The Tower of Babel

It’s not like it never happens. It happens all the time.

We just never notice.

Well, most of us never notice.

On the other hand, were more of us proficient in other languages, we would be far more indignant about the sheer volume of cases of incorrect subtitling that occur on a film-by-film basis. But, alas, we are not. So they pass us by, and we accept foreign films as having a certain amount of fidelity to their original intentions, linguistically.

To be fair, there are a good number of films that do maintain a pretty faithful translatory nature. However, it is in those few films that stray so desparately from either the exact wording or the feel of the dialogue that are the bad apples that ruin the bunch.

The tragedy comes when it happens to a film as breathtaking and ground-breaking in many ways as Let The Right One In. I was sitting here tonight, and my good friend Gariana from Popcorn Mafia sends me this link that nearly sent me screaming down the street, accusing any young studio exec-type within yelling distance of having *anything* to do with it (even though I knew, full well, that they had no such position in the matter).

So yes. It appears that someone has decided that Americans, on the whole, were ready only for Twilight when it came to Vampire movies. The dumbing down of the subtitles on the DVD is not only ludicrous it’s insulting. Thanks to RobG at Icons Of Fright, I now know that I will not be buying the American release. His treatment of the subtitling and what was “lost in translation” is not only informative, but incisive and well-displayed.

In any case, just a FYI and a heads’ up. If you care about the film (and you really should- its ALL about the “little things” in this film that can ONLY be conveyed through the incredible use of finely attenuated dialogue and storytelling), do yourself a favor and skip the American release- get the Canadian release, get the Korean/Swedish/Swahili…who cares! Just as long as the subtitles are more finely accented to the Real Dialogue.

If they are not, you lose half the film, and it would be like seeing the film without hearing it, or vice versa, a very difficult proposition indeed.

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Curtain Call

I have a bone to pick. And there is a hellovalot of marrow inside so…watch out.

Look, I know the economy sucks. I know prices of things have gone up substantially in the last 10+ years. And furthermore, I know that changes in technology have gifted us with the wondrous ability to have more things at our beck and call than ever before in our small and insignificant lifetimes. I KNOW. I’ve been here, living it too.

I’m not unsympathetic. However, at some point we have to make a choice. Draw a line. We have to figure out what is important to us as individuals and as human beings, and we need to stick to that. I like technology as much as the next person, however I am seeing some very difficult things within its soft and welcoming folds.  As it envelops, it seems to also trap and keep in certain circumstances. It’s intoxicating and addicting. And THAT is where the danger lies.

The danger with technological advancement lies in the part where people would rather interact with each other over a video game system online than even playing video games together in the same house. The danger lies when people would rather text message each other complete conversations than have a vocal conversation. The danger lies in people preferring to stay at home and watch a film because the “other people” at the theater are really annoying, and at least at home it’s more comfortable, completely forgoing the entire way that a film was designed and created to be watched.

Theoretically, all of these things are fucking fascinating. They are creating an entirely new culture that is removing itself from each other and human interaction. Human robots, so to speak. The less contact we have with each other, the less effort we have to put forth into our relationships and the less energy we have to put into knowing other people. We expect less, we want less, we give less. Tragedy is, those of us who don’t buy into this? We also get less from the vast majority of folks on the planet these days, as well. But that doesn’t stop me from expecting more, as frustrated as I may be and frustrating as the whole thing is. I was not raised to have 1/2 relationships, nor was I trained academically to interact with people in such a way that was unbecoming to what my full potential could be. Now I fully recognize that in the last few years my behavior has been less than stellar, and I have been less than 100% of what I “could be” but that only gets you so far until you realize that its utter crap and makes you incredibly unhappy.

So then you change.

And you alter your behavior. Which I have done. Much to ny satisfaction.

I had a point to this entry. I wanted to gear it towards the discussion of why we should make it a point to attend theaters for our film-viewing, but perhaps I shall go into that more in-depth another time. For now, perhaps I have babbled enough. I have much more to say, but I have gotten to a point where I am perhaps a bit more frustrated than I should be in order to write coherently.

