Sketch of a girl

I’m practicing drawing on the iPad with Sketchbook Pro, my doodles are for an animation project that I’m working on. It’s designed to look flawed, makeshift, sketchy and a bit messy, which is good because I don’t have the patience to meticulously mimic reality, I just quickly scrawl it.

I got official permission from the musician behind Banquet of Illusions, to use his music in my animation piece. Go check the music out at last.fm, Sami Artturi Kauppinen offers free downloads for some of the tracks.

Ted Bundy strikes again

…in drawing form. This is just a sketch, whilst I draft ideas. I’ve adapted his appearance for an animation project I’m working on in After Effects CS5. Taken on my iPhone so excuse the quality, or lack thereof.

What’s the most expensive object you’ve ever touched?

Moche Ear Ornaments. 1-800 AD. Larco Museum Co...

Image via Wikipedia

It has to be an object, not housing or actual money.

I just held a £12,000 ring in my hands, and I’m not sure if it’s the most expensive thing I’ve held. I’ve probably touched more expensive art work or museum pieces, maybe even other jewellery I have forgotten, because none of it is my own.

So, what is the most valuable object you have ever touched or held?

Cannibals and Snowboarders

Today I watched Scarce (2008), directed by Jesse T. Cook and John Geddes, a film about a group of snowboarders on vacation. During a snow storm they are forced to seek refuge, but little did they know they are safer out in the storm. The people who grant them refuge are cannibals, surviving on what they ‘hunt’ throughout the winter.

Overall a pointless film with a very slow start, but the effects were cool, especially because it was on a low budget. I mean, of course I only watched it for the blood; I wouldn’t sit down and watch a film with that premise if I were looking for an intellectually challenging experience.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

The Idiots

The Idiots

Image via Wikipedia

Shorter review here: Click

‘The Idiots’ is a film directed by Lars Von Trier in 1998, it was made in compliance with the Dogme ’95 Manifesto; an avant-garde filmmaking movement started in 1995, and was his first film. ‘The Idiot’s’ focuses upon the tale of a group of people who feign mental disabilities in pursuit of their ‘inner idiot’, their ‘spassing out’ is an attempt to release their inhibitions.

The film was deemed shocking, despite many disability groups approving of the film and agreeing that it exposed underlying social prejudices against disability. Micro-elements contributed to the shocking effect which this film induced upon some audiences. Realism was used to suspend the audiences sense of disbelief, such was achieved through sound, which was mainly diegetic. The dialogue seems real, unrehearsed and alike to everyday conversation but for the content of the conversations between characters. In making the dialogue believable, and in casting the characters to be believable, the film seems more real, thereby engaging the audience attention, forcing them to relate to it, and therefore the shock value is inevitably heightened.
Editing is a significant element with regards to the shocking impact of the film. For example: jump cuts; a character was being interviewed, their family were present then they disappear in the next shot. The lack of chronological ordering in the film does not however cause it to be nonsensical, the tale of ‘The Idiots’ is told like it happened in the past, and the present in the film is shown with the interviews of each of the groups former members, the cross-cuts between the past and present (the interviews) grants tantalising insights into the characters and the events of the tale, before the tale is fully told, which holds audience attention and assists the flow of the narrative.
My personal interpretation of the film is that it aims to educate the audience about society’s general view and attitude towards disabled people. The female main character begins oblivious to the groups intentions and ways (like the audience) and as she is led into their world so is the audience. The film seems to be about seeking deeper meanings, and sharing different perspectives, whether it be sharing the perspectives of someone completely healthy, someone disabled, someone inside the group or outside of it. I think that initially the main character acts as a representation of the ignorance of a lot of people to disability, and is a tool within the film to educate the audience. The film does not seem to hold bias as to a certain perspective, but rather it is explorative of different perspectives, whether they be shown through conflict between the characters, or contrast between general society and the group.
The characters struggles, emotions and lessons are ways of evoking similar feelings from the audience; for example the scene where one of the group pretending to be disables cries after they meet people with genuine disabilities, she cries from guilt and gain of a deeper understanding. The characters force themselves to understand societies prejudices and perspectives of disability by directly experiencing it, for example in the scene where one of the males in the group are assisted to urinate by a male stranger, the humility and potentially condescending aspects.
With regards to mise-en-scene, the shots which are held for a long time at various points create an uncomfortable atmosphere, and the fact that the camera is handheld, and also that the shots are inclusive of great detail (including that of nudity and penetrative sexual activity), add to the shock. This is because they do not romanticise, glamorise or sensationalise any events of aspects including disability. The camera movements and angles grant a raw and honest feel to the film, which leads me to believe that this film bows mainly to the category of visual and graphic shock, as well as the ideological shock of questioning morals, and challenging society’s perspective.
The only romanticism that the film seems to possess lies within the character’s initially naive portrayals of how they view disabled people to be, particularly when they use it to their advantage in the first scene; they deliberately ‘spass out’ to get chucked out of a restaurant and not have to pay.
There seemed a subtle hint of role reversal in the pub scene, where one of the males in the group was ‘spassing’ and stared unabashedly at a physically healthy man because he had a lot of tattoos on each arm, this hinted at the fact that a lot of people stare at disabled people, as they are a ‘social minority’, and I felt that the director made this decision to symbolise equality, to question whether our perspectives of minorities give us the right to hold prejudices.
Generally I would say that adult audiences ranging from young adult to above middle-aged would watch this, not merely because of censorship, but because it tackles a broad subject, and indeed a broad society, therefore potentially snatching the curiosity of many ages of people. However most people are shocked by this film, and many of them are offended by its content, or its violation of implicit textual construct between viewer and film.
I was not shocked or offended by the film, because I am open-minded and accustomed to films that are conventionally deemed shocking, but also because I thought that the film was intelligent, and I looked past what would moralistically be seen as shocking and wrong in order to gauge deeper meaning from it.

