>Goddamn, I just found out about this one! Bathory, with Anna Friel starring as Elizabeth Bathory (Báthory Erzsébet , really). Can’t wait! Also, watch out for The Countess, written and directed by the beautiful Julie Delpy, who also stars as the grim blood countess. A must see! Coming soon to a torrent near you…
When there’s no more room in Hellthe dead will walk the Earth
The most boring of colours – black and white – seem to generate a lot of interest when it comes to skin colour. I’m not that interested in the meaning of colours, really, but I like to provoke and question ”established truths” to call for an open debate about sensitive subjects. For example, I may enjoy stereotype jokes just to see the reaction of the politically correct and the easily offended. As for the colour of the skin, it is – whether you like it or not – an ideology tied to social status and racial thinking (racial paranoia?). Skin colour – the looks of a person – determines how we judge people. That’s just the way the human mind works – we tend to judge the book by its cover. Then we turn to cultural heritage: where does this person come from? We need to put a label on this guy. Nigger? Albino? Spick? Gringo? Whitey? Afro-Saxon? And only then we care to examine how that person is acting and thinking – features that are way more relevant when forming opinions about people. But of course, it’s easier to cluster people and to speak in broader terms. In discussions it’s often necessary, assuming that people understand that there are always exceptions to the rule. Still, it should be obvious that race is not defined by skin colour… And that is changing rapidly due to globalisation, unrestricted mass immigration, liberalism, whatever… Fact is that white people in America will become a minority in a near future. Among Americans under the age of 18, blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians who currently are categorized as racial minorities, will by the year of 2023 account for a majority of the U.S. population (of people under the age of 18, that is) according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau. How will we judge people then? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? Fear of a black planet, anyone? Read more about that discussion here: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200901/end-of-whiteness Oskorei discusses the article (in Swedish) from his perspective here.
But what I really wanted to talk about is the way that whiteness is connected to death, emptiness and abscence. You know, blackness has always been associated with evil, bad stuff (the simplifying Judaeo-Christian use of white and black always comes down to good versus evil (which of course is fucked over by Lucifer, since he’s the bringer of Light!)), meaning that this has become the constructed norm. When studying non-dominant groups the sense of oddness and exceptionality of these groups rules how they are represented: odd and different. That’s why this odd representation has become norm. Also, those studies of dominance are often carried out by the dominant: a person who is either ridden with the guilt of being white (most of the times) or is a single-minded racist with a clear goal. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but I hope you get the point and see the problem – a problem that relates to another problem that always arises when discussing sensitive subjects: Which side are you on? People always assume you have to pick between two opposite sides. I think that by doing so you’re clearly limiting yourself.
That’s why it’s interesting to examine when established truths are turned upside down, relentlessly questioned and inverted. The replacement of stereotypes. I found such an example the other week when reading the book Film and Theory and watching Night of the Living Dead (1968), by many considered to be the best horror movie of all times (I do not agree, but to say it was highly influental is almost an understatement. It’s great, but not the best…).
It’s often easy to cluster black people and blackness. Whiteness is harder to put in one category. Look at the movies: The Godfather is not about white people, it’s about Italian Americans. Brief Encounter is not about white people, it’s about the English middle-class. The Color Purple, on the other hand, is clearly about black people before it’s about poor, southern U.S. people. Now check out Night of the Living Dead: it’s got a black person cast as the hero, not portraying the typical black male stereotype. Duane Jones, starring as Ben, instantly made history since this was the first time a black actor was cast in a lead role in a major motion picture that did not specify the part had to be played by a black actor. ”It never occurred to me that I was hired because I was black. But it did occur to me that because I was black it would give a different historic element to the film”, said Jones when interviewed about the role. Ben’s blackness in this movie is clearly there to set him apart from the other characters and their norms, the norms of a white-dominated society. The message is that whites are the living dead. All zombies in the movie are white, and all living whites are portayed as ”dead”: check for example the end of the film where an aerial shot ”looks down on a straggling line of people moving forward uncertainly but inexorably, in exactly the same formation as earlier shots of the zombies. It is only with a cut to a ground level shot that we realize this is a line of vigilantes, not zombies” (Film and Theory, p.746). Living and dead whites act pretty much the same, hence the connection whiteness/death. The film ends with the white vigilantes (acting like zombies) killing Ben, the representative of life.
