Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Moon was an excellent film, it was visually great and the characters were personable.  It had elements of so many films we have seen this whole semester that is was a really good movie to end this semester on.  I haven't seen a lot of Sam Rockwell's work but he was indeed a good actor chosen to play this part.  His character is the most important thing and the fluidity of it is also very important.

The movie starts out what we think are the last remaining weeks of Sam Bell's three year contract on the space station on the moon mining helium three.  Sam has been up there all alone for three years left to entertain himself and maintain the ship.  How terrible, stuck all alone for three years, the way you would miss just being around something alive.  So of course he starts talking to himself and to Gerty the awesome robot that is there to protect him.  I wouldn't need three years to start talking to myself I know that, in that sense Sam is emotionally strong that he remains as sane as he does during the three years.  Sam has a wife and daughter back on Earth that his misses so much and he can only see video messages she leaves him and cannot really talk to her or to anyone because the communication system has been destroyed or so he thinks.  Sam goes out to repair something and sees something that causes him to crash his truck, he wakes up in the infirmary to Gerty telling him he was in an accident but Sam walks in on Gerty having a live conversation with the main station leading him to be suspicious.  He talks Gerty into letting him out and he discovers his own body at the crash site still alive.  He wake up the other Sam Bell and they are weirded out by each other.  Which is expected, the theme of clones or having a duplicate have been in the last few films we have viewed.  Another Earth had a mirror planet, Primer had doubles because of time travel, and now in this film there are clones.  Turns out that there is a secret room that holds hundreds of Sam Bells just waiting to be revived for their three year contract.  Really it seems like a smart plan to have clones to the job but the part that is funny is that Gerty seems more than capable of doing all the tasks Sam could do.  The emotional level that Sam holds is the whole movie however.  This movie has been impacted by Silent Running and Gravity and Space Odyssey visually and in the plot and character shaping.  Sam reflects Freeman from Silent Running very heavily by talking to himself and making friends out of his surroundings.  Gerty is the most human out of all the characters, the computer shows a personality and that is one of the aspects that is not addressed completely in this film.  Gerty states that he is there to protect Sam but Gerty also shows that he is not stupid and he thinks for himself sometimes.

The future of science fiction is always interesting but one of the best things to think about while viewing new films or television shows is the impact that the past and current events play into the whole that is created.  We are products of our environments and that can be shown through many different methods.   


Primer Primer Primer, once I started this movie I knew there were going to be moments where I sighed in a way that meant "oh god, really?".  The main characters wear the same outfit the whole movie and I know that is a stupid thing to point out but now I will forever think of an engineer only being able to wear a white button up shirt with a tie and some lame pants.  Their real lives are so boring and routine that they "accidentally" come create a time machine.

They make this time machine that is able to take them back just about a day so they can do easy money making tricks with this ability and that is what they do.  What is funny about this movie is that the whole focus is just on the men, the women that are married to these men are never really given a moment to develop a character and the men rarely talk about the women except for the plan to take the bullets out of the shot gun.  They grow so confident that they end up killing versions of themselves.  But what does the future hold for them? What could they possibly do?  How can they live "normal" lives?  They decide to split and I think it is for the best.  They may be friends and have each other's trust but what is most important to their lives are very different. 

Ultimately that is what I think breaks them up the most. The fact that they want different things  in life and that continuing the time travel just means more and more confusion and problems.  This movie was good in the sense that is seems probable of what could happen if this machine was created in current times.  The way the character talked way so confusing that I stated just tuning it out and relying on images and body language to see what was trying to be communicated.  The speech adds to the reality of the situation and the way friends would talk to each other.  Overall not my favorite movie but it deserves some respect.

Another Earth

Another Earth...wow...something I have never seen before but so beautifully done, the shots and pauses really the dialogue of this movie.  Not to mention written and starring the same beautiful woman, but for me that also adds to how interesting and good this movie is. 

Another Earth is about a young high school graduate that has her whole bright white blonde beautiful model life ahead of her because she is super smart.  Her plans to college are set and the future will happen in a matter of months.  On the night of celebration for that moment when you are supposed to be turning more into an adult she makes a bad choice that we all have probably been guilty of before, she drives a bit drunk.  Listening to her radio station and hearing about the visibility of another planet she rolls the window down and stares to the stars.   Driving with no attention paid she flies through an intersection and smashes into a car carrying a family, she comes to and gets out of her car to see the terrible scene that remains.  Bam! 4 years later she is leaving jail or prison or whatever they were keeping her in she is getting out.  At this point I cannot even imagine what her mental state is, I know that I would be so devastated and depressed.  She most definitely is of course and tries to get back on her feet as best she can.  She gets a job as a janitor at a high school and of course it sucks but what is she is going to do!?  Well this is what she is going to do, she is going to track down the man that survived the car crash and invade his life.  She sees that he was once a great composer professor and had a family and la la so sad now because all he does now is invite hookers over and drink whiskey.  I don't understand why that part of it is never really addressed.  This movie largely for me was about depression and how some people try to over come it.  She tries to repay her debts in a way, by cleaning his house and trying to make him happy.  She goes too far though, she creates this bond with him and they have sexual relations.  At this point I felt she had broken my trust as a strong female character, I was so mad she had sex with him because it was the worst thing she could have done and she should have known that.  But also that adds to why the movie stands out so much.  What I have left out about the story is that there is a contest that if you win you get to visit Earth Two, a supposed mirror planet with people that are us living on it.  Rhonda, the main character, sends her essay about how she is a felon and has nothing to lose but is also super smart so she is perfect.  She wins but then reveals to John the man who's family she killed that she is leaving and he is so sad because they had sex and she cleans his house and she doesn't even take his money and now he loves her.  Mmm when I put it that way it is not so romantic or dramatic as it is in the film, but that is essentially what happens.  She can't hold it in any longer and lets him know she killed the only people he loved in his life and now she is the thing he is trying to love.  He is mad and crazy and she then realizes that there is a wrinkle, there was a shift of time and the planets sync-ness was messed up so his wife and kids could be on the other planet!  She gives him her winning ticket to Earth 2 to go find his family.  Months later she is walking home and turns to the back door and sees who...herself!  The END!

The fact that she saw her self meant that John made it and sent herself back to Earth 1 to tell her what the hell happened.  The amount of sci-fi aspects in this movie were very small, but I indeed really enjoyed this movie.  It reminded me of what it might have been like if this were to happen in say 1983, when maybe it would have been harder to cover up as to today.  I really enjoyed the main female character being a skinny very quiet woman, the amount of pauses and awkward-ness really added to the feel of the film.  I feel a movie is successful when it makes me believe in the characters and I felt like I knew these characters. 

The Existence of Women in Sci-Fi

We watched a TED talks episode about the need for more strong female roles in our films and cartoons for children in order to help them respect each other and see different perspectives other than the normative white male.  I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that we need more strong women in films and cartoons, but not only in that but in advertisements also.  Watching television is a great way to get an example of the media objectifying women or categorizing them into female tropes like cleaning adds aimed for women.  While all of those terribly acted stupid things are being shown they are also projecting images onto men and boys about how they are supposed to act and think.  If anything is going to change about how we treat and view one another based on sex then we need to start living that way, believing that it is possible if you just do it and it will spread on.  I know I have said this a million times but it still holds truth, and that's the idea that if you can't see it, then you can't be it.  If I can't see a role model for myself as a young girl or boy how am I supposed to aspire to be strong and independent.  Thankfully there are some new movies that are trying to meet a more equal treatment of the different genders and sexuality.  I'd like to see more LGBTQ movies that had better budgets and better story lines that are not predator/prey style or teachers and students types (even though I do actually know someone personally that this holds truth for I suppose...), but the point is that there are other things that women are good at than merely being sexy or motherly for men.  And the same about the queer films, there are more than just what we have seen being played over and over or just plain discriminating.
By looking into the past we can also see films that may not pass any bechdal tests anytime soon, like Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy where Jane Fonda travels around the universe having sex with everybody in sight, who are mostly men of some sort.  Don't get me wrong this movie is hilarious in how ridiculously it's acted and scripted so terribly for men.  Yes it had a "strong" female role but she was strong by means of having sex with everything...what does that even mean exactly?  Sex workers today may look at this movie a little bit different if it was redone in today's standards...in which case would be really pretty cool (I hope somebody gets that funded and Jane Fonda is somehow in it).  There is also the classic The Stepford Wives, where the men in this club decide to make replicas of their wives only they can program their wives to act anyway they want.  Imagine that, you get to control the person you are married to, so basically you make them do all of the things you don't want to do yourself, including having sex with you.  This movie speaks for itself about how it treats women of the time period and their roles as women for men and not women just for the sake of women.  In Liquid Sky the main character is this androgynous person with extreme make up, this person feeds off of other people in the film.  This idea is repeated in numerous films with slight twists, like in Teknolust the character feeds off of having sexual relations with different men.  Barbarella has sex with everyone around the galaxy, the same with Teknolust, it seems like a female character's best weapon is her sex.

