The Lobster – Can The Blind Lead The Blind?

Thoughts On: The Lobster (2015)

Undoubtedly the best film of 2015. This is Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurd(ish) sci-fi(ish) look in on a society where you have to be in a relationship, otherwise be turned into an animal.

The Lobster 2

This is the kind of film you almost despise for being so great. The concept is so brilliant, simple, but infinitely genius. To me this is on the level of flying elephants, cooking rats and talking toys. Yes, Disney and Pixar are geniuses. I don’t care if the make ‘kids’ films’. This is what great story telling is to me: unthinkable poignant concepts executed with perfection. People love to throw around ideas of ‘high concept’: a found footage superhero film. I, in no way, talk down on Chronicle or other high concept pictures here, but what they are is clever. They bring in an audience, they generate interest, but what Lanthimos creates, along with the likes of Disney, Pixar, Studio Ghibli, Lynch and so on, are astounding ideas that are unfathomably poetic and philosophical. I’ll save Lanthimos’ other films for a later date though. High concepts give you the picture of a film, you give the logline and people snap their fingers, they see the film without knowing the plot and they love it. Lanthimos’ concepts are beyond ‘high’ and I don’t want to bastardise them with some snappy quip or term. When you hear flying elephants, cooking rats, talking toys, society where you have to be in a relationship or turned into an animal, you should stop, jaw dropped in awe and be lost in the film’s apparent ideas. If you have to label Lanthimos’ films with a recycled term you could say he creates ‘idea films’. The focus isn’t directly on character, plot, spectacle, but concept.

Concept or idea films are the most poignant and artistically genius because art ultimately boils down to its core – the idea that sparked it all. Some say movies are supposed to entertain, most hate it when you try to talk concept, that The Dark night is about chaos, Poltergeist is about T.V vs. children vs. parents. I accept that cinema isn’t supposed to be anything, that it’s best approached without prejudice, but concept films bridge the gap between artist and audience so well. They aim to engage in conversation, to comment and be commented upon, to be interpreted. Any mature audience should yearn for this–it’s strange we only get it so often from kids’ films. I do love meaningless action though, The Raid is absolutely phenomenal in my opinion and indicates new paths cinema may tread in the future–but I’ll save that for another time. People love to bash the idea of action, ‘dumb’ audiences and senselessness. I mean… sigh… dogmatism should always be ignored is all I can say. All I mean to say here though is, cinema can and should be whatever it can be, we need Star Wars as much as Paranormal Activity, The Notebook, Frozen, Anchorman, Die Hard, Godfather, E.T, The Lobster. However, what’s obvious is people love to talk, be talked at and converse. that’s why I love The Lobster and concept films so much. Anyone making a film, writing a book, painting a picture, choreographing a dance, must start with 1 idea, 1 goal. Some people only intend to make money – people generally hate this kind of content as it’s empty. When time and care, when thought-through intentions, preface a piece of art it can only be benefit. Why do you think sequels are never better than the original? Concept films are defined by intention, and when concept is good… well, we get The Lobster…

This film is about the societal perception of relationships. What is so earnest and poignant about it is the juxtaposition between animals and people. If you can’t find someone to mate with, you’re reduced to an animal. If you can’t conform to the most animalistic parts of you, you’re reduced to, yep, an animal. This film exposes a huge contradiction so many people make in everyday life. As George Carlin said, we’re barely out of the jungle. Yes, humans have the biggest brains (relative to body size) of all animals, yes we love, talk, make movies, construct cities, invent iPods, cook McNuggets (at least some of us can). But, what does this validate? Intelligence is merely not dying. Of course medicine, irrigation, electricity keeps people alive and thriving, but love, religion, complex communication? If there’s one thing this film does so brilliantly is show the cult or group mentalities of people. We herd together like cattle and then define each other with humanity and ‘intelligence’. We conjure up rules like the red kiss, or even worse, the red intercourse, just like having to toast your fingers for masturbating or being turned into an animal for not falling in ‘love’. The direct line such ideas have to the ways we dictate societal norm reflects how pointlessly idiotic we can be. Religion, law, rights are for the most part stupid, but entirely pointless, Controversial, I know. By my saying the law is pointless doesn’t mean I’m an anarchist. I look at the idea from a perspective external to humanity. Ask a crocodile about murder and he’ll laugh and then eat you. Ask a gorilla about rape and yeah, you just might walk away broken and impregnated. Stupid hypothetical, I know, but humans’ bond and reliance on ideas is rather strange. Law, rights and rules are imperative to my life–pointless, but imperative. The film presents this alien every day with perfection.

