There have been many changes in my life over the last couple of years. I went back to school to return to my film roots, and I moved to Montreal. So perhaps the films presented here are a natural culmination of all this. This past term I took a course in Adobe Premiere with a bit of Audition and AfterEffects. Mostly the assignments were to practice as many different effects and techniques with the editing software, which is why the footage isn’t the most professionally shot; it wasn’t part of the program, so I used my cell phone camera. But these short video assignments gave me the chance to combine image and movement, as well as continue my hobby of mapping my new city through photography.
Every century, changes in technology allow a new art form to take hold. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was the spread of the printing press that enabled the novel to reach the heights that it did. In the twentieth century, it was the feature film. Both exist today, and have their own advantages that will give them staying power well into the future. The novel remains the consummate look into the mind, and the written form is the best way to express ideas. Film has the potential to bring together many of the elements of storytelling from novels as well as drama, art, photography and music.
From the first time I heard about Eisenstein in Guanajuato, it sounded like a movie had been made just for me: the story of a young filmmaker who has a same sex relationship in Guanajuato. Some of that is not entirely unlike my own life, although there are substantial differences and I live in a very different era. And it did not disappoint in portraying any of these things.
“You’re doing a play based on a book that was written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich old white people whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have their cake and coffee when it’s over. And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.”
The first Mexican movie I remember seeing was Like Water For Chocolate, in my first-year film class. I still remember the sensuous portrayal of food, the magic realism, the feeling of danger with the Mexican Revolution, and the intense passion. However, it was one of many memorable movies I remember seeing that year: Battleship Potemkin, Blow-Up, Vivre Sa Vie, The Celluloid Closet, American Dream. Every week a new world opened up, and it was beautiful as well as overwhelming, a lot for my brain to process. By the time I saw Y Tu Mama Tambien, however, in theatres a year later in the summer of 2002, I was a bit more ready, able to appreciate the arts of watching for the mise-en-scene in the frame and understand a movie through its historical context and vice versa.
It’s already mid-March, but it’s still early in the movie-watching year. Sometimes it can be kind of frustrating that all the best movies are released at the same time which means a bit of binge-watching and burnout afterwards. The Sundance and Berlin festivals have already happened, and in Vancouver there are a number of festivals that I will try to make it to as well.
It seems natural to begin with Life Itself, the book by and movie about Roger Ebert, because that was where my interest in movies began. Some accused his long-running TV show, Siskel and Ebert, of dumbing down film, but for me as a twelve-year-old it meant that film criticism was something that was accessible, and I was exposed to movies that otherwise I never would have known anything about. This led to me first getting a copy of Cinemania, a CD-ROM that was the precursor to the Internet Movie Database, with an index of titles, casts, descriptions, awards and reviews: not only all of Ebert’s but those of Pauline Kael’s as well, and through that I learned about film on a deeper level, and saw that it could be written about in a personal and subjective way. The titles of her first book says it all: I Lost it at the Movies. “I go into the movie, I watch it, and I ask myself what happened to me,” Ebert quotes her as saying in Life Itself, and he writes about feeling a similar sense of wonder when watching, especially in the days when going to the movies was an experience in an old-fashioned theatre with balconies, curtains and live performers.
Welcome to my blog! In this space I plan to write personal essays related to film. The plan is to produce a longer essay every couple of weeks, and in the meantime share videos, brief reviews and any other related news.