Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Artistic Consumption Log, Nov. 21, 2011 - Nov. 27, 2011: Thanksgiving/Wedding Edition

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—This past week was dominated not just by Thanksgiving and heavy eating, but also by the wedding of two dear friends of mine back in New Jersey (one of whom I've known since high school, and possibly earlier).

The ceremony was held on Saturday down in Long Beach Island, a scenic beach town that I raved about once before on this blog here. The weather couldn't have been better for this special occasion; the venue was surrounded by lake-side dusk views such as this...

...and this:

The wedding was on Saturday afternoon, but, because I was asked to be an usher at the ceremony, I and a bunch of friends went down to the area on Friday—so I got a chance to sit it on a brief rehearsal as a result of being there a day early. I hadn't been to many weddings before this one—the last one I was at was maybe two years ago, and I wasn't involved in the actual ceremony—so I think this was the first time I realized just how much planning goes into an event. The couple had hired a wedding planner to help organize the whole thing, and as I witnessed the rehearsal, I realized that wedding planners are, in essence, a ceremony's equivalent to an orchestra conductor and, to an arguably lesser extent, film/theater directors: vessels in which to help realize a personal vision. Because what are weddings like these other than grand staged productions for the benefit of friends and family, with many different avenues for creativity within a certain traditional structure?

By that logic, then, the wedding ought to be included in the artistic consumption log...and so that's what I've done, as you will see all the way at the end of this post. It really was a wonderful ceremony, a heartening celebration of the official union of a cute couple that deserve all the happiness in the world. It certainly brought out the sentimental romantic in me—and I tend to treasure experiences that have that kind of effect on me, artistic or not.

Plus, the ceremony offered many photogenic opportunities such as this shot of the chapel, which I consider a tribute of sorts to John Alcott, the cinematographer who famously shot Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon with the kind of candlelit natural light you see here:

All I was missing was a Carl Zeiss lens!


Before I get to my log proper—which, because of a lack of time during a whirlwind weekend, I present without annotations—I will, for the sake of completeness, mention a few titles I watched but left off the log, for various reasons:

  • The Lady Eve (1941, Preston Sturges). When I came back to home to East Brunswick, N.J., on Thursday night (yes, I worked on Thanksgiving, as I've done for the past four years now at The Wall Street Journal), I tuned into Turner Classic Movies and discovered, to my delight, that they were screening this screwball classic. Later on, though, I became distracted by certain wedding obligations that popped up, so my attention wasn't as riveted to the film during its last half-hour as it was during its first hour. So I'm not counting it. (Hey, it's my log; I have my own rules here!) This, by the way, was my second time seeing it—but this scene I've seen, oh, about five more times since the first time.
  • Hall Pass (2011, Peter & Bobby Farrelly). This was one of three pay-per-view films I watched on Friday night with my friends in the hotel room we all shared. Again, my attention wavered throughout, so I'm not including it in the log; plus, I'm pretty sure we were watching it in the wrong aspect ratio, anyway (stretched-out 1.33:1). For what it's worth, based on what I saw, I found this actually pretty passable, sometimes inspired and occasionally painfully truthful about relationships and male behavior—in other words, not quite as bad as its initial reviews made it out to be. I'll have to revisit to confirm, though.
  • Debbie Does Dallas (1978, Jim Clark) and Debbie Does Dallas...Again (2007, Paul Thomas). These are the other two films I saw on Friday night—yes, pornography. (Too much information?) But hey, one of them is considered a classic of the genre, after all—one I had never seen. So naturally, I was curious about it simply on the basis of its reputation. Once again, I'm pretty sure we watched both of these in the wrong aspect ratio, and I spent as much time joking about what were watching as I spent watching it, so I'm relegating them to this preface rather than listing them in the log proper. Not that making an effort to actually watch either of these would make them any better. If anything, the "sequel"-in-name-only Debbie Does Dallas...Again has more extravagantly outrageous (read: hotter) sex scenes than anything in the cheesy and slightly monotonous 1978 original. (The only thing that elevates Debbie Does Dallas compared to Debbie Does Dallas...Again, really, is that all of the breasts in it are, as far as I know, real. That's a big deal, in my book.) I say that as no expert in adult entertainment, however...


A Confucian Confusion (1994)

All right...here's what I officially took in artistically this past week (the best of the bunch being Edward Yang's rich, underseen modern tapestry A Confucian Confusion):


Pariah (2011, Dee Rees), seen at Universal Studios Screening Room in New York

A Confucian Confusion (1994, Edward Yang), seen at Walter Reade Theater in New York
Mahjong (1996, Edward Yang), seen at Walter Reade Theater in New York


Biophilia (2011, Björk)

Caterwaul of Sound Does The Cramps' Bad Music for Bad People, seen at Arlene's Grocery in New York


Traci and Adam's Big Day, seen at Bonnet Island Estate in Long Beach, N.J.


Life Coach Traci said...

Kenji, that was a beautiful tribute to our wedding. It really is quite a production and I hope you enjoyed every part of it. I am honored to be considered a production enough to be included on your blog!

Kenji Fujishima said...

Absolutely. Enjoy the honeymoon!