Closing tabs as a new year opens.
Literally no one cares, is the answer. No one cares. You're alone in the world.
L.A. is explicit about that.
If you can't handle a huge landscape made entirely from concrete, interspersed with 24-hour drugstores stocked with medications you don't need, then don't move there.
It's you and a bunch of parking lots.
You'll see Al Pacino in a traffic jam, wearing a stocking cap; you'll see Cameron Diaz in the check-out line at Whole Foods, giggling through a mask of reptilian skin; you'll see Harry Shearer buying bulk shrimp.
The whole thing is ridiculous. It's the most ridiculous city in the world – but everyone who lives there knows that. No one thinks that L.A. "works," or that it's well-designed, or that it's perfectly functional, or even that it makes sense to have put it there in the first place; they just think it's interesting. And they have fun there.
And the huge irony is that Southern California is where you can actually do what you want to do; you can just relax and be ridiculous. In L.A. you don't have to be embarrassed by yourself.
"I haven't been dreaming in infrared for four months," he says with a smile, as if this were a minor victory for him.
there is a sentence that someone told me after seeing my film and it keesp—it's crazy how it stays in my mind since that. The sentence is that I—maybe it's famous but I do not know—he said, to understand life is to let yourself be carried by it like a cork in a river.
[a.k.a. the Demy steal]
But it is more than that. Again and again, with uncanny sensitivity and acumen, Dyer finds the temporal within the static image. Photography, like jazz (like Dyer’s own life), is entirely “in the moment,” but it is, precisely, an ongoing moment, one that can extend itself through time. “This picture,” he says of a photograph of a woman by Lartigue, “depicts the moment when you fall in love,” and if Lartigue has already been with her for ten years, “it actually proves my point: that look, that meeting of the eyes, still contains the charge of the first unphotographed look from way back when.” Of Michael Ackerman’s blurred and haunting pictures, he says that it is “as if what we are seeing is the record not of a moment but of the way it lingers in the memory and becomes changed by its association with other moments, other memories.” Dyer is especially drawn, of course, to pictures of ruins (including the ones we call faces), objects that embody the past and foretell the future.
And that, I believe, is what has happened over the past few years: The act of photographing, the gesture, has become part of our interaction with the world. You photograph just like you look. You know that you can never look at all of those photographs again (in all likelihood you never will - who has the time?), but it’s not about the photographs - it’s about the photographing. The act of photography might have turned into the equivalent of whistling a song, something you do, something that might or might not have beauty, a communicative act just as much as an affirmative act: I was there, and me being there means I had to photograph it.
Maybe this contrariness is part of his point. As he states at one point, he regards Stalker as a kind of existential test, much as the Zone’s Room functions within the film, and whether he flunks or passes this test is apt to shift from one page to the next. Insofar as the film was a test for me when I saw it for the first time, it was one I clearly flunked; indeed, I’ve rarely hated an art film more for its sheer mulish tenacity in deflating expectations, and it was only after I discovered that I couldn’t shake off its hypnotic persistence and its material and metaphysical drabness that I started to change my mind. One might even call it a battle of wills that I lost.
As Cronenberg’s DVD commentary makes clear, most of the CGI deployed in the film was used to produce naturalistic effects. The film’s look is subdued, resolutely non-spectacular: brown seems to be the dominant colour. Looked back on now, this brownness looks like a refusal of the gloss that will increasingly come to coat the artifacts of digital culture. With its dreary trout farms, ski lodges, and repurposed churches, the world (or, more properly, worlds) of eXistenZ have a mundane, lived-in quality.Or rather worked-in: much of the film happens in workplaces - workshops, gas stations, factories. This focus on work is what now seems most prophetic about eXistenZ. Labour is never explicitly discussed in the film: it is instead something like an ambient theme, omnipresent but unarticulated. The key to eXistenZ’s self-reflexivity is its preoccupation with the conditions of its own production (and the production of culture in general). It presents us with an uncanny compression, in which the “front end” of late capitalist culture – its cutting edge entertainment systems – fold back into the normally unseen “back end” (the quotidian factories, labs and focus groups in which such systems are produced). The clamour of capitalist semiotics – the frenzy of branding sigils and signals – is curiously muted in eXistenZ. Instead of being part of the background hum of experience, as they are in both everyday life and the typical Hollywood movie, brand names appear only rarely in eXistenZ. The that do appear– most of them the names of games companies – leap out of the screen. The generic naming of space is in fact one of the running jokes in the film – a country gas station is simply called Country Gas Station, a motel is called Motel. This is part of the flat affect, the strange tonelessness, which governs most of the film. On the DVD commentary, Cronenberg says that he made the actors wear unpatterned clothes, because patterns would consume more computer memory.
Sometimes the head is tilted, sometimes the body is shifted to one side, sometimes the seat is pushed back to make the effect even more pronounced. It came from a time when all you had to do to look cool in a car was drive and angle back and listen to some good loud music and maybe bop your head slowly.
In the digital age, music has become an incidental pleasure. Once it demanded that we sit at attention; today, with devices that can put a lifetime’s worth of music in our pockets, we pipe music into our own heads on the subway, at the gym, while working on the computer. Rarely is listening the sole or even primary activity in our lives.... Breme calls his invention “Listen Carefully,” and it’s one of three products he submitted as his undergraduate thesis at the University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam, all of which aim to benevolently constrain the way we listen to music. There’s also “Berta,” a set of portable speakers that requires people to be physically located at designated places in order to hear specific songs; and “Adopt-a-Song,” a little scold of a plugin for iTunes that gives away music that you neglect to listen to for too long.