Monthly Archives: November 2012

Passion play 2010

Make no mistake the movie Passion play 2010 is not a ridiculous story about beautiful women with white wings. It is a movie about movies; it is a movie about movie industry. The main character is kidnapped, taken to desert and is about to get his head blown off by the shotgun, he closes his eyes in anticipation of this final shot. That’s where the director Mitch Glazer places his movie. The whole script develops within this moment, within this split of the second. For Mitch Glazer, with this gesture (closing the eyes) the main character enters the world of his imagination and dreams. This dreams and imaginations are not just passive act of dreaming but apparently according to the movie very active function of the culture.  The movie is critical analyzes of the industry as well as of the whole culture.

The story is simple; the main character in the movie played by Mickey Rourke, musician, and bohemian character of course, after having an affair with the wife of very influential gangster gets kidnapped, taken to some remote place. In the last moments before he dies he closes his eyes and sees this beautiful but at the same time very opportunistic dream. He dreams that he founds amazingly beautiful girl on the freak show, with real, beautiful white wings. He kidnaps her from the humiliating situation of being the highlight of a freak-show. Than he brings her to a gangster whose wife he seduces as a trade off for his life.

Only in the end you understand that the whole story is happening in his imagination during the split of the second before he gets shot. It is a dream production of a man who know that he’s dying – He keeps dreaming, keeps coming up with more and more spectacular stories to somehow extend this moment, when he should wake up, open his eyes and see that he is dead, moment when the movie is over.

Very interesting element is when he finally manages to wake up, open his eyes, come to terms with his death – Only when the women-angel falls in love with him, risks her life and jumps after him from the high building and caries him away in the sky… only than is he able to hear the final shot… But now he couldn’t care less because by that time he is already on the safe hands of his beloved angel who is flying him straight to heavens. This is the last frame of the movie… this is where he opens his eyes.

Through this imagination he able to open his eyes to his own death. Basically film shows that the problem can only be RESOLVED in a spectacular imagination. Deeper is the problem more spectacular imagination should get in order to find its resolution. And that’s where film gets so precise in describing the modus of a culture in neoliberal system. Where everything, practically everything translates and gets resolved into a spectacle. The close read of “Society of Spectacle” by Guy Debord explains spectacle for not only as a popular culture, every day circus of mass media etc. but the core function of capitalist society.

This function now a day’s is under tremendous acceleration. Culture and its icons getting more and more extravagant in their imaginative creations. No wonder why lady gaga became the biggest icon of our times. but this phenomena is not limited to celebrity culture… Even the visual arts, that has always been very disciplined and self aware of image production, now becomes more spectacular than ever.  In this sense it is indeed return of Baroque not as a style but rather as a culture of excess.

There is one more aspect in the movie, which analyzes certain values of  “western” society that we all share. It is about so much cultivated subject of uniqueness and authenticity. At some point Angel-women runs to a hospital for plastic surgery to remove her wings. Than you see the hysterical reaction of the Rourkes character persuading her to change her mind. He argues that “she is what she is”, “she is unique” and this is what is valued. But what he hides is that exactly her uniqueness is what makes hefty tradeoff with a gangster who is after his life. Her uniqueness is the only value that could delay gangster’s revenge.

So what we see here is that authenticity and uniqueness is literally, a currency within the economic exchanges. And this is a very straightforward reference to advertisings and commercials with the same appeal to the generation of young people, their sense of uniqueness and authenticity. And as is the case in the movie nobody is really going to tell them that they don’t really have any value but commercial value and that the idea of uniqueness and authenticity meters only as long as it feeds the driving engine of production and consumption.

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127 Hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media and especially electronic media is an extension of our central nervous system. That was the idea of Marshal McLuhan back in 60’s-70’s. imagine the outreach of the electronic media this days. So much so that for many people denied, or even delayed access to their electronic devices is indeed experienced as an amputation. This word – amputation – is also central to the movie 127 Hours (2008) by Danny Boyle, not only because of its narrative where character amputates his arm in order to survive but also relationship and role medium played in this psychological and mental journey. The movie is kind of diary of that relationship, very interesting diary in fact.

What happened was that young mountain climber became trapped alone in a Utah canyon for days after slipping on a loose rock and gets his arm locked between huge rocks. He is stuck there without food or any communication tools what so ever. Only companion he has is his video camera. To whom he talks, communicates etc during this 127 long hours.

As the time passes the camera becomes more and more important. It appears as a tool, as a function that clarifies that he still exists and more importantly that he is still relevant and not delusional in such high stressed situation. Shortly, video camera assumes the role of social element for him.

But on the flip side because of that substitution where camera takes the role of the social element he never really stays alone even in this hostile situation thus never really able to face hard decision he has to make in order to survive. Decision that unconsciously he must have known for some time already but was not able to admit to himself out loud. The role of the medium now appeared to postpone the problem and obscures the only solution he has left, the solution that is hanging in the air for 127 hours.

Only after the camera runs out of the battery is he able to see clear and simple truth: he must cut his arm off in order to survive. he is able to amputate his arm only after medium (in this case video camera) is amputated.

Perhaps it is relevant to end with one more McLuhan metaphor about myth of Narcissus, who collapses on himself because there is no longer a distance between him and the mirror, between the screen and himself, between him and his medium while closing the circle in a perfect loop.

The movie is just a story of one man’s survival, doesn’t really tries to go further than that, but I think exactly because of that it opens up the possibilities for lots of interpretations. Somehow it got me thinking that this sort of relationship between man and the medium has become the main mythology of our times and will be even more important in the future. And our culture can also close up in the same perfect loop as Narcissus myth describes unless we are able to keep the distance between our reflections and us, between our screens and us, between our faith in technology and our faith in ourselves.

Here I just leave you with some exerts from McLuhans essay:

Medical researchers like Hans Seyle and Adolphe Jonas hold that all extensions of ourselves, in sickness or in health, are attempts to maintain equilibrium. Any extension of ourselves they regard as “autoamputation

Narcissus as Narcosis”. In this subtitle he is recognizing, in a Joycean sense, that Narcissus comes from the word narcosis, which means to be “numb”. When one is considered Narcissistic, one does not recognize their own image and are blind from the mirror (or insight) from which external reality provides

Unless the area is located as the problem, our nervous system will protect itself from pain by producing a counter or balance of that pain in a form that is a representation of that offending pain, accordingly to where that pain derives from in the body. Many times we are unable to locate the discomfort and thereby the technology thats created from this is unseen as anything in our image, and thereby we remain numb to the problem.

Because technology then exists in the autoamputated state, as an exalted quality of ourselves, man then serves as a type of sex organ for these machines to continue their existence. It might be said, then, that machine has its own evolution or intelligence – not unlike our own, and not independent of us, but because of us. “Physiologically, man in the normal use of technology (or his variously extended body) is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds ever new ways of modifying his technology.”