The time has come to develop curricula in visual media literacy for all children K-12. For a country as media saturated as ours, it is dangerous not to teach children how images work, why we use them instead of words, how sequencing them alters their meanings, and what lies ahead for language once expression becomes liberated from the alphabet. Media is not a tool to be censored, it is a tool that must expand along every horizon to search for all knowledge yet unkown. Future modes of expression are what will elementally lead us to our next breakthroughs in the sciences and in the arts. Pivotal is the performance of violence, since its essential metaphor is the breaking down of old ways, old systems.
"The United States is the only developed nation without a national curriculum in visual literacy." Douglas Ruskoff Coercion: Why We Listen To What They Say 1999
As a Batman trilogy rooted mostly in despair, only the villains are allowed to take pleasure in their craft. And it's through pleasure that you can identify them, Lucius Fox, Ra's alGul, Talia alGul, Bane, Dagget. The heroes are the ones who suffer. Bruce Wayne has to fake his pleasure for the entire trilogy. With even Alfred playing it for the pure sacrifice of it, we can't be too sure Nolan isn't laughing about all this strained seriousness. He's famously taken a kid's hero and given him only adult concerns: defense contracts, wire-fraud, terrorism, seduction, and despair. These concerns might appear emotionally complex, they are adult. The undercurrent pathos is by way of Frank Miller's teenage form of masochism, it adds weight to all that shadow. The problem is, the emotions get torqued by this distortion: An abnormal desire for pain. The plot may be complex, but that's about it. Nolan divides his identities along very basic lines of 'good' and 'evil' and then makes it seem real. Photographic grain and undigitized physical gags shade a board game's black and white emotionalism.
By hijacking the opening of Star Wars, Nolan introduces his Vader-Bane with one flying vessel taking over another (Bane later crushes a throat a la Darth). Giving his masked villain a highlander's accent, Nolan seems to be hiding an ace Sean Connery in the mixing room, it's no wonder this all looks so Bondish. Bane is a vast improvement over The Joker's shrieking hysterics in The Dark Knight. Hardy's Bane manages to be both sadistic and tender. In every way this is a far superior film to Dark Knight. Nolan shifts from duel to ensemble. He serves up a group of supposed good guys vs. bad guys and switches their camps. He pairs them continuously, like a medieval dance. Devil Lucius Fox and Daughter Miranda Tate team up to both destroy and save Gotham from a similar atom smashing fate from Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne complies with retreading the first film by donning Begins's Ducard's/Ra's's goatee. A clever extended sequence, one of Nolan's best, involves a cater-waitress, a string-of-pearls, lifted fingerprints and a stolen congressman, ending in a dive bar shootout. The pearls were Bruce's mother's; his father's move to protect his wife's pearls became the trigger for their murder. Which means the pearls are the reason Batman exists. Had Joe Chill made it out of the alley with them there would never be a Dark Knight. The pearl necklace in TDKR starts off as a maternal memory that phases into a class struggle metaphor, becoming a window into a criminal's life. Nolan flips meanings when the pearls serve as a tracking device, leading Wayne to a 'benefit' with two potential Ms. Waynes attending. It's clever. It's so clever you start to feel trapped in it without an emotional connection to any one character. The film feels audacious, but so were Godfather III and The Matrix Revolutions, two films that couldn't pull off their muscular tragic deaths of key females. Here there is no 'real' tragedy. A bizarre death scene involving a truck is so strangely acted you aren't sure if Nolan is channeling Trinity just in case it's too much death for the repeater teen crowd.
The film is at its best when the stakes are mostly visible/local and Rises's first 2/3rds are active with a plot worthy of the best card-counter in Vegas. Gravely it slips into the usual foggy exile of third-acts, where the juggling has to pay off and here, unadulterated nonsense takes-over. Police are simplistically trapped underground for months, Bruce Wayne is trapped (with access to CNN) across the planet. A scarecrow's court seems pulled right out of Brazil. Class rebellion is employed as a ruse to armageddon (Nolan reuses the location of a 1920 anarchist's bomb, set in front of J.P. Morgan's old HQ posing here as the stock market). A Gotham under siege is not only ignored by the country at large, but a tired special forces insert merits a C- cinemascore. As Gotham suffers for months, vast resources of a surrounding country (and President) are left largely inert, forcing the audience to plea for Batman's return simply to end the film. A climax subplot involving a bus, orphans and a checkpoint falls as flat as they come. Plot devices from Inception and Begins reappear as well as some new ones: switched bodies & software (one of Nolan's best touches is to fuse the concepts of clean-slate and auto-pilot feeding the ending of Batman/Bruce Wayne). The error lies in the retooled legend of Ra's alGul, boosting the amperage but not the complexity of the villains. Had Bane been a dummy and Talia a digital venriloquist of sorts, then the villains' would be sharing an uncertain border. That's where what will be known as the best comicbook trilogy ever made for IMAX should have gone. Wordplay is at its height in TDKR, think about the double meaning laced in The Dent 'Act.'
