Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Little Cone

She had been called this nickname since her ability to interpret sound. She wasn't sure why she responded to the stale name, nor what it was about her that validated her bequeathal of it. They had gotten used to mounting her because of her size. Other cones would simply stack up on top of her unhesitating.
Her ignorance as to when or why it happened seemed unimportant. She welcomed unfamiliar experiences hoping they would bring some clarification. When the Little Cone took the sweet slap, she seemed unconvinced as to the light it might shine on her existence.


In the darkness she flew unaware of the comfort she ignited in their world. So bright, so reassuring, so calming, voiceless, wordless yet inspiring all to follow. It was clear that she would illuminate their paths, and bring vitality to their tread. Her hypnotic glow warming their skin like a maternal embrace. Kindling all emotions, setting ablaze their surroundings. Her dazzling radiance addicting, gifting those in her presence and erasing all other possibilities. That luminous exhilaration made them feel like only they had received her enlightenment. She had bestowed on them a merciful luminosity that had purified their existence. They could not fathom a breath without her animation. Her passionate intensity like the perfect lover that they would never let go. Her peaceful brilliance forced all into an inevitable servitude because they could only feel their lack of luster in comparison. Was there a time, an era where her glory was unavailable? They were incapable of imagining such a possibility. Without her glossy guidance, they would feel lost, hopeless, purposeless. If she was to fade, they would automatically feel an unrelenting panic. She had to be constant, and dependable, only then could the splendor be continuous. The insanity arose when someone lost her. Even if it was by mistake, or by losing focus. Even if they had been blurred into deception, or hazed into confusion, or clouded into fogginess. Everyone knew the grandiose aftermath. She might never be found again. The search would be hard and long and unfulfilling. Only those who persisted might one day be subjected to her scintillating majesty. Vowing never to lose sight of her again.