Even in some of the futuristic styled films the female character's use of her sexuality to obtain something needed is found, in Tank Girl she basically has every male character at some point seduced.  "Using what your mother gave you" is what girls are told growing up, or at least I remember hearing it if not directed at me then at my sister or other girl peers.  So you can imagine the dismay when you do grow up and find out that maybe you didn't get a lot from your "mother" in the way the saying means, or that the saying itself is just kind of funny because it can be true but at what cost?  Sex workers are interesting people because some of them truly love it and some are stuck in it and miserable.  But to put that idea that the use of sex can get you almost anything you want in every little girls head may be damaging to her idea of independence and confidence.  Although when you think the world has failed us as female in every way they do produce respectable pieces of work, such a piece in my opinion is "Spirited Away".
The film features a young girl lead who shows bravery and courage in a crazy adventure to save her parents from remaining in their pig form.  The film's main characters are not over overwhelmingly male and show a good diversity of characters.  In Alien the gender roles of the characters are not highly influenced by what society imposes, they are relatively equal among each other and work together.  I have not seen Contact but after watching the trailer I want to, I like Jodie Foster and here she plays a smart adventurous role to contact the aliens sending them mathematical signals. The idea of life in the universe trying to contact Earth is a major theme in sci-fi that plays with our knowledge of Earth's existence in the universe and the possibilities of other life out there, that is what makes movies about another species so appealing and successful when done right.   

Monday, December 9, 2013

Entity Being

The year is 1992 in northern Idaho, for the past hundreds of years a secluded Native American family has been making illegal alcohol in the mountains and selling it to people around the northern United States area and Canada.  The oldest daughter, Koen, has been learning how to make the alcohol her whole life along side her sister, KaNee.  They are learning from their grandmother who is the sole caretaker for them.  The rest of their family have fallen victim to accidents that occurred while making the illegal alcohol and in other various accidents. It is up to the grandmother Nari, to teach the family trade to the only remaining off-spring and to earn money to support them. Nari's whole life has been surrounded by the creation of this alcohol that goes by the name Trace-Maker, she travels to check points placed throughout the forests and valleys to communicate with other people. Their family is very isolated and relies on each other heavily to survive, why their family is so isolated is not known to the two girls. Nari has been hiding them in the mountains away from society in hopes that they will continue the family tradition, but also to keep them safe from the rest of the world because they are descendents of an ancient tribe that is endangered of being erased by the ever growing technological world. The existence of advancements in technology are not what threatens the family, Nari has certain knowledge about Trace-Maker and if it falls into the wrong hands it could mean big problems for other families and communities like theirs.
Koen is a 15 year old Native American girl from northern Idaho, she is about 5' 3” and 110 lbs with a slender build, she has thick dark hair cut into blunt bangs above her eyes and feathers off around her shoulders in no controlled way. She has a favorite jean jacket she wears that has different patches all over it like a billboard of her personality. Her sister's name is KaNee, she is 13 years old and about 5'6” and 130 lbs, she is taller and stronger than her older sister, her hair is formed into different sized dreadlocks and is shaved short in the back. The two have spent a lot of time in the forests and mountains of the area so are very active. Their grandmother Nari is in her early seventies, is about 5 feet tall and 100 lbs, she is relatively small but very strong physically. Her hair is mostly all gray and white tied back into three braids that go down her back. The house they live in is only accessible by foot or horse back, the house itself is interesting because it has many hidden passages throughout it that lead to other rooms or are simply short cuts. The house was created to be confusing for anybody who may break in or stumble upon it would not be able to get to every space easily. The two girls do not even know about all of the hidden spaces in and around their property.
While all of their other family have died in various different accidents, Koen and KaNee were lucky enough to play different roles in the creation of Trace-Maker that were not as dangerous. Now that they are the only ones in their family left they are forced to be involved in the whole process. There are only three able bodies now, not counting their three horses and two goats that serve as transportation and a means of milk and cheese. They are not able to make as big of a batch of Trace-Maker as in the past with the help of more people so they are forced to create in smaller batches. Trace-Maker is illegal because it puts people in a trance like state that can create lucid dreams, but since it is unregulated it can be dangerous if not made correctly and some people never recover from the trance. The people that never recover from the trance are thought to be forever trapped in their first lucid dream environment and are unable to obtain control of it, whatever idea or thing that they created now evolves into their surroundings. Their physical body remains in a sleeping state but the hair all over their body starts to grow continuously until they die, so their eye lashes for example may be four feet long or longer depending on how long they are alive in the sleep state. Not many people live long in the sleep state because it is expensive to take care of them and no one has ever recovered from it so it is seemed to be non-reversible. The main market of people that buy Trace-Maker are very rich people because it is rare and hard to find. Trace-Maker brewers drop off their batches at check points where another person picks it up to travel to another check point where another person will pick it up and eventually sell, the partners never see each other in order to conceal it's secrecy, the money is exchanged in the same way.
The story begins three years after the most recent death of the family; the girl's aunt Lata died in a kidnapping indecent where she was forced to drink faulty Trace-Maker that forced her into the sleep trance forever and her body was never found. The three left have spent the last three years very quietly in attempts to avoid harassment from the same people who kidnapped Lata. Nari believes in her heart that Lata is not dead but lost in her dream state and has an idea of how to communicate with her. There are a lot of things Nari has not told Koen and KaNee but with the current events she feels this may be their only hope of keeping their culture alive. Nari has a secret room that is accessible through a passage way inside of her bathroom mirror only able to open at 3:05pm of each day. Inside the hidden room are various objects and personal things, one of which is a special Trace-Maker recipe book. Inside the book there is a recipe called Maker-Trace, if one drinks enough Maker-Trace it is possible to see things the naked-sober eye cannot, one of those things are the people who are trapped in their sleep states. The people in their sleep state that are trapped in their lucid environment take on whatever form they were in at the moment that they could not come back into the sober-world. The major draw back of Maker-Trace is that the amount needed is large and at which point whomever has consumed that amount will also be drunk. Nari has to make a decision about what to do now that she presumed to be the only living being with this knowledge and recipe of Maker-Trace; does she attempt to find Lata alone, although the process needed to make the drink is very dangerous to do alone, or does she involve her grandchildren even though it is highly dangerous and meant to remain a secret for the fear that if the recipe were to fall into the wrong hands all hell would break lose with it's power.
Nari decides that she is getting too old and weak to do this alone, she needs Koen and KaNee to help her but what she does not expect is that the girls will take over the task of controlling the effects Maker-Trace. Nari spends time teaching them how to make it and drink it safely, it is all in moderation. Koen and KaNee learn at an early age what it is like to be highly intoxicated by consuming Maker-Trace, like everyone's first drunk experience mistakes are made. Over time and many, many days of drinking the alcohol Koen and KaNee learn how to drink enough that both of them simultaneously will be able to be in the right state to search for their aunt Lata. They travel throughout the area guided by sober Nari as their sober-world protector searching for clues and directions of where Lata may be or what really happened to her.

This idea for a science fiction film is meant to focus on the idea of culture and information being passed on by generations and that generations can exist in different states of mind and body that can be controlled by a substance but it has yet to be controlled ideally. One action produces another and finding the sweet spot that will create a desired outcome is the trick, this idea strives to find the sweet spot of communication.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I chose that picture just because it's funny not because I thought the movie was dull, in fact the opposite, I really enjoyed the movie and how it treated the characters.  I had seen the first movie in theaters when it came out and I remember being so annoyed.  (I did not read the books however so keep that in mind) I was annoyed because of how they had to form the relationship between Peeta and Katniss as lovers and not just really good friends, but I thought it was new and exciting that Katniss was acting to love Peeta for their own safety, she cares about him even if it isn't completely about sex and dating like how it seems to be in every other movie. 

