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  • 308359.0917

    Manucher Ghorbanifar was an arms trader during the heady days of the Reagan administration. The Executive Branch fiasco known as "Iran-Contra" was led by men who devised a new import-export system for dangerous times: the exportation of U.S. arms (proxied by Israel) to Iran and the importation of hostages (proxied by Iran) from Lebanon to the U.S. A scheme so elaborate it was bound to collapse, exposed by a dissident within the Iranian ultraconservatives who despised the two-faced nature of the realpolitik. Manucher was both duplicitous, failing every lie detector test the CIA gave him, and indispensible, rehired after every failed test to continue his shady work. Was he an Israeli agent or an unaligned profiteer, history has been unable to solve the puzzle of Manucher...

  • 308354.2134

     Masterwork pop-up, printed and bound in Cali, Columbia, 1984. Out-of-print.

  • 308352.2235

    Trailer for the presumed Episode VII bookends the awakening John Boyega (as a Stormtrooper gone AWOL) with the title itself. There's a good possibility he's been inhabited by an overload of midichlorian (gives him headaches, visions, you know, 'can't sleep' kinda thing). That means he's half of the title role, an anonymous trooper gone light-side's head of the class. Is he Skywalker's paderwan? If yes, he'll be clashing with Driver's "red sword."

    The trailer hints that Abrams has his color-wheel work under control (just notice the interplay in hues). Maybe we'll finally get to see the effect of all that TV work. His MI3 was entirely watchable, even with its existentially overwrought climax. Not a pure kineticist/jokester like Brad Bird, Abrams tries to build family tales; he peers into collapsing connections then reboots them by films' end.  When the action gets heavy the storytelling gets mired (as does his sentiment), and there's the question. Will the endless caravan of the space opera sharpen his skills? See it next December.

    Kasdan is Abrams's secret weapon. Leigh Brackett's swashbuckling overkill of a first draft in 1978 allowed Kasdan to extract Empire from both Lucas's storyline and Brackett's characterizing. Now both he and Abrams are leaping over another character heavy first-draft try (Michael Arendt's). The Disney(Pixar)-Lucasfilm pairing has terrifying potential to alter visual media. Remember Pixar was instigated at Lucasfilm, sold to Jobs for pennies, grown into a genre by itself, and sold to Disney - in-turn making Jobs its largest individual shareholder. Now Lucas follows Pixar into the fold. From staunch independent to Fortune 500 in 30 years, the polar opposite arc to Coppola.

    Visual extract: Ep I-III & Ep IV-VI are copycat visual-mirrors of one another (one hint of many, both middle films travel to cities separate from land and set high in atmospherics - above water and clouds. Physically resembling one another, Bespin and Kamino are places Boba Fett escapes from using the same ship, Slave I.) Let's hope the visuals rule again. 

     

     

     

  • 308309.1425

     

    Both a retooling of Inception and a comment on Looper (or Looper-like plots), Nolan's Interstellar goes for broke. Is it incompatible with Wheeler-DeWitt?

     

    “The imagery is necessarily physical and thus apparently of outer space. The inherent connotation is always, however, psychological and metaphysical, which is to say, of inner space. When read as denoting merely specified events, therefore, the mirrored images lose their inherent spiritual force and, becoming overloaded with sentiment, only bind the will the more to temporality”

    Joseph Campbell

     

     

    70mm found it's way into cinematic history when George Lucas concocted a release plan for his underground space opera Star Wars. Predicated by the effects team's discovery of mothballed Vistavision cameras: a shooting process gaining far larger frames in the camera's gate since 35mm stock passed left right, maximizing horizontal space. It's an almost 65mm film shot on 35. Coupled with better grain on faster ASA stocks, the optical printer's internegative became a kind of miniature, hi-res cel-animation, at times passing 20 elements in a highly choreographed regimen of withholding exposure areas. The computerized tracking of objects through cameras in-turn composed elegantly in intensely microscopic scales within the printer. And VistaVision's optical sharpness translated easily onto 70mm release prints. It married fluidly to the live-action's 35mm. The predecessor is 2001, a 70mm/"Cinerama" release which required weeks for miniature camera passes that took Star Wars minutes or hours to complete.  Star Wars is considered a blow-up to 70mm release, since its live-action is sourced in Mitchell-based Panavision 35mm camera negative. 2001 on the other hand required no blow-up: it's a pure optical 65mm camera negative/70mm release print. Spielberg followed Lucas with his own, non-blowup 70mm initial release, Close Encounters effects and live action are both shot in 65mm. Compare the year's 1977 with 1978 and you can see the effect these two 77 films had on the large-format market. Here's Vincent Canby on the first showing of Blade Runner's 70mm print.

     

     

  • 308308.1137

     George Miller. The last of the innovators still pressing the metal. No script, but a book of storyboards. May 15 2015.

      

  • 308302.0716

    The sit-com seems to descend from this key screwball comedy, a comedy of errors and manners, with switched identities and classes, with a chorus of domestics who provide the narrative mortar. Writer-on-a-fishing trip Aherne shows up looking for a phone to use and is lured into becoming the chauffeur for a daffy, wealthy family who happens to have a senator arriving for dinner. Hal Roach, whose early Our-Gang series provided filler for TV's early open scehdule, delivers a powerhouse comedy to MGM, leading to laughs, box-office and Academy Awards nominations.

     

  • 308298.1919

    Does OTM need it's own OTM? Hadn't listened to it for a while, but there's an unusual amount of mythologizing these days happening on npr's observational window to the media. It isn't so much a question of bias, rather an agreement with the mythology of the outcome.

    SNOWDEN/POITRAS: A segment where satire is played straight.

