Another iconic piece of signage in Santa Monica (see SUPER LIGHT) slated for removal. I never saw Jerry’s Liquor in business, never had the chance to purchase a single malt nor a blended Scotch. Neither a rye nor a bourbon, not a vodka or a gin. No tequila, no mezcal, not even a humble bottle of Sauvignon bland [sic autocorrect]. I’m sure it’ll become another multi-story residence, it seems a lot of those go up these days, along with the rents.

L’Univers Invisible

David Malin is one of the pre-eminent photographers of astronomical phenomenon. This book combines his photography with exquisite classical typography. I’ve somehow ended up with a version of this book in French (it was originally published in English) and I’m glad for it, even though I don’t read French. The text becomes further part of the image, and I can enjoy the thing as a purely visual experience rather than as a visual + literary one.

The book reminds me of the mythological origins of stargazing, of trying to read something from the stars. Malin himself is fascinated with the “interface between art and science” and that interface that they share is imagination. Science begins with speculation, it proceeds to answer a question. Questions are always a product of imagination, as the function of imagination is to make real a heretofore nonexistent thing – to fill in a lack. It took imagination for our antecedents to see images in the stars, as it took imagination to form a technique for creating photographic images of the stars.

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One of my favorite storefronts in the West Los Angeles. I’m falling in love with this side of town, and not just because I started watching curb your enthusiasm from season 1, and the first few episodes all have scenes within walking distance of me. 

The copy, the color, and the type treatment all work together in a way that’s vintage west side cool. I just hope I can get over there before it has gone out of business. 

Film screening: Dunkirk (2017)

*spoilers ahead*


“Understated” is generally not a word used to describe a Christopher Nolan film. Nor is generally a word used to describe an IMAX experience engulfing one’s entire visual field. And yet, it’s the word I keep coming back to for Dunkirk. Maybe it’s the silent French soldier. Maybe it’s Tom Hardy’s eye twitch just before he circles his Spitfire back around to confront a German bomber. Maybe it’s the stark, expansive visuals captured by Van Hoytema in two different large film formats. Nolan’s latest film is an exercise in restraint/constraint. Tom Hardy is constrained by the small space of his Spitfire cockpit and his mask and goggles. The windshield of his cockpit also has noticeably more reflection on it that the other pilot, further obscuring his face and making an emotional connection to him that much more difficult. Frustrating as that might be for audiences, it is exactly the point. Hardy’s pilot is the most heroic single character in the film, and yet we don’t get to know him at all. We follow a group of soldiers on the beach, but don’t hear any backstory. Dialogue is short, utilitarian. There are moments of rest, but these moments sit in the ambience of the score, of the sound design, and not in the exposition of to whom or what the soldiers want to get. Home. That’s all. Many live, many die.Nolan’s film isn’t about heroes, it’s about survival. War films tend to create two types of characters: heroes and villains. Nolan’s dichotomy is much more simple, probably more truthful. His war creates only survivors and casualties.

The film is beautiful and immersive. It’s a piece of cinematic art that needs to be experienced in a cinema. It’s a stunning defense of the IMAX format, of film as a capture medium. The action is slow, but relentless. Zimmer’s score keeps time, and Nolan uses a number of familiar tricks (expanded and collapsed timelines, disorienting set pieces) with restraint. Dunkirk doesn’t feel like a Nolan film, it feels like *this* film.I think the thing I like most about this film is that I finally like a Christopher Nolan film.

Film Review: The Discovery (2017, dir. Charlie McDowell)

The premise is an interesting one: Robert Redford, handsome aging scientist, has discovered that there is some other place we go when we die. This has caused the world’s suicide rate to skyrocket as people try to “get there” or “relocate.” The film does a nice job of creating the feeling a world that has been emptied of people, but I’m not convinced the numbers quoted for the suicide rate match up. The film is almost entirely devoid of other people.

I’m all for a good metaphysics/science fiction mashup (meta-phy sci-fi?), but this one just never quite gets there. For the life of me, I can’t see why I should empathize with another mopey white guy, though occasionally myself traipsing about as one. Which makes one wonder: are moping and traipsing mutually inclusive activities? Or can one happily traipse, or be mopey and frolic? These and other not-quite-interesting-but-still-more-interesting-than-the-plot-of-this-film thoughts go through one’s mind during the washed out, understated to the point of should-have-just-not-stated-it, film.

This for a film that ultimately bills itself as a love story. One wonders if it is the love story that holds the premise back from being all it could be, or if the writers never quite grasped the potential of the premise and just made a gimmicky love story? It’s a chicken-and-egg problem that compels one to opt for the fish instead.

Final verdict: Perpetual Dimming of the Clouded Brain.


Watch instead: What Dreams May Come (1998), HBO’s The LeftoversEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Read instead: Journey of Souls by Michael Newton, PhD. It’s an account of a hypnotic regression therapy revealing accounts of past lives, and experiences between lives. It’s interesting and haunting regardless of whether one believes it or not.