Summer Joy: Moonrise Kingdom, Yellow Submarine and My Life as a Zucchini

Ready for some summer joy?

So far, this summer has been perfect: warm days, cool nights, thunderstorms and comparative freedom. (A heat wave is coming, at which point I will hide.) Also perfect is the balance I’ve struck between obsessing over Twin Peaks Season 3 and some lighter, positively joyous, fare. Over the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, My Life as a Zucchini and Yellow Submarine. All of them are visual knockouts with charming stories.

The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is probably lightest on story. Psychedelic animated music videos alternate together with silly puns and tomfoolery as the Fab Four journey to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies. While John, Paul and George joke, gibe and insult the people around them, superior in their grooviness, Ringo befriends the uncool Nowhere Man. Their friendship is the core of the film. This movie remains beautiful to me every time I see it, and this time I was struck by an early sequence of industrial Liverpool at daybreak. Simply done, but breathtaking.

My Life as a Zucchini (French title Ma Vie de Courgette) tells the story of a little boy called Courgette who suddenly finds himself an orphan. The story and music are lovely, and the visuals are astonishing, quirky, funny and sweet.  All of us have the fears these kids do even if our stories aren’t as extreme as theirs, and they show a lot of heart as they make the most of what they have. I saw this alone, but I imagine kids would love it–and their adults will too.

And last but first is Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.  I love Anderson’s visual worlds and the weird but sincere people who live in them. This story centers on two teen misfits who fall in love and run away. But the course of true love never did run smooth… The stylized compositions, a color palette like a faded Polaroid, maze-like locations and manic chases reminded me of the visuals of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The writing and acting here are similarly terrific. These were first performances for both the kids. Amazing. I especially enjoyed Bruce Willis, cast against type as a forlorn and gentle local lawman. Some people complain that Anderson’s movies try way too hard, but what’s wrong with that when it succeeds like this? I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Be sure to leave a comment with any joyful, charming films you’ve seen recently. I want more!

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Cogito Ergo Sum

Portrait of Rene Descartes, by Franz Hals (1648)

Portrait of Rene Descartes, by Franz Hals (1648)

René Descartes, the French philosopher, walks into a bar. The Bartender says, “Hey, René, you want a scotch?” Descartes replies, “No, I think not.” And then he vanishes.

Happy Birthday, Monsieur Descartes!

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Child’s Play

child's playTo say this is child’s play speaks only to the content. This is one of my rare attempts to draw children, and it is modestly successful. It is a sketch in markers and color pencils from earlier in the month. A bit overworked, but I like it.

 

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More Forrest


My scanner is down and I’ve been working again after a long lay-off, so I haven’t been posting like I want to. I’m back to drawing every day, though, so that’s the good news. Here are a few drawings from back in December–photos since the scanner is caput–more Forrest Bondurant. I hope all you Tom Hardy fans will enjoy his baggy sweater finery. And yes, with his hands in his pockets, you know he’s getting ready with the brass knuckles. Not that he’s an aggressive guy, but he will protect his rights and his own. Gotta love Forrest.

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Lessons from Forrest Bondurant

You can learn a lot of lessons from Forrest Bondurant, Tom Hardy’s character in Lawless

  • Never surrender.
  • Always hit first (it helps to have brass knuckles in your pocket at all times).
  • It’s not about the violence; it’s about how far you are willing to go.
  • Being gentle is alright (but stay out of trouble).
  • Believe in yourself (including crazy stuff like you’re unkillable).
  • Fear is good. Everyone feels it, just learn to control it.
  • It is wrong to draw a gun on a woman.
  • It ain’t about the money, it’s about the principle of the thing.

And so much more.

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy learning to draw Tom Hardy–and that is its own reward.

Uncertain at Any Speed

Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg

Werner Heisenberg is speeding down the road and a cop pulls him over. The cop says “Sir, do you have any idea how fast your were going?”

Heisenberg says “No, but I know exactly where I am.”

Happy Birthday, Herr Heisenberg!

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NaNo #7 Dream

Against all the odds, I’ve just won my seventh NaNoWriMo. It feels so fucking good! What a slog this one was. There was zero prep: no plot, one guy with character notes, the voice of a female narrator, but nothing else. What it meant was two weeks of  non-stop exploration: hearing voices in a darkened room, finding out who they belonged to and what they wanted, and trying to turn the lights on bit by bit to discover the world they inhabited. All fueled by a 40 song playlist I built on YouTube including Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, Danzig, Neil Young, Don Omar, Railroad Earth. Macklemore and Lady Gaga, among others. (Yeah, it was that kind of story.)

After this time together, I truly-deeply love Romie, Donnie and all their friends: Mom, Bert, Lucy, Preston Gowan, Lothar Tucker, Leon, Spider, DeShay Carter, Toni, Ronette, Audrey and Dad, Rosa Rivera and all the boys at the Juliet.

I’m going to take a few days to resume normal living with a side helping of gloating. Thanks to those who cheered me on.

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NaNo (again): or the risks of competition

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-150In the end, I couldn’t help myself. I haven’t done National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short) since 2011, and with the memory of how difficult that one was (for no obvious reason) and how emotionally exhausting my work life was after that point, it was easy enough to just stay well enough out of it. And I don’t write as much as I used to. But every November I miss the excitement of it in a nostalgic way. This year one of my writer friends decided to do it, and it really made me think….

I did have notes for a character I wanted to use someday, but I never envisioned him as a protagonist, which meant I needed at least one other person. And there is no plot. So, stealthily, I began writing on November 1st, not much, but I began. I didn’t sign up though; my creative energy was very low, few ideas formed, and nothing was flowing, no spark. How could I a commitment I’d only fail at? I know myself well enough to see that a failure this year might keep me away forever. So I waited.

The days rolled by and I got a few words here and there, but I had no big ideas, no plot, characters just mindlessly going through motions….until yesterday. Yesterday, I started to make connections, understand something about my characters’ secrets and strong images began to form. So I signed up. Thousands and thousands of words behind, but I signed up. The working title is Beautiful Dreamer and seems to be about a naive girl with a ridiculous vision of her future and the troubled man she thinks can make it happen for her. Now I’ve got to make the story happen. I have the time, if not the energy, but I’m going for it. Wish me luck.

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Truthiness

the-don-colonial
One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government.–Donald Trump