Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Everything is Illuminated

I had no idea what this movie was about before watching it in class. I was extremely tired and in a terrible mood from spending 10 hours in the library and was pleasantly surprised to catch myself laughing throughout this film. I assumed that this film would just have a serious tone, but it caught my attention because of the comedy throughout the movie.

I think that the comedy in this film is very affective at getting the viewer’s attention. I think it is a film with a serious theme, but appeals to our age group because of the brilliant use of humor. There were many parts in the film when everyone couldn’t help but to laugh. I think if the film had no humor than the audience reach would significantly decrease, because people always want to laugh but need to be in the right state of mind to watch a sad and serious movie. “Seeing eye bitch” was just priceless…

Alex and Jonathan were both great characters, opposites, yet so alike in many ways; two adolescent males trying to find their place in the world. When watching both characters you can’t help but to be entertained, Alex in his track suit, gold chains and rap music and Jonathan with his awkward demeanor, oversized glasses and obsession with collecting things in plastic bags.

I also loved the grandfather, because from the start you could tell that something was going on with him. The look in his eyes and his unusual compassion for Jonathan foreshadowed some secret. I guessed his secret was going to be that he was a guard at the camp and was responsible for killing Jonathan’s ancestors, but I was surprised when we found out that he was Jewish because he seemed to poke fun at Jewish people…I guess he didn’t want to associate with being Jewish after almost being killed because of it, makes sense. He seemed like a hard ass at first and then softened up for the audience to really enjoy his character. I think his character was the most touching because of the way he isolated himself from the past.

Although it may not be obvious, each character in the film has to deal with some kind of pain. Jonathan’s pain is in not knowing his past history and being obsessed with not forgetting experiences throughout his life. Alex seems confused, doesn’t seem to get along with his family, and finds out his family history is very different than he has known throughout his life. The grandfather has the most obvious pain, living with a secret that eats away at him.

I think the ending was interesting when the grandfather has passed. Alex says that this was the first time that he has seen his grandfather at peace. I think this is very important because even when he talked to the old woman from Trachimbrod, his character still seemed agitated (one would think he would feel a sense of relief). The grandfather’s traumatic past and living with his secret has taken a toll and his pain was gone as he lay at rest in peace.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"I believe that was some sort of pain cry"

The woman that argued a performance artist staging someone shooting him in the arm, isn’t art was very hypocritical. She didn’t realize that her reaction was something that art tries to do; make people think, get them angry, get them talking. In that instance that piece was more artistic than all the other pieces that we viewed because we were stuck talking about it. She was fulfilling the artists’ whole purpose of their work.

One of my classmates raised an excellent point: “I do not think the question is what is art? but what is good art?” You may not like a piece or understand it, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t art. It’s not art but it’s the piece that got the most discussion, and arts main focus is to get people thinking and talking (hello). Art is about challenging people, not just about being aesthetically beautiful.

My favorite artist from the lecture was Sue Williams. I’ve seen her work a couple times and never realized what the real message was. I got too caught up in the beauty of it, assuming that it was about something beautiful, which it’s not. I like how the artwork contrasts doodles, a fun subject, with painful past experiences. No one would ever expect doodles of that type of subject matter, but it’s very cool that she thought to do this. I also really enjoy Carol Walker’s work. I think twisting situations is a really interesting, brilliant way to depict things. The silhouettes have no color, so the situation can be twisted or taken in original context; the identities are fairly unknown (being silhouettes) so the reader can put themselves in each character’s place.

The piece that had the most effect on me was the photographs of the pregnant mother shooting up and the baby in the coffin. I think these were the most powerful because they were photographs; the picture looked very realistic it wasn’t just a painting. Also, it’s one thing if the woman wanted to hurt herself, but she’s hurting/killing an innocent life. I think everyone was especially reactionary to these pieces because of the child involved in the situation.

I really find all the performance art interesting. I like how artists push boundaries, but it then raises the question when have they gone too far? Will anything ever be too provocative even for artists to depict? Nowadays we see it all, so I don’t know much more that would push limits, but it’s possible. Then when I think about the woman that cut off her cuticles and dipped them in milk, I believe there are countless amounts of things people can do that most others would never think of. I like seeing an idea that I would never think of in a million years carried out in a thoughtful, relevant manner.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

9/11 Literature

This lecture was very interesting and created a great discussion. There is so much to discuss that I don’t even know where to begin. First off, the Esquire article about the falling man was fascinating; I couldn’t turn away from reading it. The part of the article that I couldn’t stop thinking about was the family that instantly rejected the idea of the falling man being related to them, that he couldn’t be their father, brother or husband. That really bothered me that a family would denounce this person that has chosen to die this particular way, compared to possibly being suffocated by smoke. This brings up the point about why suicide is looked down upon in society. I really don’t think anyone has a right to judge these people and their decisions unless they were in their shoes, and we all know that the people judging have no idea what it feels like to be one of the victims in the towers on that day. The “mass suicide” wasn’t a random decision that people decided to make, it was because the extenuating circumstances left them to make a choice: how would you rather die? While I was reading the article I thought to myself, why can’t the choice to jump or fall be seen as heroic? I know traditionally suicide is looked down upon, but how can people be so inhumane. In the Esquire the girl says something along the lines of, “That piece of shit is not my father.” I was appalled that she would talk about an innocent victim in such a horrible manner. I think making the decision to jump is very heroic and brave. How could anyone judge that wasn’t in the towers on 9/11?

I do think that the painting of the twins representing the towers and also the picture of the falling man are aesthetically beautiful; these being denounced by critics for being “too beautiful.” We don’t want to believe that something beautiful can be created out of the tragic event that took place. Literature and art may not be able to accurately depict the trauma of what went on; testimony may be better at this. We have discussed that in times of intense pain words can even fail us. But I do think that literature and art are important pieces to help us reflect on what occurred. As we picked apart pieces of the painting we all saw different things whether it was naivety, blind justice, sacrifice or something else. I think this is important because it helps us cope with what occurred and possibly give some closure.

I really like the ending of the Esquire article, “That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.” This raises a lot of ideas about “the bigger picture.” Has humanity fallen? As we discuss the falling man we isolate it from ourselves, but in reality we are all the falling man. We experienced 9/11 as a national tragedy, whether that brings us together or apart. It’s a fact that we were attacked on our own soil when we believed that we were untouchable. When people criticize the falling man and others for their brave decisions, they are insulting all of humanity because we are all falling and maybe just don’t realize it.