Mount Elbrus, fringed with snow and clouds. There is something fascinating, unfathomable, and mystifying about the Caucasus Mountains, and the peoples there, scattered among the modern nations of A
Repost of Dark Knight Review (originally published July 2008) If you haven’t yet seen the film, Dark Knight, please do that first before reading this post, because you will definitely spoil the “tension” of the plot, assuming there is any. For some reason this film is a runaway hit, with critics pissing all over themselves to outpraise each other. From my perspective, despite some excellent cinematography and a stellar performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker, it is really just another Batman movie, but with a troubling dichotomy at its core that is getting scant attention. There are clearly two very conflicted subtexts in the film, one centered on Batman and the other on the Joker. Batman’s supposed internal conflict we are all familiar with — having to take the law into his own hands in order to fight evil — dating back to his first appearance in Detective Comics #37; on the other hand, unlike the ridiculous slapstick Joker that Burton and Nicholson gave us, Ledger pushes his exploration of the Joker’s mercurial psychology into whole new realms of uncharted territory.
The amazing works of Charles Ashford Binger will be shown in the first major exhibition of his works in 45 years! “Charles Binger: A Pulp Life“ will open at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Hollywood, CA on January 7th and run through the end of the month. Binger’s interesting career spanned from movie posters and portraits, to ground-breaking science fiction covers in the 1950s, and hard-boiled detective pulps. His style has been characterized as utilizing “impeccable composition, rendered in a painterly style over roughened textures.” I would hasten to add that Binger was able to incorporate elements of cubism, realism, impressionism, and abstract expressionism into his works…often as not by combining them into a single canvas!
Went to see the new Tsui Hark film “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame“ [狄仁杰之通天帝国] at one of the downtown shopping centers in Taipei and loved it! Apparently, the only showing in America so far has been at the Toronto Film Festival in September where it was reviewed as a return to fun for Hark. I certainly thought it was fun myself, harking back to the crazy wuxia themes that played so well in Chinese Ghost Story [倩女幽魂] __and Green Snake [青蛇]. For those of us who also loved the series of novels fashioned on Judge Dee by Van Gulik, this movie seems to distort the character into a much-larger than life action hero. Nonetheless, the cinematic style and lavish attention to sets create a fantasy epic very much worth seeing. The underworld scenery and throwaway characters reminded me of the similar backdrops used in Hellboy II and Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End Singapore sets, suggesting that Tsui Hark has made a close study of those design ideas and paid homage to them.
On this snowbound Solstice weekend in New England, I happened to be reading reviews of The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, and pondering the ways in which humans have envisioned our first contact with alien life forms. Without going too heavily into the subject, I pondered the range of human-alien frission typically presented in SF, from the over-hyped assumption of instant warfare, or the however improbable love at first site, to the more nuanced anthropological approaches of Chad Oliver and the intensely portrayed psychological gestalts of Theodore Sturgeon. At that point Sturgeon’s amazing story To Marry Medusa (aka _The Cosmic Rape_) popped into my mind, and in particular the lush red cover image for the 1968 paperback by Paul Lehr. This image, so typical of Lehr (with a mountainous half-organic construction looming in the center, while miniscule beings flit around it like so many fleas,) represents the contact between human and alien minds in the realm of abstraction and metaphor. In that sense it fascinates more than the familiar image of some athletic dork with a ray gun zapping the tentacles off of a bug-eyed wierdo.