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creature
  • 31090.0551

  • 31087.1435

     

    The Age of Mammals by Rudolph F. Zallinger is over sixty feet long and was painted over six years (1961-1967). It covers the period 66 million years ago to the last ice age, 8000 years ago, compressing a sampling of the entire spectrum of mammals. It sits along a wall of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, CT. Here it's compressed to under six inches. (image from the musuem's website)

  • 31085.2317

  • 31074.0843

    Dean Falk, rebel paleontologist, discovered a discrete difference between extinct gracile and robust hominids that lived 2.5 million years ago. The robust lived in trees, with arms and legs of equal mass and ate mostly plant-life. The gracile lived on the savannah, where they faced dangerous predators, and adapted by running faster on powerful legs bi-pedally, and this allowed their arms to become the focus of their motor cortex. What she found may be the best evidence of where humans evolved from. Orchestrating hundreds of sources, Falk weaves the discoveries as a series of detective's eurekas. The shift from knuckle-walking to bipedalism involved transitions from forest to savanna, vegetarian diet to carnivorous, and a shift in how the body and brain cools itself (standing on two legs decreases exposure to the sun by a major percentage). Along the way, cranial blood-flow both shifts to certain key areas (speech) and adapts itself for a type of emergency cooling system that defaults when body heat reaches dangrous levels. The book is essentially a diagrammatic exploration of the chimp-hominid-human evolutionary "braindance", a pre-history for all neurologists, the book is a masterpiece of paleoneurology. Issues like balance and movement alert readers to the potentially limitless abilities of the bipedal mind. Her final chapters involve chimp and human agression (we get this from chimps who exhibit a gleeful rage fighting over food), calling us to become aware of the rationale for anger, murder and potetial for eventual self-destruction. Falk takes on the established, slumbering academics that ruled over the human missing link and the results involve amending their error-filled zoological family tree.

  • 31070.2337

    Studio Ghibli follows its masterpiece wallpaper-as-magic Ponyo with the more stably realistic biome of Arriety, where highly fragile microbeings, humbler minature humans, live in secret parts of houses. A dying breed, they are met with a dying boy who falls in love with the updated Tinkerbelle archtype by way of Leia. She wears her sword pinned like a hem, slung like Errol Flynn. Ghibli chooses between girl's fables and boy's. Spirited Away and Howls Magic Castle are female narrated, Ponyo and Arriety are from a boy's perspective. The fantasy styles are directed towards the age group of the lead and seem to always involve a romance across mythic divides. Arriety is the latest masterpiece, a difficult to find house is the setting, hidden in a forest, the place where the ailing boy comes to rest before his operation. Immediately, on arrival, he spots a flash in the grass, a tiny girl, Arriety, a Borrower. They are a metaphoric form of Hobbit, a dwindling number who live in the shadows, under the floorboards (it's slightly like Hugo, at times she must mad dash for her secret entrance to the network of in-the-wall passages) a family: the girl and her parents, who live in a kind of utopian nook, hippie-like. Ghibli films gain their power by continuously referencing the dark sides of human encroachment: as the Borrowers make their way through the human areas at night 'borrowing' things not to be missed (tissue paper and sugar cubes) they must pass through a 'doll's house' that was made for them within the house, which they spurn. By offering the Tinkerbelle-like Arriety a forest-living Borrower suitor who says little and offers them a bite of his cricket leg, they upgrade the fantasy and the myth. Although less visually complex than Ponyo, Arriety is alive with scale weirdness and clever touches (staples become grip tight ladders 'hammered' into wood), the third act is introduced when the housekeeper eloquently named Hara becomes a Kong-like home invader; the best film of the year so far.

  • 31059.0134

  • 31056.0957

  • 31053.1223

  • 31035.2129

     Malick's dunderheaded dinosaur moment of Tree of Life had everyone guessing, but the big mystery is how did everyone miss the obvious?

    Answer: humans are not trained in visual literacy; analogous visual metaphors are invisble to the general public. Reptillian 'mercy' vs. mammalian/proto-human 'cruelty.' Malick tries to outmanouvere Kubrick's ownership of consciousness by predating it, but his later gestures in ToL do not advance like Kubrick's, they fall flat. His visual slang is just that. The sun adorns vistas in human time and in geologic. In human time, the Christian mythology tries to outwit nature's but the joke is it shows up in the reptillian age. Ponderous thud or rank creationism, either way Malick comes off as a heavy handed rainmaker. He's out there whispering about the terror of urban sprawl, but he's also building Saturday Night Live sets on the verge of a desert. And to keep the mayhem paced, he's got midas-touch cutter Hank Corwin, trained first in music video. Every transition has been matched. Soothing, choral muzak slices ham when necessary (often). Even the actors try their hands at the instruments. When Pitt has to look moved by the Tocatta Bach he's peddling, he juts his jaw out, as if he knows how forced the idea is.  And despite all that whispered voice over underlining the action, the gestures start fizzling. They move internally. Into spokenness. And they fall literally (elevators, elevators...). Kubrick moves externally in Space Odyssey, at an escalating speed, into unspokeness. Malick wants to be Kubrick but he's really more a National Geographic-apologist pushing Freud's agenda: Hoses, feet, candles, and that upstairs nightmare, the attic that extrudes a house-form. Does it get anymore obvious?

  • 31033.2309

    Somewhere between Fleischer and Plympton is Bozzetto, whose 1976 satire of Fantasia sliced up animation's tropes and let loose. Rarely screened in revival. Many tangents in Allegro's animation, like other innovations of the 70's, were discarded by the mainstream.  A must see. Here's Sibelius's Valse Triste, where an anti-Aristocat makes wall art while exploring the edge's of Bozzetto's momentary genius.