I recently discovered the work of artist Owen Klaas. He is a painter who sells his work through his company Fiendish Thingies. When I first saw his paintings, I was astounded. These pieces were dark and moody, and seemed to owe a lot to the German Expressionist films of the 1920s. They were primarily landscapes, featuring bare, ragged trees, angular mountains, and lonely paths winding through the darkness. It’s what the world would be like through the eyes of Dr. Caligari.
And yet these paintings were not altogether hopeless. They did not seem to be mere exercises in a melancholy, eerie tone. Were they simply that, I don’t think I’d have looked twice; I’d have noted the unique visual quality and moved on. However, there was something about Klaas’ work that grabbed me. Within most of the paintings, in the midst of harsh and drab landscapes, there was often a single element that stood out; a splash of color or vitality that broke up the isolated sadness of this world.
This was most clear to me in his piece “Light My Path”. In it, we have a large, ominous full moon shining down on a mountainous forest. In a clearing, however, we have a lone tree, leafless and skeletal. This tree grows next to a narrow path that winds its way towards the far off mountains. Hanging just above the path, from the lowest branch on the tree, is a lantern. It is lit, but doesn’t seem to give off much light. Just enough to illuminate this specific section of the path, it would seem.
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them. – T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding
You can trace every wrinkle on her face. She speaks carefully, measuring each word. Every now and then, she strokes the necklace around her throat. Surrounded by nothing but the studio’s pitch blackness, she seems suspended timelessly in time and space. She looks ahead with now sightless eyes, her vision fixed on something we cannot see. Her words hang in the still air, unpunctuated by narration, music or sound effects. She is 105 years old. She is Brunhilde Pomsel, former stenographer for Dr. Joseph Goebbels.
Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows is an effective little creature feature about a young woman trapped on a rock in the ocean, two hundred yards from shore and terrorized by a huge great white shark. As the tide rises and the rock slowly begins to disappear, our heroine must figure out how to outsmart the shark and get back to the beach. Everything is fairly straightforward and the film is sturdily-made, featuring a handful of thrills and a sustained tension throughout.
In this episode, Tyler and Robert discuss the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Brad Silberling’s Moonlight Mile.
00:00:44- Intro, The MTOL Top 50 Movies
00:03:50- Finding Dory review, Thank God for Scary Movies, VidAngel
00:20:30- Inside Llewyn Davis
01:09:10- Moonlight Mile
01:41:27- Tragedy, loss, helping, and Tyler has a breakdown
As is my custom, on the first of every year, I put together a list of movies that are now ten years old. At first, it came from a place of, “Hey, can you believe these movies are this old now?!” As time has gone on, though, I find myself using movies as a sort of touchstone for where I was in my life at that time, both as a moviegoer and as a person.
I was in my high school English class when I first learned about poetry from John Keating. I was working my first job at a video rental store when I witnessed Sean Maguire put Will Hunting on the right path in life. I was eleven years old when I first heard the Genie say, “You ain’t never had a friend like me!”
These names are just characters, like countless others in the world of fiction and film. But these particular names, along with so many others like Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Mork from Ork (nanu, nanu) were brought to life by the incomparable Robin Williams.
Several years ago (on my Myspace blog, if you’re looking for a time stamp), I started what would become a yearly tradition for me. At the beginning of every new year, I look back at movies that were released ten years prior. At first, it was a way to get nostalgic and make myself feel old. However, as time has gone on, I’ve really come to enjoy looking back at some of the more notable movies that have been around- either in the pop culture or in my head- for a full decade. Just thinking about these movies in relation to one another makes me think back fondly to who I was as a person and as a movie watcher ten years ago. Some movies that I only kind of liked have grown significantly in my head, while others that I really enjoyed have faded from my memory. I saw a good number of these films with my girlfriend, who I asked to marry me ten years ago, shortly before I graduated from college. It was ten years ago that I got a job at Blockbuster, right around the time that it made the official change from VHS to DVD and tried to implement its “No More Late Fees” policy to try to keep up with Netflix; of course, we now know how that turned out.
Indeed, 2004 was a significant year in my life and thinking back on the films that were important to me provides a nice framework with which to reflect on how far I have come in that time. I would welcome you all to do the same.
Happy New Year!
The following movies are now ten years old:
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
DAWN OF THE DEAD
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
KILL BILL VOL. 2
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR
SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW
I HEART HUCKABEES
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE
THE POLAR EXPRESS
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU