There’s a few hours left in the day, but I’m gonna risk it: Happy 14th B’ak’tun, everybody!
I repeat this a lot, but this is one of my favorite quotes, and it comes from Klaus Kinski’s autobiography, Kinksi Uncut:
“I once asked a Gypsy girlfriend whether she ever went to the theater or the movies, and she replied: ‘When I was fourteen, two men fought with knives over me. One stabbed the other to death. I touched the dead man; he was really dead. The other was really alive.’
Thats the difference between make-believe life and real life. Mine is real.”
Kinski was very intense, but silly. But ever since I read his book in my early teens that quote has stuck with me.
File this one under: Supplemental, and Ancient Hollywood Weirdness.
Like my previous post, this will be just a few things, some half way there thoughts…
After this: 89 posts to go.
Have you listened to our podcast? You’ll notice that a majority of the posts now are just tools for you to download each new episode (but we’ll be on itunes soon). Not every post from now til the end – from this time to the end of time – will be solely about episodes of the podcast, but a good chunk of the rest of this blog will be eaten up by the creature that is consuming it and evolving out of it.
I won’t rehash the show’s plot, especially since you can just read about it on the Wikipedia link, but from what I gathered the show was terrible. But in reading what’s there, to me, I see the potential for something amazing, something that could be brilliant with a little bit of re-conceptualizing and competent execution.
Brilliant and intriguing puzzle/mystery box shoes still seem to be highly lusted after by network TV execs in these post-Lost wilderness years, but it seems like no one has the time to invest in competent conceptualization and execution. So it goes. Instead of our altars, we’re building our own coffins.
Three: Speaking of The Starlost, also read up on the idea of generation ships, and holodecks, and the Danger Room from X-men comics, the Dreamatorium from Community, and Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series.
And see also: the “Mystery In Space” and “Rendezvous” issues of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary comic series, which was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve had the pleasure to read in the last ten or so years. On its surface, it’s about mystery archaeologists, but in reality its a love letter to certain kinds of storytelling from the previous fifty years of our culture.
Four: We eat our young. Only those lucky or tough enough to crawl away are potentially worthy of living to tell the tale.
Five: This is the new decade. There’s bigger and better thinkers who are more capable of this, better suited to the task, but I wonder what this new decade will look like. What innovations and disasters and pop confectioneries will define this new unit of measuring time.
And from that, I say… Does this decade, still in its relative infancy, still feel remarkably similar to the latter days of the previous decade? Isn’t that how it goes? Did the initial years of the 80s feel similar to waning years of the70s? Did the first few years of the 90s look anything like the middle years of the 90s?
Six: I’ve never seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire, but I’ve always wanted to. I guess that, amongst other things, what’s been holding me up is that it’s a piece of old 3 1/2 German sci fi. That and it wasn’t readily available until the it was released not too long ago as part of the Criterion Collection.
The Criterion Collection. Of course.
The movie is based on an old novel, Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, and I have seen the American movie adaptation of that book…
Seven: When something is said, or when art is created, mixed with business and pleasure, how often does it come from a real, authentic place, answering questions or curiosities that are out there amongst the community? Or, especially when you lean more towards business rather than pleasure, or the pleasure of business, does it come from the perception of an interest within the larger community, the popular imagination, or a desire to create and inspire that perception and then make money off of it?
Eight: In the 90s, especially towards the beginning of the 90s, but a little at the end of it, it seemed like we didn’t know what we had on our hands. Not yet anyway.
It’s like Murphy Brown’s baby, that was born amidst a certain level of generated/unnecessary controversy. It was raised by the guy who was painting the house for years and years and wouldn’t be named until it could be deciphered, or understood. I know that kid eventually got a name, but wasn’t he, like, twenty at that point?
In Sci Fi trends in the 90s it seemed like they were mixing the 70s paranoia rehash that was being re-conceptualized in The X-Files with this desire to pursue the new, the fringes of oncoming technology and the things that we assumed would be important.
On top of that, you had boy bands and you “alternative rock” and I remember going to high school and hearing bullshit arguments about who was or what constituted being a “poser.” I heard some kids of being accused of being “wiggers.” On one hand we were growing up to want to start living lives out of the movies that had raised us when our parents were busy, and on the other hand we were accused of appropriating lives and roles that it was felt we had no right to. In music and society and goofy cultural matters there was this question of authenticity.
Unless you’re just programmed to have thoughts, or to think you’re having thoughts. Who is telling this story? And to whom?
The American movie that came out of Simulacron-3 in the 90s was The Thirteenth Floor, starring Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Dennis Haysbert. It’s a murder mystery set within a company that’s created a new simulated reality, and there’s a twist. The twist is not hard to guess.
The tagline for the movie was “Question Reality.” I find that interesting since the tagline for American Beauty, which came out int he same year, was “Look Closer.”
The Thirteenth Floor was/is not a bad movie, just a movie that wasn’t thought out far enough to its natural conclusion. It reminds me in some regards of a movie that would come today in that it seems like it’s two drafts of a script away from being much, much better. It’s a very American movie that’s concerned with the nature of our reality, with existential paranoia, mashed up with echoes of a film noir feeling.
But then again, a lot of its problems can be summed up with two words: Craig Bierko. Another bizarre, failed experiment in creating a leading man out of literally nothing.
