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killer
  • 311267.2029

    No federally approved treatment exists for mushroom poisoning, but doctors won permission to give Constantinopla an experimental drug made from milk thistle, a flowering plant used in holistic remedies. It seemed to do the trick. By Saturday, Constantinopla was well enough to speak at a news conference.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/two-men-who-ate-poisonous-mushrooms-survive/2011/09/24/gIQAa1bHuK_story.html?hpid=z4
     

  • 311256.0727

    The U.S. is statistically riddled with anxiety, depression, panic, according to the pharmaceutical and medical industries, and the figures grow annually. Can there be 10x as many afflicted in the U.S. than in other nations? 3x more than the rest of the developed world? Statistically impossible, but not if you're working for pharma. The key problem is pain is a necessary component to life. Hiding its aftermath inside a drug means there is no growth, no awareness and what follows improper, biological processing of pain is incessant fear. This process has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years, why cover it with a blanket.

  • 311256.0556

    The return of the director after his 1941 Rube Goldberg adventure-comedy, Raiders is the first collaboration between mythologist Lucas and pagan physical-gag inventor Spielberg. Though the film is clearly Spielberg's masterpiece (one of many), Lucas keeps his eye on the ending maelstrom while Spielberg is left to rule the kinetic mayhem that overtakes nearly every scene. Raiders is a merge of Republic serials (Zorro) and Uncle Scrooge's colonialist misdaventures looking for buried gold (see Carl Barks) lensed by the British golden-age of cinema, the brilliant exposer of inky blacks and dappled or raw sunlight, Douglas Slocombe. All these minds pressed into service by Lucas & Spielberg come up with some pretty inventive differentials; notice Indy taking very seriously the sand he scatters to balance the opening idol's weight (Spielberg overlaps the sand as it spills before the idol), while the trio of baddies laugh-off their sand fiiled ark. Paul Freeman's Belloq tosses sand coarsely to contrast Indy's reverential opening gesture. Look closer and you can see how similar the opening and ending are: the Nazis' open-air electrocution is a supernatural version of the underground arrow spitting idol-chamber: altars, ceremonial approaches, even faces that bring death, with Indy escaping both. Linking them all is a brilliant lesson in imagery that follows Indy's intro to archeology class: agents also getting their lesson are shown the ark's graphic ("there's a picture of it") which cuts directly into first, a bright, stained-glass window (shot in a British Freemasonry hall) and then to the staff of Ra's blackboard illustration, all three beam's sources oriented in the same position in the frame left.

    Notice below, Tanis and Washington D.C. are cleverly linked, both 'Egyptian' cities will be associated with stealing and hiding the Hebrew god's ark.

  • 311241.1824

    Ridley Scott's R-rated preamble to the 80's was his summer 1979 shocker Alien, a marriage of two graphic sensibilities, Ron Cobb and H.R. Giger (nod to Chris Foss). Cobb skeletized the ship the art directors took over and Giger fleshed out the skeletons of demon and benign aliens and supervised their construction. Scott married their shapes and filtered some through his and came up with the stillest of horror movies. Three cultures meet, human, derelict and alien. Imagery of contrasting visualists are conjured wholesale into sets and creatures, a feat Scott repeated with Syd Mead in Blade Runner. Into metal, and viscera, underlit, dank. And audio shapes it all. In a ship that appeared like an earthly probe into the Star Wars galaxy (same art directors), by way of a haunted planet. A product of post-Watergate Hollywood, the machine that hides their corporate-planned doom from the crew is the first character we meet as the slumbering ship awakens. Likewise both gestating alien and robot hide in plain sight. Later, when the creature manages to camouflage itself, you know Scott has been conducting us the whole way intentionally to miss this. A masterpiece of graphic oversight shaded by clipped, stern speaking. Procedures litter the technocratic dialogue. Rape/birth is scattered in elements of all violence: Kane gives birth to an uncontrollable ceaserian and even Ash turns sexually violent, using a porn magazine as a suffocating tool, duplicating the facehugger (proof he admires it: he emulates it). Now visible in a comprehensive visual history published October 2011, just google Alien Vault.

