Showing posts with label science fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science fiction. Show all posts


Quote on Beauty and Difference from the Classic Series of Dr. Who — "The Genesis of the Daleks" (1975)

Doctor Who and the Genesis of the Daleks.jpg"Why must we always destroy beauty? Why kill another creature because it is not in our image?" I keep the classic series of Dr. Who on replay at my house. I want to catch up on episodes I have missed — and I particularly like the Tom Baker episodes. He's the fourth incarnation of the Doctor, and he portrayed the character from 1974 to 1981 (the longest-running tenure of the role in the show's history).
The Doctor and Davros (The Genesis of the Daleks)The Genesis of the Daleks:     In the Terrance Dicks written chapter entitled "The Genesis of the Daleks," — the Doctor is sent back in time and space to the Dalek planet Skaro to prevent war between humans and the Dalek race from occurring in the future. The episode is an origin story of the Daleks —  a race of boxy, dangerous aliens. The Daleks have proved to be the doctor's most fearsome, persistent nemesis. With their vibrating cry of "Exterminate!" it is not a hard extrapolation that the Daleks are meant to represent the extreme version of what happens when a species goes all-out bonkers with racial superiority and hatred of difference. The Daleks annihilate difference and vouchsafe sameness in the universe. There is a twist in this episode, however, since the Doctor learns that the Daleks are the creation of a figure named Davros — a humanoid with a Dalek-shaped lower body. The Daleks are the master idea of a diabolical mastermind. Are you getting a Hitler-tingle? Well. You should.
Are Humans More Destructive or Creative as a Species?     
As per the course of a Dr. Who narrative — there is a lot of meaningful talk about what difference (and how humans deal with that which is different) means for the future of humanity. Are we more like the Daleks — whose prime directive is to kill all lifeforms, not like their own? The writers of the show make obvious nods to humanity's own track record for acting like Daleks — think of violence enacted in the name of racial superiority or the banal way in which humans become exterminators under certain conditions — think of the gas chambers that annihilated Jews, homosexuals, people of color, and other so-called dissidents — or the way guards at Guantanamo Bay tortured and debased human beings under their supervision. 
A Trenchant, Relevant Quote    
One scene in particular is a miniature of the grand themes Terrance Dicks is hashing out in the show. In a brief episode of capture, Sarah Jane Smith, one of the Doctor's classic companions, is considered for extermination. But a voice cries out. And asks a question: Why destroy beauty? Why destroy another creature because it does fit into one's own image?

(Sarah is out cold as a muto strokes her face.)SEVRIN: She's beautiful. No deformities, no imperfections.GERRILL: She is a norm. All norms are our enemies. Kill her now for what she's done to our kind.SEVRIN: No, why? Why must we always destroy beauty? Why kill another creature because it is not in our image?GERRILL: Kill her! It is the law. All norms must die. They are our enemies. And if you won't, I will.
Dr. Who "Genesis of the Daleks" Original Airdate on BBC television: March 8, 1975 / image from the BBC 


Lyrics: Science-Fiction Double Feature

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear
Claude Raines was the invisible man
Then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam
Then at a deadly pace it came from outer space
And this is how the message ran:

Science Fiction - Double Feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh at the late night, double feature, picture show.

I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel
When Tarantula took to the hills
And I really got hot when I saw Janet Scott
Fight a Triffid that spits poison and kills
Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes
And passing them used lots of skills
But when worlds collide, said George Pal to his bride
I'm gonna give you some terrible thrills, like a:

Science Fiction - Double Feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh at the late night, double feature, picture show.
I wanna go, oh-oh, to the late night double feature picture show.
By RKO, oh-oh, at the late night double feature picture show.
In the back row at the late night double feature picture show.

source: lyrics
film: imdb


Movie Review: Kaboom!

A Crisp, Sci-Fi sexcapade ushers in the apocalypse.
Kaboom! Directed by Greg Araki Starring: Haley Bennett, Thomas Dekker, James Duval, Chris Zylka, Brennan Mejia — Running time: 1 hour and 26 minutes

Movies are metaphors for dreams. Or, better still, movies can slip between reality and dream effortlessly. The movie dream is a cinematic exhibition of fantasy. I think David Lynch's fantasy mindbenders attest to film's obsession with dream sequences mirroring reality in strange, bombastic ways. Kaboom! is no different. Just less serious.

Araki's Kaboom! testifies to the surrealistic, dream-like aspect of film with a brief nod to Bunūel's Un Chien Andalou. A shot of a razor blade slicing through a human eyeball sends the message that the movie is a movie about film. Or a movie about film's obsession with dream-like fantastic images. Among other things. I'm not sure what to make of Kaboom!.

Characters eat lunch at a café called, "Ontological Void." Am I supposed to infer something here? What is the void? And how can a void be ontological? Am I supposed to applaud Araki for being both clever and blithely cynical? The protagonist, Smith, (Thomas Dekker) a film student at an unnamed California liberal arts college, pines for his hunky roomie Thor (Chris Zylka), spends a huge amount of quality of time analyzing his dreams, pals around with his Lesbian hottie gal pal Stella (Haley Bennett), experiments with lots of sex (with both boys and girls), and in a zany twist becomes caught up in a cultic conspiracy hurtling towards an end-of-the -world finale which will leave most viewers scratching their heads asking, "huh?"

Considering Araki's most recent films, Mysterious Skin, and his teen apocalyptic trilogy, one thing is for sure: Araki presents teenage sexuality (replete with young writhing bodies) as a domain of searching for self-identity in witty, culturally sophisticated tones. Even though everyone in this movie is crisply gorgeous, sans fault, and indulge in lots of sex, the overall sense I get from the movie is witty intelligence rather than visceral explosion. Just like Mysterious Skin's Cheerios sex scene, Araki films sex to avert the viewer's eye from the hormonal to the cerebral. I'm sure the Kaboom! in the title alludes to both orgasm and epiphany. The Kaboom! as in the comic arts Kaboom! Pow! and the kaboom of explosion, all's well that ends well.

I loved the ending. Kaboom! That's it. The movie is fun solely because it's ending is so self-deprecating. Araki's clean shot scenes of ultra modern college cafeterias and blue-lit dorm rooms all enclose an interesting plot replete with voodoo, magic cookies, witches, cult leaders, men in animal masks, lines like, "it's a vagina, not spaghetti," or "that's nuttier than squirrel shit," or, "Of course. And does Mel Gibson hate Jews?" At the end of the movie all is revealed and it's a satisfying nihilistic romp. It's not supposed to mean anything. Like a nihilistic fantasy, it's an ontological void. Am I supposed to love this movie because it takes nothing seriously? Or am I supposed to feel embarrassed because I just don't get it?

The movie is a fantasy stemming from Smith's over-active imagination. The opening shot is a dream sequence. The movie is a fantasy of what any good looking college boy embarking on sexual awakening would want: sex with no strings attached, unbarred adulation, sex with hot hunky, married men, an orgy, and in the end, the promise of a boyfriend. Or so it seems. You want Smith to find romance. The romantic plot is subterfuged*, however, by Araki's knee jerk reaction to take the film beyond genre and rest in the "meta" of metanarrative.

Araki overlays the typical college narrative with American Pie humor: Smith gets caught watching porn, and his gal pal quips, "You don't think I can't hear your porn through these thin walls?" Or, London in a sex scene tells a boy how to eat her out while reminding him of the Kinsey's loose interpretation of sexuality which leads both London, Smith, and the boy Rex having a Britney Spears 1-2-3. Smith calls his mom while she's having sex with her masseuse and she answers, "I'm in a meeting. I can't talk right now."

Add the myth of the absent father, the bitchy mother, the desire to annihilate reality, and the deep adolescent urge to live in a fantasy world, then you have Araki's new film.

Beware: the sex is not as titillating as watching "witch girl" evaporate in writhing pain, or close up shots of mac and cheese, snack vending machine turning out chips, or laugh-out-loud special effects more humorous than an Ed Wood flick - but just as corny as John Waters.

Sure to be a cult classic.
* N.B. I am aware that subterfuge is traditionally used as a noun; however, here, I use it as a verb.