Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Excited!

I'm actually very excited about a film shooting project that I just talked about with a friend today.

This might be one of the many projects that amount to nothing. But still then, whatever happens, I am glad that I am taking whatever wish I only wished for (which by the way is making a movie) closer to reality.

Writing begins tonight. My friend says, You'll do good. You write well.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review - The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I've just finished reading the book - it has been a long time coming, especially after all my hype for Never Let Me Go by the same writer - tonight. I am not sure now, which I would consider is better, Never Let Me Go or Remains Of The Day. Ishiguro himself says it, that he is a very normal writer. He writes about life, people, nothing spectacular (to be fair, the characters in Never Let Me Go were very normal too, despite the fact they had abnormalities).

This really isn't a review about the book. Somehow I find the feeling and the emotions that a reader finds himself/herself after reading a book more important than the actual contents and the technicalities of the book. In other words, the how's and why's rather than the what's.

There would be a significant amount of whats to discuss about this book. One, that this is very conventionally written. There is no drama and gimmick to draw a reader in. It is, to be blunt, very bland. In fact a few pages in, I was almost tempted to stop reading. But how could I? I knew what I felt about Never Let Me Go. I knew that reading Nocturnes (a series of short stories that I many times during the past few months go to the bookstore and read, one short after the other) was always a life-giving experience for me. I believed in Ishiguro and I endured.

Butler Stevens is the protagonist and if you excuse him rambling about his job and why he finds that doing what he does with dignity is so important for the first few pages, then you will grow to love him and become sympathetic, even empathetic to his thoughts, aspirations and later, his regrets. Stevens is a loveable fellow - passionate about his job (being the butler at Darlington Hall). He comes to believe that through being a dignified and efficient butler of that great house, a great venue of many a bureaucratic and international conferences, he has made a difference and impact even on far fetched things like the international affairs indirectly.

He gets a few days off from work and embarks on a car road trip through England's deep countryside.

A particular scene here interests me. On recommendation from a local, he climbs a small hill and finds himself looking at a beautiful view of the English countryside, of farms and tree dotted rolling hills.. And he remarks on the ordinariness of it all - which he says makes Britain the Great Britain. As he says greatness does not impose itself. It is not demanding and loud. It does not command awe in obvious manners. He compares it to the Grand Canyon and the many other remarkable scenes from around the world but says that the beauty of England is of a quiet restraint. Almost like, a confidence that does not need to shout itself - to announce itself.

I love that thought. That becomes the idea of greatness to butler Stevens. Though he doesn't name it per se, that becomes the underlying aspiration of all that he considers is greatness.

---

I think I am betraying the greatness of this book by even trying to talk about it. If you want to see for yourself, you can read it too. I don't think I can do it justice by writing a review.

So, thats it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LUCY



Short graphic story about a character called Lucy.

Book Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


There are a few reasons why I decided to write this review of this book ASAP. 

1. As all books/stories normally do, the magic fades away the longer you leave to memory.. The more you think about it, the lesser you think about it, if you know what I mean. What sounded so amazing sounds less amazing after three days. Your goosebumps and adrenaline fades to nominal patterns after a short while. 
2. I was starting to find out too many things about this book, and they were starting to spoil it for me. For instance, I went to the book store to find the second book and try as much as I did, I could not find it in Fiction section. Could it be? No it couldn't be! But oh wow - no, nah.. Yeah there it was - in the Young Adults section. Was I gutted that I was raving on and on about this new book that I discovered and then find out its just a young adult fiction? Heck yea. So before I discover more blog posts about teenage girls drooling over ideas of being Katniss (I was starting to, when I begun this post) and kissing Peeta (spoiler alert! Too late) I have decided to get this done and over it.

Well here is the review.

I really enjoyed it. It begun with a bang. A mere 5 pages in, I was hooked. Here was a new world, an imaginative and lush new setting that seemed realistic enough but had its good share of fantasy in it. Here was a believable country and its districts and the human, and whatever creatures teemed in it, conditions. A game to be played that involved killing. A sure action spinner. 

The story progression is quite seamless. It is a real page turner.

