Wednesday, July 06, 2011

thinking, motion and time in cinema

It is thinking  in four-dimensional time-space continuum - cinema - how your mind moves in the world. It is subjective - your thinking in your brains! Objective is imagination - define facts? Quite frankly I don't have any notion that something like objective even exists.  As a conversational term, perhaps, it is practical. Subjective, yes. The physical world exists so far as it has been established by science - the character of light, for example, is still not established, but we can manage with existing  practical knowledge. Time-space with feelings and thoughts - where the intensity of both can be measured by the scale of pictures - short intense close-up versus static large scenery. Movement and rhythm binding them together. 

Of course there are the other elements of visual image that also make difference in the meaning: horizon, verticals, color-scale etc. There is this phenomena of 'filmed theatre' - a still standing camera with a steady far-off view of everything is - - what? Abomination, pestering objective? At least it is not interesting. Yes, it is said that 'this way everything is in the picture, we give the audience a perfect  recording!' But everything so often is nothing... like a delicious meal all run through a food-processor: sure it has everything but who wants to eat it! 

Intellectual curiosity needs details and craving them is healthy. Close-ups and camera movements give details and underlinings.   Moving camera at the right place at the right time, brisk editing, different angles and quick rhythm are a tribute to the intelligence of the audience. And watching a movie is  dialogue with another intelligence. So it has always been. At least in my case. Not some mystical collective what-ever! Sometimes the other intelligence is an idiot and the film greatly disappointing, even disturbing ( in not-so-good-way) and destructive. That kind of a film is frightening - stupidity always is. By stupidity I mean hasty conclusions, judging, prejudice and pessimism, specially aggressive pessimism. Concrete example of such a  movie? What was it? A science fiction years ago - I remember the disbelief I felt watching it... with my boys who just told me I was nuts! 'Event Horizon' - yes, that was it! But it was not disturbing - just plain stupid. What I might find disturbing is something like 'Shutter Island' - both the book and the film, unbreakable circle of nightmares - the prospect is so pessimistic and depressing that it is not even human any more: there is no hope in it. And without hope there is only death. That is disturbing because death is the only way out. Hope gives a chance to change, evolve and develop, to escape - 'there is a crack in everything: that is how the light gets in...'  as Leonard Cohen puts it.

Ruffly put in a picture the basics are c. the background - scenery, cityscape or whatever you call it. A cityscape - what you choose of a city... A movie can happen on the streets, maybe some bar or cafe included. Still it can be a distinctively identifiable city like Paris or London or NY. Or even Helsinki. It is a very interesting aspect: the many faces... For example New York in '9 1/2'  (1986, Adrian Lyne )   and NY in 'Taxi driver'  (1976, Martin Scorsese ) or NY in 'Devil wears Prada'  (2006, David Frankel)...  Or the difference of London and Paris in Damage (1992, Louis Malle). Yes, the streets are always alive and give their original atmosphere to the life in these movies significantly by the way of how camera is used to choose. The idea of cityscape is one choice you make while planning a film. It can vary inside the film, too, from one district to another or day and night  giving different faces to it - endless choice of possibilities there!

Closer surroundings, more personal form the level b. in a picture - any picture: photograph or drawing or a movie.  The house, rooms, bars and cars - that personal circle of activity includes other people, too. The personalities of people, their habits and opinions, ideas and ways are the bulk of any cinema. Words are a very clumsy thing to tell about these things - a picture gives the whole tedious description in one view!  And it is more exact - at least to me - than any words ever can be. The meaning of a word sifts and changes - I don't understand them, but colors, perspective etc and the cultural meaning of things like houses, cars and clothes are more exact and as such more acceptable than words. Maybe it has also something to do with the fact that words are used to control and discipline, and as such they tend to be repelling. Yet to some, maybe most people the words are the way to 'break free', or music. To me it is the 'visual music' , the symphony of sifting visual meanings the camera picks and points!

A cinema can function without both of these layers - yes, it can happen in one room or a mountaintop, in a tank or a coffin, as we have witnessed. But  there has to be the layer a., the human touch:  what happens and to whom. That is the point in any work of art finally - that something happens in the picture and in the viewer! The frontline with raw feelings and relations, suffering and joy - that is the main target, it has to exist, it is the essence of drama. Here we get a close look inside the characters to understand or judge and here the picture chosen and the rhythm of different sized pictures is crucial. You can film a city or a scenery in one large shot - in  principle, in practice even that is boring - but human feelings need different approach. 

In the times before technic set some boundaries that now don't exist anymore and the possibilities to move the camera and edit the takes are practically limitless! The long continuous shots where nothing happens are in some rare cases quite enjoyable and necessary but mostly those are boring torture! Thinking needs quick rhythm and close-ups, not imprisonment! And camera tells the thinking: it looks where is necessary in order to find out, to keep on track.  Windows and reflexions  - cinema should be like playing with objects and meanings depicting something of a human being, or should I say that a person without windows and reflexions is a dead end...

A character includes the mental and the cultural by which I mean that the cultural is things like clothes, spectacles, books and laptops etc. The mental is different. It can be a persons ways, words, habits, thoughts and memories presented in different ways. Psyche - you see and yet you do not see: meanings sift and that is change - forward or backward, change anyway. Else depends of other definitions, metamorphosis, parallels, hyperbolas of thinking, the lighter the more enjoyable - but even that can be conveyed in many different ways. And you choose - you choose the area, limits: law and it's meaning, power and wielding it with consequences, cultural symbolism like the sartorialist wandering in a world of outer specifics - yes they all reflect a inner world, the mind.

Dynamics are the continuum with the time given to each piece developing to rhythm. Usually you build the rhythm so that things/thoughts familiar to you need less time, and those stranger need more time and definitions, angles - but not necessarily! Depends also of the amount: one strange thought or many, one that leads to  multiple ways or  one that leads to a dead-end or death - it depends! Again choices!

A person can be a drifter in a steady environment - a steady environment can be culturally old or it can be chaotic but continuous - the time continuum makes it steady. Yes, how is it possible to have chaotic and steady at the same time? Basic! Like the saying that 'you need not do anything in life except die someday!'  Well, if you don't die now you have to  live and do something! Choices again. A continuum of choices, life , cinema. Yes, and if you create order in those choices - so define order... again anything... 

It is a game, game of meanings, layers, colors, cultures, characters - kaleidoscope again, moving, sifting, changing... Smile: it is a consolation! I am small, light, a drifter, chameleon. Yet I have feelings and deeps no-one knows - endless flow... Don't be boring - everything becomes boring by repetition. Change is the key, the crack, the light. Rational binds everything in concrete and thinking is suffocated, imagination uprooted, play forbidden! Yet they are the only really important: denying them leads to depression and death! 

And it is art when you don't compromise: The close, the main concrete theme is emotionally strongest! Meaning of glances, contacts, feelings, restlessness, touch - visual symptoms of things you can not see... and by telling your story right everyone understands something...

Sunday, July 03, 2011

layers of thoughts...

So I am illegal... Independence is illegal, has always been. Ever since Robin Hood and before - maybe that was how those heroes were created by the common conscience: a need to sanctify and make change, evolving desirable and wanted. 

And my company is not like other companies - a functional devise! What is it then? I just wanted a tool to work with... and some support! All my life I have been listening talk of the importance of support, both spiritual, economical and as an attitude. The idea is like a dream. In reality I have had no friends - my thinking has always been too dynamic and imaginative. No, that is not quite true, but just a few friends... Somehow i still have managed to do what I have wanted - get a pack, or children, that is, and create ideas to make concrete objects. Lonely road it has been, but I am not blaming anyone. As a poet (Leino?) has said 'no man is bad, just some are weaker than other'. That is a consolation of a kind.

I have frequently come across the term 'fair play'. It has an echo of  a meaning that seems worth striving for: justice. Justice itself is a concept not to be achieved because it is an abstraction and as such nonexistent outside thinking. The practical term is fair play.

Also my company is an abstraction - a concept without concrete. Very clean, legal and ideal. What makes it my company is that I have drafted it, thought out the ways to work and means to do it. The idea itself contains some random creativity, the hot spices of life! And the movement, rhythm, yes. The spasms in time: change and evolvement. The life behind the mask.
Some day it, I hope, shall be a concrete bunch of people, cameras and computers, that makes movies! Of what? Of people, living in moments of decision and choice, of suffering and  love. More lovely abstractions! But it is not so difficult. We all have an image of suffering and of love, of friends and of enemies, right? 

A city, or a house is just a shell: what happens is important! Yet the city can appear as a living, bubbling environment    (9 1/2) or a static postcard-like staging or scenery as so often happens. So how come? Maybe they just did not move the people or the camera - both affect!  And how it happens: people, kids, dogs, cats, light, cars - how they move, live, feel and function. BUT: they can be lively but if the camera is settled in one place and they are kind of 'on stage' it does not work! 
Same goes with the difference between interior and exterior. If exterior is a real place and inside the walls we are taken to a studio is can be sensed from the film and breaks the illusion! So ideal would be to film on real location, real houses and apartments - which creates another problem:  so many series and 'consumer movies' are made this way - how to make a difference? Again the camera, tracking and movements! It is essential to the feeling in the film! That you see out when you are in, that you are seen changing surroundings... 

There is something fundamentally true in the process of  education: like the formal... eh, what is it... I miss the term... you know, when someone has been to a school and at the end gets a paper that he/she has completed that education - yes, graduation! Is it an achievement or a restriction? This is a very important question, because to certain part of people it will be a road paved ready and leading straight to where? I don't know, because I belong to that other part of people who forget and go on with the attitude that each day the sun rises anew.  It doesn't mean you would not have memories or a past or a method - no, it only means that the power of that past is behind in that time gone by, not to be played again and again and again anew - that is conservatism and as such stagnant, preserving and imprisoning. And a method is measured by the existing ingredients, kind of... you can not stop giving birth because you are not in a hospital, no - you just have to do it! 

Life does not like stagnant forms - it likes function and flexibility! If a form is a vessel and function is water in it: water in a vessel is water but does it have any of the great characteristics of WATER like a spring or a river, rain or sea, fog or mist?  No, in a vessel we have some liquid, transparent and wet. But water - it is somewhere else...