  • 311238.1237

    Jackie Sparnackel abandons her van and belongings near the Frisco Pier after driving up to see how the storm-battered structure was doing Saturday. Friends tried to tow her out but she was caught in an overwash. Hurricane force winds from Irene were battering the island where power has been knocked out. (Notice her left hand: she grabbed her meds)

  • 311194.2310

    Now in its third year at NY's Anthology Film Archives, William Lustig Presents is a retro festival of the most dynamic suspense/exploitation films of the 60s and 70s. While Lustig himself directed some shocking 80's-style horror hybrids (Maniac), he chooses nuanced and bizarrely exciting long forgotten titles cut from backlists, most are major studio product that have never been screened since their releases. Most have never even made it past their first VHS release. This year he opens with the above Robert Evans era Paramount release, a high tension thriller (produced by Star Wars greenlighter Ladd Jr.), and follows it with Friedkin's only successful hybrid, the comic-robbery genre buster The Brinks Job. Savvy exploitation fare from 1966's The Incident (a psychopathic precursor to The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3) to near upper tier spaghetti western Navajo Joe follow.

  • 311180.1618

    Without a doubt, certain holidays and ceremonies of the church were based on pagan models. In the fourth century Christmas was placed on the 25th of December because on that date was celebrated the birth of the sun (Natalis Invicti) who was born to a new life each year after the solstice.

    -Mon. Myst. Mithra Usener 1905/Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism Cumont 1911

    Bill Harford is lured to a ceremony that he unwittingly certifies as a ritual.

    Kubrick's intention is clear, like Griffith's or Eisenstein's or Pudovkin's or Sjostrom's or even Ince's (as a producer no less): to build and refine languages beyond the purely phonological (ours using alphabets) and the merely pictogrammatic. His was the advancing edge in the eras he was alive inside, like theirs. To be lost in 'meaning' as any intent is obviously futile, it's the realm beyond the semantic, verging into the art/artifice of syntax.  You don't end a movie about the ritual overthrow of a prehistoric feminine religion with the word "fuck" (=f ornication u nder the c ontrol of a k ing) because you have a developed opinion about either side of the battle. You do it to illustrate it exists without us being conscious of it (the name of the film).

    Kubrick ultimately was a philosopher of mind. 

    An ingenious series of visual gags forced into a nearly unwatchable film, Eyes Wide Shut is packaged with the name that tells anyone that walks under the marquee: you're awake yet asleep. You may watch every frame but you'll see only what you can perceive. EWS is a film without a final cut. Dying months before its June premiere, the film lacks Kubrick's up to release-date edit so moviegoers are invited to find the film within its potential trims. How long was Eyes Wide Shut to be? Likely not two hours and thirty-nine minutes. On the eve of 2001's premiere the director cut a twelve minute prologue, three days after The Shining's release, Kubrick cut a four minute coda, forcing projectionists across the U.S. to become his personal, local assistant editors. He tinkered up to, even after, the very last minute.

    Kubrick, the ultimate technician of phenomenologic storytelling, requires a tactical audience to become conscious of his practice (but no doubt he preferred us unconscious). There are two basic stories, the visible and the hidden. Sequences assemble into a rigorous story made out of allegorical elements, both spoken and visual, which pose an alternate, hidden story parallel to the apparent one. Kubrick is an anthropologist making cog-sci instructional films. Fiction is organized through exacting non-fiction.  Although many types of visuals litter his films with its 'story,' the visual weenies of EWS are the switching and/or missing women (or is it just a woman?), surrounded by anonymously similar bodies, some with faces others without, some later simply mentioned in passing. These bodies metaphysically exchange with two of Alice's passages, her memory and her dream (the dream itself metaphorically linked in many ways to Alex's dreams of Clockwork Orange - a psychologist would code this an isomorph), which somehow matches Bill's journey beat for beat, even phone calls seem prescient rather than coincidental.

