Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Moonchild is upon us.

The League of Extra Ordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 (2012)

MTV Video Music Awards (2013)
Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil have foreseen the future. Some terrible new aeon is upon us.

Actually if i read Century correctly, i think it just means women are about to rule the world.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Girl, you'll be a woman soon.

Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks "Northwest Passage"
Directed by David Lynch  (1990)

"He's got emotional problems. Runs in the family."

India Stoker in Stoker
Directed by Chan-wook Park (2013)

"Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come to be.
Only once you realize this do you become free, and to become adult is to become free."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Black rainbows in the eyes of God.

To understand where this movie is coming from, there's a few things you should watch first:

The Philosophy of Carl Sagan

Sci-fi psychedelia of Saul Bass

Monday, July 8, 2013

art brute


i've started an art blog:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Do you know the difference between love and obsession?

"Let us imagine an individual trying to perform some simple manual task -

 - say, grab an object which repeatedly eludes him;
the moment he changes his attitude, starting to find pleasure in just repeating the failed task,
squeezing the object
which, again and again, eludes him,
he shifts from desire to drive."

 - Slavoj Žižek, The Parallax View (2006)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Uraveling Isaac

The Binding of Isaac is not only one of most entertaining video games i've ever played, it's also by far one of the most interesting. i've heard this game described as a Roguelike meeting The Legend of Zelda, and while the dungeons and enemies are like Zelda, and the random nature of the floors and items is Roguelike, i feel that's just the setting, or the structure, To me the heart is how you attack, how you play, it's reminiscent of old arcade games like Asteroid or Centipede, there's even elements of both in the games enemies. And that is what drew me into the game. But not the only reason to love it. The story of Isaac, is somewhat based on that of the binding of Isaac in the Bible, God tells a parent that they must sacrifice their child to him. The story itself isn't the important part, but how it is presented however is.

You get told the story through the drawings of Isaac, this game is in his imagination, not to say that his mom isn't really trying to kill him, we see in the first ending, after he finishes the drawing of him defeating her, she really does burst into this room with a knife. So i imagine Isaac, much like the biblical one, gets saved by an act of God, in this case, his mother getting brained by the Bible. In all subsequent endings, we see Isaac pulling things out of a chest, i imagine the chest his mother locked away his "wicked things" in. The first thing he takes out is a fez that allows him to play Judas, which is a pretty funny burn honestly.

But this just further illustrates the point that Isaac has a strong imagination and likes to play dress up. As we see from the loading screens however, this causes the other kids to tease him. The loading screens are a really fun and brief glimpse into the life of Isaac, we see Isaac crying in the fetal position, surrounded by darkness and evil, he has various thoughts that make him cry, kids teasing him for dressing up as a girl, getting pantsed in front of a girl, people busting down the door while he's in the bathroom, falling to his death in his magically appearing cellar door, or and of course, hyperventilating inside of his chest.

And that's' the heart of the game, as you'll notice, every room of game is shaped like the inside of a chest. The last character you unlock is ???, and while Eve is just Isaac in a wig and make-up, just as Samson is Isaac in a Rambo gear, ??? isn't Isaac in a costume, he's Isaac's ultimate fate, alone and blue in the face. He's dead son, ran out of air. Suffocated. It's also worth noting how many of his memories involve him getting pantsed or otherwise exposed. His clothes are apparently part of his wicked ways, so Isaac spends the entire game cold and shamed, lying naked on the floor.

Enough of the story though, let's get into the real meat of the game:

This is the only instruction the game ever gives you.

