As for these “last man on Earth”-movies, The Quiet Earth (1985) must be one of the best yet. The first act, where scientist Zac Hobson wakes up in a world totally devoid of human life, is amazing. As Zac gradually finds out what’s happened (the usual story of a science experiment gone wrong) we get to follow his transformation from man in a suite to man in a woman’s dress… and beyond. As he lets loose on a Kurtz-like journey in this empty world – trying to fill it with sense, but ends up with madness – we’re reminded of the chains that hold us down in everyday life. Because what would you do if you were all alone in this world? Keep on enduring the daily grind or explore life further? The scene where Zac talks to God and fires a round of ammo into the face of Christ says it all.
The film sort of loses its magic midway through, but still keeps a very good 80’s kind of pace until the end. If you’re into 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Moon (2009), this is something in between. A must see.
We all know about ”the six million Jews” figure, we hear about that everyday (you hardly have to be a news junkie to catch that). The Holocaust certainly was unique. But so was the extermination of possibly as many as sixty million Africans during the African slave trade, and so was the near-total extermination of one hundred million American Indians. You don’t hear about that quite as often. As for American Indians, this was about the total extermination of entire cultural, social, religious, and ethnic groups. When speaking of the Holocaust, we make fine distinctions among the different populations of Europe, but lump ”Africans” and ”Indians” into one single category. Maybe this is one reason why these genocides – which are far worse in terms of sheer numbers of people killed – are being ignored? And of course, the uniqueness of the Jewish people (the People’s Front of Judea!), Jews as the chosen people, makes the Holocaust so much more special and important. This is where the Holocaust religion comes marching in.
If you’re interested in the boundary between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, Defamation ought to be a movie worthy of your interest. It is directed by Yoav Shamir, an Israeli Jew, who also made the amazing Checkpoint documentary. Shamir is interested in non-violence based on game theory. In game theory [quoted from an IMDB review], “the ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ states that the only concern of each individual player (or ‘prisoner’) is to try to maximize his own advantage, without any concern for the well-being of the other players. Both players will be tempted to harm the other player even though they would both ultimately benefit more by cooperation”. This pretty much describes the situation in Israel.
I was supposed to write something deep and meaningful about Avatar, but found that Gilad Atzmon, one of my favourite writers/musicians/activists, already had done so, and way better than I will ever be able to.
However, I might as well tell you this: At first, I was a huge sceptic. I’m a pretentious asshole when it comes to movies, music, philosophy, literature, pretty much everything – and I like it that way. I was only interested in the technical aspects of the movie, and imagined the plot would be embarrasing. It was embarrasing as hell, worthy the mindset of a five year old, but I can deal with that this time, since the overall experience was completely mindblowing. You must see this in 3D in a good venue, anything else is a crime. It was a jaw-dropping experience, and so damned far away from the 3D experience I had back in the 80’s. The 3D stuff is certainly not a gimmick. I’d rate it 10/10 for being a true milestone in film art, but a mediocre 1/10 when it comes to the plot. Also, the movie is interesting on so many different levels, other than the technical. The politically correct have been talking about Avatar as being racist against Africans, while the politically defect have been saying that Avatar is anti-white. I find both of their conclusions quite hilarious!
Avatar may well be the biggest anti War film of all time. It stands against everything the West is identified with. It is against greed and capitalism, it is against interventionalism, it is against colonialism and imperialism, it is against technological orientation, it is against America and Britain. It puts Wolfowitz, Blair and Bush on trial without even mentioning their names. It enlightens the true meaning of ethics as a dynamic judgmental process rather than fixed moral guidelines (such as the Ten Commandments or the 1948 Human Rights Declaration). It throws a very dark light on our murderous tendencies towards other people, their belief and rituals. But it doesn’t just stop there. In the same breath, very much like German Leben philosophers (Generally speaking the Leben Philosophers stood for paying philosophical attention to life as it is lived ‘from the inside’, as opposed to Kantian abstractions, scientific reductions, positivism and naturalism.), it praises the power of nature and the attempt to bond in harmony with soil, the forest and the wildlife. It advises us all to integrate with our surrounding reality rather than impose ourselves on it. Very much like German Idealists and early Romanticists, it raises questions to do with essence, existence and the absolute. It celebrates the true meaning of life and livelihood.
It is pretty astonishing and cheering to discover Hollywood paving the way to the victorious return of German philosophical thought.
One of the reasons that America is defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan is the obvious fact that many Iraqis and Afghanis had been educated in American universities and are familiar with the American way, yet, not many within the American elite or military command understand Islam. Not many amongst the American or British leadership are graduates of Kabul or Baghdad universities.
However, as in the case of Avatar, by the time America and Britain will start to train its forces to understand Islam, it may as well be ready for its new enlightened soldiers to change sides once they arrive on the battlefield.
