Friday, November 30, 2007

A sullen series of segmented snippets.


The air was crackling, electricity flying through it carelessly, as if it belonged there, not looking for any grounding. It crackled alongside the rain that fell, the two of them locked into each other through some kind of bizarre symbiosis, mutually giving each other purpose, purpose as well as life. They were both alive, both always moving, one falling, one flying. Neither cared about anything else, only seeking to continue their carefree existence. It was in this place, that the men had fallen silent.

…and then…

He was trying to make it work. It was hard, suffering through mornings. Wading through people and their stares. He would try to say what he thought should be said. He did alright. Some of the time. He didn’t know about other times. The person would walk to the bathroom. Or outside. He would get there and look up at the ceiling or the sky. Didn’t matter which. Then he would spit out all that he could. He’d hoped that no one would notice this. If they did, no one told him. He would hack it all out and then walk back into their world. He was home in the dead of night.

…followed by…

His eyes were bad, but he tried. He would lean back as if trying to appear relaxed (for the benefit of anyone who might have casually walked on by), while in reality his muscles were as taut as those of a moonlit tiger; both of them waiting, waiting, waiting for their moment. Milton only wished for things that soared across the sky.

…continued with…

I force myself to remember those things. Sitting here on the hilltop, looking over at my friend Walter, shivering from a cold that none else can feel, but all can understand. Remember those times when the world thought it was wallowing, wading through a knee-deep refuse of horror and discomfort, problems with the air and the water and the feelings and the lives and the people. People snapping down their freshly delivered morning papers, spouting off lines about the abuse and the mistrust and the anger and the deception and the real, honest to golly truth. Mothers marching down the streets, holding signs up in the air, shouting that their children are under attack by the vagrancy and the lies and the vulgarity and the depravity and the hatred. I force myself to remember. But really, I remember the children themselves.

…interrupted with…

You can also be kind of a cunt.

…resuscitated by…

“Do you trust me?” Her voice was clear. It didn’t waver.
“Of course I do.” My voice was dry. It crackled out of my mouth, sounding as if I’d been gargling buckets of sand. I didn’t want to sound that way. I wanted to sound like I was standing tall, a man to be counted on. I’m not normally that way, and I’m usually ok with that. Usually. She was looking into my eyes.
I couldn’t look away. My face was locked in, focusing on those two tiny little dots, finding that center as easily as one might trip and fall. And fall I did, I couldn’t help it, my mind falling right down, losing myself simply because she wanted me to.

…connected to…

She was a journalist, you see. A journalist, fair and true. Not one who stood before a cameraman, feverishly checking her hair only seconds before informing everyone on a nationwide network that the building behind her, clearly burning to the naked eye, was on fire. No, she was a true journalist, in every sense of the word.
As he would learn over the course of time, she was a person who had known what it was like to be cast to the icy cold concrete floor of some godforsaken shit-hole of an African schoolhouse, all in the hopes of finding the words of the current insurgent military leader who had been holding his armaments in a house built for learning. If you knew her well enough, you could ask her to tell you a story, and she could then paint a portrait of the time that she had spent with one of the worlds greatest living authors, watching a great man wither away physically while listening to the sound of a once tightly wound bag of thought being torn apart at its innermost seams. And if you had the stomach to listen, she would eventually tell you how it felt to hold the hand of someone who was falling, falling, falling, until the very last moment where his thoughts finally burst open like an already wounded animal splitting apart on jagged rocks. She had felt him go. And she had only let herself cry once the story had finally been done.

…passed on with…

There were trees, where we were. More trees than I was used to. It felt like we were driving down a stretch of classical Americana, Mary-Jean singing silently to herself as she adjusted the wheel with casual, subtle motions. She held her cigarette close inside the car, afraid that she might toss it out onto a patch of incendiary leaves. What a shame that would be. I can just picture it: A single glowing spark from that little tube glowing just a little brighter than the rest of its brethren, its soft orange light hot enough to ruin a patch of the world. Dry leaves, resting for a moment before the next gust of wind carried on with their journey down the road. That single, hungry spark. I wonder what it would be like, driving down this tranquil lane, if all the world were heat and fury.

…and so…

The sheet of darkness covered me, black as the face of perdition.


But now, for all that were there to witness it, there was only silence.

…so that’s something.


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

A picture (a review).

