fourteen things tagged “scifi”

The Eye: Calanthek

This is a short film done entirely with the Early Access version of Unreal Engine 5. It’s only around eight minutes long and took six weeks to make but its plot is more exciting and coherent than whatever the heck was happening in Prometheus1.

  1. Some examples: Let’s take our helmets off on an alien planet teeming with life forms we are yet to study. Let’s then just go ahead and touch and electrocute said life forms. And what exactly are David’s motivations? From Wikipedia: “Writer Damon Lindelof stated that the character provides a non-human perspective on the film’s events, and said, ‘What does the movie look like from the robot’s point of view? If you were to ask him, ‘What do you think about all of this? What’s going on? What do you think about these humans who are around you?’ Wouldn’t it be cool if we found a way for that robot to answer those questions?’” Let’s ask these questions, never answer them, and waste Michael Fassbender on this embarrassing shit instead. Oh and if you didn’t know that the ‘Engineers’ in the movie are mad at us and want to destroy us because we killed Jesus, you do now. ↩︎

The Matrix Resurrections (2021) IMDb B+

Saw with LD on Christmas Eve. I thought it was well-done millennial nostalgia porn. Nothing wrong with that. I loved the humor and digs at techbro culture and co-option of “red-pill” by the far-right (which led to my favorite set of Tweets.) Thought it could be a deconstruction of the original Matrix (for what isn’t these days?) and was very swayed by this lovely analysis by /u/Dangerous_Budget8897.

Breaking free from the Matrix is about breaking free from preconceptions. This is emphasised by the fate of the real Morpheus, who was so convinced by the mythology of the One that he couldn’t accept the new peace could be undone. I think Lana regards certain fans of the original film in the same way, with their steadfast commitment to the original film’s aesthetics. This revival executes the highly-anticipated action scenes with total indifference, all while cheerfully embracing goofy comedy along with the defiantly uncool visual palette continued from the final shot of Revolutions.

Is this a middle finger to the audience? To some extent, but I think Lana would argue that they need their expectations recalibrated. For her, the Matrix is about love. She is aware that, as the analyst says, “people will find it sentimental”, but the positioning of sentimentality in favour of macho posturing is one of the film’s core tenets. Co-writer David Mitchell has said that Neo never shooting a gun was a purposeful choice, and it makes sense in light of the trilogy’s sacrificial ending. Neo is no longer the One, flying off alone at the end of the film, but someone who is incomplete without Trinity. Smith is once again used as an individualist counterpoint to the protagonist, but is here rendered almost irrelevant. Freedom is impossible or meaningless without connections between people, and an act of faith (in this case jumping off a building) can be more about trusting in other people than yourself.

There is also the element of further rejecting binaries. Another aspect of the Trinity arc is to do with accepting or integrating other aspects of yourself, in a way which perhaps reflects Lana’s transition. The female led cover of Wake Up1 can be seen as a kind of corrective to the aforementioned macho elements, and the conservative adoption of the term “red pill”. People in this story are kept in place by ‘Fear and Desire”, the sense that possibilities are just out of reach, and the film proposes that the only way to set them free is by example, to “paint the sky with rainbows”.

💗

  1. Not from the movie but this is fucking great. ↩︎

Some “Dune” Posters

For “the greatest movie never made”, although there appear to be a few contenders1 for that title, like Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon.

My absolute favorite is the last one by Hugo Emmanuel Figueroa 🙌

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 1

Pe-release flyer (Source)

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 2

by Matt Chinn.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 3

Variation 1 by Stan and Vince.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 4

Variation 2 by Stan and Vince.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 5

by Hugo Emmanuel Figueroa

  1. In case that link goes down here’s a cached version. Others include The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam, Revenge of the Jedi by David Cronenberg/David Lynch, Heart of Darkness by Orson Welles, and Gladiator 2 by Ridley Scott/Nick Cave. ↩︎

On Law and Character

Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.

— Law And Governance, The Spacing Guild Manual, Dune

I think we’re doing pretty well here. Things will be fine in 2024. Peaceful, lawful, and full of dignity and decorum 🙏

Eliminating Distractions with MS-DOS

The Dune screenplay was written on MS-DOS on a program app called “Movie Master”. It has a 40 page limit which helps the writer, Eric Roth.

Writing is fundamentally about putting your ass in the chair and typing the words. Eliminating distractions (I’ve checked Twitter at least five times while writing this short blog) is a key to success. Nothing eliminates distractions like a stripped down simple program with no internet access. Roth also said the 40 page limit helps him structure his screenplays.“I like it because it makes acts,” he said. “I realize if I hadn’t said it in 40 pages I’m starting to get in trouble.”

Matthew Gault, “The ‘Dune’ Screenplay Was Written in MS-DOS”, Vice

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) IMDb A+

I can die, they can do my picture. I have 84 years, but I am still creating. All my life I create, and is more and more and more.

The mind is like a universe. It’s constantly expanding. Like the universe, exactly like the universe, open the mind. The opening of the mind is every day, is open. That was this picture. Open the mind of all the persons who worked there. From the producer to the artists. From the workers… for every one was an opening of the mind, this work.

Was ambitious, but not too ambitious. Myself, I have the ambition to live 300 years. I will not live 300 years. Maybe I will live one year more. But I have the ambition. Why you will not have ambition? Why? Have the greatest ambition possible. You want to be immortal? Fight to be immortal. Do it. You want to make the most fantastic art of movie? Try. If you fail, is not important. We need to try.

Watched with LD. What an incredible story. His vision would’ve strayed a bit far from the book but what a wonderful thing it would’ve been to experience.

I am going to read The Incal posthaste. It’s a set of highly regarded graphic novels by Jodorowsky and Moebius. I’m told it’s a heavily copied work too. Lovely stuff. Never give up.

The Kobayashi Maru Test

[…] the simulation takes place on a replica of a starship bridge, with the test-taker as captain and other Starfleet members, officers or other cadets, in other key positions. […] the cadet receives a distress signal stating that the civilian freighter Kobayashi Maru has struck a gravitic mine in the Klingon Neutral Zone and is rapidly losing power, hull integrity and life support. Sensor readings are indeterminate and there is no way to verify the distress signal. There are no other vessels nearby. The cadet must quickly make a decision:

  • Attempt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru’s crew and passengers, which involves violating the Neutral Zone and thereby provoking the Klingons into hostile action or possibly an all-out war; or
  • Abandon the Kobayashi Maru, preventing war with the Klingons but leaving the crew and passengers of the freighter to probable death.

[…] The objective of the test is not for the cadet to outfight or outplan the opponent but rather to force the cadet into a no-win situation and simply observe how they react.

Wikipedia

I wondered how this related to the Trolley Problem and came by this great post by Tom Ingram.

Vivarium (2019) IMDb B+

An entertaining, unsettling, dissatisfying Lovecraftian allegory for suburban life and child-rearing (esp the teenage years.) Dragged on for a bit: I imagine it would’ve worked great as a Black Mirror episode. Jonathan Aris and Senan Jennings were supremely creepy and magnificent and perfectly cast for their roles 🙌