Monday, June 29, 2009

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes

I walked into Muse Music tonight at roughly 2 minutes before 10pm, expecting to be greeted by a crowd of "indie" film go-ers, excited for a screening. No, was the case. I sat down on one of the few couches in the Muse performance room, as I listened and watched aspiring musicians on "open-mic" night. As the performance cleared out and the room emptied, I sat alone in the near dark, wondering why there was a red, neon "PEOPLE" sign on the adjacent wall. 'The Muse' owner walked in and I had a chat with him about film night. I asked him what film would be shown and he handed me a case, with a film entitled:

Aguirre, The Wrath of God

I was surprised to see that it was written and directed by 
Werner Herzog. It was in German. I gave myself an inner 'high-five' and continued making small talk with the late-arriving patrons. Eventually, all neon and artificial lights were turned off, and the film began.

The script was quietly comedic, the editing was invisible, and the cinematography was 'in-your face'. In fact, the film won awards at two different festivals for its genius of cinematography. The film began with a caravan of Spanish treasure-seeking soldiers/slaves/noblemen hiking down a mountain out of the clouds. There were no film tricks, and no light loads borne by any of the cast. I felt like Herzog really captured reality for the traveling party. There were no dramatic pauses, no focus on the individual. There were long shots, long sequences of the group getting through mud, or just floating slowing down the river on a raft. He was not afraid to let the camera run. It caused such tension throughout the film.

The story was of a mutinous commanding officer, whose only desire was to reach the city of El Dorado. The story was told from the journal of the catholic priest who was aboard the convoy. I must admit, the first 35 minutes of so of the film are a blur for me, because the lady with the dreadlocks sitting next to me let her child abuse me as if I were a jungle gym. It all adds to the atmosphere. The film never left you with a happy, uplifting sort of feeling, but it did drag feelings and echoes of the old 'human nature' question out. I don't suppose there was any intended moral for Herzog, I felt like he was trying to present the film to be as true to reality as possible...and I feel like he succeeded. I did not walk out of the Muse at 11:45pm feeling as if I had been in another world for over the hour and a half I spent there, I felt as if i had experienced a little piece of history. There were no cross cuts to sub-plot among sub-plot, or jumps from the present to the past or distant future. All the action in the film was semi-continuous, even as sometimes week seem to slip by without our noticing. The ending was great. It left the deliriously greedy commanding officer on the raft, with monkeys everywhere, and his ranks dead from hunger and indians. He stood, as delirious as he ever was, expecting to overcome the world. 

I don't think this film is a 'must have' or even really a 'must see', but it was well done.
The best part of the night, still (aside from hearing a whole movie worth of german), was walking out of Muse at nearly midnight and having the street to myself as I walked to my car. 

A Tentative List for Culture

In the upcoming 6-8 weeks, i have to attend 6-8 cultural events, spanning from categories like Dancing all way down to Film Screenings. We were asked to make a tentative plan for said cultural events, and I'll post them here, so that all who may read and wish to come with can make their voices known. The List:

-Monday, 6-29-09, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in South Jordan

-Friday, 7-11-09, Ballet Under the Stars, Murray City Arts Council.

-Thursday, 7-16-09, Utah Museum of Fine Arts in SLC at UU

-Tuesday (7-21-09) or Friday (7-24-09), Deer Valley Music Festival with the Utah Symphony

Monday, 7-27-09, 10:00 pm, Weekly Film Screening at the Orem Public Library

Thursday, 8-6-09, Sundance Summer Theatre “The Fantasticks”. 

other tentative events:
-Sandy's Farmers Market
-(Every Thursday) SLC Twilight Concert Series

If you wish to be a part, let me know.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Miracle of Miracles Pageant

The clouds reached over the mountains, threatening clear sky above our heads, as we sat middle-center waiting for the Manti Miracle Pageant to begin. The sun went down, leaving a nightlight effect to our left, and the moon slowing fell behind clouds and reappeared. People in, on, and with blankets were sitting, laying, and racing up and down rows of metal 'picnic' chairs when the lights dim and an announcement was made that the Star Spangled Banner would be sung.

When the narrator started his introduction into the Joseph Smith story, I knew it was going to be a long night. The storyline, the visuals, and the acting was all very well done, I thought. The voices! Oh, the voices. The narrator's voice was one that i couldn't place at first. I knew I had heard it before, but where? When the depicted Angel Moroni appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and eerie music, coupled with the announcer's eerie voice told the story of his visitation, it hit me abruptly exactly where i had heard that voice before.

I kid you not, after all the auditioning, casting, and training, the pageant directors chose for a narrator, a man who sounded just like the "Twilight Zone" guy. Amid spurts of boyish giggling, there were plenty of opportunities throughout the pageant to compose myself and be uplifted.

