Tag Archive: Cardboard


Simply A-Maze-ing!

Take two! I had something all written up for this, but I apparently did not save often enough. So, once more into the fray.

Yesterday, I watched a fabulous movie called “Dave Made A Maze”. Here is the Trailer:

It’s a story that uses a simple design to tell a really compelling story. The set design is largely beautifully creative cardboard, tissue paper, and paper confections of imagination; everything from tubes to corrugated cardboard, to long streamers of sheer fabric with delicate lights brightening the room through a gentle mist that permeates the maze. I felt like the trailer didn’t spoiler the film either; the best moments were definitely not mentioned, but it still gives a really good feel of the wonder in the movie.

There are elements of almost cartoon horror; as the labyrinth begins to attack through multiple booby traps, red confetti and streamers are used in place of blood in all but the earliest instance (a paper cut). It was a surprise, but it brings forth the questions as soon as it happens; are injuries and fatalities permanent? If you die in a dream, do you die in real life also? How afraid should we be? There’s a sense of consequence, but ambiguity as to how heavy it is, at first.

Mazes and Labyrinths in mythology often have elements of concealing and revealing. Dave’s maze is no different.

Dave is an artist who has difficulty finishing any of his pieces. Left alone to his own devices, he builds from torn up bits of cardboard and origami. He becomes trapped in his own creation, unable to get out. It separates him from Annie, who returns and is, perhaps understandably irritated that another incomplete project is between her seeing him. Annie humors him until she also steps inside and realizes the depths that she has come into.

Annie, in many ways, is Dave’s strength. She pushes him to want more than what he knows he can do, and at the same time is the support structure that he needs to grow. Annie is also the furthest thing from a damsel in distress. She takes matters in hand, and is completely uninterested in playing to the camera, even when the enormity of what Dave has accomplished strikes her. Even when she accepts help from other characters, it is in the same way as any of them might need and not based on her gender. She isn’t superwoman, either. She has her limits and she is powerful within them. She knows Dave is capable of wonderful things, and the two clearly have a long and complex relationship which is presented in few words, the making of a sandwich, the unspoken communication that happens physically between the actors. Meera Rohit Kumbhani and Nick Thune do a remarkable job in contextualizing the couple’s dynamic in the way they behave around each other, with simple gestures such as holding hands or eye contact.

The story between these two is not just a revelation of what is being hidden in Dave’s life, his fears and worries overwhelming him artistically, and preventing him from completing anything. It’s a question of whether or not the couple can survive the stresses. Dave’s decision to finish the maze, despite all odds, creates possibility and changes the dynamic. It’s a really well developed and familiar storyline in the sense that it feels like a real relationship, not only one you see in the theaters.

Dave’s friend Gordon is also wonderful; a mix of supportive and smart, brave and also humorous, he clearly cares about both of them and is one of the first people to realize how dangerous the maze might actually be. He and Dave also have a great patter back and forth which I really think serves Dave as a point of restfulness; they play off words and silly rhymes which sometimes make you groan with the dad-jokeness of it all.

The trio of the documentary crew are great comedic relief, but the way that they continue to try to document the storyline raises questions about what we’re seeing as well. The director, Harry, is a friend, but he also is so single-mindedly focused on scripting reactions and creating scenes that it begins to make me question what we’re seeing as the film outside the film. What is scripted and what is a genuine reaction?

The cameraman is so devoted to capturing everything on film; he shares Harry’s determination to record and preserve that he sometimes misses what’s right in front of him. There were moments where my Fiance and I were shouting at the screen because he wouldn’t interact with the world he was in. He creates a dilemma because although there are moments he takes the camera away from his eye he constantly focuses on the narrow vision of the camera view and not on anything else around him. I began to think about how in the same way as the film Harry will present is different than the one we see, more constrained in many ways, there are also sections that we are not party to, that we don’t get to see, and that maybe add more layers to the entire labyrinth. You can only really take one path at a time, even when you’re watching a movie.

The sound guy actually turned out to be one of my favorite characters. He’s very understated, and at first it seems like he’s just going to follow the cameraman around and listen to what’s going on without engaging. But he is in an interesting place because he can hear what’s happening as opposed to just seeing it. He begins to change what’s happening around him and becomes as invested as anyone else in completing the labyrinth.

There is a great cast of other characters, but the core group was powerful enough to drive the film even with the focus shifting from one view to the next, with comedic relief and setting placement driven by the ability to expand what the audience sees in the labyrinth.

Slight spoilers follow.

All labyrinths have at least one beast lurking, and the classic minotaur makes an appearance here as well.

This has got to be one of my favorite depictions of a minotaur. It’s classic in design, and the combination of flesh and cardboard (You’ll have to watch the film to get the full effect!) is delightful and whimsical, as well as terrifying. He looms in the shadows and drives the characters to press the limits of what they can or are willing to do. He provides a perfect example of how your fears can overwhelm and destroy you. And on top of that, the artistry of the bull head in cardboard is fantastic! The texture is just amazing, and I love the details that go into it.

Dave also begins to meld with his maze, and again, the interplay between flesh and art really got me. Where is the division between art and artist? and what does it mean when they overlap? What does it mean when the beast of your fears becomes more real to you than your success? Seeing how your art and hopes and desires can divide you from the people around you is terrifying.

But I digress.

Thank you to the crew who made such a fabulous movie, and for Solar City’s generosity in having their back; this film’s cardboard was from recycling dumpsters and scrap cardboard, and Solar City offered them their leftover when they ran out of their first source. Part of what makes this cool is that all of the cardboard in this shoot was free. I love the recycled elements, which is such a cool eco-friendly way to make a movie!

I cannot recommend “Dave Made a Maze” highly enough. I don’t think it’s something I would recommend for kids, but it’s definitely a movie I will watch again and again.

And I want to make a maze now, too! I think I’ll try and make a kid-rated one for Halloween. Better start collecting cardboard!

 

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Towering boxes of cats

This week I have realized that I have run into a burnout. I am tired most of the time and it means that even though I have all the drive that I have in my head is a lot of everything, I can’t seem to get anything done. I kind of seem to be having a hard time getting off the couch. I’m not sure why this has happened, but lo, O Reader, has it ever.

Yesterday, the accomplishment that I achieved was that I built an addition to the cardboard tower that I’ve been making for the cats. I collect boxes from work and home, and duct tape them together. I got a couple of big ones on Saturday, so I upgraded.

The little fluff decided to help by climbing in the box; I’m not sure why she decided this was comfortable, but she laid there for something like a half hour. It was kind of adorable.

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This is the front view of the finished product. The two boxes on the bottom are the recent additions, with the bunch under the second layer box as support. I cut a couple of windows for the cats to peek out the front window if they want, and there are levels for them to sit and look outside with various amounts of coverage.

I took a couple of inside views too:

Chaucer seems largely uninterested in the tower, except when the little fluff is inside. He is very clearly a people-cat. His favorite spot is either two feet away from me, or on the red fuzzy chair.

On the other hand….

I think she likes it. I’ll keep working at it. Maybe Chaucer will like it too, one day. In the meantime, it’s a fun recycling project.

Cheers! and enjoy your fourth of July, to those who celebrate it!