Wednesday, February 28

Sunshine

The sunshine makes everything look beautiful.

Tuesday, February 27

The bigger picture

As many people will have noticed over the years, there is some difference between knowing and understanding. Knowledge proceeds in a straight line, one step forward for every piece of information acquired. The kind of thing they make you learn by heart. Understanding is a whole new level that you may be propelled to if you take all you know and light it with insight. The higher you get, the more you see. The bigger picture - how everything is connected to everything else.

This is what attracted me to the subject I study every day, Earth Sciences. Every process on Earth is very much connected to everything else, forming these amazing cycles of cause and consequence. In fact, the first course I took was entitled System Earth, giving an introduction to the whole thing. Ice caps, climate, tectonics, life - whatever happens on this planet will affect pretty much everything else. During the next years of the studies, you're zooming in on all these individual processes (which are miniature systems in themselves) but at the same time you're zooming out. Jumping up and down until you get to the next level. And there is always an even bigger picture. These are the words Carl Sagan wrote about the picture at the top of this post;

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

When we look at something from a distance, we are not able to see the details anymore. They are of little importance. When they merge into that tiny little dot know you have reached the point on which you understand them most. You realize you've stopped jumping and started flying.

Sunday, February 25

Script three

Stockholm Unlike A Man of Good Taste, this film is mainly shot in cool, bluish colours. A young woman - Cate Blanchett would be good - talks to her psychiatrist, an older woman who talks in a reassuring but vaguely irritating tone of voice. The camera alternates between three views. Showing them in in one shot, with a big desk between them. The young woman (let's call her Sophie) sitting on a chair or sofa, with her knees together, in a summer dress, like a girl. And close-up shots of her face, slightly unsteady. She smiles softly, looks away, tries to explain, her lips trembling. She has been through a traumatic experience, but most of the time she isn't very emotional about it. She does frown sometimes, remembering new details, she seems to be suprised about them. She tries to make sense of it all. In flashbacks (the main part of the film, really) we see what has happened to her.

The environment is even 'colder' in these memories, awfully clean and stripped down. We are in a modern corporate building - where all is glass, steel and marble. And one palm in a cilindrical pot of brushed stainless steel to contrast with its lifeless surroundings. We find out that she was in a hostage situation which lasted for several weeks. She is scared but not hysterical. She tries to talk to the hostage takers reasonably, one in particular (Colin Farrell, though he will have to work very hard for this role), but both of them are so emotionally unstable and confused that it is impossible for her to change their situation. But looking back on these events, Sophie feels that they had a bond, something special. She's very confused by this, obviously. Her psychiatrist insists that she is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, in which the hostage has feelings of loyalty (or even love) to the hostage taker. Sophie does not reject this explanation, but she keeps wondering if that is the only possible explanation. The challenge with this film would be to keep the audience in doubt as well. The flashbacks shows images of subtle affection between them, whispered conversations and honest confessions. But they also show the same man behaving violently, threatening her with a gun and physically abusing her and other hostages. He does not protect her from the other hostage takers either.

In the end, Sophie decides to find him. He has managed to escape after the hostage situation. After a long search, which the film doesn't show to great extent, she ends up at a cabin on a lakeshore, somewhere in Canada perhaps. The colours are no longer bluish and cool, instead there's a lot of lush green vegetation and the sun shines in bright yellow. This is where he has been hiding. In the cabin, she looks at the books he has lying around, a cup of cold tea he hasn't finished, some pine cones he has picked up and put next to the sink. Her hostage taker as a person. Then he walks in. Both caught by surprise, but not utterly shocked, they look at each other. Recognize each other. Time seems to slow down. Sophie opens her mouth to say something, but she's not sure what she should say. All of a sudden, she does look shocked. Doubt and confusion are in her eyes. Those eyes... Blue as the sky. She collapses on the floor, and her blond hair turns red. He speeds to her, picks her up, trembles as the life within her slips away. She doesn't see him anymore.

We don't see the police officers coming in, only seconds later, the people that she unintentionally led to him. We don't see the sharpshooter that missed him and hit her instead. We only see two people, and what they shared. Fear, confusion, doubt. And against all odds, an endless fascination for each other.

