Art and Sex

 On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan

This meditation on the nature of creative energy does a lot with staging and lenses to explore the subject.   The story is anchored between two females (the mother and the wife) who - while both artists - manifest the creative/sexual energies in opposing ways.   The mother is “out there” in her nakedness, madness and connection to more complex layers of reality, the wife is restrained, cold.  

It is the restrained one who achieves the recognition as an artist.   The guy in between - with his uncomplicated sexuality ends up only a consumer (of art).  His promise - he got the highest mark at the university - does not translate into professional success.  Hers - she got the highest mark too - brings her eventually fame and artistic fulfillment.  

Every time  Edward visits his mother the camera and the set design switch gears.  This beautifully shows “the mother’s” sphere, her influence, the potential she brings to Edward.   Which he does not seem to understand.

There is an amazing shot of a piano recital where Florence assists in turning pages.  A long, sensuous camera move along the piano to the male player and then to Florence reveals the interaction between sensuous/sexual and artistic within Florence. 

The “why couldn’t they have sex before marriage” is just a gimmick in this story.  Perhaps there isn’t enough of their pre-marital “negotiations” to make it more believable.   As is, “the beach” revelation feels a bit contrived. 

Still, the film is trying and mostly succeeding in addressing that which usually is trivialized or misunderstood or just unseen.

I just checked out an interview with Ian McEwan on

Two things are intriguing: he reveals that Sam Mendes was supposed to direct it.  Holy Cow!   Now the energy angle becomes more obvious.   It probably would have gone even higher with Mendes.

Also, McEwan says there is a lot of him in Edward.  (not the wedding night though, he says with a smile).  Since Edward is the opposite of McEwan in terms of success and contentment (so it seems watching McEwan talking) this admission reveals a yet another layer of the primal energy manifesting itself in life.


We’re all stuck here

 LA 92

A very powerful documentary archival footage build up showing how frustration starts, boils and explodes.   Two things particularly moved me:  an Asian woman standing in a broken window of a store (probably her own) with her arms outstretched to stop the looters and yelling repetitiously with tears, anger and disbelief:  "This is America!", "This is America!", "This is America!"

Another is a quote from Rodney King.  It seems that everybody was focused (with various levels of appreciation) on his "Can we all get along", but he also said "I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while."  The latter transcended the here and now of Los Angeles in 92.  Is is always shocking current, important and forgotten.


Listen to a whisper

Excellent HBO documentary on Steven Spielberg.   Turns out he values not knowing prior how a scene would look like.  Panic is his cherished MO.  Only then he comes up with good ideas.  Interesting, that his process is emotional and visceral - not over thought.  Although clearly an overall strategy has to be applied, his approach to a scene is instinctual. 

In Jews - what you don’t see is generally scarier than what you do see (there is very little of the shark in the film.)

His camera movements (which to him is the directing) are always more than giving the viewer a sense of space.     They always reveal something additional.

I remember from an older interview with Spielberg his amazement that “they” keep hiring him.  Then his guess that “they do, because he knows where to put the camera”.  That’s what it takes - the ability to select the best camera spot!

Also: there is a page with quotes from famous people.  Below there are a few among those by Spielberg that impressed me the most:
  • “You have many years ahead of you to create the dreams that we can’t even imagine dreaming.  You have done more for the collective unconscious of this planet than you will ever know.”
  • “Our one goal is to give the world a taste of peace, friendship, and understanding through the visual arts, the art of celebration of life.”
  • “All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.
  • “Sometimes a dream almost whispers… it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear. ”


Encounters in Berlin

 from the upcoming "The Body Philosopher" - 
a documentary about Richard Shusterman.

meanwhile, something that was meant purely as a preparatory step for the documentary above keeps making rounds:


the real documentary is coming:-) 



Grzegorz Miecugow 
remembers Marek Siemek

While researching/producing a documentary about professor Marek Siemek (The View from a Cathedral - the VOD links are in the previous post) I recorded about 30 interviews with his Polish, German, Swiss and Italian friends.

