Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TCM Film Fest Day 2

Our second day at TCM began with 40s-inspired dresses and a 10am screening of Murder, He Says, an absolutely ridiculous 1945 Fred MacMurray picture. I am shocked that this film has never been released on home video or DVD, as it's super entertaining and stars Ma Kettle. Right?! ...right?
We then decided to check out two panels instead of screenings, probably the best of many tough programming decisions throughout the festival. The first was A Conversation with Peter Bogdanovich, hosted by my soulmate, Leonard Maltin. I've met Bogdanovich before, but this was a very different experience, sitting casually around Club TCM listening to him tell stories about Orson Welles (who convinced him to shoot The Last Picture Show in black and white), Hitchcock and Fritz Lang. He discussed his films, his choices and the fact that the B pictures have become the A pictures and the A, the B (in terms of content vs. funding and success). This was all made even more lovely by the fact that Leonard Maltin, who I watch religiously on Reelz Channel and am convinced would be my best friend if he knew me, was so kind as to have a conversation with me afterward. We also got to meet Robert Osborne, the hero of the week and King of TCM, who listened to and discussed our project idea in more depth than I ever expected. Ashley was near fainting the entire time. These are our heros.
Brittan + L.M. =
Next was the TCM: The Network panel, which was essentially all of the TCM big wigs telling us about what they do and answering our questions. With my background in festivals and current work in preservation, I found this panel fascinating and inspiring. I gained new respect for TCM and the people who run it for their diligence and passion for preserving and sharing these films. I also learned that they took out the projectors in the (absolutely stunning, legendary) theatres they used, and brought in the projectors used at the time each film was released. This was one of many times that tears were shed by yours truly. We shared our project idea at the panel and were encouraged by so many people on staff and in the audience for carrying forth this important work. (Side note: I'm pretty sure we were the youngest people there who were not volunteers, the youngest women anyway, and this became a common topic of praise and conversation as we met people and made friends throughout the week.)

By the time I made it to the 8pm screening of Godard's Breathless at Grauman's, I had worked myself into a complete tizzy (if you will). Jean-Paul Belmondo, who I have been desperately in love with since I first saw this film years ago, was there to speak his beautiful French to us and make me fall in love all over again. This man has had a stroke and he is still one handsome devil. Yow! I quite literally leapt to my feet to cheer and applaud him.... twice.
It was really like seeing Breathless for the first time. Grauman's is the perfect large theatre and with the screen masked to 1.33, crisp sound and a fully engaged (and civilized) live audience, I can't imagine there being a better way to experience this beautiful film. Again, tears.
I met back up with Ashley (who passed on Breathless for No Orchids for Miss Blandish--we share a similar fanaticism for very different periods of film) for the midnight screening of The Day of the Triffids, a sci-fi, Cinemascope beauty, but couldn't make it all the way through and had to head back for sleep and recharging for Day 3, which I was most excited for...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TCM Film Fest Day 1

Turner Classic Movies put on their first annual film festival in Hollywood this year and Swinny and I did everything in our power to make sure we were there.

Day 1 did not go so well, travel and lodging wise. I won't go into it but - BRIGHT SIDE - I got a new suitcase, specifically the carry-on that George Clooney insists on in Up In the Air.
Nerd.

Eventually we found a place to stay (Jennifer, we so owe you!) and made our way to the legend-and-celebrity-filled red carpet for one of Swinny's all time favorite movies, A Star is Born. She loves that Judith.
The film was so much more moving than I ever remembered it being. The invested live audience and overpowering awe of Grauman's Chinese theatre just reaffirmed for me the relevance of the complete cinematic experience.

