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DeZ Vylenz Log

A captain's log of activities and projects, affiliations and developments involving the Shadowsnake ship and various guerilla film expeditions. Updated in between storms by DeZ Vylenz, Writer - Director - Martial Arts Choreographer

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Crossroads

Last Friday landed in Amsterdam just before midnight. Saturday had to jump on a train up to the north of The Netherlands to this small bungalow park in Emmen with mini lakes and boats, where my sister and a few old friends I hadnít seen in years had a little get together. Last minute was picked up by car by Martin, who Iíd last seen nearly 6 years ago, so it was good to catch up during the few hours of highway and music. Most of them old time rock musicians from my metal days in Suriname, who usually donít get to hang out or rest in between jobs, relationships and gigs, so for all of us a perfect weekend chill out (especially for me after a seriously breakneck two week marathon of missions) and great laughs, particularly with Sean Maia, the immortal rock god, front man of various metal and hard core bands, such as Kamikaze and Disquiet. Jerry aka Pioko --a seasoned bass player-- recently left the succesful band Cypher, as he's remigrating to Suriname to start up a business after recently finishing his studies, while Antony is a youngster just starting out in sound design and production.

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Sunday night we drove back to our routines in Amsterdam and Utrecht and it all made me think how fast time goes and how we all had moved on to do our own things and live our lives with our own ups and downs and adventures in between, while still keeping in touch. Over the last decade I have met many formidable people and characters whose lives overlap like independent roads. As Iím constantly on the move, the people I know and their sense of humour or crazy heroics are the only constant in that mythical landscape that consists of so many different geographical places.

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To use time efficiently while travelling, Iíve been reading and writing more than watching films the last couple of months. I guess itís a case of being over saturated with input and itís very much time for output. In between all that there is too much business to conduct, without neglecting training and food too much. Itís inherent to the hectic urban life style that administrative and executive matters take over our lives + the social side of things. We have only 24 hours in a day, so not much time to spare usually for exercise and food, both very important things to keep our body and mind moving in sharp mode.

So here follows a quick and easy recipe for healthy and nutritious food:

One thick slice of beef or fish (or any protein replacement for vegetarians)

One onion

A few cloves of garlic

Sunflower oil

Sea salt

1 cucumber

3 cups of brown rice

Optional: Kechap (Indonesian soy sauce) to marinate the beef or fish

Or: herbs to taste, e.g. fresh rosemary / black pepper / chillies /

Boil the rice with a finger notch of water above rice level, and when the water evaporates to that level, lower gas to a minimum and let it steam till ready.

Meanwhile, chop the onions and garlic, dump a glass tray into the oven with some sunflower oil on maximum heat, take it out after 5 minutes, chuck in the onions and garlic to simmer then after that the fish or beef. Leave in the oven for 20 min. This is the perfect time for busy people to wrap up some work, but always use an alarm to prevent burning the food.

Check with a skewer stick if itís done, take out and cut in small slices, sprinkle salt over and the choice of spices or shredded rosemary (in London I usually pick that from the garden).

Serve with the rice and slices of cucumber (without the seeds).

All the nutrients you need: Starch, protein and fibre in a fast and efficient way. Check it out.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wayang Kulit: Shadow puppetry

A week since the return from Venice. Another week of running around on business like a hurricane, north east west south of town, meetings, greetings, logging heavy ass files, paperwork and other missions to keep the Shadowsnake ship moving paway from the oceans of mediocrity.

Writing quite regularly to flesh out the next few projects, but too many things going on. I did take out some time to check out the Wayang Kulit even at the Royal Festival Hall. I always liked Shadowplay and puppet theatres, but it's been a lot time since I saw Wayang as a kid at Javanese cultural events.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayang

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I was a little bit overworked and tired to fully enjoy it as it started late (23:30) and was supposed to run till 7 am. And there were too many lights on for my liking so you saw the laid back people around you on pillows etc, rather than focussing 100% on the play The Building of the Kingdom of Amarta (a segment of the Ramayana) as you would in the darkness of cinema. The breaks were also too long at nearly an hour each, which in the traditional Indonesian set up would not be a long wait, because at least the market would be around with fantastic food and artefacts for sale.

