This monumental 7 hour (370 minutes) 2003 documentary observes the effects of China's switch from communist to state-capitalism, as the northern Shenyang region's once mighty industry collapses. It could be one of the greatest films of the documentary genre. Factories are closed, families disperse, misery expands and the area reveals long term effects of failing infrastructure in the face of competition from a newer, rapid-growth China. Bleak, unsettling, remarkable. All shot in DV. It may change the way you look at the environment, capitalism, and the human impact on earth. Shown as a part of MoMA's Chinese Realities/Documentary Visions.
Gatsby by Luhrmann is the pivoted mirroring of excess: our teens (2013) gazing back at their twenties . Its excesses are reversed expertly at one theater. Gatsby can be viewed brilliantly augmented by another portal with that exact era at the Ziegfeld Theater, where sixties austerity meets the glittering twenties head-on (the first Ziegfeld was built in 1927). And there's paradox to its design: this is the movie palace's last stage before its abandonment to the mutliplex. Both dreamlands are 'set' in New York as it became the western world's stage.
A devastating take-down of the Iron Lady
"Margaret Thatcher’s main achievement, you might say, was to move the spiritual headquarters of the Conservative Party from the Carlton Club to the working-class housing estates of Britain. She always slightly hated England’s elite, or hated the idea that you couldn’t have an elite of shopkeepers, and by the end she left Britain a greedier and seedier place. Despite the pomp and circumstance of her funeral and the many plaudits she has garnered since her death, her great experiment actually didn’t work: the people who could get rich got richer, of course, but she and her followers had no plan to relieve the economic misery that befell the others, the people who were now forced to live on state benefits, which continued to grow. It is the communities of the other—where no new investment took hold, where no new jobs came to replace the ones that were scrapped—that continue to fester in modern Britain."
Shane Carruth's second movie is the most modern science-fiction film of the century. 50s paranoia is explored through a bodysnatching, equity stealing criminal empire involving invasive worms, soul-hosting pigs and a silent, landscape audio-recording villain. Those under his spell become societal outcasts, and it slyly pegs our era as restrictive as the 50s, maybe worse. Victims are freed from their immersion in capitalism, yet they become slaves to both memories of loss, and their own damaged biology that's been symbiotically chained elsewhere. Carruth makes able use of 'now' travelling, tele-porting victims hunt their captor once they've discovered his harmonic output. Their zombie-like state reverses the genre's usual black-and-white territorializing. Archetypes are modernized into undetectabilty. Finally the flipside to absolutist currencies (like Walking Dead) arrives to yank us off-signal. Here the zombies revolt against their captors while remaining subtly haunted victims. And on that memory tangent, Thoreau's Walden is used ably as both a tool of enslavement and the lost chance for biocracy. And Hollywood should be scared, the revolt is original, complex and emotional. Somebody hand him a credit line. Now! On-demand beginning May 7. P.S: 'upstream' is a term in neuroscience to track the neural path into the cortex. Color perception is 'upstream' as it resides at the ends of the striate cortex. The blue we're shown spotting the orchids is technically downstream.
Like neuroscience, where errors in wiring, distorted inputs, reveal hidden structures of vast consequence, media hacks reveal error messages penetrating human activity (like stock markets) where perception is ruled by input. Here is the CFTC's panel about the hack/drop on CSPAN.
It is more memory in action than a novel imaginary situation. - L.S. Vygotsky, describing early childhood play versus later, from Mind in Society
Joseph Kosinski's Oblivion plays tactical games with ideas of memory, both of its character's and its audience's. While the characters are assured in the ebbing and rising of their memories (they're being paid to represent their loss or gain), I'm not so sure the audience is, which inversely has to pay to have their memories erased. Dozens of other science fiction films are spliced into the film like an insect's genetics (genetecists call this select hybridization a "mosaic"). Kosinski brings an applicable somberness to the plot-heavy last days on earth, as seen through the eyes of drones (both living and mechanical) under the control of an extraterrestrial superbeing. Remaining on-board the extraterrestrial control ship named Tet, "Sally" declines to both observe her little drones going rebel, and properly check all carry-on luggage as the rebels arrive for her destruction (Kosinski saves his worst rip-off for last: Independence Day). Technocracy is parodied as it's all sourced in outer-space, and even with higher intelligence in charge, parts are running short. The drones replace petty insubordination with white lies, yet Kosinski refuses to stock any humor on this shelf. Worse, the male drone, Jack, has memories that generate plot, while the female is left to remain a soulless automaton. Like the slowly technically bungled operation to strip Earth, the aliens don't wipe Jack's memory cleanly. Somewhere in his craving for Earth is the buried memory of his wife who circles above him in slumber only to be brought down by the rebels. That's the theme laid bare: the memory that defeats all technological efforts. The rebellion's complicity is more than remote, employing his memory's locale as a beacon, they seem to know this superdrone/clone Jack might remember his long gone (an entire generation) wife. Morgan Freeman intones knowingly "I've been watching you Jack" copied straight from The Matrix. The film games a fairly decent story in its early surveillance hierarchy but the movement ends there, the film descends into rote plot needs. Each scene ploddingly supplies the correct information that builds the puzzle, yet there's little improv. Kosinski's a mechanically minded filmmaker, he doesn't let any character invent ways out of impossibility, instead he supplies possibilities like Santa's robot. A spaceship is unable to slow its approach to a unknown object, voila, the ship has a neatly designed escape pod for its other astronauts. Jack needs to communicate with the higher intelligence, voila, a landing pad is waiting at the edge of its central room. Point A always easily gets to point B, unless the plot needs to hide something from the audience. It's all deus ex machina. The film still relies on the 'self-discovery' clause initiated verbally in The Matrix: the crux of Oblivion's drama cannot be told to Jack (Cruise), it must be shown to him, and Morgan Freeman does very little to distance his character's archetype from Morpheus's. Tom Cruise maps out a performance while he's indirectly re-recruited as an astronaut version of the clone he plays. He reverts by choice. The point of the film is a clone can regain his humanity if it revolt's against its maker, yet it's lost in the coldness of the happenings. Could it have read genuine on paper? Here it reads like an elaborate infommercial for a supercomputer gone dumb. The idea is to deliver a final payload in a strenuous effort to (once again) save humanity. Outside the continual explosions of bass that warble everytime a flying machine nears the lens, the two hours pass efficiently. Its lowest theme is placing human extinction squarely in the hands of an alien lifeforce, however automated. Kosinski robs us of any responsibility for the ecosystem in our psyche's mirror, maybe that's the most insulting of Kosinski's threads. It's an externalized Apocalypse. Sure the reveal vibrates for a few seconds as a plot-point, but it focuses all negativity onto a single target as if that coud erase 'darkness.' That's why the ending seems so false, pat. A mechanically minded plot was had by all and then it ended. Special effects are framed as epic album covers.