Monday, June 30, 2014

The Real Danger

To say it wouldn't surprise me if Paramount turned out to be lying about the box office take for Transformers: Age of Extinction, as rival studios are alleging, would be an understatement. I bet the movie made even less money than the rival studios are claiming, especially when you take out money from product placement and tie-ins. Do you know anyone who wanted to see this movie? Have you seen anyone, anywhere online say something along the lines of, "I'd sure like to see that new Transformers movie," or even, "I'd kind of like to see that new Transformers movie." The movie industry right now is a five trillion dollar lotus petal floating gently on an ocean of obfuscation, mark my words.

I'd like to see Snowpiercer--a Bong Joon-Ho movie starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, and John Hurt that it seems like the studio fought tooth and nail to keep from being released in the U.S. Which is why I'd have to drive to L.A. to see it and I probably would if I didn't have so much work to do on my comic. Last Tuesday I pencilled, inked, and coloured one page completely. It took me from the time I woke up to just an hour before I went to bed. I'd probably have kept up the pace except every day since has had one thing or another eating up a big chunk out of my day, but at least I've kept up with pencil and ink. I foresee one or two big crunch colouring days. To-day I need to go out and buy some more paper as well as some groceries. Supposedly Snowpiercer is opening wider on Wednesday so maybe I'll see it then.

The past few days I've also been dealing with a recall notice regarding my car, a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze. The notice reads, in part:

The inflator in the driver's front airbag may rupture and/or the airbag may not inflate during airbag deployment. If this occurs, the rupture could propel metal pieces of the inflator in the vehicle cabin possibly striking and seriously injuring the driver or other vehicle occupants. Additionally, if the inflator does not inflate, there is an increased risk of injury to the driver.

The trouble is the dealership has told me in multiple phone conversations since last week that this recall does not exist. To-day at least I was called by a worried sounding employee informing me several other people have been calling in about this same recall that they have no record of. I guess until this thing's sorted I just need to avoid head on collisions.

Twitter Sonnet #641

A cigar's selfie proves itself at last.
Helium politicians rise smiling.
The bribed cherubim let go of the past.
Contented contractors accept Riesling.
Concrete reforms embrace the blessed scaffold.
Godly clouds squeeze cocoanut tear raindrops.
Dizzy heart canaries kiss the kobold.
Edible diamonds ravish tooth crown tops.
Triumphant car horns remove the draw bridge.
Flying Jesus statues laugh like soda.
Giggling bellies cause tremors on the ridge.
Concession stands burst in popcorn coda.
The cat's cradle ping pong charts celebrate.
Hollow white balls know how to enervate.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Life in the Doll

Institutions of liberation and oppression are sometimes influenced by race, sex, or arson. Elia Kazan's 1956 film Baby Doll links all three in a story about instinct in conflict with injustice. Based on Tennessee Williams' one act play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, with a screenplay by Williams, it's not the best work of either the screenwriter or the director but has a fascinating sensuality and strange, cold chemistry between its three leads.

Karl Malden plays Archie Lee, owner of a cotton gin in rural Mississippi. His young wife, known in the film only as "Baby Doll" (Carroll Baker), is just about to turn twenty, at which point she and Archie will finally have sex. Archie acquired Baby Doll rather like property as part of a deal with her father. Because she wasn't ready for certain aspects of marriage, the parties agreed things wouldn't get physical until Baby Doll's twentieth birthday. Baby Doll's immaturity is broadly and repeatedly established--the first shot of her is in a crib sucking her thumb, being spied on by Archie, and she's wearing the babydoll nightgown the movie made famous.

She's prone to teasing her frustrated husband, giggling and scampering about like a child and then suddenly exhibiting anger. And yet, the young woman is clearly not content with the situation, threatening that she'll go to town and get her own job. An impromptu interview with a dentist for a receptionist job, though, reminds Baby Doll she's completely lacking in employable skills, her upbringing not exactly having prepared her for independence.

It's not just independence she wants--Archie's business is failing and almost all their furniture has been repossessed. Archie blames his woes on competition from a newcomer, a Sicilian immigrant named Silva Vacarro played by the great Eli Wallach who passed away just last week.

