prince Avalanche" was a masterpiece or I could've had a good conversation starter.
Why is it that the culture surrounding art is so far removed from the process of making that art? I suspect this week is hell for many filmmakers here. The world you have to exist in as a great artist (one that values the interior over the exterior, the spiritual over the corporeal) is directly opposed the world you have to exist in to get your movie made. I wonder how many other people here are wondering what's wrong with them. How many people are pretending they love partying in order to not feel like a weirdo.
Today at Sundance I wandered aimlessly around a supermarket picking up different cheeses and putting them back down. I can never decide on a brie.
Cheese-less I journeyed to a bustling main street (a very steep hill) where altitude-acclimated rich ladies breezed by me in furry hats and sunglasses. They were having a good time.
I will do most anything to avoid thinking. At the hint of strenuous thought I flee. I run like the dickens. I do not want my world to be disrupted. Seventy five percent of my energy is spent repairing a glorious cocoon of comfort.
Inside this shelter there is no overhead lighting, only lamps. There are no cold mornings or metaphysical crises. Everything is as it should be. Every question is easily answered. There you will find me licking my wounds, secretly enjoying the tang of blood and pus. Thankfully, for the health of body and soul, this cocoon is under constant siege. The valiant twenty five percent of life force that remains does all in its power to destroy a sheltering that in reality is more prison than sanctuary. This twenty five percent is Saint George. The cocoon is the terrible dragon. It is death.
As Cocteau said, "comfort kills creativity." You will find me angrily hissing this to myself all day every day. On good days I heed the wisdom of the French man. On bad ones I refuse.
The first thing you must realize about "Stormy Weather," before anything else, is that it is not real. Of course it isn't real in the sense that it is a narrative film and as such it is fiction, but it is unreal in another way. It is a romanticization of African American life offering one-dimensional characters without nuance-- in "response" to the one dimensional un-nuanced characters in other films.
The movie opens as famous dancer Bill Williamson (Bill Robinson) receives a magazine in his honor "celebrating the magnificent contribution of the colored race to the entertainment of the world during the past twenty five years." This prompts him to reminisce about his career and courtship of the beautiful singer Selina Rogers (Lena Horne). The plot however, is of little importance. The film is primarily a vehicle for famous black talent in music and dance. These are glamorous blacks in romantic and dramatic leads. Blacks with sex appeal. Blacks with their own storyline.
Yesterday it was cold and rainy and glum. I searched for background movies to put on while I wrote, but my usual George Cukor go-tos weren't doing the trick. I branched out. Shane, Forbidden Games, Love & Anarchy, Mogambo, and various classic TV shows were turned on and shut off. Nothing worked. I decided to take a twenty minute nap to shake the damp.
There exist in this sometimes sad world, moments that remind you that you are alive.
You know these moments well. Blood rushes from your toes to your cheeks. Or from your cheeks to your toes. Either way you are made aware of its movement.
A great energy is felt in your jaw and in the ends of each strand of hair. Your fingers curl. Your hands turn into fists or claws. Everything is hot. You shudder violently (the energy must be flung off or you will be eaten alive).