Smoke Break

This from director Alan Sahin’s Vimeo channel: “Before changing a tyre, between a starter and a main course, after admitting a patient: seven places where people are on a cigarette break.”

For a while before smoking was banned altogether on METRA commuter trains, smokers were segregated into designated smoking areas, usually half a passenger car. The cars were divided in the middle by an entrance / exit foyer so the halves were separate.

On late evening trips returning from the suburbs, I generally sat in the non-smoking half. Most of us were bound for the Chicago terminus so there was always a queue to exit the car. And as the train pulled onto the arrival track, the doors between the sections would open. My non-smoking side would shuffle forward in silence but from the smoking section a wall of smoke, conversation and laughter rolled forth. The contrast was amazing.

Whatever else it is, nicotine addiction is convivial.

“Men in Blues”

The pacing may have been off a bit, but that comes with the territory when just about every alien in the Hollywood movie universe is (are?) after the Blues Brothers. Because I think it is important that we smile in the rising gloom, may I present to you another video mash-up by Fabrice Mathieu.

I remember Blues Brothers being filmed in Chicago. On one of the filming dates, I was on my bike to Chicago’s south side to get a haircut. It was the last haircut I ever got.

“Catisfaction”

From Andre de Almeida: this wonderful, psychedelic, existential, and surreal story of a man and his cat. It’s also a really nice mix of animation techniques. Full screen and headphones recommended, though this is strange enough that any altered state is strictly optional.

It’s a love story, you know…

Incidentally, according to Google “catisfaction” is a French grunge band, a cat clinic in Alabama, and a brand of cat treats. It was a new one for me, but the word (a portmanteau, actually) has been around for a while.

I can’t get no…

“Broken Ties”

A hat-tip to Hettie D. because that blog is where I was introduced to this documentary. Hettie highly recommended “watching this movie to all my friends who ask me “how Russian people feel about what’s going on”. There are English subtitles.”

This is a feature length video, however, so you should probably bookmark the video for when you have some time to be engaged with it. The documentary was directed by Russian journalist and independent filmmaker Andrey Loshak. The documentary was produced for Current Time. For the hyper-partisan amongst us, yes: Current Time is a project of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and I’m just fine with that. If you are not then you probably ought to watch the documentary, but I won’t argue.

I left this documentary with some observations that are difficult to write about, mainly because anyone reading what I have to say before watching the documentary will likely be misled regarding its content. This is, in essence, a love story that follows several families who span the Ukraine / Russia divide. It is about the fear, anger and bewilderment that comes when someone you intimately know and love becomes repugnantly alien in an existentially fraught situation.

And that fraught situation is the “politics by other means” of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Having been active in protesting the Vietnam war (among others), I found the documentary to be distressingly familiar. I leave doing a compare-and-contrast re: Vietnam and Ukraine to you, dear reader, but it’s worth pointing out that it is not at all clear how much the U.S. anti-war movement influenced government policy. Certainly it was a decisive influence on a good many political careers, but the war dragged on. I suspect whatever constraints the movement placed on actual policy was secondary to the disintegration of the U.S. military in Vietnam: the fragging, drug use, refusal of orders, not to mention the occasional racial conflict. There are stories suggesting something similar is happening to the Russian military in Ukraine, but the context is different… so who knows what will happen?

Surreally Dangerous

In a sense, this 7 minute video of incredibly beautiful tornadic violence is the video equivalent of academic field notes, no voice-over but with captions and music. I would nominate this as being Reed Timmer’s most spectacular storm video yet. You’ve got to see this, full screen and headphones recommended:

This video “uses zoomed-in 4k drone footage to analyze the complexities of tornado vortex dynamics, and especially the relationship of the tornado with the frictional surface of the Earth. We examine O-ring vortex structure with descending vortex breakdown bubbles, the intense jet-like vortices that form beneath these low pressure reservoirs, and the cyclical nature of all-of-the-above. We perform these analyses on the Andover, KS Dominator Drone footage from April 29, 2022. Never stop chasing.”

“Ghost Dogs”

You might think of this video from Joe Cappa as a dog’s version of the movie Get Out… or maybe not. It doesn’t try to make any larger commentary. It just takes the horror genre and plays with it:

“A rescue pup discovers its new home is haunted by the family’s deceased pets in this mind-bending horror.”

“Perfecting the Art of Longing”

I don’t know if this was intended as poetry, but it is poetry IMHO:

Newly posted on Vimeo by the National Film Board of Canada, the video’s description doesn’t quite do it justice, but:

Cut off from his loved ones due to the pandemic lockdown, a quadriplegic rabbi in a long-term-care facility is filmed remotely by his daughter. Offering powerful meditations on love and hope, Perfecting the Art of Longing shows us what it means to be alive in a state of profound isolation.