Tuesday, July 1, 2008

the usual i suppose

so amidst all the movie watching i had to talk about these, first of all. i saw shotgun stories finally after a long wait and no way to get a dvd rip off the internet. it was pretty amazing and lived up to the hype (and look at how gorgeous and 70s the poster is). especially since jeff nichols was around 28 when he completed it. there's tons of amazing arkansas scenery (shot by adam stone, who's done a.d. work with david gordon green), a great score by lucero (with some help from pyramid), and a pretty compelling story. i come from a family of 3 brothers, so i think those of us who do maybe feel more of a bond as such, but even if you're not a part of such a family, you can see the potential for a long career for jeff nichols by watching this film. if you don't know what it's about you can find out for yourself, but it was worth the wait for me. plus there's a music-only track, which i think shows how compelling the scenery is. it takes a good cinematographer, yes, but so many great landscapes could be captures by monkeys behind the lens and come out beautiful. movies with an additional main character as the landscape have always intrigued me, and this adds to the list. jeff nichols is also taking over for david gordon green as the director for goat, the memoir written by brad land. i hope they film it in south carolina. it should be in production now, at least that's what imdb says.

in bruges was a weird little flick too. saw the trailer on apple's site a while back, and it looked intriguing. it ends up being written like tarantino, the coen brothers, and bruce robinson (more withnail and i than how to get ahead in advertising) collaborated (and carter burwell also did the music), while filming the whole thing in a little town in belgium. throughout the whole movie they're also drinking great beer out of glass chalices and oversided wine glasses. tripels and belgian strong pale ales it looked like to me mostly. as the movie gets a bit over-the-top with its comedic racism and prejudice, collin ferrell's character keeps calling them "gay beers," which someone else can read into. there's a ton of twists, a ton of swearing, and a lot of accents thrown at you. it was a pretty wild ride, and i liked it a lot, mainly because i was torn between so many things to think about. am i laughing at this? am i offended? am i supposed to be offended? is this supposed to be funny? though it meshed well instead of being completely off-putting.

back to the documentary side of things. jandek on corwood was fairly mind-blowing, in that i never got into jandek's music. when i was music director at warc at allegheny, though, i'm pretty sure we had a ton of original jandek pressings in our packed little alcove behind the equipment. i could've made a ton of money had i spent more time reading about record collecting. we had so much out of print stuff, not old jazz records as much as radio issued singles, limited pressings, etc. all of it spanning back into the 80s. i can see why people like the music, but i never got into it. i just didn't know about the insane mysteries surrounding this guy, and the whole thing is utterly fascinating and engrossing. salinger-esque was his life (before, apparently, he started playing scant live sets in, i think, 2004 until the present and beyond), though many think the talent factor is a little skewed. anyone into music probably already knows a bit about jandek, but if you are and you don't, this thing's worth seeing. i spent a ton of time looking at the supplements, sans commentary, and did more research on the web after it's over. a whole psychology class could be taught on this guy, his methods, his music, his reclusive nature.

and finally, slasher blew me away. a movie about a guy who's hired to slash prices for car dealerships and get them sold and taken off the lot. thankfully, i had no idea what i was in for by just the quick description that i'd seen from the av club. but it was hilarious and humanistic in an american movie kind of way, and i feel like michael bennett's a composite character of a ton of different characters everyone's met, from movies, other documentaries, real life. it was one of those movies that almost shouldn't have been inspiring, but was by the end. plus it's filmed in memphis, and one of the best lensed movies of all time i think is jim jarmusch's mystery train. it seems like a lot hasn't changed visually since 1989. tons of southern wreckage. abandoned houses. dingy avenues. tons of train tracks. beautiful decay all over the place. people wonder why the south is such an amazing place visually. yeah, it's not greece or italy, i know that, but i have some pride in what nature does to our creation in the u.s. within the last 100 years or so. i always find that stuff fascinating. i'm off track here, but the movie blew me away. so many movies lately i want to buy. there are a ton. and this is one of them. see it if you haven't.


sometimes i think i should've gone into film. with the time i spend watching movies -- and spent watching these movies -- i could've been writing new poems, or at least attempting to write non-horrendous drafts. but then i started thinking that if i could later teach classes in film and poetry, wherever i end up (yeah, pretty easy, i'm sure), that i'd be pretty happy. i wasn't cut out to be a filmmaker, though its fingerprints on my work are more like godzilla's.

but i've used film in my poems in other ways and continue to do so. maybe they're inseparable for me. i think that's the case.

charles bernstein, i think, was the one who said poetry needs to be at least as interesting as television, or something as such. well, i guess for me it has to be as interesting as a great movie or documentary. then again, so many movies are pure poetry too.

endeth here before i go too far into realms of non-understanding to my own understanding.


c. dale young has a post from a few days ago that i really like, where he talks about "god" appearing in his manuscript more than he'd thought, and wondering if it's too much. though now he's come to terms with it, knowing it isn't.

though this is his third book and he's had a lot of experience, it's good, i think, for folks who've spent a lot of time with their manuscripts -- as i have in the past year, more time than i'd like to admit -- to question and requestion that. whether it's thematic, like my elegies that seemingly run wild, or just single words. obsessions need to remain our obsessions. but where is the line drawn?

i think all of this is pretty dangerous when starting to just put together a manuscript, and i'm glad i didn't think it about it much then, as it could easily go toward paralysis and make you want to burn it. but having invested a lot of time in a manuscript, it's always good to question, and to hopefully be able to come to terms with kinds of repitition in a beneficial and positive way without convincing yourself falsely.


for a mere $.75 (that's cents) plus shipping, i got another copy, though this time a hardcover, from half.com, of lynda hull's the only world. it's an ex-library book (screw you phil levine -- this refers to an older post), but it's in fantastic condition. that original book's amazing, as are all the rest of hers. david wojahn and mark doty did a great job with the new-ish collected, but man, having the original is choice, tops, pinnacle -- not to mention how inspiring her work continues to be for myself and many other poets. i mean, 75 cents, people. can you even get taco bell for that much now?


and now it's official congratulations (the link is to a .pdf file) to mathias svalina and allison titus, two former vcu mfa-ers (though allison switched and got her mfa in fiction from vcu, she started in poetry) in poetry whose books will be published by cleveland state university press next year. with so many recognizable names as finalists and semi-finalists, i can see why my manuscript, though it was a much older version (yes, i'm making excuses), wasn't among such esteemed folks.

i think the next few years or so are going to have some presses, contests, and judges scratching their heads about which to choose while getting so many great manuscripts, as more and more contests are filled with finalist and semi-finalists whose work i've seen in journals and have really liked. though that's my taste, i think it's pretty good.


i just heard outside our office / guest room windows, which looks down upon a street intersecting a few bars (even though we don't get the insane noise of living close by vcu), a woman kind of yelling, on a tuesday of all days, "i should be allowed to go! fuck!" now who knows what she was talking about, but you have to love the incessantly nightly, most-likely post-drunken and possibly pre-coital drama meandering down the streets and careening off the buildings. i don't know if it's our brick walls below or what, but we get this insane echo that bounces of every wall. it sounds freakishly like the conversations / altercations are happening right behind us, in the room. then assholes start blasting their bass as loud as it can go and honking. one of these days i'll post joe bolton's "the party," which totally reminds me of being in the fan district in richmond. it's a love / hate relationship, but more often than not, love wins.