Watch the swansong of celluloid in style: At LA's Century City IMAX, both ArcLights and NY's single-theater Ziegfeld and NJ's OMNIMAX Spherical Projection Dome at Liberty Science Center, the largest IMAX dome in the world.
Top: Paul Strand's Wall Street, 1915 Below: Aftermath of the 1920 unsolved bombing of J.P. Morgan Bottom: Same building at top, evidence still visible today.
Jack (and Suzy) write a little op-ed piece in the WSJ admitting they're addicted to corporations for pleasure. For breathing, for eating. Read between the lines and start to realize, the new age of the CEO has turned transhumanist to a wide degree. Dangerous times ahead if this becomes our latest sociobiological path
Here's a quote from their dimension of the galaxy, the intro fools us by agreeing with detractors, a simplistic argumentative employed best by demagogues:
Here's a new party trick. Want to be accused of being a member of a satanic cult? Like to be called the kind of person who would steal candy from a child, or harm a puppy and start a forest fire—all in the same day? Do you want to be described as evil, heartless and stupid?
Then just do this: Offhandedly mention in public that you agree with Mitt Romney—and that, yeah, you think corporations are people.
Oh, how that notion sets some people right off their rockers! Take, for instance, the scene last month when senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren introduced President Obama at a big fundraiser in Boston:
“…. I had no access to additional capital and I was forced into a difficult decision: Should I go out of business or cheat? I guess my ego was too big to admit failure. So I cheated, I falsified the very core of the financial documents of PFG, the Bank Statements. At first I had to make forgeries of both the Firstar Bank Statements and the Harris Bank Statements. When I choose [sic] to close the Harris Account I only had to falsify the Firstar statements [elsewhere in the signed statement Wasendorf noted that Firstar "eventually became US Bank"]. I also made forgeries of official letters and correspondence from the bank, as well as transaction confirmation statements.
Using a combination of Photo Shop, Excel, scanners, and both laser and ink jet printers I was able to make very convincing forgeries of nearing every document that came from the Bank. I could create forgeries very quickly so no one suspected that my forgeries were not the real thing that had just arrived in the mail.
With careful concealment and blunt authority I was able to hide my fraud from others at PFG. PFG grew out of a one man shop, a business I started in the basement of my home. As I added people to the company everyone knew I was the guy in charge. If anyone questioned my authority I would simply point out that I was the sole shareholder. I established rules and procedures as each new situation arose. I ordered that US Bank statement were to be delivered directly to me unopened, to make sure no one was able to examine an actual US Bank Statement. I was also the only person with online access to PFG’s account using US Bank’s online portal. On US Bank side, I told representatives at the Bank that I was the only person they should interface with at PFG.
When it became a common practice for Certified Auditors and the Field Auditors of the Regulators to mail Balance Confirmation Forms to Banks and other entities holding customer funds I opened a post office box. The box was originally in the name of Firstar Bank but was eventually changed to US Bank. I put the address “PO Box 706, Cedar Falls, lA 50613-0030″ on the counterfeit Bank Statements. When the auditors mailed Confirmation Forms to the Bank’s false address, I would intercept the Form, type in the amount I needed to show, forge a Bank Officer’s signature and mail it back to the Regulator or Certified Auditor.
When online Banking became prevalent I learned how to falsify online Bank Statements and the Regulators accepted them without question.”
-Peregrine CEO Wassendorf's statement.
Image: Discovered 1938 Glen Rose site, 80 miles from Ft. Worth Texas. Brontosaurus and Allosaurus-like footprints.
A bleak tale of vampirism and famine, Asura is based on a dark manga set in a Japanese farming village. One screening only.
The masterpiece of analog cinema, Stanley Kubrick's 2001, simulated all levels of digital through unadulterated waveforms. HAL 9000, circuitry board repairs, guidance simulations, even picture-phone calls, all are imagined digital elements rendered through analog craft. A voice tempered Douglas Rain imitates a digital computer while thousands of hours on animation stands give screens the appearance of digital computation. Its insurmountable visual effects simulating space-travel were also rendered through time-consuming animation stand compositing. Original camera negative was sometimes stored for months as mattes were designed in multiple passes scheduled weeks apart. Never before or since have analog techniques been tweaked to such extremes. Now 2001 has made the crossover into a digital medium for large-scale projection. Museum of the Moving Image is screening the new DCP version of 2001 as part of its new See It Big! series (also making its DCP premiere Apocalypse Now Redux).