Day 196: Canberra Go-Karts 2018 + Kurosawa – A Fearless Master

Canberra Go-Karts 2018

There are some things that you miss out experiencing because your life is headed in a direction that is so different to three or four other groups of people who live in the same city or country. Today, with less than 12-hours notice, I got to go Go-Karting, something I’ve never even thought of doing before.

Kurosawa – A Fearless Master

Kurosawa-san, like Bergman, Renoir, Antonioni and Bresson, is one of the great – previously undiscovered in my life – directors in all of film history.

I’d loved his Kagemusha and Ran films – also Dersu – and was desperate to see Throne of Blood.

I knew I loved jumping out of planes (aged 25) and rollercoaster rides (forever) but I never knew the adrenalin of the fear factor that comes with actually driving – and trying to control – the thing, the machine, which you’re going fast in.

The first time I went on a Jet Ski – Fiji, 2014 (aged 51) – I discovered fear as I tried to keep up with the leader and match his tight turns at his speed. I couldn’t do it. I throttled off. Fiji, 2015, I almost matched him. I did far better in the courage stakes. I let myself go way beyond my feeling of being in control of the machine.

I knew with Go-Karts, that I would have the same approach the first time. I’d push the boundaries of feeling I was almost out of control and then back off. I told Anthony I’d have to do two races of 14-laps.

I didn’t explain that it was so I could push myself enough to discover where fear kicked in and where those boundaries were in the layout of the course. I thought I’d have more guts knowing more about the larger picture in the second race.

It’s got similarities with music producing and film directing – and raising the bar beyond one’s own, known-levels of, competency – and viewing films that might be beyond one’s capability to understand or comprehend. It takes courage to go one or two steps beyond what you’ve done before, where you may discover the limitations of your capabilities and look like a goose or expose yourself as being mediocre or an impostor.

With Kurosawa, Bergman, Antonioni, Renoir and Bresson, I maxed myself out. But the reward was exhilarating. I kept adding another film, another few kilometres an hour, pushing myself beyond my stamina.

I’ve almost come a cropper twice in this 200 Greatest Films in 52 Weeks project.

One was sheer exhaustion a few months in, not knowing how to manage the amount of information I was receiving, the things I wanted to write down and the things I wanted to explore further.

The second was Antonioni fortnight which became a third week, but one in which I didn’t watch any more films. I was at capacity. My brain hadn’t shut down. My brain just couldn’t stop thinking about and analysing Antonioni’s films, to such an extent that I couldn’t give much brain power or focus to anything else too taxing.

Because I was adding additional weeks to some directors, I started spreading other directors’ weeks over several weeks. Tati and Chaplin and Scorsese and Hitchcock lost their own dedicated weeks. I’ve also tried to compress Mizoguchi, Ozu and Kurosawa into two weeks of intensive Japanese film-viewing.

I became someone who overate and then provoked myself to vomit everything I’d eaten, as little, or as much, digested as it was, on to the page (or, into computer memory).