the meaning of life, moving pictures, etc
"While emoji offer creative expression within their own terms, they also may confine us to a type of communicative monoculture. What’s more, emoji also hold out the promise of emotional standardization in the service of data analysis: if a feeling can be summed up in a symbol, then theoretically that feeling can be more easily tracked, categorized, and counted."
"At its best, politics is able to organize extremely complex world views into manageable and communicable systems so they can be grappled with and studied abstractly. But even the most noble efforts to organize the world are essentially futile. The best we can usually achieve is a crude and messy map of life from one particular vantage point, featuring a few grids, bullet points, and sketches of its various aspects and landmarks. Anything as infinitely complex as life, reality, and the human experience can never be summed up or organized in a definitive system, especially one based on “left or right,” “A or B,” “us or them.”"
"The way I work, where the movies are improvised and the actors are like, writing them with me, is fundamentally different from the get-go. I’m asking [the actors] to bring a lot more than most people are. I’m asking them to share themselves in a different kind of way. I have been on sets — not my own — where somebody doesn’t want to do something and the answer is, “Well, tough shit. You signed the contract. You took the money.” That’s so different from the kind of relationship I’m in with the people I work with, where usually they’re not being paid, and contracts don’t get signed until much later when distribution already exists. It’s like the movies are being entered into as a friendship, as relationships."
Partly the problem is Pawlikowski’s insistence on keeping Anna so silent, rarely letting her speak, so that we can only infer what might be happening in her mind and heart. Such inferences are made from closeups, rapturously beautiful but also stark and discomfiting, that evoke the luminous facial studies of Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. Pawlikowski heightens his film’s mystery—and beauty—at the risk of making the character at the heart of it truly enigmatic. I would have liked to hear more.
But this is perhaps to fault a film for its strength. Ida sets itself on stillness and silence, and in so doing, takes aim at difficult and rewarding ironies."
"When the film ended I just sat in my seat. I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t want to go anywhere. This isn’t a post-screening lobby film. You don’t quite mill about after. What could anybody possibly say? In part, that sense of speechlessness is a response to the film’s muted artistry. In part, it’s a response to the movie’s transparency. For instance, you sometimes think the n-word has lost its power to appall, and yet every time it is used in 12 Years a Slave — as an appellation, a title, or a matter of fact — it hurts."
"Phil Connors is the modern-day Sisyphus, sequaciously rolling his boulder with the greatest effort, and greatest trepidation, to the very peak of the mountain, only for the gods to wish it down once again to the bottom. Groundhog Day is the only Hollywood film—hell, the only film in the history of cinema […] —to truly delve into the abyss of Camus’ absurdist nightmare (or dream, I suppose)."
~ “Imagining Sisyphus Happy: A Groundhog Day Retrospective,” Ali Arikan, Slant
These pieces are great not in spite of the fact that they were written quickly, but because of it. Writing fast means writing on instinct. When you write on instinct you can’t do much second-guessing or revising. You have to give up your inhibitions and let your fingertips dance on the keys. Sometimes the result is gibberish. But other times it’s better than you would have done if you’d had more time, because it comes from a pure place. The core of your being — the deep self that emerges during sports, dream-sleep, and sex — stands up, cracks its knuckles, and tells the conscious mind, “Move over, kid. I’m driving.”
As a reader, when you stumble on the second kind of piece, you feel a sense of elation."
"For reasons I cannot determine my Fitbit died. I was devastated when I tapped the broadest part of it and the little dots failed to appear. Then I felt a great sense of freedom. It seemed that my life was now my own again. But was it? Walking twenty-five miles, or even running up the stairs and back, suddenly seemed pointless, since, without the steps being counted and registered, what use were they?"
About nine years ago, I started going to a church in which we knelt and verbally confessed our sin to God every single week. A few weeks in, I realized I was getting frustrated because every time I knelt down, I realized I’d just done that last week, and I had a whole new set of things to confess. And I would next week. And next week. And for the rest of my life.
And then I realized that was sort of the point.
Artists understand this intuitively—and, what’s more, can speak to it directly and model a right response by being faithful to their own calling. Every time they fall, they get up again, buoyed by the grace of what they are called to do in their very being."