Also... those are Betsey Johnson dresses we're wearing. #14 on the bucket list officially crossed off. More to come on one of the most incredible experiences of my life...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

CAML Class Trip to the Natural History Museum

Yesterday our Culture of Archives, Museums and Libraries class took a trip to the American Museum of Natural History to learn about all sorts of archivisty things. Did you know that only .02% of the museum's holdings are on display? Craze. We got really excited about touching 150 million year old dinosaur bones in cold storage...
and I got REALLY excited about hanging out in the IMAX booth. 70mm!
After a long, crazy day of museuming and being reminded that we are the last of the humans and will soon be extinct (I hate scientists--ignorance is such bliss!), my buddy Sneve and I went to see The Specials!! The show was incredible but the venue and packed crowd made it less fun than it could have been. I didn't get to dance! Still, I love ska and I love Sneve time so no complaints here.
After the show we went to Trailer Park, a great bar/grill in my 'hood and ate the junkiest of vegetarian junk food and enjoyed the scenery.
We went back to my place and watched Battle Royale (2000, Japan), one of the most awesomely ridiculous movies I've ever seen about a group of Japanese teenagers sent to an island and forced to kill each other. I kind of loved it.
I mean, come on.

I think I slept 3 hours last night and am now on a plane to LA for the TCM Film Fest. Yes, I paid for internet. Yes, it was so that I could download Glee and watch it on the flight. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Claude Berri

I watched The Two of Us (1967) and Le Poulet (1965), a beautiful feature and Academy Award winning short by Claude Berri this weekend.

I had seen Le Poulet several times before but, oh my, how lovely The Two of Us is!
How had I not seen it?
I love its original French title even more than its English interpretation...
I've probably said this a thousand times, but I really love films that are constructed to structurally reflect the characters, subject matter or POV that narrates the story. I think every great film takes the extra care and thought to plan each camera movement and cut in a way that will deeper involve its audience. Berri does such a great job in this film of putting us on the level of his young protagonist and remaining unbiased, like a child, with the camera.

J'adore les films Français.

Monday, April 19, 2010

grad school blues

my life is crazy right now... and not the fun kind.

well, that's a lie. friday night was insanely fun. we celebrated the 2nd year MIAP students thesis presentations with several bars, dinner and skeeball in brooklyn, all night karaoke, crappy diner breakfast in chelsea and then even more fun at my apartment... maybe i went to bed at 10am.
maybe i feel more than a little guilty...

but it's back to the life now. the life where i am completely out of money, have 3 huge projects/papers due in the next two weeks that i am nowhere near far enough along on and don't have enough hours in the week for everything that needs to get done.

can someone please explain CD-ROM file migration to me? or why i should care?

thanks.

currently i am in a fight with the nyu cinema studies students (MIAP is a division of CS) because their workload is so much lighter, they only have to take 3 classes a semester, have all this free time for internships and jobs and are allowed to focus more on their careers than their classes. i definitely love my program and know that these classes will help me have a great career. i know i'll have an even better chance of being employed right after graduation... but when my friends who started at the same time i did are preparing for graduation by then end of the summer, i can't help but be a little pouty.

wah.

then again... i will be in l.a. being fabulous in a few days, see hanson in less than a week and be back with my b and splinter in 2 weeks. life is not bad... i think maybe i'm just not good at this whole higher education thing.

this scarf makes me feel like a cowgirl

isn't it great?!
it's so springy and fun!
my friend danielle makes them. you should have her make you one.
here's her etsy. yay!

(i know i'm super fat... don't judge me! it's been a rough semester. i'm going to get hot again once it's all over! oh gosh... *hides*)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've Been Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

I don't think I need to remind you people how much this family loves Hanson. (The post that's behind that link is GOLD, in case you haven't seen it.) The bros just released their latest video and it's basically the cutest thing I've ever seen. I have several friends in it and you better believe I would have been in it too, if I weren't in grad school. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pleasure

The Pleasure of Being Robbed is about Eleonore, a girl about my age who lives in New York and finds connection to the world around her by stealing it. She steals everything from grapes to cars to the time of annoyed strangers.
She always seems almost frighteningly at ease with her lifestyle.
It's a funny, strange, quiet look at someone living directly in the moment and seizing absolute joy from it.
I absolutely love what Michael Atkinson said about it on IFC.com:

I haven't seen the likes of Eléonore (Eléonore Hendricks) since the '70s, when Cassavetes movies bristled with compulsive nowhere figures living out their no-future lives by trying to seize the elusive present, and trying to do so with a fire in their bellies.

