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trope
  • 312164.1125

    Anime that is especially outer/inner. "Coming Soon"

  • 312163.1533

  • 312162.1604

    Cameron's vaginal opening into light for an epic about mothers at war, where do you go from there? Fincher's armageddon monk chase?

  • 312161.1336

  • 312158.1518

    Holding the cards (in this case fortunes) close to its chest, Chris McQuarrie's Persons Unknown is a riff on simula mystery, a handpicked, asymmetrical group awakens in a hotel after individualized kidnappings. The satiric implications should be obvious by now (see: Lost), a group is plucked from their daily urban-suburban nightmare, from petty conflicts and lives unfulfilled and offered an interzone that has certain properties of paradise (the key is in your bedside Bible/rubbing sticks together for fire opens an elevator), escape is not the 'true' answer so instead of utilizing the possibility of awakening they degrade at times into primitive warfare and infighting. A game loop ensues, hoping to snare an audience in the mystery. The dividing line of this captive subgenre, Prisoner vs. Matrix, knowing vs. not knowing about the trap, is where the nuances start to emerge. As cultural litmus, the abundance of this 'trope' on television is a kind of giveaway, the TV eye began by watching us unconsciously (see the CBS eye logo) and our loopy acceptance of its growing feed guarantees we can never see the imprisonment-to-come. Kathode-Ray or Plasma Kafka. As in comic-book mythology, TV mythology does not like to resolve itself - that shortens any revenue stream, which begs another question, how can myth and market evolve to a next level under the current revenue streams? And the degrading storytelling: What was once a single-dose mystery suitable for 30 minutes on The Twilight Zone is now spun-out, elongated into vast, 100 hour-long creeky narratives with leaking plot-lines and unresolveable, unintentionally comedic logic paradoxes. Incomplete myths lacking airtight structure are not necessarily problematic since it works in our mirror: bland disconnection and loose threads are what the 21st century reality is like anyway, a good reason the core audience forgives Lost. As weird as this sounds, it's a form of unconditional love one could never offer a person. The folding question with the above one, and clearly our era is interested in seeing these narratives play out, is what will elevate these stories to riveting (above a 12 share)? Above image is from the Twilight Zone episode "Person or Persons Unknown."

  • 312158.1357

    Superheroes, from hand drawn to 3-D optics, a slippery slope of myth recreated from Roman scale transitions.

  • 312157.0827

    See Shutter Island before reading.

    Juiced with primal parts of Kubrick and Lynch (and Hitchcock, Val Lewton, Siodmak, Lang et al), Scorsese's provocatively short-changed Shutter Island uses the entire film as a dry run for a lunatic's sanity: DiCaprio's Teddy Daniels, and hits paydirt for about an hour before the operatic hell he's hiding (and hiding from) takes control. In a way, every film fools its audience by keeping us attentive in the dark wondering why we're there, so a tricked-out gotcha film like Shutter fooling them twice - only works once.  Getting to play with the ripest paranoia of the 20th century, the red-baiting fifties, Scorsese splits a mean, fearful ex-G.I. now Federal Marshall right in half and sends one of him in after a missing person on Shutter Island, a too unique, specialized hospital for the criminally insane. A prisoner/patient who vanished into thin air is the lure, and of course the case turns out has not one but two missing persons, both stemming from the same, hidden, central conflict. Recombinant backstory.