Note: I wrote this a long time ago back when I was a film student.

The Bothersome Man

"Den brysomme mannen" DVD cover.

Image via Wikipedia

I watched ‘The Bothersome Man’ (‘Den brysomme mannen’), directed by Jens Lien, quite a while ago, but it stuck with me. These are just my thoughts on it, not a conventional review. (Contains spoilers)

I was impressed by the way the film’s surrealism juxtaposed the very deliberately superficial depiction of reality. The satirical element of the film appears almost to exaggerate the day-to-day monotony of both professional and domestic routine, transforming emotional coldness into emotionlessness, the characters’ wants into complete materialism, and rendering human functions such as eating, drinking and fornication into meaninglessness tasks without pleasure, but with an acknowledgement of the idea of what ‘pleasure’ may be. This would seem to counteract the ideals of hedonism, but actually it appears to depict that the character’s are in fact extremely hedonistic; seeking beauty and luxuries, but that they have merely lost the ideas of what values lie beneath things…the characters seem so preoccupied with the idea of pleasure that they have forgotten what it is to feel it.

This reflects a lot of my own thoughts about reality; that everything is just an idea, and we apply our own meanings, which exist in a rather arbitrary function.
The main character, upon arriving in the city by bus with no memory of how he got there, has his new life laid out before him. Initially the perspectives and reactions of those around him have an impact on him; their normalising of the situation in which he finds himself. He is befuddled into compliance. They introduce him to his new job, apartment, and whole life, plaguing him with inquiries as to his level of comfort, offering him further materialistic elements to assist in his settling in; coffee, more breaks at work, a better desk chair perhaps?
Every piece of dialogue from the characters representing the majority consists of small-talk; what sofa would look nice in our living room? Isn’t that nice? The main character mentions a dream he had to his newfound wife, his attempts at emotional connection obvious, and she silences him as if offended. He realises that he is very different from those around him, all but the man he heard early on talking about how everything tasted of nothing when it once had, and so he seeks this man, finally understanding the implications of his words.
The main character even deliberately instigates an affair, cheating on his wife with a colleague as much in desperate want of emotional connection and passion as to induce negative variants of such in his wife. He realises that both the subject of his affair and his spouse have no real emotion whatsoever, merely complacency and ambivalence.
The parts I found most comical included the lack of sufficient emotional response from his wife; for example, when he informs her he is leaving her and she replies with ‘But we have a dinner party on Saturday, are you leaving before then?’ and when he tells her he is in love with somebody else she merely says ‘Why?’ her face blank as she sips tasteless wine. But the most hilarious of all was after he attempted suicide on the train tracks, but impossibly fails, and is driven home by the mysterious caretakers of the city. He enters, one eye completely crushed, his entire flesh coated with blood and injury, and she gazes at him as if blind to it all and inquires whether he would like to go Go-Carting on Saturday, ‘That would be wonderful’ he breathes helplessly.
I think the reason he was able to find pleasure by the end of the film, which was depicted by him stealing a slice of real cake with real taste from beyond the city, is because he retained a memory of what pleasure really was, the meaning behind it and the feeling, as oppose to merely the idea of it. His escape from the ‘reality’ of the city was through a lot of hardship, for which he required stamina, something the male who spoke of tastelessness in the beginning did not have. One of the ‘morals’ of the tale was that having everything you ‘need’ materially, is not the same as having emotional experiences and ideals, and that real happiness cannot come merely from owning an expensive apartment with attractive interior design, and being able to afford luxuries. So in essence, the film informs the viewer that the hardships and struggles in life are necessary to obtain happiness, rather than clinging to false ideas of perfection.

At one part of the film a man is shown impaled on an iron fence, having committed suicide by jumping from a window. The main character stares with fascination as pedestrians walk by unaffected, and the caretakers of the city approach to remove the body. As they remove him from the fence his intestines slide from his body onto the path, this added gore is not for the sake of ‘horror’, but instead truth, and the obliviousness of the pedestrians is almost deliberate, as if they see only what they want to see, which in many ways reflect the world you and I live in. If there is a suicide on a tube the announcement heard is never ‘We are sorry, there is a delay because sometimes decided they want out of this shit hole so they threw their body in front of the train, allowing it to be crushed to death’, instead it’s usually ‘We are sorry, there is a delay due to a fatality at Holborn’ and then the staff scrub up the blood and carry away the body parts, so as not to offend all of our innocent eyes. This is not a perfect world and it never will be…perfection can never exist because it exists in so many forms in so many minds, and there is no way to please everybody. Perfection is just an idea.

