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Irrational Movies

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"Grokked?" I'm afraid that one's not in my dictionary... :D

It means you understand, comprehend, you dig it completely. The word is from the R.A.Heinlein novel, -Stranger in a Strange Land-.

Bob Kolker

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Anyway, yesterday I saw Nineteen eighty-four, and I have to add that to my shit-list. I havent actually read the book, and I don´t think I want to anymore. Of course I can agree with the political message, showing the evils of totalitarian socialist state. It´s just that there was a total lack of heroes. The main character was not very rational; he was sick, weak and not very individualistic. The girl was better, but they both came off as nihilistic. It should have been more in the lines of 'Anthem' and 'We the Living'.

Just to make a correction - George Orwell was not opposed to socialism, and in fact, was a socialist himself (see his article on Wikipedia under "Political Views" - and I can vouch for the validity of this). Sorry, I know your review was written a long time ago, but I noticed it and thought it was worth pointing out. It's one of the main reasons (aside from, as you said, his not-so-inspiring hero) that I disliked the book - his answer was just as irrational as his problem.

That said, there were actually interesting points introduced in the book. One of the more interesting evils he addresses is defining things by what they aren't, as opposed to what they are (newspeak). I'm not sure this concept would have been conveyed as effectively through film, but I can't speak for the movie since I haven't seen it. Just saying, you may not want to write off the book entirely from your read-list, though there are certainly many much worthier books to read.

Edited by Catherine

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Eraserhead was bad but if you want mindless and pointless see 'Suicide Club'.

It made me laugh, it made me cry. It made me kiss two hours of my life goodbye.

I would disagree. Suicide club was a very individualistic movie, all the character that killed themselves did it for altruistic reasons. Mitsukodidn't kill herself becuose she wanted to live for her self. It had alot of symbolism that isn't understood by westerners unfamiliar with Asian culture, like the chicklets. To my friends that was just absurd but it had meaning. It's one of my favourite movies of all times and it has a very exact individualistic message.

It's far from being pointless and mindless. It's very logical and exact. But infact it's downturn is that it's overly complex. It's a great film non the less. But yes very Japanese. pay attention to the animal symbols that repeatedly crop up in the film (did you wonder why there are baby chicks running rampant during that creepy "shaving" scene?). Also, pay attention to the colors. Yellow means something much different to the Japanese than it does to Westerners. The rabbits also had a meaning. It's symbolism is cultural.

"Your final message is: Live as you please!" Suicide Club

Meaning do not sacrifice yourself to others, and every Objectivist is familiar with that phrase.

Important excerpts:

"If only you would tell me exactly what is on your mind.. ...tel em how yu really feel."

"light yourself with life"

"all it takes is a litle heart and courage on your part"

It's so optemistic, I'm just puzzled how it got apst you.

This should help:

I thought this was a great film. So great in fact, that I wrote to the director and he replied.

The movie is clearly a reflection of one particular social problem in Japan. NO! it isn't suicide! Suicide is one solution to the problem but it isn't the problem itself. If you need help understanding the film, I have three suggestions. 1) forgot focusing on the cute girls jumping in front of the train. Instead notice who exactly is dying 2) pay attention to the relationships between individuals, particularly related individuals 3) pay attention to the lyrics of the songs. Two songs very clearly tell you what the social problem is. Two songs also very clearly offer solutions to the problem. The movie ended correctly. Listen to the last song carefully.

The plot is basically this. Define "the problem" and show how deep it permeates the society. Show one solution again and again. Finally, propose a different solution.

Character development was clearly there too but it is Japanese character development so what is not said is just as important as what is said. Note the actions, listen to the soundtrack. Don't depend only on the dialogue. And DO LISTEN TO THE LYRICS OF THE SONGS!

The most touching scene was the girlfriend in shock trying to deal with the loss of her boyfriend and finally walking past the chalk outline of her dead boyfriend still sketched out on the sidewalk. She missed him so much that she lay down on the outline. Hollywood would never do a scene like that because the soundtrack that supported her mood, thoughts and actions clearly did not require any dialogue. I don't think Hollywood actors are capable of performing without the crutch of snappy dialogue anymore.

The scariest scene for me was the group of students that suddenly decided to outdo the deaths at the train station by jumping off the school. Three students backed down and refused to jump. But after they realized what had just happened, (there was a lingering pause to let it sink in in real time) one felt guilty and dragged another down with her. The last felt so guilty that she went anyway even after being begged not to by friends and teachers. Talk about peer pressure! If you understand Japanese schools, you can understand how real that scene was. In fact, when the movie was first shown in Japan, students were prevented from seeing it because adults were concerned about them getting the wrong idea.

If you were confused by the police officer's suicide, review his earlier behavior. Particularly, what time does he come home, how knowledgeable is he about his family, and how concerned is he about his family? And who exactly died just before he commits suicide?

If you are confused about the cryptic phrase "Are you connected to yourself?", try replacing it with "Do you still believe in yourself?"

As for the ending, well, if you don't have a family that you can trust and you put all your hopes for the future in your boyfriend and he died without explaining why, what would you do?

