fjb, local currency: solo 1992-1998 (fayettenam)

the human hearts, civics (tight ship)

the human hearts on myspace

nothing painted blue, taste the flavor (shrimper)

info on older band and solo work; I have no idea who compiled the scarily complete discographies


[79] Synedoche, New York (2008, Charlie Kaufman). As attempts to plumb the human condition by Hollywood/indie straddlers go, this is preferable to I Heart Huckabees: faint praise. Though one can admire the relative economy by which Kaufman gets through his narrative, his fabulism (here derived from Albee’s Tiny Alice, among other things) is not strictly necessary as a device through which to explore the perils of attempting to represent “everything,” as the onscreen appearance of the first page of Swann’s Way should remind anyone who recognizes it. To state the obvious, it’s all too-telling that the central characters attempts to “understand” his life focus entirely on the private (sexual intimacy and physical ailment), while the social is apparently neither here nor there; there’s even a thumb on the scale in the demonization of other ways of living one’s life via the daughter’s lesbianism and sex-work. (Note also that money is essentially “no object” for anyone involved, though this is at least wittly foregrounded by the patently irreal suggestion that a single “genius” grant would fund a seventeen-year theater project.) Why must Representative Man be a schlubby white guy in his 40s? Though I take it that has someone who is supposed to be a sophisticated working artist who has presumably been exposed to all sorts of ideas need his entire life to come to the epiphany that other people are not “extras”? Why the hell is Emily Watson so willing to strip for him, as if we were stuck in the mid-century novel of male existential crisis and self-discovery through hotties. Philip Seymour Hoffman goes through his paces reliably, though I think he has the clearer and ultimately less interesting set of acting tasks than does Michelle Williams, whose considerable charm in particularizing her character is what this movie really deserves to be remembered for. (I also liked the burning house trope, which isn’t hammered to death.)

BTW, Stephen Colbert is at his sharpest in this interview w/ Charlie Kaufman; though Colbert’s position is ostensibly that of his anti-intellectual neo-con character, what’s really at issue are the merits of Cartesian representationalism (esp. as an account of perception) vs. some form of “direct realism.” “This is what living in your mind gets you”; i.e., homuncularism.)

BTBTW, [80]A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All, which I just caught as a rerun, is maybe a solid B+, given what the principals were attempting. The replication of bad TV direction (bluescreens, awkward cuts) is funny, as are the basic ideas behind the match-up of original songs (by Adam Schlessinger and David Javerbaum, who also did the Broadway Crybaby) with guests: Toby Keith giving voice to Bill O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas” canard, Willie Nelson as a pothead fourth Wise Man, but their execution is not as economical as one might hope. It’s pretty odd for me to see Elvis Costello aging into “a good sport” (though he’s always tended to treat himself unseriously in videos); he’s better here, anyway, than on his chat-show Spectacle, the interview segments of which are just fidget-inducing.

[81] In the City of Sylvia (2007, José Luis Guerin). Nadja meets Laura Mulvey meets Cortazar’s “The Pursuer” (in A Change of Light, I think). Gossamer-thin but for its spatial rigor; the narrative element is to a large degree an excuse for “pure cinema,” inc. some gorgeous passages of the changing reflections on passing train windows. Saved from erotic solipsism by the moment when the woman our protagonist has been stalking around Strasbourg manages to confront him, emphatically and convincingly, with just how unpleasant the experience has been for her. A studied film, but good nonetheless.

[82] Into the Net (1924, George B. Seitz): Feature apparently cut together from several NY-shot episodes of what was originally a serial, essaying a racist plot about the kidnapping of various Manhattan heiresses, inc. a very young Constance Bennett, who makes no special impression, by a generically orientalized “Emperor.” The great George Arliss arguably transcends, or at least displays some self-consciousness in, a similar role as an Oxford-educated Sikh in the film version of his stage triumph [83] The Green Goddess [1923, Sidney Olcott], from whence S.F.’s Palace Hotel’s signature salad dressing.) One moment bears mention: during a police raid on a private gambling den, a tuxedo’d worthy asks a cop (I’m paraphrasing the title cards) “Don’t you know who I am?” His respond: “Don’t tell me – you’re the Governor of Alaska.” Seen about 2 weeks before the election in a packed theater at MOMA, this nearly caused a riot.