Friday, July 10, 2020

Gretchen, Stop Trying To Make Cancel Culture Happen. It's Never Going To Happen.

Billy Bragg (!) weighs in on the so-called "threat" of cancel culture:
"An open letter that is clearly decrying cancel culture (without naming it as such), signed by 150 academics and writers from all sides of the political spectrum, appeared this week in Harper’s Magazine. The signatories complained of a censoriousness that was stifling debate and called for arguments to be settled by persuasion rather than action. Lip service was paid to the menace of Donald Trump, but the main thrust of their argument was a howl of anguish from a group that has suddenly found its views no longer treated with reverence.
Many of those who attached their names to the letter are longstanding cultural arbiters, who, in the past, would only have had to fear the disapproval of their peers. Social media has burst their bubble and they now find that anyone with a Twitter account can challenge their opinions. The letter was their demand for a safe space."
As I've said before, invoking cancel culture is basically the pathetic cry of (mostly) mediocre white men who think the internet or the media owe them some kind of a living.  Also criticism, even outright mockery of shitty ideas, is not censorship.  To the contrary, it's a very good and healthy thing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Surviving Seoul

As Seoul housing prices continue to rise and more young folks put off marriage for later, the demand for single person housing grows.  Is group housing the answer?  Maybe --
"Social housing carries with it an image of shoddy construction with low quality materials that compensate lower expenses -- a stereotype that Seoul Social Standard aims to smash. Its goal is to create homes that are so cozy and comfortable that tenants renew their leases again and again. 
 Kim said it refrains from designing spaces to look like dormitories where almost every space is shared.  
 'The bottom line for me is one room for one person,' said Kim. 'We call it a not-so-tight-knit community. We try to find a happy medium between being private and being open.'  
'One of the residents [living at a share house located] in Tongui-dong told me that he has more time to explore his neighborhood ever since he moved into the building. He didn’t have a chance to go for a walk or mingle with others in his old neighborhood, but now he spends more time in the communal space inside the share house,' Kim added."
It's not a bad idea, but as we all know it only takes one problematic person to spoil any group housing situation.  Great for parties though.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Project Herzog Part V: The Rest ("You Only Have To Show Him Something And He Can Do It")

Project Herzog Part III, his best films (14 of them) here.

Project Herzog Part IV, his worst films (five of them) here.

And the rest, in chronological order:

Herakles (1962)

A student film basically, by a film-maker who never went to film school.  Mixing footage of body-builders with stock footage, the joke is that these modern-day He-Men can't possibly be as manly as the classical hero of the title.  Among the stock footage we see a pile of corpses from the 1955 Le Mans car racing disaster.  Get it?  Funny!

The Unprecedented Defence of the Fortress Deutschkreuz (1966)

His first narrative film, a group of young men randomly find some military uniforms and weapons.  As a joke they put on the gear and instantly turn from carefree hipsters to bloodthirsty soldiers.  Obvious anti-war themes, with a deranged officer telling us "even defeat is better than no war."  Surprisingly mature, very much worth your time.

Signs of Life (1968)

His first feature.  A relatively straightforward, albeit quirky, anti-war film focusing on a group of Nazi soldiers in occupied Greece.  One of them comes upon a field filled with (desecrated by?) windmills and goes insane.  Herzog was perfectly capable of making mainstream work and thankfully, he soon decided not to.  Excellent Greek folk music for the soundtrack.

Last Words (1968)

Filmed at the same time and place as Signs of Life, this very short film is based around a man who constantly goes around claiming that he does not want to speak.  The best part of the movie is, again, the Greek folk music played throughout.  Also very strange direction from Herzog, who makes his actors often repeat their own lines of dialogue.

Precautions Against Fanatics (1969)

A short film shot at a race course, where Herzog interviews people who train horses.  Of course, they walk around trees for two or three days non-stop.  They eat too much garlic.  Herzog describes this film as a "practical joke" but it's one I'm too stupid to get.  His first use of color film.

"it might interfere with my aim"

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly theme live, Danish National Symphony Orchestra

I always loved his electric guitar lines the most -- so simple, so wickedly effective.

R.I.P. Ennio Morricone, who scored my favorite movie of all time in addition to a ton of other great work.  He was working up until near his death, as far as I can tell.

Project Herzog Part IV: His Worst Work ("He'll Shit In His Pants!")

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Even 50 years ago casting an all-dwarf cast must have raised some eyebrows.  And believe me, this is not a film exploring the dignity of the lives of little people.  It's an obscene farce -- something to do with a jail-break from an institution where the former director is now held prisoner himself.  A statement about authoritarianism then?  Well, sure, but one that also involves cannibal chickens, a bloated dead sow, and a monkey crucifixion and procession.  Ends with the grating, satanic laughter of one of the inmates cheering on a shitting camel.  As mentioned, this is Herzog's scapegoat.  It is impossible to believe he made this within a year of his humanist masterpieces Handicapped Future and Land of Silence and Darkness.  Demonic excess.  Casual animal cruelty.  Pure obscenity.  A drunken food fight for good measure.

Queen of the Desert (2015)

A perfect example of just how bad later Herzog feature films can be.  How do we waste the genuine talents of Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, and Damian Lewis?  By making a borderline parody of a Merchant-Ivory film.  Some beautiful shots and nice costumes though.

The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)

Not the only picture where the background story is more interesting than the final product.  Herzog's only foray into sci-fi, he mixes in stock footage of underwater exploration and shots from an actual Space Shuttle mission to tell the story of an alien who comes to Earth with a warning.  And this was actually the original plot to an earlier documentary, Fata Morgana (1971).  It didn't work there.  It doesn't work here.  Any space nerd knows the shuttle isn't capable of getting out of low earth orbit, duh.  Shots of Slab City are always interesting though.

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)

With any other director, Michael Shannon is a pretty good actor.  With Herzog, he seems to have just swallowed a handful of quaaludes.  Another colossal waste of talent (Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny) this isn't even a murder mystery -- we know who did it from the start.  A very bad joke involving flamingos is the climax.  Produced by David Lynch, just because.

Salt and Fire (2016)

More bad Michael Shannon.  Something about a volcano that threatens the entire world, but also environmental degradation that led to his two children being blinded.  Scientists run around doing science things.  Terrorists do the same.  I am not ashamed to say I have no fucking clue what the actual plot of this one was beyond the above.  Painful and soporific at the same time.