It also has one of the best posters in recent history, but that is not where I'm going with this.

The film has been running through my head quite a bit lately as I find myself really getting into the groove of this city that has become my home, and then just yesterday something occurred to me. I was riding the E to work, listening to Queen and played Somebody to Love, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy and Don't Stop Me Now very intentionally in that order. As I watched the strangers coming on and off the train, I found myself biting my lip to keep from grinning ridiculously. I couldn't help but imagine what everyone would do if they could all hear what I was hearing. Would they sing along? Of course they would. My imagination took off and that ride to work suddenly became immensely entertaining, and my day brightened.

That's what I do. My headphones are constantly on. I listen to the Velvet Underground while walking down Broadway in the snow. I listen to Television on the Lower East Side, Waylon Jennings on the plane to Texas and vintage Jay-Z in Brooklyn. The other day when the V was so crowded that everyone was squished together and could barely breathe I listened to the Misfits and the moment came alive to the soundtrack. I never realized it before, but I guess that's how I connect. The city can be lonely and I think we all have our ways of coping.
Does that make sense? What do you do?

Good Housekeeping 125th Anniversary

I had the most amazing night last night. Swinny and I went to the Good Housekeeping 125th Anniversary Gala. The event was hosted by Brooke Shields and included so many of the most important women in showbusiness, politics, art and commerce. (I never realized how progressive GH is - they were the first to publish The Feminine Mystique!) Even the cover lady, Michelle Obama contributed. I felt humbled to be in the midst of such greatness. My eyes welled with tears as I watched video of the suffragettes, the icons, the hellraisers, the women who broke down walls and ceilings. I remembered my undergrad when I stood up for feminism where it was not welcome, and I felt ridiculous for ever letting a relationship break me down. But then I realized that one of the things that makes the greatest women great is their capacity to love and empathize. The firey, opinionated, empowered achiever in my heart woke up and I thought about all my hopes and dreams, my strength, my pride in being a mother and my ability to do anything because of the road that's been paved for me. At one point a dancer came on stage wrapped in purple and I recognized it immediately to be a Martha Graham modern dance piece and completely lost it. This was a woman whose movements taught me how to be expressive when I didn't have words and she, along with so many of the women in attendance or represented there, have shaped my life. The night ended with Meryl Streep giving an impassioned monologue of Susan B. Anothony's speech upon her arrest for voting, and Aretha Franklin singing respect and inviting us to sing along with her. What a beautiful night. I have never been more proud to be a woman.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Orphans 7

The 7th Orphan Film Symposium ran this weekend, April 7 - 10, at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea (right by my apartment!), and it was just what I needed. The program can explain it better than I can:

The Orphan Film Symposium marks its seventh biennial gathering of archivists, scholars, preservationists, curators, collectors, and media artists devoted to saving, studying, and screening neglected moving images. NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Department of Cinema Studies host Orphans 7 in the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd Street). More than 80 presenters from 17 countries address film repatriation; mobility, distribution, and travel; national, regional, local, and transnational cinemas; and neglected archival material that sheds light on international aspects of history and archiving. See more than 80 works (film, video, and digital) dating from 1894 to 2010.

This was the first full festival season I was missing out on and, while I'm in love with what I'm doing now, it was kind of sad to see festivals come and go without being a part of it. I didn't even get screeners this year, and couldn't commit to Tribeca because of my crazy grad school schedule! BUT. Orphans snuck up on me and ended up offering the best of both worlds and a chance for me to get some festival work. (I worked in the projection booth doing audio and lighting stuff.)

Opening night was a retirement party for our sweet first semester professor, Duane. His class was a like a warm cup of tea and a nice hug in the midst of our tumultuous welcoming to the MIAP program. I am also pretty sure he has actually found the Fountain because we all thought he was a good 25 years younger than he actually is. Like... it's crazy. That was followed by the opening night reception, a chance to wear a dress, reunite with all the interesting people I've met over the last eight months and pimp out the big project I'm working on (that I will blog about eventually, I promise). The opening night screenings included a Kinsey Institute stag film with live accompaniment (interesting...) and Film ist. a girl & a gun, an experimental film by Gustav Deutsch.
Not for everyone, but a good example of how archival film can be used.

