Amoeblog

Still Life: Telling Time in La Jetee with Henri Bergson, The Human Torch and EC's Weird Science

Posted by Charles Reece, March 16, 2008 01:52am | Post a Comment

The prisoners were subjected to experiments, apparently of great concern to those who conducted them.  The outcome was a disappointment for some - death for others - and for others yet, madness.  One day they came to select a new guinea pig from among the prisoners.  He was the man whose story we are telling.  He was frightened. He had heard about the Head Experimenter. He was prepared to meet Dr. Frankenstein, or the Mad Scientist. Instead, he met a reasonable man who explained calmly that the human race was doomed. Space was off-limits. The only hope for survival lay in Time. A loophole in Time, and then maybe it would be possible to reach food, medicine, sources of energy.  This was the aim of the experiments: to send emissaries into Time, to summon the Past and Future to the aid of the Present.  But the human mind balked at the idea. To wake up in another age meant to be born again as an adult. The shock would be too great.  Having only sent lifeless or insentient bodies through different zones of Time, the inventors where now concentrating on men given to very strong mental images. If they were able to conceive or dream another time, perhaps they would be able to live in it.  The camp police spied even on dreams.  This man was selected from among a thousand for his obsession with an image from the past. -- Narrator, La Jetée

I hate temporal mechanics! -- Miles O'Brien, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

la jetee poster

Thanks to YouTube, I finally got around to watching La Jetée by Chris Marker. Perhaps most surprising after all the ink that's been spilled analyzing this experimental work is how much it resembles the old science fiction stories of EC's Weird Science.  These stories -- like the majority of those from EC -- featured some twist ending that followed along like fate from whatever course of action the protagonist chose in the beginning. 

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This Plot Synopsis Is Empty: Doomsday (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, March 14, 2008 06:12pm | Post a Comment


While everyone else was yucking it up at Haneke's remake of his own Funny Games, I went to see Neil Marshall's Doomsday.  I was really wanting to see the former, but I might be seeing that with a friend tomorrow (at least, assuming she finds Funny Games more chick-friendly than Doomsday).   Imdb's current plot synopsis is pretty accurate as it stands, presumably waiting for some user to come along and fill it in.  That's pretty much what Marshall's film is, a cobbled together group of signifiers waiting for the viewer to connect them to some signifieds.  The series of posters above says all you need to know about the film, but what the hell, I'll say a little more:

[Spoiler Warning: if you want to be surprised by the derivative content, finding enjoyment in noticing it yourself, read no further.]

It has a contaminating virus just like 28 Days Later, which was itself just like The Crazies.

It has a region quarantined off from the rest of civilization (this time, Scotland), with the remaining people left to rot, just like 28 Weeks Later, which itself borrowed the bit from Escape From New York.

It has a little girl who loses her family during the initial infestation and develops into a Wonder Woman, just like Resident Evil.

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Target Practice 1: On Sundry Topics

Posted by Charles Reece, March 1, 2008 09:09pm | Post a Comment
This is my trial run at blogging on my new laptop.  I switched to a Mac, which is a bit like what those really young kids must've felt in Piaget's experiments on object constancy where they hadn't yet developed the proper conceptual framework to understand that when a doll goes behind an obscuring object it doesn't cease to exist.  My perspective is all out-of-whack -- no right-clicking, can't figure out how to easily shift between programs, there's a bunch of little objects at the bottom of my screen that have no meaning for me -- forms without functions -- and I have no idea if files still exist once I've saved them.  It was definitely time for a change, however.  My other laptop looks like it was dug up on a excavation in New Guinea, a talisman from some forgotten arcane ritual.  Now, everything on the Web works the way it's supposed to (well, once I downloaded Firefox) and I don't have to wait for the grinding gears to stop before my next action, so I'll get used to it.  Baby steps.  The agony of living in the First World.

~ ~ ~

On my conversion to Macatholicism, I'm reminded, of course, of this piece from Umberto Eco, written way back in 1994:
The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

OSCAR RESULTS

Posted by Charles Reece, February 24, 2008 09:55pm | Post a Comment

Welp, I got 67% (that's 16 out of 24) right.  Red is for what I got right, and blue what I got wrong .

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

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Angels & Incest: When Is Your Sister Not Your Sister? When She's Only Acting!

Posted by Charles Reece, February 19, 2008 01:06am | Post a Comment
The "love that dare not speak its name," which Oscar Wilde shared with Lord Alfred Douglas was cited at the former's trial for gross indecency.  Accepting homosexuality as morally permissible has often been cited by conservative moralists as providing a slippery slope to Gomorrah, setting precedent for even lewder acts, such as bestiality or incest.  However, regarding incest (but I'm betting bestiality, as well), its lure seems to have been with us as long as homosexuality.  If not always accepted in practice, incest is a longstanding part of mankind's fantasies as a seedy imaginative otherworld, suggesting what's always possible if man-made laws didn't get in the way.

clash of the titans laurence olivier zeus

Greek deities and demigods, for example, were a saucy bunch: Zeus, the longest running head of the Gods, was the son of brother and sister Titans, Chronos and Rhea.  Following in the family tradition, Zeus's second wife was also his aunt Themis, goddess of law.  After things went south with that, he hewed even closer to his father's matrimonial views and married his sister Hera, who gave birth to Hephaestus, buttfugly God of blacksmithing.  Hera, being the Goddess of chain-smoking trailer trash with a thing for two-timin' goodfernothins, had little need or love for such a ghastly son and kicked the poor fuck out of Olympus.  Despite this treatment, according to some versions of the myth, Hepahestus sided with his Ma's henpecking his Pa, resulting in Zeus beating the tar out of him, giving him an eternally permanent limp.  Those kind of mommy issues point towards meth addiction and a life of petty larceny, if these had been mere mortals.  But they weren't, so Hephaestus managed to marry the most beautiful of all the Olympians, Aphrodite, Goddess of love, who was also his half-sister by way of Zeus's tryst with Dione.

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