Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I don't usually do movie reviews because lots of other people online are already doing that, but after I went to see The Darjeeling Limited I ended up having to explain my reading of it repeatedly and finally decided to just blog about it.
I'll begin by saying that the movie is very funny and hip. Part of that being the absurd cultural expectations (increasing in spirituality by treating it as a commodity?) of these bumbling dysfunctional brothers. And although that makes it seem that their ignorance is not endorsed but rather criticized due to its inadequacy - overwhelmingly we are made to relate to these brothers, sympathize with them and really like them by the end of the film.
In The Darjeeling's structure itself, it's no different than all the other mainstream U.S. films about white men in the "Third World" that historically have promoted a discourse of degrading neocolonialism. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch Gringo in Mañanaland (1995).
We begin The Darjeeling with white people who are traveling abroad with the expressed purpose of exploiting the resources of the foreign land (spirituality as a commodity). They are not interested in seeing what they can learn from the native culture in much the way that Christopher Columbus's attitude can be seen in his travel writings.
India becomes a colorful, quaint, exotic backdrop for the visual pleasure of the white, male gaze (read Laura Mulvey). The Indian characters, in a similar fashion, are all static props. Even Peter's romantic diversion is an Indian woman who's only name in the film is "sweet lime". She's named after the one of the commodities she serves. She is trapped on the train, while the white brothers are able to "get off" (in Peter's case, both literally and figuratively.)
Well what of the feel-good part where the white brothers save two out of three Indian brothers? Great. Another movie where the white guys get to make out like heroes, good guys and saviors (similarly to their mislead mother) while the native are so stupid that they go getting themselves killed - even in their own element. Retarded.
The whole structure smacks of Ronald Reagan saving Rhonda Fleming's banana plantation in Central America and roughing up some bad guys as expatriate freedom-fighter Dan McCloud in Tropic Zone (1953). Movies don't matter, you say? Could it be that there is some link between Dan McCloud's attitude towards Central American natives and Reagan's bloody foreign policy effects in Central America in the eighties?
The Indian son's funeral scene is a saving grace in that it is an interesting parallel - not superior or inferior to the white father's funeral - and it seems to be a respectful and culturally-sensitive representation. BUT, this is still, after all, a movie about wealthy white males.
I'm certain Wes Anderson didn't intend to increase inequality in the world by directing The Darjeeling Limited, but that's not reason enough to let him off the hook. Anyone making films of such scale needs to take on the responsibility to be culturally sensitive, learn about the hegemonic structures of their genre, and be mindful about whether they are reproducing or subverting oppressive structures. If Anderson would move away from using "token exotics" and towards making "Third World" characters dynamic protagonists, he'd be making a truly revolutionary cinematic move.
The Darjeeling Limited is currently playing at The Loft.
The winter is here and it's time to hike like crazy. This shot was taken off the Soldier Trail, the latest notch on my hiking belt. We did this one on Black Friday and I'm still a little sore. We drove up Catalina Highway, parked the car at the trail head at the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site and hiked down for a little over two hours, ending up back at the highway. The one-way hike was fairly easy and as you can see, the vistas were precious. We hitchhiked back to Gordon Hirabayashi in a style he would have honored. The very first car picked us up - no problem. We then had lunch at the newly remodeled Miss Saigon. Great new look, same awesome food.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Photo from www.compusteelinc.com.
The new bridge connects the bike path at the Park Avenue/14th Street cul-de-sac to bike path west of Euclid Avenue, which in turn connects to the Diamondback Bridge over Broadway Boulevard. (Construction cost approximately $3.4 million.)
I love Aviation bikeway, and I'm thrilled that it's going to get even better.
Also known as the "basket Bridge", it represents a Tohono O'odham woven basket, according to designing artist Rosemary Lonewolf.
Basket Bridge Dedication
Friday, Nov. 16, 2007
Light refreshments to be served. Yum.
Image from Wikipedia by J.J. Del Rio.
Yesterday we went to a few studios/galleries that were part of the Tucson Open Studio Tour. (It's going on today too.)
I love this sort of thing because it gives you a reason to go into studios/galleries you wouldn't visit otherwise, which makes the event into an adventure. We went to Ilyena Kaghan's house for example, which was a trip in itself - even independently of the awesome jewelry. (And thanks for the tasty hibiscus ice tea, Ilyena.)
Artfare also was one of those spaces we wouldn't have ventured into otherwise. Full of colorful characters, it was one of those weird experiences. The kind where Andrew walks out and goes "What just happened?". At Artfare they showed us the trailer for Mary Shelley's The Last Man (2007) directed by James Arnette. It's a Mary Shelley novel adapted in futuristic action movie style filmed entirely in Tucson combining a lot of stylized CG - I mean, I have to see a CG Boeing 727 airliner land on downtown Congress St. in a zero budget action flick based on a Mary Shelly novel!
But I guess the piece I enjoyed the most of the whole afternoon was, ironically, not a part of the Tucson Open Studio Tour. We happened upon Moca, which I had passed many times but never so much as peaked in. They are featuring an installation by Paco Velez entitled "Bajo la Frontera/Under the Border" which I found especially creepy and violent, but justifiably. My favorite part was that the Santo Niño de Atocha - who usually appears as painted above - was represented by a smiling mannequin in sneakers sitting in front of a strobe light. It gave me the same feeling I get when I go to the border: this very creeped-out feeling about the fake-ness of it all: that fake line that got randomly established by history and how everyone treats it like it's real. How can life be so different on either side, when the land on that side looks just like the land on this side, for as far as the eye can see?
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I have not posted for a while - but I have a good excuse. I've been putting all my efforts into the wedding blog: http://andrewandevaweddingblog.blogspot.com/.
I have made this into a record of our wedding planning process, but also a resource for anyone planning a wedding in the Tucson area. I give my unsolicited opinion from cake hunting to bachelorette parties. If you are in involved in a Tucson wedding in any sort of way - don't miss it!