There is approximately one time out of the year that completely throws your vibe off:
Spring Break.

If you're a college student, it starts the Friday you get out. Suddenly the halls become a bit quieter, the streets become eerily deserted, and you can finally think for the first time in weeks. But this period of time is completely different than winter break or summer break - because you know that it only lasts a week. You aren't going home to eggnog and cookies or riding your bike to your summer job. If you're staying where you are, it's completely unsettling.  

Most of my friends got a Greyhound ticket back home, a few on grander adventures, but I stayed here. It was mostly grey, a balmy 30 degrees out, but it gave me time to reflect on life. It's almost scary, how accustomed you become to driving yourself into the ground. Not just with school work, but just with the modes of everyday life. The stillness you happen upon over spring break doesn't quite put you at ease, it just offers you a new perspective. 

(Spring Breakers dir. Harmony Korine)

Over break I was fascinated with this feeling of stillness. I started to remember the times I felt it while watching certain movies.  For example Spring Breakers directed by Harmony Korine. People shit on this movie all of the time (for good and bad reasons), but I think a big reason why I connected to this film so much was the entity of stillness that was captured by Korine. You got the sense of the desperation that comes along with realizing how slow life is when you aren't preoccupied with things. Those fixed frame shots of the empty dorms spoke to my freakin soul. You realize that these places you are so accustomed to are merely shells that are occupied for nine months out of the year. I also realized how essential Cliff Martinez and Skrillex were to this film. They composed the most delicate and omniscient soundtrack music (Park Smoke) that makes you feel so damn melancholy. 

(Adventureland dir. Greg Mottola) 

Then there was that one scene from the end of Adventureland (2009) directed by Greg Mottola (see Film Muse here). It's a short scene, but ethereal nonetheless. The movie is about this rich college kid who decides to get a dumpy summer job at a local amusement park in 1987. The whole movie glows with that certain alliance you create with your coworkers. You know, the "Us vs. The World" type of thing. But this scene just got to me. Their summer job is over and now they have nothing to do really except shoot fireworks on top of a hill. It's all grey outside. It's too still. 

(The Virgin Suicides dir. Sofia Coppola)

Getting progressively sadder, you have The Virgin Suicides (1999) directed by Sofia Coppola. I picked up Jeffrey Eugenides' book over break, hoping to gain some nostalgia from when I first read it. I forgot how beautiful it was, I couldn't fathom it. The book itself is the epitome of ever lasting stillness, exaggerated memories of the Lisbon sisters and open ended questions. I sat around for a good whole day perplexed as to how Coppola captured it all so well. One of the last scenes of the movie shows the house of the Lisbon family. It's vacated and so lonely. Everything is draped in a cool hue of blue, the walls painted plainly. Carpet stains line the floor, even though signs of life left it long ago. It also reminded me of the Spring Breakers dorm shots, how home is just a structure that you live in until you don't.

The Virgin Suicides has best soundtrack of all time, too. AIR beautifully accompanies the hollow feelings of the film, the soundtrack itself deserves a whole other blogpost:
Empty House - by AIR

(Kurt Cobain's aunt in Kurt & Courtney dir. Nick Broomfield)

Then this. This scene I wrote about in my Film Muse of Kurt & Courtney (1998) (see Film Muse here). The film is a documentary surrounding the life of Kurt Cobain. The whole movie is a total downer - if you're into that kind of stuff. What got me was that one of their main interviewees was Kurt Cobain's aunt who still lives in the same house that Kurt used to jam out in as a toddler. She shares old recordings of him singing Beatles songs. She plays the stereo with a huge smile (cross quilt hanging proudly in the background) but still manages to look so goddamn sad. You can tell she is a nice Christian lady who occasionally whips out an acoustic guitar at campfires, but something is eternally off. Like she is still deeply missing Kurt after all of these years, replaying old memories, even though she looks fine and happy in her denim on denim ensemble. 

Well damn. This got a whole lot deeper than I intended it to. But I think it's important to dwell on these moments. I wouldn't have thought about all of this stuff if I went on a trip to Hawaii-kiki. Anyways, I suppose I should study for my midterm tomorrow. Happy Spring Break. 

Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion


Film Muse: Totally Fucked Up

First Film Muse of 2014.

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing swell with your endeavors. I thought I'd share with you a TOP SECRET film that I have been hoarding for a while.  Yeah, I'm that person. I am totally protective of what movies I share with people. This is the kind of movie you'd find at a dumpy VHS rental store (do they even exist anymore?), but not on display- of course. It's in that weird room at the back of the place that you're too embarrassed to go into. No - it's not porn. It's of the punk rock variety. 

May I introduce:
Totally Fucked Up directed by Gregg Araki (1993).

Those who have stuck around long enough will know that I have a major obsession with Rose McGowan.  She's that black haired vixen with a fiery personality and a knack for delivering tongue and cheek dialogue in your favorite cult classics. It was Gregg Araki who first scouted her at a gym when she was visiting a friend in Los Angeles. He later casted her as Amy Blue in The Doom Generation in 1995 (arguably one of my favorite movies). He also directed the critically acclaimed film Mysterious Skin (2004) starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. 

Being the first installment of Araki's "Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy",  Totally Fucked Up is a film about the lives of six gay teens.  It's a narrative but also part documentary, breaking the 4th wall/connecting the viewer to the characters' undertakings. The teens are loud, brash, mysterious, lonely, and unsure - like every human going into adulthood. We feel their fear of relationships, fear of being misunderstood, fear of being alone, and their fear of the AIDS crises. 

Visually, Araki's films are by far my favorite. He pictorializes run down Americana landscapes of the U.S.A. impeccably. It looks humorously surreal but also lonely at the same time. Every shot seems to be electrified by neon lights and deep blues. It's grainy yet rich. 

A portion of the movie is shot on a VHS camera by a character trying to document the lives of his friends.  Nowadays (grandpa voice), we don't film our friends like that.  We are too aware: aware that our mom might see it,  aware that it might ruin our future careers, aware that we should edit the awkward bits out in iMovie when we get home, aware that everyone will see it so it HAS to look good. Sorry to pull a Holden Caulfield, but everything seems phony now. We are too aware of our audiences to genuinely document our past. Sometimes I trudge up old home movies when I'm yearning for something true. There is something so beautiful about watching tapes that were made just for your own memory and no one else's. 

 There is something more raw about Araki's work that we will never be able to have again, as a viewer.  That is why I hold it so closely to my heart. Sure, some of the dialogue is ear crunching, the acting, a little haphazard in parts. But it is beautiful. Sometimes I notice independent filmmakers trying to mimic his style but they can never quite get it right. Araki is a huge pioneer in the GLBTQ film community. We see the characters' faults but also their humility. We get a taste of the horror that creeps into everyday mundane lives. 

Trust me when I say I'll write more about Araki in the future. I feel so personally connected to his work in the strangest of ways. Cherish Araki's films, give them a chance. Watch them alone in your bedroom and reevaluate your audience, who you're performing for. Appreciate these genuine works as if they are time capsules you'll dig up 40 years from now. Don't exploit them. 

Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion