Today, I visited the Kennedy Space Center. Above are historic photos from the center of the assembly of the Saturn V rocket that carried the first humans (the Apollo 11 astronauts) to the moon. It’s the same Saturn V rocket that was developed by von Braun, the rocket scientist who wrote a book for his daughters, and we looked at illustrations from that book last week. But today I walked under the entire length of the Saturn V rocket, a rocket as long as a 36-story building is tall and built with the precision of a microscope.
The concentration of space artifacts at the center is insane: I touched a piece of lunar rock, wandered around a ‘rocket garden’ and met an older astronaut. However, the most amusing thing I happened to see was video footage of astronaut Michael Good (nicknamed Bueno) making a fajita aboard the shuttle Atlantis. There was also a bevy of quirky space suits that I can’t wait to show you.
I am starting to believe that there must be something in the water in Scotland. Something very good. My latest Scottish love is Edinburgh-based illustrator and print maker Verity Keniger. Her style possesses a bold simplicity, undoubtedly owing to a degree in illustration and graphic design, and a visual delicacy. Indeed, the combination of a light touch and an eye-catching graphic sensibility makes for beautiful pieces. I particularly love the repeated motif of deconstruction, such as the bell that is shedding feathers and the unfurling fibres of the heart. As Keniger is a self-confessed “professional tea-drinker”, I think her work is testament to the wonders of a good brew.
Find out more on Keniger’s blog and take a look at the prints in her online shop.
I found this short fashion film by Jae Song & Claire Carré for Christian Joy a little while back and have been meaning to post for a while. It’s an odd little piece which looks like something out of the 70’s, I could totally see Goldie Hawn being one of these girls. I think these clothes are hysterical, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s so cool how the mirror reflects the girls and all in the colors in their outfits, it’s like a flashback to an acid trip.
As you have probably gathered, I have watched my fair share of films. There are some that are indelibly printed on my memory and others that I know I have watched, but have little to no recollection of the plot. I originally saw Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (2007) at a late night screening in Hong Kong. Over the next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about the film, going over its images and psychological plot twists. A number of years later when I watched Lust, Caution again, I wasn’t surprised to discover that I was anticipating certain gestures and images that had obviously been kept in my memory. I tend to believe that this is indicative of an exceptional film.
Mostly I would say, I was in the mood of love, romantic love, for this period of my career, of my life. Something after my mid-life crisis, I think I want to get into something I feel I missed in portraying or in going through myself personally. I don’t know what it is, they attract me, they draw me to make a movie. I was dealing with prohibited romantic love, something that is yearning, something impossible, something that is so difficult to portray, to put a word… definition on.
– Ang Lee
Although literary adaptations can sometimes be absolute disasters that see the original author denouncing the resulting film, James Schamus and Wang Hui-Ling’s screenplay not only evokes the mood of Eileen Chang’s novella, but also beautifully fleshes out the story’s fragmented details and ambiguities. Predominantly set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during the 1940s, Lust, Caution centres on a group of students who plot to assassinate the Imperial Japanese Army’s most powerful Chinese collaborator (Tony Leung Chui-wai) and the female agent (Tan Wei) who seduces him. Like so many of Lee’s films, the period is impeccably recreated and every element of the World War II setting is intoxicatingly stunning. Although the film is indisputably gorgeous to view, it is merely the surface to a rich narrative.
The juxtaposition of sexual betrayal and political/national betrayal is at the heart of the film’s complexity. Heavily censored in Mainland China, Lust, Caution represents sequences of unsettling violence and graphic sex scenes. However, neither the violence nor the sex is gratuitous and is cleverly utilised to set up the thematic frame of the film. Lee captures both with such an unflinching intensity that he suggests that they are almost indistinguishable. In this sense, both sex and violence are bound up with brutality, confusion and emotional abandon.
And it is the uncertainty and the ambiguities of the film that make it such evocative viewing. Lust, Caution concludes with emotional threads left it tatters, and its unexplained actions haunt the viewer. It is one of the most mesmerising historical dramas that I have seen and certainly confirms Lee’s directorial artistry.
I think everyone loves seeing things in slow motion. The ability to see the tiny details in life more clearly, like actually being able to process them is amazing. I guess it started with bullet time and is now available to pretty much anyone with a few grand to buy a camera like the Canon 7D. This video is astounding to me, that a bunch of dudes on some BMX bikes can make something this incredible. Hands down the best shot is at the :30 mark where the guy is moving at normal speed when suddenly everything slows down out of nowhere. It’s almost like the world suddenly becomes completely clear. I want to see an entire video of this!
I must admit that I know the name Terence Malick and I know he directed The Thin Red Line but sadly I’ve never seen any of his films before. But now with his new movie The Tree of Life I realized I need to get to seeing more of his films. The Tree of Life stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain in “a tale of a Midwestern boy’s journey from the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as a “lost soul in the modern world”, and his quest to regain meaning in life.” Sounds like an interesting plot and from what I saw in the trailer visually it looks amazing. He has a very human, almost reality TV sense of shooting that makes you feel like you’re actively participating in a scene.
A short work about being color blind, Ishihara animates the small dots used in color blindness tests– dots called ishihara. From the long, slow pan at the beginning to the final shot overlooking the ocean, creator Yoav Brill uses these simple dots to great and various effect. The two stills above are two of my favorites from the short: in the upper picture, a bustling cafeteria; in the lower picture, a human heart.
The folks over at Wagaa Records sent me the new single from Pandit and I thought I’d share it as well. Pandit is the music project of Texas based artist Lance Smith who makes some rather dreamy, beautiful music that I’m certainly enjoying. The song above is titled Artichoke and reminds me of one of those songs that you put on repeat as you’re about to go to sleep. It’s got a really comforting rhythm that makes me feel really relaxed and laid back. I’ve had a chance to listen to his new album and it’s definitely going to be something to pick up when it comes out in February.