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The Road to All.

This morning, I am so over winter (and here it's only the end of November) that not even Jethro Tull and the approach of Cephalopodmas and all its wriggling, besuckered holiday tentacles will console me.

One reason that I take so few days off is that, usually, I find myself in a foul mood about halfway through. That said, yesterday wasn't a total loss. Lots and lots of Final Fantasy XII. I reached the Tomb of Raithwell, recovered the Dawn Shard, had it stolen from me by Marquis Halim Ondore IV, who then attempted to "test" it and managed to nuke the entire 8th Archadian fleet. The day went pretty much as I'd planned, all in all.

The high point was seeing Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain (at the Plaza). Indeed, that may have turn out to be one of the high points of the whole year. It will not suffice to say that I loved this film. This is one of those movies that makes me regret the fact that I lack the requisite language to properly discuss cinema. It will not do, in this case, to say that it was brilliant. Or that it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever laid eyes upon. Or that Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz were spot on. Since last night, I've been trying to find the words I need to describe this film, and I just cannot seem to summon them. For me, it was a revelation. For me, this is a film that is both magical and magickal. I suspect it is the best film I've seen this year, and that it is one of the best films I have ever seen. But maybe I'm biased. Maybe I just happened to intersect with The Fountain in a way that all those people who are hating it and leaving theatres baffled and pissed off cannot. Maybe it's just where I am right now. And maybe not. Maybe this film is objectively superb, if such a thing is possible. Every frame, every line of dialogue, seemed a thing of genius and perfection to me. Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet fashioned a soundtrack that could not have been better suited to its task. At the very least, Matthew Libatique deserves an Oscar for his cinematography. I have adored two other of Aronofsky's films — Pi (1999) and Requiem for a Dream (2000) — but, in my opinion, neither comes close to the achievement that is The Fountain. It joins Gilliam's Tideland and Shyamalan's Lady in the Water on a shortlist of truly astounding 2006 films that I have loved unconditionally, and that, to their credit, leave virtually no one straddling the fence, even if they have inspired far more more contempt than the appreciation they deserve. In the end, I can say only that I have been profoundly affected by this film, and for that I am grateful.

Too many things to do today, and I'd rather not do any of them. But the platypus waits for no nixar. Please pre-order Daughter of Hounds, if you have not already. I have a feeling that this may be the "sink or swim" book. Also, I ask that you please request that your local public library/ies order it, as library sales can make a huge difference. It doesn't suck, I promise.

Comments

( 26 comments — Have your say! )
robyn_ma
Nov. 27th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
'that, to their credit, leave virtually no one straddling the fence, even if they have inspired far more more contempt than the appreciation they deserve'

I'm not much given to quoting Biblically, particularly since I'm not a Xian, but comments like that always remind me of Revelation 3:16:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

Most works of art/entertainment are lukewarm. You wish they were either dazzlingly good or dazzlingly bad, so that they could inspire passion one way or the other. Occasionally something emerges that's a real parting-of-the-ways, love-it-or-loathe-it object. Some will find movies like The Fountain or Tideland hot, others cold, but nobody will find them lukewarm.
oneirophrenia
Nov. 27th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
I saw The Fountain the other day, too, and it was just sublime. One of the most stunning films I've ever seen....

Yet it did not move me as profoundly as Solaris did because, ultimately, The Fountain--though definitely steeped in transhumanism--ultimately is a Zen movie about the acceptance of one's place in the natural cycle of birth/death/rebirth. Though I'm quite a fan of Zen thought, that's one facet I will never settle with: The "natural order" must be overthrown. Death is a disease to be cured, not embraced.

Now, that is NOT to say--in any way--that The Fountain isn't the best damned sci-fi/mythic film that I've seen all year, and definitely the best that I've seen since Solaris. It's just...damnear perfect.
robyn_ma
Nov. 27th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
Tarkovsky's Solaris or Soderbergh's Solaris? (I'm a fan of both, for different reasons.)
oneirophrenia
Nov. 27th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
Actually, the Soderbergh version--yet either one will work, as I'm quite a fan of the Tarkovsky version as well!
robyn_ma
Nov. 27th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
I was amazed by people who said the Soderbergh version was too slow. I wanted to ask them, 'Um, have you seen the original?' Soderbergh's, I believe, came in at under 90 minutes. Tarkovsky's goes on for about, oh, eight, nine days...