Well, I'd say that American films typically choose well-known songs as supporting material to set a mood. You know the words to the song so you know what idea they are supporting, might even hum along while watching the film. But what if the director chooses unknown songs? Will you pay attention? What if song lyrics replace dialogue? Will you even notice?

Edited by BinniLee

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*Bump*

This thread got a little bit sidetracked and has not quite reached its full potential.

One movie that deserves a mention on this thread is the Rob Zombie film The Devil's Rejects. From start to finish this movie is a gruesome depiction of sadism and cruelty like nothing I have ever seen before.

Nothing intelligent, decent or good is ever affirmed in the 90 minutes of this film.

Here is a link to a scene from the movie (if you're easily offended by graphic language and violence -- don't click on it).

The Devil's Rejects Scene

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What i´m arguing is that 1984 lacked the proper "sense of life". Ayn Rand showed us good fighting evil, in Orwell´s case its the mediocre fighting the truly evil. And that really makes 1984 depressing. Although, of course, 1984 should have credit for showing the evils of totalitarianism.

What Orwell did (and it was shown both in the novel and motion pictures) was the consequences of denying A is A. The nature of the totalitarian regime was not something so simple as knuckling under. Both the rulers and the ruled had to accept insanity as normal. That is very scary. What is scarier still was the premise that nothing will ever change for the better.

I have no way of knowing whether this theme was intentional on Orwell's part or not, but he sure made the point. There was a book within the book written by the hated Goldstein in which he identified the modality of the regime as (get this now) collective solipsism. Brrrr..... In short nothing is what it is.

Bob Kolker

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I've been looking through this thread, and one particular director springs to mind, M. Night Shyamalan. I don't know how I managed to watch three of his films, not having learnt my lesson with The Sixth Sense. Apart from the irrational concept, it's as if there couldn't be a good ghost film, tho I can't say that I've seen one, it was just terrible, with a poor premise. I had heard the ending from someone else before watching it, and with that knowledge, it seemed ridiculous and entirely implausible. Maybe if you start with that premise, anything is allowed, but seriously, the boy should have worked out that no one else saw his doctor.

The other two I saw were Signs and The Village. Signs was too religious, and the ending was a ridiculous attempt to copy The War of the Worlds, but with a difference. Spoiler of WotW:

In The War of the Worlds, the Martians die when infected with human diseases, and as that has occurred many times in history between different races, it's plausible enough, but it's not plausible that an alien race that wanted to conquer Earth wouldn't send down a probe to see whether or not they are allergic to the molecule that covers most of the globe

. The Village was just ridiculous.

Something The Sixth Sense had in common with two other 1999 films, The Matrix and Fight Club was an anti-empiricism, that things may not be as our senses tell us. I find this particularly annoying in the case of The Matrix because of the number of philosophical conversations since where people have said, "How do you know we're not getting all our sensory perceptions from machines like in The Matrix?"

Edited by whig

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The other two I saw were Signs and The Village.

I saw signs with my dad in his hospital room while he was being treated for intestinal bleeding (it stopped on its own and the docs never figured out exactly where it was). About a quarter through I'd had enough. My dad wanted to see it through, though, so we did. When it finished he said, "There is something worse than lying on your back 24 hour a day, eh?" I couldn't agree more.

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Just to make a correction - George Orwell was not opposed to socialism, and in fact, was a socialist himself (see his article on Wikipedia under "Political Views" - and I can vouch for the validity of this). Sorry, I know your review was written a long time ago, but I noticed it and thought it was worth pointing out. It's one of the main reasons (aside from, as you said, his not-so-inspiring hero) that I disliked the book - his answer was just as irrational as his problem.

But he didn´t really offer a solution, which is the main problem of the book. Otherwise, I think it´s a very good piece of fiction.

I was very surprised to read here that Orwell was a socialist, having read his essay "Thoughts on Nationalism", in which he rejected collectivist ways of thinking, and criticised the English intelligentsia for refusing to see the horrors of the Russian Revolution. Apparently he did not realise that socialism was always going to fail because of its premises, not just because of the way it was implemented in Russia.

In spite of this, I think his two main works, 1984 and Animal Farm, can be enjoyed as fiction and still hold a definitely anti-socialist message, even if Orwell wasn´t fully conscious of it.

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I'm resurecting a dead topic here...

Worst movie ever made: Sin City

My cousin practically begged me to watch it. The whole movie was incoherent violence. All I remember was a completely lawless society, angry killing, and Bruce Willis falling in love with a stripper at least 25 years younger than her. It is still beyond me why anyone, even someone as "depraved" as my cousin, could stand watching it more than once, let alone actually enjoy it.

It was the perfect example of what a good movie should not be.

Sin City is not incoherent violence. Most of the Sin City stories by Frank Miller feature intransigent charaters who do what they think it´s right no matter the consequences, so there´s a concept of morality even in the most nightmarish of environments (which is the city itself.) In the movie, you have this with the cop who protects Nancy no matter what, or Marv, who doesn´t quit until he gets revenge on Goldie´s killers.

