Signs of Spring Movie Salon Potpourri

In which we continue our explorations of the unfolding Narrative Otherways by:

  •  Hosting a continuation of our Parlor on the Nature of Love through a Dialogue on the film Closer.
  •  Casting an eye back to push forward our quest for the persistently desired, it seems, Female Hero’s Journey in a second Dialogue on Winter’s Bone.
  • Taking a wander in the forest of our Family Tree of Stories to spot some budding growth on its branches. 

The shift is on. 

Upcoming Discourse Parlor: on Closer and Winter’s Bone.

By way of shaking things up some from our past Parlors’ sweated over, concentration requiring sort of writing birthed, as I was, from the long & magnificent Era of the Printed Word, we will give a nod in our upcoming Parlor to forms bred of the present swift-winged Digital Era by running two Dialogues.  

I intend these Dialogues to be breezier reads.  They are constructed from written exchanges, to and fro, across a bit of time between myself and two of our engaged Salon Netizens. 

The first will be on Closer, 2007.  Director Mike Nichols.  This wild-ride of a film with its stage play linage is both a continuation of our recent Parlor on The Nature of Love, being chocked full of rumination on the waft and weave of the male/female love affair, at least its predatory aspects, and an addendum to our Salon on the End of the Male Narrative in that it smart talks the love to death until there’s no love left at all, nothing of the energetic burst that attracts us one to an other.  Because of this straddling I think of this film as a transition narrative; a masterful illumination of the fallacy of love as practiced in the boxed canyon where its male elaboration has abandoned us.

Heads upCloser is a pretty complicated story, and we won’t spend much time reviewing the plot, so by the time this Dialogue posts in a couple weeks, it will probably make more sense if you watch the film beforehand.   

The second Dialogue is on Winter’s Bone, 2010. Directed by Debra Granik.  This story ties into a previous Salon, Are We Questing for a Female Hero’s Journey?  There, as you may recall, we claimed our Dragon Girl’s story as on an emergent path of the Narrative Otherways.  In this Ozarks tale our young woman’s search is for her absent father, not the serial murderer of women, but the searching’s a quest, nonetheless.  And the value to which her heart stays true is the nutrition bearing pulse of relation that ties us all, one to the other. Like blood.

And then…because… 

The trail of crumbs leading us in the direction of a Narrative Otherways feels as if it has gained breadth of late with filmstory elaborations of other ways of being round every narrative corner.  Our muscles cramp from exertion here in the Fellowship of the Salon!   We can barely keep up. 

New to the Pages:

In recognition of this, several branches of our Family Tree of Stories have had a growth spurt. 

Change is in the air. 

Reasons to Keep the Faith branch:

  • The Messenger.  This war movie of little gestures and empathetic detail of character tallies the cost of killing but it does not leave us there.  It presses on to run its gentle fingers along the sutures, calling up the alchemy of healing out of loss.  
  • Lady Chatterley.  This new French take makes multiple turns of evolution on the “scandalous” story birthed from the West’s first wave of taking an eyes wide open look at female/male sexual love and where, oh where it could lead us.  Needless to say, this story fills in another piece of our inquiry into the Nature of Love.  

End of the Male Narrative branch:

Broken Promises branch:

  • Black SwanPerhaps we could look at this story of a young woman driven to please and perfection, who gives her life over to dance so utterly that she loses it, literally, as something other than a broken promise.  But from our perspective as seekers of the Narrative Otherways this tragedy did not give us the trade of enlightenment we bargin so hard for in exchange for the suffering endured by its young dancer, our woman in the game.

Periodic Links page:

  • And in light of these feelings, we’ve turned over the discoursing on Black Swan to an illuminating post in the weblog breathlesspace brought to these pages through our Periodic Links.

Upcoming Parlor Attractions

  • Blue Valentine.  We’re planning on putting much thought into a Discourse in the near on this contemporary love story, which it is for sure, contemporary that is, in that it’s not a love story.   

Parlor Discourse on the Nature of Love in three films by Jane Campion part three, Bright Star

This is the third and final discourse on The Nature of Love in three films by Jane Campion.  The other two on The Piano and Holy Smoke are posted below this, and all three are preceded by a bit of thinking that lays the groundwork for these writings on the complexity without end we name Love.

Part three of three: the Bright Star discourse

So what of Bright Star, where Jane Campion goes straight at the heart of romantic love?  Here, the physical plane of sexual attraction, so on the surface in the earlier two filmstories of  The Piano & Holy Smoke, goes underground.

IMDB still from Bright Star

She begins her tale of love between Fanny Brawne and John Keats with a portrait of Fanny as a master of that undervalued, mostly female art form – hand stitching with needle and thread.

Feelings are especially everything for poetry too, of course.  And, outside of us literary types, the poet’s task of tracking the subterranean suffers, along with hand stitching, an undervalued rank in the hierarchy of “productive” human endeavor.  The life of a poet is not practical.  At least sewing produces something to clothe the body and one can “get money from it,” as Fanny points out.  While John’s friends resort to huddled teas round the topic of his support, “Could we not between us start a collection?” 

But for Campion, this Romantic poet is the perfect companion for her Fanny’s expedition into what love might look like un-tethered from the presumptions of gender.  As Fanny’s mother pragmatically states, “Mr. Keats knows he can not like you.  He has no living and no income.”  Keats unabashedly has nothing to offer Fanny.  Being so disinvested, he’s more the ready to perceive her as she is, albeit young, as a whole being; he’s more the ready to be dislodged from the norm of male identity dependent upon the female as helpmate, as an available source of energy put at the service of men’s “higher callings.”  Continue reading

Parlor Discourse on The Nature of Love in three films by Jane Campion part one, The Piano

If you’re interested in more explanation, I posted a preamble to the thinking behind my writings posted here in a recent Interim Discourse on the Nature of Love.