I mean, Tarkovsky's version is stunning, but like all his films, it moves like molasses. (Not that I minded; I enjoy a glacial pace as long as there's something feeding the eye/ear/brain.) So I was like, 'Dudes, if you don't even have patience for Soderbergh's version, try Tarkovsky on for size.'
chris_walsh
Nov. 27th, 2006 06:18 pm (UTC)
I was fighting tiredness when I first saw Tarkovsky's version (in a college freshman seminar I assisted 10 years ago) and that added to the freaky dream-ishness (or dreamy freakishness) of it...
oneirophrenia
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
I've heard jackasses whining that The Fountain was too slow, as well. Slow? I LIKE slow! I like films that build up layer upon layer upon layer of soft, subtle imagery and concepts. Not everything in the universe has to move at 4.8gHz....Which is why I love the Tarkovsky version so much--even though, I must admit, I do find it rather overlong and definitely overdone. But so is 2001. That does not diminish the gradually building impact of those films.
robyn_ma
Nov. 27th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
The Fountain, I think, clocks in at around 90 minutes, too. So it's not like it dawdles on for three hours. I think people are too used to Cuisinart editing by now, and it's hurt cinema greatly.
oneirophrenia
Nov. 28th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
There is a time and a place for seizure-montage editing--in action movies. Or really twitchy, insane horror flicks. But The Fountain is a mood piece, first and foremost, not a horror or an action film. It BENEFITS from a more leisurely pace, just as, say, many Hitchcock films do.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)

Yet it did not move me as profoundly as Solaris did because, ultimately, The Fountain--though definitely steeped in transhumanism--ultimately is a Zen movie about the acceptance of one's place in the natural cycle of birth/death/rebirth. Though I'm quite a fan of Zen thought, that's one facet I will never settle with: The "natural order" must be overthrown. Death is a disease to be cured, not embraced.


This is one of those areas where I part company with transhumanism. I would not say that I embrace death (though I am trying to make peace with the fact of it), but I think you're begging the question. I think The Fountain draws attention to the fact that quests for "immortality" begs the question, that all we can possibly imagine of immortality merely delays the ineviatble. All things end. The solar system will end. The universe will end.
oneirophrenia
Nov. 27th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
I believe you may very well be right--I have noted that I need to see the film again in order to pay a bit closer attention to it, as I was so wrapped up in the visuals and the interleaved plotlines that I no doubt missed out on the greater picture in many ways.

You are right, though: everything eventually does have an end--even the Universe. But the Eternal Quest of Sentience is to keep pushing that final knell further and further off...or stave it off entirely. This Universe will eventually runs its course and either recollapse or simply...well, fizzle out--but that still gives us (and by us I mean sentient beings of all sorts, not just humans) at least...ohhh, a few trillion years to figure out how to build our own Universes--or at least to hop over into younger nearby Universes while this one grinds to its inevitable halt.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
This Universe will eventually runs its course and either recollapse or simply...well, fizzle out--but that still gives us (and by us I mean sentient beings of all sorts, not just humans) at least...ohhh, a few trillion years to figure out how to build our own Universes--or at least to hop over into younger nearby Universes while this one grinds to its inevitable halt.

You're such a blast'd optimist. ;-)
oneirophrenia
Nov. 28th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
I try. :) I have absolutely NO hope for the species Human 1.0, but even an incremental upgrade (to 1.5, for instance) could very well help us out--and there are probably other, much-better civilizations Out There to forever rage against the dying of the light.

Which brings up two related points:

1) I'm remixing the title track from The Fountain for the remix contest! Expect it to be about 15 minutes long, built up of eerie synth washes generated by hyperextending the original tracks by 900% their original sizes, and to be absolutely eerie. Already even have a title for it: "Stay with M.E./Iron Sunrise at Xibalba 04.12.2611 [Luminous Upgrade V]). You know me, I can't do shit without a title too long to fit on a CD....