The exception in the movie is the whole "ninja prostitutes" storyline. That WAS definitely incoherent violence.

Nevertheless, I understand it is not a very pleasant film to watch, since the environment and general tone is SO violent and depraved. But there are some good elements in it. I watched because I´m a graphic novel fan and I was interested inthe adaptation of Miller´s work. Aesthetically, it proved that you can adapt a comic panel-by-panel to the silver screen and still make it work. They did it again with 300 and again it worked--- this time much better because of the heroic nature of the story.

Try to read other works by Frank Miller, he has read Ayn Rand´s works and generally his stories feature conflicts of values in which the (always intransigent) heroes do what they believe is right in spite of all obstacles. I highly recommend The Dark Knight Strikes Again (which suggests that superheroes can destroy all the evil in the world in mere minutes if they just do away with the altruistic morality) and the 300 graphic novel.

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How is he "mediocre?" Winston is definitely above average, when compared to the rest of his society. He did, after all, begin to realize what had happened with his government and he began to break away, whereas most people just sat complacently by the wayside and didn't question anything. Yeah, he was defeated at the end. That just served to make the novel that much more cryptic and that much scarier. Everyone who has read that book will have the words "He loved Big Brother," etched in their minds for the rest of their lives. It's a warning. Once government is allowed to control our thoughts, it will be practically impossible to break the spell. That is why the protagonist lost, in my interpretation. It makes the point that it's easier to stop things from ever getting that bad than it is to fix them, once we've gone past the point of no return.

I agree.

There was one little scene in the book that was very significant for me, nevertheless, and it gave me a bit of hope even in spite of the ending. It´s when Winston is captured and he finds Parsons in the Ministry of Love, who had been found crying "I hate Big Brother" at night. I thought that even if Parsons, who seemed to me the most utterly stupid brainwashed fan of the Party had those unconscious feelings, then probably everybody else did, and some day the number would be significant enough to start a revolution and the party would eventually fall, even if it took generations.

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And just to make this thread a bit more interesting, what are your least favourite movies and why wouldn't you recommend them?

I've recently gone through several Chinese movies of late - Curse of the Golden Flower, Fearless, Hero, etc. - and unless I hear of one with a HAPPY ending, I'm quite done with them. Every one of them has to have an element of tragedy - either the hero dies at the end, or the insurrection against the evil emporer fails, or the whole family is slaughtered ... every last one of them I've seen has a real downer, and none have a really clear hero.

For me, it's been too steep a price to pay for well-choreographed fight sequences and beautiful scenery.

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I know this is not a Frank Miller thread, but I wanted to plug Frank Miller's (and Chris Claremont's) interpretation of Wolverine in the 1983 miniseries as excellent for many of the same reasons. It's more or less about Wolverine having to make a rational choice about which part of his nature he is going to pursue and live by. He also has to fight for his values and for what is morally right. The biggest danger he faces is the loss of identity, the loss of self. The only quibble I have about that book is I didn't always like the way Miller drew Wolverine's face. I often preferred other portrayals such as those by Dave Cockrum.

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I didn't read this whole thread, so my apologies if this is redundant, but I could find no value whatsoever in Natural Born Killers. A totally disgusting film that should have never been produced.

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I watched Pulp Fiction at the suggestion of friends. It nearly made me feel nauseous, and I have refused to watch any Tarantino movie since. The sense of life of Pulp Fiction is that "This is what real life is like and people are essentially depraved." The movie also tells episodes out of order, in a way that makes it difficult to integrate the episodes into a coherent story - not that I would want to.

Tarantino is the most disgusting artist I've ever come across, and I'd rather do alot of unsavory things than watch another Tarantino film.

Oh and David Lynch (Eraserhead makes me want to erase my head)

Edited by athena glaukopis

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Tarantino is the most disgusting artist I've ever come across, and I'd rather do alot of unsavory things than watch another Tarantino film.

You may recall he directed a season finale of CSI. I love that show. Well, the one ep I'm sure I wouldn't view again is that one. And that includes the one with the redneck who gets injected with snake venom, has an anaphilactic shock, gets hit on the head with a crowbar, gets shot with an arrow in the throat, before he finally collapses into a pool and drowns (I think); that one was sligtly less ridiculous than Tarantino's.

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Is that the one with the guy in the Turkish prison? Kills the guard by slamming his head into a wooden peg on the wall? I've seen that, but not recently enough to make any meaningful comment. Though I do remember quite vividly that at one point, there is a long shot of guy being lead up tall narrow exterior stairs by guard, and the camera is across the way looking at the stairs from the side, and below the actors, at the very bottom of the screen, you can see the boom guy following underneath with the microphone. Right out in the open. Very annoying.

~Q

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Salo, or the 100 days of Sodom is, I believe, the epitome of nihilism in both substance and art form. I just could not understand the critics' love of it (or anyone's for that matter).

 

A similarly nihilistic film, but not as protruding, is The Holy Mountain (1973), which from the few moments of coherence I could gather is all about giving up your identity to become godlike. Or thereabouts.

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