Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

07
Sep
12

I don’t usually reblog things, but this is so well written I want everybody to read it.

Shapely Prose

Phaedra Starling is the pen name of a romance novelist and licensed private investigator living in small New York City apartment with two large dogs.  She practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes world-class apricot muffins.

Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection…

View original post 1,626 more words

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05
Jul
12

Oddunout

18
Apr
11

O Horror Where Art Thou?

I’ve always figured I’m easy to scare, so I’ve pretty much avoided horror flicks for a good while. I was hesitant to go see Black Swan the other day, because I’d heard was scary and creepy. In the end, I found myself less that impressed. I wasn’t scared. I was a little bored. So, logically, we’ve started a quest to find a perfect horror film (or one to make me scared). So far, no luck.

Sometime around elementary school, I was hooked on Stephen King novels, and some of the best horror films I’ve seen are based on his works: It scared the hell out of me for years; Pet Sematary worked well enough in elementary school; I both loved and hated the Shining (the version with Jack Nicholson. That face in itself is enough to scare, but the lady in the bath tub stayed with me for a long time); the Green Mile was simply beautiful (if not all that scary). I have been positively surprised on Final Destination (the first one) – possibly because my expectations were so low – and although I know the twist, I still love the Sixth Sense.

We’ve turned to Asia to find something new and frightening; gore is simply not enough to frighten, and the originals of the Hollywood remakes are just so much better; first one to spring to mind is Ring, but I heard the Grudge is pretty scary too. (I’ve yet to watch that one.)

This weekend, we’ve been expecting to be devoured by the following flicks:

Re-Cycle (2006, Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang; Hong Kong/Vietnam)

I liked the premise of the story: a successful writer (Angelica Lee) starts writing a horror story, and her imagination takes over. Upon reading the back cover, I thought it sounded like something I and my crazy imagination could identify with. To be fair, my companion warned me that he thought it was more fantasy than horror. As it turned out, Recycle was nothing but pretty pictures with very little substance. I definitely liked the visuals, but the film itself was neither scary nor suspenseful. I had no feelings for the protagonist, I didn’t care about the love drama, and even the little twist in the end failed to touch. Throughout the whole ‘running around and being kinda bewildered unless someone was telling me what to do ‘-part of the film I had a feeling that Re-Cycle would work beautifully as a video game; the artwork, the settings, the scenes, the archetypal character and the way the story was carried through would definitely work better in another format. As a game, the viewer/player would engage with the world and the character on a whole another level. So… Not scared.

A tale of two sisters (2003, Jee-woon Kim; South Korea)

A film about a strange little family with two mentally unstable sisters, a father who seems very absent, and a stepmother true to the good old Grimm fairy tales fashion. The entire story happens in a secluded house, where the family has gathered to recuperate.

During the film, the viewer was led around the nose, giving just enough of suspense to keep you hooked and letting you spot just enough disparities to give you the feeling of wrongness the characters must have felt. And it was wonderful… Except when it wasn’t. The look and feel of the film was claustrophobic, and I especially liked the way colours were subtly but cleverly used to create mood. On a first watch, nothing revealed the truth until the very end of the film… Where it all fell flat on the ground. What a disappointment! The mental illness thing has been done to death. (Was that a pun?)

The Eye (2002, Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang; Hong Kong) 

Some years ago, I heard that this was a suspenseful, terrifying film. The idea is that a girl blinded at a very young age gets transplanted with new, working set of eyes. She starts seeing dead people, and the face she sees in the mirror is not hers. She enlists the aid of a young, handsome therapist-doctor to find out what’s happening, and the rest of the film is pretty much just like in the Sixth Sense. I’m not sure I liked the cop-out at the ending, but overall the Eye was a nice film. Nice. Not scary, and not brilliant. Nicey nice. I felt the dead people could have been a whole lot scarier and a whole lot less stereotypical, so on the scariness level the film was bland at best. I didn’t hate the film, I just didn’t think it was scary or even very interesting. Nicey nice nice. I think my opinion of the film is slithering lower the longer it is from seeing it. Hmm.

Antichrist (Lars Von Trier; err… Germany? Denmark? Europe)

Somewhat surprisingly, the best of the lot is not an Asian production, but from the mind of a Dane. Antichrist is a story about a couple whose toddler dies while they’re having sex in the next room. Despite the ethic problem, the therapist husband (Willem Dafoe) takes his wife on as a patient to work on her grief and anxieties. Charlotte Gainsbourg gives a terrific performance as the depressed wife whose fears seem to culminate at the couple’s cabin. The couple goes to spend time at the secluded cabin in the woods., but the environment starts working against the both of them.

First off, the opening sequence is pure brilliance. Beautiful black and white images with amazing music set the story without a single word; I have never seen a sex scene presented with such grace. The prologue is a whole work of art in itself, and it is brilliantly completed at the end of the film. Right at the beginning, I was hooked on the story and the characters (and only slightly distracted by the presence of Dafoe*). Throughout the film,Von Trier’s freehand camera provided closeness with the characters – you actually felt with them. The gory, excessively realistic sequences merely made me cringe, although it should be understood that normally silver screen violence makes me laugh. (Come on! Violence is funny!) Without resorting to a hack-and-slash clichés of most horror flicks, Von Trier didn’t go for half measures on the violence. However. As a horror film, Antichrist was a little bit off-target. I felt the supernatural elements could have been enhanced more – the story was somehow lacking another element — the element of surprise. The story hints at the presence of some greater force, but it doesn’t follow through. For me, the mix of horror and fantasy was too bland.

