Sunday 13 November 2016

The RoboCop of Elephants

I don't know if you know this, but they're equipping elephants that were injured in the line of duty with advanced, 21st Century prostheses.

Okay, well that's partially true. The elephants were injured in the line of the duty of being an elephant, which is mostly just wandering around doing elephant shit. By which I mean the shit that elephants do in their day to day lives, as opposed to the shits that they do in their day to day lives. It is actually both, though. The shits are encompassed within the shit.

The power of English!

Anyway, it's pretty much all we should be asking of these guys. The shit and the shits. That and they don't do any of the aforementioned on the people furniture, but you want to be polite about that. Don't antagonise an elephant. That's some life advice.

Write it down.

So, in an attempt to stamp out crime they've now pushed these cyborg elephants into patrolling the streets, essentially making them the 'RoboCop of elephants'.

Here is an artist's rendition:

Okay, not an actual artist. It was me. I photoshopped that. It's the same picture from the top, but zoomed in and tilted a little. Did you notice? I'm not going to do two. Maybe I will, because I also potatoshopped this:

That's his partner. It's a potato. They're a team.

Okay, not all of what I am telling you is true, but you know what? You are not the boss of me. You're not my mum or dad. Well, one of you is my mum and dad. Two separate ones. Not the same one. Probably. I'm pretty sure my mum and dad still read these (Hi guys!).

But you know what else? They aren't even the boss of me either. I'm a fully grown arse adult. I mean, my arse might do some more growing. Summer is coming, and that is my favourite season to 'not ever go outside' as much as possible. I hate the sun, along with a lot of the other outside things.

I've totally lost my train of thought now.

Look, here is a video that will probably clarify those truthful bits of what I've been saying, and what is wild speculation.

It would be fair to say that my version was more spectacular. It's the Hollywood version. The Bollywood version would have a huge dance number.

Huge from the size of the elephants, not the number of elephants. We can only have four, because of the budget.

Saturday 14 May 2016

The Dendy Newtown is playing Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday

The Dendy Cinema at Newtown, being the sort of place that it is, is currently showing Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday, which is a good one to be able to see.

I'm biased, I love the Studio, and I love the different directors who rock and roll therein. Only Yesterday is sort of strange in the line up. It's the one (next to probably Ocean Waves) that's been east available here in Australia.

I can't back that claim with real information, but it feels that way. It's rarely including in the film festivals, it doesn't get its own individual screenings (until now), and it was the least frequently stocked, even when everyone started stocking 'all' the Ghibli films.

The assumptions I've made as the causes of this are that it's a non-fantastical drama, it wasn't dubbed into English until recently, and probably mostly because it isn't a Hayao Miyazaki Ghibli film.

These don't at all influence the quality of the film. It's very good. I enjoy it greatly. But it does make it harder to market than a lot of the others that have been made available. It is also the sort of film that they didn't need to make as an animated film. It might've been cheaper to go live action in fact. Maybe not. There is some 1960s' stuff in there that might've made it hard, but it's definitely not your standard fare. Well, there is more this sort of thing now, but still not piles of it. Maybe there is literally piles of it somewhere. I don't know where that is. I don't get to see it.

It was directed by Isao Takahata, who is responsible for Pom Poko, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and the incredible and totally heartbreaking Grave of the Fireflies. Takahata is, to me, one of those directors that you turn up for, and to that point I'm not going to tell you much about Only Yesterday, except that it was written for, targeted at, and incredibly well received by adults.

It wasn't one of the Ghibli films that I saw before adulthood, so I can't tell you what a child might think of it, but there things in it that make sense when you have a childhood to look back on. It also probably helps if you grew up in the country, and then lived in the city later, but I can't comment to that, because it wasn't my life. Didn't impact my appreciation of the film. I love it, but I love all the Ghibli drama stuff.

If you're interested in heading out to see it, the times and days through May that I'm aware of are listed below:

Saturday, 14th
2:15pm   |   6:40pm

Sunday, 15th
2:10pm   |   7:00pm

Monday, 16th
2:15pm   |   7:00pm

Tuesday, 17th
2:15pm   |   7:00pm

Wednesday, 18th
2:15pm   |   7:00pm

Pick one. Go and see it. It's very highly regarded for a very good reason. Sheep up, people! Get on the bandwagon!

Sunday 1 May 2016

Not Blade Runner Trivia

Blade Runner

As a Blade Runner fan who talks about their affection for Blade Runner in the public arena, I am subject to people telling me Blade Runner trivia in order to gauge the limits of the information I have consumed about the film.

This is fun. I enjoy this. Sometimes there are things that other people have to share that are interesting, unknown to me, and actually true. It is a thing of joy.

The interesting part is a given, because it is about Blade Runner. That is causation. The unknown thing is less common, because I'm across it more than most people. This doesn't bother me. I really like talking about my favourite film. You had me at 'Bl'.

Actually, there are probably a lot of films that start with 'bl'. 'Blade' is probably also not enough, because, you know, Blade and the other ones of those that they made.

You had me at Blade Runner.

