Popular Posts

Thursday, May 16, 2013

THE HOST REVIEW: Reading Through the Paintings of Mark Tansey

OK I'll try Albert

Bob7 commenting on a review of The Host HERE:  http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/review-andrew-niccol-hammers-another-nail-in-his-own-careers-coffin-with-witless-the-host

Maybe Niccols hates systems. Truman Show deplores reality TV. I haven't seen his other movies, but maybe he's protesting bad cultural and political behemoths. Maybe's he's warning society what will happen if these systems rule our lives and thought, just like Truman Show way before reality TV became prevalent, explored its popularity and its effects. Just saying.
March 28, 2013 at 7:29PM EST Reply to Comment

THE HOST is more and more disturbing the more you think about it. Every scene is framed as a cliche. The screenplay presumably approved by Meyer is composed of ready-mades. There is not one original sentence in it. Each gesture is preprogrammed.The editing is unsurprising, the plot the same.

Mel - a - nee/ Steph - a - nee  Do you believe this Lacanian reading?

What is surprising is that there is nothing surprising in the entire movie, except the ubiquity of cliches as "floating signs", but I can't figure out why they are there.  The seduction between Melanie and Jared is produced, which means there is no perception of seduction. The same is true of Wanderer - Wanda - with  Ian. Both have a playing/kissing scene in the rain. There is a dance scene outside with Melanie and Jared jitterbugging. Wanda in the caves takes a bath and she raises her hands in a sensuous move, or it is supposed to be sensuous. Are you getting the boredom just reading this. Stephenie Meyer's standard GAZE with strange contact lenses, the incest between species, is all predictable from Twilight. 

The music is syrupy romantic 1950's slow dance music. Telling us how romantic the scene is to be experienced. You listen in astonishment not quite able to believe you are hearing this.

Who was responsible for this?

A diversion into Baudrillard:

The Simulacrum According to Deleuze and Guattari

From Copyright no.1, 1987, pp. 90-97.
There is a seductive image of contemporary culture circulating today. Our
world, Jean Baudrillard tells us, has been launched into hyperspace in a kind of
postmodern apocalypse. The airless atmosphere has asphyxiated the referent,
leaving us satellites in aimless orbit around an empty center. We breathe an
ether of floating images that no longer bear a relation to any reality

1 That, according to Baudrillard, is simulation: the substitution of
signs of the real for the real.

2 In hyperreality, signs no longer represent or refer
to an external model. They stand for nothing but themselves, and refer only to
other signs. 

(As Vija Kinski says to Eric Packer in Cosmopolis, "Money is talking only to itself.") Meaning "money" is only sign now.

So what is going on?

Niccol wrote The Truman Show coming out of the gate long ago. Here's Zizek on The Truman Show:

The ultimate American paranoiac fantasy is that of an individual living in a small idyllic Californian city, a consumerist paradise, who suddenly starts to suspect that the world he lives in is a fake, a spectacle staged to convince him that he lives in a real world, while all people around him are effectively actors and extras in a gigantic show. The most recent example of this is Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998), with Jim Carrey playing the small town clerk who gradually discovers the truth that he is the hero of a 24-hours permanent TV show: his hometown is constructed on a gigantic studio set, with cameras following him permanently. Among its predecessors, it is worth mentioning Philip Dick’s Time Out of Joint (1959), in which a hero living a modest daily life in a small idyllic Californian city of the late 50s, gradually discovers that the whole town is a fake staged to keep him satisfied... The underlying experience of Time Out of Joint and of The Truman Show is that the late capitalist consumerist Californian paradise is, in its very hyper-reality, in a way IRREAL, substanceless, deprived of the material inertia.

So it is not only that Hollywood stages a semblance of real life deprived of the weight and inertia of materiality — in the late capitalist consumerist society, “real social life” itself somehow acquires the features of a staged fake, with our neighbors behaving in “real” life as stage actors and extras... Again, the ultimate truth of the capitalist utilitarian de-spiritualized universe is the de-materialization of the “real life” itself, its reversal into a spectral show.

The Aliens have inhabited the bodies of the humans and taken over the planet Earth to save it and us from ourselves. Everything is peaceful and utterly boring, emotionless and cold. It is Simulated Reality. When we go to the caves where the humans are hiding out it is about the same. The young stud types are competitive, the older woman (Francis Fischer) hostile to Wanda and her difference, Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) is predictably protective of her, her little brother Jamie is a typical rather stupid child. The dialogue as boring as in the Simulated sci fi city, the CGI all hard edges and clean, sparkling bright in the city and curved and darkly mysterious in the caves.

(You can read my first reaction to this film that is like everyone else's HERE )

And then it begins to be clear just what Niccol is up to. The humans in the caves are also in Simulated Reality. There is no real. We are in the Matrix. Only the Desert is real so we are reminded of Morpheus's welcome to Keanu, "Welcome to the desert of the real!" Niccol is revealing Simulated Reality to us, our own and our reality to come - all of it simulated.

Every actor is behaving as stage actors and extras.

And then I get it, but only because I heard a presentation on Mark Tansey's work a month ago and was intrigued enough to pursue his paintings further. 
Derrida Queries de Man


What does it mean to make pictures about pictures in 1993? ...When Mark Tansey elected to make pictures about pictures, his was a strategy of confronting the predilection of critics of the late 1970's for minimalism and other forms of abstractions. - Judi Freeman

And BTW reproductions of Tansey's paintings are impossible. Detail is blurred and frustrating. Tansey himself has refused reproductions to become available for authors. It is obvious that he is saying we must see the originals if we want to see them at all.
Which is exactly in line with what his art is saying. He is confronting us with the simulacra that is engulfing us today. When Pap pics of Rob Pattinson walking like a Muybridge motion study and a fan phone camera shot is far more treasured than a gaze at a loved celebrity.

I saw this in Venice in 1972 as I watched the Japanese tourists so busy photographing the city that they never looked at it. Never saw it. I laughed at them. What astonished me then is mainstream today all over.

Andrew Niccol has made a film about films.

Niccol has done with film what Tansey has done with painting.
Niccol has made a film composed entirely of cliches. No fancy costumes to entice us, No cleavage, no faux passion we could mistake for real, music to tell us how to feel that doesn't at all, no real plot twists to surprise us, no face porn to squeeze emotions out of us, no exploitation of the audience to mask the emptiness of mass filmmaking, of film as "empty sign."
Now what can we say about Meyer?

We know she has said in an interiew that she preferred Jacob to Edward. She wants Bella to remain human because if Bella changes, she enters Simulated Reality. 

Is Meyer in on this game strategy? I really can't say, as it is ambiguous to me. Does she or doesn't she know what Niccol did?

No comments: