Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Paper 2: Just Topia

Just Topia

My story is presented more in a short story format as I got a little too into it while writing it.  I feel the story represents the idea well enough to lend itself to a film adaptation.  Some context not explicitly stated in the story I’d like to go over to turn this into a more comprehensive treatment is as such.  The story is most definitely taking place in fairly present day in a purposefully non-descript moderately sized city in the United States.  The collection of characters briefly described is a small group of adults in their mid to late twenties of various backgrounds.  Most likely a group of friends brought together through school, past jobs and mutual acquaintances.  The important part of their relationships with each other is that they don’t build their friendship off of the usual exchange of life experiences and quality time spent together but rather the draw of common interest in a select few activities.  The point that in “real life” they wouldn’t all get along, due to clashing ideologies and personalities, is paramount.  They get together solely for the purpose of enacting these ritualistic practices, engaging in versions of the same debates, watching iterations of the same bad movie, falling into their own tropes. 
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It may not be a basement, per se, but it might as well be.  I think it is technically a sunroom but we haven't allowed the sun in since I can remember.  This group, our group, is about what you would expect.  Or maybe not. I don't even know what the cliché is anymore.  We go to our respective jobs, interacting within normal social parameters until we get to come here.  In any other circumstance we probably wouldn't be able to stand each other.  Conflicting political, social, spiritual ideologies but in this space those things are beyond secondary.  I feel like people try to define and distinguish nerds and geeks and the losers of our kind but it doesn't matter.  We share the obsessive compulsive devotion to these things and feed off of each other.  The worst thing would be to try and explain it to someone else.  I don't know how to justify the continual and monumental waste of time that occurs when we get together.  I'm not going to defend it either.  But I'm here again.  In the dark sun room with the same people about to have the same conversations.  But not the painful elevator small talk co-worker babel that I can often feel sucking the life force out of me when I get cornered in the break room or get stuck with an overly chatty cashier.  These discussions may be repetitive but they are the only ones that make me feel alive.  The ones that make me feel close to another human being.  I'm not that distant of a person, I don't have overarching social problems.  This is just where it is comfortable.  

And as I settle into the same couch divot that I do every Friday night I am overwhelmed with conflicting feelings of relief and dread.  I know exactly what is going to happen but I almost look forward to it.  Juan and Victorian gave me a causal glance of recognition when I first came through the door but it isn't until I assume my readied stance do they actually talk to me.  Nothing of note is exchanged as we know we'd just have to fill anyone else in as they arrived.  Headlights reflect through the room as a car pulls into the drive.  
"TJ" I mutter before Victorian even has the moment to ask who is next to the ritualistic party.  His car has a very distinctive whine every time he pulls up.  That or I am just hyper observant or painfully optimistic.  But it is him.  He lingers outside, finishing his cigarette, before he finally comes in.  We are never overly excited to see each other.  There is no surprise of relief.  We all know we are going to be here.  Again we kill time with work updates and family matters.  These are the real life topics we don't mind missing if we're late.  An occurrence that always happens to Brendon and Rena.  Last to arrive but always the ones to kick things off.  They always arrive together, as they are never apart.  They aren't married but even if they were it would fall short of describing their relationship.  Co-dependant sounds so condescending.  I wouldn't consider it necessarily a bad thing.  But then again I have adapted to quite the opposite.  Now that we've all assembled Brendon places his hand firmly on the table and asks "Well what first?"

The night spirals out into match ups of card games and video game tournaments.  When our cognitive processes no longer allow us to make intelligible decisions we collect around the couch and begin the arduous process of browsing Netflix.  Between our collective viewing history, TJ's aversion to subtitles and Brendon's downright refusal of half of the content for looking lame it regularly takes us a full theatrical run time to come to a decision.  Through the course of whatever awful B-movie we ended up on this time Victorian leaves, Rena and Brendon fall asleep on the couch and I have a full internal meltdown.
-       -     -
It didn’t come all at once. This has had to have been brewing in the recesses of my compulsive behavior for a long time.  I just can’t understand why now.  It was just another stupid movie.  I fail to remember the details, the plot, any character of note.  I’m just overcome with resentment.  Why isn’t this my life?  The simplicity of what Hollywood lets us know the future will hold.  Sure halfway through the movie everything goes to hell and the robots take control and we all die but before that.  The establishment of the utopia.  I am suddenly grappling with the meekness of what we have been presented.