Walking into the new movie, Catching Fire, I watched the opening scenes praying to the movie gods I would not be forced to watch Katniss have sex with any of her man crushes, and I was so relieved that it did not happen in this film, not every story needs to have sex in it.  This movie in my opinion was way better than the first one in many ways, for one, Katniss' character was more confident, stronger, and clever.  She is independent and above all cares the most about the people around her than herself.  She doesn't need a man or anyone for that matter to come and save her from all her problems, if anything she saves the men around her more often.  The movie satisfies the viewer in the sense that myself personally I was constantly in a state of tension, anxiously hoping somehow Katniss could just kill Snow and save everyone from the terrible fate that the capitalism is breeding.  Its a complete satire on our capitalist society and how the 1% control the fate of the majority, they play games with their lives because to the 1% everyone else's lives don't matter and there is nothing anyone can do about it because of all the power the 1% has.  Its so frustrating when you put it into perspective of what is happening here in our society and how clearly the current events and theory's impact films and media. In the last paragraph of the article "Striking Where Myth Meets Moment", they pretty much sum up how I felt about Katniss;
 "One of the things that “The Hunger Games,” on the page and on the screen, suggests is that the myth is changing. Boys (and men) are still boys, of course, including in movies, but the very existence of Katniss — who fights her own battles, and kisses and leaves the boys, only sometimes to save them — suggests cultural consumers are ready for change, even if most cultural producers remain foolishly stuck in the past." 
It gives us hope that if enough people think or act in a certain way it will change society around us.  That in time things will change no matter what, things will never stay constant.  When Katniss starts seeing rebellion actions taken by other people in different districts she is forced to realize that change cannot be stopped and she is too deep to be unrelated with the uprising.  This time the games are special because it has been 75 years since the first games was held and its a quarter quelth, which of course Snow manipulated to see people who have won suffer yet again.  No victor is safe!  Katniss of course is chosen and Peeta volunteers.  The make alliances with some of the other victors to keep Katniss alive, which is revealed later.  So there were some great action shots and special effects while they were trying to stay alive in the fighting dome and sadly characters had to die off.  But in a turn of events Jannis smacks Katniss on the head and stabs her in the arm so the other victors trying to kill them chase after Jannis and leave Katniss.  Eventually Katniss gets a stroke of genius and ties the conductor line to an arrow and shoots it into the dome ceiling right at the exact moment turning the whole system off!!!  At this moment she is blown back by the blast and watches the roof cave in, she is certain that she is going to die, that there is no future left for her.  The ship comes and picks her up and she wakes up next to Beetee on the floor of the ship.  She gets up and discovers she is okay, Peeta and Jannis are caught, Finnik, Haymitch, and Plutrach are on the ship and discussing plans.  The truth comes out, Katniss is the symbol of the revolution!  And all of the people on board are apart of it, this whole time they were apart of it.  She finds out Gail is there too and he tells her about Primrose and her mother and that there is no district 12 anymore.  The End!

As described in the articles the character of Katniss is unlike characters we are used to seeing.  Her existence threatens the norm and pushes boundaries of gender and what is portrayed in mainstream media about gender norms.  Also some people think they have to view this movie in a love story way, that in the end it's all about what boy Katniss will chose to have sex with (I mean have a relationship....).  This is all too common when dealing with a female lead and male characters surrounding her, it always has to be about what man she is going to end up with...well I believe Katniss really doesn't want to think about what these boys think of her and basically wants to survive and save her family, the boys do not come first.  (So this movie should pass the feminist movie test)


Trekkies is a documentary about the various lives of Star Trek fans and how the series has extremely impacted their lives.  This film was so much more enjoyable than Fanboys, this was the truth about the culture that is Trekkies or Trekkers. 

The documentary showed some really interesting people and ways that they express their love of Star Trek.  Among my favorite was the woman in the picture above, she became "famous" by wearing her Star Trek costume while sitting as a juror and she likes to go by the Commander.  She eat, sleeps, and breathes Star Trek and you can tell just by looking at her because she will always have something Star Trek themed on.  Maybe its a superstition type of thing but many of the people in the documentary compared wearing their Star Trek themed costumes and attire to other people wearing football jerseys or any sports logo/brand/mascot.  This aspect totally changed the way I look at fanatics.  They are simply representing something they feel strongly about and nobody should be judged for that as long as it's all in fun and no body is being negatively effected.  These fanatics take Star Trek and make it their lives, Gabriel Koerner was the boy who made his own animations of Star Trek fandom ships.  This boy was by far one of the most clever fans, he knew exactly what he liked and was proud of it.  Some people may think that fanatics are nerds, socially awkward, and never leave their homes but the people in the film were all very different and comfortable in their own skin.  The Denis Bourguignon Family had turned their Dentist office into a Star Trek themed experience and all of the staff wore Star Trek themed uniforms.  I thought that was a hilarious and great idea for a business to put another perspective on going to the dentist.

I feel that it is not wrong to take ideas and themes from a film or series or any creative writing story etc. and turn the characters into something the viewer wants to see.  For example the group of women that propose a homosexual relationship among two of the Star Trek main captains.  I love this idea because it's something that I do in my head while watching films, is to create a spin-off story that I would like to see rather than just what is visible on screen.  It adds depth to the story and makes it more relate able to the viewer personally.  If you don't want people to steal your characters then you shouldn't put them out for the public to see. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Fanboys was an interesting movie...I get that it was based in the late nineties and so the humor is not really politically correct today but it was rather hard to get through.  I did not really get what about this movie was sci-fi besides the fact they were all big star wars fans, I would say it is more sci-fi themed than actually sci-fi.

The films plot is based around this idea that a group of friends have had in their minds since they were kids.  The idea is to break into the Skywalker Ranch and steal a copy of Star Wars Episode I so Linus can see it before he dies of some cancer that is there but not really ever seen, however, the cancer part came after the initial break in plan was thought of.  Linus never even acts like he is sick.  So Eric and Linus don't really get along because Eric left his old group of friends to act like an adult and work for his dad's company.  Well some how they all see each other at a Halloween party, Eric is filling up his beer and notices his old crew.  Going back to why everyone doesn't like Eric,it seems kind of strange, why does working at a car sales place make you not able to be a huge star wars fan with your friends?  This wasn't about Star Wars at all and they just have grudges about growing up differently.  So in efforts to make amends with Eric's old group of friends he is going to go on the adventure to Skywalker Ranch to live out their dreams!  They all are eventually up for it and start driving across the country where numerous terrible and funny things happen along the way.  Zoe comes to rescue these boys out of some terrible situation and joins the adventure.  And she has a super major crush on Windows.  They get to where they planned with the help of some mysterious people with amazing connections.  They do get caught though, but thankfully because Linus has cancer they let only him watch the new Star Wars Episode I.  Then fast forward to after Linus is dead, everyone else is doing much better, all their dreams have come true.  Zoe and Windows are dating, Eric does comics, Hutch does detailing, and Linus is remembered by them all.  The End.

The film in detail is filled with terrible jokes about race, gender, and a ton of gay slurs.  Things of the 90's that were maybe funny back then but just sound stupid now.  That really turned me off in this movie, and the fact that it just had shallow characters and nothing that seemed "sci-fi".   A reality tv show or documentary about a real person who is obsessed with any science fiction show, movie, comic, book, etc. would have been a million times more entertaining than watching these actors pain through it.  They seemed more like frat boy stoners than Star Wars nerds, accuracy of an actual fanatic would have done wonders for this film.  I don't think it represents an actual group of people correctly.  It can be compared to what is going on with LGBT films today, a lot of the community feel like a majority of "Gay and Lesbian" genres of films in mainstream cinema and media do not portray the community accurately.  There is nothing wrong with being a fanatic and so we shouldn't mask their culture with what society thinks is sell-able.  In the end it all comes down to money in mainstream anything.  Creativity and accuracy you have to search for.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Shorts

I am going to put all the short films we watched on one blog post to make it a little easier I hope.  The first short we watched was Hardware Wars, this video is hilarious, I am pretty sure I have seen it at some point in my past because I remember liking it more than the actual Star Wars.  It is basically a parody of star wars using appliances instead of spaceships and of course using comedic names and personalities for their version of the Star Wars heroes.  I really enjoyed the film based on creativity with the technology of 1977, today almost all special effects are done by computers and so they have a certain look to them.  When they use different perspectives and angles in the older films it makes me as the viewer appreciate the involvement of the actors, crew, and everyone involved basically in putting a film together.  When special effects are computer generated I feel that involvement is taken out and creating more separation on the final product.  The use of the same clip but rotated of some how modified is funny and clever.  The sci-fi tropes were a major theme of what we talked about in our discussion and this idea that has remained with me since the start of the semester is what makes a sci-fi film a sci-fi film!  The variation of themes, subjects, and aesthetics in the short films viewed can give good examples of new sci-fi, also how sci-fi films of the past have influenced those new films/ideas.  Alfonso Cuaron's "IKEA" is a great example of taking themes and tropes from other films and turning into something new and hilarious.  The film is a parody of Gravity using stereotypes and actualities about IKEA stores. 
 The two main characters are a young man and woman that seem to be dating visit an IKEA store.  The angles and music used with the choppy clips really adds to the drama of the short, as well as the literal comedy of it all.  Where is the sci-fi in this film?  Well is the mere fact that it is strongly influenced by Gravity in a purposeful manner enough to call it a sci-fi film or does the store actually have abilities to confuse its customers in every way, and is that sci-fi even?  The next short was called Cargo, its from the Tropfest Australia 2013 Finalists.  Here we have a classic example of a horror/sci-fi theme...the zombie apocalypse. 