The only thing that let it down were (spoiler alert) the cave scenes. I felt that it took too long and draggy. I felt it was forced. Like Suzanne Collins decided she wanted some intimate scenes in it, "Just so there is a bit of feelings into it," she must have been thinking... Like the forced romance between Katniss and Peeta, the whole thing felt very forced. It was a pain to read the accounts of pain and injury after Katniss was hurt. I felt very apathetical to her dragging herself and just keeping alive. I think it became too dreary in a not clever way. I am sure there could have been more imagination in the way these parts were written. Sure she went through hard times, but that doesn't mean the readers also get to go through the hard times, hard in its own rights. It was just hard to keep going on reading.

The gaming sequences were engaging and great read. Her account of her emotions for her family were also very well done, I thought. Her love for her sister, family, home and Gale were convincing. Of course I couldn't stand Peeta as a character. I think he had the Jacob spin to it, as opposed to Gale and Edward Cullen.... Just saying...

Finally, I can't wait to see the movie. Though I know this movie will be the nail that seals this coffin for me. A young adult fiction movie that has just been made a movie and strikes a heart with a million other teenage girls around the world don't sound like my type of party.

My plan of action - Knock these three books off quickly and then quietly wait for the movies to come out.

Friday, September 23, 2011

From Elijah Emory blog - At The Town

Melody wanted to go to town. Its always her that instigates these sort of trips. We met Deirdre at Aunty Corner on her own. I’m still mad at Tenzin. She went over the line yesterday telling me what to do with my exam study schedule, and then got mad because I didn’t do it. She probably thinks she is under-appreciated. Funny.

It is a great warm afternoon. The mountains are clear. Not a cloud in sight. I know we don’t always live in the constant awareness of them – we wake up, we go to school, we eat, play and sleep and the mountains are always there. Sometimes we don’t even notice it. But a day like today makes you step back and look at it. You can almost hear them humming with authority and power.

Got to follow Melody around, she wants to buy some fruits from New Market and hints that she needs help tugging the bags of shopping. I think I’d rather escape to a tea shop behind Onesius and waste the day away before it is time to catch the bus again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Burning Tires

The smell of burning tires
On the grey heated highway
The glare of the horizon
And the mirage of
What looks like the ocean far ahead
As empty as the haze
That rise from the concrete road

The sunlight stings my eye
The darkened lens
Aren't helping
Against the fury of the
Great highway summer

The only way is forward
The only way is to keep driving
I stop to get a bottle of drink
That feels warm and luke
How disappointingly
But only quickly is that stop

I like the feeling
Of liberation
Of being on the road
Somehow the security of the insecurity
Of living a motel after the other
Uncertain about the next town
The next city

My settlement is as settled
As a bottle of drink
On a balmy evening
On a balcony of a stranger's house
A stranger that I have called family
If only for a week or two
As settled as a bed of rented blanket
As settled as a temporary affection
For a town a person a house

When I sit in routine
I start to imagine the smell
Of buring tires again
And start to see the summer's haze
And I wish for that uncertainty
That forward motion
On the road
To a destination
In mind and out of mind

Bucket List - Directing a film

Directing A Film
How easy is it? How hard is it? How possible is it? How impossible is it to direct a film?

If there is a bucket list for me, directing a film is one of them.

When I watch Wong Kar Wai, Yasujiro Ozu, (and most recently) Sofia Coppola, something inside me stirs. In the same way that reading Ruskin Bond does. In the same way that thinking about places does. In the same way that writing Sirion Diaries does to me.

And if ever, it would be nice to be recognized and acknowledged by people who matter in the film world. But at the end of the day I want to create worlds and capture a magic that life is and put it within frames.

At the most, make someone's day.

After all, nothing makes my day more than chancing upon a film (or a story) that moves and inspires me.

Directing - What's Not Cool?
Certain things about directing puts me off:
For example, raising my voice and ordering people around. Telling everyone what to do, and being an ass of a dictator. As much as I don't want to work under people like that, I don't want to be one. Maybe I will be too laid back that I wouldn't go beyond the first few shots and takes, and 'trust' the actors and the scenario and serendipity to work its 'magic'. Maybe I will be that type? Maybe I will not succeed if my main hero is 'chance'?

Maybe I will be that type of director who knows nothing and so excuses his lack of knowledge away by using airy-fairy words that only gets acknowledged (if ever!) in the creative appreciation classroom?

Maybe's
Maybe its just insecurity?

Maybe I wouldn't give a damn about what the right film should be used and whether it should be a Canon or a Nikon or a damn Fujifilm or Apple or what not? Maybe because I didn't care about these, I would never excel? Maybe I would never be that polished a director?