Because I chose a subjective, "creative" style and focused mostly on one relationship (with Siemek's Teacher - Bronisław Baczko) not all interviews were included, and those which were appear in short fragments.

This unused (or used sparingly) material is so valuable that I want to make it accessible to all interested in professor Siemek.  Hence the "Wokół Siemka/About Siemek" Internet project.

The interviews will be successively uploaded on You Tube.  For now Polish, German and Italian will be presented without subtitles.

Here is the link to this work in progress:
You Tube Playlist


The View from a Cathedral - on VOD

The documentary is now available as VOD on Vimeo:


and its version with only Polish subtitles:

VOD Polish version


More Ove

A quote from the film:

"If the saying that your fate is the measure of your stupidity is true...... "


Are we a suffering film crew?

“Disaster Artist“

In this film things get intriguing after the end.  Shouldn’t that be the beginning of the story?

The Disaster Artist would be interesting if it was at least one step removed from 1:1 re-creation of what happened during the production of “The Room”.  The question is not why Wiseau pulled it off?  Or where is he from?  Or how low can one go humoring an idiot.   The question is why on earth James Franco would dive into this project.  Or rather why would a pretty good (excellent perhaps) actor feel compelled to tell the story of a super ridiculous vanity project.  What was the push for such recreation?   As is, watching a series of grotesque moves by the hero gets quickly boring and irritating.   Too bad the space between truly bad and wanting to recreate it was not addressed. 

On the other hand perhaps such a straightforward maneuver chimes with our psyche.

Perhaps people hype this film because in its earnest re-creation of moronic and untalented it hooks into the zeitgeist of our time.   Aren't we paid by people who have no clue?   Haven’t we found ourselves suddenly in the hands of incompetence, ignorance and delusions of grandeur?


Life as a train ride

A man called Ove

I am trying to design a story that somehow chimes with this tale of a man “negotiating” his past.  Maybe because of my current efforts I really appreciate the storytelling brilliance in the film. 

It is amazing how this sentimental and melodramatic story with wonderful actors and strong staging successfully navigates pitfalls of the genre.  There are many elements to the film’s effectiveness.  For example:

As I was watching I was torn in my reaction to the film.  At first the flashbacks felt too easy a maneuver to explain the hero’s predicament.  Yet, my reservation evaporated with the appearance of Sonja.  The way it was done and the wonderful quality of the actress in a flash validated Ove’s inner state.

From that point forward (and backward) all made emotional sense.  And a train compartment metaphor is just brilliant.


Mind tease?

 mother! by Aronofsky

Maybe it’s because I am studying Michael Haneke at the moment, or maybe it’s just the gut reaction coming from deep within: I just saw and hated mother! by Aronofsky. 

It’s painful to acknowledge since I am a huge fan of “Requiem for a dream” and “Pi”.  (In my workshops I frequently analyse Requiem as an example of superb filmmaking and often point to Aronofsky as an almost genius of cinema.)  Yet his latest I found so pretentious, so boring and so irritating that it matches only my reaction to the Hostel series.  

While Hostels were in my opinion correctly labeled “torture porn”, the biblical/philosophical efforts  of Aronofsky (already Noah was borderline unwatchable) I would call “mythological porn”, or maybe a more apt term would be “pseudo-depth teaser” or “pseudo - profundity porn”, or just "mind tease".  I am actually searching for a term that would hook sexual “teaser” - as in cock-teaser- to the same mechanism of arousal without fulfillment in the realm of intellect.  So far no apt term comes to mind.

On the other hand porn detonates the focused, stripped down gratification of desire, the delivery that vulgarities and cheapens that which is being delivered.  In case of mother! it’s not that we are given stripped down nitty-gritty of the mythological and religious.  That wouldn’t be bad, whatsoever.  Instead, we are faced with many unclear, tired suggestions and references to the act of creation, creativity, love and biblical mythology.  The problem with all that lumped together is that the film being so specific by its nature can’t handle too many abstract statements dressed in concrete images and sounds.  And they are always specific, hence the dificulties with philosophizing on the screen.