The walk home is excruciating.  Nothing fills my mind but the failure of the human race.  We can’t solve any of our own problems.  Have we really matured that far beyond the days of caves and fire?  We can’t cure anything, people die by the hundreds of thousands from the same diseases.  Cancer mocks us for the primitive beings we are.  We don’t know our own world so how could we possibly earn the right to explore others?
There was a time, there around the sixties maybe, where this seemed possible.  We had suddenly breached our own atmosphere and actually touched the infiniteness of space.  If we just could continue down that path.  If science wouldn’t keep telling us that warp speed impossible, life in zero gravity impractical and food replicators improbable.  The sting of the night air doesn’t even faze me until now.  I’m several blocks off course as I have been far too in my own head.  The familiar glow of a convince store brings me in and gives me a moment to breathe.
A pack of cigarettes and a cardboard cup of stale coffee later my heart rate has returned to normal.  Again outside I peel the cellophane off the box.  It sticks to my fingers for a moment before being carried off to roll with the other sidewalk refuse.  I lean back onto the cold glass storefront as I light a cigarette.  The first draw reminds me why I don’t regularly smoke but the second reminds me why I always come back.  The inhale gives me a moment of peace.  I extend my arm out to watch the smoke curl off the tip when the noise shatters my calm.  That sound bring back everything I just repressed, everything I was coming to terms with.  But there it is, the automatic sliding door of the convenience store, mocking me.  This is the extent of the progress we’ve made.  It isn’t even one with a motion sensor.  It has the God damn pressure sensor in the pad on the ground.  This isn’t what I asked for.  I’ll argue all day against flying cars but where are the sleek jumpsuits of the future?  The solving of food shortages and outbreaks of whatever.  I’m not even sure what I’m mad about anymore but I know I’m not letting it go.
-       -     -

The whole point of the progression is that after all these years of watching what the future should have become we are stuck realizing that we haven’t come that far.  The model homes of the future dreamt up in the fifties never happened.  What people thought the year 2000 would look like falls so very short.  We are still plagued with many of the same systemic problems society has dealt with.  My idea for the progression of the story leads down the proverbial rabbit hole when you stop accepting the status quo.  Not in the revolutionary sense, just from the angle of a frustrated nerd who has consumed too much media promising something so much better.  The automatic coffee maker, the self-check out at the grocery store, automated customer service.  This won’t be tolerated any longer and the mental breakdown that brings this along is subtle and obsessive.

Outside Film review 2: This Island Earth/MST3K

The movie This Island Earth is a classic low budget 1950’s sci-fi film.  It has become a cult classic due to its B-movie terribleness.  It has its own following for good reason but what I really want to talk about is Mystery Science Theatre.  I am hoping you are familiar with the show but on the off chance that you aren’t they would find old crappy B movies to lampoon over.  During the success of the show they did a theatrical release movie and they chose This Island Earth as their subject.  What I find to be so important about this is that in their making fun of “bad” movies they have widened the audience for such a genre.  I can’t tell you how many obscure old sci-fi films I have watched because of Mystery Science Theatre.  Movies I would have never wasted my time on due to their age and genre.  But in between laughing at their jabs at the gaping plot holes, terrible acting and sub-par sets you are seeing pieces of cinema history.  Some of these films were very popular in their time and have just haven’t aged well.  Some of these movies are so bizarre they explore totally different ways to look at sci-fi.
This Island Earth doesn’t break too many molds.  It was well received during its release and was one of the first major science fiction films to be made in Technicolor.  But it should have been a movie to disappear into obscurity as bigger films of note took their place in sci-fi history.  But it hasn’t, with the riffing of the Mystery Science Theatre crew it has a cemented place in the discussion of what sci-fi was and what it will be.  Any movie MST3K touched has become a part of the curated timeline of cinema.  I may sound preachy but seriously, who would ever watch The Beast of Yucca Flats or Eega if there wasn’t a goofy gag reel to go along with it.  But by making fun of them they are exposing them to a much, much wider audience.  All hail Joel, Mike, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. Amen.