The absurd aspects of The Lobster with its black comedy, dead pan dialogue and estranged world are what give it a skin of what some might call artsy pretension. I think anyone who calls anything they don’t get pretentious is merely being pretentious themself. They’re saying ‘I didn’t get it, that makes it stupid’. This links back to people hating art films–though the title ‘art film’ doesn’t automatically make a film of any worth, this film is a perfect demonstration of an art film done well. It’s ideas are deep and complex, but so simply projected.  If you don’t get this film you simply aren’t paying attention. I like to think this is why Yorgos (yeah we’re friends–not really) adopts these elements of absurdism in his films. It allows him to translate ideas with pin-point precision and to face anyone how doesn’t get it with plain indifference. Furthermore, this mirrors how mechanised people are and links back dogmatism. ‘It just is’. The answer to so much of life’s ambiguities. As a kid I could be reduced to near tears of anger every time I’d be told to clean my room. Of course, a perfectly valid question to such an absurd concept is, ‘why?’. What does mum say? ‘Because I say so’. It’s the whole idea of I’m right, you’re wrong, I’m big you’re small and there’s nothing you can do about it–I love Matilda (a cringy kind of love). That’s not to say that there’s no truth in such an idea. The biggest person wins in the end in almost everything because we live in a world of physics and the biggest guy hits hardest, sticks and stones break bones and yeah, words ain’t gonna hurt anyone. Off point. Anyhow, Matilda does throw back to the fact that some of the best concept films are ‘kids’ films’: Cinderella, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc., My Neighbour Totoro, Howls Moving Castle, I could go on. But the point is–yes Disney Pixar (and others)! Someone who takes people (children) seriously. Why do we bullshit ourselves? How can so many people believe in magic men in the sky? Why do we accept so much as just given? Well, the film’s answer seems to be dependence…

Despite social norm you’re always going to have extremists, weirdos, people with scat fetishes. Scat fetishes!? I don’t get you people, I accept you, do what makes you happy, but… yeah… Whereas some crappy (groan) films love to take the side of the dissenters just for the sake of it, (In Time) The Lobster follows the world’s weirdos to express an interesting side to human nature, not to be quirky YA and ugh. What the film essentially asks is why does dogmatism exist and why do some people indulge in scat fetishes (you can thank me for keeping it simple and not using ‘colourful’ language there). The over arching question beyond that though is: can the blind lead the blind? Hence, the final image. Heart stopping, molar busting and utterly perfect if I may add. Also there’s a link with the ending to some of Lanthimos’ other films with the construction site–tell me if you get what I mean in the comments–if not I’ll come to it another time. Whilst the film ends on ‘can the blind lead the blind?’ it’s already kind of answered that they currently are. That’s what the whole film is about: the contradictory concept of appealing to  base animalistic tenancies or being turned into an animal. Dogmatism exists because it’s a way of painting a black canvas bright, no lights shone in darkness, just a Wile E. Coyote trap doomed to failure. Scat fetishes exist because blind people can only wander. People don’t know what they’re doing in life, a simple, God’s honest, truth (no pun intended–well, maybe). Society constructs laws out of the obvious (don’t kill) because we are reaffirming the accepted norm. And what this cycles back to is dependence. We need each other, we need pointless rules, because a blind man holding the hand of a blind woman is most probably better off that a blind individual. Control, we can’t have it because it doesn’t exist. Create your own world, your own Matrix, and shit! Dodge bullets all you want. You’re a God! In short, control, the fantasy; control the fantasy. Now, I’m going to risk being incredibly smug here, but that’s quote worthy, no?

Anyway, the film ultimately makes blind monkeys of us all, but pats us on the back and tells us that that’s just fine. Before I end this I’d like to say that I’ve talked in and around the film. What makes it brilliant is more than its concept. I recommend you watch it and tell me if you agree with me that The Lobster is the best film of last year. Not that I care if you disagree, it obviously is… yes, a joke, well, not entirely.

 

 

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Black Swan – Who Are You?

Thoughts On: Black Swan (2010)

Another Aronofsky masterpiece that I’ll be looking at. Obviously a brilliant film-maker, my favourite film of his being Requiem For A Dream. I’ll definitely be looking at that in the future, but if you want to see it soon, comment below, or recommend me any film for that matter. Anyway, this is about Nina, a ballerina aspiring to become the best in her dance corp and take on the role of both the black and white swan in the up and coming production of Swan Lake.