    Kubrick is not a director that cowers in coincidence, there are both rational and metaphysical explanations for every connection yet finding them is not the point (and maybe implausible), knowing they exist provides the audience with depth below the mundane. Becoming aware of them means your eyes are opening. The stories, the basic one we think we watch and the one we cannot easily see, merge and slowly become whole over time, after repeat viewings. That threshold, whether things are seen or not, is where the film gains its psychic power. Kubrick, as in his other films, drops bland, mostly hidden mirrors everywhere, then splits them with continuity shifts. Just watch Domino post-kiss (the tightest shot of the film), she seems to know Harford's name without Bill ever mentioning it, and slyly Kubrick reverses the tiger on her bed (disturbances in continuity employed as mirrors are his keys, of course). "Was that Mrs. Dr. Bill?" she purrs from the other side: sustained satire of movies through memory jolts, below thresholds, effected scene-by-scene.

    What is Eyes Wide Shut about? The ritual enslavement of the Moon that gave meaning to present day religion. Enacted by a man who is witness to a sacrifice (Mandy in the Chinese bathroom), then lured to a ritual that is staged as a sacrifice (the masked woman who is not killed, but acts as a stand-in in the Moorish room). It's an annual ritual that requires an outside witness, and Kubrick proves this by dismissing Dr. Harford through a generic form letter, one that's used every year. 

    The film begins with dueling opening shots of the same room, an incisive grammar that opens the film. The two shots act like a primer. A tool to teach an audience what to expect. It's the same room from two slightly shifted orientations. How they differ is key. The Christmas Tree, which stars as the film's key symbol and ceremonial object, is predicted by the combination of parting curtains and city lights. Alice and Bill begin the film facing this form. Beyond this obvious symbolic construction, Eyes Wide Shut is subtly about light qualities that offer modern ceremonies their psychic, for lack of a better word, jurisdiction. The female is associated with the moon (and its blue hue), crucially the human cycle of ovulation and menstruation is synched to the moon's 28 day return. The male is mythically linked with the sun and its yellow light. Kubrick composes the film as an interplay between both sexes' light-born metaphors, across visuals and spoken word, and their interlacing with western religions. 

    First, Alice stands in his symbol's color. The room is overcome in yellow light, imitation sunlight, doubled tennis rackets sit centrally, watch symbols flow: Ziegler (Sydney Pollack) will soon mention his serve surrounded by glowing sun-shapes. Tennis is a game that lofts a yellow ball. A game that uses the word "love" to denote zero. These primer shots move into gesture: She moons us - which the twelve women replicate later during their late night ceremony. Outside we establish Central Park West, also bathed in man-made yellow light, blotting out any chance for moonlight to reach street-level.  Second, Bill stands in her room, moonlit, a bluish-light which strikes their bookcase (meaning knowledge), not props for a game. And he forgets: his key gesture, also duplicated at the moon ceremony (when asked for the second password). Kubrick inverts their light. He even breaks any semblance of continuity: Bill has the red carpet, Alice doesn't. Eyes wide shut. Once inside the bathroom, where both light values meet, she moons the moon (while wiping, away from us: bathrooms are places of transference in the Kubrick syntax - not a Freudian syntax, rather a global anthropological syntax). It continues, too subtly, even the dark, moonlight in the slender bedroom mirror is cut with an overhead spotlight in their hallway. From blue to yellow. Disbelievers of Kubrick's precision should note blue moonlight strikes Domino's bookshelf as well (see the first image of the essay). Compare the shots, both bookshelves are right and the xmas tree forms left of it. Clearly these details are neither coincidental nor unconscious.