When Silva's massively successful cotton gin burns down, he learns quickly he can expect no justice from the local white law enforcement. Figuring it was Archie who burned his gin, Silva plays nice, offering a partnership with Archie and arranging to be alone with Baby Doll in her and Archie's crumbling antebellum house.

Most of the movie is these two in the house, his attempts to get a signed affidavit as a witness to her husband's crime manifest as attempts to physically seduce her while Baby Doll finds herself fighting sexual urges for perhaps the first time in her life.

I've heard it said the Eli Wallach was not appropriate casting. The role might have been more successfully played by Marlon Brando--I'd almost bet that's who Kazan originally had in mind for the role. Wallach was also a method actor so perhaps the filmmakers thought he would be an appropriate substitute. But Wallach didn't have Brando's vulnerability, he's almost all output in this film, all calculation though one senses some mixed emotions in how to deal with Baby Doll.

He's actually not that different from Malden--they even have kind of the same big, cleft nose. The impression is that Baby Doll might be trading one materialistic patriarch for another yet at least she's clearly attracted to Silva.

The scene that got the movie banned in so many places and drew such backlash from the Catholic church is one in which she and Wallach sit close together on a swing. The camera is so close and Baker's performance is so effective one does have the impression that Baby Doll is becoming sexually excited in spite of herself though her lines are only about how she's feeling ticklish and weak.

Those who criticised the film on a moral level claimed that Wallach's hand was up Baker's dress off-screen. I think this is a good example of the subjectivity of censorship and the sexual clumsiness of the censors--I'm reminded of the student in the sexual education class in Monty Python's Meaning of Life who suggested foreplay involved going straight for the clitoris. The scene is much sexier for how little is happening, just Silva's face close to hers. When she says she wants to stand up, he lets her, at which point she clearly does so with reluctance.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Death Process

Why do the poor continually vote for the party that exploits and lowers their quality of life even further? Councilman De Vita puts this question to a group of angry, poor city dwellers in 1963's Hands over the City (Le mani sulla città). They're all being evicted from their old neighbourhood so the city council can demolish it and build a new one, the profits going to a contractor whose company happens to have several councilmen among its shareholders. This is a film of brilliant, unvarnished Neorealist style footage that serves a slightly varnished left-wing perspective. But the film is certainly not lacking in insight for that--the realism of the footage and focus of its political message puts this Francesco Rosi film in the tradition of Eisenstein.

"So who do we vote for?" says one of the protesters, "The Communists?" De Vita (Carlo Fermariello) responds, "Vote for those who don't profit at your expense!"

De Vita is presented throughout the film as a pure hearted champion of the people confronting on the city council a thoroughly corrupt opposition party currently in power. The movie crucially never allows the citizens to answer the question--why did you vote for these crooks in the first place? The lack of perspective weakens the film.

Rod Steiger, an American actor here playing an Italian man in an Italian film, plays Nottola, the man in charge of the construction company. The film begins with him explaining to some councilmen on his board how if they build on the dirt field they're standing in they can make a 5,000 percent profit.

Steiger gives this utterly corrupt man some solemn pathos in a general weariness as backroom deals threaten to turn against him or reports in the press cast him and his allies in a bad light. At one point he and De Vita are alone in one of Nottola's new buildings and Nottola shows him how the water is running, the lights work, the building has all the modern conveniences, why does De Vita stand in the way of progress? To which De Vita replies the poor he's evicting will never be able to afford to live in the places Nottola is building.

De Vita is an engineer and he leads an investigation into a disaster depicted in the movie's most impressive scene.

A cobblestone alley with hanging laundry and people going about their business in a way probably not unlike people a hundred years ago. Then, the side of a building falls on them.

It's clearly not a model, the chain reaction that leads to an entire half of a building collapsing is clearly exactly what it appears to be in the footage.

The whole rest of the film has an impressive realism, too, in showing the city council to be made up of fat, middle aged men. Everyone in this movie is a fat, middle aged man except for a call girl who falls asleep in the next room in one scene, complaining about how everyone's talking about business and politics.