For you, a picture:
There’s a man, walking under the unwavering glare of the Sun in the Sky. His feet scuff quietly in the shallow yet always swirling dust, kicking up tiny clouds around his feet that mean nothing to anyone but him. If you could hear him, his breath would be hot and labored, coming out in staccato bursts that do nothing in the desert expanse. The man, he’s alone. The man, he’s cold.

Under the unwavering eye of the Sun in the Sky, he’s freezing.

His heat is leaving him, erupting in a steady series of gobs that force their way out despite the pressure of his fingers, the pressure that steadily wanes as the heat, the heat of him, the heat of him draws dark patterns on the dryness of the dirt. He hasn’t got long. Not long before his legs go slack, bringing him crashing down with a tiny, but thunderous echo; not long before the legs eventually stiffen, his glassy eyes fading to black with nothing beautiful before them other than the swirling dust pecking at his face.

It’s cold. But it isn’t strange.
It’s the world.


No Country for Old Men is cold. That much is certain.
And certainly, it’s not without precedent. Them there splentacular Coen Bros. have provided us with a multitude of offerings over the course of their filming years, films that have been funny and sad and violent and verbose and lengthy and quiet and dismal and sordid and random and obtuse. And yes: they’ve given us a wealth of things that were cold. Warm blood dripping itself icy on hardwood floors; cold sweat running down foreheads as a man dragged a corpse from the light; feelings that shatter like glass as a man with a gun in his hand dismisses emotion in order to do what must be done; something moving within us, as we see a daemon force his way down a the halls of a building consumed by angry fire; and of course, dismal landscape of blistering white, enveloping everything with truly, truly oppressive nature. Truth be told, when looking towards this New Country for Viewing Wo/Men, there are many similarities to be found.

There they are, in the quiet, and in the loud. In the spaces wide and cramped. In the worlds those Brothers have built under the Sun in the Sky.

But this…

This is different.
Even though it isn’t.
Because it is.

The differences come, and we don’t feel the same. We feel shamed and frightened and invigorated and tense and alive. We feel different. Because of the cold.

It affects us, as we sit there in the dark. Away from the light of the Sun in the Sky.
We sit down, and we watch. There they are, a small pack of people revealing themselves in full through the course of their methodology. And they do, you see. Lives and pasts, unfurling before a transfixed audience without exactly being explicitly stated, instead only being expressed by the manner in which they do things, and the way that they seem to bend down and touch the world with their fingers, as if they were looking to feel a pulse. It’s strange to me, thinking about that. Because we never seem to learn for sure. But we learn that they try to feel.

They feel cold and alone on our warm, lonely planet.
They don’t feel lonely.

They are alone.
We know this, as they discover this. We can see it in their faces: The horrifying smile of the monstrous Anton Chigurh, knowing enough to accept the ways of Chaos and the altering paths of Choice. The stoic features of Llewellyn Moss, locked in acceptance of a possibility, while still holding a silent hope -- a belief -- that there is a chance of weary absolution on the face of the Earth.

And there is the face of the Sheriff, looking as if he wants to cough the bitter taste of the world from the corners of his mouth. That’s it. That’s what he wants. He wants a sense of knowing, something for him to comprehend, something for him to believe in. A man terrified by the choices made by the Sun in the Sky. A more pleasant way of saying that there is nothing but the heat and expanse. Choices made by nothing but Chaos.
No, not lonely.


When I sat in my seat of this film for the first time, watching the credits roll in their quiet way, I heard a man speak these words from behind my head:

You gotta be a genius to figure this one out.”

Such words are ones that I will never really understand. Because while this film is never easy, it is certainly never difficult. It knows what it wants, and it knows what it wants to say. Sketching marks of cold across the screen with the same deliberate methods of its characters, letting us know all that we need to know. All that we need.
Not what we want. What we need.

When it was over and done with, I looked down at my hands and saw that they were trembling. Something so slight that it wouldn’t be noticed by anyone other my own self.

And yet, I was unafraid.
This film has been called nihilistic, it’s been called brutal; it’s been called numerous things, some right, some misguided. But while the world presented here is caustic, violent, and random it is never depressing. Not to me. Because this is the world that I believe in, a state of being a person beneath the Nothing in the Nil. I trembled because of immersion. I trembled because of wonder. I trembled because those Coens reached into my caffeine soaked heart and traced cold through me, with nothing more than the brutal lives of men. I trembled because I was affected, by things that I might not even be able to say.

Here I am, cold and alone on our warm, lonely planet.
Am I sailing to Byzantium? No.

But I’m nothing short of amazed.

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