Black swan

This film is very clearly about identity, about splitting yourself into two shades: black and white. What the film most poignantly asks is, who are you? And, who is in control of that idea? Now, from here I could spin into ideas of social contortion, labelling and general moaning. But. I’m not going to. I am going to talk about the idea of this social conditioning though, but not in those terms. I’ll also be talking about control, a theme I quite like. Control is of course just an idea. When you question why things happen, you could easily spiral into unfathomable and cyclic questioning. This is because why can be asked repeatedly, forever–just ask any five year old. What ‘why?’ has to do with control is a search for a source, for a centrifugal focal point, the epicentre of the big bang, the knot in your back that’s just ruining your life, the reason why Melissa is so goddamn moody with you today. Who is Melissa? Well, beyond the joke she’s hormonal and annoying. But, of course she’s not, she’s just in a bad mood. But her mood defines her. We define her. Who she is, is clearly not under her complete control. The source of who she is… well… where is it? This is where ‘why?’ comes into play. Why is Melissa in a bad mood? She might say that’s how she woke up, or that traffic sucks and work is pointless. The good willed, but slightly offensive, comedian/observer within us all might say she’s on her period. Ohhh, I can hear some of you cringe and moan from here–not that people always make a noise when they cringe–but, I’m merely transitioning back to the idea of social conditioning. Language. An invention used to make the world interpretable and communication feasible. What it does is take ideas and then labels them. A clump of atoms becomes a chair, person, guitar, cup, I could go on forever. The idea extends to mood and, to dip into some basic first year psychology, the idea is connected to everything you know. It’s called attribution. Everything you know is linked to others that form a vast network called the mind and perception–but I needn’t explain the concept. You see a moody woman and the stereotype easily conjured is menstrual problems.

What has this got to do with Black Swan? In a convoluted sense, everything. Nina has her façade: the prima ballerina; innocent woman; Natalie Portman; weakness in her femininity; strength in the fact that she’s a ballerina and… eww… that bone crunching routine. There’s an awful lot you can say. But should you? Now, there’s a bit up there some people may have issue with, I know that and it was planned: ‘weakness in her femininity’. This is the struggle of the film. Nina is mummy’s girl, the perfect little princess, the embodiment of naivety and feminine… how do I say this?… grace? She’s clearly shaped by her mother in this sense, I mean just look at the myriad of stuffed animals in her room. The idea of her being this fragile feather is what the film so easily presents because it’s what we want to see. I push that this is not the way she wants to be seen. Her goal in life is to be a great dancer. Maybe she was pushed onto this path, but she’s set in  and running, and as shown when she’s confronted by the idea of being the black swan, she’s only floaty, innocent and stereotypically Natalie Portman because that helps her push forward toward the ultimate goal of a prime prima ballerina. Through the film, this pursuit to become the black swan, she must prove she is the opposite to what she’s seen as: the white swan. And so, she becomes sexually devious, embracing ideas of… well, you’ve seen the film, pictures work better than words here. Here’s the good girl turned bad story Sandy staying out ’til 10 O’Clock to wearing tight leathers and smoking like a badass with inevitable lung disease to come. But, Black Swan is a bit more than that…

Black Swan is the good girl embracing the bad not becoming it. What the film, for poor Nina, needed to be called was: The Grey Swan. The ideal would have been for her to find a balance between the white and black swan. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world likes to work. A rock is a rock. No one gives a damn about sedimentary, chalk, igneous and oh I’m bored Googleing this stuff already. The dance corp doesn’t want the grey swan, it wants the black and white swan represented by one single entity. This sounds like an Eddy Murphy movie, a slightly racist one, one I, without shame, would like to see. But what it really is comes from a simple truth: shades of grey are boring. Give us blinding bold colours or just give it to us black and white. And so, in comes social contortion again. The movie demonstrates who we are is who are seen to be. Nina is the white swan, never the black swan until she can prove otherwise. I think this is a very common thing in living–and it’s not a bad one–I wouldn’t dare call what is natural, and really just what is, wrong. People love the idea of change, everyone wants their own personal world full of clones of themselves. I do, you do, so does your mum–I could argue that’s why she had you, but you might take offence. Apologies if I did (not really, I take that back (but it’s in brackets so…(imagine it’s whispered))). Anyhow, the film makes a key observation of the effect of reality on a mind being torn in two directions. Oh! I really want to talk about The Shining here–another time–it’ll be a good one, I promise. Again, anyhow, we are the only ones who see the shades of grey within ourselves. We are the only ones who have the time, patience and capacity for self-loathing for this. Nina, being unable to fully handle the black and white swan being trapped within her is her being unable to make the switch from black and white to IMAX, colour, 3D, bold craziness. The metaphor makes a jump, but you got it, right? In short, she can’t just be  this or that. She’s a ‘me’.

Here’s the film in its essence, here’s also a little idea that helps me in life sometimes. Everytime your asked, who are you? You say, I’m Steve, I work in accounting, I have a wife, two kids and pay taxes. Easy. You get to sit down and the ‘getting to know you’ segment of the obligatory seminar grinds on… and on… and on… We love to tell ourselves this too though. I stand before the mirror and I see, Daniel. Just as Nina sees, Nina. Though these are the words we use to present ourselves, or the idea of what we think we are, no one has the same connotations or sees the same person we do. I look in the mirror and I see a writer, (insert shameless promotion) but I also see the guy who used to be afraid of dogs, the dark, horror movies. I also see the only guy who knows what I look like in my darkest of moments, bent over a small screen, putting too much effort into rubbing out a bit of self-satisfaction. Too personal. I know. But that’s the point. Everyone has those ‘dark moments’. They are apart of our every day, but we don’t have the imagination to see them in others simply because the moments are ‘dark’. We don’t know exactly what they look like. With a bit of imagination you could get a good picture, but no one wants to, or is supposed to, think of what their mum looks like naked. Yet, you just did. Just like you just imagined what I look like masturbating vigorously at 3 O’clock in the morning in my dark and dank room. If you didn’t well, now you’ve got a better picture. Your welcome. Here are our internal and external worlds. There are nearly 7 billion other worlds you can’t comprehend, but 1 that you do. However, the worlds aren’t imperturbable. The shape one another, leaving a simply question of control, why and who am I?

I daren’t summarise by telling you that you are who you want to be or feed you notions of complete self-determination. For that, I advise you take a peep at a few 13 year old girl Twitter feeds. Here we go again, more stereotypes. For the purpose of a joke, but still, the world is so easily viewed in simple terms, bold colours, black and white, whatever you want–just be able to explain it to me like I’m a 7 year old. One of my favourite Denzel Washington quotes, though I love the Godzilla one, my favourite’s got to be ‘you hear me, but you ain’t listening’. Great man, or at least, he can deliver great lines, or–off point. In the end, the film presents an idea that black and white doesn’t always help. It’s there, and it needs to be embraced, but maybe we shouldn’t let it consume ourselves.

 

 

In Time – Blind Morality

Thoughts On: In Time (2011)

Sigh… In the future time is currency because humans have been genetically modified to never age past 25, blah, b-blah, b-blah. This is going to be a long one…

in time

This film sucks. It is a scar on the face of science fiction. I’m embarrassed to call myself a fan. What I see it as is Bonnie and Clyde meets The Matrix. It obviously has the dynamic of the bad girl meets the bad boy with some Robin Hood pretensions, but the Bonnie and Clyde influences on this film are painful. First of all, Bonnie and Clyde sucks. I don’t care how violent it was, how it changed cinema or how you have to look at film in context. Here’s a few things you don’t have to look at in context: direction, acting, writing. Yes, context contributes to these ideas, it may even support and deepen a film. But bad acting will forever be bad acting, just as the writing and the directing of actors. The opposite reason is why classics exist. Great will always be great. I’m not going to explain such an idea as I respect that it’s obvious. But my point is the crap character work and acting in Bonnie and Clyde directly translates to this film. It made me want to puke. When a couple has such a deep and personal power relationship in these types of films an audience is alienated. They are pushed away and made to watch two, excuse my French, but, assholes. Everything they say and do feels like fingers scratching at your oesophagus without having a gag reflex. There’s just no way to spit back in their faces. This is the idea of your friend going out with that awful person that you hate that is changing them. That kind of GGGRRRR feeling you get every time you have to be in their presence. In short, if your not included in a power circle you hate it. AND THIS IS THE IDEA OF THE FILM. The film merely demonstrates a very funny paradigm of perceived control. The people in control are always the pricks. Your best friend could be come your boss and you will eventually hate them. To put the under dog at the top, like this film does, only takes the hatred it wants to conjure for the corrupt system and attributes it to them.