The sequel, Dawn of the Dead (1978), released ten years later, has the same cast: the black hero Peter (Ken Foree) and the white villains. Same thing with the third movie, Day of the Dead (1985), where Terry Alexander stars as the black hero disassociated from both zombies and white male values. Richard Dyer writes in his essay White: ”The point about Ben, Peter and John (the heroes) is that in their different ways they all have control over their bodies, are able to use them to survive, know how to do things with them. The white characters (with the exception of Fran, Sarah and Billy) lose that control while alive, and come back in the monstrously uncontrolled form of zombiness”.
We had cast a black actor in the lead of that film, never having been fully aware of the implications of that. In those days, the news was all shot on film, they didn’t use videotape. So, there were film labs in cities the size of Pittsburgh and we had just finished the film. We had an answer print, threw it in the car and drove it to New York to see if anyone would want to show it. And that night in the car we heard on the radio that Martin Luther King had been killed. Now, all of a sudden the whole ending of Night of the Living Dead takes on so much more resonance because of that. I believe that we received a lot of undue credit, due to the fact that the black guy gets shot at the end of the film. That was written in the script long before the character was ever cast, be it a white actor or black actor. It was only the last few minutes of that film that we wanted it to look like newsreels. We were all ’60s people and we were angry that peace and love didn’t work. And the world looked like it was in a little worse shape: the Vietnam War, the riots in the streets, the frustration, etc. I just wanted the end of that film to look like newsreel footage. http://www.popentertainment.com/romero.htm
Somehow I find it hard to believe that the facts I just pointed out (there are many more in Dryer’s essay) – themes that reappear in the two following movies – all happened by coincidence. But you never know…
>This list will feature some films that were originally released in 2007. Explanation: This is Sweden, the Northern hemisphere of everything cold and damp, and we’re still a bit behind. For example, Tropa de Elite premiered in Rio De Janeiro in August 2007 and reached Sweden one year later. No wonder those who take serious interest in movies and want to take part in the worldwide discussions on internet forums and elsewhere resort to illegal downloading…
There are two Swedish films I haven’t seen yet, De ofrivilliga (Involuntary) och Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In). I think Gitarrmongot (The Guitar Mongoloid), Ruben Östlund’s first full-lenght feature, is one of the best Swedish films ever (one day I’ll write about Swedish films exclusively), and I love John Ajvide Lindqvist’s debut book and have heard only good things about the movie, so I’m sure both films would have been featured on this list if I’d seen them. As for The Dark Knight, well, it’s an ok movie. Very overrated, though. Heath Ledger (R.I.P.) was amazing as The Joker, but that alone doesn’t make a good movie. And yes, I enjoyed the total mindlessness of Rambo a lot! As for the amount of worthless or just anonymous movies I’ve watched thoughout the year… Well, I’ll spare you the hate and leave you happy not knowing what junk there is out there (Tropic Thunder and its’ fans, please fuck forever off…).
Me and a friend ran the Östasiatiska Museets Filmklubb for several years, showing movies from the Far East (China, Korea and Japan), but also from India and Southeast Asia. Since the downfall of that club I got sort of tired of those kind of movies and haven’t really been updated there. The Warlords reminded me of how mesmerizing Asian movies can be when that very special Asian humour is left out. The scenery is fantastic (so many bodies…), like an epic war poem, or a painting brought to life. As always, the fight scenes are superior to everything Hollywood has ever accomplished. And Jet Li looks old, which is cool. Speaking of Asian movies, I still haven’t seen Lust, Caution. I’ve heard some good words about the sex scenes in that one.
If you had to chose only one or two (ok, three then) films from the list below, I suggest There Will Be Blood, Into The Wild and Eden Lake. Here’s why: Eden Lake made my pulse rise, it made me cringe in my seat. Very few horror movies have that effect on me nowadays. The psychological horror is mixed with blood and comes full circle: it’s scary. And let’s face it, children are as evil as adults. There’s no escaping the human madness. Into The Wild made me cry, think about my family and planted thoughts of relevance in my mind. I wrote about that in a previous post entitled Into The Wild and the ego. It’s got an amazing soundtrack as well. Very good lyrics and music on that one. There Will Be Blood… wow! It’s about life, misanthropy, belief, cause and effect. It’s subtle, but still epic. Last year I was blown away by No Country for Old Men. This year it’s There Will Be Blood. Both of these films have a faint relationship to the Southern Gothic genre. Guess I enjoy disturbing characters who say cool stuff like There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking and I… drink…your…milkshake. However, all ten films are well worth watching.
