Hard to Be a God: A Study in Feculence

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 20, 2015 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Hard To Be A God

by Rebecca Burgan

On the planet Arkanar, identical to Earth but stuck 800 years behind, grey castles stand entrenched in a beastly sea of mud and oomska. Arkanar possesses a medieval civilization, but there is no Renaissance, only fog, squalor, and decay. Scientists arrive to help this culture of humans who have not evolved from an existence of baseness, sickness, and eternal rot.

Be sure to have a settled stomach before embarking on Hard to Be a God, the final masterpiece by visionary Russian director Aleksei German. The Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris (authors of the source novel for Tarkovsky’s Stalker), originally requested that a director of Soviet origin, preferably Aleksei German, direct a version of their Russian science fiction novel, Hard to Be a God. After the brothers’ disappointment with Peter Fleishmann’s 1989 film adaptation, German took on filming beginning in 2000, though he had been planning it for decades, and nearly finished it before his death in 2013. German’s wife and son put the finishing touches on the film allowing it to finally be unleashed onto the world.

Hard To Be A God

This is the most grotesquely filthy film you have probably ever seen—a veritable Bosch or Brughel nightmare come to life, chock full of relentless dripping, fecal mud baths, suffocating fog, blood, mud, rain, putrefying swamps of bodily fluids, demonic horns, monstrous faces, and more mud. A sensation of near panic washes over you, yet you can’t look away, not for the three long hours of brutal submersion.

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Sonny Smith Discusses Excellent New Sonny & the Sunsets Record 'Antenna to the Afterworld'

Posted by Billy Gil, July 9, 2013 11:57am | Post a Comment

sonny sunsetsSonny & the Sunsets have been releasing awesome, diverse records for some time now. Though they often get lumped in with a generic “garage rock” tag that seems to envelop a number of disparate bands from SF or LA, each Sunsets record is quite a departure from the last, from the ramshackle rock of Tomorrow is Alright to the bubblegum-minded Hit After Hit to last year’s country-rockin’ Longtime Companion.

The latest album from Sonny Smith and his crew is his best yet. Antenna to the Afterworld finds Smith delivering surrealist lyrics about aliens and robots, yet they’re rooted in human emotion. “I come from the planet of dogs … And I walk on your streets ... And I can't wait to find/My little place in your weird world,” he sings in the brilliant opening track “Dark Corners,” over spage-age synths and a post-punky bassline. “Green Blood” finds Smith and bandmate Tahlia Harbour detailing Smith’s affair with an extra-terrestrial who is married to a vengeful cyborg. Even in our wildest imagination, reality creeps in.

sonny sunsets antenna afterworldThat combination of levity and realness is what makes Antenna to the Afterworld a remarkable record. Smith was inspired to ponder life and death after the murder of a close friend, and after a medium brought him into contact with another recently deceased friend (partially documented in the summer jam “Palmreader”). I recently discussed the record with Smith, and all its physical and metaphysical influences. And check out the band July 13 at the Echo!

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Trans-Jovian Moons in Fact and Fiction

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 25, 2013 12:00pm | Post a Comment

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts about extraterrestrial worlds in fact and (mostly) fiction. There've been (or will be) posts about Callisto, Ceres, Europa, Ganymede, Io, Mars, Pluto, Titan, VenusTrans-Neptunian dwarf planets, and Asteroids. The primary reason that there haven't been more is because the more obscure the solar object, the less likely it is to have been a setting for a Science-Fiction work (and thus the less relevance to Amoeba). A secondary reason is that these posts are far less popular than my Los Angeles neighborhood, LA County community, or Orange County community posts -- but aren't moons and planets sort of the neighborhoods of our Solar System? So here I am with a round-up of several moons, the Trans-Jovian ones that appear in computer or video games, movies, TV shows and old time radio.

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Fear of a black galaxy -- Black people in science-fiction

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 11, 2013 04:52pm | Post a Comment

Photo by JD Hancock

The other day I was listening to the podcast The Auteur Cast. In discussing The Empire strikes back, one of the hosts used the character of Lando Calrissian to question why there are so few black people in science-fiction. It’s not a new question. In 1976, on the album Bicentennial Nigger, Richard Pryor observed:

“I don’t like movies when they don’t have no niggers in ‘em. I went to see, I went to see Logan’s Run, right. They had a movie of the future called Logan’s Run. Ain’t no niggers in it. I said, well white folks ain’t planning for us to be here. That’s why we gotta make movies. Then we be in the pictures.”


Posted by Mr. Chadwick, September 13, 2009 11:25pm | Post a Comment
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