To jump back a little, the Matrix aspects of this movie are found in the fashion design, which is ridiculous. Long coats, leathers and blacks just scream non-conformist. But the whole idea of non-conformist is of course a negative feedback loop. No one wants to conform. The only way to beat the paradox is not to care, and fashion is too much of a statement for you not to seem like your trying too hard. Off-point, but it does add to the pretentious tone of the movie. Of course the fashion also links to all the old Noirs and the detective, mystery genre in general, but whatever. The other aspects of the Matrix in this film come with its avocations of change. Morpheus’ speeches about saviours and control and destiny aren’t the strongest part of the film because of how preachy they are. Preaching sucks. People do it all the time. I’m doing it now. But in the Matrix it’s fine. Absolutely fine. I’ve no qualms with it because it’s necessary and understandable. Machines take over the world, the simple response is to to take it back. The politics of the Matrix are completely sound and entirely align with sense and some kind of reality. The politics of this film do not. Not at all. Of course there are people who think in terms of complete equality and fairness and anti-capitalism. That’s how the film was written. But the application of these ideals to a world we’re suppose to attribute reality to is absurd. I could easily go into the minutia of the film’s lack of verisimilitude and pick it apart, but there’s little point. I’m not that interested in this film. The plot holes gape… like… you’d have to be an idiot not to see them. There are just so many unexplained things and the end is so ridiculous. I’m not sure and I don’t care enough to Google this, but I think there is an extended edition in which the system of time exchange and so on is explained and a huge bulk of the third act isn’t simply edited away. The film’s science fiction concepts cannot be delved deep into because of this – it’s just so shallow.

There’s no way to understand how this society operates, how they made the switch to time or even the legalities of anything. I appreciate that there is no huge back story and we’re not told when the film is set. I personally think setting a sci-fi story in a specific time and place is a mistake – and pointless. This is completely shattered though with how much the film wants you to think its ideas are cool and interesting. In the first 10 minuets there must be over 3 dozen references to the fact that they have time on their arms and its currency and so on, but with no explanations. You should either go along with the narrative as the characters would, not acknowledging the everyday things no one does on such a regular basis, or just explain. No matter how poor you are, the word money does not come out of your mouth every half second. It’s impossible. But the film takes the idea of being poor and exaggerates it to the point of condescension. The film doesn’t want to tone down though, for one simple reason, it’s not worried about verisimilitude, it merely wants us to fill in the gaps with our lives and our gripes that are so easily blown out of proportion. The film obviously comments on our monetary and class system. DUH! Why it shoves it in our faces SOOO HARD I don’t understand. The only things you ever hear about in this film are the plot and time. Now this is something people love to tell others to do, it’s considered a sensibility in screenwriting. It’s the whole idea of Back To The Future in which each detail of the script serves the story. I believe when you have such a fun (in the case of Back To The Future) or interesting (Inception or Matrix) concept or narrative, only using dialogue to push things forward, explain and detail can work. But, take a look at Pulp Fiction, The Before Trilogy (Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight) Clerks. These films ramble and they chat. I love that. Rhyme. Pulp Fiction has quite a juicy plot, but where would it be without Tarantino’s dialogue. Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke literally talk (shout, sing, dance, walk, play guitar) at us for around 5 hours. And in my opinion the Before Trilogy is a masterpiece, it’s what made me start writing. Look at Clerks, not a great film, but damn that’s dialogue. Not delivered to the highest of qualities, but damn. Yes, Inception and Matrix are more cinematic than Before… and Clerks, but what would I rather watch? Well, Before… and Inception. I’m not going to lie for my point. But, the fact that Before… even works as a film (which I would take over any film mentioned thus far) proves that chat isn’t bad. Chat is character. Chat is philosophy. Chat can be thematic, idea driven, artful. Not key aspects of blockbusters, but definitely still present in practically all the worthwhile ones – this is what Nolan proves.

The tangent we’ve just rode has got us some place grey, but my over arching point is that explaining the film and confining all dialogue to plot can be wrong. Dialogue is for characters in situations. Bad dialogue is often contrived and out of place – unrealistic. This is a continuous aspect of In Time (yes, we’re still talking about that). Now, the acting isn’t bad, line delivery is quite good, but if all the characters can ever talk about is your plot and concept when it’s not necessary, your dialogue becomes repetitive and boring. If you counted how many meaningless quips are made about time and how its spent and its affect on class you’d end up at least near 100. I honestly blame the script for this film’s major issues. You can only point to the bottom here.

I may be blowing the idea of un-streamlining dialogue out of proportion though, of course it’s all about what the script needs, but the excess of moral aphorisms hurts. I dare say this film needed to be longer, or the plot simplified. There either need to be more depth to balance the surface ideas or a lower budget, smaller character based story. I would have loved to see a version of this film where the Bonnie and Clyde aspects are thrown out the window, where there is no uprising. I would have loved to live in their society and have something like Bicycle Thieves… oh… oh… I’m giving myself the shivers at the idea of that. That is not a joke, and I don’t mean to pat myself on the back, but how good is Bicycle Thieves? It perfectly demonstrates the cyclic and suppressive plotting of lives as forced by class. I mean, the first time I saw that ending, I just stared at the screen for at least 10 minutes after the credits ran. It’s so poignant and so simple and just irrevocable. Perfect. The first act of the film should have been its whole narrative. I really liked the mum, I like the idea of her being 50, but looking 25. I HATED the way they dealt with that fact, but the concept was quite cool. If her death was the end of the film… mmm… beautiful filmmaking. I don’t care about spoilers to this film by the way. Don’t watch it. If you are it’s transparent anyway. The direction around that scene was so poor as well. No tension, no pain, no emotion. Nothing. No empathy from me and I liked the character. All I can say is Rome, Open City. If you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about and FUCK THE NAZIS!!!!!! I genuinely apologize for that, but I leave it in to demonstrate how effective tragedy can be. Thank the forces that be for Rossellini. And thank Rossellini for Rome, Open City. Thinking about such a film only depresses me further as I return to this garbage though.