    Kind of a reverse "I Married a Communist", Scorsese spends most of his time orchestrating loaded-coded anguish that moves both forwards and backwards, through filmic reality and an alternating dream fantasy. Where they merge is up for grabs, but Scorsese, even though he may know which end is up, doesn't seem too careful about where in the maze we are at any given point. To oblique-ify the confusion he makes the logic unimportant and instead focuses on feelings, moods, atmosphere.  Never has storytelling employed so many metaphors for guilt. Hell, the film's so much of a wild card that the island itself might not even be real (can we see water from Ward C, didn't his kids drown in water?). The naming itself is somewhat of a dumb joke: Shut-her Island. If they had just named it Killher Island we wouldn't be needing all these damned psychiatrists now, would we? The anguish comes complete with walkway crosses and distorted spiral staircases that seem to repeat (it is a Scorsese film afterall, there are connecting, enticing visuals throughout).  What's left to unravel seems to be a Freudian case study. Fire and smoke appear endlessly. By following the flames of the initial version of the 'crime' in a vision, we get to watch the central metaphor find its way home, it migrates from housefire to campfire and through two sets of fantasy masquerading as memory. Where there's fire there's...By following the smoke, and the film opens in a dense fog (see above) we get to see which way things are really going. Least adroitly at a pivotal moment he shows us cigarette smoke moving backwards (a la the flames in Lost Highway) and we know two pasts are merging without Teddy's control. The strange thing, the fire, smoke and blood don't really meet in the central gotcha nightmare at the end, so we're left to wonder if Scorsese even understood the film he was making, the symbols he was employing. Certain monologues are transmitted with a haze that vanishes when the timing is necessary (see: Kingsley's second to last speechifying, watch the smoke evaporate on cue). As far as gestures are concerned, the embrace, like the pivotal bathroom soul-shanking of The Shining, is copied here, and by imitating this and a few other gestures, it gets diffuse pretty quickly (actors play dual characters and dual states), but there is no fun in the embrace, or the mirrors. No allure, just stormy weather. Poe would and did have more fun shrieking with the unconscious past-future, and strangely, so did Scorsese's heirs, you wonder why it's all not really exciting then you realize Ben Kingsley is a terrible stand in for Vincent Price or Walter Pidgeon, he can't play both halves of a villain so he varies between good and evil instead of keeping it real-like. The villains seem fatigued (except for Max Von Sydow). The crime being committed by the filmmakers is their lack of gestation improv with narrative POV's. You can tell without reading the book Scorsese and his writers are taking Lehane very seriously, and literally, and don't improvise other doorways the novel didn't try, they just condense it and add a few red herrings. Invoking The Shining with spirit, technique and music is a cheapshot since that film was about altering every aspect of its source material. Kubrick made a full conversion to film, his film defies the novel's sticky medium by avoiding its literary tactics, The Shining is authentically a film. By separating 'fantasy' from fantasy, Scorsese and team stick to rules that keep their overall structure logical to a tee. They don't go deeper than the book and there's the rub, to make a masterpiece from pulp you have to transform it and none of that is occuring here. The paradox is that Scorsese didn't have a full writer's role in this film's development, the script's innovations emerge from other non-filmmaking writers.  Had Kingsley or Sydow reappeared as inmates, or Teddy's wife as a well disguised suspect or patient, the film might never have to drift into Teddy's 'dreams' for the proof.  Scorsese could have upped the ante and the possibilites. He would have to present 'apparent' reality more vigorously. Since the veracity of most of the truth is up for grabs anyway, why not really send the audience home amazed, shocked at Teddy's inner distortions as opposed to his 'troubled visions' that veer towards music video interludes or drawn from fugue states in other, better films. And Scorsese's females, as usual they are tense afterthoughts at best, constricted wooden game-pieces, their pain veers from overwrought to mechanical (since they are reading from 'scripts' in the film's gotcha). This is opera no rehearsal day can make up for, here's where Kubrick always scored, since he knew how to record his actresses' unconscious, Scorsese expects these actresses to deliver 'the method' in five takes but they're unsure how to play it. B-movie, Hitchcock or Verdi. Michelle Williams is the most out-on-a-limb, she can't raise her performance above a high school musical since her task is insurmountable, she's literally on her own in those memories, and Scorsese doesn't craft subtle alternates, he's more comfortable with jump-cutting (a Scorsese rarity) than with distortions in revelations (a Scorsese never).  Since Teddy is essentially searching for himself, we get only fleeting glances of the mayhem penetrating 'reality' (early on motions are distorted, there seem to be subtle continuity errors, even in backgrounds) and these should have remained the fullest experience in reality distortion. The graphic sensibilities at times are right on target; as Teddy tours the head-shrink's office and spots an engraving with a mental patient, showing his head strapped to a blinder box with an arched doorway shape as the view-portal, Teddy seems to know the box is in effect already, he's wearing a metaphoric box. It is, he clicks when he spots this detail. Watch the archway grace the film endlessly. Ward C's central courtyard is a redo of of the box's arch as a rotunda only darkened into near invisibility (check the detailing on the few panels visible in the darkness). It's too bad the overall layout of the island is strictly videogame-lazy, Ward C feels lobbed onto the film's exceptional campus symmetry, it's just the nightmare added to the revival urban planning. It looks sloppily conventional. And the chain-link patterns, reused endlessly too, are more of a giveaway, the question becomes where (what ward) does Teddy experience this all from? Even lamer is the faux drama of the staginess, we know looking back how weird it all looked because we know who Teddy is now finally, or who he thinks he is. The problem with Shutter Island is there is no villain and no causality, it's not really that fun (and it could have been); the cat and mouse is purely didactic, we're led to the shocking finality staged as a pastoral fantasy, and it rings hollow since it can only be as staged as Minority Report's fantasy island ending pretends it is. He wants us to think it's real but the lingering doubt is necessary and a component to Scorsese's near stoicism. Something feels flatly cynical in all these mindgames. And that's where the film dies, it doesn't make the ending real at all, Scorsese stages the lake scene in overdone technicolor, like a Sirk or an Anthony Mann film, but the choice makes no sense anymore. Is he claiming Teddy's guilty either way because his 'memory' romanticizes his nightmarish discovery and subsequent revenge?  He can't possibly believe Teddy is the villain but DiCaprio is rapidly exposed and left in the archetype to flail, he's the one that could be visiting his wife here but instead he's here: the guilty replacing the guilty-dead. The film's gotcha ending is the final letdown and it converts any villain, even the island itself, into a wildcard.  A film made for psychiatrists by psychiatrists that ends up worshipping them and their art (talk about archetype code-sharing with directors). The same paranoia that suffused and ended The Aviator perfectly ends it here needlessly, since we assume that Teddy knows who he is and is in the end, just faking it now to finish the job, temporarily, and it's incomplete enough to have Chuck call him Teddy before the needle is shown. Scorsese wants to leave the audience guessing but he ends on the cheapest shot of all: The staff know him much better as Teddy. Next stage for Leo is the similarly dreamworld caper Inception. Let's hope Nolan doesn't botch it as badly as this.

  • 312156.1207

  • 312153.2023

  • 312152.0345

    "The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias "Neo" and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not"

    Ilmārs Poikāns is a Latvian AI researcher at the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Latvia. He has used the pseudonym Neo (of The Matrix), and is also known in the press as Latvia's "Robin Hood".

    Allegations of illegal access to tax records

    Ilmārs was arrested and later released; prosecutors released a statement saying "Taking into consideration his attitude, his confession of the crime, and his cooperation in the investigation, we did not seek his pre-trial detention." Some allege that the arrest came as a result of a search of TV journalist Ilze Nagla's house on Tuesday May 11, 2010.

    After his arrest there were reports of a flash mob outside the government's cabinet office.

    Ilmārs is alleged to have illegally accessed 7.5 million tax records and divulged pay rises for some high ranking public sector employees while rank and file employees were forced to take pay cuts as high as 30%.