Outstreched arm

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

To code or to blog, that is this decade's question

I'm falling behind on my blogging because I'm trying to give some lasting momentum to a long-time project: the Isaac image browser. If you know what it is, you may be glad to find that it should be released on SourceForge soon. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, I guess you'll just have to wait and see.

Quick movie notes: just saw De Palma's Dressed To Kill. There's a lot of hate for this movie, but none from me. I'm a sucker for his braggadocio direction, and you can't not be entertained by the millionth Hitchcock homage he isn't embarrassed to throw in. Nobody keeps me on the edge of my sofa - well, not that I'm sitting down when I'm watching movies - like De Palma. The hilariously long art museum scene is a wonder as is the aftermath, all the way up to the predictably unpredictable murder of the presumed heroine. Like Sisters, a "smaller" movie, this suffers from needless post-conclusive exposition (did he have to learn that from Psycho also?) Nancy Allen does her usual crappy acting job, not as cutely ditzy as in Blow Out, and Michael Caine has little to work with, but these are minor complaints made pointless by the sheer delight De Palma takes in constructing wordless scenes. There's a reason the likes of Argento (whose Profondo Rosso this is reminiscent of) are loved by film buffs - they are too-eager film students with decent budgets, and they'll be damned if they'll tone down the glitz and references.

Another movie you've probably seen: Scent of A Woman. So that's what everybody's been quoting all this time. Upon seeing it, wouldn't you want to meet Lt. Colonel Slade and willingly submit yourself to his verbal abuse?

Also I've been watching The Twilight Zone DVDs. Have you seen the one called I Am The Night, Color Me Black? It's either extremely complex or just confusing, when you really think about it. In it, a white guy is sentenced to death for killing a well-known racist, presumably in self-defense. On the morning of his execution, the sun refuses to come up and the town is in complete darkness throughout the day; in the very end, the darkness overshadows even the candles and electric lights. It's an idea interesting in its simplicity - black skin = black night - but there are complicating themes that make it, as I said, either rich or puzzling. For instance, right before he dies, becoming a symbol for the black community, the convict announces that he killed the racist because he hated him, and that it felt good. When the black priest sadly summarizes it and calls him guilty, the convict says, "it's important to get with the majority, isn't it?" Odd - maybe I'm just not used to multifaceted moral arguments in half-hour television. Or maybe it's really cut-and-dry for some folks; I sympathized with both sides.

What I think I was attracted to was the highly symbolic and extremely literal supernatural element. I don't like it when the supernatural is 'cautionary' in the sense of 'this could happen to you' or 'there's weird stuff out there.' It's the one thing I didn't care for in Master & Commander, the movie: a navy officer thought to be cursed is shunned and blamed by the crew for their bad luck. Eventually he commits suicide, and the captain's reply to the indignant 'naturalist' on board is that "not all in the world is in your book." Ok, so this was perhaps believed back in the day, but since in that very movie men often reason far beyond the norm of the age, it feels like a letdown, nothing better than an insight into their flaws.

The Twilight Zone always makes a point with its supernatural resolutions (which, you must agree, are simply fun.) Sometimes it's a good tool for the job, sometimes it's not; I like Dust, in which a con artist sells ordinary sand as dust that fills people's hearts with love, not hate; when this does indeed happen, it's quite obviously not due to the dust, but common compassion. Rod Steiger comments, "in search for true magic, first look in the human heart." Corny, but appropriate.

There are 1 Comments:

Anonymous klync said...

I was just googling for the Isaac image browser. I would encourage you to release the previous version on sourceforge, even if you are working on a completely new one. That will help to raise / maintain interest in the project with very little effort on your part. And I'll be able to d/l it :-)

8:15 AM  

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