The worst thing about this film is that the morals completely quash sense in a way that makes its contrivances and plot holes bearable – which is just sad. This is one of the reasons Mad Max: Fury Road was pretty crap. The ideals are stupid. The point of Mad Max was to let the women be in charge and just to waste ALL THE WATER and KILL EVERYONE. Idiots want freedom. That and I didn’t appreciate the style of the film, the dialogue (GOD AWFUL! – delivery and in writing) and Furiosa (how stupid can a name get?). The film wasn’t bad, but the downfalls really made me dislike it. Anyway, the whole blind ideals in In Time come from an idea of perfect communism. Everyone being treated equally. Yes, that sounds nice, but it can’t work in our society or theirs. I know little about the subject, but I think it’s clear there is no feasible way to have pure capitalism or pure communism, just like pure chaos and pure peace aren’t achievable. Yes, films are wish fulfilment, but political films should only be made by smart people. That which the writer is not, or at least cannot demonstrate them self to be. Politics should be fuelled by fact, never opinion. I don’t care what your beliefs are, law should be a science in my opinion. Politicians should be out and out scientist. I know such a thing as political science exists, but the state of politics around the world does not demonstrate this. This is why democracies suck. The crowd is the stupidest person of all. They shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions, especially for themselves. In the same way we shouldn’t all get a vote on the constant of gravity or light, we shouldn’t be able to dictate the best way to run a country. Experiments should inform political scientists and the best results be implemented. Why isn’t this how our society works?! I don’t know what the governmental budget is or understand its myriad of facets. I don’t have the slightest picture of governmental relationships between the west and east. The truth is, almost all of us don’t, or don’t have the scientific, precise and ideal free perspective. Professionals should handle countries. To be honest, they kinda do. It’s called the top 1%. Some of the smartest people in the world. What is smart? In an evolutionary sense it’s what keeps you at the top – and it can be inherited. Why we are raised to think our opinions should change the world is strange. Yes, we should all have our own perspective and see the world the way we will, but to have that implemented is probably a mistake. I know I’m talking out of my ass. I don’t want to rule the world. The truth is we all assume we could (says the bullshit negative feedback loop in my head).

Why am I rambling about this? Because the film doesn’t. The film lets Justin Timberlake mould the world, just because he’s the under dog. He’s basically a superhero! he fights cops off like nothing, drives like an F1 champion on his first try and is able to get away with robbing 6 banks in 1 week with some ditzy millionaire’s daughter. This is nonsense! The film just wants us to believe we can do these things. And it’s not like in Rocky were he has to fight, bleed, suffer for a draw, to go the distance. Rocky maybe shouldn’t have won, but the argument is up for dispute! If trained police officers knocked on your door right now, could you escape them? No! Could you out-run them for weeks on end, killing, robbing, having kidnapped a millionaire’s daughter!!! NO! And the car crash! OH MY GOD! This film is too stupid. But these aren’t the issues. It’s the idea that the everyday man is doing this. that we are taking over the world and making a difference. LIES! Where is our humility? We aren’t supposed to be equal. A simple fact of life. The film makes this obvious, but then decides it’s allowed to take a shit on Darwin because… feelings.

All in all, the film is blindly moral, too optimistic and just plain stupid. If you like it, you’ve been played and you too are an idiot. Now, despite my saying this film is stupid, I don’t mean that films can’t be moral, that they have to be scientific. Of course you can make a political film with ideals and not science. Just think it through. Don’t go into a political script with a set goal of proving a point. You’ll only look like an ass. Take a leaf out of A Clockwork Orange, reveal, never implore. Clockwork Orange demonstrates that Alex should not be changed. When you try to contort a character, you only bend him to your ideals. The film makes this obvious, it never explains it to us. In Time is no better than the politicians, journalists, doctors and so on changing Alex for there own benefit. In Time doesn’t reveal the corruption of our monetary system, but creates it and then fabricates a pathetic solution – destroy it. I stand by the idea that it should have been Bicycle Thieves. If a film is going to be derivative, do it with class. If a film is going to have morals, have them be poignant and with no need for explanation.