The Pageant recounted the events of Joseph Smith's life, The Pioneers' trek and struggles, and the founding of the Lamanite and Nephite Nations (and their respective downfalls). The presentation was full of beautiful choreography that can only be enacted on a huge hill. Lamanite Warriors poured down the hill in droves attacking Nephite sentries. Fire spouted out of volcanoes as Lamanite (and later Nephite) citizens worshipped idols. Children raced up the hill between parents as Christ explained, "Bring forth your children, that I may bless them!" It looked like little streams of people were flowing up the hill between the land masses of adults. It just looked cool. Angelic choirs, dressed in white, sang from the temple walls. Spotlights would illuminate "still-life" representations (people who were standing still) as the narrator told their story. The best part of the evening came as the night approached. At any inspiring part of the presentation, one could look up and ponder while looking at the starts. There is a certain feeling that comes when you heard the words of the Gospel performed under the milky ways of the night sky. The atmosphere really made the performance. It didn't hurt one bit to have good company, whom you can turn and laugh or also contemplate with.

As lights dimmed and stories completed, I could almost hear the narrator saying,

"And we'll see you next time on...The Twilight Zone."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Class Discussion

"memento mori" (n.) - an object serving as a warning or reminder of death. 
Literal Translation from the Latin--> remember (that you have) to die.

When these were the first words written on the board in our first discussion in my Humanities class this week, the worried muscles in my body started twitching. Ironically enough, learning that my current professor (what do you call a female professor?) was/is a grad. student working on a thesis about 'Zombie Movies' calmed me right now. 

I really enjoy both classes I am currently in, not necessary due to easiness, but do to curriculum discussion. I guess the first week or so of any given course (at least 100 level) is spent in discussing the "Philosphy of.." the given subject. Important, is not only to study the subject matter, but to know WHY. Last class, we talked a little about becoming complete human beings, and how the study of the Arts makes us more humane. I'm not really one to buy into super idealistic statements (call me pessimistic or experienced, either way), but I do feel like connecting to a another person, through their little piece of art, and also awakening thought processes within oneself, can really help us develop as human beings. More importantly, I think it helps us develop as compassionate human beings. It also just makes like a lot more rich. And who doesn't want to be rich?

I took this picture at the HUGE cathedral in Cologne, Germany. What do you think? I'd say it's a Gothic piece.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coming to My Senses: Reading #1

I roamed the rows of the BYU Bookstore on two different occasions, for significant amounts of time in search of the book, Coming To Your Senses: Making Sense of the Arts, 8th Edition by Jon D. Green. In the end, it was all thanks to a girl on the BYU Bookstore Help Desk Squad, who ran into the storage room and grabbed me a book before they ever hit the pallets. Thank you Help Desk girl. Anyway, this is all very pressing, because of the reading assignment that was given for HUM 101, due on the 24th, which required my owning said book. And as a digressive side note, whoever's idea it was to organize books according to Author's last name, instead of course, I give my thanks to that person. I never had so much ease in finding book (no sarcasm intended) on the BYU campus.

I mentioned in a previous post about the 'refreshing' nature of an education. I felt mighty educated after reading the first three chapters of Coming To Your Senses: I felt as if I had, oddly enough, came a bit more to my senses. Although I did find the severity placed on the subject of getting a "general", "holistic" education, versus over-specializing in any given field, was at times hyperbolic, with statements like:
"The PhD should cease to be the sine qua non for the appointment of college teachers...The members of a college faculty should not be professors of this or that subject matter, or even members of this or that department in that graduate school...[but rather] should be completely autonomous, completely emancipated from the influence of graduate school. The elective system, with its majors and minors, should be abolished." (Green, p.5)
but then completely would redeem itself with coupling sentences such as:
"Parents should not send their young to college and the young should go to college not, as at present, mainly to acquire highly salable skills or to earn good livings, but solely for the purpose of becoming cultured human beings Corporations should recognize that the most important posts they have to offer can be better filled by broadly trained generalists than by narrowly trained specialists." (Green, p. 6)

I think all college students everywhere need to hear that. We often get 'caught up' in the obvious need of "providing", and forget the very essential purpose in an education, which is, to develop a character that understands and comprehends. An education was always about learning, and from learning and doing, we will be providing and also giving. Those quotes were refreshing.

I loved the stress that the text placed upon actually experiencing art, culture, and thereby life. Art seems to speak to those parts of of our created masses that can't be satisfied by material matter or mere consumption, but rather by understanding the expressions and impressions of another person. 
"Sometimes the best fare is not that "tasty" (easily accessible) at the outset; it takes time to assimilate, but the result is often more emotionally and intellectually nutritious than what the media serves up for mass consumption." (Green, p. x)
I saw a movie tonight called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I did not find it impressive in any technical film regard, but I surprisingly enjoyed it thoroughly. The editing was atrocious, the sound unimpressive, the cinematography nearly offensive, and the acting overbearing. I learned from my freshman year TMA 102 Professor (Dean Duncan, awesome) to ask yourself, "What is trying to be said, what does the director/writer/cinematographer want to say here?" 

I loved the message of the film. I loved the main character's integrity, Jefferson Smith. He left us on this line, which corresponds with a snip out of the reading, Jefferson says at the end to his friend/fellow senator who betrays him, "I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too. Because of just one, plain, simple rule: Love thy neighbor. And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine, and I loved you for it, just as my father did. And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them, like a man we both knew, Mr. Paine." You might have to watch the film to feel the impact of that scene.