A game that doesn't hold your hand is a godsend in this day and age.
Sometimes items you pick up are nice enough to give you hints of what they might do, most of them just like to make jokes, and from what we already know, the joke is always on Isaac. As you can perhaps tell from the sketches on the floor, tears are Isaac's only defense. The power-ups you gain are things that would increase your tears, everything from onions, dead pets, a rock to the head, and the one i find the most tragic, a hand mirror with the description "My reflection"
There are roughly five types of items, alterations (i feel calling them upgrades or power-ups would be dishonest), space bar items, trinkets, familiars, and orbitals.
At any time you can have up to three orbitals circling Isaac, these act like a shield, anything that hits them won't hit you, some do damage when contacting enemies, one even fires when you do.
Familiars are followers, most of them are just additional tears, but some drop items, others give extra lives, a few attack of their on volition, then there's The Holy Water which is completely useless.
Trinkets have random effects, from having a chance to act like another item, changing room drops,  or even giving you a chance of getting bombs, hearts, keys, or extra money whenever you pick up a coin. They were added with the Wrath of Lamb expansion, and can be both useful or a hindrance depending on your goal. With the exception of The Tick, you can always swap one out with for another.
Space bar items, i tend to think of as "OH Shit!" items. Tammy's head is a good example, when you hit space to hold up the head of your dead cat, tears shoot out of you in all directions. Not all space bar items do damage, some can change your tears for the duration of the room, others can give you a shield of make you invincible for a short time, they all have a charge though, and to recharge you must clear rooms with enemies, some recharge after one room, most seem to be three rooms, some even take up to six. Combat items tend to recharge quickly, the already mentioned Tammy's head only takes one room, while items that make you fly or invulnerable, usually have the max six charge needed.
And now on to the most important items, alterations. Any alteration you pick up is permanent, though some can over-ride others.These items can change your stats, charge your space bar items, let you fly, change your attack from tears to urine, nearly anything you can think of. The one constant with these items though, is they all physically alter Isaac in some way (save for a few health ups. but considering they're dog food and spoiled milk with names like "Lunch" and "Dinner" they just serve to give us a bit more insight into the life of Isaac.)
Let's take a look at some screen shots of my most recent Judas run:

Here in the womb, Isaac has transformed to a flying demon that shoots giant bloody tears.

By this point, Isaac had become a tiny cat,  roughly the same size as his orbitals and familiars.

Or to really display how crazy things can get, enjoy this animation from a random Isaac run:

In the penultimate ending, having already pulled everything out of the chest, we see Isaac reading the Bible that saved him earlier. He then looks up at his mirror with a troubled look and watches as his reflection changes into a demon. Now in his mind, he feels his mother was right, with a sad look on his face he locks up the last wicked thing in the chest, himself. i mention this because it is interesting how twisted Isaac can be by the end, no longer a scared naked boy, but an avenging angel with a conjoined twin growing off his face, or a cybernetic demon twice the size he started, sometimes you can even be just a floating head. The point is items, even those from God, change Isaac, no matter what you do, you're a monster by the end.

In a recent tumblr post, game creator Edmund McMillen brought up that the annoying pile of guts boss known as Gurdy, was originally supposed to be a pile of dead Isaac's. And goes on to point out that even though they strayed from it in a few cases, all the enemies are supposed to be twisted versions of Isaac. This is most apparent with the Gapers, they're just zombie Isaacs with blood streaming from their eyes. They then start rotting and swelling becoming Muligans, creatures that explode into flies when killed, from there they become Hives, even worse for wear and now actively spitting flies for defense. The final stage seems to be the Swarmer, a decrepit face being flown around aimlessly by the flies that live off it. Other than the psyche of Isaac, the enemies represent death and decay. Though it is presented in the way a kid understands it. Flies spawn from poop and rotting things, maggots are a separate creature. My pet cat Guppy isn't really dead because he has nine lives...