Nottola feels he deserves respect, everyone in his party wearily pushes ahead with their conquest, not understanding De Vita's vitriol, perhaps really believing it when they accuse him of merely trying to win re-election with his investigation and denouncements. It becomes clear that the philosophy that Nottola espouses but can never directly articulate is one where some people simply must die off so that people in power can live well. Steiger helps the film a lot by not playing this like a cheap villain but like someone who's long ago resigned himself to this being the way of things.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Nesuko is Unmarried

Happy Birthday, Helen Keller, the third chapter of The Casebook of Boschen and Nesuko is now free online. This one's a special nine page chapter. Look for the next chapter on Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthday, not that it'll be any competition with him.

I see to-day's also my friend Robyn Massachusetts' birthday. Happy Birthday.

While inking yesterday, I listened to The Wrath of the Iceni, another Fourth Doctor Doctor Who audio drama, the one with the weakest writing I've heard so far. Though Tom Baker brings a great deal of charm, especially in an early exchange with Leela about how Noel Coward wasn't a coward and then a moment with Boudica where he tries to explain why he doesn't have a hat. That's Boudica, the Celtic queen, and the Doctor and Leela are in 60AD while the Romans are invading. Certainly an exciting premise and it's fun to see how Boudica and Leela bond. And there's an appreciable amount of historically authentic ultra-violence but the whole thing is hampered by the Doctor's motives not quite ringing true and Boudica being written as one dimensional and more of a villain than the Romans. I suppose one might argue Doctor Who requires unambiguous heroes and villains but considering how dull that almost always is I don't know why anyone would.

Twitter Sonnet #640

Tea cooled, spilling down the see-through staircase.
Fingers stropped the razor's one side sharper.
Dry ancestors bowed to the plus one mace.
Have Hogans forgot Valerie Harper?
Reworked wigwam androids serve the airship.
Packets of pumpkin seeds flutter like leaves.
Marble apples signify strange worship.
Dehydrated glue was gathered in sheaves.
Released blowtorch fuel giggled in ripples.
Captured rifle birds withhold secrets now.
Stars glow above like radio dimples.
Silly Putty doesn't ask why or how.
Lowered glasses tease another eight eyes.
Duplicate Kirk ghosts haunt the Enterprise.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What's a God or Goddess of Righteous Vengeance to Do?

What's a masochist who's nobody? For a masochist to get a proper kick from humiliation, he or she needs to have a lot to be proud of. The most accomplished masochist will make sure he or she looks like a king or queen to the world, the best masochist expresses sexual excitement with angry vengeance. Sometimes this kind of masochism runs in a family as it does in Anthony Mann's 1950 western The Furies where T.C. Jeffords and his daughter rule their vast land holdings in the old American west like feudal lords. This is, in both senses of the word, a terrific film, a fascinating portrait of decadently repressed and channelled feelings.

Every time I think I've seen all of the great roles Barbara Stanwyck played in her long career I see another one. She plays Vance Jeffords, a young woman who takes gleeful pleasure in the power she has over others. She's daughter of T.C. Jeffords, played by Walter Huston in his final role. A man of enormous ego whose status is so great he has his own currency--TCs--which he pays his hands with instead of Federal currency.

He calls his little kingdom The Furies, a name which brings to mind the Greek mythological Furies. And if one sees currency as promissory notes, one can see how the Jeffords are the forces who regulate oaths. They exact extreme commitments and promises and seem to relish in the fury they feel when those promises are broken. T.C. tells Vance he plans to leave her The Furies when he dies on the condition she marries a man he approves of. When Rip Darrow (Wendell Corey) shows up at a party uninvited and Vance sees how furious he makes her father she immediately decides to dance with him. T.C. scowls and then laughs, loudly and deeply.

Used to getting her way with the men who work for her father or live at his mercy, she's enraged when Rip doesn't show up to a party she tells him to attend. She goes into town and confronts him at a saloon. He hits her and pushes her face in a wash basin.

