Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Waltz with Bashir is an undeniably tragic story, even mildly morbid piece of history spun in such a way that entertains the mind, opens the eyes, and leaves you wondering how war can look so pretty and be so painful. The piece opens with an intensely strong scene of wild dogs running the streets of a city in Lebanon, then leads you into the story of Ari Folman’s journey to uncover a memory that has been lost for over 30 years and in doing so walks you directly into a dream state of the terror that these seemingly fictional characters have all been suffering from since passing of the event.

Throughout the piece it is hard to discerning between the cartoony characters on the screen and the depth of tragedy in the stories being told. Hypnotic animation and mentally challenging colors draw you in and give the feeling that you are listening to some distant horrors from a door cracked at the end of a long, cold, half lit hallway. Seeing the artistic display of Lebanon and life in the middle east cut with scenes from the tragic realities of the war, leaves a strange connection with what we know about how war has shredded through towns and lives of the people that lived it and what we don't. Building on the filmmaker’s interest in solving his mental block from lost events, he goes on to uncover old comrades and well studied therapist who guide him gently through the process. Edited with action scenes and conversations that are pieced together seamlessly with music, it gives both the retelling and the undoing in one bite and finds a way to drift past your inhabitations about the Middle East and open your eyes to some of the realities.

In the end, the therapy not only assists in aiding the life of the filmmaker and those involved, it also reaches out and touches the audience with a smack of reality that wakes you up to the sound of war as a form of resolution. As it comes to its end you are left with what resides within the minds of those who served, understanding better why for them it’s left as a distant memory down a long hallway in the form of a cartoon, and look within yourself for the people you pass that may have been in that place.

I encourage and hope you take the time to watch this and form your own opinions and if you do feel free to comment or email your thoughts to me.


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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Manufactured Landscapes is a surprisingly good piece about photographer Edward Burtynsky's documentation of global production and its effects on the planet. Initially I felt like I might be watching a mark off of the film Baraka (Ron Fricke, 1992) one of my personal favorites, however as it progresses through romanticized shots of tonka truck manufacturing and big wheel strip mining it began to define itself in slightly different terms.

Opening with a long rolling dolly shot of a giant production plant in China and through what Burntynsky says are, “the largest industrial incursions I could find" the piece does a good job of grabbing your visual attention and putting you in a place to listen. Still photos of changed landscapes, wide zooms of mass pollution, and sweeping pans displaying change coming from the hand of humans make you feel like a giant looking down on an anthill.

Discarded motherboards that look something like a strange pile of blue-green haze are the opening pages to the middle of the film. Up to this point we moved slowly through the story building the concept, but now with the show of technological debris, it starts to become more poignant. The burning, striping, and discarding of these technological recyclables into unmanaged locations where computer parts were left to pollute the waterways and clutter the landscape, was something that stuck out and I started to feel somewhat misguided by the likable term “recyclable goods”. Furthering the point of recylables by thumbing through massive container ship yards and then full circle to seeing them laying in muddy graves where they are torn apart for scraps. It was overwhelming to see both our great accomplishments and there demise.

Closing it out, Burtynsky doesn't point a finger. Rather he leaves you wondering in awe at how much bigger it is than yourself and what can we do to improve it. Seeing the mountain size gashes in landscapes, the colossal carcasses of container ships, and an endless numbers of crane arms working their piles of dirt makes ones mind reel. His message points to our course on the planet, the path we have chosen, and the effects it is having and leaves you to decide what to do.


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