Thursday, January 24, 2008

A week at the movies

My membership to City Cinema had run out a little while ago, and since the member price has recently gone up I had decided not to bother getting another one. But after going there for the third night in four days I probably should have ponied up for one already.

On Monday I saw Control, a biopic about Ian Curtis, former singer of the band Joy Division. What I liked about it was the way it painted industrial Britain in the late 1970s. Partly with the black and white .. I was going to write 'film' but it was shot in colour and just transformed to B&W afterwards. Not sure how to refer to that. Anyway, it gave everything a sea of grey and beige tones, rather than the more stark high-contrast look of a lot of traditional black and white films. Also, the sparse sets and props they used, likely out of budget constraints. But the rooms were very bare, and everything seemed lifeless and people fittingly bleak, it all came together to make you completely understand and appreciate why someone would want to start making the kind of music Joy Division were known for.

The other pretty impressive accomplishment of the film was to convince me, for the first time, to believe a rock star when he says he never wanted to be famous. I usually don't believe it, but the way the actor playing Curtis talked about how performing and touring took so much energy out of him, coupled with the epileptic fits he suffered from, which he had only recently realized could kill him, you can empathize with a young kid who just wanted his simple contented life back.

On Wednesday I saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I have a bit of a problem when seeing movies in the theatres, where if there's a really uncomfortable moment where a character is doing something utterly terrible or heartbreaking, I will start to laugh. I have very little ability to take things seriously when I know they're fiction, conceived in a writer's mind and thrown up on the screen for my enjoyment. I can't get scared at horror movies and I can't get upset when a character acts as completely evilly and reprehensibly as the characters in this film. That's not to say it wasn't good, it was excellent with some of the best acting I've seen in a long time. I just felt like kind of funny for getting such a kick out of it while everyone else in the theatre would gasp and shake their heads while I'd be barely suppressing a giggle.

And I just got back from How to Cook Your Life, a nice, straightforward documentary about a zen master who uses cooking to illustrate some zen principles to those who come to his centre.

I've always seen zen teachers like him as more entertainers than true spiritual leaders to be revered, probably because I don't believe in revering or in any way approaching worshipping another person. And I appreciate them for what they are and what they are good at, but at the same time the people who pay the thousands of dollars to go to these things often are just looking for spiritual enlightenment at the end of a credit card, just a trendier version than what they'd get at church.

But all that said, he does do a good job of getting people to live in the moment, practise mindfulness and try and let go of their stresses and worries by engaging them in the act of cooking. This is definitely much more interesting than most buddhism for yuppies sessions where you just sit around watching yourself breathe for a while.

And it's a funny example of the nature of Zen as well, that you find Zen in the simplest things, and even the most necessary things, like cooking and eating, but in that it is really nothing hidden that you will find and then reach some higher level of existence, it's just a very insistent idea that everything just is the way it is, and you might as well learn to live with it.

My version of putting that principle into practise was how I really did enjoy my quiet walk home in this Canadian winter, and being able to genuinely enjoy walking in the kind of weather that makes itself known and forces you out of your own mind and into observing every step and every breath, whether you want to or not.

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By al - 11:43 PM |

Comments:
I love that you still blog...I wish I could...it's just not in me anymore....and I cringe to think that should I start again, my students might find it.....

Kayla (formerly of the femtube)
 
I miss the Femtube. Have many of your students tried to add you to facebook yet?
 
I saw Control too. I also read "Touching from a Distance" by Deborah Curtis. The funny thing about Ian Curtis (from what I've gathered from the book, and the movie--I also want to read "Torn Apart" by Lindsay Reade [Tony Wilson's wife around the time of Joy Division] as a supplement to try and see the perspective of the band, Curtis' family, and Annik Honore] as Deborah Curtis has been criticized for factual "misrepresentations" in Touching from a Distance. ANYWAY...) is that while he was all about BECOMING famous, he didn't actually enjoy BEING famous.

Anyway, yeah. See you at trivia tomorrow!
 
Yeah that doesn't really surprise me once I had read what a strong hand she had in the production.
 
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