 

 

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Black Swan – Who Are You?

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(500) Days Of Summer – Romantic Cycles

Quick Thoughts: (500) Days Of Summer (2009)

A hopeless romantic falls in and out of love.

500

This’ll probably preface everything I write, but I love this film. For me, it’s The Graduate (as it implies itself) but more concise, fun and deep. This film is about romantics. Not just love hearts and fairy cakes, but, romanticism in its essence. About idealisation. The film asks: what does the ideal world look like? The answer it gives: spontaneous sing-song, cartoon birds, Han Solo in your reflection and true love. Actually, that’s not fair. The film asks: what does an ideal world look like inside of the real world? The answer: a perpetual cycle, but that’s not a bad thing. To throw an overview across the plains (strange phrase I’m not certain about, but) Tom falls in love and out of love like the seasons cycle. It’s all in the title–needs no explanation. But why? The film demonstrates that we’re a  product of long term experience, but that who we pretend to be is a product of short term experience. In short, your mother never liked you; you’ll probably never get along with the girls that well. A girlfriend ditches you; you don’t like women for a while. Don’t take the analogy to seriously or over analyse it–it’s a bit too general–but what else are analogies supposed to be–yes, a good one would have been succinct and so one, but leave me alone. The point is and was, people hold core personality traits and adopt some from time to time. Like that time you brought those shoes that… I’m sorry, I can’t do those references–know that I tried though. Anyhow, here we’re delving into social conditioning and I think it’s clear that such a thing is inherent to being human to a point I need say no more. But the film does present a nice little question we all love: why? Why do we change? Why must we adapt? Why do we need summer, winter, autumn and that monsoon thing some people get–don’t overlook the metaphor–we’re talking about depression here. This is a key element of the film. it’s a rise and fall, but since the film is perpetual and has a recyclable plot: what is more important? Yes, the joy and love got more screen time, but is this representative of real life? We all have ups and downs otherwise you’re one of the lucky few in a coma–in which case: why are you reading this? The point being, the world is constructed up an idea of opposites. Einstein and such. Or was it Newton? Or someone else? Either way, equal and opposite forces. Love is nothing without hatred. Depression is nothing without joy. The film seems to argue this obvious fact for the sake of exposing the truth behind emotions. There’s some that don’t feel good and others that do. Without the opposites we don’t feel and so Tom’s 500 days is really his life, just like it is yours. Whilst Tom’s faults may be his romanticism, yours may be your collection of shoes that you were telling me about. We all live in peaks and valleys; beneath the bridge, walking it; the troll and the goat. Where does this leave us?… mmmm… nowhere. Is that a bad thing? Well, I propose there are no such thing as bad things, simply things that make you feel bad. And so in the cycle you are. The existential undertones of the movie may depress, uplift or (insert emotions) you. But either tomorrow, next week or in 500 days you’ll be feeling around about the opposite for at least a moment.

What’s the takeaway? In truth there isn’t one. You’ll only give it back. No, the takeaway is inevitability and balance. You’re inevitably going to be on and off balance. Sorry, but you’ve got little control over that one. But, I guess you could be grateful for the experience. What would be the opposite? Balance? Not feeling, perceiving… actually that sounds like a nice break. But, here we are and here we stay: in our own screwy minds. So I guess knowing the rules of the game let us know when we’re being cheated. That’s always helpful.

 

 

 

2001: A Space Odyssey – Whose Classic?

Quick Thoughts: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s film that needs no introduction from me…

