Price of Imperialism

October 25th, 2005 § 1

Some numbers on the Iraq conflict from Juan Cole:

Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce Linda Bilmes has estimated the cost of five years of the Iraq war at 1 trillion and 372 billion dollars; is the next five years Mr. Krepinevich estimates for his strategy likely to be much cheaper? He does not think so. Neither do I.

Meanwhile, as he points out, not just Arabs or just Muslims but peoples all over the world have come to dislike and fear America and “Indeed, citizens in Canada, France, Germany the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom now hold more favorable views of China than of the United States.” The trend is toward greater distrust of Americans. This, as I and others have emphasized, is the wasting of a treasure Americans have inherited that is far more valuable than money.

Mr. Kepinevich is absolutely right. General loathing for Americans and American products spreads gradually across the world, even in places which had previously been susceptible to advertisements for the American way of life.

On the positive side, the recent failure of the Americans to contain Unesco’s stand on the cultural exception can be traced to this war.

Beside American military imperialism, much of the rest of the world will have no more cultural imperialism.

More and more, I am reminded of the lonely bully on the school playground beating each of his schoolmates individually before they finally gang up and ostracise him from the school grounds altogether.

Visit to Universidad Nacional of Columbia in Bogotá

October 19th, 2005 § 0

Today I had an eleven o’clock screening of Lapinthrope, followed by a lecture on arts filmmaking in the cinema department of Universidad Nacional in Bogotá.

The class was small – apparently one of photography. I spoke about digital filmmaking and made a strong case for the future being digital and not chemical.

I spoke about light cameras and custom steadycam rigs. I spoke about PAL and NTSC and television interlacing (30 frames of NTSC televison are in fact 60 frames of interlaced low-resp – smooth and ugly).

I spoke about Hollywood and their absence of need for other tales than their own. Of the commercial nature of commercial cinema. I spoke about integrity and the desire to tell one’s own stories. I gave them strategy (buy a good camera second-hand and sell it after the project; rehearse with the camera you will use to shoot).

I spoke about collaboration and the torment of the shoot. Choose your collaborators carefully as you must trust them absolutely, even under extreme stress.

I spoke of the need for companions. A film can only be a success if everyone likes every minute of an entire film. Everyone has to be engaged by every minute of your film throughout. This is why you need more than one set of eyes. You cannot see your film for everyone yourself at all times.

Other eyes help you with this.

They asked about my goals with this film.

To speak about things which I care deeply about. Urbanisation, civilisation, alienation, community. To share my passion for dance. So that everyone who saw this film Lapinthrope would love dance and follow it regularly afterwards. So that there would be an audience of millions who would demand more films liked Lapinthrope.

As you can see, we have had some success but we have some distance still to go.

Not sure if they caught the ironic drollery in the above.

Claude Lelouche “Le Courage d’Aimer”

October 19th, 2005 § 1

For a long time, I’ve been mildly contemptuous of Claude Lelouche’s films. Eminently français, these tired tales of bourgeois hypocrisy and venality, had lost all optimism, all beauty.

While Lelouche may have the pulse of the French elite and a great facility with camerra and word, blackness alone does not a world make.

In Le courage d’aimer, Lelouche finally puts his cinematic gifts to good use.

The Courage to Love is a bold exploration of the consequences of passion. It is also a picture within a picture within a picture. Truffaut’s Jour de nuit in a mirror funhouse.

We begin with an out of work Italian singer, a pretty shoplifter and identical twins who work as waitress in a jazz bar and maid in a château.

We pass by a ring of jewellery thieves, Comédie Française actors and a pizza magnate in this cardinal work crowned by a suicide.

Many of the moments – the young singer forced to choose between her success and the love of her life – leave hearts in throats. Lelouche is manipulating us, but with the masterly touch of a man whom life has manipulated endlessly throughout his own existence. We are left with a deeper understanding of the world and ourselves.

Pizza magnate Gorkini tells his mistress shortly before she becomes a murderess, “The motto of France should have been libery, equality and infidelity.”

My experience of France would tell me the same thing. Never has the beautiful been more perfidious. Nowhere does one suffer more from the consequences of inconsequence.

On Air France, Le courage d’aimer et la vie du château. A good meal. Good wine. Poire William. The benevolent and dangerous smile of the devil. The devil of pleasure.

Contrast Konsequenz – a bold Germanic intention to take the world to its logical conclusion and construct a reality within which one can live and one’s descendents also. Hopeless Gauls. Happy flight.

Implications

October 7th, 2005 § 0

How to say someone is a murderer without saying it:

Abramoff is under investigation by a grand jury in Guam for illegal contracts and money laundering and another grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. In that case, a former business partner in the SunCruz casino boat company with whom Abramoff had had a dispute was allegedly murdered by three hit men, who have been indicted for the crime. Abramoff’s business partner Adam Kidan made payments from company funds of $30,000 to one of the killers’ daughters, who performed no services for the company, and $115,000 to a firm the hit man owned. Reportedly, Abramoff is not under suspicion for the murder, but he was indicted in August for bank fraud in the case.

Great article about the disintegration of the American system under Bush Republicanism. Gradually their misdeeds seem to be catching up on them (lying about Iraq, replacement of the competent federal bureaucrats with their own cronies – i.e. FEMA, the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson).

There seems to be a last opportunity now to purge the system with Tom Delay forced to step down, Karl Rove appearing again before a grand jury and Bush on the political ropes.

Ultimately, they may have put too much pressure on too many people. When the people turn on their leaders, they turn hard.

No wonder Bush wants to appoint his own personal lawyer to the Supreme Court. If anyone is going to keep him off the scaffold in treason and torture hearings, surely it would be his personal lawyer.