Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception... for a better now

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Best of EK Writing 2013

As always, it seems, 2013 was a prolific year, if not as scintillating or apocalyptic as I "secretly" hoped. If you're a casual follower of this site you may be flabbergasted, yes, flabbergasted, to realize Acidemic is closing in on 1,000 posts. The cake is moldering in the razen sun in frozen preparation. I know, I know, you are busy, no time to blow candleward. So here's the top few pieces plus collected writing from other sites you may have missed. And this site is itself "other" enough to be included. Cuz my dear one, I don't want you to miss a thing!

"Maybe the surest sign of alien intervention is the relentless sameness of our world, where a minor disaster here and there effects only one side of one country, one power grid here or tornado path there, never enough to bring our status quo to a halt, never enough to wipe away our credit card debt in a huge burst of magnetic energy, or enough to wipe out all life through a super volcano eruption or massive meteor strike. Someone is surely looking out for his investment." (more)
(Slant - 10.13)
"He'd received shock treatments as a teenager to "cure" his bisexuality and found solace in narcotics, and if it left him divided against himself, such tortured transfiguration was also the stuff of great literature, a la Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, and he knew it. "I always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record as a chapter," he told Rolling Stone in 1987. "They're all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there's my Great American Novel..." (more)
What is happening to our horror comedies? Are we finally attempting to solve our American issues, to answer the cryptic misanthropic riddle Romero first posed to us back in 1968? Having felt ostracized most of my life, even with no outward hostility on the part of anyone around me, I would love to create a witchy tornado and destroy the fearful mob mentality faux Christian dickheads who would still deny the benevolence of weed, who cry about freedom when they mean freedom to persecute others. How I would love to whisk them off to Hell in one grand witchy gesture. But... maybe ParaNorman and Warm Bodies are reminders that only forgiveness and unconditional love will ever change a mind. (more)
' can describe how DNA might unpack a seed so that it becomes a tree (a gradual fusion of photosynthesis, time, soil, water) but it can't explain why, or where it all comes from to begin with. They have no idea which came first, the chicken or the egg, or why either bothered to come at all. They don't know why sleep paralysis occurs in the way it does, only how it occurs. Why do we sense this evil presence in the room? We usually sense the presence before we realize we can't move, so which came first? Does the demon wait for the right situation --when we're conscious but still paralyzed by natural nervous system sleep cycles -- to pounce? It seems very inadequate to dismiss these apparitions as simply nightmares. We still don't quite know how third eye dreams / imaginings work. We can analyze the cones and rods of the eye, the pupil, the optical fluids, but what we sense in nightmares has no correlation to anything we can measure.." (more)

"You" are a single organism on a single spinning rock spinning around a sun that's roaring through space and slowly preparing to explode. You're unable to 'exist' for more than sixteen or so hours before you fall asleep and are unconscious, or "conscious" somewhere other than here on this spinning rock. When your eyes are closed, all is dark; when your ears are plugged, all is quiet. Yet you are willing to measure the amount of time an alien would need to travel here from Orion based on that same primitive conception of time/space and the universe, one totally anthropomorphized to fit your limited conception of reality. You presume an alien can only be 'real' if you can sense it with at least three of your five senses, in your waking life, eyes open, ears unplugged. Even then you still need it verified by the TV news man before it's really real, even if you trust the witnesses and see the evidence firsthand. If that's not being hypnotized I don't know what is. (more)

"Maybe Fellini spoiled us with La Dolce Vita (1960). We were handed a carnival and told that inside was some artsy malaise, so you got clowns and overkill and when you found the ennui secret chamber you expected some candy prizes. Antonioni never gave candy, his carnival had no inside or clowns or overkill (and even Bergman had problems with clowns and overkill -as in Sawdust and Tinsel) and the only prize for getting the 'art' part was an all-consuming modernist shiver. There is never 'too much' in an Antonioni film, so if you feel special for 'getting it' it's only with the realization that you were probably on Xanax, or in a weird mood, and might hate it the next time around." (more)

All this interconnectedness and online alternate world habitation is a social problem, but it's only a problem if we don't take it further. We must drink our way through the spins, smoke ourselves sober, keep moving deeper into the digital, not embracing each new operating system of the same damned phone like brainwashed tech nerds but moving deeper into our brains and the connection between audio-visual stimulation and our sensory organs. We should be tightening the gap, closing the distance between eye and screen until the eye isn't even needed to see anymore nor the ear to hear. Why make technology that still boils down to a screens and sound? Let it all be beamed like alien space signals in through the third eye so that we become like the monks who attain enlightenment and so abandon all the trappings of the earthly plane, meditating for so long in their remote caves without needing food or water that they become like husks, like mummies with only a glowing pineal gland indicating some slight connection to this godforsaken time-space continuum. (more)
"What mainstream science still can't quite admit, but which leading edge scientists are realizing to their amazement, is that the universe is totally subjective. If we can move past notions of size, perspective, relation, and spatial relativity, then space/time travel is possible regardless of the distances between solar systems. As humans with limited ESP ability (or, as with most scientists, none at all) we can't imagine space travel any other way except by carting our bodies from point A to point B, in a vessel relative to own size, but that doesn't mean we all won't one day be long past that limited conception of ourselves. If space itself is a vacuum, the idea of needing to travel a certain amount of miles to get there is foolishly short-sighted. Why not just collapse the vacuum? Why not merely shrink the space? 
I have no choice, therefore--considering the film's avalanche of uncanny coincidence-- to believe the film was written by me in the future." (more)

"Awash in desolate suburban blight, dark, twisting woods, empty plains, fire-damaged barns, cobwebs trailing down from street signs, Phantasm leaves us with the feeling one has crossed somewhere back from banal day reality into unreal nightmare. These landscapes do exist, even more so now. I saw this desolation most in western Oregon. Every storefront along the road closed and boarded up and not a soul for miles and miles, yet you feel your car is being followed some tall shadow you try to tell yourself is only a tree in the dark of your rearview. Your tank's been on 'E' for an hour and when you see that white light in the distance you know it's a 24-hour Exxon station dropped from the sky by God's Jesus's own flying saucer. Every fellow traveler you meet smiles at you, for they too have survived the swallowed darkness of the empty expanses of highway and the feeling the world has ended and together you are grateful in a profound deep way only spooked lost travelers riding on empty through abandoned countryside know, or an audience leaving a very scary movie as one quivering mass, edging towards its cars." (more)
"...So if you want a nice meta reflection moment, rent it off the box for $5.99 and then watch it on your computer while trolling through online dating sites from your phone, but then you're still going to want to get out of the house, walk around the block and then come home, just to feel you've been somewhere. My girl and I were going to go see The Conjuring up the street but we rented The Canyons instead. For it is the future of cinema, the future, where the cell phone is the weapon of choice as well as the entertainment. Everything else is just the distractions, what goes on between texts." (more)
"The only real separation between Italian-American gangster films and Italian horror perhaps is that death is where the gangster film stops, but horror has a few more places to go, and it's the brutal circumstances of that trip is everything for the Italians of both stripes. If you look at non-Italian or non-Italian American horror of the same approximate time, death doesn't dawdle. Even most slasher films, the American ones, like Halloween, are really about the stalking and POV camera: when death comes it's almost a relief. With Argento's murders, and De Palma's or Scorsese's or Coppola's, the moment of the first bullet, stab, or slash doesn't necessarily end the chance of survival, or mean a close to the episode. Death throes might go on for a full reel of near escapes, feeble cries for help, and forlorn looks up at the uncaring sky...."  (more)
"Maybe that's what the real lure of war is for men at home: an escapist grim fantasia where it's just buds against the world; firearms instead troubling wives, the chance to prove one's mettle. Everything is stripped down to just you and the guys experiencing the same hell the next seat over; it gets real, and that makes the joy just as real, the thrill of being drunk in the officer's club instead of terrified in the sky. And Barthelmess--his usually impassive face contorting into a slow burn wide-eyed terror at being finally unable to save his gunner's life--cradles Manners as he dies like a lover. But when it comes to pitching confessional woo to Nikki in their private train car back to Paris he seems to doing some lipless burlesque of what having lips is like." (more)

"How is Barnabas conservative? He holds a grudge and he takes the moral high ground no matter what sordid things he does on the sly, just like the Republicans. Barnabas can't help himself, you see, she cursed him by draining his precious... bodily fluids. Even though she doesn't kill anywhere near the amount of innocent people that he does (those construction workers he killed probably had childrenfamilies!), it is she who must be burnt at the stake for this to be a proper happening. The true neo-conservative doesn't care about the dead workers, after all, unless they're in his direct family. Drinking the lifeblood of labor and youth (he also devours a whole band of innocent hippies) while presuming we'll root for him anyway since he has such good family values is sooooo 1%. This kind of belief system, if left unfucked with, inevitably leads to a people's revolution! Barnabas shouldn't be reading her Erich Segal's Love Story but rather Howard Zinn's The People's History of the United States!" (more

Drown in a Vat of Whiskey
"...there are people who aren't alcoholics, so they don't know the true joy of the terror of addiction, the horror of convulsions and D.T.s on one extreme and the giddy ecstasy of waking up feeling like death, pouring a 50/50 gin and grapefruit juice highball, pounding it down in a single gulp, repeating twice, and sitting down to watch your favorite bender movie, SPECIES or APOCALYPSE NOW, and realizing it's only six AM on a Sunday, not six PM on a Sunday, like you feared. You have the whole day. vast hours left to try and taper off in time for work. The agony and ache of your morning hangover vanishes and is replaced by ecstasy in a matter of minutes. Next thing you know, of course, it's six AM on a Monday, and you're thinking of reasons you can't come into work, putting that scratch in your voice for when you call your boss. Godfrey Daniel!" (more)
"David Lynch taught us that if you push normality to its extreme it becomes more surreal than your wildest imagination, and the "Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" sequence of this film finally illuminates the appeal of frills and fancy MGM foppery to a jaded, faded, junky nurse like myself by pushing it to an impossible extreme. The cumulative effect is beyond the usual sense of claustrophobia, of being like Sullivan sandwiched between the portly matrons at the movies during the first of his travels, and instead breaking through the roof and achieving a mythopoetic splume of transcendental connection, something even Willie Wonka as a child, trapped by his mom at a 1906 fashion show and looking up the skirts of the passing models could never imagine. He'd have to be reading Little Nemo at the same time, and strung out on Demerol." (more)
And that's why every demeaning expletive and subjugation and atrocity is necessary in Tarantino's last two films--BASTERDS and DJANGO. Because no amount of vengeance, of cathartic destruction can be truly cathartic without it; if it sickens you beyond measure than the film is only doing it's job and this bloody catharsis is for you. This is the kind of trauma we should be getting from our movies, not the casual torture of films like HOSTEL and WOLF CREEK. Serial killers and psychopaths are frightening but they're isolated individuals or groups whose actions are against the law. In Nazi Germany and the Antebellum South, casual torture, subjugation and atrocity are law; extreme racist barbarism is the societal norm. The idea of what's 'right' as far as bloody vengeance is muddied by our inability to see the forest for the trees as far as the social order we're living in, and that's the Quentin difference. (more)

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