Personally, I love the fantastic, supernatural more than just your regular violence (although it can be fun too), so I would have loved to see more of the otherness, more elements and more focus on the topic of witches. The film fell short both as a horror and as a fantasy film; it let the viewer off too easy. I was lost at sea, but not lost enough to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Perhaps the story was too unfinished or simply edited to death. I just wanted more! Not scared.

Oh, but the visuals on the film were nothing but beautiful.

***

So… Scary films? Which ones worked for you? Let us prove that I’m not jaded; I just haven’t seen horror films horrible enough. (Please don’t suggest anything from Michael Moore. I’m looking for escapism, not reality!)

.

*Who is no doubt a great actor, but I can’t help but see the Green Goblin every time.

21
Mar
11

Artificial Paradise @Kiasma

Kiasma, the contemporary art museum in Helsinki, is currently running a performance art show called Artificial Paradise (by Timo Muurinen and working group). I don’t think I’ve ever been to Kiasma theatre before, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually intentionally gone to see a performance art show. Well, it’s a first.

I don’t know where to start. There’s been some discussion lately about art and what’s good art or bad art, what’s the meaning of art, and if art has to be easily understood by even the ”stupidest” viewer. The current trend in the Finnish politics (thanks to currently popular right-wing, mostly) is that art should be able to sustain itself without government support*.

I’ll start by saying that I wasn’t sure if I ‘understood’ the performance.

And that it doesn’t matter.

What mattered to me was that I enjoyed the act; some of it was simply baffling, some of it was absolutely beautiful in all its simplicity. Did I understand it as it was meant to be understood? Probably not. And that’s not the point. The performance was based solely on three actor/artists, lights, and sounds; the viewer was free to make his own interpretations. What you get out of art, I think, is what you take in there with you. If your head is full of expectations or prejudices, there’s no room in there to receive anything else. In case of performance art, I think you’re supposed to experience with all your senses, rather than looking at it through the ”is it pretty?”-filters, which most people try to understand art with.

People who go to a gallery as if they went into a church tend to think art is supposed to be serious, and that there’s no room for comedy within serious art, and gods forbid if you should laugh during a performance. They can be roughly divided into two groups: those who take pride in not understanding any of this hogwash and think the people who claim to enjoy it are full of shit; and to those who think they can appreciate art by the price tag and believe they are somehow better, more civilised than the aforementioned.

Is art then really just made for other artists?

No. Art, and performance art is something you should take it as it comes… a free association exercise. It’s OK to not understand; but I dare say that if you go see a show and you get absolutely nothing out of it, it’s because you didn’t allow yourself to. There were moments of beauty in Artificial Paradise that, even out of context, would have been mesmerising to watch.

Aside from the individual actions of the performers, the rhythm of their movements was significant, the choreography was obviously carefully planned, different temperatures of light was used in a very clever way, and shadows were played with. The music and the sounds were a large part of the experience as well. I enjoyed, and I was also glad it wasn’t more than 50 minutes long. If nothing else, the seats in the Kiasma theatre are somewhat less than comfortable (THOU SHALT NOT ENJOY ART! THE PLEASURE OF YOUR MIND IS TO ASCEND MERE PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT!). Despite the multi-sensory experience, I did appreciate not having to use the olfactory senses, because – let’s face it – the artists tend to choose smells with powerful feeling associations, and usually that means faeces.

I’m glad we caught this performance, because I love things that make me think about what I’ve just seen. I was captivated, even, at points. My muscles ached in the performers’ stead, because I just couldn’t fathom how anyone could hold such poses as they did with evident ease. That thing they did with the white sheet was wicked cool! These are not just wine-guzzling, pot-smoking artist hippies; they were obviously professionals with very strict self-control; the fact they made the performance look easy is a testimony to this.

If you missed the show, too bad: Sunday, March 20th was the last showing.

*Another favourite of mine is that the receivers of the said support should be chosen by ‘ordinary people’, such as politicians. Based on this, I’d say the participants to any sports event should be chosen with a popular vote, too. Welcome back to elementary school, folks.

But wait, there’s more…

Continue reading ‘Artificial Paradise @Kiasma’

01
Mar
11

Girls who snap and shoot

Sini and I started a photography experiment we decided to call Girls Who Snap And Shoot. The idea is to choose a theme each week and post at least one photo per girl per theme. It’s been up for about a week and although it’s barely began and doesn’t require a whole lot of attention (which may or may not spell a short life), I’m kind of low-key excited. It’s easier to keep up with photographing when there’s an incentive to do so.  This week’s theme is ‘sharp’… damage is imminent.

08
Feb
11

Oddunout

Several hand drawn Oddunout strips available. :P

Also, enjoy a sketchdump:

24
Nov
10

Oddunout #6




Heard it through the grapevine:

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