Thanks for listening…

Happy Birthday Bill!!!

Right-o, since I’m still a-workin’ on somethin’ bigger, and the inimitable James Tiberius Kirk/Denny Crane/Man who had the Nightmare at 20,000 Feet/Priceline Negotiator, etc CLEARLY takes precedence ANYWAY….Have at it.

Happy 78th birthday to the one…the only….William Alan Shatner.

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Plus I shall give you Henry Rollins on his experience recording with Bill….

And some puppets singing the recorded song. Because the song? Fucking rules. And….so do puppets. In general.

ENJOY!!!!

My time in a Dublin Police Station…

Y’know, traveling is a fun AND a funny thing.

You get to have all KINDS of experiences. ESPECIALLY on holidays.

Especially on HOLIDAYS in FOREIGN COUNTRIES.

st-patricks-day-1

So St. Patrick’s Day has a long and involved history, right? Involving religion, and snakes, and all sorts of fun stuff. But to a few 20-21 year old kids going to college in the UK, well, it was……about going to St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Not so much about historical pretense. Even if we were well educated individuals who actually did (and still do) care a great deal about the ways in which theology and history intersect to create ritualistic celebration. However, one must admit- it’s changed quite a bit from St. Patrick and his Snakes, no?

In any case, there we were. In Dublin. March of 2001. I was 21 years old. We had decided to go to Ireland, oh…maybe…72 hours previous.

I was with my Partner in Crime, my Ultimate Traveling Companion, the girl I met at school in the UK who hailed from Wisconsin. What *is* it about Wisconsin??? Constantly meeting awesomely people from there. Must be in the custard or the brats.

At any rate, there we were.

We’d done the “night.”

We’d hit the pubs, drank the Guiness, seen the madness, and were ready to call it a night.

…only we couldn’t. And funny thing? Neither could the folks we came with.

See it was almost comedic. I do say ALMOST. It was quite like those movies where you watch in horror as the people disperse into disastrous chaos and simply laugh. And why do we laugh? Because we know, according to filmic convention, that, in the end, It Will All Be Just Fine.

This didn’t seem like one of those movies when we were standing on the street, freezing our asses off, and all the bars were closing at about midnight or 1am. Yeah. That’s what we thought too. A bit early.

See, Ireland gets super cold at night and…..we were c.o.l.d.

I admit- our planning was POOR, at best. We, um, well….were gonna wait until the bus station opened at 6am, then leave. BUT, we were hoping that there would be stuff going on until at *least* 2, and then? Well, we hoped we could find a diner or something

No such luck.

Oh, the stupidity of youth. However, that stupidity makes for GREAT storytelling. Eventually. Once the hypothermia wears off.

I have images of our somewhat inebriated compatriots waiting for the bus or taxis back to the hostel in County Cork (a good WAYS off). We kept passing them, as we searched for somewhere to hang out for a few hours. And no, it wasn’t pretty.

It looked like the damned zombie apocalypse was coming, because we weren’t the only bad planners. There were a whole bunch more, only………they were SERIOUSLY drunk and my friend and I? Well, we were actually only pleasantly celebrational. Like, as in, we could stand, walk, ENJOY ourselves.

However, we were caught up in the rest of the folks banging on hotel doors to let us in for a few hours of respite.

No such luck.

And we kept passing our poor friends who were still waiting for the cabs.

Finally, exhausted, after a few more mishaps, we just didn’t know what to do.

A kind soul took pity on us.

“The police station, “ they said, “Just go there. They won’t bother you at all. You can sit there as long as you want.”

We looked at each other in disbelief. Neither of us were, um, too keen on the idea, shall we say? However, what did we have to lose?

We headed down towards the station. And entered the next part of our adventure.

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OK, so we were in the damn Dublin Police Station for St. Patrick’s Day.