Outside Film review 1: Galaxy Quest

I am still sort of surprised we didn’t watch this movie.  It would have fit in so well with Fan Boys and Trekkies.  I think a lot of the brilliance of Galaxy Quest comes from a lot of the same things that make Starship Troopers so great.  The ability to comment on an entire genre while being a self contained thing is just brilliant.  Galaxy Quest has the whole meta thing going for it, being about a sci-fi television show that is mistaken as real life.  The depictions of the characters at the convention, reprising their roles for the rest of their lives, fit right in with Trekkies.  After appearing in the cult phenomenon of a show they can never break away from that character professionally.  And to the aliens these actors are the characters they portrayed.  Tim Allen’s character obviously lives for this while Alan Rickman is haunted by it.  Much of this has happened to the cast of Star Trek in real life, forever recognized as their characters. 
Being able to openly acknowledge the tropes of a sci-fi show like Star Trek gives Galaxy Quest a lot of depth.  Sam Rockwell’s character is so paranoid of dying due to the propensity of no-name red shirt characters to be killed off the show.  The Omega 13 device was built because it just happened to be in the TV show.  And the crew of super fans headed by Justin Long having an obsessive and extensive knowledge of the show ends up saving them in real life.  I think it is interesting to note that the events of the movie and the fanaticism of the convention goers leads to the show being rebooted at the end, much like the fate of Star Trek launching the Next Generation series due to such fan devotion.

The movie shows off what a fan base ends up doing for a series.  As more and more media realizes that their relationship with the consumer is the most important aspect of being successful the more appreciation for the fan base you see.  The aliens in Galaxy Quest are the ultimate fans, structuring their whole existence over this show.  And it is due to their obsession that leads to the revival of the show, after you know, almost getting them killed but that is beside the point.  While being a cute/fun movie Galaxy Quest makes interesting note of the symbiotic relationship between fans and their media.  I mean, fans of the one season ratings flop Firefly were so die hard that they got the show a movie deal.  A show or movie that acknowledges and supports its fans is one that tends to have better success.  With the plethora of options in entertainment more and more studios are making specific efforts to connect with viewers to try and achieve that Trekkies level of fanaticism, even if only because in the end it means more money.  But it would be nice to think that some of the motivation comes from wishing to share in that cultural exchange.  

Primer

Now, I have seen Primer multiple times and I still can't say I know what's going on all the time.  It blows my mind that the movie was made on such a low budget and essentially just pieced together by the friends of writer/director/actor Shane Carruth.  Again, we are dealing with multiple versions of the same person.  How do you know which is the real you when you can splice through time like that?  What happens to you if the other version of you is injured?  Time travel comes with so many questions but this movie deals with them in a fairly realistic way.  It is funny to see of course the first thing they try and do is make money.  It seems to be human nature but we all know how that turned out for Marty McFly.  The way the movie was shot has that hazy feel of being a little disoriented and jaded which fits so well with the subject matter.  It is am awesome work of sci-fi by such a skeleton crew you can't help but admire it even if you are still scratching your head a bit.  I know I am.

Moon

I really like Sam Rockwell regardless but he really killed it in this movie.  His two versions of same are played so differently you can tell which one it is just by the way he carries himself.  I can understand why they had written this knowing they wanted him to play Sam.  The use of models of CGI gives an almost nostalgic feel to this movie.  The little rovers on the moon are almost cute but you can feel that empty feeling of space.  Did I not mention Kevin Spacey yet?  Oh man, his voice can give so much depth to a little robot with emoticon faces.  Just killer preformances in general.  The storyline is nice, playing right into the theme of duplicity that the last few films have been dealing with.  In regards to clones it is easy to see that they are individual people.  Even with the same genetics and memories they are two seperate people with different thoughts and ambitions.  Highly enjoyable and a great way to close out the semester.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another Earth

