greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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"Big Things Have Small Beginnings." (Part Two)

Grey and chilly here in Providence today. Maybe a high of 71˚F, and there might be rain. April in June. And today is the sixth anniversary of Sophie's death. And five years ago yesterday I finished "The Steam Dancer (1896)." And on the 24th, Spooky will have been on this planet another year, and birthday presents are not unwelcome. She has an Amazon wishlist (and it's a good one, too).


Yesterday, because I was determined to see Prometheus on a halfway decent screen, we drove to the North Attleboro Showcase (which really isn't that much farther from us than is Warwick, even if Attleboro is in a different state). And yes, we saw it in 2-D again, on a considerably larger screen. I can now say that I have, at least, fucked Natalie Portman in my own bed. So, back to my enumerated review, which, I fear will now be in three parts. Indeed, I could possibly spend the whole summer writing about this film. Indeed, people are saying such stupid things about the film, and I feel such a strong need to respond, I may not even get to the "this-is-why-I-love-it" review part today. But I'm putting this behind a cut because there are SPOILERS, so, read at your own risk. Where were we?

4) I'm beginning to see people online whining about the movie being "triggery," filled with "body horror" and "traumatic pregnancy scenes," and etcetera and etcetera. To which I can only reply, did you go in having no bloody idea what the basic concept of the alien in the previous four films was? Did you really do that, and then have the gall to whine? Did you not at least do a little research, if you are so sensitive you're fragile psyche can be this bruised by films (and books) meant to unnerve us? As innumerable critics and film scholars have noted since 1979, as the filmmakers involved with the original film made clear, as H. R. Giger's original designs make clear, these have always been "body horror" stories. A species with a complicated life cycle that waits in a vagina-like egg, then, after inserting a phallic object down a host's throat, gestates inside another organism (Stage One), then violently emerges from the abdomen of the host in an ultimate nightmare of auto-cessarian birth (Stage Two), only to quickly grow into a creature that, to our eyes, is a monstrous beast with a grotesquely phallic head. Hell, in Alien, these themes are so explicit that, for example, we know that the alien probably rapes Lambert (though the act mostly occurs off screen), and the android Ash attempts a bizarre rape of Ripley in imitation of the creature, which he has come to admire.

And, lest charges of sexism arise, Kane is the first of the crew "raped" – a man – then Brett – also male – and then the ship's captain, Dallas – also male. Now, turning to charges of sexism in Prometheus (which I am seeing) as regards "rape" by the alien: What? The first person infected is Holloway, who unintentionally impregnates Shaw through consensual sex. Then we see Milburn mouth-fucked by a proto-facehugger. That's two men impregnated (though you might argue Holloway is, rather, infected) to one woman (the presumably male "engineers" not included). So, charges of a sexual bias towards women are simply baseless.

5) A small thing: Guys, the science in this film is full of holes, just like the science in the four other Alien films (in fact, it's been worse than it is in Prometheus). That said, some of what people are kvetching over may not be actual problems. An example: Vickers' comment – "....but then, it wouldn't make sense why I would fly myself a half a billion miles away from every man on Earth, if I wanted to get laid...would it?" [italics mine]. Now, by saying "on," isn't it possible, maybe, that she means "from"? After all, by this point in human history, interstellar travel seems to have clearly become moderately routine (if extraordinarily expensive). Ergo, though the Prometheus has traveled ~34.5 light years from Earth, we can easily imagine there being terran men half a billion miles from LV-233. The gaffe may or may not be a screenwriter gaffe. It may be a character gaffe (Vickers is clearly indifferent to science). But, this whole matter is, obviously, a tempest in a teapot. It's nitpicking. If we nitpick science fiction, both literary and cinematic, most of it fails.