Can you get much more bizarre than that? Well, yes you can. She and I sat there. Staring at the wall, shivering and wondering a) how the hell we got there in the first place, b) how the hell we were gonna stay awake until the bus station opened and c) what we would say to the nice Irish police officers, should they ask us why we just barged into the police station and sat down, without saying a word to anyone.

Dublin Police Station

Dublin Police Station

Just as we were coming to terms with our fate…….SHE came in, accompanied by another woman and two of the aforesaid Irish Police Officers (who, for the record, completely ignored us except for once, if I remember correctly, for the entirety of our “visit”). One of the women was taken back “behind the scenes,” while the other? She became our friend for the evening.

And boy oh boy, was she our friend. Aside from the nice homeless man, eating bread and listening to his walkman in the far corner, she was the only person in their with us. And we were her captive (and I DO mean captive) audience.

“Ah, but she’s sech a good gerl, she shouldna been done fer tha drunk drivin’, ye see, she’s a good gerl, y’see,” she kept telling us.

We nodded in agreement. Of course she was. Of course.

Then she asked us some questions, I think. Her sobriety, of course, was….less than reliable. We mostly just froze and agreed with Everything She Said. Because she Wouldn’t Stop Talking.

You think *I* talk a lot? You never met HER.

Mostly about what a good girl her friend was, and how she just “shouldna been done like tha’” of course, but she really was what my mother would call a “character.”

If you think this lasted forever, well you’d be right. IT DID.

And there wasn’t much we could do but listen to her. It’s entertaining now, but woah nelly.

At some point, she realized that as an audience we weren’t much, and started to try to figure out what to do about LEAVING.

That’s when the REAL FUN began.

She started to flip the lights on and off. She started running around the room. She started to knock on the bulletproof glass where the policeman/receptionist sat. Not only did this disturb him, but our Homeless Friend started going bonkers. He removed himself from underneath the seats, and started to be, um, not so happy with her, making sounds of protest, quite zombie-like, where he had been perfectly well behaved and just calm and walkman-listening before. Now he was ALL about the bread-chomping and pissed off at her proclivities towards flashing lights on/off and generally disturbing the peace.

The woman went a bit loopy, to say the least. At this juncture, our friend was spoken to. Firmly. By her friends, the nice police officers who had taken her friend in. They informed her in no uncertain terms that if she did not QUIT IT IMMEDIATELY, she would join her friend, the “nice gerl.”

Pouting, she sat down.

My companion and I sighed with relief as the tension left the air.

Shortly thereafter, she was escorted from the premises to meet her friend (we assume?), and it became light outside. The Dublin bus station opened, and my Partner In Crime and I removed ourselves from the freezing chairs (they left the doors open all night- it was no warmer inside the station than it was outside), and got ourselves to the airport.

FAST.

So, my friends, that was my story for this St. Patrick’s Day. Hope yours is well and good! Please be careful and well, keep safe and most of all, stay outta police stations!!

Are you down with the sickness?: In a Lonely Place and Modern Traumas

Interesting times right now, I have to say.  And the synergy of my film viewing and the world at large is not going unnoticed by this rabid cinephile.

Tonight I went to the Silent Movie Theater to see In a Lonely Place, a film that I fell in love with back in college at UCSC, when my best friend Ray showed it to me. Since then, I have read the book it was based on, wrote a paper about it, and, better still, found an absolutely fucking BRILLIANT song that was based on it (using one of the best lines from the damn film).

This is undoubtedly a troubling film. There is no question in my mind that it is one of Bogart’s best performances, as you see his range of acting through an array of facial expressions that he rarely gets the opportunity to use in most of his more standard roles, however…it makes the film (and his character) that much more, well, disturbing.

See, there’s a murder, right? And it’s a noir, so there seems to be a wrong man thing, right? (And no, I’m NOT going to give anything away, I hate spoilers and ruining films for people with the heat of a thousand burning fires) And of course there’s a love story somewhere inside. All set within the confines of Hollywood and the film industry. Now, the WONDERFUL thing about many of the films in the ’40’s and ’50’s that were made about Hollywood is the way that they treated the landscape. Far from it being the environment where dreams come true and stars are born, it is diseased. Hollywood is sick and rotting, it is a corpse being slowly picked apart by the vultures who live there; beasts who feed upon it (some call those agents, but hey…) trying to gain some substantiation but end up with nothing but more contamination. My point is, that this film is about the sickness.