I would maintain that to stand up against your own people for an ethical cause is the real meaning of humanism and liberty. Yet, it is pretty astonishing that such an inspiring message is delivered by Hollywood. We may have to admit, once again, that it is the artist and creative mind (rather than the politician) who is there to shape our reality and present a prospect of a better amicable future by the means of aesthetics. Read the whole review here.
Collapse is one man sitting in the basement of an abandoned meatpacking plant in downtown Los Angeles, smoking a cigarette and explaining why human civilization in its present form is doomed. The ambience, the music (a Philip Glass-styled score) and the way he is portrayed – like a prisoner in a cell, or like a monk in confession – makes me think of The X-Files. However, this is not fiction.
Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles police officer and investigative journalist, is probably most known for dealing with conspiracy theories. However, I’d rather say he’s in tune with reality and facts, because he has learned how to connect the dots. He was one of the first to talk openly about CIA dealing drugs in America, as well as starting the very influental newsletter From The Wilderness, which exposes governmental corruption.
Before you dismiss Ruppert’s “conspiracy theory” as the brainchild of an old tin foil hat, we need to understand what a conspiracy theory really is. I wrote about what Noam Chomsky had to say on the subject of conspiracy theories here. Please read that article as well.
In Collapse, Ruppert talks about peak oil (”People have felt what a 145 dollar a barrell of oil feels like”, ”In the case of oil or any other substance like that, no matter how much money you throw at it, you’re never gonna be able to increase oil production above where it was at peak”) and the war against time that the United States are waging in their desperate pursuit to find and exploit more oil. This war has been going on since the mid 1970’s, as shown by declassified CIA documents from that era. They were perfectly aware of peak oil even back then.
From here on, he goes on for 80 minutes speaking about electricity, energy, food, the CIA’s drug dealing business, economics, money, population growth, the law of the crash, local food production, moving out of the city, communities and tribes… It’s pretty much Oswald Spengler and Overshoot rolled into one. I love it.
However, I do not agree with everything Ruppert says. ”There is no such thing as clean coal, and there never ever will be” – he makes a lot of these statements. We don’t know what will be invented in the future. Things might change to the better. Even though I personally believe that it’s way too late for science to save us from doom, one cannot be certain that it’s not gonna happen. We might just be saved by the bell in the very last nanosecond. Here are my humble predictions for the near future in one crazy incoherent rant without word wrapping:
In a near future (five to ten years) one thing should be perfectly clear: The gap has become too wide to fix. I’m talking about the gap between rich and poor, men and women, left and right, within extremist groups, races, countries, cultures, political parties, extra-parliamentary opposition, between the digitally informed and the digitally unaware, between Zionists and Jihadists, young and old, freaky Christians and freaky Muslims, between the average Joe and plain Jane… The gap will be the keyword of the future. America will be at more wars than ever (but will at the same time lose much of its power), Jihadists too (but they will gain power) and the world won’t be able to do shit about it. And China, let’s not even talk about China… All we can do is watch the world collapse on our computer screens. Good friends will disagree vehemently on political issues, because politics have gone too far, become too extreme, and it will ultimately tear friendships and relationships apart. Most people won’t even talk politics or care at all to get involved, because of fear of losing friends, or fear of saying the wrong things. People who are rather well off in society will part with friends who are or have been subjects to (for example) racism, violence, discrimination, poverty, depression etc – the extreme political situation will not allow them to interact with each other anymore since politics is in everyone’s face and cannot be avoided. Lots of people won’t make the effort of even trying to understand – let alone accepting – what another person has gone through. People won’t understand that one can condemn the Zionist brutality, but still be in favor of certain Israeli policies. Feminism will rise, and so will its enemies. Hate crimes will be more brutal than ever. Even the mainstream will start to clash with the police. A lot of people who’ve been politically active and always spoken out will turn silent, while some will become even more agitated and more extreme. These “extreme” people will sooner or later be forced to go underground and act anonymously to be able to carry their message. The left will split into myriads of small fractions, as will the right, and the extreme fractions are those that will be heard about in the media. In these extreme times ordinary people won’t be able to tell left from right, since left- and right-wing politics will pretty much be the same, only fighting for slightly different causes, but still using the same tools. In 2015–2020 the world will know for sure that the environment is beyond repair, because the environment don’t care if we close our eyes and turn away. It will just simply destroy us. There will be worldwide chaos, massive unemployment issues, economical collapse, famine even amongst previously wealthy people (the Western world), pandemics like the HIV/AIDS and Ebola, lots of people will die, the future will have to be revalued… What once was considered conspiracy nut theories will be mainstream knowledge, but people still won’t give a fuck. In short, the gaps will be shockingly wide in a near future, and we won’t ever understand that it’s been too late to fix for far too long. What we’ve created for so long will be destroyed in seconds.
