Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stroszek: An Academy Award Recipient in My Heart ! ! !

Werner Herzog's film Stroszek really is an incredible feat of movie-making without failing to be a powerful critique of the American Dream. I was struck, the more I learned of its process, with the strong connection to real people and real life. By using non-actors and many unscripted scenes in the film, Herzog created a depiction of life so close to the real thing that his fictional plot blurred with reality. This is what made the characters and their interactions so meaningful– there's hardly a disconnect as there is with most other movies in which it is so aware of being a movie that it is less possible to produce real emotion in the viewer. A lot of the shots, too, are just so beautiful. I'm thinking particularly about one of the final scenes in which Bruno leaves his car to die driving in circles in the parking lot (depicted here in a poor quality frame, but the only one I could find).

The Death Of The American Dream

In Germany, Bruno and Eva have nothing going for them. Most of all, they are in danger and go to America with the hopes of a better life. At first, they are doing well– they're both working and they have a home. However, as time goes on, they become less and less happy with their situation. For Bruno, I think this moment is when he is in the car shop with the mechanics and they're grossly talking about Eva. Here, is a low point for Bruno in which it is clear that he does not enjoy America. For Eva, it is less about her unhappiness and more about her descent into the American Trap.

Snacks, Comic Books, And A Bath Robe

She spends too much money, is lazy, and takes advantage of her opportunity in a new country. It is those events that begin the downward spiral: Eva runs off with two truckers, Herr Scheitz and Bruno rob a barber and Herr Scheitz is arrested, Bruno steals a car and runs away. And finally he (most likely) kills himself in the true spirit of America– wearing a cowboy hat on a skilift next to a frozen turkey.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bill Owens: A Master of the Mundane ! ! !

Bill Owens is really cool. He was a newspaper photographer for a while and used that job to get access to a lot of people that he photographed for his own personal use after taking the required one to be in the paper. De Certeau talks about "materializing today the utopia that yesterday was only painted" which I think Bill understood in his life in the suburbs. He made a series called "Suburbia" in which he took photos of his friends and neighbors in this utopian community.

We are really happy, 1972
from "Suburbia"
I think the series is conscious of "the strangeness that doesn't surface" in everyday life and the weird idea of having a perfect utopia. At the same time, it acts as a catalog of the intricate perfections of everyday life. His recent pictures though, I find more interesting. He has several slideshow-like videos of pictures he's taken with a really simple digital camera or his iPhone which he now exclusively uses.

This process of constant and overwhelming documentary photography is great. The images are unedited, [seemingly] unconsciously framed, and un-"your-idea-of-art"-ed. They are simply Bill's life as he lives and views it.