Christian’s Cinematic Syntax: “Pickpocket”

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“My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, place in a certain order and projected onto a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.”
— Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer

The 1959 film directed by Robert Bresson, Pickpocket, is a mosaic of human complexity as much as it is a defiance of morality through a character that is uncertain of life. The film is incredibly literary in its executions — being heavily inspired by Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment —with a director puppeteering his actors to escape his opinion of superficiality and including a main character that narrates throughout. Relating to my previous post on the auteur theory, Bresson was one of the directors that these theorists actually admired. He has a distinct presentation of his philosophy in his films, making him a quintessential image of an auteur. Pickpocket is no exception.

The Bressonian style emerges with its presentation of  lifestyle, specifically one of a person who identifies with the profession of a pickpocket. The image of this specific pickpocket is what Bresson and his cinematographer, Léonce-Henri Burel, present through exceptional camerawork, which consists of tightly framed close-ups that make the viewer pay witness to these crimes. The camera also places no negative opinion on these crimes, being indifferent to these sequences and allowing the audience to create a positive or negative judgement.

*Spoilers ahead*

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Basement Dwelling: The Top 30 Albums of 2017 (15-1)

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This is the fourth year I’ve published a top records of the year list. And honestly, making this one was maybe the hardest. I’ve never had a year where my choices have flip-flopped as much as they have here. Even in years prior, my number one was always a clear choice, but this time around it balanced between a solid five records that I would interchange to potentially be deemed my favorite.

I think that stands as a major testament to how good music really was this year (or perhaps how big of a nerd I am). The best part about making this year’s list was how much of a challenge it was, and I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who had the audacity to pursue a life in music. From the struggling local act to the stadium fillers, thank you for making life so much sweeter for what you do.

I always say personal taste is like D.N.A., in that it’s all reactionary and a reflection of who you are; mirroring what you believe in. One type is never the same as another’s, and what works for one doesn’t apply to everyone, because it makes you who you are.

These next 15 albums are who I was in 2017. (Click here for my picks from 30-16, as well as here for my honorable mentions.)

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Jet Fuel Jukebox for 12/5/17

Great news, everyone! Spotify has released its personalized statistics that, if you have an account, give you a look at your year in listening. This is one of my favorite times of the year, because I get to find out how I listened to 32 days-worth of music these last 365 days. You can find yours at 2017wrapped.com

Anyways, this week on the Jukebox we have a great number of new artists highlighted within the 20 tracks included. Look out for songs by Daniel Caesar, Diet Cig, Sigrid, Kim Petras, and more!

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor

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Student Feature: An Intergalactic Road Trip for the Ages – A Review of “Thor: Ragnarok”

Below is a review of the recently-released Thor: Ragnarok, written by Lewis University student Jerry Langosch. 

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Since 2008 with the release of Iron Man, Marvel Studios have been, like clockwork, pumping out energetic, focused films in their Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). They tell the tales of their plethora of superheroes and villains to the tune of millions of dollars in production costs, but billions in return from the box office, with 2012’s The Avengers being the shining star (making $1.5 billion on a $220 million budget). The Thor franchise, though, sticks out from the most from the bunch, as it is rooted in real Norse mythology. And though it is a tall order to hand over such material so heavily-rooted in mythology to any filmmaker, Marvel’s decision to put New Zealand’s Taika Waititi behind the third entry in this series is, astonishingly, the best move that the company has made in tapping directorial talent to date.

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Basement Dwelling: The Top 30 Albums of 2017 (30-16)

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THE LIST. The List. Everyone has one, so what’s the point?

This past year, I feel like it’s impossible to not have some kind of ranking for what you’re the biggest nerd about, whether it be films, books, comics, TV, etc. It’s everyone’s chance to sound like a know-it-all critic to your friends who look at you (but will never admit to it) to know what’s the best of the best regarding that specific medium; that whatever that person is gonna say is of the highest caliber regarding something they love and you can tell from that twinkle in their eye as they tell you (I work at a bookstore, so believe me, I can spot that look instantaneously now). This is that list, and I am that nerd.

Without further ado, here is part one of two ranking my favorite records of 2017 (and if you haven’t already, also take a look back at my honorable mentions list featuring another 15 records from this year):

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Between Rock and an Indie Place: “Blue Skies” by L. Martin

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A few entries ago, I reviewed the single “She’s Gonna Leave You” from beloved Chicago indie-rock band, The Walters. In that same review, I mentioned their announcement from earlier this year that the band will be taking a hiatus so the members can work on solo albums instead. Well, it’s happening. This past month, The Walters’ former front man, Luke Martin Olson, released his very first solo single, “Blue Skies,” under the name L. Martin.

Being a fan of The Walters since their formation in 2014, I honestly couldn’t have been more upset when I heard the news of their split. However, Olson has given fans something to be very excited about in this new single. It’s hard not to compare the single to his band’s previous work, and I think that “Blue Skies” stands up there with some of their smoothest songs that manage to make me sink into the floor.

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Jet Fuel Jukebox for 11/28/17

We’ve arrived in the wasteland that is the dry period of late-year music releases (or, lack thereof). There’s absolutely nothing that came out this past Friday that caught my ear, so I’ve gone to looking back for inspiration on my half of the Jukebox this week.

Jake’s done his best keeping his half of the playlist current, but the first ten tracks of the proceedings are 80s English throwbacks, spurred by my decision to spin The Cure’s The Head on the Door the other day. What a wonderful album that is.

And alongside a track from that Cure record, we also have tracks from Duran Duran, Wet, Maroon 5, and Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

— Michael Lane,  Blog Editor

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