Posts Tagged 'Where the Wild Things Are'

Be Overwhelmed

Sometimes things just get you, you know? They move past the effectiveness of their particular medium and take hold of you personally. They feel like they came from and were made for a certain part of you. That’s been this week for me. With movies and literature and TV and tonight music. Maybe I’m just in that place right now, that’s possible. But whatever the case, they’re finding their way to me and I am happy for it.

Let's Play

Let's Play

Many people read “Where the Wild Things Are” as a kid. I didn’t but sure wish I had. The movie evoked so much in me (I wrote a full review of it here). Scenes of its main character playing alone. Playing in the snow. His rage. His recklessness. His love. All of them smashing into each other. The powerful line KW says to him: “Don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.” The way the movie embraced danger in the same way I daydreamt about it as a kid; how much fun it would be to be in such a situation. I wanted it desperately. I fantasized about being a superhero who fought crime at night and did amazing things. I created storylines in my mind and replayed them alone on the bus. I was totally pre-occupied with them. This movie made me miss being a kid.

I love the late writer David Foster Wallace’s way he seems to smile sometimes through his pages as he plays with words. Sometimes it advances something, sometimes it’s just a treat. Other times, he nails turmoil so staggeringly that you hurt for him, even though he might be describing you. Here, in Infinite Jest talking about time and withdrawal:

Poor Tony once had the hubris to fancy he’d had occasion really to shiver, ever, before. But he had never truly shivered until time’s cadences— jagged and cold and smelling oddly of deodorant— entered his body via several openings—cold the way only damp cold is cold—the phrase he’d had the gall to imagine he understood was the phrase chilled to the bone—shard-studded columns of chill entering to fill his bones with ground glass, and he could hear his joints’ glassy crunch with every slightest shift of hunched position, time ambient and in the air and entering and exiting at will, coldly; and the pain of his breath against his teeth.

Also, HBO’s “In Treatment” for the way it confounds your expectations and reminded me that you can have effective drama with just two people, sitting in a room, talking. We watch them fail and learn and cry and get angry. More than any other show I can remember, it looks at the way people look while they listen. How communicative the eyes can be. 43 episodes of it and I was riveted.

decemberists___hazards_of_love_by_monavxFinally, The Decemberists. I’ve seen them many times before, I’ll see them again. But tonight was the only time I ever saw them alone. I didn’t like that part of it. It’s harder to share it. But oh how it felt like seeing old friends. I have a relationship with the music now. The animated Visualization of “The Hazards of Love” was stunning, but the music and the band’s own performance made me breathless. I felt lucky. I got to see it twice and now it is done. Never again to be performed live after this tour. How could it be? It’s over. But I saw it. Perhaps it was the animation or I don’t know what, but I kept noticing how emotional this album is. Can a thing be ornate and raw at the same time?

The feeling starts in my chest and rises— slowly at first, but increasingly fast—to my face. I instinctively smile when it gets there, which is partly my way of acknowledging it and partly my way of stalling it for a moment while I accept it. And in each case, the form of the thing, the way it is packaged in its particular artistic medium is part of the joy. Wallace’s words or Spike Jonze’s playful style; the daring simplicity of “In Treatment” and the immensity of The Decemberists’ sound. They’re like little presents, these things, that the artist cannot help but give. They come from a desire to share, to show for us. Even when they are dark, they seem prepared lovingly; with humanity. And they connect us to something outside and above and something paradoxically larger than ourselves but that is also within us, aching for us to see it.

intreatment.533For some reason, the last week I’ve been seeing it. I’ve been feeling it. Art reveals itself to us in the hope of helping reveal parts of ourselves we may not be aware of; that we forgot we had; that maybe we hoped were gone but aren’t; that we can’t believe; that have been waiting for us; that we desperately need even if we don’t think we do or can’t see why. It can help us get out of our own way. It can challenge us, even anger us. Anne Lamott puts it this (much better) way:

This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of—please forgive me—wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break into our small bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious.

I read those words just before the concert started. Afterwards, I stood outside on the lovely UCLA campus, watching people filing away, down large staircases. I wrote a little about what I saw, how at home I felt on a college campus in the fall. And these things came trickling back to me. It feels good to be overwhelmed like this. Life does feel more spacious. Certainly not everything will make you feel this way, and most things that do aren’t trying to do that in the first place. It just happens sometimes. But it’s good and right and important to me to know that it can and be willing when it does.

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Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Is there a movie with a better marketing campaign than “Where the Wild Things Are”? It’s only rarely a marketing campaign tries to convey the actual spirit of the movie. It’s so unusual, it’s almost seen as a risk! The movie studio has 80 million dollars invested in this movie. They need butts in the seats. The director, Spike Jonze, comes from music video, though, and in the trailer he makes great use of music and images and title-cards. It’s playful and joyous and stirring and a little dangerous.

For me, this is the must-see movie of the year. There are lots of movies to see in the next few months, but this one is vital. I love movies about imagination and that make me feel like a kid again. I love movies that treat kids with the respect they deserve. I happened upon this short featurette about the movie with author Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze. It sealed the deal for me. Check it out.

Great Movie Trailer

I read a lot of books growing up. The Berenstain Bears were huge in my house. In Elementary School I went through just about every single book in the Hank the Cowdog Series. I don’t recall a lot of the names but I do remember constant books being read at bedtime (the phrase “Pa-Da-Rump, Pa-Da-Rump, Pa-Da-Rump-Pump-Pump” comes to mind, I think it was a book about an errant wheel looking for something). Corduroy Bear was read. My mother tried to get my brother and I into those Boxcar Children losers, and while Tim just didn’t give a damn about the story I kept thinking about how I would exploit such a situation to my advantage. How I would beat up the leader of the Boxcar Children and steal a bunch of stuff and live the most lawless life I could think of (and I forget which of the Boxcar Sisters I claimed for my girlfriend), and I was offended by the lack of imagination on the part of the author. Were these kids complete tools? Where’s the impending amorality this scenario cries out for?

But one book I never got around to was “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak. I don’t know why, either, because I distinctly recall the cover of the book, and I was always intrigued. Part of it may have been that I conflated it with “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and so an impenetrable link to boredom and laborious storytelling was formed. 

And I still haven’t read it, but I think it’s the movie I’m most looking forward to this year. It is being directed by Spike Jonze, and that’s really enough right there to make me see a movie. His films are always really interesting visually – he made “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation,” and if you think those are simple films, watch them again. And the thing that’s really sold me? The trailer. I like movie trailers. I know some critics and movie nerds have sworn them off, but I feel like I am able to sift through the inherent consumer element and figure out if this is something I will want to see. And I want to see this movie. A year or so ago my friend BJ and I made lists of movies that make us feel like a kid again, in the best way possible. And that’s what this trailer did. It is mysterious. There are creatures, there is a boy with access to a magical world. It mentions 3 key words – Hope, Fear, Adventure. The trailer has a sense of wonder – for some reason, wide angle shots following people running always get me, it’s a favorite of mine. I have no idea why. Watch it now

There have been lots of fantasy children’s movies made the last few years, but all of them look like they’ve been put through the ringer of salability, they feel stilted and stifled. Finally, this one looks alive. And to be fair, I bet a lot of those books were written in those types of situations where the book is written less out of need and more out of its ability to appeal to kids and be sold. It’s the literary equivalent of chemically altering food (with great tasting but less than organic materials) to appeal to the average human’s instinctive tastes. I just can’t wait for this movie. This movie looks genuine, is what I’m saying. Childhood, here I come.


It Has Come to This

September 2017
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