Monthly Archives: June 2013

  • Man of Steel Zak Snyder (USA 2013)

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    Man of Steel Zak Snyder (USA 2013)
    Henry Cavill; Amy Adams;

    Viewed 16 June 2013; Empire Cinema
    Newcastle; Ticket £7.75
    With underpants outside trousers I
    remember as young kid playing Superman with my best friend Sid Green.
    There were bouncy twin beds in the room he shared with his brother,
    and placing these beds a strategic distance apart, we could leap
    from one to the other, simulating the amazing feeling of flying
    through the air. Obviously this apprenticeship qualifies me to speak
    with some authority about Superman.
    Needless to say Superman in the Man of
    Steel has moved on from the naff device of wearing his knickers
    outside his tights; he now wears a nifty set of combinations and is
    part of the huge armada of franchised superheroes who kitted out with
    full Visual FX move across planet earth scooping up buckets of money
    for the studios.
    I’ve seen a few superhero movies this
    year. Each of scenarios has given to their protagonist a USP (Mad
    talk for Unique Selling Proposition). A USP which defines in a fuzzy
    way, something of the nature of the character. Batman, plagued by
    self doubt, was about self redemption; Iron Man 3 was a Scientology
    techie parable; And Man of Steel? Superman embraces the Messiah
    myth. It’s not so much Jesus saves. It’s Superman saves.
    The writers of Man of Steel have
    appropriated the Jesus story. Like the ice cream pedalled in the
    multiplex foyer, it’s a little soft; but both in script and in
    iconic imagery this re-incarnation of Superman represents him as
    Jesus, beard and all who waits for his thirty third birthday before
    coming out and revealing his true identity. Like Jesus,
    Superman/Clark Kent has a dual nature, half human and half Krypton,
    and listen to this, Clark Kent says: “ “I know what I came for,
    my father sent me.”
    But why has the father sent his son?
    Because Superman has something to say to us Earthlings. He is come
    to guide us. Take a breath dudes!
    Underpinning Man of Steel’s script
    there is some heavy duty philosophy: the idea of free will. Free
    will is the very basis of Christian theology; no free will no Christ,
    because without choice, personal salvation makes no sense. And this
    is why Superman is sent to us: to affirm our belief in free will.
    Krypton was destroyed as the Kryptonites turned themselves into
    programmed biomorphic machines. Only Clark Kent born outside the
    Kryptonite approved birthing programme has free will, and he is sent
    to help us choose good not evil. Awesome! One hopes he has a
    better crack at it than Google.
    Jesus as an idea is not only cued in
    the Man of Steel script, he is also represented potently in the
    movie’s imagery.
    As the Man of Steel goes about duffing
    up evil, his form he is captured in the glory of all those iconic
    classic poses associated with Christ and beloved of Classical
    painters. We see Superman in the Crucifixion pose,
    Transfiguration, Descent into Hell and the Ascension, to name but a
    few. The gorgeous hunk is not Superman but Saviour, and that letter
    on his cozzie that looks like an S, is in fact an ancient Kryptonite
    symbol meaning Hope.
    Somewhere in the idea of Superman our
    Redeemer, there is the germ of an interesting idea. I wonder if a
    early draft of the script might have featured an imitatio Christi,
    but instead of Jesus throwing the money lenders out of the Temple,
    we would see Clark Kent join the occupy Wall Street movement, and and
    take on the evils of Gonzo drug fed Capitalism and Globalisation.
    No surprise the final draft of the Man of Steel script takes a more
    conservative approach, Jesus’ philosophy honoured more in breech
    than practice, and the shooting scenario more a device for
    maximising the flash bang wallop of visual FX combat battle and

    It is the Visual FX that draw the
    punters. I saw them in 2D and I am sure seen in 3D they are
    wondrously realised. But I have to say that I found the Man of
    Steel FX relentlessly overlong and repetitive. If I see another
    petrol tanker picked up and thrown again with malice aforethought
    I’ll go mad. It happens again and again. And when two combatants
    equally matched with special powers fight each each other, the scenes
    stretch out into endless tedium. The only winner is boredom and the
    losers are the creative failure of the VFX people to find fresh
    creative inspiration, beyond that of repeating the same moves against
    different backgrounds.
    I sometimes think that these big budget
    movies with their end of the world scenarios are witness simply to a
    general philosophy of fear that governs our collective psyche. A
    philosophy initiated by the Nuclear bomb which revealed the extrinsic
    power of science to destroy us all. A fear since fed by climate
    chaos, pandemics, economic crashes, food scares terrorism etc. At
    this point fear is a respectable and justifiable state of mind; as
    if we need to live in a constant state of fear in order to survive.

    Conversely Man of Steel also reminded
    me of those psychological programmes which are used to help people
    overcome phobias, such as aversion to spiders. They are gradually
    desensitised so that in the end they are comfortable when placed in a
    room full of arachnoids. As I sat in the full cinema, gazing at the
    now familiar site of a razed Manhattan I felt I was in such a
    desensitisation chamber. Man of Steel felt as if it were part of a
    desensitisation programme designed to inure me with a complete
    indifference to violence death and destruction. Was this a CIA
    programme? As I biked home I wondered how Man of Steel would play in
    down town Damascus.
    As we played at Superman, Sid and I at
    first had no thought for philosophy or fear. But one day a double
    landing on a bed caused the frame to snap, and we received a short
    sharp lesson in proto Nietschian aversion therapy from Mrs Sidney’s
    accurate right hand. I understood at once the link between
    philosophy and Superman.