Friday, February 23

Script two

A Man of Good Taste Jude Law is a blind connoisseur of wine in this surreal film shot with a yellow filter - showing the audience a 'sun-drenched' California. The nameless protagonist is not just gifted when it comes to tasting wine, his description of this alcoholic substance - and his presence in general - is also considered highly entertaining. The rich invite him to the exclusive parties they give in their Mediterranean-style villas amidst fields full of vines, using him as a status symbol but admiring him deeply. This is a man with refined social skills, but at the same time he always remains a complete mystery. Perhaps even a dark mystery. The people he surrounds himself with do not care; they are too shallow to see that there is much more beneath the surface, hidden. Throughout the film, our main character remains a stranger - and a little strange - only giving away a few hints as to his background and thoughts. I am not sure about the actual storyline, it will not bear a particular message but be rather puzzling and leave you with questions, and a lot of room for interpreting the events yourself. What you will be seeing is a mosaic of a rose on the floor of a swimming pool, and the main character driving off in a red Porsche cabrio. Which is odd, since he's blind.

Wednesday, February 21

Script one

So much for films from renowned producers, directors, scriptwrites and actors. What if we were given the chance to make a professional film with a few million dollars to spend? Haven't you ever thought 'hey, that's a pretty neat storyline I've just coughed up'? If only we had the budget to make these films. About what subject would you like to make a film?

Borders The year is 2035. The International Agency of Space Exploration has been preparing a manned mission to Mars for years. From around the world, a large team of experts has been selected and trained to make this great journey. People from all over the world seem to be united in the prospect of this epic mission. After all, seen from Mars we are all only citizens of Earth. But only months before the launch, the international political community announces their plan to divide the surface of Mars amongst the countries of the world. One of the scientists in the Mars team is outraged by this pointless act and boldly decides she will participate in no such thing. On the eve of the most amazing achievement in her life, the fulfillment of her greatest dream, one woman risks it all because she refuses to abandon her principles. With eight billion people closely following the mission, all the officials can do is let her speak and hope she will make a fundamental mistake, one that will allow them to remove her from the team. The actual space mission is not covered by the film, so it isn't much of a science fiction film. Instead, it is a moving drama about borders - borders between territories, countries, cultures, people and visions - and one woman who dares to break them.

Sunday, February 18

Soon

There is something about trailers, that makes me feel I just can't wait to see the actual film. These are some films that are coming up - with their US release dates, which means I'll have to wait even longer. If these films are ever going to get in cinemas here, in the Netherlands. But I have hope.

Amazing Grace (feb 23) About the campaign against the slave trade in 19th century Britain, led by famous abolitionist William Wilberforce, who was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament. "Behind the song you love is a story you will never forget." That is amongst the most dreadful tag lines I've ever seen, and I hope the film itself is totally unlike it... But at least I'll love the costumes.

The Astronaut Farmer (feb 23) NASA austronaut Charlie Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) gives up his dream job to try and save his home. Missing his former profession, he begins to construct a rocket that will actually be able to leave the earth’s atmosphere. His neighbours assume he's crazy, the media begins covering his progress, and the government considers him a potential threat that may need to be stopped. Government official: "Mr. Farmer, how do we know you are not constructing a WMD?" Charlie Farmer, very seriously: "Because if I was building a Weapon of Mass Destruction, you wouldn't be able to find it." Alright, I know it's a lame joke. But I think the film is going to be better than will be expected - given that it's about, well, an amateur astronaut.

Pride (somewhere in march) A film based on true events. In the 1970s, struggling to find employement, former competitive swimmer Jim Ellis founds an African-American swim team in one of Philadelphia’s roughest neighborhoods. He hopes to help them become successful at swimming and in all aspects of their lives. With Terence Howard and Bernie Mac.