2001

Whew… what can I say about this one? We all know it, have our theories and yeah it’s an undeniable classic–a little slow, but great nonetheless. My favourite thing about this film is its cold distance. I think that says more about me than the film, but making something of such personal vision that becomes a classic is more than inspiring. The film is slow, disjointed, clunky in parts (especial with dialogue) and of course, as with most of Kubrick’s pictures, it’s cold and distant. But I think that’s what we all love about his films. They’re a mark above us all and they kind of know it. Someone says Kubrick, the next person says genius–in all likelihood. I’m not going to dispute facts of his personal character, I don’t know the guy, but it’s clear that’s the weight he holds. His filmography demands raised palms a bit of back-pedalling. You may not love his films, but can’t really say they’re bad. And I think this is because of the austere tone each moment of his movies are imbued with. His films are almost like an asshat know-it-all that you depend on for the answers for tests. Yes, he/she looks down on you, yes they’re clearly smarter–you might not like that–but, they get 100% on the test and you’re kind of using them. This is the grey area of criticism in my view. To critique is to assume your opinion is above a film–whether you love it or not. There is no passivity in criticism–I’m not saying there should be, but if you want to question what art is, well… in my opinion art is emotional output. In short, you take what you’re feeling and funnel it through a medium–same goes with all human output, but I don’t want to veer off on too large a tangent. If art, film, is just someone’s feelings (in a soppy, gooey sense) then why do we revere other feelings on top of those feelings – critics opinions. And, yes, the obvious answer is ‘we assume they know what they’re going on about’ or ‘I agree with Ebert almost all the time’. But, to stay within the existential and nihilistic: is that right? To flip the tables and possibly lose you: we’re recycling feelings. Kubrick feels this, it goes into a film. That feeds into a critic, then us. That’s the much abbreviated version. In truth there are a myriad of opinions that influenced Kubrick, ourselves, the critic. I mean, we could get into a horrible cycle of nature vs. nurture and social conditioning here, but I’ll let you insert the mental gymnastics. All I want to convey is that Kubrick’s slow, meandering and amazingly ambiguous classic maybe just works because it is so bland, yet so deep. Like an endless bowl of porridge. Yeah, it’s just porridge–BUT IT GOES ON FOREVER!! You’d get people lining more than around the block for that one–world hunger cured–that’s if Umbeke’s mother could convince him it’s better than just slop, but, off point. What Kubrick does with 2001 is hint at the impossibly ambiguous whilst saying very little. This is the beauty of pictures: they explain themselves. The less of a human, the less emotion (maybe the less art) in a piece of art (paradoxical, I know) the better it is. I don’t know who said it, but: the best art is hidden. What does this mean? People love themselves. 2001 basically gives anyone the tools to dive into unfathomable philosophical thought, into their own art (emotional output). Maybe this is why it’s a classic.

All in all, 2001, maybe not Kubrick’s classic. Maybe it’s all of ours. Maybe it’s just mine.

 

 

Pi – Perceptual Paradigms

Quick Thoughts: Pi

Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 masterpiece. This follows Max Cohen a ‘numbers whiz’ on a psychological journey toward what could be God.

pi

First thing’s first, I love this film–obviously. It blends reality with fantasy to portray the crushing surreal experience of simply not knowing. The film appeals to viewer’s intrigue of numbers, patterns, consequence with a formalised routine of its character to slowly descend into the depths of his anxieties. Though we all may not love maths (in any way shape or form) the film appeals to us on a cognitive level–off the basis the pragmatic human perception of patterns. The same thing that makes you think your iPod is conspiring against you, playing the same songs over and over, is what drives the connection between us and the character. To paraphrase what he repeatedly tells us: patterns can be found in nature, they are apart of it and so maths can explain it. I think all people hold this belief in their very core. To think that your perception is worthy of the world is to assume there’s a pattern. To think that your business plan, work schedule, life choices can get you where you want to be is to assume there’s a workable paradigm to life and nature. Through Max, the film gives us an insight into a near omnipotence–at least, to me, with being able to calculate anything a calculator can at the drop of a hat. Honestly, it sounds like a super power–one that’d get boring pretty quick, but, a super power nonetheless. Being able to calculate anything for Max is the viewer being able to know the perfect tweet to send to get their favourite celebrity to tweet back, follow them, fall into their intricately planned kidnapping scheme–or whatever people want from favourite celebrities–such a strange idea. Off point. Max’s abilities attract us to the film, as it basically implies that we can have an hour and a half of feeling we’ve got the answers to the questions, the code to suite the paradigm of our lives; living. To stay general, Max using maths to find God is nothing more than the everyday pursuit of success. Of course success and pursuit define Max’s search without the majority of the previous as evidence, but beyond the obvious, the film shows that success is little more than finding a path–calculating the perfect equation–finding that number hidden in a script countless others have lived by. In short, Max meeting God is you getting your Oscar or promotion at work–big jump down, but we’ve all got different goals. The film demonstrates that people see life as little more than a pattern; that we believe we are above the universe we come from; that we can comprehend the systems that made us. In my opinion, this is folly. The pursuit for eternal life, knowledge or general omnipotence is going to end up with a deranged reflection in a grimy bathroom mirror that looks like what could be you, but with a hand drill pressed against his/her temple, inevitably going to pull that trigger and push the drill bit in.

All in all, you’ve got what you’ve got in life. More? A question we maybe shouldn’t ask ourselves as much. Here’s me writing to be heard though, so know that I accept the fact that ‘more?’ is an imperative to the human condition, but, I don’t know… giving ourselves a break once in a while could help. What do you think

 

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2001: A Space Odyssey – Whose Classic?

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