    Adrin Neatrour

  • Pierrot Le Fou J-L Godard ( Fr 1965)

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    P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; } Pierrot le Fou J-L Godard ( Fr 1965) Anna Karina, Jean Paul Belmondo Viewed Star and Shadow Cinema 6 June 13; ticket £5 Pierrot le Fou (PF) in which Godard potently reconstituting himself as Pierrot le Fou, takes the road movie into the new era. Setting out the stall In an early sequence in the movie, at a typical high tone bourgeios party, Pierrot (aka Ferdinand – Belmondo) meets Sam Fuller the American film director. Pierrot asks him what movies are. Fuller replies that movies are like war, battles, money, people. Fuller ends by concluding that: in short films are emotions. Godard in PF lays out his cinema stall in a manner that is both in accord with and in contradistinction to Mr Fuller. For Godard (G) cinema is PASSION; passion in the making of films. That’s where the emotion is: not so much in sentiments expressed on screen, but rather emotion as registered in the intensity with which the ideas and multivariant signage are folded into the material. Godard’s films are wars, but fought with ideas, ideas expressed as only cinema expresses them: in a riot of image text sound and graphics. Godard’s films are passionate about thinking; what it is possible to think; and how film, with its collision of inputs, makes possible different types of thinking. G’s protagonist Pierrot is a fusion of clown and gangster. Pierrot as a type, the disillusioned romantic, points to the idea of clown. But Pierrot le Fou was also the soubriquet of a ruthless French gangster of the 1940’s, a true mean bastard. It seems to me that of the two fused personas, the clown is the basis of the character; it is the gangster who points to the way out, on the run, to the road. My feeling is that it is G himself who is this fused hoodlum–clown. The role is played wondrously by Belmondo, but the creation is the projection of Godard’s schizo nature; part gangster a restless transgressive figure who hates the Bourgoisie, and is alienated and distanced from their world.: and clown. As Pierrot his search for escape is doomed by his hopeless romantic love for Columbine ( Karina), whom he can never win and who will always drop him in the shit. The poetic fate of both clown and gangster is death. Godard’s genius was to create this cultural avatar of hoodlum clown and depict him in film as a satirical response to the conditions characteristic of life in the AMERICAN century. Road movies existed before PF, but I think it is G who gave this the genre its definitive post modernist form. In PF G replaces the mechanics of plot with process. It is a working out. The road is a pure process, and PF, a psychofilm. The series of cameos on the run provoke dialogues between the characters and the world, using the multivariant nature of the possibities of encounters on the road to elicit social and political observations and statements. After the brilliantly inventive opening titles, which announce the movie as a magical circus, PF plunges into the bath with Belmondo, who is looking at a book about Valasquez. The book depicts Valasquez as the Court painter, but an outsider, who in old age saw through the empty shallowness of power, and perceived in the peripheral figures of the Court, the dwarves and clowns, a twisted manifestation of the emptiness of regal life. And so Pierrot is set up. Like Velasquez he is an outsider looking into the vacuity of a class of people, in this case the bourgeiosie, and the parody of Americanised cullture and society they have adopted. Further the montage of the paintings that accompanies the discussion of Valasquez, also serves to alert the viewer that PF will comprise a structure that engages states of mind rather than the mechanicality of narative linearity. The film’s structure with interpolated paintings and graphics images breaks up conditoned responses, challenges the primacy of reason and asks the viewer how they understand what they see. The Vietnam war runs as a leitmotif thorugh PF. G inserts into PF newspaper headlines magazines photos newsreel and most stunning of all a clown show, in which Madeleine (Karina) transforms herself into a Vietnamese Columbine as a piece of mime in which she is playfully and casually shot, at point blank range, by Pierrot. The power of the Vietnam material lies in its random eruption into the film. Without a logic other than that of necessity, Vietnam is spliced into the action. The rudely extruded imagery of course points up the contradiction of normalisation. The televising of the Vietnam war has led to it becoming just another passing image, that might attract our attention momentarily but then just go away. Godard understood that the effect of 24 hour war coverage was to desensitize us and to normalize killing, but also in a more complex way it allowed us in the West to feel that we knew about it, without knowing anything at all about it. It’s a long way from but also close to home. PF is a rolling parody of affects and sentiments, one highlight being the sequence on the dock where the man tries to sing his song to Pierrot. One constant satiric theme throughout the scenario is the manner in which G depicts a society that is colonised by the outlook manner and attitudes of desire and consumption. The advertising industry. The actual effect of advertising is not to persuade us to buy this or that product. Rather advertising changes the whole gamut of social relations that operate between people and between institutions. These relations become based on consumption: on a psychic atmosphere of desire. The cumulative power of advertising, in our culture extends beyond its evident material presence in magazines on billboards in cinema and tv, to become an internalised social reality. Advertising is the way we are. Advertising is the power of propaganda which immobilises and neutralises alternative thinking. The clown and the gangster point to the way out. Adrin Neatrour