A Dangerous Movie

I have never undergone psychoanalysis, and don’t really believe in it – it seems like an affectation of those wealthy enough to afford a lifetime of weekly sessions (sort of like having a masseuse for the mind) – but I do have a nostalgic fondness for the ideas of Freud and Jung (or Sigmund and Carl, if you’re on a first-name basis with them). All that grand stuff about interpreting dreams, giving names to parts of our minds – ego, id, subconscious – linking sex and death, and generally enriching conversation for generations, especially from the 1920s to the 1960s. Here in the 21st century, I’m not sure what relevance psychoanalysis has for keeping us sane, but the story of its origins as portrayed in “A Dangerous Method” was fascinating.

Messy start

Seeing how these two men (and a woman) battle over whose theory will win at the next conference was a good reminder that all ideas are shaped by real people with real problems and prejudices and attitudes. The birth of something radically new like psychoanalysis can be messy, with the whole movement teetering on the edge of chaos at times. Even the name was a point of contention, “psychoanalysis” with no “o” at first, then Freud decides “psychoanalysis” sounds better and Jung meekly goes along with the change.

Krazy Kiera

But the real breakout thrilling performance belongs to beautiful bony Keira Knightley, whose Sabina Spielrein starts out mega-crazy, seemingly animated by demons, makes her peace with humiliation as a turn-on, and ends up one of the first women psychoanalysts, after being the first patient Carl Jung heals by this new “talking cure” method. I had only seen Knightley in those ridiculous but lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” Disney flicks, and she did have a commanding presence there. However, “A Dangerous Method” is an adult role, very complex, and she made it happen.

Viggo Freud

Since I had only seen Viggo Mortensen in “Lord of the Rings,” it felt like a big leap to have him playing Sigmund Freud, but the instant he came on screen as Freud, all swordplay and battling Orcs was forgotten. Viggo creates a new image for Freud, a cigar-chain-smoking, controlling, man on a mission to cure craziness, all heavily bearded and kind of fat in the face.

Uptight Jung

Since I did not see “Inglorious Bastards,” my only exposure to Michael Fassbender was in “X-Men: First Class,” where he plays a rather nutty Magneto, which didn’t sully his portrayal of Carl Jung at all. It was a fresh look at Jung for me and my wife, actor aside.

Final words

Be prepared to have all your preconceptions of Freud, Jung, and psychoanalysis whipped out of you with a leather belt, and buckle in for a wild ride through the human mind using “A Dangerous Method.” [8 out of 10 stars]

37/365 – Thanks, it’s Friday, God

You get a slot in life.
You get a slot in life.

It’s finally Friday, and there’s no theme today. It was an intense week where I do my day job. The picture of the mail slots there gives you some idea of both the size of the place, and the tone of clean efficiency. (I won’t tell you where I work, not yet. It really doesn’t matter for the purposes of this blog.) I do marketing copy, if you know what that means. Then I do tax returns in the evening. Long days.

I got out of my second job at the tax office at 8:00 and picked up Jane for dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant – I should’ve taken a picture. Then we finished watching the first and some say the best French Canadian film, Mon Oncle Antoine (1971), directed by Claude Jutra, who was the subject of a documentary on the second DVD. He palled around with the French New Wave, won some awards, but ended tragically. I’m big fan of experimental movie makers, but hadn’t heard of Jutra.

The stimulus plan wasn’t passed, and I’m hoping the debate goes on a bit longer, so that everyone is finally listening and realizes what fools we elect and how dumb we are to expect them know anything and save us from ourselves.

28/365 – Cinema of Dreams

Sunrise over State Street

Sunrise over State Street

A lot of things are dawning on me. (How’s that for a tie-in to today’s shot? More on the pic later.) Perhaps this mental clarity has to do with feeling secure and loved, perhaps it is also inspired by this daily publication of my thoughts and dreams, and perhaps we should also credit my time of life — lots of wise things have been written by people in their later years, when they have the time, experience, and perspective to make some sense of things.

Speaking of dreams, I poked around on the Web, trying to find a quote about how film makes it possible to project our dreams onto the screen. I thought it was by Jean Cocteau, who indeed said a lot of cool shit, including, “A film is a petrified fountain of thought,” and “In Paris, everyone wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.”

But the Cocteau quote that really got me was, “Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.”  How very true.  Filmmaking, especially back in Cocteau’s day (1889-1963) was the most laborious of tasks, involving great reels of actual film, which then needed to be developed, then cut and spliced.  Everything was very expensive and mostly hard to do, and adding sound was another headache. I know, because I was around student filmmakers and tried my hand at it.  Two hours at a splicing table was enough to scare me off.  Then there’s the difficulty in getting good lighting for the film emulsions available back then.  The investment in even a 20-minute student film was as much as a used car cost. And the hours needed to light, shoot, edit and sync were endless.

Enter video cameras, and suddenly we are free of most of the hassles of film.  Editing can be done on a computer.  Everything happens quickly. The filmmaker as artist is nearly here.  Except of course that a decent digital video camera still costs as much as a used car, not to mention the computer.

My dream is a camera I wear, like glasses, that sees what I see and sends it back to my computer, which pre-edits scenes for me, and later, I just click and drag the scenes together.  I only want to pay as much as a used bicycle costs for all this, of course.

(As for the photo, it is the view from the elevator lobby at my apartment building, looking north.  That’s frozen Lake Mendota.  State Street is sort of nestled below, at an angle.  State Street is a wonderful pedestrian-dominated urban mall sort of a place, and as it gets warmer, I will blog about it more.)