Film Micrœview #389: The Room (2003)

12.14.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Bad.

This movie is really bad. Even the name is bad. Every time I see it, I notice new bad things. My new favorite lines from this time around: “Your point of view is *so* different from mine.” Or when Mark arrives at Johnny’s house and greets him with “Oh hi Jonny!” in the same way that Johnny greets everyone else, except that Mark is a different person than Jonny and also he is arriving at Johnny’s house and should not be surprised to see him. Or the callback to the chicken sounds, which which is maybe not even an intentional callback (because it would be irrelevant and/or incoherent if it were), but maybe is just only one of the, like, 30 things in existence which Tommy Wiseau is aware of and thus it just made it into the film more than once based on statistical likelihood alone.

The “Oh hi doggie!” scene is so remarkably scattered I can’t imagine than any sane person saw it before it made final cut.

Also, the film is extremely sexist.

 

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Film Micrœview #388: Silence (2016)

12.12.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

Gosh, I almost would have given this a Good rating had it not been for the final image of the film and the following title card.

The film heaps dilemma after dilemma onto its protagonist, in the process painting a fascinating portrait of religious extremism in the face of escalating ethical thought experiments. God is silent, but can he as a priest be? What is God’s voice in your mind? Is his desire to follow the path of Christ inherently prideful? In the process it raises all sorts of fundamental issues with proselytization (and cultural imperialism in general), transcendentalism, the notion of strength of will, and other assorted moral psychology topics. The character changes so much…

And then in the last moment it seems to toss it all away. It seems to dispel the whole of the complexity of its silence, spoiling it by replacing it with a single superficial visual statement.

My other issue was the immediate follow up to the final image with a title card which was a dedication to a people. I realize that the author of the book it was based on was a Japanese Christian, and that Japanese Christians suffered persecution of some form up into the modern day. And persecution is never good. But it went through such pains to question the motives and impact of the Christians, giving the antagonists such sympathetic voices and characters, that I was taken completely aback by this move.

I question whether this is really the story that needs to be told right now, though. Feels just this shy of “Christian Lives Matter”. Of course I understand that Scorcese is from a Christian culture and works with what he knows. Certainly he is much more capable of delivering an artistic experience which opens deeper psycho-spiritual wounds through a Christian’s mentality than he could through, say, a Buddhist’s. So I can’t particularly hold it against the filmmakers here. As an artist, one doesn’t simply stay silent when other voices need to be heard. I am the one who chose to watch this (pretty spontaneously, by the way, because — of all things — of running out of ways to distract myself from The Last Jedi spoilers besides looking up other movies its cast have been in). I should challenge myself to find more films about Christians persecuting others.

Dream 527: Tetrabyrinth

12.08.2017 § Leave a comment

Trapped in a labyrinth of suburban house rooms. No hallways, only rooms, stuck together like an endless Tetris field.

Everyone has a gun, and we’re supposed to be friends. But there’s only so much show and tell about guns in this windowless land before one goes mad and just starts shooting at others.

I’m the last person not to lose it. The penultimate friend doesn’t lose it until everyone else is gone. After a brief skirmish across rooms, we gut shot each other simultaneously, then crawl toward each other and give each other a hug as we confirm the fatality of our wounds.

Dream 526: The Mexican Lieutenant’s Woman

12.02.2017 § Leave a comment

Misako tells me to get the “Kitchen Sink” bag of ハイチュウ. It’s full of chocolates and jewelry. However, since I’ve already visited Japan this year, I’ve tried most of these flavors and it’s not really worth it to purchase.

We’re in a dingy converted warehouse, backed against a wall, pale yellow light tricking in, a towering frogorilla silhouetted. I try to intimidate it, but I think I’m just provoking it. Everyone is angry at me, thinking we might’ve been fine had I just left it alone, it might not have even noticed us, and now it’s just getting closer and closer, angrier and angrier, spitting on me. That said, it could easily get in, the windows aren’t even solid, so if it wanted to by now it would have.

It’s one of Jodorowsky’s classic 70’s movies. A group of five Arab men hold up traffic, crossing the street, protesting something with signs. I am part of a cavalcade of Mexican police officers. It’s like the city from the beginning of Holy Mountain.

We’ve pursued a suspect into an underground abandoned railway tunnel. The walls are deteriorating, formerly lovely burgundy and turquoise hues. We’re all backed up against the left side of a hallway at the end of which on the left side there is a door which opens into a corridor right next to us leading back the same direction and in which the suspect is holding his ground. “You’re stupid, keep up!” A fellow cop says as he busts the door open and is promptly shot dead, the door slamming closed again behind him with almost supernaturally deliberate force. This process repeats until it is my turn in this queue of cops against the wall to go in.