Part one of three:  The Piano discourse

“I have not spoken since I was 6 years old,” Ada McGrath tells us from the getgo.  So the piano is her voice and the central symbol of this story about a woman’s struggle to choose life:  this piano, this musical piece of furniture as encumbered with cultural connotation and out of place on this frontier as is Ada swaddled in that crazy clothing; this piano left on the beach by Alisdair Stewart, her husband by paternal horsetrading, who misses its importance entirely, so focused, as he is, on her “stunted” body;  this piano rescued from the beach by near native George “I can’t read” Baines who reads its centrality to Ada’s being and uses this knowledge to do a bit of horsetrading of his own.  Continue reading

Parlor Discourse on The Nature of Love in three films by Jane Campion part two, Holy Smoke

Part two of three:  the Holy Smoke discourse

For this story, set a century down the road from Ada McGrath, Campion taps Ruth Barron as her explorimatrix through the complex realms of the body female.  Her body, a magnetic field of young womanhood, the lifeforce energy of eros comes effortlessly to, and at her.  She radiates fertility.

Nothing hidden by hoop skirts or hats, here.  Nothing mute.  Her attractiveness is a resource she wields with intuitive mastery.  Her possession of her body is complete, hers to give and take as she chooses.  It is simply the physical form she inhabits during her spiritual quest.  Because for Ruth, to be body, only, is not enough.

I take Ruth at her word that she is on a genuine spiritual search (finding voice in the terms of Ada’s cosmos), even if at first it feels accidental in that clumsy, self centered adolescent way of following her nose to “how would you feel if I became enlightened?”  Even in the ridiculous outback, surrounded by idiots, I accept that she is casting about for a meaning to her existence beyond the physical; even in the face of all around her who would tell her she should be satisfied, her gifts so plenty.  I accept that Ruth wants to believe she is on this earth for more than only to be born, consume, reproduce, and die. Continue reading

An Interim Discourse on the Nature of Love.

On the whys behind my thinking on the Nature of Love.

 …It seems strange to say, but even as cinemas of all national origins continue to find new and expressive ways to convey violence on screen, many now seem at a loss when it comes to love. Certainly that’s the case in America, where passion is often tempered with laughs (as in innumerable buddy romances) or becomes an excuse for sublimation (as in those orgies of consumption known as chick flicks)…  (From a NY Times review by Manohla Dargis of the movie Frontier of Dawn)

When I lay out an idea for a Salon, the one in front of us being The Nature of Love in three films – The Piano, Holy Smoke, and Bright Star – and what their maker, Jane Campion, might be saying through them about us and our shifting narrative in regard to love, I don’t know beforehand what I will say.  I’m under the impression this minor act of faith is common among us scribblers. Continue reading

Movie Salon: The Nature of Love in three films by Jane Campion

After all our exploration of the burnt to a crisp territories of loss and violence, of the cynical, desperate and trapped self endings so masterly expressed in the Male Narrative, I am more than ready to pack for our journey toward a Narrative Otherways. 

With that adventure in mind the destination of our next Salon has been set on the Nature of Love.  I know, I know. This is such an ongoing large as to be beyond definition’s containment, so… 

At least to begin and not be paralyzed by the beginning, we’ll start with a trinity of films by Jane Campion, courageous storyteller of love:  that groping, some blinded energetic exchange, oft compulsive human reach of us each, vaguely or targeted, in the direction of one another. 

We will cross considerable territory with Campion beginning with The Piano from 1993, moving to Holy Smoke of 1999, and then taking in her most recently produced Bright Star, 2009. 

As we have three films to chew and mull, and as there’s the swirl and demands of the upcoming, no that’s come upon us already, holidays, it’s been decided this Salon on the Nature of Love will stretch from now through January.  I’ll post my thoughts as they gel during this period and you, as always, are welcome to read, watch, comment at any time.

The reason for my tardiness here is the recent death of my beloved father.  The focus I need in order to do these writings has eluded me in my grief.  I’ve stumbled round its dark topography wondering if my being as a writer might leave me now, might go with him from this earth.  He was, you see, a most fine companion on my cultural and philosophical wanderings; even on my wildest adventures he never abandoned me, never disparaged my ideas.  To the end he was a man of ideas with an infinite interest in all of life and I was given courage and much definition by being his treasured, thinking daughter.  

And now that I am no longer a daughter I only hope to keep thinking.  To stand in honor, at the very least, of his bright intelligence.  

New in the Pages

You’ll find some growth on a favorite branch of our Family Tree of Stories: Reasons to Keep the Faith

And in case you’re wondering what lies ahead, on the branch of Upcoming Parlor Attractions  I’ve done a bit of speculating on where all this might be leading us.

Parlor Discourse on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

For myself, I’ve decided that Thelma and Louise started out to be a tale of the female hero’s journey but ended up a road marker of the dissolving, cornered place for women attempting to travel inside the painful territories of the Male Narrative.  All Thelma and Louise could do for release from the control exerted by men was to kill themselves. IMDB production still from Thelma and Louise
Is Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on a hero’s journey?  I’d have to say no.  But I am claiming her story as an emergent path of the Narrative Otherways.  And she’s definitely on a quest. 

How our tattooed girl opens the conversation on a Narrative Otherways

This tale of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a pushpin stuck in our cultural map, a “you are here” where Lisbeth Salander finds release into who she is by her pursuit of the story’s central mystery, the serial murder of womenContinue reading