He does it all coldly, like he's breaking an animal. When she actually shoots at him later in the movie, the bullet grazing his shoulder, he doesn't even flinch. Like her father, who succumbs to cool, controlling women--first Vance's mother, then a rich interloper who clashes with Vance--Vance finds Rip's abuse and indifferent demeanour stimulates her obsession.

He's not the first man she's had an affair with against her father's wishes. She's carried on a relationship for years with Juan (Gilbert Roland), the young patriarch of a Mexican family of squatters on The Furies. Maybe she got some excitement out of seeing someone so forbidden, but by the time of the film's events Juan clearly only gives Vance physical pleasure while he maintains a steady, unbreakable love. It's precisely this that renders him less attractive in Vance's eyes than Rip.

The movie ends much too tidily; maybe the censors interfered because the people in the movie were too delightfully fucked up, maybe the filmmakers wanted to give Walter Huston a proper swansong in his last role. At any rate, the bulk of the film is an exciting nightmare.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sharks, Terror of the Second World War

It's World War II. The Allies have a lot to worry about with a war in Europe and the Pacific. On top of this, there are, as always, sharks. Adolf Hitler's Nazi party in Germany presents a frightening image of a world dominated by totalitarian government backed up by murderous zeal and overpowering military might. From Japan comes a formidable threat imposed by a fearless group of men willing to die in service to the Emperor. And in the oceans there dwells an animal with a lot of really sharp teeth who occasionally attacks humans. It can be hard to know which threat to deal with first. Not for Lieutenant Commander Ben Staves (Victor Mature) who lost several of his comrades to shark attacks after his destroyer was sunk and so, driven single-mindedly in his need for vengeance, he takes command of The Shark Chasers, an elite group of military scientists who in 1943 worked around the clock in Cuba to develop a shark repellent in order to bring the most terrible war in the history of mankind to a close. Their story is told in 1956's The Sharkfighters. I sought this movie out, I admit, because the premise sounded exquisitely stupid. It did not disappoint.

The Shark Chasers were apparently a real team developing shark repellent during World War II but the story of Lieutenant Commander Staves in the film is fictional. Well, it's not hard to tell--the film has the standard paces of the man committed to his dangerous job, the men around him worried about the risks he takes, and the beautiful wife in a long line of movie wives who never, ever understands the mystery of what makes her man do the things he does. She is forced to worry on the sidelines and contemplate the enigma his beefy sexiness.

There's also a young officer working under Staves who for some reason wants to be transferred. Apparently he's under the crazy idea that developing shark repellent isn't integral to the war effort. Staves sets him straight.

Of course the movie contrives to have men in the water with circling sharks and, to the movie's credit, actual sharks are used and the blood in the water looks convincing, however unconvincing the reasons for people to be in the water near aggressive sharks may be. There's also some footage of real Cuban fishermen and sharks they've hunted and caught.

The movie was shot on location in Cuba, the Bay of Pigs just a few years away so some of film has a fascinating, historical artefact quality--it's footage of a Cuba that doesn't exist anymore. Though some sampling of the local culture leads to the film's single most embarrassing scene:

Sexy as Defined by The Sharkfighters (1956) by setsuled

It feels like it was written by a group of asexual, sentient marionettes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Choking World

After a 28 year old woman's failed attempt at suicide, which is a sad enough thing in itself, I would say it's much more saddening that she was compelled to write a letter of apology to a talent agency called Atomic Monkey.

I, Saori Hayashi, have caused my fans and staff huge amounts of trouble and worry though my actions, it is truly inexcusable.

Especially everyone connected with AXL One, I only just joined you and I caused all this fuss, I’m so sorry. Atomic Monkey did nothing wrong. What I wrote was just the persecution complex of someone who was depressed. Not one thing have they done wrong. No company is as wonderful as they are. Atomic Monkey is so generous and tolerant, I am deeply thankful.

Atomic Monkey opened my eyes. I am so deeply grateful to Atomic Monkey for changing my life. After trying to end my own life and ending up with a face like this after hanging myself, I can never go back to being a seiyuu, but I am truly, truly grateful to all those who supported me until now.

Saori Hayashi is retiring.

Also, Saori Hayashi has left AXL One so please stop asking them about this matter. I quit and have had nothing more to do with AXL One. Thanks for everything up to now.


