Beach Blanket Bingo

Whachewlookinat?

Just like the movie did, the title of this post promises lascivious scandal and delivers… grasshoppers? Well, the movie had Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon… and Buster Keaton but rather less sex and more prurience than this post has… from one day at Leone Beach Park:

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dinner & date. Photo by Roman.
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do you mind? Photo by Roman.

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“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?

“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.

Rubble In Memoriam

Photos by Roman.

I don’t know the story behind this shrine but it’s not usually good news. One assumes the worst: a death. And yet, what could be a more appropriate portrayal of the ruin left behind from a death than a symbolically delirious pile of fragments?

It’s a shambles, not the dead but those left alive.

I’ve almost certainly spent too much of my time since retirement from activism and working watching episodes of Time Team and that has seriously warped the way I see things like this. Time Team, in case you missed it, is / was a U.K. TV program that combined reality TV with science documentary with (ultimately) a sort of popular archeology movement, all anchored by several academics with vivid, if not to say eccentric, personalities who, since they were all mostly specialists, fit the TV trope of coming on each episode to occupy each their niche in the drama.

No, I haven’t seen the new series yet.

Seeing this shrine, I now wonder how ancient is that practice of adding stones to an altar, grave or cenotaph — not to mention broken items as offerings? Wasn’t it pebbles of quartz that people would bring to place at an altar during the first millennium? And our bronze age relations, they were no fools in bringing broken items as offerings. It wasn’t simply a matter of economy, I suspect, but rather in a spiritual sense, it was a retirement of the item offered, a giving back.

And why do I have this image of a small dog held suspended above water but its legs, all four, helplessly in full furious paddle?

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Photo by Roman.

“O Black Hole!”

This animation from director and animator Renee Zhan is weird and wonderful and existential and it will fulsomely reward you for the 16 minutes you entrust to it. Never mind that the filmmaker describes it this way:

“A woman who can’t stand the passing of time sucks everyone and everything she loves inside herself to keep them with her forever. Eventually, she turns into a black hole.

“A thousand unchanging years pass inside her dark embrace until one day, the Singularity wakes.”

“Étreintes”

A remarkable bit of pinscreen animation from Justine Vuylsteker:

“A woman stands still at the window. In the clouds, a passionate embrace appears.”

According to Wikipedia (as of 03/07/2022):

Pinscreen animation makes use of a screen filled with movable pins, which can be moved in or out by pressing an object onto the screen. The screen is lit from the side so that the pins cast shadows. The technique has been used to create animated films with a range of textural effects difficult to achieve with any other animation technique, including traditional cel animation.

“Sororal”

I’ll admit that what got my attention was that the video was produced by Papy3D Productions (co-produced by JPL Films…), a French production house that has produced some really great animation. This video has really great stop motion animation and all its elements work together to evoke particular moods… though as a short story, it reminds me of stuff I used to read before the turn of the century, though if I were to go on about that, it would be a spoiler. I’ll just say that I admire this video more than I like it. Judge for yourself:

Written and directed by Frédéric Even and Louise Mercadier.