And 2) I just wrote the first chapter of a novellete I'm calling, simple, "e" (for exponent). It follows one average, uploaded joe's quest not to turn himself into a posthuman robot god, but just to hang around and watch the Universe age--to see just what will happen in the far, far, far future....The first chapter is set in 2050, at the heart of the Singularity Era. The second, one year later. The third, ten years later. Then one hundred. One thousand. Ten thousand. A hundred thousand years....And further and further as he watches all the ages of the gods of This Universe come and go, always becoming something more, until the final darkness of the Proton Decay Era falls....But does it all end in abject blackness, a wasteland of evaporating black holes? Or is that only the beginning of the Universe?

I think you'll particularly like the "character" of the Standard Model *Vore. You may have recalled It from a rusty, ruddy hunk of dirt slowly rotting away around a useless star called Gliese-376....
curt_holman
Nov. 27th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
Fountainheads
I loved 'The Fountain' too, but I'm scared to see 'Tideland' or 'The Lady in the Water.'
greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 07:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Fountainheads
I'm scared to see 'Tideland' or 'The Lady in the Water.'

They're very different films, and yet share a great deal in common. And I think one must approach them both with a certain awareness that they are dealing with issues of innocence and story and childhood.
dantree
Nov. 27th, 2006 06:35 pm (UTC)
The Fountain was amazing, the only anoyance was a row of teens behind us that were uncomfortable with enlightenment, thus making me wish for an R rating. They began giggling towards the end when ones brain was required to think.

I rushed out at ten in the evening to find the soundtrack and magically found it, I was also hunting down his other movie "PI" as well, but no luck there, I am still thinking hard on it.

I try to imagine Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchet in it instead (as it was originally planned) and cannot even fathom it.

Glad you liked it, it seems to be a movie that will either hit big, or fall flat, all depending, I feel at least, on ones internal workings.

If given the chance check out the website, its pretty nice, www.thefountainmovie.com

greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
The Fountain was amazing, the only anoyance was a row of teens behind us that were uncomfortable with enlightenment, thus making me wish for an R rating. They began giggling towards the end when ones brain was required to think.

Fortunately, I saw it at a small indie theatre. A googleplex audience would have ruined it. Audiences have largely forgotten how to be audiences. I only go to screenings at googleplexes early in the day, when I'm sure the turn out will be low.
dantree
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:05 pm (UTC)
And my lesson was learned, we just knew that the visuals and sound would be so much better on the larger screen of the googleplex, as the indie theatre is not up to date.

but the second viewing will take place at the smaller thetre for sure.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
And my lesson was learned, we just knew that the visuals and sound would be so much better on the larger screen of the googleplex, as the indie theatre is not up to date.

I did regret that the sound wasn't better, as the soundtrack is so exquisite and crucial. But, on the other hand, we got a flat screen. I hate those curved screens.
reverendcrofoot
Nov. 27th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
- "sink or swim" book -

What's this mean. To get all crazy, are you implying that you may stop writing if this book doesn't do well? Or that the majors will be done with you? Finish the fucking story, what about the glands?
greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
To get all crazy, are you implying that you may stop writing if this book doesn't do well? Or that the majors will be done with you?

I just don't know. It's just a feeling I have. I need this book to do a lot better than the last two (Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels).
stsisyphus
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Fountain review, I thought local reviews might have been shortsighted. At least I will take the time to make my own assessment. I assume that the film does lend itself to being best seen on a large screen (as opposed to waiting for the serenity of a home viewing)?

Also, being as you're the only person I know of who has editing rights on wikipedia and has a vested interest in accuracy of paleo entries, could you please correct the juvenile prank now appearing on the Stegosaurus page? Just page down a bit & you'll see it.
stsisyphus
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
...could you please correct the juvenile prank now appearing on the Stegosaurus page

Never mind, it's already been removed.
greygirlbeast
Nov. 27th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the Fountain review, I thought local reviews might have been shortsighted. At least I will take the time to make my own assessment. I assume that the film does lend itself to being best seen on a large screen (as opposed to waiting for the serenity of a home viewing)?

Yep.
stsisyphus
Nov. 27th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Son of a bitch, someone screwed up the Stego page again.
robyn_ma
Dec. 4th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC)
Belatedly, I must concur i/r/t The Fountain. We saw it today and were singularly gobsmacked.
( 26 comments — Have your say! )