    For a jarring shift in filmic value, Kubrick did something to this film he never attempted before: he underexposed his negative and then push-developed EWS's negative two-stops, which intentionally amps chroma, calling attention to the values hidden inside color temperatures. This is an irreversible effect since the process alters the negative in its bath. Imagine all of these scenes underexposed to the edge of their legibility, then pushed into an exposure level by the chemistry of processing, color replaces more ambivalent hues.  A bright white light to the naked eye on set is suddenly golden yellow, a bright blue-hued moonglow is now richly blue. From an optical point-of-view, it's the reverse of Barry Lyndon's .9 super speed lenses and their candlelit opulence. The Christmas Tree, a pagan sun-worshipping symbol converted to Christianity, is intentionally amped: the focus for these enhanced contrasts.

    Why place so much focus on chroma, light-temperature and white balance?

    EWS is laced with a strategically concealed war between sunlight and moonlight, suggesting pagan ceremonies and rituals have retained their effects continually even though they've been modernized and dressed with renaissance and present-day props and settings. The moon is even referenced in wordplay (the first dead body, Lou Nathanson=luna then sun), propping (spot Mandy's massive pearl ring), and deadly ritual: the masked ball begins with a nighttime moon worshipping ceremonial subversion. There, Kubrick exhibits 12 women who act out a lunar procession (12 moons compose a year, the word month comes from moon), mooning the audience like Alice and bowing in servitude to a blending of Christianity and Islam (the music is scored to prayers sung forwards and reversed, the architecture externally neo-renaissance and internally Moorish revival, the ceremony is hierophantic-papal). He's targeting all of Indo-European thought. Kubrick is illustrating with light how men created this ceremony prehistorically to dominate the feminine night, to reverse what was once worshipped before men attained systematic control, and he reveals slyly it's been transforming for many millenia into this secret annual ritual. This moon ritual subversion might have been the first 'organized religion' (ie: the enslavement of moon worshipping females might have initially required a society to codify priesthood, create hierarchies to rapidly disperse this change). This is much simpler than conspiracy like the illuminatis. It's not a conspiracy, just a carefully and not so carefully veiled war. It appears both as a dream and a conspiracy that Kubrick enters through a key conflict on Earth: the sexual war between male and female. And he illustrates it with a married couple, who experience the same thing, though one experiences it awake, the other while asleep. Watch the color red become the carpeting of choice, leading from Bill's dressing room, to Victor's party to Rainbow Fashions to the moon ceremony to Victor's pool table to toy store.  The morgue and the exterior entrance to Somerton are the only places that have pure white light (they're similar gateways). Alice dreams under the effects of moonlight, the only character with this color isolation. Using red in his sets, Kubrick switches to blue light then back, moving moonlight inside for key scenes of degradation, when women must be ritually controlled. They end the film in red, the toy store, becoming Ziegler's faceless cue balls. Her final request is a fuck, which is what Ziegler's entire ceremony is about: Fornication Under the Control of a King, admitting the film is a nightmare satire. Women don't want power, they've been psychically enslaved to want to be overpowered.