I condemn you to living death. To eternal hunger for living blood.
Polish composer Wojciech Kilar made me do it. I believe his soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola‘s amazing movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) is what got me interested in classical music in the first place, the kind that spawns darkness, uneasiness and black magick. As with the film, the music is a Wagner-esque operatic epic love story, spanning continents and centuries. The dark and brooding chords mixed with the voices of the damned sets the tone already at the beginning of the film – this is the renunciation of God accompanied by the sounds of the undead avenger. It’s nothing but a musical masterpiece.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is often ridiculed for being overdramatic, and in a way that’s completely true, but what a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that it was purposefully created that way as a homage to the old and grand. This is Coppola’s interpretation. The acting is big, the music is big, the sets and costumes are big – this is opera in the flesh, and it all fits perfectly together. While Werner Herzog‘s Dracula, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979), is more ”on location”, Coppola chooses a stage. This is highly noticeable in the theatrical dialogue as well.
She lives beyond the grace of God, a wanderer in the outer darkness. She is “vampyr”, “nosferatu”. […] We are dealing with forces beyond all human experience, and enormous power. So guard her well. Otherwise, your precious Lucy will become a bitch of the Devil! A whore of darkness! […] Hear me out, young man. Lucy is not a random victim, attacked by mere accident, you understand? No. She is a willing recruit, a breathless follower, a wanton follower. I dare say, a devoted disciple. She is the Devil’s concubine!
As for the special effects: if you know your film history you’ll be amazed. Coppola, with his son Roman Coppola and effects legend Michael Lantieri, uses classical film techniques to create the unique effects – optical matting, reverse shooting, lighting transitions. You name it, it’s all there. Jonathan Harker’s first travelling sequence is the first of many complex time transition sequences that breath life into what otherwise would have been some dead looking CGI effect. Darren Aronofsky – whose acclaimed new film The Wrestler is showing at the Stockholm Film Festival right now – did pretty much the same thing in The Fountain (2006), and it’s equally fantastic. Organic instead of plastic. Read more about the effects here, and check the In Camera: The Naïve Visual Effects of Bram Stoker’s Dracula feature on the special edition DVD/Bluray.
Had it not been for the stiff acting of Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder (some people claim that was done on purpose as well, but I still haven’t found anything from Coppola saying so), and some lagging in the second act – the love story with Mina and Dracula, as well as the not so impressive ending, I would rate this film 10/10. Now I’ll go for 8/10. As for the music, there’s no doubt: 10/10 all the way. There is a special concert version of the soundtrack available on The Pirate Bay, described as an attempt to ”arrange the music in a form which one might hear in a symphonic concert setting rather than as action accompaniment. It is a single movement, much like the tone poems of Liszt, Tchaikovsky, or Rachmaninoff (Isle of the Dead), just to name a few. The emphasis is on a coherent musical narrative, offering a compelling listening experience without any reference to action in the film.” Download the special version here. Download the original soundtrack here.
Listen to the opening theme (the best audio quality I could find):
Part Four of the highly debated movie Zeitgeist is out, and thinking about the great financial crisis the world is facing right now it should definitely be an eye-opener. The movies try to communicate those very important social understandings which most people are generally not aware of; for indeed, this is a sick society.
The first film, Zeitgeist, focuses on suppressed historical and modern information about currently dominant social institutions, while also exploring what could be in store for humanity if the power structures at large continue their patterns of self-interest, corruption, and power consolidation.
The second film, Zeitgeist: Addendum, attempts to locate the root causes of this pervasive social corruption, while offering a solution. This solution is not based on politics, morality, laws, or any other “establishment” notions of human affairs, but rather on a modern, non-superstitious based understanding of what we are and how we align with nature, to which we are a part.