As you can see from the gif i posted earlier, at the end of The Womb, you fight It Lives!, Isaac in fetal form, a boss that starts out being called Mom's Heart. You destroy past Isaac, the one mom loved. After this feat, you can move on to heaven or hell, or as they're called The Cathedral and Sheol. After defeating Satan in Sheol, you get the ending of Isaac hopping in the chest, flashing as every character and a demon to boot, though not ??? obviously. After defeating Isaac in The Cathedral you get the ending of him reading the Bible and it making him feel like he's wicked. The sad glance at the chest. As for The Chest, well i need to bring up the neat progression the game has first. You get the game's first ending is the first time you beat Mom. Later you move into the womb and fight the already mentioned Mom's Heart, which after you defeat it enough times turns into "It Lives!" Defeat that enough, Sheol opens up, with Wrath of Lamb Expansion you can also unlock The Cathedral. Now the first few times you beat The Cathedral you gain a piece of a Polaroid, fortune telling machines throughout the game tell you a cryptic "Bring Him The Photo" And once you get all the pieces, Mom starts dropping a Polaroid trinket, take it to Isaac and you get access to The Chest. The Chest, on top of having rooms full of multiple bosses, is unique in that you can't bomb any of the doors open. The place is difficult, Isaac's make believe won't let him escape, he is confronting reality in the form of ???, his own mortality. After defeating ??? we get a series of photos being placed inside the chest, they show Isaac's family being happy, his until now unmentioned father shown there smiling with Isaac and his mother. Then there are shots of Isaac dressing up like his mom, Isaac cowering from his shadow which looks like an evil demon, Isaac's mom coming after him with a knife, and the last photo seems to be Isaac and his mother watching his father leave.

Two of the most powerful items in the game are related to his parents, the first is Mom's Knife, a weapon of little range but devastating power, you even put on Mom's dress while welding it. Perhaps wicked Isaac caught Psycho on TV one night. The next, which is rather difficult to unlock, is Daddy's Love, it's part pun on the Daddy Long Legs boss, part metaphor for Isaac's relationship with his father. While you have this item, there is a shadow following Isaac around, when you enter a room with enemies, the shadow moves and a spider leg stomps down on them, usually killing them in one hit (the games AI actually gets a bit confused if it doesn't kill them). Even though his father isn't there with him, his father still loves him, is still looking out for him. No really, he can beat you up!
The most havoc you can wreak however, is by transforming into Isaac's dead cat Guppy. As i mentioned Isaac seems a bit in denial that Guppy is dead, when you die, the game brings up Isaac's  diary-cum-will, leaving all the cool items you grabbed on that run to Guppy.

No man please, i freakin' hate Gurdy.
When you become Guppy, your face and body change into that of a cat's (and it's adorable), you gain spectral flight (if you didn't already have a flight ability) and you spawn insane amounts of kamikaze flies every time you fire on an enemy. Have a fast enough fire rate and your swarm will clear the room for you. Having completely unlocked everything in this game, i usually tend to strive for becoming Guppy every run. So much fun.
i imagine Guppy is the most powerful partly because he's a bit hard to unlock (you have to gather three of four Guppy parts) but mostly because i imagine Isaac loves that cat more than anything else in the world. He has no friends, his mother is crazy, and his dad is gone. Just a boy and his cat.
(i suppose there are also the uber-powerful Dr. Fetus items, but that's just Edmund's ego)

All in all, this game is a brilliant look in the mind of a lonely and troubled boy, he spends all day lost in his imagination because he has nowhere else to go. And i just love the way it's presented, even ignoring the various endings, you learn so much about this poor boy from the items he picks up, and the effect they have on him. i fear some people may write this game off, because it's full of immature jokes and internet memes. However, what else would you expect to find inside the mind of a little boy? It's all videogames, memes, and things that make him cry.

The gameplay itself is also top notch, the controls are tight, like Super Mario Bros. tight. Nearly every time i die, i know it's my fault and not game's, nearly. i won't lie, it is an insanely buggy game, spiders randomly slip through cracks and Mr. Maw will slingshot across the room without warning, and there are things that just plain don't work. Edmund however is addressing this, and completely redoing the game, and adding all sorts of new things, and while part of me is looking forward to a harder and better crafted game, part of me will miss the bugs you can exploit in this one.

One useful technique, that i think was a feature and not a bug, and hope will be in the remake, is repeatedly beating the same boss with the help of Guppy. See, you can pick up Guppy's tail, which makes drops change into loot chests, or Guppy's Head which is a space bar item that summons flies, however you can also just pick up Guppy's dead body. This item is seemingly useless at first, and rightly avoided by beginners, but can be used beautifully with the right knowledge. Guppy gives you nine lives, but takes you down to one heart each time you die. So what good are nine lives if you only have one heart? Well, if you kill yourself in a boss room, you'll spawn outside of the room, and the boss will respawn when you enter again. Normally you're only going to do this in the early levels, but after defeating a boss ten times, the drops stack up, ignoring the stat up items, the health drops alone should put better off than you were before picking up Guppy. So this might be a bug as it seems exploitative as hell, but on the other hand it takes  skill, and what other use could Guppy even have?