    Deceptively righting the boat of the unconscious, Sydney Pollack's in-story director plots a high price staging to hide-and-seek a body to rule it a suicide, from a living actor who plays the aptly named Mandy (Julienne Davis) to a dead body fully annunciated as Amanda Curran (also played by Julienne Davis) yet Pollack (Ziegler) claims she's also a mysterious woman met only while masked: "Mysterious Woman" (Abigail Good), but she's not.  This masked woman chooses him, their masks kiss, and then begs him to leave fearing for both of their lives. Has he really met her before? Here's another clue, the other woman he meets at the masked ball also seems to recognize him. Any idea who she is? In the script she's called Young Woman but remains unidentified in the credits. Kubrick has, in effect, already told us who she is in the film's logic (she's Domino, a long way from her ermine coat). These sleights of hand are the splinters of the film. Though Bill meets Mandy in the opening scenes of the film he appears to not recognize her once dead, and he remains confused by Ziegler's explanation; of course he does, it's a preposterous lie. Two depressants and one stimulant affect the various women who inhabit the first party. A woman awakens from one after a sexual encounter, another falls asleep to one while dancing as a prelude to sex.  The first bedroom scene and the speech by the window is conjured through another depressant: marijuana, found in mirror in a brand name. Prior to finding Mandy unconscious, Doc Harford tells his momentary, rainbow-luring friend Gayle who compliments a random act of his kindness, "that is the kind of hero I can be...sometimes."  Once inside Ziegler's bathroom we discover just what kind of hero Harford really is. Like the Ullmann interview in The Shining, here Harford is offered the film's central decision once he finds Mandy on the verge of her O.D. Just as Jack Torrance should have recognized the Hotel's obvious malevolent distortions, Bill should be aware of the monstrous party he's entering. He's shown a ritual sacrifice victim and is offered the chance to save her. He doesn't, he unwittingly sacrifices her. Any medical professional worth their degree would immediately put down the charade, the pretense of socialization, and would read the situation as potentially doomed. A callous man has just finished fucking an overdosing woman. He both barely remembers her name and is noticeably displeased once told he should protect her for a few hours (hinting he might disregard his suggestion). The heroic Tom Cruise we usually validate offers the woman his jacket, grab his wife, orders a car (or an ambulance) to a hospital and explains to Victor he was close to being complicit in a woman's death, and that perhaps he wants to rethink his life. Instead he performs the most cursory examination in medical history; the precision of Kubrick's key mode-jerk is crucial, he brings along the audience's complicity in protecting Ziegler, he slyly reframes Cruise's heroism into anti-hero - Bill's playing apologist to Victor's direct criminality. "That is the kind of hero I can be sometimes." He appeases the status quo to uphold its psychic value, which he is part of or pretends to be (or more accurately, he plays upholding parts in films). No wonder Cruise has no memory of who Mandy really is despite meeting her twice. Buried in the film are visual explanations for these memory faults: the film's been rigged with some jarring alternate framings to loosen our connection to any kind of reality in millenial New York. While Kubrick hints at conspiracy theory, he also hints there is none (Alice's dream), and that's the game of Eyes Wide Shut, is it a dream or a conspiracy, does the individual see more than there is to avoid the simplest explanation? or do we miss everything in the gaps between scenes? What we are told is clearly not enough. Like Schnitzler's novel announcing the appearance of psychoanalysis in Vienna, Kubrick's film is making a dour investigation into our medical cosmological frame in 1999 New York. Did psychoanalysis work? No. It merely insulated the ruling class. Pills, drinks, drugs. The century begins in a German novel and ends in an English-language film set in NYC. His satire of New York ("the band sucked tonight") is an advanced satire, just look at Tarantino's Parisian backlot for contrast. It's clearly a conjured, artificial city, where none of the signage makes sense, and NY is clearly a decaying window into 20th century commerce. Rainbow Fashions (above the rainbow not below it) has its own password, the costume Harford needs, and once in the rear, red-carpeted/blue-lit room, Milich offers his mannequins as "life," and look closely they are live humans. Dig deeper and you can see how distorted Kubrick's NY is, Nick performs at an absurdly named Sonata Cafe (sonata is not a name remotely associated with jazz) while next to it is a cafe named Gillespie's where Harford searches for Nick. Everything is switched.

    Cruise's archetype is the hero that falls to regain something. Seduced while he uncovers conspiracy in The Firm (more of Kubrick's hints: directed by Pollack), here Cruise is offered similar anxieties. His character forgets wallets, masks, names and faces, all the while doubling lines incessantly "Look at me, Look at me." To drive the point home, he has Bill then use forgetfulness as a form of deceipt when he's asked for the password for 'the house.'   Kubrick litters the film with lines and actors from other Cruise films, the most prominent one is Carl (Thomas Gibson) who was the villain of Far and Away.

