Watching Scraps: La La Land and West Side Story (2021)

I was going to see West Side Story, and I had a bit of time earlier in the day, so I thought I might put on La La Land to see how it’s aged.

Always, around, the posters, the crowd, in the background. When Emma Stone goes into the restaurant, she slips through time slightly, caught by a melody. Potent icon of a lost time, attractive to romantics, the jazz piano solo. Trying to escape the grind, or be successful at creating a kind of special creation, having the cake and eating it.

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Watching Scraps – Nightcrawler

1 – A business school manual grew legs, and eyes, and became Lou Bloom. This means that somewhere in the world there is someone who saw this movie and thought that Lou Bloom was an American hero. A manic capitalist.

2 – The moment when Lou Bloom first reaches into the accident-event to change things, improving the shot, the frame of the film itself gives a small shake, bringing the second, invisible camera operator into the world of the film. It nudges you into realising that your titillation is the aim of this film, just as Lou Bloom’s footage aims to titillate the viewers of the Los Angeles early morning news. You are the ones making all this possible.

3 – Lou Bloom is part of the fourth, neoliberal, emergency service – those who capture the image and pin it onto the wall with its red thread. Who arrive after the accident and try to sell it.

4 – The shot of Riz Ahmed’s (Rick’s) profile, lying on the road looking up, and then the fade to the cityscape of Los Angeles. He lies dead over the city, making the symbol of the society that sacrificed him; a good, and desperate man. This business mindset is to blame, and he should haunt them above the horizon as the clouds of wildfire smoke do.

5 – We end with the big expensive watch, the eternal desire of the business guy. The watch, a sign of having made it. I have the big watch, the metal wrist. Tick tick tick. Look at my watch, it doesn’t care about you. And with the induction speech for the internship, the boss=psychopath identification is complete.

6 – Does the film want us to interpret it materialistically? It shows us the broadcast towers again and again, as if it wants to say – this is what is wrought by these metal towers. An almost Lynchian feeling. But that is obviously too simple. As the vans of the new business drive off, into the sustained American nightmare.

Watching Scraps: Magnolia

In Magnolia, abusers are forgiven their crimes by frogs falling from the sky. This means that it answers its own question about the coincidence or not of events with a resounding dollop of ‘everything is chaos’. Or it must be a sort of redemption story, having this Christian vibe. But who is redeemed? We are given reasons for some of the abusers’ behaviour, but that doesn’t constitute a redemption. Breaking down in tears is not a redemption, nor is a phone call. Dying is not a redemption, nor is admitting to wrongdoing. Redemption is the hard work that comes after the realisation of wrongdoing, and the apology.

Watching Scraps: It Happened One Night & Alien: Covenant

What happens one night? Well, Cary Grant’s lead decides to stalk a lady on the night bus. His intentions are pure, of course, because in this universe, sex only exists under very specific conditions.

She’s just too stupid to get along! He carries her across the country, and in the process, she falls in love with him. He isn’t sure whether to reciprocate at first, but then he decides to make a 3 hour drive to New York, write an article of several pages, and then return to the motel in another epic 3 hour drive, before she wakes up, to accept her love. And would you know it, he doesn’t quite make it in time!

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Star Wars

/Star Wars makes me feel a lot of things which are hard to put into words, maybe it’s most crudely put, and revealingly put when I say ‘I want to be Star Wars’ because if I try and flesh it out with – ‘I want to be x in Star Wars’ I can never find the true sentence, when I try and concretely work it out, as I don’t want to act in it, I don’t want to design it, I don’t want to film it, I don’t want to direct it, although it’s possible that I want to write it, rather I want to be absorbed by the complex continuum of elements which make up Star Wars, which, if it is a consistent whole, is a crazy super-object which includes zones affected by thousands of people, the writers and directors, thousands of designers and concept artists and many thousands of manifold experiences I have had as a child and young adult, and the structural relations of the story and other stories and myths and emotions, and the complex expectations which I have of Star Wars as I watch it (governed by hundreds of other films I have seen, and stories I have read, people I have known) which combine and create a strange almost ‘sublime’ overload which is maybe an up-welling of strong lines of emotional affect, of enjoyment and agreement with message, map, territory, and the being of the multiple work of art that Star Wars is, which is bound up with a kind of attraction, a call to meditation, an enjoyment of and towards the thing – like an enchanted sea which pulls you towards it and you lose yourself in the waves…

Basically I need to stop being selfish and not trying to create because I can’t create all of an idealised thing which is actually the record of a hard to define or impossible community, and stop being afraid of trying, if that’s what it is (it’s definitely one way of saying it) and though it’s hard to remember it in the midst of things, there are other, worthy ‘stories’ to let go, but the feeling we call by the unsatisfactory name of ‘being a part of something’ is hard to shake or replace/