Friday, 28 June 2013

Coping with life after "After Earth"

a) I went to see After Earth There were some intolerably boring moments indeed but otherwise it was just about okay and the background story seemed disinteresting. The most boring of moments was when the boy took shelter beneath a tree fallen trunk and his father spoke to him from his room in a scene for a few minutes that didn't have any movement and one wanted to close one's eyes to cope with the boredom of it all.
b) The only things that appeared to be dangerous on the planet were the leeches, the monster the Ursa that they brought with them and indeed the leeches. The large cats attacking the giants birds nest didn't seem that dangerous when the boy was armed with a hand weapon, nothing more dangerous than the giant cats that we have today. The baboons appeared to be only dangerous after they have had rocks thrown at them which is not surprising, even a humans would be enraged having rocks chucked at them.

c) It seemed rather odd that the interior of the spacecraft seemed to be made from fabric, and really the technology seemed rather backwards. It might even have helped if they had created some technology to perform futuristic surgery on people and indeed a robot to pick up items from across the landscape that it took more than a day to retrieve by foot. There was something almost completely pointless about why they should be stuck in the situation that they are. It was like a nightmare coping with the idea of such a story world being taken as a serious reality.  One wonders how the boy in the movie survived the space ship crash after seeing how the interior of the craft was ripped apart. The shredded material spread around the outside of the crash site of the tale of the ship reminded me of the afterbirth of some animal or endless reams of toilet paper. This might be the sort of game that Shyamalan might be playing with the mind, is it wise to be caught in such mind games, stay out of these things.

d) Why it is that the giant bird decided to give up its life to protect the boy is another thing entirely. Birds have been known to lose their young but not suddenly become suicidal over it, surely? Did the thing mistake the boy during flight for one of its own young, is that the idea? Well I will try not to think too long about it. Things seem to be present or happen for the sake of it with no known reason required, it's there for the sake of imagery. perhaps like a dream.

Jim Cameron's Terminator fever dream

leading from

Key image from Terminator inspired by dream
  1. James Cameron: I was sick and dead broke in Rome, Italy, with a fever of 102, doing the final cut of Piranha II. Thats when I thought of Terminator. I guess it was a fever dream. (From: James Cameron - How to direct a 'Terminator',Starlog #89, Date: December, 1984)
  2. Omni magazine: Piranha II: The Spawning marked Cameron's full-dress directorial debut. When the Italian producer fired him off the picture after principal photography was completed, Cameron flew to Rome, broke into the editing room after hours and re-cut the movie the way he wanted it. It was in his Rome hotel that Cameron awoke from a fever dream of a robot killer from the future, unable to walk, dragging itself by a knife along the floor as it chased its wounded female prey.  (Omni magazine 1998) 
  3. NEW YORKER: In 1981, Cameron had the idea that became his first autonomous movie. It came to him, as he tells it, in the post-Freudian form of divine intercession: a dream. He was in Rome, trying to see a cut of “Piranha 2,” a bikinis-and-blood exploitation flick that he had been hired to direct. (He had been fired by the Italian executive producer, and wanted to get his name taken off the film.) He was sick and broke, and staying in a tiny pensione. One night, he said, he dreamed of “a chrome skeleton emerging out of a fire.” Then he sketched the figure cut in half and crawling after a woman. He said, “I thought, That was cool. I’ve never seen that in a movie before.”  (New Yorker, 26th October 2009)
  4.  George Noory: And tell us a little bit about the dream that led to Terminator, what happened?

