Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend views and self referential rubbish

A weekend or two of working on chronicling the entire history of 'rawk' music for my old paymasters has left me a bit frazzled, but not too frazzled to write nonsense folks! Witness what pretty moving pictures I have seen on a piece of white fabric stretched in front of my glazed eyeballs! 2007 is turning into the year of eye candy. And about bloody time, say I. DISPENSE with plot! FIE on linearity! TISH and (probably) PISH to narrative. Let's all get wrecked and look at the colours. Three movies have proven this to be no bad thing. Firstly the real silliness: 300 was as bombastic and (I think) right wing as it promised. But boy, within five minutes, as you realise that no one even BEGAN to consider the idea of realism when pitching this, the inner comic-reading child in all of us goes 'ooh...goody! PRETTY PICTURES. And they are most pretty too. It's kinda weird when you consider that, for a movie that prides itself (like Sin City) on closely resembling its 2D origins, the most cartoonish thing is of course the acting. Each fleck of blood and drop of storm-driven rain is polished to a pixel, but who cares what the lousy humans are doing. It's just as well as the message here seems not to be about how small nations can overcome tyranny (which is kinda anti-imperialist, and therefore not right wing at all) but about how it's very, very important to resist the onslaught of blinged-up gay folk...with big rhinos. Or something. Whatever, beneath the shouting and chiaroscuro is the liberating knowledge that you really can, now, do ANYTHING on celluloid. Hurrah!

The second visual treat came last week with the BFI's eminently sensible decision to unearth the new print of Alejandro Jodorowky's psychedelic western, El Topo. A simple tale of man and naked son revenging a massacred town, abandoning offspring with Franciscan monks, fighting four mystical desert master gunslingers, being shot by lesbian lovers, meditating for 20 years under a mountain with a bunch of inbred dwarves and freaks and finally self-immolation; El Topo (The Mole) is the Chilean master's greatest triumph. After 35 years it's as bonkers as ever. Suffused with the tarot and biblical allegory, it was John Lennon's favourite film and is worth seeing just for the COLOURS alone. The blood (and there's LOTS of it) never even comes close to realistic. Quite right too. Otherwise I couldn't have written about it in an article of how realism in cinema sucks.

Finally, despite warnings of the direst kind, I went to see Sunshine, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's homage to, well...just about every sci fi movie they've watched. I suspect it's actually an homage to every sci fi movie they've watched while stoned, but never mind. Riddled with inconsistencies - which a colleague insists are the major failing of every such film - it nonetheless (and considering its tiny budget) takes your breath away. Colour is the main character here, too. Lots of blue grey interiors contrasting gorgeously with all that orange and yellow. Yummy. But apart from the utterly predictable plot (and I mean by this that any 5-year old could guess at every turn what will happen next) and the luscious palette, the most fun is actually clocking the references long after it's finished. Boyle and Garland must have LOVED the thought that a zillion nerds would ponder the references. Beyond the obvious 2001, Alien and Event Horizon touches (touches?!? more like slaps across the face) you'll end up waking up in the night going 'Last best hope for mankind? Ah! Babylon 5!' or (as I did last night) 'Akira!!' (anyone get that one?). This is a film that's designed to be digested posthumously and isn't remotely bothered that it hasn't got an original bone in its body. Fair play. Maybe now we can get on with making properly abstract films that aren't tied to all that story stuff.


Anonymous said...

Your rock Garuda! I wanted to see El Topo, but haven't had a chance to. But have seen the other two.

I loved 300 - I think it will be a cult movie for years to come. People will learn the lines and dress as the characters - half of the cinemea dressed in the austre uniforms of the Spartans, the other of the multi-sexual Persian superfreeks (I think Rick James was in the empreor/giant/ sodomites' houseband)! Special competitions will be held to see who has the best hunchback/traitor homemade prosthetics.

Sunshine - mmmm...I quite liked the first 2/3rds, tense, conceptual, atmospheric (loved the feel that without the shield they would be toast - inherently dramatic and stressful. Liked the colour scheme and the slightly 'asexual' feel to the characters), then that plot device happened and started to bore me - I don't mind silliness, but that just felt tagged on to me.'Oooo, let's do that' - maybe they'd been bonging the Purple Haze when they came up with that one, or maybe the studio wanted to make a bit more action and a bit less atmoshphere.

But mark my words - the cult of 300 will only grow!


Anonymous said...

Finally got round to seeing Sunshine, solely for the last 3 seconds of Sydney Opera House under snow. But quite enjoyed a lot of it - mainly for the reasons you described. Claustrophobic space operas always have a certain charm - I can imagine stories trapped deep in the bulk of an 18th century prison hulk would have the same effect, a bit like Strindberg's Dance of Death does. But it is ridiculously cut-and-paste.