And if you're interested in more of the wonky mechanics of this game, be sure to check out Xaiter's excellent Let's Play. Nearly every trick i know, including the Guppy trick, i learned from this LP.

Bugs and all, The Binding of Isaac is one of the best videogames i've ever played, and if you haven't played it, you're doing yourself a great disservice.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


For the past few years on my tumblr, i've been posting the lyrics to songs that have something in common one after another. They share the same idea, the same phrasing, or there's something vague that links these songs together.
i don't have a special tag for them or anything, so i'm gathering them here, and will likely continue making a new post every time i feel i have enough to post.

The follies of growing up:

As we get older and stop making sense

Talking Heads - Girlfriend is Better - 1983

We let our hair grow long, and forget all we used to know

Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - 2004
 Now granted, Neighborhood #1, seems to be more a childish utopia of living in tunnels of snow "Then we think of our parents, well, what ever happened to them?" Though Girlfriend is Better is hardly a bastion of maturity: "I got a girlfriend with bows in her hair and nothing is better than that" They both convey a sense of loss while growing up. And it's true, people forget the joys and horrors of being a child, adults make no sense.

Baby it's cold outside:

Why keep me cold, when it’s so warm inside?
Come on baby, your love is too good to hide

J. Geils Band - Give It to Me - 1973

‘cause it’s cold outside, when you coming home?
‘cause it’s hot inside, isn’t that enough?

Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith - Not In Love - 2010
The original Platinum Blonde and Crystal Castles versions of Not in Love have the lyrics "hot" for both lines. And well, while being hot all over is good too, i prefer Robert Smith's revision. It taps into something completely different. The warmth of you woman, of us, will keep us safe from the cold world, so hey have sex with me. i do love the end of Not in Love where he finally succeeds "We are not in love" Emphasis mine.

Snu Snu:
I was lost in a jungle, couldn't find my way
And I saw a naked landing, staring at me, oh yeah
She was swinging up and down, on a vine
Eating with her hands and looking so, so fine

Rocket From the Crypt - Tarzan - 1998

Saw her in the Amazon
With the voltage running through her skin
Standing there with nothing on
She gonna teach me how to swim

MGMT - Electric Feel - 2007
In the second verse Tarzan goes on to say how she taught him how to monkey. And has the brilliant chorus "You could be my Tarzan, I can be your Jane" It also has two of my other favourite lines "Can I get feral with you?" and "You make the tiger go wild!"

Late nights, women, and booze:

“It’s getting late,” she said.
She touched my face.
“Let’s stay out late as we can.”
We’ll drive around the lake, just a little too fast.
My eyes on the lights, her hand on my shoulder.
Yeah, windows down, the wine in our heads.
The city lights just blur, the city lights just blur.

Minus the Bear - Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!! - 2002

Stay out super late tonight, picking apples, making pies.
Put a little something in our lemonade, and take it with us.
We’re half awake in a fake empire, we’re half awake in a fake empire.

The National - Fake Empire -2007
I find it interesting how both songs repeat the last line. Seems the same sentiment, though i do prefer The National's version as it doesn't advocate drunk driving... i could also tie Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!! in with M83's Midnight City "Waiting in a car, waiting for a ride in the dark..."

Something personal:

When I was a child I had a fever, my hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand, this is not how I am.

Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb - 1979

I’m the boy with the gun, in the glass in my hand.
I’m the boy with the gun, you wouldn’t understand.
You wouldn’t understand, you wouldn’t understand.
I’m wasted, I’m not jaded, I’ve just felt this way before.

Pinehurst Kids - Switch - 1997

What it means, i cannot say, but it is something intimate, something vague, more like a feeling.

Condescension is sexy:

Well I only call you darling, ‘cause I know how much it bugs you.
And darling, some habits are so hard to break .

the dismemberment plan - Respect is Due - 1997

You’re so cute when you’re frustrated, dear

Interpol - PDA - 2002

Must be Italian:

Destroy everything you touch, today, destroy me, this way.

Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch - 2005

Hello, destructor! I’m yours for the destroying.

Electric Six - Hello! I See You! - 2011

Bret Easton Ellis posted the following on his twitter not too long back:
"And what have you learned about me?" she asked. "That you can hurt me," he replied, very much in love.

Rashomon Effect:

This conversation is ending, starting right now.
The version of truth that you’re sending, will not be allowed

Knapsack - Skip the Details 1998

Yours is the only version of my desertion, that I could ever subscribe to.
That is all that I can do.

Interpol - PDA - 2002
Nothing is objective, especially the truth.

Windows to the soul:

Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t find me attractive
Look me in the heart and tell me, that you won’t go
Look me in the eye and promise no love’s like our love
Look me in the heart and unbreak broken, it won’t happen

Tegan and Sara - Where Does The Good Go? 2002

Try telling me off.
Try slamming the door and telling me I’m not worth your time.
Or the breath I’m breathing.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s - Vampires in Blue Dresses - 2006 
 i love the desperate way "Or the breath I'm breathing" is sung, like the air is being sucked out of his lungs. i've known people that have feared nothing worse than eye contact, the fear that someone might discern their true feelings. Eye contact is powerful though, from Lady Gaga's Monster to Tonic's If You Could Only See.

Words, words, words:

You stuttered like a kaleidoscope
‘cause you knew, too many words.

The Magnetic Fields - Take Ecstasy With Me - 1997

You’ve got a big mouth, with big words spilling out.
Come here, give me a kiss, with vocabulary lips.

Thunderbirds Are Now! - Better Safe Than Safari - 2005
i often know not what to say, but can express it twenty different ways.

On consistency:
He grabs me by the hand, drags me to the shore
And says "Maybe you don't love me, but you'll grow to love me even more"
And I, well I'm not surprised

Tegan and Sara - My Number - 2000

I want a house on the beach, and you in my dreams.
I need water, yeah, and a love, love, love, love.

Tegan and Sara - Time Running - 2002

I want the ocean right now
I want the ocean right now
I get so jealous
That I can't even work

Tegan and Sara - So Jealous - 2004

Imagine me there my heart asleep with no air
Begging ocean please, help me drown these memories

Tegan and Sara - Hop A Plane - 2007

So it's been so long since you said,
"Well I know what I want, what I want is right here with you."

Tegan and Sara - The Ocean - 2009

After Sainthood came out and i heard The Ocean i immediately tied it to So Jealous and Time Running. My Number didn't come in until later, which is funny because it was the very first song i ever heard by them. It does help that it seems a song about being in over your head in a relationship "It's a silly time to learn to swim when you start to drown" Hop A Plane i didn't notice until i happened to be playing it putting all these quotes together. Offhand i can't think of anything from Under Feet Like Ours and i haven't listened to their new album enough to catch anything, but i wouldn't be surprised. Not to imply this is some narrative, i don't which sister wrote what, but it is obvious the ocean is very important to them, symbolically and actually.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bi-polar Film Reviews

 There is a problem in America with how society view and reacts to mental illness. Too often the attitude is "get over it" and from this i can speak from personal experience. Telling someone that's depressed to just cheer up, is about as sympathetic as telling someone with a broken leg to just walk it off. Something else i've had to do, by the way. Ah, the days before cellphones... but i digress.

There is hope however, social awareness about mental illness is on the rise, and certain taboos about shrinks, drugs, or just being "crazy" are fading away. Slowly, but they are fading.

Last year in particular had a pretty great push in this direction in the form of two movies.
They both deal with how society treats mental illness, but go in completely opposite directions.

This first movie is :

Originally this trailer had Nine Inch Nails' Closer, but they didn't really have the rights, so they had to pull it, but honestly, i feel the music here is better, less cliche anyway. Speaking of music though, the song from this film's credits (Waterflower by Pacific Ocean) is really beautiful, reminds me of the paper chase in a way.

i'm not sure what to make of the trailer, it doesn't convey the film in the best way, almost trying to sell it as perhaps an average teenage drama (and in a way, this is true) However the first time i saw it, i knew i needed to see this film. i mean come on, look at those beautiful and disturbing dreams of sex and violence, and John Waters as a priest!