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a movie about American politics and the Shakespearean title, the handsome talented cast, the opening line, “I’m not a Christian, I’m not an Atheist. I’m not Jewish. I’m not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in, is called the Constitution of the United States of America.” all raise your expectations that you will be swept into a Machiavellian political drama. Unfortunately the Ides of March does not reveal much; only confirming what we already know about politics and how it corrupts the soul, and that the means are always justifiable to meet the ends. Not only is the message/theme antiquated but so is the story, plot, directing and angle. It’s quite entertaining in its Hollywood bright lights, but simply does not quench one's thirst.
Beau Willimon's "Farragut North" is the play from which the screenplay of the Ides of March is adapted. Farragut North is a metro-stop in Washington D.C. in the heart of the lobbying street, which makes it an intriguing choice for a title because it reflects all the undercurrents, and stealthy negotiations that happen in any political American race. Willimon had worked in campaigns as a young man, hence he was inspired to recreate the mood, and drama found on campaigns in his play.
The Ides of March was nominated for best adapted screenplay five times, and won at the Australian Film Institute (AFI). However I would argue that The Ides of March lacks the entertaining, playful, witty political banter that Aaron Sorkin is so skilled at creating. Many movies and TV shows claim to have a Sorkinesque quality, like Sorkin's "West Wing" and "The Social Network". For example, David Mamet’s “Wag the Dog” and Jeremy Larker’s “The Candidate” are two political dramas who have it right. In both, the story is complex, the plot is intriguing, exciting and unpredictable. The characters are well developed and believable and most of all the writing creates the perfect atmosphere- intense tension combined with a cold eerie comic tone; the passive aggressive comedic tension/banter that is usually used in politics when deals are made is non-existent in this political drama.
The writing does not match the drama and leaves the viewer wanting more, like in the confrontation between Stephen and Tom Duffy when he tries to steal him from his opponent’s campaign, “You stay in this business long enough you get jaded and cynical”. The deal of accepting the despised Senator, as Secretary of State in order to guarantee the primary, is made less of an issue than the sexual affair. Another example is when Zara confronts Stephen for having betrayed him by having met with the opponent’s campaign manager without telling him. “It doesn’t matter what you thought, it doesn’t matter what you did, it matters what you didn’t do”.
The only two women in the movie are spiteful & backstabbing, whether it’s Ida the New York times reporter who will stoop to any level including blackmail to get a story or the intern Molly Stearns who's solely on the campaign because of her father who's the head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). She not only sleeps with the Governor/Clooney who is running for President, and potentially ruins his career, she also sleeps with his campaign's assistant manager (Stephen), who had naively/unrealistically for the first time truly believed in a candidate; "I've worked on more campaigns than most people have by the time they're 40. He's the only one that's actually going to make a difference in people's lives." So Molly is not only unscrupulous, but she leads to the start of the drama and to the eventual downfall of all the male characters just like Eve deprived Adam of Heaven. It makes me wonder if this is really an insight into Clooney’s perception of women and why he is always single and toggling a new face in front of the cameras.
Everything falls apart and the naïve assistant campaign manager (Stephen) who is enamored with the Governor (Clooney) and believes he is the one that can really change America, realizes the truth about his affair and the Governor/Presidential Candidate falls from grace.
How can Stephen be so naive; “I’ve worked on more campaigns than most people have by the time they’re 40.” If this is true then he would not be so gullible and believe that one person can make a difference. The reality of the American political organism is that the “System” is so strong that it limits any one person’s ability to make a difference. It’s a team effort. The campaign is a success because of the team and instead of seeing the opponent’s candidate or how they can win. The movie rotates in a very small circle around Stephen, the Governor and the infidelity.
Even the infidelity is not dealt with at length. The abortion takes more time in the movie and the lead up to it. Then the unexplained surprise suicide, which doesn’t make sense at all. Why would she sacrifice her life for the Governor’s? She didn’t regret having slept with the Governor, she didn’t leave the campaign, quite the opposite she initiated a relation with Stephen. A confident young woman, from a strong political, well off family, wouldn’t just commit suicide without a lot of pressure and manipulation. However, this scene is very short and unfulfilling. How about her family’s reaction, her father the head of the DNC? Wouldn’t they want to know what happened? Wouldn’t they make sure an investigation was underway? Why would she feel compelled to suicide? Wouldn’t the coroner’s report show that she was bleeding from the abortion? All these issues/loose ends are not even tackled.
The directing is quite good and this is where Clooney resembles Redford and has talent to show for it. The way the camera angles on Gosling's features in the beginning and the end, with the faint lighting, are very powerful and dramatic. Personifying the transformation, without a word. The choice of where the key conversations take place, as well as the confrontation between Stephen and the governor in the dark empty restaurant kitchen filled with knives, and the casual insightful conversations between the governor and his staff in the limousine, in the airplane, in his hotel room are all very effective. The black car with tinted windows coming up to Zara, with only music, a rolled down window, an expression. Followed by the scene where Stephen is now in charge instead of him and managing the campaign. These smooth transitions, and the intriguing flow of the movie are one of Clooney's many talents. Clooney is able to make a star out of Ryan Gosling in this movie, he outshines the rest and many believe he is turning out to be the new "Jean Premier" of Hollywood.
So overall, not the most memorable of movies, and the morality tale that sex scandals end up tainting politicians' careers, more than actual manipulation of elections, is historic and global. One would hope that movies either give us a refreshed or insightful perspective, or something new and fascinating. The Ides of March does neither and leaves us dry.

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Ithaca

Have you endured the scorching of Ra?
Or have you basked in his enlightenment?
Have you indulged in his possibilities?
Or have you triumphed over Psamathe?
Have you been lost in the mirages and thirsts of your mind?
Or have you let the quicksand and snakebites scare you into shelter?

When you reach the Duat,
the glittering gold,
the strands of diamonds,
the electric world,
the most cherished eyes,
will have left you nakedly lonely.

Only Maat will understand what you have endured,
Only she will remember what it took,
Those bonds were the keys.

It is,
only then,
that Maat will release you,
Be overpowered by nature
Alone with its earth
Floating in its water
Absorbed in its beauty
Decompressed by its calmness.