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mystery
  • 308312.2216

     In one area above all, the failure to improve is especially egregious: education. Schools are, on the whole, little better than they were three decades ago; test scores have barely budged since the famous “A Nation at Risk” report came out, in the early nineteen-eighties. This isn’t for lack of trying, exactly. We now spend far more per pupil than we once did. We’ve shrunk class sizes, implemented national standards, and amped up testing. We’ve increased competition by allowing charter schools. And some schools have made it a little easier to remove ineffective teachers. None of these changes have made much of a difference.

    suroweiki on the new yorker

  • 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.

     

     

  • 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

     

  • 308244.2209

    Strangely, almost nothing. Both propaganda by death are desperate yet well-planned attempts to lure the West into a multi-regional war. A first and second attempt to set off WWIII, acts of provocation very similar to the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand one hundred years ago this year. The progression here is from dispersed terror group guest to an Islamic state, to claimed state-level government, however fleeting on these geographic terms, it has a source. The question becomes, why be lead into the first? And was it a feint, was the invasion of Iraq a distraction from the true targets? Fundamentalism within Saudi Arabia, Militancy from Pakistan. Strange, no? We attack a country that enforces sexual equality and religious secularism, true it is a Sunni totalitarian state (Iraq) yet so is a Sunni kingdom with oppressive laws for women and a legal definition of witchcraft that sometimes ends in a death sentence. Diplomacy increases in complexity, are the coming wars symmetric? If not, admit them, assign the internal conflict a name. The east-west divide between Saudi Arabia and pre-invasion Iraq. Something like detente or lynch-pin.

    A recent incoherent op-ed by the distant architect of multiple military coups over democratically elected officials (including Pinochet over Allende), Kissinger now writes as if converted to the fantasy view of democracy of Bush 2, not the strern real politik he practiced when in office. The facts are: most world state borders of the 'developing world' are arbitrary, many designed for external colonial concerns, in the aftermath of war. To enforce most of them one needed enforcers, and that's what the West backed, not democratic or parlimentary systems. Each state, no matter its origins, needs a central bureaucratic authority. The fragmenting of power in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and now Libya caused their collapse since they lacked properly defined transitions to power. It's time to teach global realities. A bureaucracy comes before all other realities. If one is shattered, then the country may shatter. Colin Powell's mythic words to his President have come true: "If you break it, you own it." 

     

  • 308214.0709

    This 'review' from Little White Lies, a U.K. hosted film site, begins ominously with not one but two financials, hinting the core myth that surrounds the Marvel U. is composed of a set of values based in currency and product development (and he writes about the currency the 'universe' is sourced in, not translated into his own, or his local readers), not in any psychic flow of ideas. Devolution illustrated in real-time...a review no different than that of an industry hack commenting on an upcoming launch of a pharmaceutical.

     

     

  • 308177.0746

     