Oh, like we all haven't had this fantasy.

AnnaLynne McCord gives a fantastic performance as Pauline, a teenage girl with some normal teenage problems, but also some really serious mental problems. And the tragedy of this film, is she's on some level aware of how troubled she is, and repeatedly calls out for help, only to be ignored. This sort of thing happens every day.

Pauline's younger sister has cystic fibrosis, so most of the attention is going to her, society treats physical illness more importantly than we do mental. And it seems to be implied that since they're saving money up for the sister's lung transplant, they're not really willing to send Pauline to a psychiatrist, so instead they send her to a priest.

There's this really interesting dichotomy in that every time Pauline acts out as a normal teenager, it's a huge drama, you know "Why must she be so unreasonable?"  but every time she acts out, in really troubling ways, it's ignored, by family, classmates, teachers, everyone. As mentioned great moments of tragedy come from her moments of clarity, realizing how she's acting.

Pauline has aspirations of being a surgeon, while being delusional to how it all works, and sister needs a lung transplant, so, you might be able to guess how this film ends.
How it plays out, however, is truly astounding, i've never seen a film end so brutally, so horrifyingly, so fucking tragic, it's almost beautiful.

While her mother is out, she drugs her father and ties him up, then drugs her sister and the girl across the street, takes them to the garage, and well, cuts them open and switches their lungs, all the while completely oblivious to the fact that she just murdered them.

Now i might just be speaking for myself here, but i have this real existential horror of the body. Not my body, not your body, i'm not talking Cronenberg body horror here, i mean the body, one that is not living anymore. There's just something absolutely terrifying to me, about being in a room with what once was a human. And to me, that horror is perfectly realized in this film when Pauline's mother walks into that garage.

i must take an aside to commend both the writing and Traci Lords performance, from the trailer i was afraid Pauline's mother, would just be some two-dimensional bitch, but she does try in her own misguided way, and she really does have depth.

So when her mother walks into the garage, Pauline is just so proud of what she's done, and everything that her mother has been ignoring comes rushing to her, she charges at Pauline in a rage, but just ends up embracing her, the film ends with them crying and screaming.

By far one of my favourite horror films.

The next film is a much lighter, romantic comedy:
Silver Linings Playbook

This film is actually generating Oscar buzz, which is interesting, i just thought it would be quietly ignored by the majority of people, but like i said, awareness of mental illness is on the rise.

So first up, i also wanted to see this movie based on the beginning of the trailer, the scene where he's ranting to his parents about Hemingway. i can relate to that, and many other things in this film. Though embarrassingly, i somehow missed this movie was by David O. Russel until his name came up in the end credits, which is funny because I <3 Huckabees is on my favourite films, and definitely my most watched.

So handsome Bradly Cooper plays Pat, a man who lived most of his life without knowing he had any issues with mental illness, until he caught his wife cheating on him, which caused him to snap and nearly kill the guy. His wife pulls a restraining order on him, and he's ordered to spend some time in a psychiatric hospital. The film opens with his mother checking him out, it's been long enough for the court, but they ignore the doctors that think he should stay. She's well intentioned anyway.

Pat is in denial of many of the problems he has, and is trying to get better for all the wrong reasons, he wants to get back with his wife, he wants to be better for her.

He then meets the also troubled Tiffany, played by the lovely Jennifer Lawrence. They have an interesting chemistry, they're drawn to each other but also drive each other crazy, drawing out whatever each of them is ignoring about themselves. Eventually they come into an agreement to enter a dance competition, and it all comes together and a cute and romantic way. And i'm not dismissing the film, it really is cute and romantic, it's just the means of coming together isn't as important as the meaning. Like Chuck Palahniuk has said, Fight Club, could have just as easily been Knitting Club, or anything else really.