    Dig deeper: Victor employs Bill as a doctor to exonerate him of any criminality (a case of scotch), later slipping a comatose body into the hospital later, verified by Dr. Harford (it's a homonym, a dead-ringer for Harvard) who visits the morgue to certify, unwittingly, indirectly both her identity and her 'accidental' cause of death. He's an accomplice without having ever been aware.

    Three actor-directors guide our ivy-league labeled mark onwards (Pollack, Todd Field, Alan Cumming). Witnesses abound who recite exposition self-consciously while illustrating basic gestures of servility (getting coffee, watching kids) and Kubrick blends reality and conspiracy to weird effect. What is staged?  

    A continuously animating symbol appears at each setting, the Christmas Tree, which symbolizes not the birth of a messiah, but the rebirth of a sky object. The symbol identified with the male goes to war with the moon, and wins by rape and murder. It wins the public, annual celebration Xmas, while the moon garners merely a secret orgy with a ritual death in absentia, both ruled over by men. In every way the tree's role is the opposite of 2001's monolithic central metaphor: The Dark Anamorphic Screen turned upright. Instead of playing a magnetic role, the tree is usually ignored, its function underplayed, the only mention of one in dialogue is laughable: Harford acknowledges Domino's tree to make polite, nervous filler. He later shuts one off at dawn.  Once you actually add up the stakes the film plays with, Cruise's offscreen penultimate rant to his wife that begins with, I'll tell you everything, is not laced with the sexual peccadilloes of a hopefully moral husband, the one we plant in our minds, but the careful encapsulation, enumeration, one meeting to the next, a connect-the-dots of

    "I was led on a wild goose chase to certify a body, I was set-up by Victor, then the Pianist at the party who lured me to a mansion that was exactly like your dream. Victor pulled the strings the entire way and even tried to bribe me with a case of scotch. I was duped into protecting a criminally negligent overdose."

    That is the Tom Cruise film we never saw but witnessed.  Eyes Wide Shut. It's a comedy of blindness. And as the direct offspring of Clockwork Orange, a film in which an inadvertent ritual murder sets off a series of judgement mirrors (judgements that travel between subcultures) we witness but don't 'see' the opposite, an inversion, a planned murder with female pairings, circular ceremonies, and a murder that hinges on the main character, one where blame is assigned (Clockwork), the other where blame is covered-up. And the most revolutionary aspect of the exchange is Victor lies because he wants Harford to have doubts, for him to speculate the ceremony might be a ritual that really causes death, that it might suggest a supernatural power over females. In effect, causing Harford's doubt offers power to the film, to the religious power of any myth. Reading the ritual from the outside, it occurs annually (12 women=12 moons), and requires an unknowing outsider as a witness to certify the sacrifice (by witnessing it he renders it sacred). As a doctor, the outsider has a direct complicity in the sacrifice, Harford leaves an O.D.ing Mandy in Ziegler's care. It has form letters pre-printed to warn the annual outsider off. And Kubrick pushes comedy in the dialogue's subterfuge: Wife: "Why do you think Ziegler invites us to these things." Husband: "This is what you get for making house calls."

    Both films, shot in the environs of London, are set somewhere after 1997 (and similar names of the autos: in Clockwork it's 1997 Durango, and the Range Rover Cruise pilots is a 1997 model), essentially alternating realities, a prediction from 1971 and an actual one, the first alive with violence that goes awry, this one, the murder is by drug, sedate and innoculated, a clinical Brave New Mirror World; death by chemical where the most extensive party is actually staged in the manner of a religious prison/inquisition to fool the lead character, and subtly it behaves as the most complete satire of religion ever achieved; at a party with masked sexual encounters and a plague that scurries from body to body. At its 'height' is a mythical ploy of redemption (see redeemer archetypes in religion) to show off a body-double to explicitly identify only a body.  And bodies and sex are the variables. A disease infects the character Domino, wearing an ermine coat, who clearly is herself staged to encounter Dr. Harvard. Think twice and you can tell the HIV reveal is staged as the letter, as the hotel clerk, as Millich, all are ominous warnings to Harford's security. All have been prepped to deliver. Domino's name is culled from a specific type of priest, masked and hooded, prior to the Renaissance. The masked behavior magnified in the prison-like sex party dates from the Renaissance's mimicry of this Domino attainment.  Of course the Domino's reappearance is verified by her voice (a character uncredited in the script), while Mandy's Julianne Moore is replaced by Abigail Good, and their switcheroo blandly leveled into fiction by Pollack, who conducts his masking of the event over a bright red pool table, a visual portal to the party, swilling scotch. 

