Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Vicious Circus

I used to be kind of a movie nerd.

I want to say film nerd, but the truth is that I like John Hughes and raunchy comedies too much to bestow upon myself such a hipster title. I mean, I cite Clueless as one of my top five favorite movies of all time. And I'm pretty much a nerd about anything that I like to obsession, whether it's books or Childish Gambino or cameras. 

So, yeah. I used to be kind of a movie nerd, and I would really make the most out of the $8 a month I spend on my Netflix subscription. Lately, like most things, I haven't been indulging in this little pleasure. The last actual film I watched was probably Boyhood when it first came out at the beginning of last summer, and the last movie I watched was, I think, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One. Which, as entertaining Jennifer Lawrence is, wasn't exactly essay-worthy.

But I used to love watching those weird hipster indie films, the ones that weren't necessarily about the story as much as they were about the beauty of composition and style. Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors, and I know I sound like a cliche but you really can't say shit because if you like composition and style in your movies then he's probably one of yours too. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my favorite movies (I value it over Clueless, just saying) and just typing that makes me want to rewatch all his other movies with my fingers hovering over the screenshot button and then write an essay about it. Seriously. I'm that much of a nerd. I could write essays about movies with pictures to accompany it all day and I'm pathetic. This is all just a pointless intro and I really did not mean for it to get this long.

My point is, I have a weakness for beautiful movies and recommending things. So, tonight, I watched a movie called White Bird in a Blizzard, directed by Gregg Araki (of Mysterious Skin fame) and starring Shailene Woodley.

If you've maybe kind of paid attention to my ramblings, then it's a known fact that Shailene Woodley is one of my favorite actresses. She's really good at playing a moody angsty teenage daughter, which means she is like looking in a mirror that shows a taller, whiter, infinitely more gorgeous version of myself. I don't think I've seen her play anything else other than this archetype, so I can't attest much to her other talents, but The Spectacular Now and The Descendants are also some of my favorite movies and she played fantastically relatable teen girls. She is also very good at crying on command. If there was an Oscar for crying, Shailene, and I had any say in it, I would give it to you. A+.

Anyway, White Bird is based on a book of the same name that is never available in any of the bookstores I've looked in, which frustrates me to no end because I have a stubborn aversion to Kindles. That's beside the point. Sorry.

But it is about seventeen year old Kat Connors, whose mother disappears without a trace one day during her senior year of high school. She brushes off the loss with a tough facade, but keeps having strange dreams and doubts about her mother's disappearance. 

This movie sat in my Netflix queue (such a funny word) for a while. I planned on reading the book first (I know, nerd) but since I couldn't find a copy, I sucked it up and watched it. I came into it knowing about a few bad reviews and thinking it would be creepy and suspenseful, more of a murder mystery. But it wasn't, and I think that's why it got such bad reviews. The movie is not about Kat's mother's disappearance. It's about Kat, and coming of age in a shithole town, with things like her deadbeat boyfriend and teenage antics and mother's disappearance as the factors that affect her adolescence. 

The truth is, the plot wasn't great. I predicted the ending within the first half hour and even with knowing that the movie is more coming-of-age than murder mystery, the whole teenage girl blooming into a woman thing isn't exactly an original tale. I liked it, and all, but it wasn't what I wanted to gush about.

What I loved about this movie was how freaking gorgeous it was. If you love Wes Anderson as much as I do, you will probably also enjoy this movie. I love balance and perfect composition in my frames. Composition is really the key to a good photograph. I loved the patterns in position. The shots of Kat in the middle with bleak backgrounds, the balance between a man on one side of the screen and a woman on the other, whether it was Phil, Kat's ex-boyfriend, and Kat's Mom or Kat and her dad, to show the face-off and challenge, even the simple fact that Beth, Kat's best friend, was always positioned in the middle with Kat and their other friend on each side. I absolutely loved it and couldn't stop admiring the screenshots I took. Here are some of my favorites:

I also have a weakness for great typography in movies.

Note Kat alone with a bleak background, and the others following.

Also note, Mickey and Kat are always on either side of Beth. Which really doesn't mean anything, but I just love consistency.


Note man and woman facing off on either side of the screen.

These snowy dream sequences were just gorgeous. One of my favorite parts throughout.

What did I say about her being a great crier?

I think this is kind of important too- in one of the closing scenes, conflicting man and woman aren't on opposite sides but very close together in the middle.