The world just agrees to a set of codes used for communication, a set of rules used for social acceptability and ideals that can be commonly shared…anyone deviating from these will be punished, ridiculed or declared insane (or at least ‘weird’).
If only we could all just be aware of how truly absurd everything is, we could all live much more harmoniously with one another. I am aware completely of the pointlessness of life, yet I still do things knowing that, because no matter what I do or do not do it will not change the facts. Everyone works to live and lives to work, we surrender to human bodily function every time we eat, drink or go to the toilet. Cleaning the dishes means they will be dirtied again and washed again in a cycle that can only be broken if you either do not use dishes or you employ a cleaner to do it for you. Everything is a cycle; not just the cycles of the moon or women’s menstruation, but life itself: Be born, live, reproduce, die. We are no different to those dirty dishes really. I am grateful to all those who choose not to reproduce, or who break the cycle or at least to become aware that it is a cycle. That is not to say that everyone who does otherwise is not aware, maybe they are.
The body sleeps so as to absorb the hours that came before, to process them in the mind so that one may accept and deal with them accordingly, waking more readily to a new day than they would have if they never slept at all. Sleep is like blackmail, we can choose to be insomniacs, but the brain will shut itself down in whatever ways it automatically needs to in order to function. Why do you think genuine insomniacs have so much trouble? Or why do you think troubled people sometimes can’t sleep? Dolphins on the other hand are technically schizophrenic to some extent, being that they never sleep because the left side of the brain sleeps whilst the right is active, and vice versa. It could be argued that they have a better way of functioning.
We are practically staying awake so we can sleep, and sleeping so we can wake. We are born so we can live, and we live so we can die. I say ‘so’ we can, not to insinuate that there is a purpose to each, but that there is a function, we are built to function and that is all. Becoming catatonic wont help, you will still be functioning. In a coma or on life support you are still functional, and there is really nothing at all you can do about it except to eradicate your own existence…but is that not just as pointless as existing? That is, of course, assuming you believe there is nothing beyond life. I do not think there is anything beyond it, and I hope not.
One could touch upon a great deal of philosophical or ideological arguments here; bring in religion, as so many tend to do, perhaps. But my writing this is based on the supposition that there is no God, and no magic or wizardry, no life beyond this, and no past lives either.

Just a few of my top films

Cover of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:...

Cover via Amazon

Only 15 of the first ones to pop into my head. Many are missing.

1)    A Clockwork Orange
2)    Lost Boys
3)    The Idiots
4)    Freaks
5)    Groundhog day
6)    Tideland
7)    The Sopranos
8)    Logan’s run
9)    Fight Club
10)  Creepshow
11) Beetlejuice
12) Edward scissorhands
13) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
14) Natural born killers
15) Vampire hunter D

Nazi siege in the present?

Sergey Larenkov shows us exactly what it is to merge present images of locations such as Lenigrad, and to combine them with old photographs of the same locations. In particular he merges those depicting the Siege of Lenigrad, the siege being of Axis (Nazi) objective.

This has the effect of forcing viewers to realise that those who are old or dead were also young once, and intensifies the realisation that such events really happened, it forces them into present relevence.

Of course what makes the images most prominent is the stark contrast between the suffering of the past, and the safe indulgence of the present; but some people feel the past is just the past and will never be repeated on any level. Yet awful things still do happen in the world, maybe not on this scale in Western culture, but there is still suffering, and it helps if we realise our own fragile mortality, and that just because times change, it does not mean everything should be forgotten or buried.

(If I have made any errors or inaccuracies, please let me know and they will be ammended.)

Skeleton writing

Embarrassed skeleton grin,
Stink of retire curled within,
Stagnant blood clot on brittle bone,
Abandoned by the body you own,
Origami dreams aflame,
The ideas you never gave a name.

By Ruth Noakes

(And the origami skeleton figure is by Marc Kirschenbaum)

Betrayal, animation by Murtaza Khaliq

http://www.aniboom.com/animator-portfolio/murtaxa

I found it rather trippy and engaging. The deliberate jolting and digital interference, which although are commonly used techniques, really suited this piece, as they made it feel as if the whole thing were from CCTV surveillance footage, adding to the sense of paranoia and pursuit.

John Lennon Animation (by Raskin, Braithwaite and Kurina)

‘In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack. A spellbinding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit and timeless message, I Met the Walrus was nominated for the 2008 Academy Award for Animated Short and won the 2009 Emmy for ‘New Approaches’ (making it the first film to win an Emmy on behalf of the internet).’

Found it ages ago and think it’s good to watch when tired, just a distant muffle of the past. The interview itself isn’t groundbreaking, it’s much like all other Lennon interviews, and I don’t blindly worship him. I like the animation though, being that I am very into animation.