It starts out with a groggy awakening of a man in the passenger seat of a car, he looks over to find his wife is now a zombie and wants to eat him!  He escapes the car and we find out he has a baby in the back seat!!  He gets the baby out and realizes he has been bitten and if the rumors are true then he is doomed to become a flesh eating walker, leaving his baby to be eaten by her father.  Instead he gets smart and makes himself a zombie weight losing device, a bag of guts tied to the end of a stick held in front of him.  Genius really.  And to add to it he attaches a balloon to himself, now someone will notice him more hopefully and think twice about attacking, also the baby is entertained.  Some survivors find him and the one girl has her motherly instincts save the baby!  This was good because it's a story we haven't really dealt with too much in zombie films and television; how to deal with children, especially infants, in a zombie apocalypse.  The chances of a baby surviving just regular life are already hard but when no one is safe then it's really going to be hard.  However entertaining this short was I am still aching for a zombie movie that is different extremely than all others.  The next short film we watched was called The Silent City, it takes place in a war struck city that is left in ruins, in the beginning is a scene of one soldier getting sniper shot right in the head.  The remaining three use dental mirrors to look around corners, one eventually sets off a boobie-trap reaching for his gun, the two guys closest get terribly injured to the point of death, the third is drastically calling for help but there is no help for them.http://loyalkng.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/The-Silent-City-Post-Apocalyptic-Short-Film-by-Ruairi-Robinson-Featuring-featuring-Cillian-Murphy-Don-Wycherly-Garvan-McGrath.jpg
It's the end of the city as they know it!  The shooter turns out to just be a skeleton, so the chances of life are limited making it seem there is no one left on earth.  This one was pretty dark so it was not my favorite of the set but it was very intriguing and brought the viewer in and made me want to watch the whole story.

Overall I really liked watching these shorts because they were really well put together and creative.  It makes me think twice about the movies that are in theaters because of all these other amazing options out there that the big names aren't putting out.   

Monday, November 18, 2013

Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers!!  Everytime I mention this movie someone says "ooohhhh that movie is epic!!".  I had not seen it prior to this viewing so I had zero opinion.  I watched the trailer and immediately recognized Denise Richards, Niel Patrick Harris, and that guy who plays a role in the movie Sleepy Hollow as Christina Ricci's character's suitor, Casper Van Dien.  Indeed an entirely different topic, but seeing these actors immediately made me more excited to see it because of the fact the movie is from the late 90's and comparing these actors to their careers then and now is fun and interesting.  And I am a 90's kid who can love and appreciate the stupid acting and hair styles.

The film is set in the future at a high school where these beautiful students are being beautiful and slutty when Denise Richards, Cameron, decides that she wants to be a citizen.  Which means you join the military and go off to fight with your beautiful body and face trying to defeat these bugs that are invading and murdering people brutally, they eventually discover they need to find the brain bug that has been sucking brains and trying to understand humans so they can do the same thing, understand the bugs.  Cameron wants to be in the air force portion of it, she wants to pilot ships and her boyfriend Casper Von Dien, Johnny Rico in the movie, is persuaded to join the military because of her.  He betrays his rich parents who want to send him on vacations and to college and not chase a silly girl who "wants to look handsome in a uniform" and joins the military, he is in the front line ranks so he sees a lot of death and gore and almost gets kicked out right at boot camp when a guy gets his head blown up in an accident.  Dizzy, is this girl who always wanted to have sex with Rico in high school and now maybe she has her chance because she is in the same troop as him.  Carl in played by Niel Patrick Harris, he can communicate with animals and people sometimes with his mind.  Carl joins the military and is eventually like the King of the military in the end.  There are various other characters that are there for comradery and filler, like the men in my picture above.  The film portrays military in such an attractive manner whenever they have time to spend together and get tattoos, then at times shows the terrible aspects of death and loss that come with the military.  Gender roles in this movie were really surprising I thought, all the women and men live and shower together and no body was bothered by it.  Men and women were fighting and working in the same spots as equals.  Rico's rich parents were the only ones who said anything negatively about a girl wanting to be a pilot in the military.  Constantly the dialogue used the word "friend" instead of lover, when Cameron is breaking up with Rico she wants to always be friends, when Rico is giving a little speech about Dizzy he says "Dizzy was my friend..." instead of saying the truth, they were totally lovers and she was in love with him.  The concept of remaining friends after high school and into adulthood is a big theme in the film.  The trio, Cameron, Rico, and Carl, all pact together at the beginning to always be friends and then in the end they all take part in defeating the enemy and winning the war even though they didn't get matching tattoos.  The equality was a breath of fresh air as was the friendship emphasis even though in the end of Dizzy's character's role her last line is dedicated to dying happy because she "got to have you...", meaning she got to sleep with Rico and be his lover lady for a little while and is now dying in his arms.  That part was very lame, he didn't even say he loved her or anything at all right when she was dying.  Because this film was directed by the same director of Total Recall it was jam packed with action and gore with a little bit of sexuality and comedy and a teensy bit of sci-fi.  Another excuse to make an action movie with some attractive popular actors and some really gross aliens.  The alien's parts more than once resembled genitals.  One of the best parts is when Rico and Cameron are dissecting an alien and Rico is ripping out the guts and has one part in his hand flopping around that looks extremely phallic, Cameron takes one look at that thing and throws up all over.  Then Cameron comes face to face with the brain bug in the end, the brain bug has a disgusting vagina resemblance for a brain sucker opening.  

Ender's Game

Ender's Game is all about a boy named Ender Wiggins who is skinny, shy, and brilliant but doesn't know it yet.  Ender lives in the near future where children for some unknown reason are the ones who are chosen to be soldiers in the military even though they are all mostly really small and skinny.  The fact that they are skinny kid soldiers does not matter because of the way they make the kids fight, by playing a video game style simulation.  The kids don't need to be physically fit to press buttons and switches.  Harrison Ford is in this movie playing Graff the man calling the shots with the kid military.  He pushes Ender over the edge multiple times, he is the over bearing father figure who tries to control his son.  Ender isn't his son though, he is just their last hope in the war against the mysterious aliens that "may" come and attack.  Communication between the enemies never happens, but Ender believes that the alien is not plotting to attack and that it must have another way of communicating.

From the start of the film the story has one concept that plays a key role throughout the film, bullying.  Ender is bullied by numerous different people the whole film and retaliates so his bully at the time has no way of future bullying towards Ender.  He has a sister, Valentine, who he is like best friends with and a psychopathic brother, Peter who have both proved not worthy of being in the fighting academy.  Ender is the third to be kicked out until Graff comes and says they are taking him no matter what so they do and train him where the bullying just continues as does his retaliations.  Ender progresses past his bullies by being smarter and more strategic.  He even accidentally kills one of them but Ender is deeply moved when he hurts him and has remorse immediately even though everyone else tells Ender it was in self defense so he should not feel that bad.  Ender is different than everyone else though and he doesn't want to destroy his bullies he just doesn't want them to bully him.  He eventually gets moved to the leader of the Dragon team, the only girl, Petra, on the team automatically is all about Ender and doesn't leave his side.  The Dragon team is the best and they are moved to a new spot to train for their graduation.  The legendary Mazer who killed the main ship 70 years prior is there to teach them how to kill the aliens now.  He has tattoos all over his face making him hard to get confused with any other character.  They train in the form of simulations which are like amazing war video games like Halo.  It's their last day of simulations and they are all nervous and such because it is going to be in front of the head people of the military.  They make a formation like they did in their zero gravity training around Petra and clear a spot so she can shoot and destroy the whole planet.  She does and the pictures after are pretty devastating.  Ender is pissed because Graff comes out to tell them that it was real life actually and they just blew up this whole planet of aliens and they should be so happy.  But Ender is not having it at all and escapes to find the moth creature of his dreams and video games to communicate.  He vows to spend his future trying to rebuild the species he destroyed.  

Blade Runner

What makes a person a person?  Identity is justified by what?  Memories have been the topic for the films Total Recall and Blade Runner.  In Total Recall it was about manipulating memories into whatever is desired.  In Blade Runner identity is a key concept, what makes a human and what makes a replicant?  The repliacant has memories it believes are real, they even have photos, but what is a photo?  Today a photo can be manipulated into anything that can fool anyone into believe whatever they see just because it looks believable and there is a story attached to it.  The replicants are programed with stories about their past, they believe these are their memories. 