Maybe I will just let my affections and my intuition take over? Maybe if my film turns out pixelated and gets rejected from the imaginary film competition (that I hate the idea of, by the way, all the idea of competition, lets see who does the best job, lets give him a car!), I will thank God for its serendipitious effects that add character to the film? Maybe I will do it all on my own, strip it right back, enjoy beauty in its barest, take away all the unnecessaries, a camera on hand and the other empty handed...

Will there be audience? What, really, is the point of a film without the audience?

Or maybe I am overthinking?

Maybe I should just give it a shot?

I am not so young anymore. Am I not meant to know what I want to do by now, with a concrete resolution? I still have too many ideas and thoughts. Should I be grateful or panicked? Shouldn't I be starting to narrow in, to focus in to that one thing that I should devote my life into? That one craft? That one career? 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Last Year

I was going through some posts I wrote last year this time round. I was in different sphere. Another dimension.

Now

I think I am happy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Amelie (Film Review)

Watched Amelie for the second time tonight. After my first watch I don't remember being so impressed by it. I liked it. But this time round I am impressed to even write a review.

There are probably thousands of reviews already written about this film, since it is so popular, one of the alternative art films that have been well received by the mainstream viewers. But even then, here is my version.

Amelie is a warm, witty and cleverly made story. Audrey Tautou is doubtlessly the star of the film.

But what won this over for me, especially on the second watch, are the few rare montage-type shots that capture nostalgia, joy and warmth so well.

The fast forward shots of the scooter ride at the end achieved the same effect as the final shots for Happy Together did for me. Ending notes are so so important. It was the same with the novel Never Let Me Go. Same with Happy Together. And same with Amelie. It makes me wonder even if I had hated the entire movie, if the ending was strong, emotive and capturing, would I forget it all and walk out of the movie content?

It was an area that The Deathly Hallows Part 2 perhaps failed in. The ending failed disappointingly. But again, thats another story.

What I didn't like about Amelie would have to be the overload of colour. It was meant to be aesthetic delight sort of attempt - I can see that, and even acknowledge it. So, is it just personal preference then, when I say that the colours here are overdone?

The drama took a bit too long to unfold with Amelie. Midway I almost got bored.

But again, I think this film is a very important one because it must have been part of some Post French New Wave style - a further development from Godard and so on.

Also, on a side note - widescreen shots became a bit painful. Some shots in the movie were 4:3 format and gave a breather while they lasted.

Bottomline, what a beautiful work.

Starbucks Bounces Back? - New Campaign

I knew Starbucks would bounce back.

A big brand like that being under the radar for so long couldn't possibly stay there too long. Recently Starbucks launched a whole new campaign that reflects their outlook and the way they will be perceived to people again.

I don't claim to be an expert but let me try and explain.

Starbucks was on the line of fire after books like No Logo came out. Popular post modern socialism found a strong foothold among the American (and Europeans, and Kiwis) twenty-somethings who were getting distressed about their country's way of aggressive capitalist push forward. Here were young people with buying power (and a significant amount at that) who were getting all moral and conscientious furoring against ideas of multinational brands, cheap labour and international chain stores dominating over small local run enterprises.

Starbucks became the symbol of the anti-down-your-street-local-coffee-store. The faceless, heartless demon that would eat up anything on its way. And plus, the coffee they serve were pungent.

Any other cool boutique coffee house became that anti-starbucks place. Only teenagers in their lack of knowledge of coffeedom went there (S) and even balked about it.

Now this campaign.

I know this is an attempt to restore the genuine-ness of the brand. The leather. The shot composition, the almost obscured inclusion of the Starbucks takeaway cup. No sign of the logo. All implying on the human element, the warm intimate ideas that they now want to be associated with (and for good reason!). With this they are saying - we aren't all about taking over the world, we are about you having a good genuine time, forming genuine human relationships.

I am a creature of aesthetics and am easily befuddled by what I see. And I have to say this is a great ad! And almost convinces me to go to Starbucks. Almost.


Look at the tone and pace of this shot. S has taken a different turn. Suddenly it is no longer the plastic multi chain company that suffocates you - now it is donning this new look and saying in its American Seattle accent, "Come, you can have a really good time.. We want to hear your stories and meet you.."

I have a feeling very soon the change will start to reflect even in the S stores in Australasia too. Its high time they replaced their Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to something more less-conventional. Come on, those are so outdated!

I applaud Starbucks' move in this. It is a smart move. It is the only right move it can take.