    James Cameron: Yuh, that wasn't a precognitive dream, that was just a, and I don't get them that I'm aware of, but that was just a nightmare, seriously I was sick, I had the flu and a high fever, and so in that feverish dream state I had a dream about a, you know, a chrome skeleton and fire, emerging from the fire, you know and there was an image in of itself, and have a very strong feeling of dread associated with it in a dream almost unexplained by the image, and you know, we've all felt that, something freighted with a strong sense of dread so, I woke up from that and I felt it was a compelling image, and er I started to draw, started to write the story, to draw variations on that theme and it turned into this chrome skeletal figure, kind of death figure, er, pursuing a girl and I thought, okay, let's build a story around that and then it became a science fiction story and then this chrome death figure came from the future and was trying to kill her for some reason, what's the reason, well, her life will have some meaning that, that er is very significant in years hence and then the story kind of spun from that (Coast To Coast AM, Monday August 23, 2010)
  5. Ian Nathan: The future came to him in a fever dream. He awoke with a jolt like a jump cut, the image still framed in his mind's eye "Something really horrific" he would repeat to his friends. It was March 1982, and the night before, as he collapsed into bed, he had been running a temperature of 102, slack and swampy with flu, "sick as a dog". The sweat that prickled his body brought to mind forks of electricity dancing and jabbing him around; he was momentarily disorientated shivering like a man pulled from icy water. This, he later conceived, is what it would be like for a human being to travel through time. He was so short of cash that he had taken to roaming the corridors of his seedy pensione somewhere in Rome's less salubrious backstreets, pilfering bread rolls from the breakfast trays in order to feed himself. He was virtually a skeleton, exhausted, unkempt - off the grid. The perfect recipient for a nuclear-powere epiphany. When he awoke the following morning, the afterimage of his dream was still stretched in his mind. He had been unfairly fired from his directing job, his big break, and had come to Rome to confront the Italian production company. He didn't have a friend for over 6000 miles and nine time zones. His airfare had been one way. "I was pissed off an alienated, my per diem," he recalls " and I wasn't feeling very much part of the flow of humanity." From the table he grabbed paper and pencils. and began to sketch that terrifying snapshot of the creature from his dream. He wanted to have a good look at it. "It was a chrome skeleton emerging phoenix like out of the fire,"  he says. As the drawing revealed, the machine figure wasn't striding - it had been torn in half somehow and was crawling from the flames. "He had a kitchen knife and pulled himself along the floor with it, dragging his broken arm. I also sketched the girl trying to get away from it." As he sat back to examine his newborn, the young director smiled for the first time in what seemed like forever, "I thought 'That was cool. I had never seen that in a movie before.' "
    James Cameron genuinely feared he might be dying that night. When he came to write the initial treatment, at first simply known as The Terminator, he described the implacable, silver coloured dream demon as "death rendered in steel." Whether it was prophecy, damnation , or half crazed product of a delirious mind was hard to tell as Rome awake  to its indifferent bustle. But this fiery template , this endoskeleton idea, would eventually transform Cameron into the biggest director of all time and change cinema in ways that he could never have envisaged in 1982. As dreams go, it was significant.
  6. Hale Anne Hurd:He called from Rome, telling me about his dream, about a robot that previous to that had been a cyborg with human flesh, emerging from the flames "(Empire, October 2013, p98)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

ghosts of Giger's biomechanics in Superman: Man of Steel

General Zod'S collar and Giger's ELP II work 218
Skull like faces with breathing masks. A creature from Giger's Li II and General Zod's helmet

loose comparison to groin of Giger's Alien suit and wall of a Kryptonian environment

