Wednesday, 8 May 2019

conversations with strangers (chapter two): a little sick inside

May 08, 2019 1 Comments
A film still from Jeune et Jolie (Young and Beautiful), dir. Francois Ozon, 2013

I don't believe in good or bad people. I don't believe in the personality of words thrown against you. I don't believe that people can take the judgments of others personally because people don't really see you for who you are. People don't really see what lies above the complications and contradictions, and people don't seem to be interested in wanting to know those hidden complexities that define you. People only see an image of you that they've created in their own heads or an image of yourself that you've imposed upon the world whether conscious or unconscious of that own projection... people only know you for what they seek and what they want. People only know you from a superficial framework of assumption and false deduction, and it can be terrifying to know that every single one of us has been and will constantly be an unwanted victim of black and white thinking. An unwanted victim of fixed perspective. An unwanted victim of "walking automatons" unwilling to break free from their own monstrosities and hypocrisies. An unwanted victim of alienation and constantly being misunderstood by the rest of the world. Sometimes, not knowing how to cope or deal with that facet of loneliness and undesired self-victimization. Sometimes, not knowing if you're losing yourself in overthinking, and losing yourself in trying to maintain humble, benevolent energy.

Film stills from Chungking Express, dir. Wong Kar Wai, 1994
The thought of constant suffering. The thought of neverending mistakes. The thought of imposing pain upon yourself and others. It's the thought of the unbalanced sense of self. The sort of sense that makes you question whether or not you deserve the forgiveness of others, or whether or not the mistakes you make are a matter of seeking forgiveness in your own voice than through the words of other people. The worthlessness of meaningless and insincere apologies. The worthlessness of being dragged down by the past, and consuming yourself in guilt over people who never really cared for you in the first place. People who point their fingers to blame you for your vulnerable form of admittance and honesty... People who point their fingers in hopes to see you crash and fall by imposing a scapegoated titled upon you... People who are unaware of the destructiveness of their desire for normalcy and perfection... People who are baffled by those who confidently revel in their own faults and flaws... People wholly consumed by their ego to the point where they can't fathom accepting their innate imperfections, and how denying their own sense of flawed humanity is the worst form of unrealized self-destruction.

Film stills from Taxi Driver, dir. Martin Scorsese, 1976
Sometimes there's no time and place for apologies and forgiveness. Sometimes there's no place for conversations to happen when you lose something in yourself, or when someone has lost something over you. 

The latter case is difficult to accept. The latter case comes with the consequence of short term pain. The latter case is allowing yourself to drown in the reflection of your own sins, and allowing other people to temporarily define you through the monstrosity you choose to unveil to the world. A form of cleansing yourself from the past to move on from the burden of insecurities... to move on from the burden of hatred... to move on from the perpetual toxicity of self-victimization. The antagonizing state of laws of attraction gone wrong. The antagonizing state of trying to figure out when to pick yourself up, and how to pick yourself up safely. Deconstructing the illusion of sanity, and trying to land on both of your feet with a steady stance ready to face the chaotic state of the world and your existence - because nobody wants to hear the truth. Nobody wants to hear the truth as much as it can be the only weapon to set yourself free from chains that have been dragging you down to the past. Nobody wants to follow that instinct in the back of their hearts and minds consuming the subconscious thought that sometimes you need to take that extra step of courage. That sometimes you have to admit to yourself when you have wronged and robbed and stolen the light in yourself and other people. That sometimes it's okay to revel in your imperfections because you can only grow through suffering and pain to bring yourself back to the balanced sense of self. The idealized and realistic form of existence - a neutral form of awareness.

Loneliness is less physical than we've been brought up to believe. Loneliness can manifest beyond a point of isolation whether imposed or involuntary. You learn a lot from just being by yourself, only to realize how loneliness hits you the deepest when you're surrounded by so many people asking and taking, giving and receiving. Coming in and out of your life as if you belong to them, and they're in this entitled position to take hold of all your precious time and space. Take hold of every inch of your life as if you are nothing of autonomous value... devoid of freedom and individuality... pigeonholed to their own superficial standard of supposition... They are people who foolishly correlate isolation to loneliness... people who don't see value in what you can learn from being on your own rather than intervening and diving into the existence of others. Avoid those unwilling to respect your time and space. Avoid those who try to dictate your thoughts and beliefs. Avoid those who constantly define you through their own assumptions and the superficiality of physical illusions, because you are not in their best interest. You are not the people they truly want to know, and you are not the people they truly want to rescue. They are not friends, but unconscious enemies of the body and soul. Only you know what's best for yourself, and the more you learn to revel through an individualist framework the stronger you'll become as a person.     

