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Prometheus

June 29, 2012

“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy — the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.” – Eric Hoffer

So the catharsis of posting here aims to achieve recovery from ruin and win solvency for the soul.

This was initially intended as a review piece for Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel*, Prometheus, but a number of factors combined to obliterate my interest in pursuing that idea. There has been a massive amount of online discussion following the release of the film which could generally and simplistically be summarized as being an ongoing debate between two camps; those highly critical of what they see as a badly-realized and thus extremely disappointing film that squandered immense potential, and apologists on the other side who seek to mollify the letdown fans with specious arguments regarding the production values of the film and threadbare theories surrounding religious symbolism based on comments the filmmakers made in post-release interviews. (It may be obvious from the way I phrased that which of the two camps I place myself in.) Already this debate has diminshed the value of a mere review, although I still had some lingering frustration which I intended to channel into a scathing response here until my whole approach to the film and its aftermath were largely altered by a brief, and wholly unexpected, comment from my younger brother. Expressing my disdain for the flick via a popular social networking site, and inquirying as to his own thoughts, he furnished me wth the reply, “It was never going to be what we wanted.”

To give that quote some context, my brother is a major Alien franchise fan. We’re talking about a guy who had all the Dark Horse comics, as well as scale models, multiple copies of the films (including VHS boxed sets), a fucking life-sized plastic facehugger, etc. I had imagined he would be in the vanguard of the inevitable backlash jihad against Prometheus but the serene simplicity of his entirely fair response caused me to reflect on my own pointless frustrations with the film and, ultimately, let it go. That said, I still feel moved to offer some criticism here of the “Space Jesus” plot point because…fuck that shit is why. Needless to say, this will involve major spoilers.

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K-Pop Korner: Hyuna – Bubble Pop!

June 27, 2012

Bubble Pop!‘ is well known, children. It has long since floated far and wide beyond the confines of these calm, Korean waters, to alight on western pop culture consciousness with 29 million Youtube views and counting. In attempting to explain how it has accomplished this I would cite its indomitable strength and purity as a pop product. It’s there in the title, it’s in every frame of the video, and it’s in the relentless madness of the song itself.

Sitting here, scrutinizing the video with quiet intensity, in the serious manner of Jean-Luc Picard in his captain’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise, I find myself pondering, “what is the bubble she’s referring to?” Is it her ass? Perhaps, for the callipygian Korean lass is given to emphatically shaking and swinging it around throughout her dance routine. Then, my internal inquiry proceeds, is she therefore demanding her derrière be popped in some fashion? Further, and more to the point, can I make it so? I extend a gentle, yet nonetheless phallocentric, index finger in the direction of the jubilant and gyrating buttocks of the young woman on my computer screen as Picard’s stentorian voice rumbles that famed authoritative phrase in my head. He would also quote Shakespeare of course, perhaps some Melville. “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee“, although that would suggest a dark and fiendish lust for ass quite unbecoming an officer of Starfleet.

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Psycho Circus

June 22, 2012

I don’t work in the media, so it may be naive of me to ask this, but surely a report about a man who makes a video recording of himself butchering and dismembering his flatmate, which he then posts online, before sending various body parts to political parties in his native Canada and then fleeing to Europe to spark an international manhunt, is sensational enough? I mean, you don’t really have to spice up a factual story that horrific with additional bullshit in order to make it more attention-grabbing, right?

Luka here, at what I've a-gone and done!

Luka here, at what I’ve a-gone and done!

Luka Rocco Magnotta (born Eric Newman) has been a bad boy. Sometime in late May of this year he killed his roommate, “Justin” Lin Jun, a Chinese student studying in Canada since July 2011. Magnotta repeatedly stabbed the bound, naked Lin with an ice pick and kitchen knife before going on to commit unspecified acts of necrophilia and possibly cannibalism with the body. This was all captured in a video that Magnotta made of the events, entitled “1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick”, which he then posted on a delightful sounding website called Bestgore.com. I have not watched this video, and have mainly heard about this story only from morning news broadcasts of BBC World Service, but it was there that I encountered the aggravating detail that inspired this post. In the BBC report, and in subsequent other mainstream media reports I’ve since looked at, it was said that Magnotta’s homemade snuff movie contained a song “from the film American Psycho“, that played in the background as the murderer went about his heinous crime. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any creepier, the real-life psycho listens to a song that is somehow connected to psychos! The subtle implication being, of course, that Luka Magnotta may have been inspired to commit his brutal murder after watching and perhaps becoming obsessed with the unremarkable film from 2000.

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All Quiet On The Gibbering Front

May 31, 2012

Things have been quiet in here lately, folks, and I can’t guarantee that will change in the near future. I have quite a few pressing concerns this year, not least of which is my impending status as a first-time father approximately three months from now, so time set aside for blogging whimsy will likely be reduced for the foreseeable future. That said, there are forthcoming film releases that I’ll simply have to talk about, and there’s always the possibility of those Nork arseholes doing something worthy of some commentary, so sporadic blogging will hopefully continue here and there. If things get desperate, I’ll just bore the ever-loving shite out of all of you with talk of my new baby.

In the meantime, feel free to revisit some past efforts preserved here.

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K-Pop Korner: Big Bang – Fantastic Baby (빅뱅 – 판타스틱 베이비)

May 3, 2012

Big Bang bounce back to babble barbaric beats into our battered brains.