Tea and cereal. Cereal and Tea.

i did like that Pat almost messed it up by waiting so long to reveal something to to Tiffany, all because he wanted to be romantic, it's just a fun moment with a touch of realism.

i've heard a lot of bitching and moaning about the end of this movie, how it's some unrealistic Hollywood Happy Ending, and you know, that's bullshit. The entire film is about two people trying to get better, overcome their problems, accept their illness, and move on from the past. The final scene of the two of them being and cute and cuddly, it isn't a happy ever after, no more than it's some foreboding sign of doom. The scene takes special care to show their ring fingers, they're no longer wearing their wedding rings. That's huge, it's symbolic, the movie has showed us that there is no such thing as normal, everyone has problems (and the various healthy and unhealthy ways they deal with them). There is no happily ever after, but there is happy. They're not magically absolved, they're just happy. And i like that a lot.

I hope this means Chris Tucker is returning to acting.
The acting must also be mentioned, phenominal performances by everyone, Cooper, Lawrence, Tucker, Oritz. Though honestly, De Niro gave probably the best, he seems a bit unsure over what to think about everything going on with Pat, but is still trying to be a loving father, and he's completely in denial about his OCD and other issues, the two do eventually admit that Pat is a lot like him though. But the moment that really sealed the performance for me was when he was sitting on Pat's bed, crying to his son, about how he wanted to be there to help his son, and how he was afraid to admit he wants his son to be there to help him as well, it was touching.

It's just a fantastic movie.

And while i'm not as angry as Pat was with the ending of A Farewell to Arms, it did bother me that of all the mentions of Metallica, there was none of their music featured in the film. And i don't even like Metallica! So here, take out your stress in unhealthy ways to this:

i hope i've made the case, not only to why these were two of my favourite films from 2012, but why they're important films as well. Mental illness is just a fact of life, it isn't something that's going to go away if you ignore it, and seeing these two films taking on the issue was really refreshing.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fuck the Cabin in the Woods

So at the end of this film, an Elder God rises from the pit, destroying the cabin and everyone in it, and then it turns to the camera, and destroys it and the audience watching the film.
That was me, i am the Elder God, i have nothing but contempt for this film and the people that enjoy it, and i want to see them burn.

No really, not only is this the worst film of 2012 (which i'm just amazed something managed to be worse than MiB3), it's one of the worst films i've ever seen.

The best way i've come up with to describe this film is it's an ironic episode of Scooby Doo. Scooby Doo is only fun, only charming because of how sincere it is. The same is true of horror movies, the last thing the horror genre, or any genre needs is this self aware, cynical bullshit.

It's often toted that this movie is somehow a deconstruction of horror movies, however, my question is; How can you deconstruct something without even understanding it? Sure Cabin in the Woods points out that there are character archetypes in horror movies, and that everyone get murdered, but that's not deconstruction. It's just stating what the horror genre is, it's about as meaningful if i were to say "Everyone dies at the end of a Greek Tragedy"

The main influences on this film seem to be The Evil Dead, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hell, the main monsters of the film, The Buckner Family are described as "Zombie Torture Redneck Family" which is just combining the monsters from the two. The problem is, Goddard and Whedon seem to have completely misread these films, viewing them as comedies, or worse, films that deserved to be mocked.

A laugh a minute, i tell you what.

Let's talk about the Buckers for a bit. Now, they come out into the world like part of a gameshow, yet our meddling teens are terrified of these things, and the scenes are shot like conventional horror. There is however, no weight attached to any of this, never do you fear these redneck zombies, they're just gross looking and dumb. And there's nothing particularity funny about them either, they're just killing the kids. So what is the tone? When people think of Evil Dead, they're most likely really thinking of Evil Dead II, which is a mix of comedy and horror. But the thing is, it never forgets it's a horror movie, and it's very sincere in both the jokes and the gross. The original Evil Dead is a straight up horror movie, the only thing funny about it is Bruce Campbell's acting. That's part of why Evil Dead II works so well, Sam Raimi realized what he had with Bruce's charmingly bad acting.  Cabin is uninteresting horror until those behind the cameras think they've won. There's a "joke" where the one guy is talking about how he feels for the Virgin, but then fuck her, booze! This is the detached irony i'm talking about, "Oh how deeply I care, NOT!" It's fucking juvenile. Anyway, during the wrap party, we see our heroine getting the tar beaten out of her like a cartoon character. And i ask "Why?" It's far too over the top to be horrific or to fear for her, and we already get the Crew are uncaring assholes, so it doesn't add to that. It's just more unfunny schlock.

