Lewis Bond’s video essay on David Lynch may offer some insight into this work, especially timely with the return of Twin Peaks to television.
“I believe in an unspoken ceremony that occurs when we watch movies. If an audience is to truly offer themselves to cinema, an acknowledgment must be made on
behalf of the observer to momentarily
sacrifice their psychological and emotional bonds so that they be manipulated and molded by the artist. The viewer must then accept that as art is incapable of capturing one’s own
subjective experience, it can never
fulfill all the questions of the individual. Art’s preoccupation with
secrecy can feast on the deepest parts
of you but its mysteries can also
energize something profound within. I suppose cinema’s true affliction as well as its triumph is that its answers are often destined to remain unknown and nowhere is this more truthful than in the work of David Lynch.”
“Lynch submits a series of breaches to what we accept is our reality in the hope that we recognize that what we perceive is only a fraction of what we see and it’s exactly why Lynch intentionally misguides our perceptions through offering plots that embrace a subconscious manner of storytelling. Our expectations so often go unfulfilled in his movies because he shows that we expect so much from life yet know so little.”
– Lewis Bond
Jim Jarmusch, who has a unique cinematic vision, has a new film that has had its debut at Cannes this week titled ‘Paterson’. For me most of his recent films have a poetic aspect to them in that they paint a picture involving the characters that inhabit each of them as opposed to being structured in a strictly narrative form. This latest effort continues in that vein in that it is a story of a bus driver who quietly listens and observes his surroundings with the heart of a poet. Partially influenced by the work of contemporary poet Ron Padgett, the character Paterson composes poems based on the small details of life.
Here is an example of Padgett’s work
“The morning coffee.I’m not sure why I drink it. Maybe it’s the ritual of the cup, the spoon, the hot water, the milk, and the little heap of brown grit, the way they come together to form a nail I can hang the
day on. It’s something to do between being asleep and being awake. Surely there’s something better to do, though, than to drink a cup of instant coffee. Such as meditate? About what? About having a cup of
coffee. A cup of coffee whose first drink is too hot and whose last drink is too cool, but whose many in-between drinks are, like Baby Bear’s porridge, just right. Papa Bear looks disgruntled. He removes his spectacles and swivels his eyes onto the cup that sits before Baby Bear, and then,
after a discrete cough, reaches over and picks it up. Baby Bear doesn’t understand this disruption of the morning routine. Papa Bear brings
the cup close to his face and peers at it intently. The cup shatters in his paw, explodes actually, sending fragments and brown liquid all over the
room. In a way it’s good that Mama Bear isn’t there. Better that she rest in her grave beyond the garden, unaware of what has happened to the world.”
Prose Poem (‘The morning coffee.’) Ron Padgett
Jarmusch in an interview described the relationship portrayed in the film between Paterson and his wife, who spends her days in creative pursuits as
“ a portrait of a very tender love of people who accept each other for who they are. Only Lovers Left Alive was very much the same. The pure form of love is letting people be who they are. It’s a Buddhist thing to be accepting.”
In the same interview he does not ignore the larger world we inhabit but leaves this small tale of two lovers as a poignant reminder of how we can bring beauty to our world even as catastrophe is upon us.
“There are things wrong in this world. The way people treat each other. For us human beings, time is limited on this planet. There are too many people and nature is soon going to rectify this. It is going to be difficult and tragic. We are already in the 6th mass extinction of species. We have to be very grateful for very small details of life. Like this moment here. Here we are talking about a film and it is just a ridiculous thing.”
Please read the rest of the interview here.
Finally it is always a treat for me to hear Jarmusch and his ensemble discuss the films. His graciousness and thoughtfulness toward his partners and those who ask or comment ab0ut his films is very inspiring. For those who enjoy press conferences, please see the short video below.
“Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob, blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his son and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down
and brings up a flowing prophet?
Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?
Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there’s a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins
Suddenly he’s wealthy.
But don’t be satisfied with stories,
how things have gone with others.
Unfold your own myth,
without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.
Start walking towards Shams.
Your legs will get heavy and tired.
Then comes a moment of feeling the wings you’ve grown,
Jelaluddin Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
Michael Meade says that inside stories are stored those important things that people keep forgetting. What stories do our lives tell that remind others of things they are forgetting, or remind us of what we may have forgotten ourselves.
As the stories of our lives unfold, what tales are important to us? What touches us, what reminds us that we are more than what we see in the mirror, more than the thoughts running around inside us. As we live out the arc of our own history, some fables in the form of music, poetry, novels, plays, or films I think link us to something deeper. What these stories are, are a clue to that deeper reality – and a clue to what drives us to express and explore and act in this world as we cycle through it. What drives us to unfold our own myth, as Rumi suggests.
The following are a few films that tell stories that touch me. I tend to feel my way through ideas. If the movie has a story or a metaphor that reaches me emotionally, then I tend to embrace it without necessarily being able to explain it. (The double edged sword of being wired as an INFP). These stories are my own clues to the mystery of my life, I suppose. Why they make me feel so deeply is not as important as the fact that they do.
This first clip is from ‘Heaven’ based on a screenplay co-written by the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Originally intended to be the first part of a trilogy based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy, this production was directed by the German director, Tom Tykwer – one of my favorite filmmakers who took on the project after Kieslowski’s death. The film incorporates and intertwines themes of guilt, redemption, synchronicity, love and fate.
Cloud Atlas, based on the book by David Mitchell, was co-directed by Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings. It layers six different stories in six different eras with characters that it suggests are part of a mosaic that are connected with each other throughout their respective histories. Can your actions have repurcussions into the future, into a future incarnation? Karma, reincarnation, facets of the soul, The Jewel Net of Indra, synchronicities and the question of whether time is linear or cyclical are the creative concepts this film tries to explore.
Gravity, the masterwork directed by Alfonso Cuaron is about a woman adrift in space separated from the earth and separated from the gift of her life she had abandoned. A marvel of technical achievement that also asks if we have the fortitude after living in the safety of the womb to venture out into the dangers and challenges that life brings. The idea of death and rebirth, the power of our sacred animal natures, the raw heart of our courage – are all called into question. This is a must see.
These films are a few of my personal favorites. If you haven’t seen them and are intrigued by the clips shown here, perhaps you will give them a try.