You can read more about the story here as well as several more comments about the physical pain involved in being saved from asphyxiation which her agency deleted from her site against her wishes. The fact that she feels her suicide attempt's effect on her physical appearance renders her unemployable as a voice actress is another troubling layer of brutal delusion enforced by her society. It seems terribly obvious the dehumanising forces around her play a key role in her wanting to end her life but the obviousness doesn't make me any more optimistic about the prospect of a change in her environment.

It's been almost a decade, I think, since the last time I watched Terry Gilliam's 1985 masterpiece Brazil, mainly because I watched it repeatedly in the 90s, more times than I can count, and had kind of numbed myself to it. But like any great work of art, you can always go back to it at some point and experience a sense of revelation.

It's common to say that the film is a nightmare about bureaucracy but I think this is slightly beside the point. The film's often compared to George Orwell's 1984 but I was struck, in viewing Brazil on Sunday, by how much I was reminded of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, which I'm currently reading. Unlike 1984, Brazil and Bleak House don't so much portray a system that oppresses people as much as they paint portraits of people and the various reasons they allow the system to function as it does.

Bleak House is known--some might say it's notorious for--introducing a huge cast of characters. It seems at least two characters are introduced in every chapter and then referred back to without explanation several chapters later--I'm 219 pages into my 846 page edition and already I've had to look back to see who a Mr. Tulkinghorn was. But I don't need to do this very often which, I feel, is a testament to how vividly Dickens created characters. Like the characters in Brazil, and the people evidently surrounding Ms. Hayashi, their failings seem almost cartoonishly obvious and yet it seems very realistic that they go ignored or unaddressed. Like Mrs. Pardiggle who's so concerned with imposing charity that she can't see the misery she inflicts on her own children in the process--or the chairs she always knocks over with her skirts. Or Mrs. Jellyby, who's so consumed with organising aid for a remote African community she's allowed her home to disintegrate, introduced in the appropriately titled chapter "Telescopic Philanthropy".

I love how Dickens has not so far specifically discussed the logistics of why the narrator of most of the book, Esther Summerson, and two of her cousins are under the care of Mr. Jarndyce or how their situation relates to the inheritance case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce which has been tied up in the courts for generations. When Jarndyce laments to someone else in a similar situation, Mr. Gridley, how the system has treated them unjustly, Gridley says:

"The system! I am told on all hands, it's the system. I mustn't look to individuals. It's the system. I mustn't go into court and say, 'My Lord, I beg to know this from you—is this right or wrong? Have you the face to tell me I have received justice and therefore am dismissed?' My Lord knows nothing of it. He sits there to administer the system. I mustn't go to Mr. Tulkinghorn, the solicitor in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and say to him when he makes me furious by being so cool and satisfied—as they all do, for I know they gain by it while I lose, don't I?—I mustn't say to him, 'I will have something out of some one for my ruin, by fair means or foul!' HE is not responsible. It's the system. But, if I do no violence to any of them, here—I may! I don't know what may happen if I am carried beyond myself at last! I will accuse the individual workers of that system against me, face to face, before the great eternal bar!"

It's not unlike Michael Palin's character in Brazil, observing it's not his fault Buttle's heart condition didn't show up in his file when he accidentally tortured him to death, or Ian Holm's cowardly administrator panicking about what to do with the refund check for the man's widow.

The people who go on with their lunch a few feet away from a terrorist attack, Charles McKeown's character Lime whose whole passion in life is to get slightly more desk space and to see his co-workers getting berated by the higher ups.

The famous shot of Robert De Niro's character being literally consumed by paper work at the end of the film isn't simply about the system devouring humanity. It's that De Niro's character, Tuttle, is the sort who'd help someone else out of a genuine desire to make things better regardless of whether or not it's practical or reasonable. He's not killed by the paper, he's snuffed out by a world of people scraping out little holes for themselves.