This film was a bit of a mixed bag.  While definitely not falling to many of the sci-fi tropes it doesn’t read, to me, like much of a sci-fi film.  It used the backdrop of sci-fi to tell its story, some sort of drama, romance, independent film existential crisis story.  The film falls short of the opportunity to really explore the interesting idea of meeting your other self.  A planet of exact replicas of ourselves.  The movie focuses on the relationship between Rhoda and John, turning it into a downright uncomfortable love plotline.  Sleeping with the man whose family you unintentionally killed just doesn’t sit right.  I feel that so many movies with potential lose it due to the incessant need to add romance into every genre.  The film comes so close to dealing with the implications of other life in the universe.  Not just any life but the exact copy of our own.  The broken mirror theory proposed in the film is so incredibly compelling but is used as a plot device for Rhoda to redeem herself to John.  I would much rather explored the facisnating concept of getting to talk to not only someone that looks just like you, but has shared all the same life experiences that you have.  Once the two planets have discovered each other and subsequently traveled to one another what does that change?  Do the people no longer share that connection or are their lives so intertwined that one might lose their free will, succumbing to the same fate as their double?  Such a cool concept wasted on the relationship between the main characters.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Catching Fire

The second installment of the Hunger Games continues along many of the same lines as the first.  Katniss is a rare female lead character.  Many of the reviews we read praised the series for painting such a strong female role model in a film.  However, I always feel her character lacks the agency to be a true heroine.  Sure she is strong and independent but her character is chiefly concerned with other people, namely her two love interests.  While she doesn’t fall victim to the typical love sick teenager routine she still bases the majority of her actions around how it will affect her relationships with them.  She is not interested in being a leader or fronting the revolution that builds around her.  She would rather accept the status quo so long as her family and boyfriends are placated. 

Despite that criticism it still is a forward move for the fantasy/sci-fi genre.  She is a positive character, especially for young girls, capable of providing for herself and the ones she cares for.  And she does eventually join the cause, somewhat unknowingly.  She is fierce and stubborn and does not fit the bill of the majority of teenage female characters.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trekkies

First off, I’d like to blame this film for my recent dissention into madness.  I started watching Next Generation from episode one as I have never seen the series in proper succession.  The movie comes off almost as a cautionary tale as to how being a fan of something can get a little excessive and take over your life in strange ways but apparently what I took away was “Yeah, Star Trek is good.  I should watch Next Gen all over again.”.  I am fully aware of the exceptional levels of fandom many series have produced and Star Trek is one of the most diehard.  However, seeing a man with a Star Trek themed dentistry practice is a whole new level of wow.  I do not mean to demean of look down on any of these people.  Most of them appear to be perfectly normal contributing citizens that just happen to really really like Star Trek.  And that’s fine.  They aren’t hurting anyone and they can spend their time and money as they please.  If anything I may just be jealous as I don’t think I have anything in my life that I have spent half the energy and devotion that they exhibit towards this show.  I lack the ability to commit so wholeheartedly to anything and I think that is what is most fascinating and perhaps tragic.  Some of these people seem so talented and capable of focusing their energy on one specific thing.  Imagine what we could accomplish if people like this spent their time and energy on something that would benefit society as a whole.  We’d have politians living based on the prime directive and scientists looking towards eradicating disease.  We could accomplish the feats of the Earth Federation if we could just stop dreaming it and be it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fan Boys

I have seen Fan Boys several times and it is always a delight.  It isn’t often a movie can tackle anything in the “geek” world without totally screwing it up and missing the point.  How often do you see TV and movie characters playing video games by just mashing their hands on the controller.  It seems that so often when Hollywood tries to reach out to a certain fanbase or nerds in general they have they alienate their target demographic?  Fan Boys does not have this problem.  The Star Wars references aren’t forced or gimmicky.  This group of friends comes off naturally if only a little hyperbolic.  Meta is hard to do right.  This isn’t a movie about Star Wars, it is about the people that love Star Wars but could have easily been omitted entirely.  They could have still gone on their epic adventure with their dying friend to fulfill any number of final requests but it would have lost so much of its charm.  It may just be a cute movie without much substance but it such a good example of successfully portraying fandom.  They live and breathe Star Wars.  Every successful franchise is built on fans like that and portraying that level of enthusiasm in a positive light is rare.  Despite geeks becoming the mainstream fans are often still the butt of many jokes.  While Big Bang Theory may be one of the most popular sitcoms it lives on the same tired joke of nerds being unable to deal with normal people.  Big Bag Theory is the opposite of this movie.  The laugh track and forced jokes kill any semblance of intellect or humor.  The whole premise of that show is pointing at a thing and saying “Get it?!”.  I could go on because I hate that show but I think it would get a little off topic.  Fan Boys is good.  Big Bang Theory is bad.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Starship Troopers