A film still from Carmen, dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1983

Monday, 22 April 2019

admiring the artistry of harmony korine

April 22, 2019 0 Comments
(image found via Pinterest)
NOTE: An article I wrote for a personal project when I was 15, but never bothered to complete or share. 

The hype was fuelled in 1995. Aside from Bill Clinton's presidency, the OJ Simpson trials, James Bond's return to Hollywood, the world of independent film would be introduced to the cinematic prodigy Harmony Korine, who as a young teenager was discovered by photographer Larry Clark whilst skating in Washington Square Park. At this point, the auteur had just dropped out of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU) in hopes to make a living off of professional skateboarding. Following the footsteps of former, ambitious creatives, structured academia appeared limiting to his creative abilities. Clark acknowledging this sentiment and impressed by his visions of pushing the boundaries of cinema requested Korine pen a script to display his talent as an aspiring screenwriter and director. The result of this demand was a cult classic film about the dangers of promiscuity, AIDS, and grungy teenaged delinquents. The cult classic was named Kids. Through the release of Kids, Korine managed to grab the attention of prominent individuals within the industry. Praised by legendary film critic Roger Ebert, and directors like Gus Van Sant and Werner Herzog, it was clear that the young skater would be an auteur in the making; however, much like current hipster credentials lacking in social agency, influential praise would not be enough to please general audiences, most of whom were disgusted by the film's "shallow" depiction of 90s youth culture. Labeled as child pornography by outraged parents and mainstream media news outlets, the film was labeled a raunchy NC-17 by the MPAA. Contrary to adult efforts to limit the screening of the film, it had grossed $7 million dollars through the summer of 1995, encouraging CNN to place efforts in making clear that it's growing success with youth could be a 'poisonous attack' on teenaged social culture.

Following the rise of Kids, Korine was offered $1 million dollars of production budget to direct his first and own film Gummo (1997) - a movie depicting the mundanity and depravity of the lives of people living in Xenia, Ohio, a town within America left in the shambles of the aftermath of a tornado storm in the 1970s. Once again, the film was a visual portrayal of the extreme and obscure lifestyle of the hidden and unheard sociocultural minorities of youth culture within America. The film could be described and on many occasions has been described as an emblem of "white trash" cinema and culture. Which it is important to note, that the term "white trash" may lend itself to carrying the weight of negative connotations and that such common description and perception of what is definitive of Korine's work acts as a potential propagator of the extreme, binary criticism of loving or hating his filmography as an observer of art. In debuting as his first film, and his second cinematic project, the screening, and viewership of Gummo introduced the cinematic community to stylistic choices of filmmaking that essentially led to an acknowledgment of Korine as auteur filmmaker. Here was a director who created cinema with the autonomy of a novelist. Here was a director who created cinema with a highly-monitored and controlled execution of the personal vision. Yet here was a director whose fascination with the world was driven by a curiosity of the neglected aspects of society. Who were the people that nobody wanted to see? Who were the people that nobody wanted to listen to? Most importantly, what are the human behaviors that repulse the masses, and why are we willing to neglect and suppress an investigation of vice-ridden decadence. Thus, whilst his unconventional approach to filmmaking and the absurdity of the subject matter he depicted was offputting on a mainstream level, his cultic status was derivative of his controversial originality. Perhaps, it is not a matter of personal tastes or aesthetics, but a matter of the social symptom and influence of an auteur's filmography. 



Described as "the most hated man in art-house cinema", a "winning freak show ring leader", what are we to make of Harmony Korine and his notorious style of provocateur filmmaking? What are we to make of the regressive debauchery, as hipster credentials are supposedly an invalidation of his depiction of decline and degeneracy? Inevitably, his investigation of the polarizing nature of youth and adulthood, virtue and sin, appears to be discursively limited to hipster credentials or overbearing commentary from pretentious cinephiles and film studies academics, but it appears that his artistic liberty is suppressed by forces of both "high" and "low" art. It appears that his work has suffocated in being appreciated by what can be considered a "niche" to both casual moviegoers and hardcore film buffs alike, and I'd like to step aside and question: who is Harmony Korine as an auteur, and how can we better understand the binary state of the critical reception of his filmography throughout the last two decades? The common threat to his artistic liberty is that he drops the eccentricities or quits film-making all together, and while no one is forcing anyone to watch anything made by the auteur since when has it been okay to say the words "stop" or "no" in art? Love him or hate him, he seems the type to want to continue expressing his vision through a visual manifestation of his life experiences and a community of outcasts he assumingly identifies with or is enticed by. It's been two decades since his cinematic prime, and though his name is scarcely mentioned, Korine still manages to maintain his "niche" and dedicated fanbase of film enthusiasts, artistic outcasts, and all sorts of other people enticed by the madness and chaotic depiction of youth culture in his films.