Nine: Granted, The Thirteenth Floor was not a movie from the early 90s, and in fact came out in 1999, around the same time as The Matrix, a movie with an arguably incredibly similar premise, especially concerning how many elements it ripped off from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.
Also, there was David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Alex Proyas’ Dark City (which I never saw cause it looks stupid), and The Truman Show, which had similar heavy overtones. But earlier in the decade you had the short lived Fox TV show VR.5 which, if I were to watch it now, I’m sure I’d more than cringe at, but at the time, I thought was incredibly intriguing. That show starred Lori Singer, Anthony Stewart Head, Will Patton, and David McCallum.
Ten: At the start of this I talked haphazardly about the idea of a newborn decade dreaming of the past, but really it’s a matter of the new decade dreaming of the future, of what is to come? I should be talking about Christopher Nolan’s Inception here probably. Something something something THIS DREAM IS COLLAPSING.
Eleven: From Borges to Pynchon to Phillip K. Dick, so much of our fiction comes back to questioning the layers of reality and how we perceive it. What is real? What is really happening? And what is the reality of what is happening, real or otherwise?
Reality may be real, or it might not be, at least not real in the sense that we think of, but we share it, and we create it together, don’t we?
Twelve: Personally I would state that the experience of an event is the reality of it, at least in the moment. Reflection is easy, but it only casts a shadow over reaction in retrospect.
Thirteen: For now, this blog is moving forward, but it’s marching onward to its eventual demise, of sorts. Even on the internet, matter can only change forms, not be fully destroyed (I hope). Soon, what is currently thought of as Your Friendly Neighborhood Counterforce will become a time capsule, once it’s fallen completely out of this virtual sky that we’re all looking at together.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about the glitz and the glamor of the Oscars or Hollywood royalty or whatever, but let’s get down to brass tacks, people: Predictions. I want to hear yours. I only have a few I want to talk about here, so let’s get down to what I feel is the strongest lock of the night…
Next: Best score.
Probably Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network? I guess? Though I do like Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception, but I just don’t see it or any of the other nominees taking it. Reznor and Ross’ score is just so different and stands out head and shoulders above the rest in so many ways.
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think that Natalie Portman will get this?
I’m surprised they didn’t mail this to her like a week ago. Actually, that’s not true. I’m saying there’s a 94% chance it’ll go to Portman, and a %6 chance it’ll go to Annette Bening for Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right.
I want to make the point that, sadly, I haven’t seen as nearly as many of the nominated movies as I’d like this year, but that’s true of just about any year, unfortunately. Even sadder still is that I don’t think you need to see the movies to make fairly informed guesses on who’ll win. So much of the Oscar wins can be predicted on either buzz or what the Academy has done before or both.
Next: Best Supporting.
Much, much smaller chances: Geoffrey Rush or John Hawkes, but I just don’t see it.
Next: Best Actor.
I don’t have a clue. Colin Firth, most likely. If you’d put a gun to my head, that’s what I would’ve said. But maybe Javier Bardem too, but I’m saying that just because he seems like such a dark horse candidate.
Next: The main event. Best Picture.
But not Black Swan. Sorry, Black Swan, you’re not perfect enough.
If I had to guess, I’d say that The King’s Speech will get it, unfortunately. I’d love for Inception to get it. You know why? JUST CAUSE. Fall asleep on an airplane and I’ll put that idea in your brain. But I think Time magazine pegged it most accurately: This all comes down to the new vs. old. The Social Network is a movie completely unlike anything else that’s been nominated for Best Picture before and The King’s Speech is just another helping of the same old shit. As Time also put it: This comes down to head vs. heart. The Social Network is a highly intellectual film and The King’s Speech is pappy crap, that same shit that tugs on your heartstrings again and again each award season. Vanilla bullshit.
Voting for The King’s Speech is a bullet in the head of a newborn kitten! You might as well go vote for Life Is Beautiful again! Ugh. And yet, I feel like it’ll win, as do a lot of people, of course. I feel like the writing is on the wall…
That said, I feel like this might be one of those weird years where whoever gets Best Director might not get Best Film as well. Or maybe not. I just can’t see Aronofsky or David O. Russell taking home a little gold man tonight.
…and it was absolutely fascinating. Not necessarily revelatory, but certainly very interesting. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re even mildly interested in typefaces and design and the history of such things, but without going into details, I can give you the gist of it here: The font was created 54 years ago by a couple of guys in Switzerland (and originally entitled “Neue Hass Grotesk”) to signify and be the font of a new modern age and you know what? We’re still in that age. As the trailer suggests, just look around the world you live in today and see how much information is delivered to you in Helvetica.You may not love the look of this current aeon, but this is what we have and where we live and what we look like until you design something new.
Also, the soundtrack is pretty excellent. And I’m not a font nazi by any means, so I don’t hate Arial. In fact, I like it quite a bit, though Helvetica is still superior. It’s got that crazy cool street cred.
Actually, no, this is video, from here, is just another example of why it is both a terrible idea and a FUCKING AWESOME idea to do fireworks in neighborhood, preferably your own.
By Grant Snider, from here.
-Ludwig van Beethoven.
Images by Julien Pacaud.