So basically the whole movie is about Deckard, Harrison Ford, is a blade runner, a cop that goes out to destroy replicants.  Replicants are like clones, they have a fixed life span and they are programed with personalities and memories to believe they are humans.  A group of relipcants have threatened Earth by merely existing and being mad that they are replicants and have only four years to live.  They feel taken advantage of basically because they thought they were human, with independent thoughts and ideas and whole lives to live.  I would be mad too if I was a replicant.  Deckard is retired and thought he was done with that blade running business but not so when a man approaches him with s request by an old cop friend or boss.  The boss man wants Deckard to kill the replicants.  Deckard meets Rachel, a super smart replicant who doesn't know she is one, until Deckard reveals her memories to her and she is then so depressed.  Inn another part of the city one of the replicant's meets a man who lives in a giant building by himself with his little people machines that look like clowns.  The replicant's name is Pris, and she is involved with Roy, another replicant apart of the group Deckard is trying to retire.  Eventually Roy and Pris stay with the man who lives in the building until Deckard finds out where they are.  Roy gets the man to take him to his creator, Tyrell.  Roy talks to him for a while and then kills him by shoving his thumbs through his eyes, totally disgusting and uncalled for but whatever it's the  movies.  Roy kills the man who was helping him also.  Deckard finds out Tyrell and the other guy are both dead and goes to the mans house to find Pris attacking Deckard with flips and cartwheels and things.  He shoots her and she spazes out for a bit and then dies.  Now Roy is really going to be mad, they have a weird battle thing where Roy basically goes crazy and sticks his head through some walls.  It ends with Roy helping Deckard off a ledge and Roy is so sad that he is a replicant and all his life has been meaningless, he says "Time to die.."  referring to his own death.  Oh and along this whole movie Rachel and Deckard "fall in love"...or as I saw it he makes her say she loves him and have sex with him and she stays with him because she has no where else to go and no body else to go to, she is safest with him.  So he meets up with Rachel and they both walk out the apartment and Deckard notices the origami left by Gaff and it ends with a line about how nobody knows how long you have with someone in your lifetimes so best not think about it too much and live in the moment. 

The reading had talked about the movie being about empathy instead of sympathy in sci-fi films and how seeing empathy was very rare and had not really happened.  Empathy is the projection of one's own feelings or emotional state onto a person or animal or object.  When Deckard is going out to retire the replicants he sees their frustration and could very well see himself having similar feelings if he were in their shoes.  The film seemed more so about the emotional aspect of differing identities between subjects and what happens when they collide with more subjects with different elements and problems.  The strongest thing this film had going for it was it's aesthetics, it was constantly wet and rainy and dark, it had elements of futuristic technology with classic madmen style.  It was visually fun and exciting because of the different themes in the settings, the abandoned building in the futuristic city of hoovering cars and such for example.  It was kind of racist at some parts when Deckard is talking to the Asian men at the food spot, and then just weird misogynistic with Deckards treatment of Rachel.  I'd probably watch this again is someone brought it to my attention but not on a sunny day.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Total Recall

Total Recall is a very interesting movie, it has some many things happening and overlapping with characters who play multiple characters within their character.  It has so many plot turns and u-turns that it makes it difficult to keep up with who is who at what time and how and with what did Arnold's character kill every single person he fights ever.  This movie could easily been turned into three movies if they were to separate some action scenes and added some clarity.  So much happens in each action scene that some of the times I just closed my eyes because I felt sick with everyone getting impaled or shot somehow perfectly in the middle of the forehead every time.  But thank god I had them open for the scene where Thumbelina, the midget sex worker lady, jumps onto the bar or table and shoots a machine gun, showing all of her muscles bulging and her hair shaking in the wind.  

The film starts out like a lot of movies of the '90's, it shows a strong tall man married to this pretty blonde woman who waits on his every need sexually and acts like a a perfect wife in a man's eye.  Douglas Quaid is the strong man who works as a construction worker who is not happy with his job and life in general because he is obsessed with a reoccurring dream where he is having an adventure on mars with a pretty brown haired woman.  So obsessed that he goes to Rekall Inc., a business that implants fake memory vacations in people's brains.  Quaid selects a vacation trip to mars as a secret agent with a woman.  Guess what type of woman he picks...a brunette with an athletic body and a sleazy personality.  In this moment of the film I say out loud "Woooooow" this is definitely one of those kinds of movies where I'm going to being thinking that a lot.  Anyway something goes wrong and they realize that he is not who he thinks he is, Quaid is physically fighting all of the people and then comes to inside a cab with an automated cab driver that looks like he is from Leave it to Beaver.  He runs into some guy he works with who offers to go out for drinks but Quaid is all shook up and denies, which lands him in a heap of trouble with the group of guys his buddy is the leader of.  Quaid ends up killing all five or six of these guys all on his own using his super fighting skills he didn't know he had.  Horrified he blabs to his wife back at home that he is a murderer and she starts to attack him.  This part just adds to the action hero character that Arnold always plays, he somehow never gets seriously hurt but he gets bloody.  His wife tells him that he is not who he thinks he is and he punches her in the face and leaves in his own dramatic self realization way when he finds out some guys with guns are coming for him.  Ritcher the main guy who leads the group and who is also controlled by Cohaagen, this guy who is in charge with operations on Mars, is also married to Quaids fake wife.  Ritcher is super angry at Quaid because Ritchers wife has been having sex with Quaid for pay and also he knows Quaid from a Mars mission.  A chase ensues and guns are going off left and right with windows shattering and people being thrown all over the place (Another "Wooooooow" moment at the senselessness of these scenes and how they don't add to the plot at all its just an excuse to shoot action and gore).  Ritcher is supposed to just capture Quaid but secretly he wants to murder him real slow and painful most likely.  Quaid is being tracked by a device in his nose, which is removes after obtaining a secret silver brief case from some man at a telephone pole.  He throws the device into his handy chocolate bar and gives it to the rats and escapes with Ritcher and his men chasing rodents around.  Quaid also sees a video of himself as Hauser a secret agent man on Mars.  His dream vacation has come true, kind of.  However he was working with the people who are trying to kill him now, so he is a rebel now.  He must get back to Mars because he has valid information about something.  He makes it to Mars and finds out its filled with mutant people who are victims of radiation and terrible air they get from Cohaagen.  He becomes friends with the comedic relief black character Benny who is a mutant cab driver.  They go to this brothel type of place that has midgets and mutants hanging around.  Quaid meets there Melina, who looks just like the lady he requested for his dream vacation (Wooooooow).  She doesn't believe him and orders him to leave.  He gets to a hotel and in comes the founder of Rekall Inc. who tries to convince Quaid that this is all a dream and really his body is back at the Rekall place and they are having problems getting him out of the dream.  If he takes a little red pill though he will wake up safely in the Rekall place.  To make things even more believable he brings in Quaids wife to try to convince him he has been dreaming and she is so worried about him.  Quaid doesn't believe them and shoots the man right in the head.  His wife gets all upset at Quaid for ruining things again and in come her hench men to take him away.  They almost make it when Melina busts in with a machine gun and Quaid kills his wife.  Quaid, Melina, and Benny are escaping and there is a series of action scenes and lots of shooting and blood.  Cohaagen decides to shut off the air to the neighborhood they are in and everyone is slowly going to die.  Quaid is taken to meet with Kuato who is supposed to read his mind and tell the rebels important information.  This is when things get even weirder, the rebel officer leading Quaid opens his shirt to reveal a disgusting baby head and arms that is Kuato.  Quaid holds hands with Kauto and then they are found by Cohaagens guys and the battle begins between the rebels and Cohaagens.  Benny busts in and shoots the rebel officier/Kuato and tells them all he has been playing for the other team the whole time.  Quaid and Melina get captured and Cohaagen reveals that this is all a trap and Hauser planned Quaid to give up the rebels.  Cohaagen tells them they have shut off the air flow to the neighborhood also.  Quaid and Melina are taken to the implant place so Quaid can be Hauser again and Melina can be his female servant, but being the super human strength person Quaid is, he breaks out of the chair and brutally kills all of the people in there, and frees Melina as they escape to go save Mars by activating some ice melting oxygen releasing device that Cohaagen has kept secret.  They are in the process of doing so when Quaid throws the bomb into a tunnel that explodes a hole that is trying to suck them out into the Mars wilderness.  The hole sucks out Cohaagen who we then see suffer with his eyes bulging and every muscle in his face stretching.  Quaid manages to put his hand on the button and activate the ice melting device but him and Melina get shot into Mars and are both suffering like Cohaagen.  The rods shoot into the glacier ice and like an oxygen volcano it erupts onto the planet, saving everyone almost instantly, remarkably.  Now Quaid and Melina are watching the sunset and he wonders if he is dreaming, she says to him something along the lines of kiss me now before you wake up and we can't kiss ever again.  Then they fade into happily ever after.  