I love this movie so much.  I have watched it so many times.  It is so brilliant and I have always felt that none of my contemporaries have acknowledged its brilliance.  I now have the proper platform to sing its praises.  This movie is amazing.  It is action packed, punchy dialogue, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, giant bugs.  This movie is so meta.  I mean, Paul Verhoeven read part of the book, hated it and decided to turn it into a mockery of itself.  It is brilliant without getting all cerebral.  It is still a kick ass movie about killing bugs and winning and awesome.  He directed the shower scene nude.  I can’t believe that people never got it.  So many people I know regard this movie as such a bad B movie.  But the Nazi imagery of the Federation just hits you straight in the face and I don’t know how it slipped through the cracks.  This movie is amazing.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blade Runner

I am still not entirely sure how I feel about this film.  The universe it sets is not overly imaginative, a bleak dystopian metrolopolis, robots becoming self aware are rebelling, and a cast of unemotive stoic characters.  The film noir detective vibe is apparent and that appeal is understandable.  The movie just never really escapes itself.  It feels confined, stuck on rails to a predetermined destination.  The big reveal at the end seems less surprising knowing the movie was trying so hard to build to something.  But what are the consequences?  So Decker is a replicant?  Does that really change anything?  It doesn’t register beyond the initial shock value.  It doesn’t change the morality of his character nor does it seem to affect how he views himself.  Just shrug it off.  Perhaps additional viewings and I could really delve into why it matters that he is a replicant but I don’t see it as much of a dilemma.  Stylistically the movie is interesting.  Maybe it just isn’t my genre but I feel that the film noir aspect actually stifles the ambience that had been created.  The environment feels rather sterile despite taking place in what appears to be a gritty underworld type city setting.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Total Recall

I had watched this film for the first time about a year ago.  I never much cared for Schwartzeneger films but I was so wrong to initially resist this film.  I had to watch it for a film adaptation class, meaning I also read the short story that inspired the film.  The premise is what is so good about sci-fi.  It brings you big philosophical questioned packaged in a easy to digest format of blowing stuff up and women with three breasts.  How do we know our memories are our own?  The film does such an excellent job of making you question what is the truth?  The interpretation of the fade to white at the very end being them being forced to lobotomize him just adds another layer of intrigue.  How far off are we from being able to implant memories and if that technology were available what would that mean for personal experience?  Anything you think you remember could be implanted and falsified.  Any sense of self is shattered in a world where you can’t rely on your own mind.  It is movies like this that make sci-fi so enjoyable.  Asking big questions in an enjoyable way.  They make you question life and technology and where we are going and what the hell is going on.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

THX 1138

I really liked this movie.  I can’t say I fully understand it or even agree with it at times but there is something about it that I really enjoyed.  It has a lot going for it stylistically.  We could all obviously do without the Lucas updates to his work, as many of the “improvements” take away from the ambience it had going for it.  The THX 1138 dystopia feels very “A Brave New World”-like, with everyone carefully crafted to fulfill their societal role.  Being controlled by their surroundings and medicated into complacency. 
However, I am left wondering why Lucas has such a problem with women.  I has been discussed before the overall lack of any female characters in Star Wars apart from Leia and this movie doesn’t fair much better.  LUX is the only woman we see and it seems to stand that this entire film is her fault.  She is the one who initially stops taking her medication and then has THX stop.  Because of this THX fails at installing the core that blows up the factory, gets him thrown into jail and leaves for the surface world.  LUX seems to be punished for her desire to break free as she gets pregnant and is essentially executed for it.  Not the happiest of endings for our only female character.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

