The week leading up to Newport Beach Film Festival I was looking at purchasing some art with my friend Matthew Crowley, we were steeped in exhibitions, print auctions and discussions about the political economy of art. I directed Mattie in a play in London called "Things We Want" in the year before I moved to Los Angels and his performance was brilliant, we went for the spontaneous and the ambiguous, jumped out the window when it came to a fixed position, much like my approach to life in general.
Of these exhibitions I went to LA Louver's latest "Counterfeit" by Jason Martin, with my friend and serious contender amongst emerging artists in Los Angeles, Johan Andersson. Jason Martin described his paintings as being influenced by Eastern spirituality but not like myst or snowflake but like rock or mountain.
I contemplated the difference in the nature of these materials, the illusion of solid ground as plates and earth constantly shifts over time grinding, crunching and overlapping into itself. Bruce Lee said "be like water", Lao Tsu that water flows at its lowest possible point. Flexibility, adaptation the most aspirational qualities of the human spirit. Fixed positions stultify ambiguity.
"It is only when new cells are called into activity, when new stars become the lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded" - Winston Churchill
Johan Andersson's latest work details his wife emerging out of water almost in anticipation of divinity, the moment of rebirth.
Driving down to Newport Beach Film Festival I consider what function art now serves in my life, having been on such a long journey with it since birth. My father described Robert Natkin's work like a cloth, a baby's blanket that acts as a transference object between a baby and the external world, like "skin as a translucent membrane between what is inside and what is outside". But far more than consolation, my father also said that 'great art should make great demands upon us'. As a form of personal development, art serves to enrich the inner life which karmically informs the choices we make as actors, both in the work and in the projects we decide to take on. Each film I've invested myself in the last few years, I can say with confidence has been deliberate, though the desire for more proliferation may have crept up on me the deeper compulsion to only do work which fulfills a primal need within has been greater, films like Mother & Brother, Road To The Well and Nocturnal Silence are worth the wait.
"Since the imagination plays a dominant role in the actor’s task of transforming the story of the play into an artistic, scenic reality, an actor must be sure that it functions properly." - The Stanislavsky System, Sonia Moore
Richard Boleslavsky, a student of Stanislavsky and one of the first to take his teachings from Russia to New York where he trained discovered the need for the cultivation of a rich inner life in his book "Acting: The First Six Lessons":
"I need an actor who knows the world's literature and who can see the difference between German and French Romanticism. I need an actor who knows the history of painting, of sculpture and of music, who can always carry in his mind, at least approximately, the style of every period, and the individuality of every great painter. I need an actor who has a fairly clear idea of psychology and emotion, and the logic of feeling. I need an actor who knows something of the anatomy of the human body, as well as of great works of sculpture. All the knowledge is necessary because the actor comes in contact with these things, and has to work with them on the stage." - Richard Boleslavsky "Acting: The First Six Lessons"
We arrive at the festival, I'm staying with my good friend and an actor I admire for his ferocity of passion and animal instinct Mojean Aria. We see "Mother & Brother" in the "Ties That Bind" selection of shorts. The OC was the perfect place for this film to show. Orange County makes all efforts in appearances of perfection yet there is an eeriness to its sheen. In the film "Behind The Orange Curtain" a man being interviewed said there was more rehab centres and AA meetings per capita than any county in America. I find its unease with controversy telling, that there lies dormant a brewing and smoldering of unchecked pain, when playing by the rules there is somehow something missing. Under the perfect pavements and corporate mega malls, the OC pulsates with anger and confusion, "but we're doing everything right" it screams inside with a desperate exasperation. This film "Mother & Brother" is the perfect example of the problems with repression and the need for rebellion.
Which brings me to the next film I saw starring one of the most captivating rebels I know. "Call Of The Void" is an experimental film noir by Dustin Kahia, an admirable first feature shot in just four days. A number of shots in this film are brilliantly composed in true noir fashion. The film is worth watching for Mojean Aria's performance alone, burning through the lens like a compulsive inferno. Thumping at the walls with animal instinct as he staggers on the brink of madness, falling willingly on the edge death. Reminiscent of the mid twentieth century acting titans that true film fans now dearly long for. One of the best indie darlings I've come across on the festival circuit so far, it must be said that it's no surprise we get along like peas in a pod.
Australian patriarchy, was a theme through the two films that followed "Mother & Brother", they were "Aquarium" by Jacobie Gray and "A Private Matter" by Kate Halpin. An unforgiving and ominous look at masculine desire through the eyes of two female directors. Well executed, though I feel it must be said from first hand experience not all masculine desire comes from a place of destruction. The harnessing of an intense will can lead to great accomplishment. The problem comes when in the wrong hands, through lack of discipline the intensity of feeling causes chaos within the being, so of course there are many men that do not have a handle on themselves. Consider in defense of masculinity the Samurai:
"Fighting isn't all there is to the Art Of War. The men who think that way, and are satisfied to have food to eat and a place to sleep, are mere vagabonds. A serious student is much more concerned with training his mind and disciplining his spirit than with developing martial skills" - Miyamoto Musashi