    OTM seems to assert Snowden is sainted; whether the piece underlines it without any contrasting views, or knowingly relies on the perspective, both pre-crucifixion pictures are offered by Poitras (who can't watch dailies and lets her editor make selects) and her erstwhile critic George Packer, who almost lampoons himself describing Snowden's skin tone and hotel room. Whether or not Snowden's contribution to information is ethical or transformative is not the issue at hand. By adding heavy emotive meaning to the event, the show forces a sentimental mood to the exchange between whistleblower and reporter.  And we're tied to it by the verbal description that lingers from Packer (the movie doesn't have to be seen to get what Poitras is going for, it's a puff piece). The segment isn't the cold, methodological job Frontline does (mentioned in the piece), who take their time observing participants. Here are personal terms, personal views, where archetypes overtake reality; the desire for myth prevails yet the photographic proof being discussed convinces us it's too real. Why mythologize? The word sacrifice gets aimed more than once at Snowden, and to what end? His 'suffering' creates a legible persona, one OTM, Poitras, Packer believe an audience can relate to in that role.

    http://www.onthemedia.org/story/citizenfour/

    Later in the same show, the musings of media theorist McLuhan are telegraphed. Here, modern technophilia asserts dogmatic control over the wordings of Marshall McLuhan, whose prophetic rants came true in more than a few respects. These days McLuhan is being reedited, reassigned for other purposes in the new IT economy. For one thing, McLuhan's predicting of text's extinction has been labeled mistaken by the sons of the PC-age, (here it's claimed that text is a rising medium in the age of the smartphone) yet this segment uncritically neglects to tell you literacy is declining globally. Even here in the U.S., where text is dissolving as a medium whether we like it or not, it's begun shrinking to the literacy of tweet and text-msg; surely it will not survive in a handheld medium. Without any precision in the short-form, indo-euro text will become unintelligible fast-food. 

    Even further, Nick Carr looks into the smartphone and sees a hot media. But what is a medium that shrinks all other media into one? Is it a media or is it the reverse? Is it ONLY content? Is it a transmedia thing. Or does it need a new word, like Content Screen. Apologists for the age of the PC (whether desktop, portable, or handheld) misunderstand a key facet of the progression of the newest OS docks by calling them smartphones, they miss (or hide) the point that we're holding PCs in our hands. They're only 'phones' by default: a marketing lure in one medium that's erasing the phone network we buy them from, on already established credit-lines. A kind of corporate chessgame at megascale. Instead of offering credit to 30 million people in one fell swoop, Apple employs the cell net's companies to front the handheld PC's costs. So you could say handheld PCs behave as economic parasites and viruses that erase competitive networks (and media) right from under the noses of 'providers.' And contrary to the show's wager that the 'smartphone' is a hot medium, these little computers are more likely cool mediums in McLuhan's eyes, since they are non-sequential and can work in varying spans of attention. Isn't that a computer in your hand? (I can only find one reference to the medium being 'cooling' in McLuhan's writing).

    Sure, handheld PCs are unifiers. Expensive ones whose costs are buried in spreadsheets and two-year plans. Maybe as bad as they are good. Maybe more than bad.

     

    http://www.onthemedia.org/story/mcluhanisms-50-years-later/

     

    ps: OTM on ixquick, on oogle.

     

  • 308294.2222

     

  • 308264.0810

     

  • 308255.2158

     

    This helical book, struggles and always succeeds in contrasting the perceptions of 2001 with our later cautious distance. As many events as possible are demythified one by one. A psychic process of flipping the sacred and relabeling it profane.  It reads far more like Kafka than any Kafka book, showcasing freely talking suspects who are then put into torture conditions who then tell their torturers everything they want to believe, and then some. Non-existent ties to Iraq are suddenly strong connections to Al Queda, a non Al-Queda security person (with little allegiance to Bin Laden) later pretends to personify a jihadist. A suspect thought to be the number three man in the group's hierarchy is discovered, after lengthy hospitalization and subsequent waterboarding, to be a mentally ill, delusional travel-agent for terrorists with little operational knowledge. A judge rules the Marine base at Guantanamo as beyond the legal reach of the US on a technicality, allowing the government to perpetually hold suspects. A man in Guantanamo so old the guards name him "Santa Claus Queda." The book exposes our chaotic and lackluster ability to see clearly in times of great stress. Of multiple pivots that hinged world diplomacy together, the US blew away many that connected east and west, isolating itself, largely from the reactions to Bin Laden's planned strikes. Like a drunken, paranoid thrown off by a bottle hurled at it from a crowd, the US is punching in the dark. Here's the manic proof. An FBI Agent almost jokes that he's trying to prevent "an airplane being flown into the World Trade Center." In his custody is Zacaraious Moussaoui who asked to simulate 747 flying without ever having flown a plane.  A microbiologist, sent an FBI questionaire to help identify possible anthrax suspects, fingers USAMARID pathogen scientist Bruce Ivins. A former stalker of hers, whom she suspects defaced the sidewalk with her sorority letters, Ivins happened to call her weeks after the anthrax events after having not spoken in 13 years. The FBI dismiss her suspicion, because: "Ivins was the researcher they'd brought all their evidence to." The PENTTBOM and anthrax cases might have been the most preventable and solveable events in a system of merely normal detective work. Beyond the detective work are the judges, who skirt precedent after precedent. Spine chilling laxness is viewed in the corridors of power, where information is used purely in the service of warmongering, rather than pieces of evidence that required confirmation. A will to believe in 'evil' conjures our own mask of evil.

    A must read in these very times; get a grip, and group us against only the atrocities, not the unilateral mistakes all superpowers make.