This film was a rollercoaster in every level, it was like a fifth grade boy wrote it with all of the action scenes, gore, and misogyny.  The over the topness of it was entertaining but at some points too much for me.  Kauto being a disgusting baby head and arms coming out of a regular man was just strange because they were so aesthetically different it made it funny instead of anything else.  A lot of moments in this film are like that actually when looking back it is an over the top gory, action, misogynist movie from 1990.   

THX 1138

THX 1138 is advertised as a love story, but with that in my mind before watching this film I thought of a much different kind of plot.  The "love story" seems more like a the-only-two-people-left-on-earth sort of situation.  Before I get too into the plot that I spoil it lets go over what happens in THX 1138.  It must be noted that this film was aesthetically altered by the director George Lucas.

The beginning of this movie is very choppy, it's a series of scenes that are pretty low on the dialogue spectrum.  It illustrates this society that is mostly ran by faceless tall drones wearing black cop like outfits.  The drones constantly tell the citizens that they should relax and everything will be fine.  The pray to an automated god that they can talk to in little telephone like booths.  The people in this society take drugs that suppress their emotions and sex is forbidden, they live with roommates that are chosen for them.  The main male character THX 1138 lives with female character LUH 3417, she starts to stop using her drugs and then starts to replace her roommates drugs with harmless drugs that do nothing.  So he starts to feel weird and is getting sick like a pill popper coming off cold turkey.  He eventually gets over that and starts to see LUH for what she is, a female that he can runaway with.  THX and LUH start to take their relationship on the more sexual side of things and THX ends up messing up at work where he puts drones together with radioactive little bars.  He drops a radioactive bar and it almost blows the whole place up or something terrible is going to happen.  The drones now know that something is up with THX, they find THX and LUH post sex act and arrest them, through them into weird white jail.  But not before THX submitted a complaint against SEN 5241, this creepy guy who altered the computer roommate selection to get paired with THX.  So of course SEN in also in jail in the creepy white place.  Drones take control in the jail place and we find out that they are actually really easy to defeat, you just have to push them over and beat their faces in.  LUH finds THX and tells him she is pregnant.  She gets caught up in the terrible truth about what can happen to oppressed people in jail and is killed by the system.  THX is escaping the white jail with SEN and they meet a new character who is a hologram, SRT, a tall black man who is definitely more positive than THX but not creepy like SEN.  They escape into a crazy people freeway type place where people are all walking so fast, THX, SEN and SRT are getting pushed around and SEN gets separated, the other two are not really that upset.  Which shows their true feelings about SEN, or the lack of.  SEN wanders off into the city space and finds the picture of their god, a clergy man comes to see what SEN is doing and all hell breaks loose.  The clergy man sees SEN doesn't have a name badge and tries to go call the drones on him, SEN attacks the man and flees.  He eventually is found by the drones while he is playing with some little kids by an escalator.  He gives himself up basically, his character wants someone else to rely on and when he is alone he just can't be happy.  When he is playing with those kids the viewer can see how important interaction is for him, he was so unhappy while he was alone in the film but when he is with people he just lights up.   Which makes the viewer feel a little sympathetic towards creepy SEN.  THX and SRT are doing a pretty good job escaping the drones and then the drones close in on them, they are running away towards the parking garage and for some stupid reason SRT gets into the smallest car ever for one glimpse of comedy in one of the characters.  Also to play into the stereotype of having one character of another race being the comedic relief.  THX gets into this nice big car and takes off leaving SRT behind, just when you think he is going to get caught he figures out how to drive and takes off, he is stoked but right off the bat he smashes into a pillar, game over for SRT.  THX looks back, he knows SRT didn't make it.  So he takes off all alone now, but he has this sweet car so he zooms past everyone on the roads in a car chase that ends in some pretty sweet action shots of the drones crashing on motorcycles.  Ultimately THX escapes narrowly and has a brief meeting with the shell people and some monkeys, the shell people are hairy midgets, I can't really tell if this is offensive to midgets, or that the only two shell people we have seen just happen to also be midgets.  THX is escaping up a ladder with the drones behind him and then the drones decide to abort mission and the final scene is THX emerging into the outside world with a giant red sun sending the image of his hazy lone figure as the only thing in the scene.  He is finally out but he is alone in this new place with no plan as what to do next.

So it may be apparent now that the lack of actual love story in the film and as much as it was advertised to be are very different.  I did not see it as a love story at all, after further discussion about the characters it seemed more that LUH's character was pushed under the rug too soon in the film.  In the beginning it was all LUH who stopped taking the drugs and secretly took the drugs away from THX, it was her idea to escape and she manipulated THX into feeling.  LUH simply was just erased after she told THX she was pregnant, no real explanation to what happened to her.  The drones just destroyed her.  She is hardly mentioned throughout the rest of the movie, the whole other half of the movie is basically dedicated to action scenes and explosions.  Moving us forward in the spectacle spectrum of sci-fi movies that border line with action films.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dark Star

Dark Star's cast is sort of like a bunch of garbage men on a garbage truck that they also live on and they are traveling in the desert somewhere very far from people.  The crew's job is to travel around looking for unstable planets to destroy.  In the meantime they run into a list of complications and just funny situations.  In our discussion in class it was said that it is more like a really long TV show rather than a movie, it has a lot of quirky funny things happening that do not really contribute to one solid plot.

The order of things happening in Dark Star is not even particularly important,  this take on a space sci-fi film had a very low budget, considering their mascot alien is a painted beach ball as one of the low budget factors to this movie.  It is kind of a ship of oddballs who are forced to live and work together, Pinback wants to have a comrade relationship with the others and tell stories and jokes and such but the others do not really want to.  Forcing  Pinback to be one of the most talkative and comedic of them all.  The truth is actually that Pinback is not even really supposed to be on the ship, he kind of snuck on in the last few moments before take off in the real Pinback's place.  Doolittle is the guy who takes charge after Commander Powell died in a tragic accident having to do with a radioactive blast, but the people on Earth won't pay for a shield to protect the other guys because it is too expensive, sounds terribly familiar to situations on Earth in times of budget cuts.  Doolittle has the personality of a wall, the most unique thing about him is the fact that he used to surf when he was younger.  Francis Boiler is also on the ship and he is sort of like the rough and tough kind of guy on the ship, he has ass kicking facial hair and gorgeous blond bangs that are parted in the middle and flip out like waves on the sides.  His idea of fun is stabbing himself with a pocket knife or shooting a metal square on the ship, all the while with a cigar or cigarette in his mouth.  Him and Doolittle both spend time ignoring and making fun of Pinback.  Talby is the last man of the ship, he sits up in the viewing area of the Dark Star.  When looking at the whole ship this spot looks just like R2D2 when he is mounted on a space ship.  Talby does not really socialize with the other guys, he is just up there looking at all the stars and things and letting his mind drift into space.  However Talby is one of the smartest guys on the ship because he actually pays attention to the ship.  They have various other characters in the form of voices, the computer is a pleasant sounding woman voice who has basically the main controls in her "hands", the voices of the bombs, BOMB 20 speaks more than BOMB 19.  Then there is the alien, a beach ball with feet that bounces around causing mischief for Pinback.  So things on the ship start getting kind of crazy after they hyper spaced away from the planet they destroyed with  BOMB 19.  They start relaxing and go to their room, it looks like a bachelor pad for sure, there are things all over the floors and pictures blurred out in the back.  Boiler smokes and plays the game where you spread your fingers out and try not to stab them.  Doolittle plays a card game like the lame-o he is and Pinback tries to get a rise out of them with funny glasses, then pisses off Doolittle with a rubber chicken.  They are headed towards another planet to destroy, a long trip ahead of them they have to pass the time some how.  Just to make things more exciting they run into an asteroid storm and have to activate the shields!  But a portion of the ship gets damaged and the bomb bay opens up and BOMB 20 comes out to launch, the computer finally talks it into going back into the ship.  But with the controls to launch all messed up they are doomed to repeat this scene again.  Like the mom she is the computer tells Pinback to go take care of the alien.  The alien doesn't want to eat or play, its fed up with the stupid men, so when Pinback is trying to clean up it decides to attack , the two trade hits and eventually the alien gets away.  Pinback chases the alien to the emergency airlock room after using a plank to get across the elevator shaft.  The Dark Star is like Mary Poppins carpet bag, it looks so small on the outside but has so many huge things on the inside!  The alien is clever and grabs the plank trapping Pinback on the other side.  So now he must face his fear of heights and try to shuffle across the ledge.  Once he is in the middle the elevator turns on and starts moving up and down, causing him to be trapped on the bottom.  He unscrews a panel and tries to climb inside, he gets stuck half way in, the phone is out of order, there is elevator music playing, and when he thinks he has saved himself it turns out the clean process wants to blow up the panel.  He gets out alive though so thank the comedic film gods.  He finds the alien and shoots it, the thing goes flying around the room like a balloon.  They all meet up for lunch in the food room and Pinback tells them about his scary ordeal but no one is listening, and they all talk about how weird Talby is because he is unsocial.  Pinback goes to a video dairy he is creating and makes a new entry about how everyone sucks on the ship and they don't care about him.  They make it to the unstable planet and start to deploy BOMB 20, however Talby is in the emergency airlock room trying to fix the laser malfunction part, no body knows he is there because Doolittle is a jerk and turned off his radio to him.  The laser blinds Talby and sets the bomb launch into a frenzy, it won't launch but still wants to blow up.  The computer can't talk the bomb out of it, so the crew is trying to.  Doolittle visits Commander Powell in this freeze room, but can't get a solid answer out of him other than to talk to the bomb.  He gets his space suit on and goes out to talk to it about philosophy and the meaning of the bombs life.  The best part is when the bomb says: "I think, therefore I am".  Doolittle talks the bomb into going back into the ship to have more time to think about blowing up, meanwhile Talby was shot into space so Doolittle has a jet pack on to rescue him.  The other two were inside fist fighting about Boiler trying to shoot the bomb.  As Doolittle is trying to rescue Talby, Bomb 20 decides it will blow up now, shooting Doolittle and Talby to drift further apart, Talby get picked up by the traveling space rocks he was talking about earlier and Doolittle gets to surf down to the red planet on a piece of debris.