Also, my friends were there. Ashley and Ben (below - aren't they cute?), John Migliore, Eric Kohn, my MIAP class, the second year MIAP class who we never get to see anymore because they're busy with thesis stuff and getting jobs, and the UCLA archiving and preservation students.
On Day 2, Paula Felix-Didier (MIAP grad who none of us will ever live up to) talked about discovering Metropolis and the Museo del Cine in Bueno Aires, and dinner was held at Pier 59. With B gone, I never go down to the piers anymore, and I forgot how nice they are. We ate outside with this amazing view at dusk (my favorite time of day) and it was really quite perfect.
I was in the booth for the rest of the night watching fun animated films and heavily degraded 1920s silent B-westerns (actually I don't remember when that happened but it was awesome). Orphans also shared SVA with the Gen Art Film Fest, and I found it kind of hilarious watching the hip celebrity crowd mesh with the archivist crowd... and also a poetic metaphor for my career.
Day 3 (or night 3 because I had to work at MoMA during the day) was my favorite. Jonas Mekas ("the godfather of American avant-garde cinema") introduced The Cry of Jazz, a 1959 film about race and jazz music, and filmmaker Edward Bland gave a Q&A after. That was followed by some very rare footage of the Velvet Underground rehearsing and Andy Warhol's Uptight #3 (Velvet Underground on the set of the show Open End) with live accompaniment by T. Griffin. I've always loved the Velvet Underground, but they served as my almost constant playlist this winter in particular, so this was extra cool for me. I took some pictures from the booth. (How cool is that shot of John Cale eating a banana?! I also love the last one of Andy Warhol laying on the floor during his interview.)
Saturday was the last day and it was long, tiring and so fun. The program covered everything from promotion and advertising films to segregation to Henri Cartier-Bresson's first film. I LOVED a 1958 amateur film by Scott Nixon called The Augustas, which you can read about here and a pretty 8mm film with shots of a pool and flowers that I wish I could remember the name of.
Lunch was at the non-veggie-friendly Dallas BBQ, which everyone but me seemed to enjoy, but a lively street fair was going on outside the venue, filling Chelsea with the sound of music and the smell of fried things. I am starting to remember why I love New York.
The second year MIAP students got to present films they shot/worked on/discovered that night and the whole thing ended with "The Ascension" - a portion of the 1908 Pathé Film The Life and Passion of Christ. Well, officially ended anyway. The after party at Trailer Park is another story for another time...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This could get awkward.

I need to get really personal and really heavy for a minute. I am feeling intense anxiety about publishing this because I know all the people who read this blog and it could be... more than a little awkward... but I have to do it because a.) there are other people who deserve explanations and b.) I need more than anything to hold myself accountable right now.

I fell in love for the first time in 2007 and had a brief but lovely relationship. Had it actually ended there, I--we--would most certainly be in a very different place right now, but it didn't. For two and a half years he couldn't decide what he wanted, would be completely in love with me and want marriage and forever, and then within a week be distant, disinterested and mean. I never fell out of love with him (I never had the chance, we were always together even when we weren't) and I stayed through all of it, constantly guessing at what he wanted, giving everything I had and much that I didn't and being slowly broken down by this dark cloud hanging over my life. In 2008 I lost 25 lbs. In early 2009 I started dating one of the kindest men I have ever met but gave that up because HE (the former) had a revelation and wanted forever again, a notion that he was bored with within a month. He casually dropped this bomb, moved on and didn't look back, while I was left feeling betrayed, stupid, broken and extremely depressed. I had ruined something wonderful to be duped again. I was back at square one. I hated myself. By August 2009 I was destroyed. I slept for days on end while the grandparents looked after B. I woke up every morning with a feeling that I can't adequately describe with words. It felt like death. It was beyond depression and beyond anything I'd ever come close to feeling before. My brain was empty, my stomach and chest felt hollow. It was as though my soul had left my body. At this point I was trying to move to New York, going through the motions of wanting to move on but not actually feeling anything but this horrible emptiness. Getting out of bed was the hardest thing I'd ever done. Putting one foot in front of the other was nearly impossible. I knew that I couldn't kill myself for B's sake, but I felt as though I was already dead and didn't want my body to have to keep going through these motions. I flew back to Texas from New York in August and stayed in bed for days, deciding that there was no better option, that I absolutely could not go on. When it became imminent I panicked and made some phone calls asking my friends for help for B's sake. I was so lucky at that point that people stepped in and made me get help. Everyone knew I was depressed but saying out loud just how serious it had gotten was the first step to getting better. With counseling and a permanent move to New York, I began a new chapter in my life. I was proud of myself, excited to be following my dreams, and woke up feeling ecstatic that I could breath air and see sunlight and get out of bed.