The corresponding quote in the reading was, "It matters that we learn to feel deeply about another's suffering or success, because we grow most by sharing each other's burdens trough communicating sympathy and understanding. The arts are a particularly exacting forms of human communication." (Green, p. 10)

The reading was interesting. It was somewhat critical on sciences, and favorable of the more mantic studies. But art is about joining the two and having emotion with reason. I think art is trying to achieve what Henry David Thoreau expressed as a miracle when he said, "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"

That is the true aim of all art, and our goal in experiencing all forms of art: to see the world through the eyes of another, and become a caring and informed critic of such.

Flowing Waters

I am calling this blog my, "New Approach at Blogging". The past 4 days have found me in new settings, that invoke memories. I left Antioch in the early hours of the morning (4:45 am) east-bound for Provo, UT. I call this new blog "flowing waters" because such has resembled my thoughts on life and its situations lately. Sitting in church, class, and other overwhelming 'social' events have made me feel as if I were sitting in a stream of flowing waters, being tossed to and fro. Viewed in different light, moments of socializing (after 2 years of zero contact to the outside world) have cooled otherwise plaguing sores that come when a person's social interaction is minimal with his/her peers. But most recently and most applicable, is the refreshment that comes from the "flowing water" of school and secular education. Which, once again applicable, is why I am even writing this blog. 

I am enrolled in two classes this summer semester: American Heritage 100 and Humanities 101. Both classes have relatively "bad rep's", but so far (after one class period) I find them both refreshing. For my HUM 101 class, we received the assignment of blogging, 3 times /week, on different subjects. I will limit all blogging activities to these purposes. So, to all you followers out there, you will get to experience the Arts through my eyes for the next 8 weeks...and hopefully see them through new eyes of your own.

P.s. I typed "Humanities" into Google Image and this picture came up through the search engine. I agree, Google Image. I agree.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Following Preview

Looking for some cheap inspiration lately, i have been found perusing the "Trailers" page of the Apple Website with my brother at all hours of the day. I love film. Maybe even moreso, i love trailers. Trailers are to movies what quotes are to books. You don't have to flip page after page incessantly, mulling over the average to get to the inspiring..but rather, you can get a short, sweet taste of the inspired all at once. Yes yes, i learn to prize the good from experiencing the bad. You enjoy the action scenes of a Hollywood movie (my reference to Hollywood films does not express my approval of such) only after you have endured the inevitable monologues. You pump your fist triumphantly once you reach the climax of a book, but soon forgotten were the hours spent climbing the slow grade of "the rising action", with its occasional plateaus. What I'm basically trying to say is that movie trailers are great, and now in post production is a movie that I was at first skeptial about..but after seeing the trailer, am very anxious to see. Here was a little piece of enjoyment in my little world of trailers this week. It is called "Where the Wild Things Are"..know it?

Director: Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich)

Written By: Dave Eggers (Away We Go)

Cinematography: Lance Acord (Lost in Translation, Adaptation, Marie Antoinette)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Define Life

I started a project a few months ago called "Define Life". It deals with defining words, obviously. It was basically started because i felt like life wasn't inspired enough, and i thought "Define Life" might cause some necessary inspiration. Anyway, i was asked recently to define the word 'home'. Since being home, i have felt a lot like Zach Braff in Garden State when he said:
"You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your stuff, that idea of home is gone.
"You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place."
i would add my definition of home:
home (n) - is foremost the place where we feel unconditionally loved and listened to..but can also be the memories of a place, where we first learned and were taught about life, where we took our first steps, spoke our first words, and learned our first lessons about what is truly important--that is, people and relationships.

What does home mean to you?

Artichokes, Cheese, and Carmel

So, we took the semi-annual williams' family Carmel trip this past week, but the numbers were reduced to 3 Adults and 1 Child. Admission price? A desire to eat, eat, eat. We off towards Carmel/Monterey.

We took a pitstop in Watsonville, for the "bathrooms"..but more importantly, for the renouned 'fried artichoke hearts'. There is a recommended intake of 3-4; more would be detrimental to health, less would be an appetitive impossibilty. A picture is not provided here because fingers were far too greasy to handle camera taking devices.

We made it to Carmel and walked along the main street (San Carlos) for a little while. We stopped at Bakeries, Candy Stores, Toy Stores, and a little Cheese Shop. We saw a couple of german people and I once again got to speak a little "Deutsch" with people who lived 15 minutes away from Darmstadt (my last area). Refreshing. We sat down afterwards in a little park to enjoy a few cuts of cheese.

We didn't call it a day there, though. Monterey was on the way home, so we stopped, ate some seafood, got some Dippin Dots and then started back home.
A list of foods purchased/eaten:
-mint fudge
-peanut butter cups
-carmel discs
-gummi frogs
-cinnamon pretzel
-suger pastry thing
-3 assortments of cheese w/ crackers
-fish (rockfish, crab sandwich, fish 'n' chips)
-Dippin Dots
What a day. Thanks Bryce & Christina and Hudson.