La Jette/Dark Star

First off, La Jette was very cool.  Who knew that still pictures with minimal narration could be so engaging?  It is so visually striking and manages to not come off as cheesy despite a kind of wack-a-doo plot.  The storyline actually, for some reason, feels very familiar.  Not that I have necessarily seen it before, but it works.  IT isn’t so far off from classic sci-fi tropes that it becomes improbable.  Is feels like a video game plot.  There are plenty of games that deal with the apocalyptic wasteland so it would feel right at home.
Secondly, Dark Star.  Man, this movie makes the semester for me.  We have watched plenty of things I am grateful for having seen as they are important pieces of cinema history but this movie makes it all worthwhile.  I had never heard of it because why would I?  But it is amazing.  It starts off as so uninspiring.  I was so convinced we were going to sit through a monumental waste of time on a crappy student film but boy was I wrong.  It follows so many sci-fi rules but totally breaks the mold.  It is genuinely funny without relying on too many gags.  It really reminds e of the old show Quark, with was a sort of spoof Star Trek about a ship charged with collecting the universe’s garbage.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Adaptation versus Evolution in the Spatial Context of Outer Space


Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is one, if not the most, influential science fiction film ever made.  There is probably more written about that film and what it means than any other.  Any science fiction film set in space is destined to be compared to it, for better or worse.  Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity lends itself well to comparison though.  Both films focus on a singular character to follow through their journey, both alone in space and for a period of time, drifting helplessly.  The films explore the relationship between humans, the technology they have created and the reliance on it in this harsh environment.  They beg the classic questions of the existence of other intelligent life, humanity’s place in the universe and the future of the species.  While there are similarities and definitely the occasional homage, the films deviate on their outlook on what science fiction can accomplish and ultimately what it means to be human in an increasingly technological age.
In the Susan Sontag reading she mentions “Science fiction films are not about science.  They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.”  [pg. 41]  Gravity follows this to a T.  The movie is not about the exploration of space and is only narrowly concerned with its own characters.  What matters is that disaster occurs and the audience gets to watch the aftermath.  Its story arc is fairly one dimensional, get out of space alive.  2001, to a degree, deals with this theme.  The audience witnesses both the events on the moon and en route to Jupiter but these seem to be merely means to an end.  2001 disposes of those characters not to depict disaster but seemingly to show something else, they are auxiliary.  It looks to delve into the greater purpose of humanity and the evolutionary jump that will lead to the next plane of existence.
Both films follow along some of Sontag’s phases described in the reading as well as Joseph Campbell’s monomyth stages.  Dave Horton and Dr. Ryan Stone are called to their mission, achieve their ultimate boon (including the magic flight back with it) and end ultimately with their freedom to live.  The boon for Dave being the monolith granting him the knowledge and ability to ascend to the next evolutionary stage and Dr. Stone finally reaches an escape pod with the will to live.  Their journeys make them both masters of two worlds, having evolved and returned to Earth, respectively.  The literal story arcs of the films are not revolutionary in the science fiction genre.  But that is where film is allowed to flourish is in the nitty gritty details and nuance of interpretation. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Planet of the Apes

This is definitely a movie I have felt guilty for not having seen up until now.  So I am glad I was finally forced to watch it.  There is something about this time period in film that is sort of fascinating, just bizarre cultural ideas that seemed to manifest themselves in everything.  I love the nonchalantness of discovering the one woman on-board died.  They seem most upset that they won’t have something pretty to look at, instead of being mournful for their friend and fellow scientist.  But whatever.  Chareton Heston is just such a dick too.  Usually your main character is sympathetic to some degree or why would you care to watch them?  But Heston doesn’t need this, he can be a prick to everyone but he’s our hero ladies and gentlemen.  The societal structure of the apes is of interest, obviously having a racial/castle type system based on species.  But within that gender doesn’t seem to be of much importance.  They live by their very strict religious laws set forth to keep the population ignorant of the past, some political commentary there if you couldn’t feel it poking you in the eye like a shark stick.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thing From Another World