Like an addict, or anyone whose confidence and will has been weakened by emotional trauma, I relapsed. In October of 2009 he came back, said all the right things, including that he was moving to New York, and flew up to see me and prove all of this to me. My head spun, then stopped spinning and started screaming at me that this was bad, but I didn't listen. By December he was back to treating me literally like I was the bane of his existence. I was devastated. New York was no longer my bright, new world. I was no longer happy with myself. I was losing my drive and on top of everything, B was going back to Texas. I had never felt so alone... which is saying something. We kept up the charade for a bit because at this point he was my best friend. (I've lost two of my oldest friends over this.) I listened to his problems, I tried to be supportive, I made time and I became his emotional dumping ground. I kept my feelings and problems to myself because that's the way we work. I stressed out for him, I worried about him, I stood up for him and I stayed home every night. I tried. But the anger and resentment built up inside me and I was beginning to feel familiar, unwelcome emotions. I tried to get angry and be as mean as I could to him in hopes that it would push him away (I didn't--and still don't really--feel strong enough to do it on my own) and we began to fight daily. I was rapidly reaching a new level of self destruction and that suicidal place I was in only six months ago felt inevitable. I felt like there were no options, I didn't want to tell anyone how bad it had gotten again because I was humiliated and I. Was. Terrified.

That day in Texas, where I briefly felt alive again, was crucial. It didn't immediately change anything, except that it reminded me that there are people who will never judge me and never stop being my friend, no matter how bad I've screwed up. Because of that I swallowed my fears and told Ashley that it was worse than she knew, that I wasn't saying "I want to die" in a funny way, but that I actually did. She stayed with me, slept on my tiny couch, fed me, called for help, literally dragged me out of bed in the morning and forced me to shower and go talk to the therapist I saw when I first moved to New York, who had already started trying to help me out of this. I don't know where people like that come from, or what I've done to deserve them, but my cup runneth over. So far it has been slow but good. The good thing about heartbreak-related depression (as opposed to clinical) is that you can get out of it rationally and by changing your behavior (maybe like quitting smoking?) if you want to. And I do. I SO DO. I actually really love myself and I love life. I love people and energy and nature and moments and feelings. I want those things. I never again want to feel like if I die it won't matter.

So there you go. It's morbid and it's awkward to talk about (in any setting, in fact--imagine telling your therapist how you planned to do it) but I believe that things become less scary the more you know about them, and I believe in honesty with yourself and the people you owe it to... even if it's shameful and hard to talk about. I don't think everything will be rosy from here on out, but I can practice the art of one day at a time. I am so sorry to the friends I've alienated or confused, to the man I hurt last year and to the family who I've pretty much completely kept this from for two years. I have so much going on in my life right now and I want to focus the blog back on what I love thinking and writing about the most-- those moments that make you feel alive, the good in every situation and the journey to create a life that you love and are passionate about. Thanks for hearing me out.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Welcome Back.

It was nice coming home to this.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The. Perfect. Day.

Surprise! I am in Texas for two days on businessyish things and it does not suck. In fact...

I think I could be kicking the bucket soon, given the rare strain of excellence that today was, and am totally okay with it. Today was everything I've been craving lately (down to the details) and I soaked every second of it in. It didn't feel too short or too long. There were no worries. Today was perfect.