I’m different, though. I notice that there is a shelf up on the wall at the very end of the tunnel, with a box sitting on it, inside of which is a secret, special revolver. I open it and find that it has three of its six bullets inside, in a row, and it was ready to go to fire all three without revolution. I brace myself for the other side of the door. Before I kick it open, I also notice that the hinges are on the left side, meaning that from the suspect (played by Jodorowsky himself)’s perspective it would be a shield for me, not a backdrop. But that is a simplistic thought because of course the more important thing is the element of surprise; I need to be able to fire at him the microsecond I open the door, not however long it would take for me to reach the width of my forearm vertically through the crack with my gun aimed mostly backwards to fire at him blindly. Realizing this is impossible, I instead open the door very slowly and walk out not braced for attack.

Jodorowsky is now played by Meryl Streep. She is playing a tiny harp and eating fondue. I dance and sing to her music. Like the Mexican master from El Topo, we get to know each other through music. I come closer and closer. We’re now in the diner from The Emperor’s New Groove, and I am now played by Jodorowsky. This part of the movie has never gone this way before.

Meryl Streep is now played by Jodorowsky again, and he says, “So… you know the code, then?” I (dumbly) reply “No.” It is only because I approached him as a friend that he does not instantly kill me. Of course that has been what he has been after this whole time, the government code, and I should have known that well. He chuckles. “Damn, okay, because someone promised me that code!” I tell him I’m sure working together we can help him get it. I’m now on his side.

Karin and I keep committing suicide over this balcony connecting two sides of the second floor across this big open entryway space, just after a cavalcade of businessman pass beneath toward the elevator up to our floor. Our goal is to force them to do something in response. This last time is different, though. I change my mind and stay, and grab Karin’s arms to save her. She gets angry that I might have pulled her arms right out of their sockets (I didn’t).

Film Micrœview #387: Saving Capitalism

11.28.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Bad.

Lots of information here, but nothing I didn’t already know. Preaching to the choir, but which person not in the choir is this going to get through to? Teases a few interesting debates but cuts them off right before they get interesting. This left me feeling weirdly gross, like I had just watched socio-political lamentation porn. I hope the book is good and effectual.

Dream 525: Coca Cola Roomba

11.24.2017 § Leave a comment

Japan now has Roomba-like robots roving around refilling their red vending machines.

Karin dies. The program is “not surprised”.

A Red Bull commercial. You wear plastic stereoscopic glasses to cause the red, blue, and yellow channels to come together so you can see this video of a stick man taking a dump on a doorstep. I can’t get the hang of it and keep putting the glasses on just a moment to late to see it.

I volunteered to help since I knew the way well but have still really messed up giving directions and now we’re taking the worst possible route to get to this place. We could have just stayed on 15th the whole way but now we’re up in SoMa.

Film Micrœview #386: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

11.17.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

Villeneuve is simply incapable of great things. In him I sense a director already working at the top of his game. He has everything he needs to succeed. It’s not going to get any better for him. He can weave a sheen of basic artistry over everything he does, but he doesn’t really have anything to say. He’s just good enough to stamp a seal on each of his works which everyone can point to; it gives them the license to tell themselves and others that they’ve just had an artistic experience. It pains me that that’s what people want more than an actual artistic experience.

Villeneuve is all show and no substance. He has one mood. He works with several different composers and yet every one of his film’s score is the same.

Yes, Blade Runner is the forum for a world mankind is losing its control over its transformation of, a world just starting to spread beyond earth but a story confined to the west coast of the United States. Yes, Blade Runner is the forum for first world white man “I don’t know who I am” problems. Yes, Blade Runner is the forum for more unanswered questions than answered ones.

But no, Blade Runner is not the forum for a robot revolution. It is not the forum for a double objective truth reveal around the main protagonist. It is not the forum for harmonic layers of artificiality and mechanical reproduction in an AR gf. Even as I’m startled by my recognition that I am obligated to root against humans in such a slave uprising, even as I’m impressed by the first of these two reveals as it is as an inversion of the “all my memories are fake, holy shit” trope, and even as I mulled over all the implications of this relationship, I felt a distinct scarcity of emotional truth and thematic coherency to it all. To put it simply, it didn’t add up to anything for me in the end.

As for Leto, he was nothing but disconcerting dial to 11. Wish we could have had Bowie.

As for the production design, for my tastes it was a bit too post-apocalyptic.

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