Wednesday, February 14

Behind the mask

You can't judge a book by its cover. Appearances are deceiving. The way a man (or a woman) looks, the clothes he wears and the things he owns, it says very little about himself. How he is viewed by others, certainly, but not how he views himself when he is alone. Not the person he really is. We cannot even know him through what he says and does, except when it is said and done in a moment of great honesty and trust. In all other situations, the words and deeds of a man are influenced by his 'true self', and in turn they act upon the self. But since we can never be certain to what degree this interaction takes place at that particular time, drawing conclusions from a man's words and actions (and only those of that particular moment) is of little value. Necessary? Most of the time. Inevitable, yes. But of little value if you want to determine who he truly is. If he hasn't lost himself somewhere along the way.

I have wrote before that I like to believe that a person, in the deepest sense of 'self', is what he desires to be. People do not really want to change into other people, even if it feels that way, but rather strife to express their own personalities better. To be more true to themselves amongst other people. We are all influenced by others, wether we feel we should take their opinions seriously or not. Copying someone's behaviour is part of communicating, it is a subconscious process. We cannot 'act' like ourselves completely, just as little as we can be someone else. Nevertheless I believe it is what we should reach for. The thicker the walls we build around ourselves, and the stronger the defense we put up to protect what is within, the more we will see only ignorance and incomprehension in the people around us. And we will remain alone.

A man who tries to be what he is will never have to prove himself to others. When it is asked of him, he replies that he feels no need to justify his words and actions. He has always attempted to be true to himself, and for that he does not have to be ashamed. The choice is now up to his critics; they can continue to believe they know him - and since this is a false belief, their opinions will be of no importance to him - or admit they are clueless. And we are all clueless, but that does not mean we should not aim higher.

Friday, February 9

Setting priorities

He is a young businessman in a first-rate suit, admiring his spacious new office. Enjoying the victory of finally getting that promotion, after all the passionate work he put into his job. He walks out his office, into the elevator, into his expensive car. Heading home, or where he spends the night anyway; a modern appartment not far from the office. Driving out of the car park, he is suddenly struck by the late afternoon - the orange sky, the warmth of the day lingering before inevitably fleeing. A group of friends playing basketball in a fenced court, joking and laughing. They're not there to win. Street musicians surrounded by a small crowd of admirers, for subtlely striking a few chords in their hearts. A man his age, his girlfriend and their baby. Not rich, not without worries, but happy nevertheless.

The top can be lonely if you never come to realize that what you desire is not always what you want, or need. Which mountain to climb?

Tuesday, February 6

Change

"I've been thinking about changing my mind. It never stays the same for long." Brooke Fraser sings. That about sums it up. The way I feel about some issues doesn't just pulsate daily - along with my moods - but can also change all of a sudden, without apparent reason or warning. Interests, ideas, people... One day I love them, the next day I wonder why I ever did. What can seem like a dream come true, can change in something I really don't want to happen at all. For no reason. This inconstancy doesn't occur in what I reckon are the most essential of my thoughts, but they affect pretty much everthing else. Suddenly, the battery just dies.

Saturday, February 3

An afternoon in the garden

We've got a new camera, a Sony Cybershot DSC-H2, and I've been shooting pictures all day last thursday. This digital camera is much better (as well as more expensive) than the previous one - I love the possibilities and quality. Thursday I was mainly taking macro photo's while experimenting with the aperture value. These are some of the results, unedited.







Friday, February 2

The Day

Hope is tomorrow's veneer over today's disappointment. - Evan Esar

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened . But in my dreams, I slew the dragon. And down this beaten path, and up this cobbled lane, I'm walking in my old footsteps, once again. And you say, just be here now. Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin. Let me throw one more dice, I know that I can win. I'm waiting for my real life to begin. - Colin Hay

Some unimportant things have the nasty habit of turning into an issue if you carry them around for too long. You begin each day with the intention to do something about it - today's the day, you think - but then you never do. You're just waiting for the right moment. And that's okay, but the trick is to use that moment, or you'll be waiting forever.

Life is not for waiting. Knowing is better than wondering. So if you get the chance to find out and have that tiny bit of hope burned down to the ground, take it. You'll feel quite bad at first, no doubt about it. Call it experience. Move on. Because then you can get back to everyday life, where every day is a new chance to make it The Day. Hope stops being pleasurable after a while anyway.