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7.27.2008

I HAVEN'T DREAMT OF FLYING FOR A WHILE

Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Directed by Julian Schnabel
Written by Ronald Harwood
From the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby









The eye is everything, the eye is the universe, the eye is God. And the eye is what Schnabel nails, that crucial POV. Crucial out of how the eye is all that’s left of Jean Dominque Bauby that works after an apocalyptic stroke leaves him severely crippled - - -well, that and his lucid brain. Disembodied but connective, biological yet psychic, it drinks in the world around it with a fetishistic relish, it ogles cleavage all boy and lascivious, it gums up when it gets so lonesome it could cry.

Bauby, he had no mouth and he must scream, sort of. And the eye was it- - - breaking down gregarious streams of consciousness into particles of code. I don’t quite get how it works exactly, this alphabet of twitches and tics, and don’t much care to, really. Knowing perhaps that as a feat of will, it’s a marvel, but as a trope, it can get distracting and turn gimmicky, Schnabel resists making its termite interstices and multiple moving parts central. He resists, too, making goo of injury. The human spirit rah-rah. The banalities of melodrama. Not that old school tearjerk is above him. Just lurid self-pitying, store-bought pathos, groveling for sympathy, cliche. The beach scene with Bauby and family gets milked for poignant crush once and never again and it’s the desperate yearning of Tom Waits’ All The World Is Green that does most of the work.

Bauby’s profound wreckage, reduced from robust to debris by the whip of fate. But it’s his loved ones that dismantle - - -and Max Von Sydow as his father disintegrates so brutally it claws lesions in my forebrain. Otherwise, Bauby’s funny, unrepentant, perverse, agog. What he sees through his cyclop gaze is a heightened state. Of bewilderment and awe. Of hallucination and catharsis. Slide past 35 and the horror story of locked-in syndrome seeps like ink into your brainfolds. That scene when it strikes Bauby gave me palpitations. I couldn't look. Locked-in syndrome is a terminal sentence. And the diving bell is more than a metaphor for Bauby's insurgent body. It’s the locked room the dying hole up in, the one with a less dispiriting view, with the possibility of uplift. Making peace with death,after all, is the ultimate triumph of the will. And its beautiful oblivion is what Schnabel aims for. No one is more alive than someone aware of his doom. It's a sad and awful thing but also a transcendent thing , a blissful thing, a state of grace, and when that rampant eye takes flight like a superpower , it soars high enough that it defies the gravity of the situation.

7.26.2008

WHAT WE DON'T TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE

Paalam Aking Bulalakaw (Goodbye My Shooting Star)
Directed and Written by Khavn De La Cruz
Dialogue by Khavn De La Cruz & Meryll Soriano








Who knows what came to pass between K and Ana before today? K is, of course, director Khavn himself sort of, the man with the movie camera whom we never see, and Ana is Meryll Soriano, his obscure object of desire whom we can't take our eyes off. They talk and it's not as if it gets so obtuse as to resist parsing. Just weightless and hesitant and stumblebum . There are no codes in the conversation to decipher. What we talk about when we talk about love are the things that go unsaid anyway. The inarticulate speech of the heart. So maybe we should just take Khavn's word for it that K loves Ana and that's as far as it got. Which then makes this. . . what? Chance? Or design? Date? Or destiny? Unrequited? Reunited?

The Linklater parallels you invoke only to cut a long story short and to peg what can be a bitch to peg, what is better off seeing for yourself- - - Before Sunrise at 30 f.p.s. on a shoestring. The parallelism does take, somewhat - - - the walking around, the talking around, the going everywhere, the going nowhere. But there's no arc in this first person love story, no fate playing matchmaker, no intrusions from the universe. Only the brutal symmetry - - - the solipsistic economy and delicate equilibrium and minimalist stasis
- - - of its POV.

It's the longest goodbye in the universe when your shooting star burns out, shooting star here's used loosely, figuratively. It rings more poetically in the vernacular - - -bulalakaw. You call them that because they burn so bright, because you wistfully look to the sky for their trajectories to cross your radar again even after their orbits have passed most likely forever, because you wish on them. But you knew that and maybe you knew that out of having had this extraterrestrial hurt too, out of having the unforgettable face of that lapsed darling afterimaging in your head long after her radio silence, her invisibility, her supernova before your eyes. And all of this is in K's head. Like the lovesongs falling on deaf ears, like the poetry in the details, like the words that fail, like the wishfully-thinking extraterrestrial hurt it hooks me with.