Here lies the greatest problem of mankind – we will never learn. We do not understand or care about the most basic equations of life and death. When we cannot even solve the most fundamental problems in our daily lives, how are we supposed to save the world? We are living with the dying. Our children will look down and whisper “No.”
Hegel: But what experience and history teach is this, – that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.
I see no change in our way of thinking, and that’s why we deserve this collapse. It’s already happening all around us. Nothing strange about that, really. In the mind frame of Oswald Spengler:
Every civilisation in history has collapsed. Why should ours be any different?
>The Stockholm International Film Festival has always been a pleasure. Last year I couldn’t go due to various reasons, but this time I’ll do my best not to miss out on some of the experience.
My best year was in 2003, when I had the pleasure of interviewing director Royston Tan (featured in the paper edition of Ny Moral #1). We hung out quite a bit, and watching his film, 15 – The Movie, was amazing after having spoken with him about it. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it as much if I hadn’t known the background, the struggle and all the madness surrounding the creation of the film. The movie’s plot synopsis reads like this: Fast, frenetic, and furious, 15 is the story of five Singaporian teenagers who, abandoned by the system and estranged from their parents and life in general, build their own world in which gangs, drugs, fighting, piercing, self-harm and suicide are common and brotherhood is important above all else.
Royston is a huge fan of Roy Andersson, and somehow somebody managed to get us invited to Roy Andersson’s studio, Studio 24, and that was really interesting, since I’m a huge fan of Roy as well. We got to see some of his sets and his private cinema, and I also became friends with the producer of Sånger från andra våningen [Songs from the Second Floor], Lisa Alwert. I was supposed to interview her later on, but somehow that went down the drain. She’s got some wild stories about the production which I haven’t read anything about elsewhere. Maybe that’ll show up in Ny Moral #2… We hung out a bit with Roy as well, but he really didn’t say much. Good guy, though.
I also exchanged a few words with David Lynch at Lydmar Hotel (check it out if you ever come to Stockholm, they have the coolest elevator!). I don’t remember what we said. He is one of my idols, so I guess I got starstruck. All I could think of was what his big hair would look like after a shower… Weird.
I also got to see Ong Bak, Goodbye Lenin, Aillen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer, The Grudge 1 & 2, Prozac Nation, The Station Agent, Internal Affairs and Memories of Murder – all very watchable films (well, maybe not the Grudge films…). The worthless “graffiti” movie Bomb The System and the pretty dull and disappointing The Cooler are now erased from my memory.
In 2002 I had my most memorable cinematic experience ever. Gaspar Noé‘s sickening film Irréversible really fucked with my mind. The opening sequence with the spinning camera, the evil sounds (Gaspar uses infrasounds that cause awe and fear to make people extra anxious), the disturbing images, the intensity… A lot of people left the theater after ten minutes. Even more left during the infamous rape scene. The ones who stayed until the end were rewarded with a very good film. But remember, it’s a whole different thing watching that stuff in a good theater with superhigh volume, sick surround sounds and these huge images attacking your eyes, compared to watching it at home. I’m really glad I got to see it then and there. It won the Best Film award that year, which is pretty brave, because it really is an unpleasant movie. Even though I think the quality of the films has been lower over the recent years, they knew the game back then. They realized that it was a very good movie, even though it was highly controversial. I like that, and I hope they will bring that vibe back someday.
This year is the 20th edition of the Sthlm International Film Festival, and so far I only get to see four or five films. Hopefully they will blow my mind as well.
The Road I read the book in 2006 when it came out and it was easily the best book I had read in a long, long time. It’s still one of my all time favourites. I wrote about it here. I hope the movie has the same darkness, the same emptiness, the same uncontrollable combination of uncertainty and hope, and of course the same love.
The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch has never disappointed me, and I love how this movie is described in the press: Lights! Camera! Inaction! As a fan of minimalism, film art and Jim Jarmusch this one should hit the spot for me.
Dogtooth I have a feeling this one will be both scary and funny. The Fritzl theme brings the darkness. The absurdity brings the joy.
Waiting Room A short film. And I’m a sucker for gas masks. And the plot synopsis rules: The predicament of man forced to live in an immense void surrounded by nothing but waste, emptiness and degradation. A young man wearing a gas mask wanders through the deserted streets of a crumbling city. Only a few people – all male – still roam the streets and frequent the coffee shops. The anonymous young man is an existentialist hero in a world where man has been robbed of all purpose.