One abstract statement stretched into a full movie could probably work in the hands of a very gifted technician and the technique for each shot and each scene in mother! is impassive, the actress is phenomenal and all that.  But when the metaphors start overlapping and film history references start pushing against each other all I can perceive is the barrage of bad taste, lack of originality, confusion of the story teller and intellectual gibberish.

If the film is supposed to be also about an artist, price of talent, fame and abuse of those around him it does not advance beyond cliche and grotesque.  A satire?  Maybe, but then why so absurd, primitive and surface based?  Isn't Aronofsky taking himself too seriously?  Doesn't he need a strong producer to slap him around?

Haneke says that “reduction is the most important tool of an artist.”  He quotes Brecht that “it’s simplicity that is most difficult” and then comments “it’s much more difficult to be simple than to be complicated.”

With all due respect to Blake, profound on the screen does not come from excess. 


best of 2017

The Florida Project

Some time has passed since I made the list so without re-watching the films I am relying on my memories and these elements that struck me the mostCould be (is) quite subjective: 

"The Florida Project" amazes me because its aesthetics communicate social matters in an unusually powerful way.  The oppressiveness of kitsch evokes economic entrapment.   Never before the ugly was so painful.  Perhaps because the ugly was conceived as pretty and inviting by its makers and it screams on screen both with intent, it's hypocrisy and failure - all in one.

"Twin Peaks" refreshes the narrative in a strong and nonchalant way.  Not all has to be nicely tie up and connected and logical.  Well, that's an understatement in this case.  I like the fact that action and mood and mystery are equally important there.  And it's wonderful to experience total freedom of the storyteller who at the same time fully commands our attention. 

"I am not your Negro" - for its power and clarity.  Also it's impressive that the director Raoul Peck manages to be a fabulous documentary filmmaker, a pretty good feature film director and in addition a mister of culture.  Wow!

"Birds are singing in Kigali" - a very disturbing and innovative work.  I am shocked that it didn't get more recognition.  The stylistic restrain and "space off camera" techniques are right on in telling this horrifying story. 

"The Square" - I love the way the space and the rhythm there strengthen moral ambiguities and hypocrisies discussed.  Already the "Force Majeure" made me sit straighter because of its elegance (and cruelty) of form.  "The Square" seems to take it one step forward.  Watching it (twice on a big screen) I had a feeling of the pulsating, ironic, dramatic energy projected.


Karma 2.O

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

In the next several posts I will share my 2017 discoveries.  These are the films that moved me and or inspired in one way or another.   Here they come.  In no particular order.  

Naming the new Lanthismos' film one of “best of” somehow does not sit well with me. The film is so disturbing and challenging that I am inclined to say “I hate it”. Can I hate it and name it among the best of 2017? I hate it and at the same time I tremendously appreciate it for its audacity, technical dexterity and the questions it posses.  

The questions:
How, if at all, do we take responsibilities for our actions?
Can we afford to be oblivious to our actions?
How mindful are we in our lives and work?
Do our actions return to us?  Do they have to?  
If so, how?
How do we pay for our mistakes?
Where is the border between the private and the social?
Can we will justice on others?
Do children posses moral radars that we have lost?

The story is quite troubling. It's troublesome irk comes from a combination of two techniques: the first is a preposterous assumption thrown into a reality and then treated with utter seriousness. The same happens a lot in Kieslowski's films – for example in Double Life of Veronique.  

The second comes with externalizing and visualizing (and making audible) that which is about to happen. The result of which is the unnerving feeling that the boy on the screen is an exemplification of something bigger. Or that his fury is foreshadowed and somehow made subconsciously known to the main character.  (The first possibility narrows down to certainty if we follow the myth of Iphigenia.  But I assume that not everybody pays attention to the clue and that furthermore not everybody remembers the myth.)

There are many decisions of varied degree of subtlety layered in the film.  For example most of the time Collin Farell speaks fast as if trying to put a spell on reality. He can't. Nobody can. Our deeds will hunt us until we will have to pay for them in full conscience.  Hence karma 2.0