Actually, they’ve been “back” for about two months now but that’s how long it has taken me to ensnare a passing flying fuck and get around to telling you all about it. Their latest mini-album, ‘Alive’, was released on February 29th and they appear to have thrown out three singles in quick succession thereafter. Of these songs, two are fairly simpering affairs that merit little further comment, but one of them, ‘Fantastic Baby’, has just the requisite amount of electro-pop charm and a ludicrous enough music video to warrant having the keen eye of the Korner cast upon it.

The song itself is Big Bang aiming for a club anthem and, as such, it’s an uncomplicated affair entreating everyone to dance, dance, dance. The lyrics veer from simplistic hip-hop self-aggrandizement to the abjectly nonsensical, although there is always the possibility that a great deal is being lost in translation.

From one to ten, everything is one level above/ Even if we crazily run on sand, we’re still so agile/ Because the sky is blue enough.

That’s their rather abstract way of saying that they’re hot shit and they follow it later with the insightful line, “Ice, ice, ice, hold up/ Na na na na”. That said, it’s a fairly catchy tune and it gets the job done, but where the K-Pop of YG Entertainment really excels is in the eyeball-fucking insanity of the more elaborate music videos. They’re not always as interesting or amusing as this one; the video for Big Bang’s song ‘Blue’ just has them fannying about in parts of New York, indulging in their favored fetish of chasing after white chicks (something I’ve already observed from G-Dragon and TOP but failed to adequately explore here).

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The Avengers

May 3, 2012

There have been loud murmurs of discontent amongst cinemagoers regarding the amount of superhero films that have recently been sprayed on the viewing public and, to the extent that most of these films haven’t been of the best quality, these complaints can be said to be justified. The fault likely lies in the poor ratio of good to bad here. For every single over-achieving, runaway success like Iron Man or The Dark Knight, there have been several titles that are either mediocre, at best, or downright terrible. There have also been trilogy franchises like Spiderman and X-Men that needed an initial film to establish their respective origin stories before really hitting their stride and peaking in the second film, only for their third outings to be woeful shit that tainted the entire series retroactively (Spiderman 3 is, to quote the hooker-assassin in Munich, “such a fucking waste of talent”). Superhero-flick fatigue is only to be expected at this stage, but it also frames this as precisely the right time for a truly great superhero movie to come along and remind us of how much fun they can be and, thankfully, that is exactly where The Avengers comes in.

Here Loki, the principal antagonist from Thor, returns to menace mankind as he snatches the Tesseract, the cosmic cube artifact of unlimited power first seen in Captain America, on behalf of mysterious alien beings offering him dominion over the Earth in return. In response to this emergency, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles his team of erstwhile superheroes to defeat Loki and save the world, but not before they have to overcome their own flaws and character defects (like being a rich, selfish asshole or a potentially super-destructive, raging monster) and learn to work as a team to fight for the greater good and what have you. There’s no great mystery to the plot structure, but what this film is really about is how the Avengers are brought together and how much fun it is to have all these characters, ahem, assembled as such on the screen. It’s the ambitious cinematic adaptation of the wider Marvel Universe, as opposed to individual characters alone, and it appears to be an experiment and gamble that has overwhelmingly paid off.

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Days of Heaven

April 21, 2012

This is one I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while.

Released in 1978, Days of Heaven was the second of only two feature-length films made by Terrence Malick prior to his embarking on a 20-year hiatus in Paris, France. This sophomore work, however, appears to have been overshadowed by the acclaim of his more-immediately accessible debut feature, Badlands, featuring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as young lovers on a killing spree; that initial film being a far more rock ‘n roll affair, thematically similar to the hugely popular Bonnie & Clyde and loosely based on the real case of the multiple murders committed by Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, in 1958. Written and directed by Malick, and starring Richard Gere and Sam Shepard (marking the first major lead role for Gere and the screen debut of Shepard, respectively) alongside Brooke Adams and the teenage Linda Manz, Days of Heaven proved a challenging and exhausting film to make, spending two years in post-production and editing before finally being released. Today, it does not appear to enjoy the same iconic status as the more recognizable and widely seen films from the landmark era of American cinema in which it was made, despite now being critically lauded and (rightly) held to be one of the most beautiful films ever made. The following will be my own modest and humble effort to redress this unfortunate state of affairs.

Set in 1916, Days of Heaven is a tale loosely narrated by the 15-year-old Linda (and largely told through her eyes). Linda is the younger sister of Abby (Adams), a young woman in love with Bill (Gere), a manual laborer working at a steel mill in Chicago. After an altercation with his boss gets frightfully out of hand, Bill flees with Abby and Linda to the Texas Panhandle where they are hired to work the in the fields of a wheat farm to bring in the annual harvest. Bill and Abby pose as brother and sister to avoid scandalous gossip and it is not long before Abby catches the eye of the quiet, unnamed farmer (Sam Shepard). Bill learns that the wealthy farmer is ill and may not have long to live and so begins to encourage Abby to respond to the man’s advances and marry him in order to inherit his fortune. With the farmer and Abby wed, Bill and Linda are welcomed to join the family and live in the rich landowner’s home after the harvest is complete. They all share an idyllic, “heavenly” existence for some months before their situation inevitably begins to unravel and it is not long before all involved are forced to confront the hidden secrets and betrayals amidst biblical disasters and further tragedy.

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