But the elaborate South Bank gamelan orchestra was good and the master puppeteer Ki Purbo Asmoro, so the first act really captured my attention fully before the intermezzo started. It was a tale of political manipulation and power struggle and the music was quite hypnotizing.The composer of the film score for Opera Jawa , Javanese gamelan maestro Rahayu Supanggahwas also present. I was a bit late so didn't get the chance to meet them before the long performance started. It's a good reminder of how many great artists are doing interesting stuff in various media and forms we rarely hear about.

http://www.culturebase.net/artist.php?3727

http://www.changeperformingarts.it/Supanggah/Supanggah.html

http://www.planetmole.org/indonesian-news/indonesians-in-focus-rahayu-supanggah.html

Opera Jawa is out by the way in cinemas in London, I wrote about it in July, now a lot of good reviews in mags and papers for this hypnotizing artistic journey. Check it out.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Venice Film Festival

Fri - Mond checked out Venice Film Festival, quite productive meetings and greetings besides one boring art house film I saw. Also saw Blade Runner the director's cut,with Ridley Scott introducing it in the company of Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos and Daryl Hannah. I couldn't spot anything new and he didn't go into details about the exact differences,just that this was his vision as he intended to be 25 years ago. Didnít get time nor tickets to check out The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or any of the other films.

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Good atmosphere in general at the festival, with the fascinating historical city as bonus backdrop of course,where most of the buses are boats and an infinite number of bridges and alleys form a pleasant labyrinth to get lost in. The only real turn off is that it's so touristic that the portions at restaurants are excruciatingly small for exorbitant prices. On top of that I didn't know the last coach to Treviso airport fr Pl d Roma left at 19.40, so after dealing with a number of unhelpful locals (which is rare for Italy) I ended in a pricy cab ride with charges for every piece of luggage, and I overall had this feeling of being ripped off as well by the budget airline with similar hidden surcharges etc. It's not so much the money sucking by these parties that hurts, as the insult.

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At one of the bus companies the wanna be model behind the counter wore a grumpy face as if she'd just swallowed liquid fart and rudely pointed out that she didn't deal with it, as it was not her company. Anyway, don't want to nag, as I had a good trip before all that, but it does remind you that tourism inflates prices, even for the locals and that Anno Domini 2007 every single organization or service is geared up for maximum profit and minimum investment of money, time or energy.

Landing at Stansted airport around midnight: chaos at customs, as more planes with delays had arrived with delays, causing herds of human cattle to be goaded through the passport checking geeks at crawl pace. More coach rides and a super fast taxi by a sharply dressed relaxed driver, originally from Afghanistan. Despite hours of exhausting travel time, it felt good to be back in London and I had missed my rice after so many days of pasta. Back in battle mode now and focus is mainly on writing my next two screenplays to have ready for the next series of meetings with producers and sales agents.

But stacks of paperwork need to be completed in the battlefield of bureaucracy.

There are days I wish I had become a cook, chopping up food to mix it all up in great flavours, no paperwork, no hassle.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Frightfest

Last weekend was invited by a friend with an industry pass to check out some of the horror flicks at the London Frightfest. Some flick P2 didn't have the print showing up, so the replacement Teeth was a bizarre mix of comedy and horror, about a frustrated case of Vagina Dentata. For those with a slightly limited knowledge of Latin, Dentata means Teeth (as in Dentures). A clumsily handled account of a young prudish girl coming to terms with sex in the big bad world, most males being interested in the most basic act of copulation rather than an expression of love. Basic man-woman comparison and morality tale: bad lovers all get punished as my friend remarked.