    Both Clockwork and EWS have dark excursions to the country. A Clockwork prison-like experience is duplicated in the masked ball, entrance procedeures, punishments, even Corova Milk Bar tables emerge as the orgy's live sexual acts, some even duplicating tables (proving Kubrick would have fought any restriction and shown us the full construction of his furniture-like sex-play). As the satire of religion reaches its peak, Cruise is threatened with Satan's/Adam's unmasking (down to nothing like Mandy); the motions Cruise's Harford and Kidman's Alice go through without any impetus, or external conflicts, finally add up to two monologues Kidman delivers as their own mirror. Their only conflict is sexual and is delivered as oratory in differing chroma qualities, Kubrick's unusual heightened flashed-negative look, her warnings become the only tension that pulses in the bland situation dramedy left for Kubrick to direct in Ziegler's absence.  When Kubrick has Cruise off Ziegler's plan the city is monotonous, dully foreboding, the intention to show our world as nearly terminally slumbering is twisted satire on a level seldom imagined. If you're bored by it, it's because you're living among it. As for physical threat-levels, only the penetration of homophobic college kids offers any real proof of violence, of the hooliganism imagined from 1971, the exertions of Clockwork Orange, the infernal flexing of rage has all been supressed by the arrival of the 'real' 1999: EWS. Altogether a comatose indictment of our culture. A stunningly weird nightmare rendered seemlessly dull. And the details: countless visual shifts announce an allegorical pulse that moves from shot to shot, telling us what it all does.

     

    Powerful is his hint that the mystery Harford is offered is the root of religion. He transforms the ceremony into something more than a ritual by exhibiting it to Harford, allowing his momentary participation, then deceiving him. What Harford comes away with is not an answer but a paradox and a warning that keeps this deception secret. He adopts its legend as everyman does with religion. And it's inexplicable, a mystery rooted in the psyche that races across the community in hushed whispers. This almost unseen gesture of Ziegler's is what Kubrick suggests male religion is employed as: the destroyer of women, and the ritual desecrater of their formerly worshipped, once equal sky-symbol.

     

     

    Dr. Harford gazes into the Post and sees two myths, text in black and white, inner and outer, one is fictionally his, "Lucky to Be Alive" the other is the fiction told to the police and hospital, the Amanda Curran overdose. On the wall behind him is the mansion's ceiling - from the party. Something quite black and white affixed shows a mythic battle extending from his head.

    Dialogue opens unconscious doors:

    "Well I don't think its quite that black and white, but we both know what men are like." Bill Harford

    "Why can't you ever give me a straight fucking answer." Alice Harford

     

    Alex, walking through his post-1997 reality, gazes at the past, actually the present where the film is being shot, a man wearing 1971 clothes, gazing at books, on the shelves in his inset are boxes of film.