They really could have turned this into a TV series and gone even further with it.  It was quirky entertaining story about different personalities clashing together in a confined space...in space.   I really enjoyed this film because it was lighthearted and comedic, the characters were portrayed well, and hairy.  The low budget part of it just added to it's success as a whole.    

La Jetee

La Jetee transfers into English as The Jetty, an outcropping of land sort of, kind of like a dock or a port.  The first thing that comes to my mind is the Spiral Jetty in the Salt Lake, Utah.   Its a land and rock formation of a spiral reaching out into the waters, the spiral shape was also in my mind while watching this short film because of the memory theme La Jetee has, the spiral representing a gateway into another state of being.  Images of your own memory spiraling through your mind in stills much like the film has done by using only pictures and a narrator.  This was much more of an experience than it was a film, it was like being a little kid listening to someone read you a story as you only look through the pictures.

The plot of La Jetee is a spiral as well, its post Apocalypse France and the last remaining people are living underground.  A group of scientists begin experimenting with time travel to try to save their planet.  They are having problems with the people they are sending though, it seems they come back and are just not mentally stable enough.  So they come up with a brilliant plan, they have a prisoner who is obsessed with a traumatic event he witnessed as a child, a man being shot on an airport jetty.  They put him in a hammock with these huge bra shaped eye pads on him and send him into time travel!  They send in to the past where he meets a woman, he eventually begins having a romantic relationship with this woman.  They send him to the future to get supplies for their survival, once he is back from the future with the supplies he learns that the people forcing him to do this are going to execute him.  The people from the future tell him that they can save him but he will be in the future permanently, instead he was them to send him to the past so he can find the woman he loves, they send him to the past and he finds her.  She is standing on an airports Jetty with the wind blowing in her hair, he calls to her and begins running, suddenly he notices one of the guys trying to kill him and he is shot!  It is in this moment when he realizes that the man he saw die on the jetty when he was a kid was in fact himself getting shot.

The film takes you in one giant circle of this man's traumatic event.  The aesthetic of the film keeps the viewer in this storybook trans almost, it gives imagination a turn to play so to say.  A picture is just one moment in a sea of zillions of moments, it is like a statue, something created to represent a moment of importance, there is no way to recreate an exact moment on every angle but a picture is a good way.  The memory theme is very successfully dominant in La Jetee.  The narrators voice also played into the way the film progressed, he spoke slowly and flowed very nicely, it was not hard to understand what he was saying, I liked that a lot about this film.  It told you a story just like a friend may tell you a story, it was a monologue.  It also got me thinking about the purpose of memory and how everyone's memory is fluid, it can change and flow into something else because no one can remember things the exact same way.  

Silent Running

Silent Running is a film made by a Canadian director, Douglas Trumbull, who also worked on the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It's essentially about a man who finds himself on a space station greenhouse trying to keep Earths last living plants alive. He of course is a deeply emotional man however so the story takes you on a mini roller coaster ride of his journey after some difficult choices.

The movie starts out with this man, Freeman, tending to his plants and various things, as the camera pans out of a window you can see that he is on a gigantic space station greenhouse thing that has American Airlines logos painted on it.  It's sometime in the future when airlines are using space also and its learned later that there are no more living plants on Earth and everyone is happy about it.  Except Freeman because he loves plants and nature and small animals.  Freeman bunks with a few other guys who work on the space station greenhouse with him, those guys are not really like Freeman though.  They lack his passion for nature and the regret that men should have about destroying all the plants on Earth.  Freeman tries to persuade them with a cantaloupe, to no prevail.  Frustrated by his shipmates ignorance they all later find out over communications that the plan is to destroy all the greenhouses and head back to Earth because they are now only going to be operating commercially.  This is devastates Freeman and he stares off into space in a shock, all the other guys are highfive-ing and dancing around.  They start to take out orders and destroy the greenhouses, of course Freeman is not going to do this so he stands up against the others, ultimately murdering one of the guys after a little fist fight.  Anyway, he escapes into the deep dark corners of space, but he is all alone with three drones.  He has also sustained injuries during the fight he had with the shipmate, and it's so bad that Freeman cannot even stand up.  The way the actor does these scenes was hilarious, his cheeks were shaking and his hair was all over the place!  His knee is the spot that is injured but Freeman must hate the sight of blood because he cannot even look at it, he programs his drones to doctor him up, all the while he is puffing his cheeks and shaking is hair.  He starts to get better and teaches the drones how to plant and take care of the greenhouse areas.  Freeman talks to the communications folks who tell him it will be impossible to find him out in space so he should just contemplate suicide.  So he is now confident that he has escaped everybody ever and they will all just think he disappeared into space, luckily for him he as no family back on Earth so he is used to being alone.  After losing one drone to an accident he now names the remaining drones Duey and Huey and basically programs them to be his only friends.  Him and the drones just repair things that happen on the ship, maintain the plants, and play poker together until one day when Freeman sees that his plants are starting to die.  He realizes that they are not getting enough sunlight, so he tries to make up for it.  Sometime during all this he gets a message from some rescuers that have located him!  It's a miracle, he has been found and will be taken to safety, but that's not really what Freeman wants and he has only one option in his plans.  He packs up one of the drones in the greenhouse dome and instructs it to maintain the forest, that is it's sole purpose from here on, and he and the other drone will detach and blow up.  He aims the forest and drone at the sun and then has his final words with the remaining drone.  It's a kind of scene that is in the Titanic, the captain goes down with the ship, heroic in a way.  Freeman says something about when he was a kid he put a message in a bottle and threw it into the ocean and wondered if anyone had ever found it, in this situation he put a drone in a space greenhouse and sent it into space, so maybe somebody will find it and maybe not but he will never know.

The film was really quiet funny and entertaining.  The character was not like any actor we have seen in the spaceship science fiction films viewed as of yet, he was a nature man out in space where nature does not mean the same thing as it does on Earth.  He was a loner in the sense that no one really took the time to understand his perspectives, and the film gave you the idea that he had always been like that.  I am sure we could find many people just like Freeman all over the place now too, he feels alone and unappreciated, like newer things are replacing the good older things, pushing the past into extinction.  Technology is taking over, this is true to us now but we have not lost our past and I like to think we never will, there is something to learned when doing certain things in a certain method, like simply writing a letter instead of an email.        