Next up on that same Friday night was All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, another teenage movie with a deceptively light tone and glossy photography. Good overall atmosphere and slightly ambiguous in tone, but won't ruin the surprises. Although most of these films work better for a younger audience that perhaps hasn't seen all the classics and milked out formulas. Overall moral seemed to be that sex, drugs and rock'n roll are punished, similar to the midnight film Shrooms. An Irish/International production, but the effects of psychedelics were not entirely researched and sudden sound effects just to scare the audience felt contrived.

Overall, most of the contemporary horror genre seems to built on the basic premise of constant fear and shock. Alan Moore had a good point about horror: that British horror (e.g. Clive Barker or Moore) is mostly coming from the inside of humanity, while American horror (e.g. Stephen King) always features a safe and innocent world that is intruded by horror from outside.

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The rest of the bank holiday weekend I had to catch up on lots of work and take some time off on Sunday for a cool picnic with some positive people. Good London vibes. And on Monday I saw the excellently scary Kilometro 31, the biggest grossing horror film in Mexico and third biggest at the box office ever. Briefly met the director, Rigoberto Castaneda who explained at the Q&A that for years the genre film had been non-existent in Mexico. K 31 is worth seeing. It will be released in the UK in November 2007.

But all in all, the great thing about festivals like this is that the audience is very dedicated and enthusiastic, whether they come dressed as zombies (for the Zombie Diaries) or just as anonymous fans enjoying marathon viewings, it creates a great atmosphere and reminds one of how special the collective viewing experience of cinema can be.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Art and film as Teleportation machines

I had some comments about what I wrote about last week, and that people were surprised I enjoyed Transformers. I think it's clear between the lines, I'm not prejudiced, I enjoy "high" and popular culture, any expression in general that is genuine in what it tries to do. Hollywood has become a bad word to a lot of people, but that doesn't mean that a film can't be good entertainment within the confines of its genre and the realm of corny high school romance and bully cliches. Especially when it concerns gigantic robots as protagonists, how do you engage an audience and create a world where machines are in fact living entities? Bay's megalomaniac over the top style was probably perfect for this film, although I wouldn't want to see that applied to a more realistic spy thriller or drama.

Same with "art" films, some are good, some are just plain pretentious bullshit. The moment somebody says either: I'm going to make a film that is "art" or we're going to make a shitload of money as the first step in a project, it will show. One can lead to the other, but the most important thing remains that the viewer/audience should be grabbed by what's in front of them and teleported to another world, another state of mind.

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And when a film does that well it can be called a success, no matter what genre, budget or age group it was designed for. There are different levels and places that art can transport us to of course. Which brings me to the Salvador Dali and Film exhibition at the Tate Modern, which I checked out Tuesday.

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/daliandfilm/default.shtm

When I first arrived in Europe back in 1992, I bought a book on his life and work and immediately got the sense that this was an artist that transports you to other worlds and dimensions, particularly the realm of dreams. At first sight, his work is aesthetically pleasing, but on deeper levels, much more can be read into it.

The main reason I went to the xhibit, was to see Destino, an amazing collaboration with Disney, which was deemed too controversial at the time, but through all the notes, paintings and storyboards was finally reconstructed in 2003. And it definitely didn't disappoint, it's a short animation that flows from one brilliant image to the next.

Then there's of course the famous dream sequence of Hitchcock's Spellbound, equally haunting in the way it's shot and even more awe inspiring if you keep in mind that back then there was no CGI or computer compositing, but everything had to be done with optical printers. The room with gangster film influenced pencil sketches had some work I'd never seen before and in general it was great to see his amazing technique up close, subtle shades of colour and incredible detail on fairly small paintings in fact.

Dali was later accused of the same "commercialism" that Hollywood has nearly become synonymous with, but his lasting legacy speaks for itself.

For a few interesting links:

http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/?p=1995

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/visualart/story/0,,2088399,00.html

For those visiting or living in London before 9 September, definitely worth it. I only had 2 hours before closing time, I'd say take out 3 hours minimum.

Check it out.

Posted by DeZ Vylenz  


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