Doesn't it look so beautiful? They make such pretty photographs. I'm a sucker for nerdy photography things, like rule of thirds and the golden compass. I think the director really framed these shots carefully and wonderfully. I want to get my hands on Mysterious Skin now, with the hopes that it will be as pretty as this movie.

Something else that I loved was the soundtrack and the outfits. It really made me nostalgic for my jaded grungey Violet Harmon phase, when I loved classic rock from the 60's all the way to the 90's. There was lots of great 80's music, including Cocteau Twins and The Cure and Tears for Fears. And the clothes were prime; I took a few screenshots of those too:

Depeche Mode shirt. That's all.

I'm also gonna buy an oversized denim jacket and stud it because fuck that's dope.

Also, Gabourey Sidibe makes a great punk.

This only reinforces my desire for Docs.

High waisted pants are my weakness.

In all, I really think this was a great movie. The plot was so-so and the main characters were very unlikeable to me. In fact, Shailene Woodley's character is a huge brat and while she'd probably be a cool friend, I'd disappear too if I were her mother. Maybe this is another case of the book was better syndrome, and words didn't translate much to script. But what it lacks on story it makes up for in beauty. This was a very stylish film, whether it was composition wise or costume wise. I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of pretty films and Wes Anderson. Not bad at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Only One

In the history of my short, boring life, there have been better days. It's kinda just hard to like the things I like. Writing, taking pictures, just leaving my bed is hard to swallow and enjoy the way I used to. But I tried a little and I guess it counts for a little bit. I'd like to go on a long road trip someday and go somewhere beautiful.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

When the high hits you

This is meant to accompany something I wrote previously called The Come Down. Feel free to listen to this if you read, this was my playlist as I spent way too much time trying to write this. This is very loosely semi-based on the true story of my intensely shitty senior year of high school but it's also obviously not and I'm pretty much just hella weird. This also counts as my love letter to Los Angeles, one of my favorite cities on Earth. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I just feel alone all the time, now more than ever, and it's not gonna end for a long time. I just wish I had some friends around here, someone I could stay up talking to and watch movies with and fall asleep on their floor like in Santa Barbara. That's all. And that I'm gonna miss the sunset.

Friday, December 5, 2014

I never got off the bus. I still haven't.

Why do people struggle so much with putting meaning into their lives?

Honestly, I saw this question on AskReddit. Which doesn't only say something about me, but also just says something about modern society, what the Internet and accessibility has done to us, philosophical Childish Gambino's Because the Internet shit, etc. etc. 

But, like, also, I'm sitting here waiting for my Calculus midterm to start while people are starving on the other side of the world. Someone's not gonna be able to afford to eat dinner tonight and I'm wondering what I'm gonna get for Christmas. Shit like that bothers me, and that doesn't make me special or anything-- like, just because I think about third-world countries and poverty doesn't magically make me a good person, because I'm never gonna experience real hardship. And experiencing hardship doesn't make you a good person in the same way that growing up in luxury doesn't make you terrible. It just makes it hard to put any meaning into anything that I do.

We're still living in a world where we still have to prove that the lives of all people matter, not just based on skin color or gender or sexual preference or whatever. And we're still living in a world where money can determine whether your life is important enough to save or not, where my parents have to pay a small fortune just so I can study something so that I can spend the rest of my life hating my career, etc. etc. It's just all so pointless and ridiculous that I laugh at the meaninglessness of it all.

I don't even get to do the things that I enjoy anymore. I don't get to write, or take photographs, or make videos, or even paint. I used to make excuses-- I don't have enough time, I need to study, I don't have any inspiration. But that's not fucking true. There's always years ahead until they're gone, minutes to be spent that are wasted. And I study my ass off but I still feel like I fail at every test I take and piece of homework I turn in regardless of the grade I receive, because there's no passion in how I study and what I'm studying, really. I live a five minute walk from the beach, amongst some of the most beautiful views and opportunities in California, with people who each have their own characters and secrets to discover and learn about.

It's just really hard to find meaning in any of it, and I don't know why I do and always have struggle with it. Like, day-to-day activities and long-term goals, joining fraternities and going to clubs, going out to parties or hanging out with friends; it's hard to find meaning in any of it. 

I thought I had a grasp on it, and sometimes I really do; I get so close. I can't really remember where I put the passion in anything I do, but I remember the feeling of it, and I'm going to continue looking for it.