Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Anthropology today #2

[NOTE: I wrote most of this some time ago, it's a bit of a mess - if you get bored/annoyed/incomprehensed part of the way through, don't worry about continuing, I don't think it gets any better].

As I wandered past my local Chrysler dealership on the way home yesterday, a thought occured to me as I took in the beefy good looks of the new (to NZ) Chrysler 300C. It's a notion I've had before in one form or another, but it seemed to come in particularly coherently yesterday. Let's hope it's somewhere near as coherent when I write it down:

The 300C is a pretty new car, and it's flavour of the month, at least as far as styling goes. All the schoolboys (including the 40-year-old ones) want one and all that stuff. Even I like it.

As I walked past it yesterday though, I thought, "When does it stop being cool and new and interesting and stylish?" Inevitably it will - all new cars do.

I further thought, "Why is it that people don't seem to be able to recognise that this is going to happen?"

I further further thought, "Don't be so arrogant, pretty much everyone knows that these things happen - how is it then that they either pretend they won't happen, or forget that they will happen?"

I can see that this is already far less coherent than it is in my brain. Let me try a different example - fashion. Everything from Haute Couture to Hallensteins is cool in the present (stretching it a bit with Hally's, I know), but at some point it turns to shit.

Yet, rather than try and get something that will never date, or has already dated, people flock to buy these things that they know will be outmoded in a few months.

I don't have any answers for this, and I'm sure it's been analysed a billion times before as part of the whole "What makes something cool?" question, but I still find it interesting.

Perhaps it only happens in our Western Capitalist cultures - cool and fashion are just cogs in the great corporate conspiracy to make us buy more stuff.

The bit that I find most fascinating is the way everyone - from the dude in the street to the respected commentators - seems to ignore the way new items fall from popularity. Will Jeremy Clarkson still be raving about the Monaro in five years time? Or will he be laughing at it and ridiculing it, like he does with every other five-year-old car?

The really really interesting thing (maybe only to me) is that these same things that are cool/fashionable/whatever now turn into the opposite. In this way, they define what is cool next (by being not cool), and the cycle begins.

Maybe this goes some way to explain the regurgitation of fashions/style from twenty (or more) years ago?

Enough of this!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fuck yeah!

Team America: World Police is, bizarrely, a film I hadn't really been looking forward to. Bizarrely, because I love South Park (also the fictional version), and I loved Bigger, Longer and Uncut as well.

No, I thought the world had seen enough of Trey and Matt's genius, and as for bringing back SuperMarionation, well it was OK in a camp kinda way in the '60s, but now?

Still, now that DVDs are pretty much on tap, I though I might as well add it to the list. I'm glad I did.

Turns out I'm Just Gay Enough to actually quite enjoy musicals, and this is a modern musical - in PUPPET form! In the process of finding links for this entry, I've read quite a few reviews, either overwhelmingly negative, or overwhelmingly positive. Not a one seems to say anything about the obvious morals of the Parker and the Stone.

Every South Park episode I've seen (and I haven't seen them all) has a very good (and plainly evident) moral lesson built into it. I don't know if people can't see past the offensiveness/hilarity (depending on their point of view), but these moral plots are there every time.

TA:WP is no different. Most of the movie is about ripping as much piss out of as many things as possible, whether it be action movies, Kim Jong-Il, or entire nations. Perhaps this breadth of pisstaking has confused a lot of viewers and reviewers, who expect a much more binary view to be taken.

However, you don't have to look too hard to see what they're trying to get across (I'm not gonna put it into words here either, figure it out yourself).

Personally, I really like their "fuck everything" attitude - why should a lack of support for the War On Terror mean you must therefore support the opposite?

Its getting near the end of the day here and I seem to have lost the thread somewhat. What I mean to say is that this is a great movie, with a great message, contrary to what you may have heard.

However, if you're easily offended, well, you can just ga'an and get fucked.

Some of the most interesting DVD extras I've seen too.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Sorry about the mis-spelling. We have a cafe (actually, they call it a caffe) called Metropolis in my town, which a friend of mine insists on calling Metrolopis. It's stuck now.

I first watched this movie a long time ago. I can't remember exactly when it was, but I would definitely have been less than 11, possibly more like eight or so. I remember absolutely loving it at the time. I was also watching a lot of Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy about that time. I'm not sure why there was such a focus on these things - this was well before the video era, it must've just been what they had on after school (or on a Saturday morning) in England. Come to think of it, they should put those things on after school now, instead of PokeDigiMegagodIsoundlikeaparent.

Meandering back to the original point, I remember loving Metrolopis then. This time it wasn't so good. This may well be due to it being a "restored-exactly-as-Fritz-Lang-intended-even-down-to-referring-to-missing-footage" edit. I don't remember it being anywhere near this long - surely my attention-span at that age wouldn't have withstood it?

My 31-year-old attention span certainly didn't - I had to watch it in two goes! The second half seemed a lot better, more like what I remember.

The score is apparently also the original (presumably played live at each screening?) by Gottfried Huppertz. It is overblown and horrible, an absolute cliche of silent film. While this does make it seem more authentic, I had to turn it down so it didn't detract from the film so much.

This place talks about the Giorgio Moroder soundtrack from 1984, often misreported as a Queen soundtrack. It may well be this version of the film I've seen. I certainly remember the video for Radio Ga-ga, and recognising the bits they'd nicked from the movie.

Back once again to what I was talking about - while the film didn't grab me as such a brilliant, depressing vision of the future this time, I still love it.

It has such a wide-ranging influence, noticeable in everything from Blade Runner's bleak vision of the future, to the weird machinery of Brazil, to the architecture of the third reich.

The main plot (the heart is the mediator between the hand and the brain) is one of those old classics that are eternal and timeless.

The sheer scale of some of the scenes is astounding, too. There appear to be thousands of extras quite a lot of the time, and although some sets are obviously miniatures, others appear not to be. No wonder it cost so much to make!

Overall then, a great film. The flaws are overridden by its technical magnificence and historical significance.

On a slightly different note, this is the first silent film I've seen in a long time - boy, people really knew how to act back then, particularly with their hands. I've never seen so much actual clutching of breast (outside of "art" films anyway)!