Archive for February, 2011

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Miami Vice

February 11, 2011

This was supposed to be one of the very first blog posts I was going to write. However, because it wasn’t thrown down shortly after being conceived of, I completely lost heart in the idea and couldn’t be arsed. It was intended to be long and rigorously researched and accompanied by at least another viewing of the film and, piss it to shit, it’s tiring me out even trying to explain this. Anyway, I’ve decided to fling this albatross off my neck and clear my in-tray of incomplete draft ideas.

I can’t decide whether or not I like Michael Mann’s feature-length Miami Vice movie of 2006. The question gnaws on me, squirms in my mind like some bothersome centipede…uh, I mean, worm. It really does appear to be a half-fantastic, half-shite film and I’m curious to see if I can peer at that ratio close enough to determine some final judgement on it.

I like the fact that this film was goddamn expensive and yet deliberately uncommercial. It looks like Michael Mann was handed $150 million and said, “thanks…fuck you!” before delivering a final product that purposefully worked against the possibility of fulfilling its box-office expectations. I like that he appears to have gotten away with that and that he even went on to repeat the trick with a John Dillinger biopic. I like the way it looks. The digital cinematography is gorgeous in parts, especially capturing lightning flashes in tropical storms and the hues of Miami in twilight. I really like Luis Tosar as the mega-powerful drug lord, Archangel de Jesus Montoya. The five minutes that this intense, chilling badass spends on the screen are probably my favourite moments of the entire film. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Between the Lines: Predator

February 9, 2011

Predator

It’s a sci-fi/action/survival-horror classic from the 1980s that holds up fantastically today. It has Schwarzenegger at the peak of his powers, an iconic movie monster created by the legendary Stan Winston, an eminently quotable script, and it doesn’t shy away from delivering the grue and ballistic-porn thrills. Predator is rightfully adored, even as the franchise continues to be woefully mishandled today. However, the reason that this film continues to resonate so strongly, and largely amongst men only, is the tension wrought from the central metaphorical subtext of the film: the ultra-macho characters of Predator are being stalked and defeated by their own barely suppressed homosexuality and ineluctable feminine inner nature.

The characters in Predator are introduced to the audience as an already suspiciously hyper-masculine group. They are a team of elite special forces soldiers, explicitly referred to as “the best”. Encompassing the tough but fair archetype, they are endowed with a moral righteousness behind their violent promise (“a rescue team, not assassins”) and are presented as pure, uncorrupted warriors with a singular purpose. Although racially diverse, and thereby neatly portraying all men, the team is led by a Germanic übermensch, Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer; a man notable amongst even his own group of over-compensatory physiques as possessing a ridiculous musculature, his arms resembling enormous engorged penises. Bristling with a variety of techno-phallocentric weaponry, these alpha males are nonetheless sent into that most female and hostile of terrains: a dark and moist jungle. There they are systematically picked off and eviscerated, their hard rigid bodies negated and reduced instead to exposed, wet innards and other gooey, womanly secretions and all this at the hands of an invisible and invincible force they do not understand.

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Steampunk Mouse

February 7, 2011

Apparently this was built by some skilled, avid fanboy in Russia somewhere. It’s goddamn splendid.

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The Human Sexipede

February 7, 2011

Look, I had fully intended to leave all mention of The Human Centipede (my film of 2010 whether I like it or not) behind with the beginning of a new year but the most recent development in the ongoing saga of this cultural phenomenon cannot be ignored. They’ve gone and made a porn parody, The Human Sexipede.

Starring notable, and now middle-aged, porn actor Tom Byron as Dr. Heiter, this adult film satire closely follows the plot of the original film, with the most significant diversion being that the mad surgeon here merely plans to attach the two women and one man mouth-to-genitals, as opposed to the rather more grotesque dynamic (victims joined via their gastric systems, ass-to-mouth) that initially drove that infamous horror flick scuttling unpleasantly into the darker recesses of our minds. The Human Sexipede, therefore, enjoys the odd distinction of being perhaps the first and only porn parody that is clearly less obscene than the original film it is satirizing.

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Enter the Void

February 7, 2011

Some time ago, a close friend of mine sent me a message in which he enthused about Enter the Void, stating that I had to check it out and that he could barely walk in a straight line for ten minutes after leaving the cinema that he watched it in. How’s that for a recommendation? I had no opportunity to see the film in a cinema, sadly, but I nonetheless managed to see what proved to be one of the most interesting viewing experiences of last year. Written and directed by French filmmaker Gaspar Noé, Enter the Void was initially filmed between late 2007 until the spring of 2008 but went through over a year of post-production before a rough cut was shown at Cannes in 2009. More post-production followed and the final film wasn’t released until 2010. The critical reception was quite divided on this film, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Although technically dazzling with some stunning visuals, this film is clearly not for everyone.

Enter the Void opens with a phenomenal credit sequence of flashing, high-speed, neon intensity which Quentin Tarantino and I agree is probably the best of the last decade. From there we meet Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), an enterprising young American who has chosen to earn his living as a drug dealer in Tokyo and who has invited his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta) to live with him there. Oscar gets really fucking high on his own supply and Linda finds work as a dancer in a strip club. Oscar’s mate Alex also turns up to ramble on about The Tibetan Book of the Dead and recommend it to Oscar as a safer transcendent alternative to drugs. This is in no way a plot-driven film so it does little harm to throw out the following spoiler: on a routine drug deal at a bar, Oscar is ambushed by the cops and is shot in a bathroom stall after attempting to warn the police (falsely) that he is armed. The entire film is shot via Oscar’s POV which at this point “leaves” his prone body and begins drifting through the time and space of his lifetime in the manner of a disembodied spirit adhering to the procedure laid out in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Oscar’s spirit journeys around Tokyo tracing the aftermath of his death and the effect on his sister and friends whilst also moving in and out of key moments of his past including traumatic memories from his childhood and the beginnings of his inappropriate feelings for his sister. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Nork Going to Last?

February 1, 2011

An optimistic forecast reported in the Chosun Ilbo –

Is The N. Korean Regime Unraveling?

Chun Young-woo, the presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, reflected government views when he said Friday that North Korean regime would face “a short cut to its demise,” experts believe.

Under the Lee Myung-bak administration the North has received no aid from the South in the past three years, in contrast to 2.7 million tons of grains and 2.56 million tons of fertilizers a year under the previous administrations. The aid was worth $3.2 billion.

Pyongyang used to earn some $300 million a year through trade with Seoul, mainly from fishery products and sand, but trade was stopped after the North sank the Navy corvette Cheonan in  March last year. The only hard currency the North earns now from the South is $50 million a year in wages for the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.

As the North resumed nuclear armament and military provocations, aid from the international community also dried up. Radio Free Asia, quoting an official of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported in December that international aid to the North in 2010 was about $20.6 million, a mere 35 percent of the $58.75 million that flowed there in 2009.

North Korea’s domestic economy is a mess. Grain production this year is estimated to reach 3.8-3.9 million tons, which is 200,000-300,000 tons less than last year, the Institute for National Security and Strategy under the National Intelligence Service said. The food situation in the North is directly linked to public support for the regime.

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Experiments in Caffeine

February 1, 2011

Yesterday I woke up determined to post something on the blog in order to fulfill my personal quota of at least four entries per month. Unfortunately, as I sat down to do just that I realized I quite simply couldn’t be fucked. I was in a passive, click-and-drool, state of internet usage and the few ideas I had seemed depressingly dull, the amount of work required to polish them turds just another Sisyphean task I could do without. Then I drank three cups of coffee.

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