I knew it would come and it is kind of predictable. But in saying that, this is all the most they can do.

At the end of the day, no matter what their brand identity is, they are what they are. American capitalistic multi national chain of leisure and lifestyle choice service brand - A chugging train, bounding down the track at top speed. It doesn't matter that they are playing soft music making you think they aren't as aggressive as they are. 



It will be interesting to see how they will fare with the blossoming hipster/organic spirits among the 20 somethings of late.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

NOTHING DANDY

Spotted this person while boarding the bus. I enjoy the bus though sometimes it is a hassle to have to wait for the bus, walk to the stop and pay and so on. But you get to see a fair bit of interesting people. 

First I thought this woman was a tourist (now that Rugby World Cup is on, you see more of them) because her style looked a bit different. What I found most interesting about what she was wearing was her almost unflattering pants - almost like gym/jogging pants and the combo of cheap work shoes.

And the jacket she was wearing was a leathery grey fitting one with the pashmina sort of purple scarf wrapped against the cold biting wind that Christchurch was starting to whip up.
On closer inspection, however, I realised she must work for the hospital. The blue lining on her top with her work shoes and the flared pants made sense. It looked more like a nurse's uniform. And the bus stop was right next to the hospital. Made sense.

Now did that revelation that this was just a nurse's uniform spoil the sense of interest and rubbed out my curiosity? I don't think so. In fact I found it more interesting. 

I'd rather look at what people do with their everyday items, their everyday work and see how they make them into good design and style. I can't stand looking at designs on the ramp. Models skimpy and loaded stomping down the runway don't fancy me at all.

I find people like these (including a lot more, that I think will upload up here one at a time) inspire me so much more.

Here was a person off from work - 'making do' with the 'work clothes' trying to compensate with a purple scarf that she probably hopes will distract attention from her work pants that are nothing fancy and dandy.

She must have just finished work and was waiting for the bus home.
Now, the models on the ramp don't tell a story like the people in their daily lives do.
-
Don't get me wrong. I see people everyday that I find fascinating. Sometimes I wish I run a blog like the Sartorialist that I can full time devote to people that I think are fascinating. And again, what's stopping me from doing that?
My point is, I see people everyday. I know people who are interesting (and cool, though the word is overused to the point of being irrecognizable). If I were to devote time to draw and describe every one of them (though I wish I could) it would be insane. 
In saying that, I want to. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Georgia And Some Fonts

Georgia the font. 

I found this link to apparel industry in India and Bangladesh - and found the simplicity of the page (The Hindu - Business Line site) so inviting to read!

I had thoughts to converting this blog (ohbenning.blogspot.com) to Helvetica or Courier New or even Arial. But none of them are as simple ad straightforward and beautiful as Georgia. I feel that for content, Georgia is even better than Bodoni in terms of readability. Better than Helvetica in some ways - Helvy is a bit too 'yo, I'm a designer, I'm cool I use Helvy'. Courier New is one of my favourites but readability is an issue and I want my blog to be quite readable.

Anyway look at how beautiful this page is:


Another font I really enjoy is Lucida Console. But used most sparingly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nadia Reid's EP Press Release Art


Did this press release design for Nadia Reid's Debut EP Letters I Wrote And Never Sent out on 27 October 2011 on Gold Sounds Records. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bamfylde Road? How much?

I remember how the clouds glowed pink
Like with fire
Aloof from the town's skyline
Aloof from my business
From fears

I could smell the burning oil
The sound of the frying pan
In that tea shop
I used to wish I was a million miles away
And pretend like I was

I had just enough money for a taxi ride
Home
And I was happy
Though I didn't tell myself that
I couldn't. I don't think I knew

And the summer evening would wane
Gracefully
Under my watch
The clouds would slowly burn out
Leaving a grey dull residue
And I would know
It was time to hail a taxi
Reciting those well rehearsed lines -

Bamfylde Road? How much?

Source Code & Adjustment Bureau

Today was my day off. I still did some emails and some uploading that were work related. But on a scale of a biscuit to a ten course meal (where a work day is a ten course meal), today was a nibble on a good old English Marie biscuit.

I watched Source Code and The Adjustment Bureau with my cousin Sing. Without much expectations.

SOURCE CODE
This is about a man who is part of this covert/new innovative crime fighting experiment where they send the mind of one of their agent into a situation/disaster that has happened already to relive the moments through the source code of a brain cell of a victim, so that they can observe situations unfold and spot the cause.