I am not a stranger to Hollywood, nor am I a stranger to infirmity, especially the kind discussed within the narrative of this film. I wish I could say that it was foreign to me, however, whether it was a personal experience or a friend’s, it is all too familiar. See, no matter how you cut it, Bogart’s character, Dixon Steele, is guilty. I know, I know, I just told you I wasn’t going to spoil anything, but hear me out- I’m not. The main issue in this film has to do with anger issues, and, more crucially, domestic violence. As the cops look at his case, they go through Dix’s files, they come across case after case of fights and brawls and assorted other socially “acceptable” male misbehavior. Then they come to one of his former girlfriends. She retracted the call she made about him, and said that she had broken her nose by “running into a door.”

This is the point where we start to worry and wonder. This is the part where we become disturbed. THIS is the part where the acceptable “guy-ism” of punching the other dude’s lights out doesn’t count. Because you hit a girl. Now I am a full-on feminist, but I don’t think that there aren’t extenuating circumstances to many situations and the term “hitting a girl” does kinda rub me the wrong way at times because it infers that, well, I couldn’t punch the fuck outta someone if I wanted to. However, I also realize that it is a biological FACT that most men are physically stronger than most women in many circumstances (minus weightlifters, bodybuilders, military, and probably a good percentage of the crazy nutjobs that survive Burning Man on a yearly basis, etc), and therefore? YOU DON’T HIT A GIRL.

Which brings me back to my main discussion. Nicholas Ray’s film and Chris Brown and Rihanna. Wh-wh-wh-what??

Yes, I wrote exactly that. Now the interesting thing is, as I was driving to the theater tonight, I was oblivious to the connection between the two (Gee, I dunno, film noir from 1950, R&B teeny-bopper couple from 2009…connection just *didn’t* immediately spring to mind…call me crazy), but as I watched the film unfurl, I was horrified to realize that there was Too Much There. Watching Dixon Steele unravel, watching Gloria Grahame respond, watching their relationship build to the crescendo that it does, the magnificence that is that film…I found more items inside of the diegesis alarming that I had before. Yet, I also found them more heartbreaking and more heartwrenching as well.  Because nothing is ever simple, nothing is ever easy, and love, above all, is the most difficult of all things. However, this film shows that love, with certain people, can be a combat zone, and does nothing to hide that fact. As a sidenote, it would seem to me that this at least partially stemmed from the fact that Nicholas Ray and his star, Gloria Grahame, were in the middle of ending their marriage during the making of the film (he slept on the set, actually, claiming the need to “work late”). However, like war, in this film love is hell.

However, it is not that simple. Especially not in real life. And especially not when the media gets involved (also one of the pivotal messages of the film- a critique of fame and the role that the media plays in making/breaking personal lives).  This very aspect of media involvement hit me like a jackhammer. Actually, it hit me more like the unending barrage of updates I’ve been seeing everyday at the gym about Chris Brown and Rihanna. And I was fascinated by the parallel issues that I was seeing within fiction and non-fiction, with the more than 50 years in between.

I had been listening to a piece on NPR about teenagers in LA and their responses to the Chris Brown/Rihanna thing right before I pulled up to the theater. See, it’s pretty phenomenal what fandom and fan culture will do to people and their synthesis of actual real life events. The way I see it, there are three main activities that fans regularly engage in that can be seriously and horrifically detrimental in situations like this.