I got in to Dallas before 10am (an hour ahead of schedule... how does that even happen?) and was greeted at the airport by my grandma and my beautiful B. I didn't even have a second for the sickish "WTF am I doing back in Dallas" pit to set in my stomach. I just saw that little face and attacked it. Happiest moment.

Much to little dude's dismay there were several errands to run, but I sat in the back seat with him and cuddled/chatted/made farting noises which seemed to help. When we got back he showed me all of his recent accomplishments that we didn't have time for last time. His report card (all A+'s WHAT!), his new piano songs (you would not believe--note to self, take video) and all of his (stacks and stacks of) artwork. Then we went outside and I sat in the warm grass and watched him skateboard and climb trees like the old days. (The days we both agree we miss terribly.)
There came a point when we were just laying around talking about life and rubbing Splinter's belly, when B told me he had had enough talking and needed to go play with his friends. I reluctantly let him go without a hug (the look of horror I got when I requested one in front of his friends told me this is no longer acceptable) and felt a nice, quiet, peaceful feeling that I haven't in a long time.

Knowing all is right with him again, I let my best friends come scoop me up for an evening that was Austin-calibre awesome. We bought $7 t-shirts and $9 shoes (God bless Texas), and walked over to a patio for chips, salsa and basking in the warm Texas sun. It felt so good to laugh loudly and be myself. There is no blessing like friends you can't bs because they know you too well. It removes all pretense and any need for explanation... or sometimes even words. And there is no cure for the NYC winter blues like a patio in Texas.
Oh no wait. It gets better. We went to Man Factory's CD release show. If you've forgotten, they're one of my favorite bands. Ever. The show was epic, as evidenced by these rad Street Fighter pictures. (The third would be Justin basking in the glory of remaining undefeated at Street Fighter all night.) (I don't understand why my hair looks so dark... moving on...)
I was a little nervous to see some people who would be there but everyone was so cool. I was most happy to be with these two. I forgot that there are people in my life who love me because of who I am. I used to have a rule that every time I was with them I would try to spend that day like it's the last time I'll ever see them. It's a good way to live most aspects of your life, I think.

I needed this so much, to be reminded that life is good. On the drive home we sang "you are so young, so feel alive" and I did and we were.

getting something off my chest

(thanks, Voxtrot)

Life on the margins
Little looks we have to steal
I want to run like vagrants hand in hand across this field
But I know the way you are I could fall into the star

But it's not easy for everybody to fall in love

The city walls are reigning perilous and tall over dark chilling streets
No, it's not weakness when you fall
Oh it's just too much too fast
Crash that column into the wall

Don't let them tell you that there's a right way to fall in love

And she says

I want to live my life
Don't want to waste my time
I want a man who makes me feel like a woman

I used to be your biggest fan
I used to be your biggest fan
Now I find that you are slipping in my estimation

I used to be your biggest fan
I used to be your biggest fan
And now I know that you could never love someone like me

I used to run with my whiskers to the sun
I used to shed my weakness like a bullet sheds a gun
But I say
Close in on me, my foundations came undone
I said, why oh why is there so much hate in this world

Belt out a song, some vicious call-to-arms gone wrong
But we've tended now we're going fifty thousand strong
This one's a dream so shut your mouth and sing along
Oh the science of music is all stupid and cruel

And I know I want to live my life
Don't want to waste my time
Trying to strike the right lyrical density

I used to be your biggest fan
I used to be your biggest fan
Now I find that you are slipping in my estimation

I used to be your biggest fan
I used to be your biggest fan
But now I know that you could never love someone like me

And I know I want to live my life
Don't want to waste my time
I want to be the toast of the shanty-town

You stick around a while
And you cut your teeth
You can't go home

I used to be your biggest fan
And then I saw you in a doorway
For a moment you looked tender and I know
That I could never ever ever ever ever touch you
Because you might touch back

Oh yes, you might, oh you might touch back

Well I made a mistake, well I made two
One for me and one for you
And then I knew

That I would measure everybody against you
Yes I would measure everybody against you

Well I used to be your biggest fan