The last one is a bit of a weird one, because it isn't something that I can often verify while I'm standing there talking to you while you tell me these things. Sometimes, I know enough about what you're talking about to make a judgement call, but more often than not I will go and investigate it in the afterwards time.

However, there are some quite common bits of Blade Runner 'trivia' that are not in fact trivia. And they're super common. They get told to me a lot. And they all sort of come from a similar place, and concern the source materials of the film.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The first that I'm going to do you for is some combination of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the book on which the film is based) being: A short story; having not enough of a plot to make into a film; and having only a very vague relation to the film.

The novel (which it is) is 244 pages, and the plot of the film is an abridged version of one side of the narrative of the book. Even without touching on the whole digital Jesus preserved as an MMO plot, there are still a great number of major plot elements that happen in the sanctioned android bounty hunter plot that the film simply doesn't have time for.

If you really break down the film, there isn't a lot of plot. A great majority of the film is exposition stacked side by side as they wind through the climax of a much longer story that took place before the film even started. If Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was much emptier than that, Deckard would get some noodles with Batty who'd explain everything that happened prior to their White Dragon dinner date before Deckard shoots him over who gets the last giant, mutant prawn.

The next one is that the title, Blade Runner, is taken from William Gibson's Neuromancer. It isn't. It doesn't even appear in the book. You wan't a citation? How about, on page never the term 'blade runner' appears zero times in quick succession. Fuck you! Never mind that the book was first published in 1984, two years after the film was first released in cinemas. Yeah!

Before I explain where it actually came from, I'm going to put up my last bit of anti-trivia for this session, because I'm going to kill two synthetic birds with one electric stone.

William S. Burroughs, being the other great literary William in my life, did not write the first draft of the script for Blade Runner. I'm not going to lie, I've been so excited by that nugget in the past that I think I've actually promoted it in words on the internet. It might be out there right now. I'm not looking. Admitting failure is one thing, googling it is another.

This didn't happen.

You ready for that stone.

The Bladerunner
It is well documented that the title was licensed from a treatment called Blade Runner (later published as Blade Runner (a movie), which was written by the above mentioned William S. Burroughs, but instead of being based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? it's based on The Bladerunner by Alan E. Nourse, which is about a medical black marketeer, and was written in 1974. This is noted within the credits of the actual film!

Boom! Birds murdered!

I recommend Nourse's The Bladerunner and Burroughs' Blade Runner, but they're very much in my wheelhouse.

Look at that cover over there. It's fucking beautiful.

I don't hate when people tell me this stuff, but I hate when they argue relentlessly citing non-primary sources. Don't tell me the contents of a book you've never read, when I've read it a dozen times. Don't do that. At that stage I don't really care what your source is. I've read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I know full well what lies therein. You want to tell me about different contextual readings that you've read about without having read the actual book? Let's do that. That is interesting. I'm down.

The first person to tell me about watching Alien 3: The Assembly Cut within a feminist context had never seen any of the Alien films, and you know what, it's a game changer.

Monday 25 April 2016

Why I love Blade Runner: The Bastion

The Final Cut is the one they did in 2007, for the 25th anniversary of the film, and it is exquisite. It is the way I have always remembered the film when I'm not watching it. That's what they've done. They've cleaned it up. The dialogue syncs with the video, you can't see the stunt doubles' faces, the flying cars aren't on wires, and you can't see off the side of the set in the closing scenes on the rooftop.

It's got all that unicorn stuff that a lot of people don't like, but Deckard was always a replicant to me. Nothing to do with the unicorn, or the glowing eyes. It's just a better story.

Whenever they need one, they unwrap one of these Deckard replicants, install the original Deckard's memories, and then let him go out and get Chinese food, so that they can go and ask him to come back for 'just one more job'. Maybe they let him do more than that. Maybe he has a shower. Who knows? Then they give him a gun, and send him out to kill replicants who weren't engineered to think that they're human. They're basically monstrous, terrifying children. Petulant teenagers who can lift a full grown adult up with one arm.

He could've died at any point in that film, and I assume they'd just send out another one. I'm fairly certain that there's only one in the film, but hypothetically, they could. If he had died, it would've cheapened his role in the grand drama, and it is. That. A grand drama. For Deckard, Roy, Pris, Leon, Zhora, Rachel, and Tyrell (who is also a replicant) this whole story is life and death. It's huge for them. It's completely defining. But they're just playing roles in a game.

Making J.F. Sebastian one of the only humans that gets caught up in this whole thing (him, Holden, and Hannibal Chew), and the only one we really get to know, and everything that we see of him gives us insight into the kind of person that he is. Everything. The grubby workers overalls with precision tools in the front pocket that he wears. Speech, facial expressions, and body language that all move forward in moments, giving us piecemeal thoughts and actions. An apartment that is cluttered and untidy in two rooms, while the rest is in a state of near complete dilapidation. His friends consist of incomplete people, dummies, and children, with the only two that seem to be of any great complexity being a caricature and a teddy bear who're dressed in military getup.