I know that doesn't make much sense. Even after watching the movie itself, it almost didn't make sense. But it does.

I think the whole movie could be shortened by a significant degree. But it was enjoyable. It makes you appreciate life and the very fact of existence. How fickle life is.

If this was a tennis game, I would complain about exchange of ball back and forth that went on too long - unnecessarily long. But all in all, I would say it has been a good game.

It also makes you wonder about the multi-verse, multi-plane existence. That the arrow of time is not the absolute. What if there is another dimension travelling in a different direction/plane. Or a dimension that has no passage?

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
Fedora hats. Suited men. English girl. Matt Damon. Urban everyday New York, not overplayed as in all H'wood movies. A movie adaptation of a book.

Nice.

I didn't know all that when I decided to see it. I thought it was just another Matt Damon flick - like Green Zone, or Bourne Trilogy, amazing as they are.

This is nothing like that. The pace is slow. The story is interesting - not at all action packed.

And no, I wasn't disappointed. I mean it sounds like a terrible letdown. But TAB is a great movie. Probably not appreciated as much as it deserves.

Tell me, what movie can convert a NY hater like me to wanting to see Brooklyn's high buildings gleaming in the late sun, or the Manhattan bridge emerging from the skyline, or the yellow taxis creeping like short tropical caterpillars on grey concrete street?

Ten points to this. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Aesthetically Industrial - Christchurch

This is a part of Christchurch I rarely talk about - The industrial district. 

The industrial aesthetic and landscape is a new area of fascination and interest for me. My fascination for the English architecture and township goes beyond speaking. From when I was young I had always loved the cosiness of the rural/town/English/bohemian/homely sort of environment. That was a reason why I came to Christchurch - "The England minus the attitude".

In time, though, I came to realise that Christchurch has its fair share of industrial district. And now that my work office has shifted from the uptown high street CBD to Addington/Moorhouse Avenue stark concrete area, I'd better learn to live with it or suffer the agony of existing in a mismatched aesthetic environment!

I took a walk today around the area armed with my crappy mobile phone camera (which I love, though, by the way). Here are a few of my selected shots. 





I have come to appreciate the landscape such as this. The starkness and the functional. Nothing pretty about it. Nothing celebratory about it. Just real. And straight. Bold.

I also find that it compliments the Christchurch's open skies very well. 

And now that I was looking for it, I also found interesting typographic works and signage. A series visual delights made up by Kiwi entrepreneurs attempting to capture your attention in the most interesting manner possible, as you're driving by obediently at a 50k per hour. 

Beautiful is not the right word. The place isn't beautiful. 

I don't know. What's the word? 

Negative spaced?

Spacey?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Music and Design

Lately I've been so busy it isn't funny. Two weeks spun in a state of disarrayed vertigo. I am thankful they passed though it had doubtlessly been quite fun too, now that I think about it.

This week is busy too. But brushing up on lingering projects and looking forward to a few weeks of just normal work days. And snuck in there a night of good film. And book. And Sirion Diaries.

Everyday I think about Helvetica. And why it is so special. Why it is such a recurring phenomena.

I see places where it has been used sooooo much in ways that seem unappealing as hell. I also see places where it has been used sooooo much in ways that are beautiful - beautiful - beautiful - making Helvy look like it is fresh air - the very element of nature, in its purest form.

Here is an example of Helvetica well used - ISABEL MARANT

I discovered a church called Church On The Move in USA who are considered the cutting edge creative church. In an attempt to sound considerate - I find the stuff they do staggering. I feel gagged, to be blunt, however. The metallic website, the moving AfterEffects type content - all disconcerting - reeking of professionalism and technicalities.

Maybe this is because of my weakness when it comes to technical issues, but I feel that the more technical you get the farther you go from being human.

But again - again - technique sometimes can produce the right design (and so, the right communication).

Anyway COTM isn't the issue. Its probably me.

And my fascination (and hatred) for Helvetica probably also stems from this issue I have with technicalities. I am not against technique. I think I have my own technique that I work with.

But I get spun out by technicalities.

Weakness.

Listening to Suck It And See by Arctic Monkeys.

There is something about Arctic Monkeys - their philosophy about their craft... When you listen to them, they are full of technique and technicality yes, but what shines through is their creativity, their fluidity, their coolness - humane stuff that technicality does not offer.

--

Well there you go. A bit of a Thursday night rambling.