There’s a quote from Blade Runner which has long irritated me. It’s sampled in some Juno Reactor track, and so slides into my subconsciousness every time I try to zone in/out with the trance:
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate.
Out of context, it just seems so petty. You’re describing the wonder and immensity of the universe, I thought, and this is the best you’ve got? All the cosmos can offer you is the pretty pictures? It’s the equivalent of dropping acid, then just admiring the hallucinations as pieces of theatre.
I was planning a blogpost to that effect.
Then I looked up the video, and suddenly I’m a convert:
I probably shouldn’t try to put the effect of the clip into words. Suffice it to say, all is forgiven. This isn’t somebody bragging, it’s the hopeless attempt to telegraph into dying breath the most intense moments of a ‘lifetime’. The machine will not communicate — it can’t, any more than a human can verbalise hir innermost thoughts. But there’s glory in the attempt.
My squeamishness about violence and competition doesn’t stop me enjoying martial arts films. I skip quickly through the big fights, and concentrate on what I’m really there for: the training scenes. There’s place in my heart for anything that fetishises hard work and long hours: the West Wing, the Devil Wears Prada and Press Gang all fit the bill. But martial arts is the only film genre to really place this on a pedestal (with other sports films coming in a distant second).
I’ve just discovered Million Dollar Baby, a boxing film with a particularly harsh light on the training process. Maggie Fitzgerald is a female boxer, who with difficulty persuades washed-up coach Frankie to train her.
Frankie’s gym has the low-rent grubbiness typical of boxing films. So as Frankie starts to clock up the hours — training late into the night after everybody else has left — she’s doing so in an impressively unglamorous environment. Just a punching bag, a dim pool of light, and Frankie.
We don’t rely on gritted teeth or fixed stares to show how determined she is. Because determination — here and in reality — is present less in the moments of peak work, than in months and years of hard work and sacrifice. It’s present in her diet of leftovers filched from the diner where she works, in the monastic environment of her home, in the dollars saved for boxing equipment. Above all it’s in that late-night pool of light, the activities she returns to because she doesn’t have — doesn’t believe she _can_ have — anything else in her life.
To make a fighter, you gotta strip ‘em down to bare wood. You can’t just tell ‘em “forget everything you know”, you gotta make ‘em forget it in their bones. Make ‘em so tired they only listen to you, only hear your voice, only do what you say, and nothing else.
Just been to a RHPS showing. Remain somewhat astonished by how unknown it is in Berlin; it’s the kind of import you would expect to be overdeveloped here compared to its condition in country of origin. Not so.
Still, even here it has the makings of a secular ritual. The music, the comforting ritual, the morality almost as screwy as the Old Testament. Or maybe that’s just me
Mumblecore movies are made by buddies, casual and serious lovers, and networks of friends, and they’re about college-educated men and women who aren’t driven by ideas or by passions or even by a desire to make their way in the world. Neither rebels nor bohemians, they remain stuck in a limbo of semi-genteel, moderately hip poverty, though some of the films end with a lurch into the working world.
Sweet Movie sounds like just the thing to jolt us out of bourgeois lethargy:
Makavejev shows us a commune where the members collectively immerse themselves in the fundamental processes of the body: eating, drinking, suckling, sex, vomiting, urinating, defecating, touching, screaming, hitting, caressing.
Makavejev doesn’t exploit this material — “Sweet Movie” is anything but a sex film — but uses it to confront us in a very unsettling way.
Because Edward Cullen is porn. Weird, pre-sexual, socially conservative, deeply repressed and fucked-up porn, but in a world where ladies’ sexy feelings are fenced in with shame and warnings of danger from Day 1, is it any wonder that porn which consistently ties sex to death and fear and the urgent need for repression is selling to the girls?