I have to say, this has been my favorite movie thus far.  This film alone is just well executed and fun.  Ahh, Martian, watch out!  The attitudes of the characters so exemplify the idea of the 50's to me.  The blind following of the military construct in the beginning is amazing.  Oh, we finally found a flying saucer, let's strap bombs to it.  Oops, we blew it up, oh well.  Not only that, but the mentality of the time made it almost expected they would eventually discover an alien craft.  No one even hesitates when they outline it and realize it is a flying saucer.  Not for a second does someone question their safety or sanity.  The good ol' newspaper man is just thrilled he gets to be the one to break the story.  The adherence to procedure is later less important.  After the alien escapes his icy tomb the group begins to think on their own and are primarily concerned with protecting themselves.
While intermittent messages coming in from HQ instruct them to keep the creature alive until they can get there Captain Hendry is having none of it.
The other remarkable thing is despite having only one main female character, she is outstandingly outspoken.  As the reading points out, even though she tries to break up the boys club by coming in and offering

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Godzilla

As much as I have seen of Godzilla I had never actually seen the original film, so this was a treat.  Talk about a phenomenon.  You know you’ve made it big when America remakes your movie fifty years later and totally misses the whole point.  But hey, Mathew Broderick was in that one, right?  The very obvious analogy for the big lizard monster is the consequences and threat of nuclear war and fallout, Japan having a very real relationship with this fear.  While the movie is excellent to sit and analyze halfway across the world and decades later I don’t think contextually it will ever have the same meaning outside of Japan in the fifties.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Atomic Cafe

It is a stretch to call this a movie as it is just a collection of propaganda and news reels but that doesn’t make it any less awesome.  I have not seen much of the footage in Atomic Café and it helps frame so much of what we are watching.  Being of this generation I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand what iti was like to grow up and live in a time where we were just dropping nukes all willy nilly, or at least threatening to.  That type of stress becomes a very deeply ingrained cultural thing and it is natural for that to be reflected in all types of mediums, film being one of the most easily expressed and consumed.  While some may have found this boring I think it is a very important way to see just the tip of the iceberg as to what was going on in this time period.  Historically important, and so on.  I am not an atomic playboy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Star Wars

I don’t even think I should have to write a review about this.  How can I even begin?  It is the holy grail of sci-fi, not even because it is the best but because it is the most accessible.  The only people who haven’t seen Star Wars and the people that were in Star Wars, and that’s because they lived it.  It has made “geeky” stuff the mainstream.  The Big Bang theory wouldn’t exist without Star Wars, I grantee it.  

Frankenstein

Frankenstein, in all of its incarnations, is a look inside the struggle between the natural state and the advancement of science and technology.  In the 1931 James Whale version this is particularly poignant in that Henry Frankenstein has, outside of his experiments, a fairy tale life.  He has a wealthy father, a loving fiancé, loyal companion and a somewhat concerned former mentor, all of whom sacrifice something to attempt to save Henry from his obsession. 
Henry’s obsession with creating life stems from a core human concern, a fear of death.  Henry exhibits man’s desire to conquer death through science by assembling his monster and creating life where there was none.  If man can cheat death then man has overcome god.  Henry goes so far as to exclaim that he now knows what it feels like to be god after his creation has risen.  The whole need for spirituality and faith is lost if humans can dictate how and when life is created and destroyed.  But similarly to the creation of Adam, Henry is now responsible for the enlightenment of his monster.
Shortly after the monster is brought to life there is a scene in which Dr. Waldman tried to warn Henry the danger of the monster.  Henry claims that he is just in the darkness and it will be himself to bring him into the light.  Directly after that dialogue there is a shot of the monster quite literally being uncovered from the shadows from the light Henry lets in from the skylight.  Henry is going to educate his creation on how to exist with the conventionally living, a task that very quickly goes awry.  As Fritz brings in a torch the monster is enraged and confused.  Fire, often used as a symbol for man’s harnessing of nature, does not educate as Frankenstein may have hoped. 

The clash of the natural state of man and the advent of technology struggle to reconcile in the film.  Frankenstein, the obsessive mad scientist that stops at no moral quandary in order to achieve his marvel of science ends up creating something destructive and terrible.