Saturday, September 29, 2012

More Like Polyphemus

2012. 124 minutes. USA. Directed by Ridley Scott. Watchdate: 6/13/2012.
Screencap from only great scene in Prometheus.
The best segments in Prometheus seemed to be those that did not quite necessarily fit with the overall shittiness of the movie. The opening sequence with David the creepy robot (Michael Fassbender) worked really well. But it's practically straight out of Kubrick, stylistically at least. It felt orphaned from a different (possibly much better) movie that did not cater to the summer blockbuster crowd with poorly conceived action sequences. In general, the David character worked best for me but I think that's as much a testament to Fassbender as it is to the filmmakers. He took a very intriguing but underdeveloped character and made it fascinating to watch. (So far, he's made riveting every role I've seen him play.)

In one scene, Dr. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) gets an abortion from that machine (see image above). This was the only scene in the movie where I was fully engaged and transfixed. It was so visceral and simultaneously such a rich vein to mine thematically. If I recall correctly, it's even more indelible than anything in Ridley Scott's original Alien movie.

Other than that, Prometheus is a sci-fi mystery with no center. As is par for the course with the Lost crew, it relies heavily on playing obscurity for depth. What's worse is it hinges on a bunch of faithy mumbo jumbo totally devoid of any self-awareness or real thoughtfulness.

Most sci-fi movies grow out of a simple "what if" scenario or premise. Prometheus never grows out of its "what if," it just patters around in it stagnantly. To put it simply, it is a movie that thoroughly lacking in dynamism.

PS - Prometheus lost a lot of my remaining patience when it randomly added zombies to the action without explanation in a lame attempt to keep things interesting.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three Bald Writers

There once were three bald writers. Their keyboards were as worn as their heads were shiny. The three bald writers were named John, Max and Nick.
John and Max each wrote blogs. They wrote other things too, but mainly blogs. They would both dispute this characterization, but I am just going to stick with my interpretation in this exercise for just a moment if you'll indulge me. Nick once wrote a column for The Believer that really felt like a blog even though it wasn't. For some reason, a collection of Nick's columns entitled The Polysyllabic Spree felt most especially like a blog, even though it came in book form. Maybe it's because he began each column with a list of books he had read along with a list of books he had bought during that month. Or maybe not.

Max and Nick each wrote novels. John rarely ventured into the world of prose except for a few short stories. John wrote screenplays, but Max and Nick also wrote screenplays, though not nearly as many as John, who wrote forty or so, some of which were actually produced. John had developed a symbiotic relationship with the hugely popular filmmaker Tim. Tim had made the offbeat into the on beat. He directed a number of John's screenplays into movies of variable success. But enough about Tim. Let's get back to the three bald writers.
Interestingly enough, Nick had gained the greatest accolade of all three bald writers. However, he did not receive the recognition for a novel. He received it for a screenplay. The screenplay was not based on one of his own books, though several of his books had been adapted into movies. In fact, one had been adapted into two different movies. Max had only written a screenplay based on one of his own books. Nick's accolade was an Academy Award nomination. John was a famous and successful screenwriter with more than a decade's worth of credits to his name, but he could not claim a comparable accolade.

To be fair to John and Max, Nick came from a slightly earlier generation. Nick was a (late) baby boomer, while John and Max were (mid-range) Gen Xers. This meant Nick had extra time to become accomplished.

In addition, it's worth mentioning that John and Max had tried writing a much greater range of genres. You might say Max had even invented his own genre, a sort of mutant cousin of science fiction. John even wrote a musical!
This story is about John August, Max Barry and Nick Hornby.

I have been greatly inspired by these three bald writers. They have all done so much to demystify the profession of writing, with John having done the most and Nick having done the least. I'm not even sure why I group them together. But I feel compelled to for some reason. It's probably a familiar feeling.