Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Joke's On You... We Are All Clowns: Some Days, It Just Seems to Rain Crazy

The door to Ryebone's apartment was slightly ajar when I arrived, and immediately the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. I didn't know what this omen boded, but I knew better than to let my guard down whenever he was involved. Carefully, I pushed open the door and closed it behind me as I entered the apartment into near total darkness. Almost immediately, I nearly tripped over a pile of empty beer bottles and the body of a semi-naked woman. After checking her pulse to make sure she was still alive (I'd learned my lesson the last time I found a body in Ryebone's apartment), I made my way further into what can only be described as a den of debauchery.

I flicked on the nearest light switch to find the place littered with an array of empty bottles and cans, pizza boxes, and bongs of such multitudinous shape and variety that it would put most head shops to shame. As I made my way into the living room, I found the heart of what was surely one of the last Great Banquets. Even more refuse cluttering nearly every available surface was all that remained of an extravagant feast of apparently nearly every type of alcohol and fast food imaginable. The only obviously clear path on the floor was between Rybone's couch and the bathroom.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Decoherece of Expectations. Into the Inevitable Beyond

We all aim to be the best possible version of ourselves, however we choose to define the specific benchmarks by which we measure our achievements and our character. Who we are is the sum total of the choices we make, and in the absence of an alternate reality that we could use as a control group, we have no idea whether those choices are the best possible considering the circumstances or, barring all alternatives, the least worst choice.

And no, this is not about that expired yogurt I ate from the back of the fridge this week for lunch. At least, not entirely. (Seriously, the expiry date is like the Pirate Code: it's more like guidelines. Right? RIGHT?)

Coherence is one of the best films of the last decade that you've probably never heard of and one of the greatest cinematic theses on this very topic. (The identity thing, not the yogurt thing.) In an era where blockbusters dominate the cultural conversation in terms of film, truly inventive, experimental, or otherwise deranged movies tend to get lost in the shuffle. Coherence (directed by James Ward Byrkit) is one of those films that falls into the latter category, a movie made for the love of the game rather than as another puzzle piece in cracking the formula for cranking out billion dollar films. Don't get me wrong; I love a crowd-pleasing blockbuster. I also love smaller movies that expect a little bit more out of their audiences, and require more engagement but also delve deeper into the human condition. Sometimes you crave the orgy; some nights you just want to cuddle.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Son of a Gunn: Checking the Urine Content of Your Local Digital Swimming Pool

So, you're a giant megacorporation and you've fired a talented director from one of your most profitable movie franchises based on a targeted campaign of hate from a real-life lewd, crude, rude, bag of pre-chewed food dude. What do you do? Trick question: If you're Disney, you can do whatever the fuck you want, completely unchecked by law, reason, or decency.

Last July, Disney fired director James Gunn from the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. III film for some off-colour jokes he made on Twitter a decade previous. This was based largely on a malicious and converted effort led by Mike Cernovich, Internet troll, conspiracy theorist, men's rights activist, and all-around despicable human being.

A little less than a month ago, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn seemed to completely reverse course as Disney announced that they had rehired Gunn for the Guardians Vol. III gig. While this seems like a victory for James Gunn, audiences and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and decency at large, I still can't help but feel like there are no real winners here.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Supernova: Of Combustion and Cosmic Matter on the Big Stage

A Star Is Born is a story that seems destined to be retold as long as a single Hollywood producer has even a single dollar left to their name. It makes a certain kind of sense; like most people, people in Hollywood like to talk about themselves. There's a reason movies like The Artist and Birdman tend to get a lot of recognition come awards season, and it's the same reason the dicks of every man you know get a lot of extra attention on lonely Friday nights at home alone. The masturbatory urge isn't self-destructive or antisocial, rather it is as comforting in its familiarity as it is reassuring in its final, inevitable result.

Each iteration of A Star is Born is built on a foundation of anxieties unique to Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general. The 2018 version follows the same mould as its previous versions as far as basic plot points go: a male music superstar, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), mumbling his way through life one sold out show after another has a chance encounter with an struggling, female singer, Ally (Lady Gaga), they fall in love, he helps catapult her to success, their relationship goes through a rough patch, his own star begins to fade, he dies tragically,  and she moves forward through the grief while honouring his legacy.

At a surface level, A Star is Born is a romantic drama, but at its heart, it's a retelling and reinforcement of a core part of Hollywood mythology. In an industry and a profession where success is as fleeting and as fickle as it is difficult to attain in the first place, it makes a certain kind of sense that fame would be integral to its lore.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Total Recall and Other Tall Tales. Reality is as Reality Does... When is an Alien Artifact Not an Alien Artifact?

Paul Verhoeven's movies are almost as well-known by this point for being chronically misunderstood as they are for their over-the-top violence and sex and their underlying subversive social commentary. His storytelling style is perhaps one of the most unique in the history of film, and it is both the most significant factor in understanding the core messages of his films and the largest hindrance. This is not the fault of Verhoeven, but more of a testament to the failure of educational systems to truly instill a foundation of media literacy in audiences at large.

The films of Paul Verhoeven are almost paradoxical in their execution; they simultaneously revel in and rebel against the actual literal content being shown on screen. On the one hand, they can be enjoyed by audiences at face value for the sheer visceral absurdity of the whole spectacle, but for all of their ultraviolent bluster, their core messages are almost always the exact opposite of (or at least vastly different from) what you might assume they would be considering the subject matter. The thing that causes so much confusion among audiences in understanding Verhoeven's films goes beyond the normal complexities that can be involved in decoding various garden varieties of irony and satire; his work is simultaneously completely obvious but intentionally cryptic. It's like being invited into somebody's house for dinner while standing there watching a wrecking crew demolishing that same house. The intention is genuine, but the execution is enigmatic.