August 25, 2012
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Just over a month ago, around my birthday, I saw this rather interesting film that was airing on the BBC’s iPlayer… The main reason it caught my eye was because I was looking to buy a DVD copy an old blues documentary that Martin Scorsese had directed that traced the origins of blues music from the birth of the Delta-blues to the slave-experience and finally to Africa, which was entitled “The Blues“. However, as so often seems to be the case when on-line recently, I got slightly side tracked when I noticed a somewhat odd search result place near the top of the Google list… It read something like, “Scorsese – Executive Producer – Surviving Progress”.
Obviously I’m quite a big fan of Scorsese’s past works, especially his recent foray into the world of 3D animation that was highlighted with his loveable film “Hugo”, a heart felt story of a young orphaned lad who looks after the Gare Montparnasse’s clocks in Paris, ensuring they’re all well maintained and running on time. Anything that he decides/chooses to get involved in, for me, is a curiosity I rarely fail to miss… Mainly because they’re usually so well crafted and brilliantly realised. However, this one particular listing about “Survivng Progess” I had not heard anything about: neither in the tabloids nor on-line. Why that should be, I have no idea, especially as it is something I’ve broached the subject of here within this website before. So, as it was airing on the BBC’s iPlayer, I just couldn’t turn down a ‘free’ viewing of something Scorsese had chosen to get involved in when the chance arose.
To be fair, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. Partly because I didn’t read the introduction to it on the BBC’s website… But predominantly because I had clocked the 1 hour and 22 minute run time and, so, automatically expected it to be a feature length fictional movie/film of some kind or another (oh, damnable presumptions)… However, from the very outset, I have to say, with it’s dulcet musical score and languid, ponderous content, it left me feeling somewhat engrossed and uneasy all at the same time, almost as though I was witnessing my own death and, yet, was still fully aware of all that going on around me.
During the course of the film, it touchingly brought an obvious – and yet, of late, once again much overlooked question – to the forefront of my thoughts… As a race of living beings, would WE actually make it through the coming hard times, most of which are predominantly and presently of our own making… ? Could we make sufficient changes right now to allow a decent bit of progress to be made on the path to cultivating a more balanced way of life within nature’s cradle of a planetary ecosystem… ?
Alfred Montapert, the Amercian author who wrote the “The Supreme Philosophy of Man: The Laws of Life”, is quoted as once saying “Don’t confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but doesn’t make any progress.” Certainly I see a lot of motion going on all around me in daily life… And whenever I’ve asked whether it’s really a holistic, healthy type of progress, most people I meet say that it will do for the time being… But, my instinct keeps nudging me, and I can’t help asking “Really? Is it really good enough for the time being?” Certainly I’m still not convinced by most people’s appraisal of the situation… And it seems, as this film suggests, the answer is a lot more astounding that most could (or would) dare to imagine…
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Documentary telling the double-edged story of the grave risks we pose to our own survival in the name of progress. With rich imagery the film connects financial collapse, growing inequality and global oligarchy with the sustainability of mankind itself. The film explores how we are repeatedly destroyed by ‘progress traps’ – alluring technologies which serve immediate need but rob us of our long term future. Featuring contributions from those at the forefront of evolutionary thinking such as Stephen Hawking and economic historian Michael Hudson. With Martin Scorsese as executive producer, the film leaves us with a challenge – to prove that civilisation and survival is not the biggest progress trap of them all.
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To find out where I originally saw this movie, please visit the BBC’s website by clicking here.
OR to visit the official website for the film, which should be released on DVD sometime this October, please click here.
August 10, 2010
Just the other day, I was sitting down with a friend during a cool summer’s eve… All this stifling heat that we have been having here in the UK recently has left me slightly frazzled in mind… So this cool spell has been warmly welcomed, allowing me to enjoy cups of tea and other warming drinks without over heating during passionate debates/conversations.
One recent cool eve, a friend was imbibing some fine Arabic coffee that he had just brought back over with him from Morocco. Having only just ground the beans moments earlier in my Uncle‘s old coffee grinder, I could smell the rich aroma that had begun to diffuse through the kitchen, as a bubbling sound spewed up into the air, overflowing, once again, from the dulled Bialetti…
“Damn this is strong…” he muttered on several occasions, all the while his hands trembling as he brought the cup to his pursed lips for another eager sip. Personally I’m not really a coffee drinker… And unless I’m in Morocco, seated in a café with a Shisha that is kindling some fine Arabian or Persian apple and honey tobacco, inhaling the compliment of the dry arid heat of their desert air along with the fresh vibrant fragrance their coffee, I’ll usually be sipping tea. Non the less, that really didn’t stop me from enjoying the scent of Jim’s fine coffee blend… Just remembering those velvety roasted overtones, I find myself desiring an espresso.
As usual Jim was indulging his appetite heartily… And any seasoned coffee drinker could see from his demeanour that it was strong coffee. He was babbling away with Bialetti about philosophy, Zen and this new film by Jim Jarmusch, called “The Limits Of Control.” In his over stimulated muddle he mangled on about the cinematic flow of this percolating “masterpiece,” how it brewed notions of profound insight over sagacious, minimalist moments of Zen… And that I would love it more than any of Federico Fellini‘s films… All of which, I must say, I still enjoy immensely… Especially “8 and a half.” After hearing this, I was simply at a loss to find a retort… So I suggested that we find a copy that very evening and watch it… Which we did.
All I can say is that this film is a meditation on life… One that certainly reminded me about aspects of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and meditative understandings about what We – as human beings – are, somewhat resembling the essence of that which I’m trying to convey and/or capture here in the writings littered throughout this website. Despite it’s fictitious nature, it is drenched in metaphor, and pressed smartly with “eye candy” that somehow spoke to my own deeply ingrained sensibilities… It demonstrates, sometimes obviously, and sometimes not so obviously, Jarmusch’s own personal musings about the nature of reality… Or at least, his own understanding about what it means. Magritte seems to come to my mind, as characters speak about what they like and dislike. Precision surrounded by suspicion encapsulates the smooth rolling, cosmopolitan imagery… No character needs any lengthy introduction. They are simply there doing what needs to be done.
Certainly there are clever moments… Like when Bill Murry’s character asks the protagonist how he got into the room, which leaves me finding all sorts of analogies as to how one might think about and do anything in Life. After all, imagination is where one’s memes… OR rather, one’s ideas… All have sex with one another, bearing their creative progeny into a world of limitless and wondrously unexplained potential.
But still… Besides the curvaceous Paz de la Huerta as a romantic, revealing nude temptress… ! One essence seemed to stand out from the rest during this languid dream sequence of a flick…
“He who thinks he is bigger than the rest must go to the cemetery. There he will see what life really is… A handful of dirt.”
Here the humbling reminder of what we are i.e. nothing more than a mixture of star dust and chaos, comes to mind. In an arbitrary world, no one is ‘bigger’ or ‘better’ than the rest. Everything is imagined. We live and then we die. Life is mysteriously precious… It flows with equal mystery… Following the Tao. And with this we should never forget how to live humbly… Helping those that need help along our way, and yielding to the help and advice offered when it is presented to us. To do all of these things while remaining in control of our “monkey mind” is the key our silent warrior uses to unlock the encounters within his rights of passage. “For every way in… There is another way out.”
To find out more about Jim Jarmusch, please click here.