Wow. Just got back from seeing the film Across The Universe. It was superb.
When I first saw the preview for this film, it looked unlike anything I'd ever seen, and I knew I'd have to watch it. They certainly pulled some of the most titillating scenes for the preview, but the entire visual experience is fascinating and bizarre. Think Tommy, but more accessible. Think Michel Gondry, but more psychedelic. (Incidentally, my favorite random shot was of a head shop called the Psychedelicatessen.) Think Moulin Rouge, but more giant puppets.
I'll spare you the movie review in full; what really struck me was the role art played in the movie and the feelings it evoked in me. The main character is an artist, several of his friends are musicians and performers, and all the emotion and turbulence of love and the 60s and the Vietnam War are wrapped up in and expressed through their art and their music. (Oh yeah, and there's the fact that the movie is a musical, too.) The viscerality of it all was fascinating and was something that I'd partially forgotten. One of my best friends is an Artist; during the periods of my life that I've spent with him, I remember feeling some of that same visceral quality. There's something... fascinating? eerie? about art in the way it makes you feel more alive.
I spent a couple weeks at RISD on my way to and from Paris, and the energy there was amazing. There's no way to say this without sounding corny, but you could just feel that there was this confluence of creativity all pooling together, people feeding off each other's ideas and amazing secret things coming to life behind every closed door. Just being in that environment was energizing... like being a fluorescent light near a Tesla coil, lighting up simply by being in the vicinity. After a week there I was sketching, writing poetry, drafting stories and dreaming up crafts projects for months. (I'm actually quite glad of the timing, because I made some really neat sketches in Paris that I normally would never have thought to even attempt.)
So what is it about our relationship with art and music? I used to think that some people were just born with art and creativity in them, and they spent their life trying to pour it out onto paper (or any other medium). But now I'm thinking that art shapes us as much as, if not more than, we shape art. Or at least that being able to express ourselves in that particular way taps into some part of ourselves that we rarely stimulate in other situations. There was this great scene in Across The Universe where he was pinning strawberries on a white wall and they were dripping juices like blood running down the wall. How evocative is that?? How else could you create that feeling, that strong, without just doing it?
A fellow skater is applying to live in an art commune that's starting up in Seattle. I really hope she gets in; maybe I can go visit and some of that stardust will rub off on me. In another life I'd love to tap into that lifestyle more; but for now I'm feeling pretty suburban and yuppie. It seems I'm settling for occasionally drooling over the graphic novels in the bookstore and dreaming of the days when we could draw on the walls while listening to Philip Glass.