  • 308157.2123

    This taut exercise in Blockbuster reductionism-revisionism is the best film of the summer. Actors and gestures of the golden age of blockbusters meet their younger generation in flip-mode. Aliens's Bill Paxton graduates from grunt to sarge (the squad seems cloned private by private from the Sulaco's), while usual leader-like Cruise enters cowardly, praying he'll just survive the day. Restaging Normandy starring Joan of Arc over and over even loads a perverse comment on the immutability of anniversaries by way of timelessness. Here everyday is D-day. Edge's Joan is Rita, a name copped from Groundhog Day inhabited by an actor from a recent looping film, Emily Blunt, who managed to avoid any loops in Looper. Here in Tomorrow she's a recent looper herself.  Although the filmmakers keep the plot as simple as possible, they let the overlap and gaps in the repeat let us fill in the blanks for much of the film. Certain mutations are seen on their first go around, others on the umpteenth, and that's how the weaving gets us, we don't know where we are in the loop numbers (and neither do the other actors). We're in Cruise's Private Cage's drama, whose keeping some kind of headcount, it's his 'film.' Unexplained arrivals are left just that, that's where the film's magic sits. When we piece together the logic, the audience guesses Cage can't succeed unless he goes off-the-grid: the humans (likewise us audience members at first) don't have the imagination to realize Cage's value vs. the alien Mimics inability to use the gift of their own being, and maybe the human adds the transporting, multiverse simultaneity. Maybe it's something about the infection: Cruise is bathed in mimic blood causing a human trigger, the dna, the cell life of his begins a repeating as a chain reaction of the poisonous meeting between both's composition, a 'broadcast' (remember, everyone who repeats is shown only in his proximity...his 'aura' is sustaining this new path). The resultant contrast, how Cage is treated on arrival at the first lair (far behind enemy lines, also involves a liquid, though it's Cage who chooses his, he drowns himself instead of allowing the Mimics to drain a slow death) contrasted against the hunt on him and her after stealing a choice weapon: Liman's stating pretty bluntly that innovation has enemies on both sides. Realizes the in-between is the only smart place to fight a war of time from.The Mimics feint their head honcho as a lure, it's their stopgap that Cage barely grasps the set-up in time. These touches like the Dam-lure verge on abstraction proving Liman's ability to slide underexplained phenomena into what seems to be a pretty straight story (despite the daily loop, the narrative pretends to be videogame simplistic). Creativity is about riding a particulary dangerous edge with unlimited outcomes. The best part is the cake-and-eat-it ending, which plays coldly impossible at first, but slowly worms around in the gray matter pushing a profoundly cinematic impact. The crescendo's Spielberg ape (from the very parallel War of the Worlds) is its funniest homage, you realize Cruise was meant to be reborn. It's some aura he's earned, and now it's more popular in export than stateside.

    When will the scourge of 3-D post-conversion be over? This film is FAR SUPERIOR in 2-D.

    Addendum: Somebody wrote and asked why Looper was never reviewed here...except in rare cases like Edge, overt time-travel flicks never seem to support their weight in ideas. For all the cleverness in Looper, each chess-move creates far more holes. Go to the basics in the story. If a young looper erases his escaped elderly version by dying (demo'd at the end), why create Old Seth's body-part subtraction game in the second act? Just kill him, right? You're not letting noseless Seth go off to finish out his life. But of course, that erases the film's choice gimmick of messaging-by-scar. Now take the ending at face value: if the 'Rainmaker' was so all-powerful, instead of his focused goal killing loopers in revenge, wouldn't he have just sent a team to head off his mom's death? Time is obviously mutable in the film's logic. The loopers that headline then become sub-plot players in a story centralized later on Mom-saving. The implications there are far more absurd than the play we're shown (and might have lead to a more adventurous film). But Johnson is wedded to his genre-stablizing version, with the self-Oedipal conflict posed by 12 Monkey's Willis vs. Young Joe strung out against a parody of Matrix-like 20th century crime tropes. Imagine a showdown using four timeframes converging instead of the three we're shown. That's the loop we should have seen breaking. A son that didn't need saving against a backdrop of two versions of the same person fighting for an identity, one of whom wanted to save that son. There's a far nuttier movie hiding in the dry logic of Looper. And beyond plot and structure, there's the retrograde females in the film: strippers, mothers, waitresses and idealized saviors. That's the residual effects of Lynch on the generation, a fifties view of gender stuck to millenial anxieties. This isn't Kubrick where women's roles are explored through male collapse, here they're ecclipsed. Johnson has the storytelling skills for the decade, he knows how to build ghastly tension, but his overall approach peels conservative, maybe even nostalgiac. And the trouble is it's both conscious: the time-travel expediency, and unconscious: the calcified gender roles. 

    rebuttals go to info@mstrmnd.com

  • 308154.2255

    The resulting image, made from 841 orbits of telescope viewing time, contains approximately 10 000 galaxies, extending back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang. (- Hubble takes the most complete image of the universe ever seen) http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1411/


  • 308153.2358