>Yes, modern film posters are ugly as hell. I guess that’s representative for shallow and soulless lives lead by bastards who want everything served on a silver platter. This is beyond doubt the age of stupid in every possible way. People are lazy fucks. People are stupid fucks. I could continue on… However, there are of course some people who defy the laws of tradition (Primus pun intended – check the jam here, its’ awesome!) and create what in my mind is good looking shit. Here are some posters and designs created by allcity. They would be even better looking without the ugly review quotes, but this is about as clean as it gets, and that’s the way I like it. The unused ones are in my opinion way better than the ones that were chosen in the end. It’s all a matter of taste…
Stolen text from the Czech Film Posters website: “Following a communist take-over in 1948, Czechoslovakia was ruled by a totalitarian regime for over forty years. The level of oppression varied throughout the period – the stifling Stalinist practices of the 1950s gradually gave way to a more liberal rule in the 1960s. But the 1968 Prague Spring movement to break free from the leash held by the Kremlin was brutally supressed by the Red Army in August. The following period of darkness – referred to by the regime as “the process of normalisation” – gradually lightened with the onset of Gorbachev’s Perestrojka in the mid 1980s. Like most other Central European communist regimes the Czech one fell in 1989 during the wave of changes set off by the powerfully symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall.
The decision on which foreign films could be approved for cinema distribution and which local artists could be allowed to make Czech and Slovak films was totally up to the authorities. The attitudes of the censors rode the same waves as the regime in general.
Following the Russian invasion in 1968 and the subsequent occupation, the 1970s saw a new tightening of the censorship screw, but it largely concentrated on the local scene and foreign films continued to slip through the iron curtain. Czechoslovak film-goers could see a number of European club movies (Bergman, Fellini, Visconti), more than a few US blockbusters (The Sting, Jaws, Marathon Man, Saturday Night Fever, Kramer v. Kramer, Alien and others) and a good crop of conspiracy theory thrillers (The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, All the President’s Men). The communist authorities liked the latter for their exposure of the rot in the Western world.
But it took until the early 1990s for the Czechoslovak screens to finally see the light shining through such seminal rolls of celluloid such as Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Wings of Desire not to mention any of the James Bond movies or any other film with Russian baddies. […]
Due to the high cost, film posters were rarely imported with the film – a smaller number of French film posters being the exception – and so from the early days it was the local artists who were given the task of creating images to get bums on cinema seats. The Czech film poster of the 1920s and 1930s almost exclusively used realistically painted characters and scenes from the film and screamed the names of its stars often in letters larger than those of the film’s title. Notable exceptions to the rule were Atelier Rotter’s Art Deco works and Frantisek Zelenka’s Modernist designs for the Werich & Voskovec films.
Towards the end of the 1930s, photos of the main character started appearing in the film poster design – usually on a painted background, complemented by lettering created by the poster’s designer. The film poster art lost most of its bite and glamour during the Nazi occupation when the film industry was under the complete control of the German authorities and films in the cinemas were either German or heavily censored Czech productions. […]
The decade between 1948 and 1958 was dominated by communist propaganda in all aspects of life and film was one of its main tools.
The 1960s became the golden age of the Czech film poster. It was a period in which the relative artistic freedom enjoyed by the artists gelled with a range of other factors such as a unique concentration of talent, a wave of new and inspirational films coming from both home and abroad and closer links with the international art world. This cocktail of ability, inspiration and attractive topics to work on gave birth to a collection of hundreds of highly original and inovative film posters that stand apart from the main stream of the genre. While the American and Western European film poster primarily served the film, in Czech and Polish film poster art it was – with a bit of exaggeration – the film that served the poster in the sense that the poster developed into an art form in its own right. It was still used to promote the film but the art of the poster went far beyond the mere capture of the public’s attention. Another factor that enhanced the perception of the Czech film poster as a work of art rather than a purely promotional vehicle was the fact that the text on the poster was usually limited to the film title, name of director and the leading actors – no logos of film distributors and sponsors, quotes lifted from reviews, studio information etc.
The decade of hope ended with the Russian invasion in August 1968. The newly appointed pro-Kremlin government turned one of its searchlights on the arts and entertainment. Paranoid aparatchiks searched for anti-communist propaganda where there was none – film poster designs submitted by artists were often rejected or had to be reworked for bizarre reasons. In her article “Czech Film Poster from 1945 until today” published in the book Czech Film Poster of the 20th century, Marta Sylvestrova writes about a commissioning editor getting fired because of a claim by a communist official that the space between the legs of elephants pictured on a poster for the film “Surrounded by Elephants” looked like a swastika. According to Sylvestrova Zdenek Ziegler was interviewed by the secret police about where he got the 100 USD banknote he used in his design for the 100 Rifles poster and Josef Vyletal had to obscure the US flag on the back of Henry Fonda’s jacket with smoke from one of the passing motorbikes on his poster for Easy Rider.”