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harvest
  • 31361.0531

  • 31359.2110

  • 31357.0622

  • 31356.2036

  • 31351.1248

  • 31351.1220

    In this nightmarish engraving above by the master of witchcraft art, Jacques de Gheyn, the fantasies of infanticide are depicted. Hags tend a cauldron on a brazier, to the ceremony a heavily pregnant young woman ominously arrives; her almost naked companion behind her carries a baby's head on a platter. The artist is imagining the obscene; a fantasy of desirable women doing the unthinkable. A rocket-assisted witch exits via the chimney, another with distaff and spindle sits to guard the scene, her toad-familiar beneath her stool. A young man, drugged or dead, lies in a shallow pit. Judging by other engravings by de Gheyn, he will be dissected for body parts (below)

    The above engraving depicts necromancy with the kind of horrible vividity we read of in Marstons' Sophonisba. Beneath a vault, tthree witches, accompanied by various cat and mouse familars, dissect a young man, whose cadavre lies opened. A horse's skull peers in at the ghoulish scene, a Satanic version of Rembrant's 'Anatomy Lesson' paintings.

    De Gheyn also produced studies of accoutrements of witchcraft. Here, a reading stand for a 'grimoire' or Book of Spells is surrounded by truly obscene amphibia, which seem to possess, horribly, human genitalia and breasts. We can imagine them to be transformed witches.

     

  • 31349.1246

  • 31343.0856

  • 31340.0641

    M. Night's 2008 self-described "B-movie" is a stripped down half-scary death knell for humans on an earth that is beginning to reject our presence. Beginning in "Central Park," a stand-in for any urbanized, landscaped green system, an unseen neurotoxin seems to initiate and cause massive human self immolation. Subtly showcasing all aspects of our biome control, humans are shown entirely unaware of our dominance as aggressive niche occupiers, Night uses Central Park and The Tulleries (the park that ends the film) as city-based launching pads and continues them into the countryside via train travel, road travel, where gardening, suburban development run amok: by showing humans oblivious to the green biome, he makes The Happening perversely (and maybe much too subtly) comedic.  Central Park unbeknownst to most of its occupants is an entirely landscaped event, an illusion using nature, its magic is human crafted, a place where nature appears subservient. He shows us cut grass, paved walkways, humans playing on greenery, and then as we meet our first seen victims, a woman stares at us and just past us, a formal audience identification system. As if in a trance, her friend grabs her hairpin (hexagonally-shaped, a reference to bees spoken about later by Marky Mark's teacher: get it — it's a BEE MOVIE) and stabs herself in the neck (a bee stinger).  If you look at each of these frame blow-ups below, one eye is on us, one eye is focused on the action of the scene, a clever optical triangulation.  These shots are both identifying (we identify with fellow humans upon eye contact) and disorienting (what are they looking at? not us exactly, beyond 'us').  Shyamalan delivers films with surface tensions of complacency compounded with the most hidden visual tricks, and here he disorients our self-awareness to unconsciously redirect our perception. The goal of The Happening is to move central characters through various human-plant control systems and reveal how collectively blind we are to our green surroundings (at one point Wahlberg talks to a plastic plant in a model home composed entirely of fake food and drink).  After we witness the first suicide, at a construction site a few blocks away (more biome dominators: worker BEES) we meet a hard-hat that stares into the sky (at us again) and sees fellow workers falling from the upper floors suicidally (from stinger to attempted flying).  Although the film weaves several efficient themes, its most alert moments come as humans misinterpret or become reactionary to the data they employ (at one point John Leguizamo admits that statistics, false or true, tend to calm people). As Leguizamo foolishly searches for his wife in the dead zone of Princeton, NJ, he employs a Malthusian math puzzle to distract one of his Jeepmates from their imminent doom "if I gave you a penny on the first day of a month, and I doubled it everyday, how much money would you have at the end of the month," and of course that statistic is the disturbing one. The puzzle deals with our viral human population climb.  In one scene, lost humans gather around a television set and after the electricty dies, one shouts out "If we stay here we will die."  The humans flee their centers instinctually once the connection is cut, is it an animal move or a zobmie's? These are hive concepts of behavior infusing the planet's only seemingly conscious being.  At its creepiest, The Happening is a wry apocalypse study, suggesting that plant life is inexorably tied to a central force of nature that must and will reject the unconscious dominace of any one species in threat to the whole, a theme that should be more ascendant in our unconscious but the opposite seems to be the case. Deaths are set pieces that usually revolve around nature or a defiance of its existence (humans die by hanging from trees, crashing into a trees, subsumed by lawnmowers) as if the suicidal are now suddenly aware of the madness we've made here, the final, hermetic female (Mrs. Jones) self-immolates on the glass of her own window after becoming the only true villain of the film (she becomes a zombie that invades her own house), her paranoia seems to go hand-in-hand with the toxin's effects, it knows what scares the brain it's killing. An unconscious-toxin interaction. Greenhouses, farms, wood fences (with technology tied to them), sub-divide demonstration homes (a strangely apt parallel to the nuclear test site homes of Crystal Skull) all combine to create an unobvious realm of human biome control.  The film's movement is city to suburban to country, each stage the survivors strip themselves of some form of access technology, cellphones, trains, roads, paths, until they arrive at what might be a colonial outpost, a house with a garden off-grid. There is a subtle suggestion of backwards time-travel, the final locale appears colonial. The final separation at film's climax involves a speaking tube that connects the hermit's house with a hiding structure from the days of the underground railroad, with the females in the slave quarters and Mark Wahlberg inside the home, connecting all basic struggles among humans metaphorically, now in the thrall of something  beyond the scale of human interwars.  Early in the film Mark Wahlberg discusses the recent colony collapse phenomena that has been affecting bees, all the while no less than 30 or 40 dead and dried butterflies lay hung on a lattice for the class to see.  The film's most innovative in-joke exchange comes when Marky Mark tells a good looking stud in his class that one day his face will change and his ears will grow out, his jaw will shrink and he won't be as attractive as he was in youth, and some in the audience realize Night is making our hero talk about himself.  Unlike his other films that seem to deal secondarily with issues of ethnicity and race, M. Night's cameo here doesn't force any skin-color perceptions as an aside about ingrained ethnicism/racism*, instead he shows up off-camera: he makes his appearance a phone-in as a weak-knee'd stalker co-worker of Zoey Deschanel who calls her after a furtive date. The joke is that he's standing behind the camera while she looks at the phone in anticipatory fear. The film ends as the attack begins again in Paris, The Tulleries, the precursor Central Park, as if going back through history's central parks, human landscape control: nature's very own Ground Zeroes.  Planet re-equalization continues. Once again Shyamalan has made a pantheonic film under the radar of critics.  A must see.

    *He's appeared as a misperceived bathroom goer, a neighbor that accidentally killed a wife, and a guard to a secret pre-colonial community.

  • 31337.0734