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Superman: Man of Steel

  1. General Viewpoint: I very much enjoyed the new Superman movie, but realises that it could give a 4 year old child bad nightmares and it was quite a violent action packed movie indeed and indeed there was an immense amount of destruction taking place that might almost be post 9/11-ish. It might all be a bad dream in the end that someone had after eating a pizza. Perhaps also it was fairly low on the type of humour that made the first three Superman movies quite fun. The truth is that I am not really sure why this film is going in one direction after another and it just seemed that all assumptions that I could make about the story seemed like a cloud. Perhaps the film's story had been clouded by the new additions to it in terms of the mythos relating to the Kryptonians and Superman's role in the story, one might start to ask where it was all coming from, as if it were an odd injection of DNA from other movies that we've seen that made it seem very post-Prometheus and post-Matrix. It appears as if we have to keep running around in circles looking for a way into the nucleus of this movie that the production crew are not talking about. Whose idea was it and why? Or was it all just strange assumptions from David Goyer that came out of a cloud. The 3D in this film was sometimes good and then at other times almost non existent at some points.
  2. Choice of actor: Henry Cavill, the actor who played Superman in this movie seemed to be an ideal choice for this time especially after his appearance in Immortals where he played the hero Theseus , Immortals had been produced by the same producer as 300 which was directed by Zach Snyder the director of this film. Henry Cavill is certainly not Christopher Reeve, but stood well in his own boots within this new film in a world where we might give up hoping for anything too interesting and innovative to get onto the screen. I probably thought he was the best man for the job.
  3. Making the humans feel comfortable: I started to wonder why the armored outfits for the villains seem to be almost like the Engineers from Prometheus and these invaders were using terraforming technology as well. However the villain was a great one and his reason to be a villain worked well with the story.  The villain's armor seems to be loosely inspired by Giger's artwork. Also the reason that Superman keeps his handcuffs on for a while during the story is revealed to be more or less the reason David the Android reveals for why he is wearing his suit and helmet for their adventure aboard the planet's surface in Prometheus.
  4. Kevin Costner's Performance: Kevin Costner gives a sensitive performance as the adopted father of Superman who obviously has been forced to develop a wider perspective of life with a great sense of foresight about his adopted son and it appears to be quite an important part of Superman's character development in the story about realising where it is important for him to conceal himself and in the process let people die including his own father.
  5. Superman's DNA: One might ask if it was in Superman's DNA to have the urge to wear a red cape as he is as a child seen wearing one during play and well the superhero suit is one presented to him in a space craft.  Are we to assume that he wore a different coloured cape for every day of the week and it just so happened that they are selecting the day that he wore a red cape and this just so happens to be the colour of the cape of his cape from the suit he was given as a 33 year old adult.
  6. The Derelict Ship: In the film we arrived at a point where a derelict space ship is discovered buried deep in the ice, and when Superman manages to tunnel into the ice to get to the spacecraft and soon it is revealed to be an ancient space craft from Krypton, with one mummified dead body in a sleeping capsule and the sign that someone had got out. Yet, this space craft is still in working order, and uses the same technology that Krypton had been using when Superman/ Kal-el as a baby left Krypton. Due to the compatability in technology so he is able to inset a key into the computer and upload a virtual copy of his father into the computer system so that Jor-El can be seen walking around and talking as a seeming living human being. This craft also just so happens to contain a growing area for the Kryptonian babies who appear to be being grown in the manner that babies were being grown en-masse in Matrix to act as batteries for the computer main frame. I'm not actually sure why it had this artificial womb feature but after all the confusion about why in Alien the derelict ship had a cargo vault that might have been a cave beneath the ship instead, the confusions that one can have about alien ships and their contents is to be tolerated. So what was the derelict ship doing there for 20000 years? Are the many of them to be found all still in fine working order? Do they all look as if they were based on slugs?
  7. The terraforming ship: The villains' space craft indeed seemed to look a bit like a Philippe Starck orange squeezer, there's no getting away from that and indeed they also resembled oversized lobster crackers as well
  8. General cloud of assumptions: There are many questions to ask about the story, I don't bother to read the comic books so I didn't mind the possible ways that this film might differ from the comic book world and maybe I might be in a position where I really can't comment about the story because I don't really know where its foundations are and to some degree the whole thing seems like a cloud, but it certainly seemed to be a huge disaster movie with a vast death toll, endless collateral damage and buildings destroyed by the dozen. Towards the end there was the point where we have General Zod making his boast about how he spent his whole life training as a warrior and well it doesn't stop Superman  who wasn't from beating him up. Perhaps the violence and death toll might be expected after what we've seen in 300. Perhaps the script remains a little unfirm with characters making claims with little foundation. However General Zod's character only seems to be after Superman because Superman contains the genetic blueprint of the whole civilisation of Krypton in his DNA. General Zod believed that his civilisation that he was fighting for was now dead once the ship with birthing capabilities had been destroyed and the terraforming machines had been destroyed, and it was his job afterwards to kill Superman for stealing his soul. One wonders what the point of it all violence from Zod was all about, and if all Kryptonian warriors had these ideas. And maybe everything that General Zod represented was just a general cloud of assumptions. However beyond all the clouds of confusion I do look forwards to a sequel and look forwards to the release of the blu-ray DVD.
  9. See also: ghosts of Giger's biomechanics in Superman: Man of Steel