Another really weird thing about the Buckners is that the film goes out of its way to tell us that they're different from other zombies. The woman didn't win the pool because she bet on vanilla zombies, not torture redneck zombies. So the movie is telling us that monsters in movies are different. But then there's the purge scene. Shaggy and the Virgin release all of the terrible monsters unto the compound. And we see that the film makers understand nothing about the symbolism of these creatures, they're all treated exactly the same. So despite what the movie told us, it's showing us that yes, zombies and torture redneck zombies are in fact the same. We see a bat rip some dudes head off, then we see a unicorn impale someone (ugh). It's the same senseless violence with every monster. The worst offender is probably the Angry Molesting Tree. For fuck sake. i get it, a girl was raped by the forest in Evil Dead, but what is wrong with you that you'd concieve of making it into the cutesy joke? Angry "Molesting" Tree. It also shows the movies reluctance to go into horror, the unpleasant. Rape isn't funny you see. Nothing worse than a horror movie that's afraid to be, well, horrific.

The closest to horror this film ever gets.
The merman is another problem with the tone in this film, one of the two main guys watching over the teens really wants to see the mermen, he's disappointed that no one ever picks the conch. Well during the purge, guess what monster is coming right for him? Of course this movie being what it is bungles the joke and he's disappointed to see it, we get a sad trombone "Oh come on!" When really, he should have been elated to see it, his dream is finally coming true, the merman in action. He knew he was dead at this point, would he preferred to have been eaten by the giant snake?

i suppose more than ironic Scooby Doo this makes the movie TV-Tropes: The Movie. It's not about anything, it's just data to collate. Look at this nonsense. An index of all the monsters, stat cards of their origins and attributes. Not a word on what they mean, because in this film they're just a name on whiteboard.

Then symbolism, the hierarchy of the film all falls apart at the end. So we have the kids, they're the actors, we've got cameras everywhere and the Crew behind them, directing things, doing the special effects, essentially writing it. Then we've got Sigourney Weaver as the Director, she's in charge, get it? And what bizarre commentary that the director is a unseen and non-influential force behind a movie until things go wrong. Then there's the Elder Gods, you know, me giving you the middle finger. The Director claims they're going through this horrorshow to appeal to these gods, so one would think they're the audience, this vicious cycle of cliche stories will continue as long as we demand them. Well,  firstly i'm annoyed anyone thinks that horror movies are anyway lacking in creativity or originality. And secondly the Four Temperaments is something really weird to rage against. This isn't cliches in horror movies, this is basic human story telling that Cabin seems to have a problem with. Anyway, as mentioned at the beginning of the review, after the kids fail to appease the Elder Gods, they break free, first destroying the kids and the cabin, and then breaking the fourth wall, and coming out for the audience. So, The Audience Will Eat Itself? i imagine the film is trying to say, "Hey guys, only you can prevent bad movies." But the decision of using the audience surrogate in the film to deliver that is beyond me.

This isn't the worst film i've ever seen because it fails at being either a horror or comedy, it's not even trash because it fails to say anything interesting about either genre. What i've really got against Cabin is its lack of sincerity. Take the scene with the cute little Japanese girls defeating the demon, "Fuck you!" the crew member impotently screams. This the ideology of the movie, sincerity and happiness are things to be met with contempt. If the movie is saying only we can prevent bad movies, it doesn't give us an idea as to what a good movie would be. The kids at the end, they destroy the world because they can't think of anything better, they can't turn the evil into a cute animal. If they had actually joined with the monsters (the Cenobites looked sympathetic) and done something new, something with meaning, it might have been an interesting movie. But no, fuck the world, let's get high. Once you stop being a teenager, you should have grown out of the "edginess" required to tell the totality of history of humanity to suck it.

No Donny, these men are nihilists.