Archive for the 'Film' Category

Robots In Disguise

But recruiting is just part of the equation, and the phrase “a positive light” is even a little soft. At the movies, the military gets sold — at least in those legions of Pentagon-aided films — as heroic, admirable, and morally correct. Often, it can literally do no wrong. This, of course, is no accident. Something must be exchanged for the millions of dollars in otherwise unavailable high-tech weapons systems and equipment, not to speak of personnel and military advisors, necessary to make the sort of “realistic,” eye-catching war, action, and sci-fi movies that Hollywood (and assumedly its audiences) demand.Speaking about the big-budget, live-action blockbuster Transformers (2007), Ian Bryce, one of its producers, characterized the relationship this way, “Without the superb military support we’ve gotten… it would be an entirely different-looking film… Once you get Pentagon approval, you’ve created a win-win situation. We want to cooperate with the Pentagon to show them off in the most positive light, and the Pentagon likewise wants to give us the resources to be able to do that.”

The basic plot for Transformers goes something like this. Evil robots in the Middle East attack US military base, and good robots help the US to kick evil Middle Eastern robot ass. Christ, even Raza, for which Spanish dictator Francisco Franco wrote the script, was more subtle than that.

Speaking of which:

A real barrel of laughs. In fairness, it could have been livened up with a few kick-ass robots.

Full Of It

Today’s Independent:

Michael Colgan said yesterday that four “stuffers and swallowers” — couriers who ingest drugs or carry them internally — have been caught in Dublin Airport so far this year.

But some couriers have died after packages have ruptured and poisoned their systems with massive doses of narcotics.

I watched Maria Llena Eres De Gracia (Maria Full Of Grace) this weekend. Tell you what, it put me off becoming a drug mule. I literally wouldn’t have the neck on me to swallow those massive pellets.


The film is told from the point of view of a pregnant Colombian teenager who decides to ditch her rose-stripping job (where you are under constant observation and have to ask permission from the despotic boss to go to the toilet) and head for the city, but ends up becoming a drug mule instead. She makes it to the US, after evading the customary X-ray for suspected drug mules in the US airport due to the urine sample showing that she’s pregnant. She and two other teenage girls get taken to a motel, where they are made to come up with the goods. One of the girls dies, and is cut open in the bathroom by her captors. The other two escape while the captors are dumping the body. They speak no English, and the only person María can get in touch with is the sister of the dead girl.

As the title indicates, there is an ironic undercurrent to this story: in the New Testament, the pregnant teenager María has to go to Bethlehem on a little mule, only to find there is no room at the inn. The pregnant teenager María in this story goes to New York as a little mule.


Palma Chameleon

I posted a comment on the Independent site on Ian O’Doherty’s article on Brian De Palma’s new film about the Iraq war. For all I know the film is a pile of turd, but O’Doherty’s criticism of it is, as I see it, misplaced.

Opening Shots

I was thinking about opening sequences to films.

I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino film, but I love the opening sequence to Jackie Brown. It’s so good it blocks my ability to recall the opening sequence of any other film.

No, wait a minute. I really like the opening sequence to Volver too:

Strange that both involve a slow, measured movement of the camera from right to left. Since I’m normally used to my eyes moving from left to right when reading, maybe the sensation of being taken in the opposite direction is unusually attractive.

In the case of Jackie Brown, you have the sensation of moving from right to left but still staying in the same place, since the camera is fixed on Pam Grier and moves at the precise speed of the travelator.

With Volver, you have a similar sensation of moving, but whereas with Jackie Brown you feel like you are staying in the same place, here, the camera keeps returning to the same place, i.e. a row of graves getting tended, in what may be intended as an allusion to the film’s title and theme (Volver meaning ‘return’).

Pan’s People

I watched Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) last weekend. It was very good, and not at all what I had been erroneously led to expect, which was some sort of Spanish Harry Potter (Quique Alfarero?). Instead, it was a bloody and shocking dramatisation of post-Civil War Spain, with echoes of Greek mythology, the Bible, and Alice in Wonderland-style surrealism. Goya and Dalí are also obvious influences in the young girl’s fantasies of labyrinths and mythic beasts.

The film switches between two ‘worlds’: the outer world of fascist Spain in 1944, and the inner fantasy world that a young girl (Ofelia) enacts.


The relation between the two worlds is largely left to the imagination of the viewer, although it is hard to escape the conclusion that the monsters conjured forth by Ofelia correspond to the fascist authoritarianism of the outer world, embodied by Captain Vidal, a macho thug who -when not enjoying torture- is using Ofelia’s mother as the vessel for the continuation of his family line of masculine heroes.


(Images:Rotten Tomatoes)

Vidal is in love with death, in particular the death of his own father, which defines his own life. Just as his father (a miltary hero in North Africa: echoes of Franco) threw his timepiece against a rock at the moment of his death -in a manifestation of irrationalism par excellence- so that his son would know the exact time when it happened, Vidal carries his own timepiece in preparation for the same. The scene depicting the moment of Vidal’s death is nothing short of remarkable.

I on Twitter

June 2020