Twitter Sonnet #639

Knowledge condensed in a repeated brow.
Eight drops of blue rain spiked the water god.
Sleeping medics cough stones to clog the plough.
Grey candy melts in fear across the sod.
Sweaty spoons'll recline in steamed bedding.
Fire-blooded dreams cast metal shadows.
Doctors on steel ladders point the heading.
Angles shredded from circles cut meadows.
Redrawn dalmatian clouds tip the free spoon.
Received perceptions pronounce the game's crime.
New yellow fur coats panic the cloak room.
Undeveloped film burns in the cracked lime.
Ticket stub wrought scales shimmer in the dark.
The mollusc scaling the wall made the mark.

Monday, June 23, 2014

All You Need is To-morrow's Metal Suit

On Saturday, I went with parents and sister to see the new Tom Cruise movie. I asked my sister, "Is it the one where he's an agent of some kind, in the future, he's wanted by people in authority and he's alone?" I didn't find out until the closing credits rolled that the movie is called The Edge of To-morrow. It wasn't bad. It broadly combines some concepts--it might be described as Aliens meets Groundhog Day.

It's based on a manga called All You Need is Kill--I could tell watching the movie that it was based on some manga or anime. I thought maybe it was an adaptation of Battle Angel Alita after having gone through five or six stages of reconceptualising so I was surprised to read that Edge of To-morrow supposedly hews rather close to All You Need is Kill.

Action anime is a little more comfortable introducing world building ideas as peripheral things--like the battle suits in the movie and the aliens themselves--than movies from the west have traditionally been. If you have a movie with battle suits, the movie has to be about the battle suits, if you have a movie with aliens, the movie has to be about the aliens. Well, that's changed a bit in the past decade, largely because of Marvel's films.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are both good in the movie and the portion of the film where Cruise's character slowly realises he repeats the day every time he dies has something of the same fun to it as Groundhog Day had. It allows for a character arc almost as extreme as Bill Murray's as Cruise's cowardly U.S. major gradually becomes a courageous, hardened soldier, largely with the help of Emily Blunt's character. The movie has been praised for the unconventional gender roles in having Blunt's character be the assertive action heroine leader to Cruise's awkward tag-along. But, really, what it works out to is that her character is a bit one dimensional--the noble warrior--lacking the layers of Sarah Connor or Ellen Ripley.

The last third of the film feels a bit thin and low stakes as characters are arranged to be in certain places more to capitalise on chemistry than because it actually makes sense for them to be there. But Cruise is still an engaging star and the Groundhog Day first portion of the film builds enough cache on his character's perspective you stay interested in what happens to him throughout the film.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Gods are Thinking About the World

There are worlds that burn when the hearts of men and women are in turmoil, worlds that take revenge on moral transgressions, that punish those who break promises and betray kin. These are the interior worlds of religions like Shinto, its creation myth portrayed in a fascinating but somewhat sanitised form in 1959's The Birth of Japan (日本誕生 Nippon tanjo), a decadent production with an impressive cast headed by Toshiro Mifune in two roles as Susanoo, god of the sea and storms, and the mortal protagonist Prince Yamato Takeru.

Mifune is of course a familiar face in the best regarded films of Akira Kurosawa so it's a little strange seeing him in the lead role of a film that deals with a reality of externally enforced morality and metaphor, where Kurosawa's films are more psychological and about people trying to perceive or impose meaning in a world that is fundamentally chaotic. Prince Yamato embodies the impossible, dream-like ideal to which the hopelessly human Kikuchiyo, Mifune's character in Seven Samurai, aspired. The greedy and ambitious of men in his father's court and the soldiers loyal to them conspire to bring about the downfall of the physically powerful and morally incorruptible prince. But in this world, it takes a colossal effort to unseat the morally just.

His story begins when, upon finding his older brother sleeping with his father's slave, Yamato Takeru beats and exiles him. The corrupt men of the court spread the word that Takeru in fact killed his brother. The emperor, a passive, indecisive man played by Ganjiro Nakamura, won't condemn his younger son to death and instead decides to wash his hands of the matter and send Takeru on a hopeless war campaign against a clan headed by a pair of bloodthirsty brothers, one of whom is played by the other actor most associated with Kurosawa, Takashi Shimura, looking extraordinarily hairy.

