27 July 2010

Coming of age in Bumfuck nowhere.

While working on my novel today, I was reminded of Very Annie-Mary, a film I saw in 2003 in a small art house cinema in Christchurch. The concept of an Art-House cinema didn't exist in Singapore there. If you wanted art films, you had to go to the alliance francaise (which didn't necessarily show only French films- the last time I was there was to see an animated American remake of the Ramayana).

In it, Rachel Griffiths plays Anne-Mary, an introverted, repressed small town girl with a big voice, kept under the mysogynistic thumb of her father, Jack Pugh,  played by Jonathan Pryce. As the town baker, he delivers his loaves in a Luciano Pavarotti mask. Whenever his feet get cold, he uses Annie-Mary as a human sleeping bottle.

Funnily enough, while listening to the BBC Radio's The Strand, a recent movie of Griffiths came up. Beautiful Kate is directed by Rachel Ward,  and set in the Australian outback. It is about impossible love, comming of age and family secrets. The interesting thing about the film is that Ward has set it in the present, with flashbacks tot he 80's; what she has attempted to recreate is an impossible romance for a cynical audience in a permissive society.

I love films set in the outback; I love minimalist films set in bumfuck no-where in general. They are always beautiful and exotic, infused with a sense of the Edenic utopia gone awry. The remind me of my childhood, where life was slow, the days were always warm and humid, nothing ever changed -not even the weather- and that little neighbourhood was all there was to life.

Another one I watched recently was Down in the Valley, where Edward Norton plays a delusional cowboy who falls in love with a teenage girl, played by Evan Rachel Wood (the "Queen" in True Blood).

I think about these films are that because there's less going on, a lot more attention is paid to simple details, like how the light would fall througha flower vase or how people say their words, and all those other little details that are in our lives, everday, that we fail to notice.

23 July 2010

From Africa to NY.

One of my favourite contemporary artists, Wangechi Mutu has an exhibition in Brussels till September, at a contemporary art space called WIELS, which is slightly off the main core of the city. I think the aesthetic and emotional response her work yields is throughly compelling; a mixture of sensuality dashed with repulsion.

Another African artist based in NY I also love is Julie Mehretu.

“Julie Mehretu’s abstract paintings explore the often unwieldy issues of mobility, social organization, political entanglement, and global competition. Most cities are built, dismantled, and rebuilt over time, yielding structures and spaces that reflect ongoing urban change. Mehretu’s paintings follow a similar course as she layers and, in her most recent works, erases information from her compositions, showing how each new level becomes a foundation for new iterations, stories, and identities. Embedded in her abstract images, are elements taken from architectural blue prints, maps, sports arenas, and commercial logos.”