6) Why is this film R-rated? I've seen it twice, and this baffles me. Scott actually fought for the R-rating, to avoid cuts he didn't want to make. Okay, I know that. But, Prometheus is almost devoid of anything that would warrant an R-rating. It's entirely devoid of nudity. You see more nudity on pretty much any beach, anywhere, any summer. There's virtually no profanity. Here's a breakdown of cursing in the film (in the IMDb "parent's guide," which is user-created content):

1) Two fucks, one obscured by static.
2) Eleven shits.
3) One ass.
4) Twelve hell or damn.

Still, lots of of PG-13 films are filled with profanity. So, it wasn't the profanity and it wasn't nudity (or sex). At IMDb, we can read that it was rated R for "Sci-fi violence, including some intense images and brief language." The language thing is bullshit. As for violence and intense images, yeah, I have to give it that one, so, I suppose that's the source. This is only relevant because there has been a lot of speculation that the rating could hurt the box-office tallies. Regardless, I applaud Scott for insisting on this cut.

6) Okay. Here's something I adored about the film, finally heading in that (non-defensive) direction. Michael Fassbender. His performance as the AI/android David is absolutely brilliant. He deserve a goddamn Oscar nomination, it's that brilliant. Unlike his predecessors (though, if we consider this a straightforward prequel, which it isn't, they aren't) Ash, Bishop, and Annalee Call, who could all pass for human, David can't. Fassbender wisely avoided watching the performances of Ian Holm, Lance Henrickson, and Winona Ryder, instead studying the Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Sean Young in Blade Runner (1982), David Bowie in The Man Fell to Earth (1976), and Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). That last is especially important, as David, in his attempts to fashion himself, create an identity that is him, carefully scrutinizes T. E. Lawrence. Fassbender fuses all these performances into something wonderfully almost human, possessing subtle mechanical quirks, and yet often conveying a being on the threshold of achieving "humanity." Just in the character of David, this film presents so much rich opportunity for consideration. Bravo.

7) Lots of people are bitching about the themes of religion and faith in the film. Kittens, I'm a goddamn atheist, and it didn't bother me. Here I wish to quote what handful_ofdust (Gemma Files) – who probably knows more about film than I – has to say on the subject. I do hope she does't mind:

"A) All you people acting like you're amazed the premise turned out to be Chariots of the Gods? Please STFU. This has been obvious since Trailer #2*, so if it offends you so much, you probably shouldn't've gone to the movie in the first place. It's like complaining that you went to see Star Wars and the science wasn't NASA-compliant.

B) In a way, I think that faith--ie, 'choosing to believe particular shit with no immediate proof because REASONS' motivates not only most characters in the movie, but (if we're being honest with ourselves) most human beings, and therefore probably most Engineers, too. Shaw wants a good God who can be reasoned with, so she does what she does. Janek thinks most things boil down to governments/corporations doing sketchy shit, so that's what he goes with (and in the Alienverse, hate to say, that idea usually turns out to be true). Holloway thinks he can act like Steve-O in space and get away with it, so he does, and doesn't. Vickers thinks she can control everything because she's used to being able to control everything. Weyland wants to think he can convince the Engineers to cure him of age because he's so awesome and a living god like them, while the Space Jockey's just all: 'Man, I have a fuckin' job to do. Also, did you build a robot that looks like you?! Heresy' And David is convinced all children wish their parents would die because all parents devalue their children by not understanding them; the only potential refutation he's ever seen of this is in Shaw's dreams, but you know, she might just be fooling herself. Like humans do."

8) Frankly, a lot of the negative criticism of this film is coming from people who haven't seen it. Currently, it's the hip film to hate. It's the too-cool-for-school crowd's target. And many of those who do see it, go in determined to hate it. I'll never understand this attitude. It's fucked up, to say the least.

*Actually, it's been obvious since Scott's early interviews regarding the film.

So, there you go. More to come. Now, I'm off to begin line-editing the ms. of Blood Oranges (this is my typescript, and not the CEM, which I'll likely be editing in a month or so).

Aunt Beast
Tags: alien, exobiology, gemma files, good movies, idiots who mock films they've not seen, profanity, prometheus, robots, science, science fiction, sexism, spooky's bday

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