Prince Yamato Takeru's ability to succeed in battle ironically depends on his faith in his loved ones, so his aunt deceives him into thinking the emperor does not want him dead. Another thorn in Takeru's side is the love triangle he's involved in, one which eventually provokes the fury of the gods. There's his love for Oto Tachibana (Yoko Tsukasa), a virgin priestess, and a princess of a rival clan (Kyoko Kagawa) Takeru manages to avoid going to war with, using diplomacy instead.

There's some resemblance to the Christ myth and the Siegfried myth in Takeru's story, the sense that this man embodies a moral purity that cannot abide in physical form in this world for long because of the fundamental sinfulness of humanity. Like those other figures, the punishment of the gods is provoked by all humanity's betrayal of Takeru.

The film tells two alternating stories--Takeru's and the story of the gods. The movie begins with the creation of the world and Bokuzen Hidari amusingly cast as Amenominaka, the leader of the gods. Hidari had a distinctive, drunken, plaintive melancholy, sort of Japan's answer to Emmett Kelly.

The creation of Japan itself is overseen by the god Izanagi (脇田博行--I can't find the romanisation of this actor's name) and the goddess Inazumi (Shizuko Muramatsu). He makes the land masses and then flowers and other flora are added when the two marry.

They come up with a marriage ceremony on the spot I thought implied an intriguing set of layers of meaning--the two walk on opposite sides of a natural pillar of stone to meet on the other side.

There are two other anecdotes of the gods shown during the film, both involving Susanoo, and one involving his sister, the sun goddess Amaterasu played by Setsuko Hara.

She hides out in a cave when Susanoo offends her by throwing a dead horse among her seamstresses. The world is plunged into darkness until the other gods intrigue her by holding a festival outside, explaining the meaning behind Japanese fire festivals.

The other story involving Susanoo is a rather impressive special effects sequence where the sea god fights an eight headed dragon he first manages to get drunk with eight pots of sake.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Quick Fake Door

Last night I dreamt I was dating a woman who taught medical photography at a university. She looked sort of like Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby except she had really bright red hair. I didn't meet her until I went through a door at a hospital that didn't exist most of the day. Before that, she barely knew me, and I knew there was also a version of me in the alternate dimension who didn't care about her. He gave me a tour at one point near the end of the dream of the school and hospital. That's about all I can remember. I'm pretty sure the dream was influenced by the movie I watched last night which I don't have time to talk about to-day but here's a screenshot, maybe you can guess it:

Twitter Sonnet #638

Cracked and pink Crimea glasses slipped off.
Pushy wars devour dry ration dreams.
Cricket doughnuts behold the amber trough.
Setsuko's Filippovna plucked at her seams.
Tripod sand sinks the jelly cam'ra.
Chilled June cocoanuts absorb colour.
Old fire breaks wood in red and umbra.
Magma over goddess kelp a cellar.
Negative ant prints divulge the turkey.
Distress signals snap the stranger wet branch.
Dream wrought tails replace the zero's monkey.
Fighters drift through the blank turquoise knife ranch.
Wrench carols pervade the red atom sun.
Trees bend for the egret's first lava run.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Free Like Flynn

Well, it's Errol Flynn's birthday and, true to my word, another free html chapter of The Casebook of Boschen and Nesuko is online. Lots of nudity in this one unlike any Errol Flynn movie. I'll release another free chapter next Friday on the birthday of Helen Keller who definitely wouldn't have appreciated nudity in any visual medium.

I also held a chess tournament to-day in honour of Flynn--I decorated my chess club with posters and screenshots from the blu-ray, the winner of the tournament received a golden arrow and a kiss, which is actually from the Disney version of Robin Hood but, oh, well, kissing is fun.

I watched the blu-ray of Robin Hood last night, it looks gorgeous, especially since the costumes have so many nice little details.

I suppose they might look garish compared to the similarly detailed costumes on Game of Thrones but I love that vibrant old Technicolor aesthetic. And to think Ridley Scott called the movie corny!

Well, okay, maybe a little. But how do you look at Errol Flynn and not smile? Look at Olivia De Havilland, she can't help herself.