     

  • 311154.1030
    In the lumbering dark age of film (1982 - ?), few films managed to capture the zeitgeist of its local era by looking backwards better than Donnie Darko (consider the compression in Blue Velvet, a then present-day eighties resembling the fifties). Darko portals a tough audience during Halloween 2001 with North America at its unconscious peak 1988.  New wave music flooded teenpocalypse Donnie managed to teleport brooding audiences back to 1988 with a mixture of vernacular and desire (anybody remember Star Search?). Rip-roaring through Reagan aftermath teenage angst, Kelly throws us bullies, cellar doors, Halloween, bunnies, vandalism, psychotherapy, self-help, portals, Smurf theory (begun in costume: notice the pizza dinner's outfits on the kids - they're Smurfs), second-stage Stephen King and a collage of 80's existential blockbusterisms: E.T. through The Abyss. Even strange little details like the chyron "Recorded Earlier" on the Presidential debates offer compass heading to the procedings. The detail pile-on is infectious and pretty carefully woven. Unlike Linklater's anthropological-sociological overnight Dazed and Confused, Kelly knows how to organize references through visual overlapping. Skeletized with metaphorical parallelism, Donnie's key stroke is to hide its time-travel as a function of cinematic convention. Many, many pages have been spent uncovering Donnie's details (here is Dan Kois's attempt Everything You Wanted To Ask About Donnie Darko But Were Afraid To Ask), but these inquiries look only at the nouns, the liminal pieces, none go into the metaphysical suggestion that gives the film its stand-alone gravity. At the film's release, somatic thinkers like Elvis Mitchell misperceived Kelly explicitly - he read it as Hughes (John) meets Marquez (Gabriel Garcia), but the chaos in metaphors of nature and body isn't the thing, the metaphors are optic.  Donnie isn't merely an eighties retro fable, it's about a specific type of travel. What gives Donnie's portals their meaning, their substance, is their direct relationship with celluloid's continuous time-travel. The film is a time-portal for every audience member, the way Donnie uses his to navigate fate for 28 days. Kelly makes this clear by showing us three scenes inexorably linked, the bathroom scenes and the movie theater scene. In the bathroom scenes, Frank stands behind, or within a clear, film-like surface that wobbles as Donnie touches it, and bleeds light when Donnie stabs it (the metaphor gets its reality dose: the light that screams from Frank's eye is the projector's bulb). Get it? Donnies somehow awakened inside a film, trying to stab his way out; he might be cinema's first character conceived to be semi-conscious inside celluloid (outside of Bugs's, Mickey's, Daffy's and all animation radical fourth wall breaking). To counterpoint the bathroom lesson is the Aero movie theater scene (its name goes with the fallen plane engine), which stars Frank as well, and involves Donnie's second lesson in time-travel displayed on a movie screen that portals. Now instead of standing on other sides of the celluloid, they face it, proving Kelly animates, or progresses his metaphors. The double-feature even has a subtle aside using Scorsese's martyr-opus, Last Temptation of Christ as a second feature, unseen. That film ends with a rising son blitzed into a light show that can only be considered celluloid abstraction (it's pure analog optic). Scorsese blends his Jesus with light just as Kelly does, only Kelly makes him aware of his dimension. His prison. And his release into light: he's laughing not suffering. He gets the joke. Once you really put the two films in the double-feature together, or spot what the engine goes through before it gobbles Donnie (or a million other clues), you see what Kelly's getting at.

     

    Gretchen replaces the film screen between Donnie and Frank.

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    During a training exercise, Apache helicopters aim their gun's cameras at a splintering Columbia.

    The final three objects hitting the ground are the shuttle's engines.

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    Los Angeles: When the dust settles on the silent era, some brilliant gems emerge. Tod Browning, apprentice and extra for D.W. Griffith, hit his peak in 1927 with the boomtime's most unsettling nightmare, The Unknown. A horror-romance, MGM's Unknown hybridized genres before the suspense genre mummified into Universal's pure shocks. Lustrous Joan Crawford and and anti-hero Chaney define the extremes of attraction and repellance in mere scenes. That the modes shift from drama to romance to horror so quickly means Browning manages his mode-jerks as if he'd done this twenty times before. He hadn't. No one had. Must be seen to be believed. Part of a three day, six film retrospective at the Aero.