Sebastian is the only one of the humans who're killed that we get to know, and they make a point of showing us that he is essentially alone. I mean, he's not. He's not. He has friends. He has his friends. The friends that he made. The friends that he genetically engineered. It's important to understand that. They're alive. They're living things.

J.F. Sebastian may be only tangentially associated with society, but he's not alone. That's what they're showing us.

He's surrounded by these living things, and the last time that they see him is when he leaves with Roy to see Tyrell.

How complex are their minds? How complex is their understanding of the world? It's stated in the film that Tyrell designs the minds of the Nexus models, but what are the extent of J.F. Sebastian's talents in the area? Their not complex enough not to walk into walls, but definitely complex enough to be wary of Roy and Pris where Sebastian is not. Not enough to look past the gift of human interaction.

So, these replicants play out their grand opera. Their lives and existences are defined, and their epic roles are cast in high melodrama, and in their wake they've destroyed something that was a kind of beautiful, and in reality, there isn't anyone left to give a shit. Not really. It's terrifying, and it's tragic, and it's straight up fucking beautiful.

Then you never see the teddy bear again after Roy and Sebastian go to see Tyrell. Did he understand enough of what was going on that Pris had to kill him? Was she worried that he might warn someone who came by? Did she coax the bear away from JF's other friends and crush the life out of him as a precaution? Did this all happen when we weren't looking?

I'm telling you now that I can't deal with that. That bit's too much for me. It can be argued that you can hear him greeting Deckard when he arrives, but you just don't see him, and that's enough for me. I argue that point, because the image of Pris at her most violently predatory towards this sentient teddy bear who only at the last moment might understand what is happening is too much for me.

But either way, the replicants still go on with what little's left of their lives, and the city rolls on. The Blade Runner unit gets out another Deckard when they need it, and the Tyrell Corporation gets out another Rachel and another Tyrell.

But next time it plays out this funny little guy who built himself his own little bastion from the decaying world around him and populated it with the things in his own mind won't be there, but the friends he left behind will be. Will they always wonder what happened to him? Do they continue to expect him home at any moment? Are they sad? Do they miss him?

It makes me cry every fucking time, because it should.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Wonder Woman: Dawn of Justice

I wanted to say a whole seperate thing about Dawn of Justice's Wonder Woman, because she's not in the title of the film, and really the only reason she isn't there is because it's been so long since she's been really clear in the public consciousness.

But when she turns up in the costume and her new theme booms through the cinema you're pretty certain that she needs her own film.

Outside of the comics she's mostly been an ensemble player since her TV series ended in 1979. Then for years it was Super Friends, then all those Justice Leagues that they've had, of which Super Friends is also one. There was the animated Wonder Woman, which despite being both critically and financially successful compared to other animated DC films is still fairly obscure.

But, I could go on about how much I really like all of the animated depictions of Wonder Woman until the cows come how, but I don't have cows anymore, and even when I did, they were steers. And they never really wandered far enough away that we really worried about whether or not they were home. But I could happily, because there's some pretty wild stuff in that rabbit hole.

Like so many other DC characters, Wonder Woman's public image sort of suffered at the hands of previous mainstream depictions. They weren't necessarily bad when it was that they were happening, except for Super Friends, which apart from that one half of every episode for that one season was more or less entirely terrible all of the time, but those other ones, they didn't age well.

Linda Carter was great, but the decades have flown by in their invisible jet, and she just sort of looks silly, but they all do. Less silly than Adam West, but probably about as silly as Christopher Reeves, except in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace where everybody looks incredibly silly.

I am way off mission here.

This new Wonder Woman is the Wonder Woman that I think she is meant to have been. They've gone back to the mythology. Imagine a more serious take on a cross between Highlander, Athena, James Bond, and Xena: Warrior Princess, which now that I'm saying it sounds really silly, but just try and imagine that, but with a really serious face.

That's what's happening. It's fucking weird if you think about it too hard. But that's who she's always been really. I mean tonally, no. No. DC are bad this, I've said so before, but this is good.

I've spoiled shit already. If you go back over what I've just said, I've spoiled stuff, but that isn't really important. What is important is that this new Wonder Woman is an Amazonian super spy, who's come to wreck shop.

That's her thing. It's one of her things. She has lots of things.

The lasso is there, and the braces, but she's also got a sword and shield, which makes sense as a great Amazonian warrior. The invisible jet is gone. I mean, I assume so. I didn't see it. That was terrible. I won't do that again.

Yes, I will.

Wonder Woman really drives home why as a DC Comics fan I really, really enjoyed Dawn of Justice. There are some weaknesses in the film as a film, but I don't rally care, because there were a lot of things in it that I really enjoyed, and of which I want more, and I want more of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, which I will get in 2017's Wonder Woman.

We all understand the rush that was put on this movie. We know that it was just going to be the sequel to the last one they made, but with the title fight spin, but they were adamant that they would get their Avengers out of the gate, and I feel like they forced themselves to cover a ton of ground that they perhaps didn't need to, but the Wonder Woman stuff is good. Excited for the future of the franchise good.

Excited that she might spend more time in the foreground of the popular consciousness.