Monday, October 21, 2013

Midterm Essay

Living Space
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 142 minute science fiction space film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1968. The film has a dominant presence with its smart use of lengthy shots, spectacular special effects, use of imagery, and the precise attention paid to sound and movement. The dialogue in the film is very limited and the communication of emotions become possible in methods of repetitions of sound, such as the sound of the astronauts breathing. Kubrick's choice of music adds to the zero gravity effect by sending the satellite stations floating through the camera shot almost like a dancer may float across a stage. Throughout the whole film the zero gravity special effect is done really well, at every opportune moment it seems there is a way it continues to keep the viewer in space with the cast. A great amount of attention was given to small material details, such as the special caps worn by the space stewardesses to keep their hair from floating about their faces. Apart from the material aesthetic and the way the film was presented by Kubrick there is the interpretation that comes from the story by the viewer, each viewer is not certain to have the same experience or interpretation. Kubrick consciously made no explanations or attached any underlying meanings to the story but that it is to be interpreted by the viewer, therefore creating the possibility of no right or wrong answers.
The story begins in a prehistoric Africa where an extraterrestrial force has planted a single black monolith which happens to be very close to a group of ape-like beings who become curious of its presence. Their courage grows as they approach the monolith and their fears start to subside as they touch it and become more comfortable, eventually leading to the evolutionary invention of the tool. The ape-like beings discover the tool is good for a lot of tasks, one of which is winning a battle with another group of ape-like beings that results in a murder. The power balance between individuals can now be measured in possession and use of tools. As billions of years have passed man is now at his peak of technological advancements and is now exploring with more confidence than ever before, his confidence is placed in the hands of artificially intelligent robots that control operated space stations. However there are clues that all of the new technological advancements are not entirely perfect, in one of the scenes a pen floats away from the sleeping passenger on a space shuttle due to zero gravity. The pen represents one of the many tools created in the evolution of technology that has now gone out of the control of it's creator. The space stewardess comes by to put the pen back in it's place, literally and theoretically, she is doing her part in the continuation of man's believed control that he has over his creations. The fact that humans in space must relearn how to walk and move, to use a zero gravity toilet, and must adapt to special space food also shows that there is something to be weary of in space.
Showing man's strength and need to explore, invade, and dominate the film takes the viewers to the scene of another monolith being excavated on the moon. Man, being the confident beings they are in this future setting, have no fear of the monolith and walk right up to it with a camera, a horrible radio signal sound is triggered and things get fuzzy. The perspective of the camera at one point puts the viewer in the space suit of an astronaut, humanizing this mistake of technological indifference of the much more advanced monolith. The radio signals towards Jupiter, which leads to the Jupiter Mission where the character HAL 9000 becomes prominent. HAL 9000 is the central nervous system of the spaceship on the Jupiter Mission, HAL has started showing growing characteristics of human-like intelligence. In HAL's perspective it is far more advanced than the humans that survive within its intelligence. HAL is starting to see the humans as something disposable, it has a plan to take full control over the operations. HAL relates a message that the mission will fail, sending the two astronauts out of the shuttle to repair a unit only to discover that it is working correctly, once inside the astronauts, Dave and Frank, have a conversation about shutting down parts of HALS controls if the unit does not fail as predicted and how HAL may react. They try to be sneaky but HAL can read lips and sees their conversation through the pod windows. Frank then goes outside of the shuttle to work on the unit again, HAL sends a pods sweeping arm to smack Frank sending him spinning out into space grabbing for his air tube.
At this point in the movie the rhythm of the Franks breathing are vital to the emotion of helplessness and the suffocation effect of being out of ones element, like a fish out of water, man cannot survive without technology in space. Computers, however, can function without breathing, showing the power the computer has over man in this environment. Dave goes to retrieve Frank in one of the pods, named the Discovery, but once Dave tries to return HAL has already taken over control and won't let Dave back into the main shuttle. Dave now knows the extent of what has happened, HAL has the upper hand here but Dave decides to position the Discovery pod door next to one of the main shuttle's entry points. Without his space helmet Dave is out of his element with the lack of oxygen but also the temperature is drastically lower, he pops the Discovery door and shoots into the entry area, this part uses the contrast of silence after a loud noise to also emulate the loneliness that Dave will be destined to. Once back inside Dave must now turn HAL's controls off, he ends up doing this task using a simple screwdriver tool in HAL's main system, cutting Dave's relationship with technology and forever securing his fate of an unknown death. Technological advancements almost replaced the human that created and cultured it, ultimately raising the question; without tools, what is man?
Images start to appear and travel into the unknown at an unknown speed of time and space, colors and textures become more important then locations or dates, it seems that every element or feeling can be translated into light and movement. Now free to create any reality Dave finds himself in a strange room eventually discovering himself over and over but at different stages of aging. He is watching himself grow older and weaker, he walks in on himself at his last supper scene where his older self accidentally knocks over a glass, the glass breaks but what's inside is still there, foreshadowing symbolism of the relationship between the body and soul. The scene pans over to oldest Dave on his death bed, hovering in front of him is a monolith. Oldest Dave stares at the monolith in his last moments and then his soul is free from its body, what appears next is an embryo like star child. Dave's soul can now be reborn into a new vessel, perpetuating life and progress. Being reborn symbolizes the metaphysical relationship between creatures and their environments, the journey of life rather than creating or destroying life.
With the theme of life traveling rather than being destroyed and created, ideas and creativity also travel in the situation of their impact over time in the form of a new film; Gravity. Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is not a remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the two can be compared on their similar plots and styles. Gravity, 90 minutes, is remarkably shorter than 2001: A Space Odyssey's 142 minutes, showing the quicker pace newer films seem to have over older films. Reviews commented on the film's ability of holding the audiences' attention even with lengthy shots and lack of characters, this shows just how different the audiences of 1968 might have been when compared to 2013's. Length of the films set aside, Gravity brings a new plot with new characters, this time a female lead, Ryan Stone, who is played by Sandra Bullock, is on her first mission in space, she is paired with a veteran space traveler on his last mission coincidentally, Matt Kowalski, played by George Clooney. Things start to turn for the worse when a storm of debris from a Russian missile heads their way while they are outside of the shuttle, they cannot make it inside in time and get hit by the debris storm, sending Stone attached to an armature of the shuttle spinning into space forced to detach she is then spiraling alone into space. Her breathing mirrors her emotions throughout the film, mirroring her helplessness as well as loneliness and her physical state with lack of oxygen, the same attention paid to the use of breathing audio in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kowalski's character has a self propelled pack enabling his efforts to save Stone, leading to their perilous journey to find a safe station before the debris storm returns. In their attempts Stone becomes entangled in parachute straps with Kowalski only holding on by the rope attaching them together, he detaches himself in hopes that Stone will have better odds of survival alone, forever securing her fate of loneliness. Stone is forced to embark on this mission with very little knowledge or guidance, she narrowly escapes strings of bad luck that seem to never let up for her. The idea of Stone's character forever being alone is supported when its revealed she lost her only daughter at a young age from a school yard accident. The spectacular special effects in the film are breath taking and the visuals are only enhanced by the 3D element. By making Gravity in a 3D version it gives the audience the feeling of zero gravity, putting the viewer in the suit of Ryan Stone as she drifts through space and her different emotions when paired with the audio. 3D also adds to the experience when any prop is experiencing zero gravity, for example there is a reoccurring image of a pen floating, just as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the pen symbolizes the unknown power of what humans have created and trust with their lives in environments not suitable for human life, such as space travel technology. The pen is not the only connection to other imagery in films, the image of the embryo/fetal position used in the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey is used in Gravity also, when Stone sheds her suit, suspended in zero gravity inside a ship, she resembles an unborn baby floating inside a womb, bringing the idea of her soul traveling beyond her body into a new dimension, she represents the star child. Safe inside the Russian Soyuz Capsule she puts on a suit that has the number 42 on it, 42 can be referencing “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” where the number 42 is the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything”. The number 42 on the suit is foreshadowing her possible success in survival when she is hit by yet another road block once the Soyuz Capsule is aligned toward the Chinese ship she discovers there is not enough fuel and begins to shut the oxygen flow off to die painlessly. In what seems like the last moments of Stone's life, Kowalski suddenly appears in a hallucination only to tell Stone of another method to get the ship where it needs to be. The same use of silence is in the scene when Dave shoots from the Discovery into the main shuttle entry is used during the scene in Gravity when Kowalski shoots into the Soyuz Capsule. The silence of loneliness is contrasted with Kowalski's presence, then again supported when it's apparent his appearance was only a hallucination of Stone's. With the grace of luck she some how makes it to Earth nearly drowning after landing in a lake, she finds her way to shore and takes her first steps very weak and wobbly. Her first steps signify her rebirth on Earth, the continuation of her soul, her metaphysical energy.
The similarities of the two films is apparent in their themes of helplessness, loneliness, and the threat of technology. The aesthetics of both show great advancements in cinema and the technical parts that join in the end to create something that uses sight and sound in a way that creates a unique experience for the viewer. The obsession with discovery and progress parallels closely with obsession of the eminent disaster of said progress and knowledge. By leaving the explanations of imagery in 2001: A Space Odyssey open to the viewer it gives permission for Gravity to do the same, which it takes and spins into it's own completely new creation but still relates strongly to the same concepts and ideas about metaphysics and humankind's metaphysical relationship with it's environment.