Yeah, you know, that old graphic novel (i.e. comic book) by Alan Moore (writer) and Dave Gibbons (illustrator) which is now being adapted to the screen. I love that comic. It’s kind of Ny Moral in a nutshell.
Because to me Watchmen is about the delusion and condemnation of humanity. It’s about what happens when we abuse power and responsibility, when ”soft-spoken” fascism dictates the rules of everyday life. When people who think they know what’s best for you tell you what to do. It’s about what needs to be done to save humanity. And it asks two questions: Who watches the watchmen? Does the end justify the means? The solution to humanity is rather dystopic and misanthropic, I’d say.
When Alan Moore unleashed Watchmen in 1986/87 he created a whole new way of looking at comics. All of a sudden comics where of literary value. When TIME Magazine picked the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present, Watchmen was right up there alongside The Catcher in The Rye (J.D. Salinger), Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), 1984 (George Orwell), Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy), Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller), A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess), Lord of The Flies (William Golding), Gravity’s Rainbow (Thomas Pynchon), Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) – to name my personal favourites – and other novels by William Burroughs, Doris Lessing, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, Salman Rushdie, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, Toni Morrison… The list goes on. Watchmen is also the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award. All this elite stuff is almost hard to believe, but when reading Watchmen you’ll understand. Or else, in a fascist kind of way, they will make you understand, with the help of the written word, commercials, money, capitalism, corruption, chaos – a maximum overload of information. That’s how it works. But constantly being told what to do raises scepticism amongst individuals, and anti-authority works both ways; some like it, some don’t.
Watchmen thrives on the complexities of life, of being human, and adds to that the odd twist of what it would be like if superheroes – or rather masked ” heroes”, devoid of supernatural powers (Dr. Manhattan excluded), acting as vigilantes – really existed in our modern world. What if God all of a sudden walked the Earth? ”Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”, quoted from Genesis chapter 18, verse 25. Obviously, it’s not that easy. What Moore does is that he gives coherence to these complexities. In his own words: ”it is possible to think about politics, history, mythology, architecture, murder and the rest of it all at the same time to see how it connects”.
Information is funny stuff. In some of the science magazines I read, I’ve found it described as an actual substance that underlies the entirety of existence, as something that is more fundamental than the four fundamental physical forces: gravity, electromagnetism and the two nuclear forces. I think they’ve referred to it as a super-weird substance. Now, obviously, information shapes and determines our lives and the way we live them, yet it is completely invisible and undetectable. It has no actual form; you can only see its effects. Information is a kind of heat. I would suggest that as our society accumulates information, from its hunter-gatherer origins to the complexities of our present day, it raises the cultural temperature. I feel that we may be approaching a cultural boiling point. I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing; I really don’t know because I can’t imagine it, quite frankly. But I think we may be approaching the point at which the amount of information we are taking becomes exponential, and I’m not entirely certain what kind of human culture will exist beyond that point. Except it will happen sooner than we expect, and the difference between us and the kind of people that will exist after such an event will be vastly different than the difference between us and the hunter-gatherer society we’ve evolved from.
You’re saying we might not be able to recognize human beings of the future that well.
Yeah, it could be a quantum leap, a sudden, massive and unprecedented leap. Boiling point is a good analogy, because what you have before that stage is water. What you have after it is something that does not behave at all like water; it’s a completely different substance altogether. And that’s what I see looming for society — and it’s probably necessary, probably inevitable, probably scary. That’s my prognosis. I suppose, as an artist, one of the obligations upon my work is to try and prepare people for the more complex world, to try and make it more palatable and accessible to them and not quite so frightening. That would seem to be a worthy goal, illuminating reality.
PS. If you’re really interested in Watchmen, you should check out The Annotated Watchmen! And here’s a Watchmen Wiki… And this blog post pretty much concludes that Rorschach is a Jew… As you can see, we’re dealing with information overload here as well.
And as for the movies, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V For Vendetta and Watchmen, here’s Alan Moore talking about his disgust for Hollywood, stating clearly that the comics ”were written to be impossible to reproduce in terms of cinema”. He obviously hates them all.
1. Mathematics is the language of nature 2. Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers 3. If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature. So what about the stock market… My hypothesis, within the stock market there is a pattern, right in front of me… Max Cohen, Pi