1) Fans will intentionally ignore the negative/unacceptable in order to keep their image of their Perfect Idol “perfect”

2) Fans will actively search for and find “back up” evidence (no matter how outlandish it may seem) that defies the event in question in order to reposition and restore the Perfect Idol back to his/her “rightful” throne

3) Fans will vigorously disseminate their version of events as the absolute truth, as a result of their expert knowledge in that area

Now, please do not misunderstand me. I am a HUGE fan of Fandoms and Fan Culture. I study it, love it, AM it, to a certain extent. Each of the above things in and of itself is not inherently evil. However, when it comes to a situation like Rihanna and Chris Brown…it becomes very dangerous. These three things are, obviously, methods that fans use to intentionally distort the truth. This is not bad when it comes to the discussion of William Shatner’s toupees, but it is damaging beyond words when it comes to something like domestic violence.

Especially when there are, oh, no celebrities with the balls enough to stand up and say “Hey guys- this shit don’t fly. This was not good.” That certainly doesn’t help. So when KCRW has these teenagers discussing their feelings about whether Rihanna hit him first, and then whether she deserved to get hit back because she started it, and others disowning Brown altogether, you end up realizing that there is an entire generation of kids out there right now, struggling to cobble together some kind of reasoning and some kind of meaning from all of this with no guidance. Oh boo hoo, so Brown isn’t getting to do that awards show. Is that going to help these girls who love(d) him? Not really.  One of the girls said something to the effect of “Oh, he’s never going to be able to come back from this one. He’s being called Ike Turner, you don’t come back from that.”  Tragically, and especially after rewatching the film tonight, I have to play the cynic on this one. He’s already coming back. His PR people are working overtime to make damn sure that happens. Thus I say, welcome to the sickness. Welcome to the disease. Welcome to the virus-ridden place that used to be located in Hollywood, but has now been expanded to a meta-location called, simply, Celebrity.

inalonelyplace3791 I was going to post a picture of Rihanna and her face, but do you really need to see that? I mean, that is a physically embodied example of illness and malady, physically imposed and created, but sickness nonethless. But I thought better of it. We’ve all seen it by now, and if you haven’t, google it. NO ONE should EVER get beaten like that. I’m glad that picture got leaked though, even if her 21-year-old ass isn’t. It’s going to make a difference in someone’s life. I hope. But I’m not going to repost the damn thing.

Do we need to see more reiteration on WHY you shouldn’t beat another human being to a bloody pulp? I’m thinking….no.  So instead, I’ll end with a brief musing on the foreign poster I found for In a Lonely Place. I thought it was particularly fascinating because, well, the title change. I have a penchant for foreign film posters. BIG time. My favorites currently are the Polish ones. But this one is pretty interesting. The film’s “tagline” literally says “Of hatred? or of death?”  And the title? Well, this film is now called “Death in a kiss.”

Quite a different feel from In a Lonely Place, eh? The association of kisses with violence and death with hate and intimacies, all against the backdrop of what seems to be Bogart caressing Grahame’s face in his hands…It’s quite intense. Not unlike the film. Translations and updates can be funny things, not unlike language itself. It can change a film from having a semi-moody, melancholic title to one that connotes vicious violence and explosive passions. That very same language is also used to change one man’s actions of anger and violence into a simple “mistake,” or something that was “taken out of context,” with very similar effects: the entire scene changes.

At the end of the day, media is as sensitive as we are. However, as it seems to be continually proven, not all the people who are producing it these days, are. They are those vultures as mentioned earlier, circling, waiting. At this point it is just up to us really. We have to decide whether we’re going to be down with the sickness, or abscond to greener pastures and leave it for others to deal with, as the celebrities seemed to have done with the Rihanna/Brown case. Alternatively,  we can always try and revitalize this bitch, give it some blood, a new title and tagline perhaps. I don’t know about you, but those foreign posters? They always speak volumes to me.

A taste of things to come….

So I’m working on something really interesting and personal and wonderful. I am very excited about it.  It’s totally in the editing process, & it’s saved as a draft here on my “dashboard” and it will be getting published up here by the end of the weekend.  That is my plan, anyways.

BUT, as a little precursor……here’s a hint at what you’ll be reading about next. Sorta.

And thank god for 8mm film & people who took/take care of it, cuz MAN…this is amazing looking footage….