The Magician longs to see…

My nightmares have red curtains. There’s people barefoot there, people laughing at me, people speaking backwards gibberish. My nightmares have a laugh track, also.

My nightmares might also be TV mash ups. People used to fear that the camera would steal your soul. Perhaps it does, just a little bit, just a sliver of it, and the trapped and tormented souls of TV people go on to live in my brain. Wouldn’t that be fun?

As with everything else, perhaps I just see what I want to see.

I think that could be especially true now, as we do the work of putting this blog to bed. That picture of Naveen Andrews and Elizabeth Mitchell was previously mentioned here, and K-Stew has been mentioned, fuck, everywhere on this blog, but most recently here.

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…And I feel fine/No future for you!

Well, I guess the Rapture didn’t happen, huh? Not today, I guess. I mean, I’m still here. You’re reading this, so I guess you’re still here too, huh? The sad thing about “The Rapture” is that, well, besides it being a fictional event in a set of fables in a funny book of short stories about wizards and demons and old world customs, is that… well, I just don’t know anyone who would be going up in this fantastical sounding Rapture thing. It’s just for the good, right? Well, all the people I know are bad, bad people… And I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.

from here.

Oh well, a shame. But I suppose the Internet will quickly find something else for itself to get excited about, right? But there’s still us and there’s tomorrow and a little more juice to be squeezed out of whatever could be “the future” and there’s whatever could possibly come with that…

Mad linkage:

Here’s 10 other recent predictions for the End Times that didn’t come true either.

German insurance firm held orgy to reward salesmen.

Learn how to tie your shoes right.

Quite possibly our first look at Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Kirk Cameron vs. Stephen Hawking.

Ricky Gervais on The Office‘s finale.

If you do go up in the Rapture, don’t worry, the atheists will take care of your pets… for a price.

An excerpt from Chris Adrian’s new novel.

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

-Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

by Beth Hoeckel, from here.

What really goes on in Area 51?

A volcano in Iceland called Grímsvötn has erupted.

Twitter shit about the Rapture from yesterday.

Inside the Robert Redford biography.

Stephen Fry joins The Hobbit.

New discovery about mosquitoes reveals why vampires will never exist.

Speaking of which, Joe Jackson is still a bloodsucking piece of shit.

from here.

“The future is already here… It’s just not even distributed.”

-William Gibson

David Lynch to release an album later this year.

The visual impact of gossip.

The story of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s doomed/failed/totally fucking crazy would be adaptation of Dune to become a documentary. Here’s Dan O’Bannon talking about it a little.

Related: the team up between Salvador Dali and Walt Disney.

Just checking: Still no Rapture, right? Whew.

NBC cancels Outsourced. Good.

The trailer for the new film by Miranda July.

Carrie is being remade and Stephen King suggests Lindsay Lohan for the lead.

from here.

This trailer/movie looks really terrible: Horrible Bosses.

This trailer looks so so, but the movie will probably suck: Another Earth.

It’s Pilot Season! Trailers for (just a few of the) new TV shows that were just picked up:

Awake. Which… looks good, looks interesting, but I just don’t see a TV show that I would follow/watch for years and years there. Funny how both it and Another Earth‘s trailer use that song by the Cinematic Orchestra.

Alcatraz. The latest from the J.J. Abrams camp… The 4400 meets Prison Break, featuring Sam Neill and Hurley from Lost. This looks ridiculous, and I’ll watch it and just hope that it’s not another letdown like Fringe.

Person Of Interest. Another from J. J. Abrams, although it seems like it’s mostly just his name on it and the real creative juice is from Jonathan Nolan, writer of The Dark Knight and brother of Christopher. Looks interesting-ish, but Jim Caviezel? Was that really necessary?

A trailer for the documentary on the showrunners of all your favorite TV shows.

And a nice guide to the shows that didn’t make it to the Fall 2011 season.

“The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.”

-Dennis Gabor

I had a dream a while back that the world was ending… It was an odd dream, but not a terrible one, I guess. It’s just not something you can prepare for, the end of the world. You can’t ever really be ready for it. You just gotta keep on living, don’t you? And loving and listening to music and dancing and pursuing impossible things and enjoying mundane moments and people and doing all kinds of stupid shit. Take things seriously but maybe enjoy the ridiculous things that surround you just a little bit more? I don’t want to tell you something terribly cliched, like… Live every moment like it’s your last!

No, don’t do that. You’ll probably hurt yourself trying to do that.

But maybe every once in a while, take a single moment and consider that it is your last moment on this beautiful, insane planet, and just really ponder that. And think about what you would do if it wasn’t. Beam yourself into the future and peek in on yourself and see what you’re up to. Take a vacation into the future and see who you are there. Interview yourself and find out what went right and wrong in your life in the moments/weeks/months/years between now and then, and take good notes. And when you come back to the present, remember that little trip. Remember that time you went to the future and appreciate that you’re back here, and now, and then go there again.

The anniversary of Bikini Atoll is coming up.

Chinese “dinosaur city” reshapes understanding of prehistoric era.

Brittany Julious is sexy.

The kind of guys who stay single?

The Cat Rapture for Caturday!

Neil Gaiman on Gene Wolf.

Grant Morrison to write a movie about dinosaurs vs. aliens, Barry Sonnenfield to direct.

from here.

RIP “Macho Man.”

The fashion of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Fleetwood Mac to reunite in time for the end of the world.

The never before seen original ending to Alexander Payne’s Election, which is much closer to the book’s ending.

I don’t think I’m all that crazy about these Odd Future guys.

Skeeter Davis and Henry Moore.

Tom Cruise is a lonely robot repairman.

from here.

How to survive a mass extinction.

Plot details from the upcoming Tim Burton/Johnny Depp big screen version of Dark Shadows.

Will the internet destroy academic freedom?

A history of bedwetting.

Bionic hands! The future is now!

A good prank for the Rapture.

Oh well, hopefully this one was good practice for the next time the world (supposedly) ends. Still plenty of time to get your Rapture Playlist just fucking perfect. No sleep til 2012!

The suburb of the soul.

Mad linkage:

Who is Arcade Fire?!

It seems like the theme of Sunday’s Grammys were “I don’t know who this person is.”

The most British movie ever.

The oral history of Party Down.

The Machinist‘s Brad Anderson to adapt J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, starring Christian Bale.

Robots to get their own internet.

You can buy the new Radiohead album this Saturday!

PLAY The Great Gatsby for NES.

Sex, drugs, and cannibalism: the Chilean miners’ story.

Fuck Yeah Lady Writers.

Hello! And RIP Uncle Leo.

House group proposes shifting Earth science funds to manned spaceflight.

This guy will buy you breakfast if you can explain Lost to him.

The science of heartlessness.

Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K. Dick’s Ubik.

from here.

Michael Moorcock on J. G. Ballard.

Sarah Jessica Parker wants to do a Sex And The City 3 and she wants to do it just for Benjamin Light.

What makes black holes so black?

Crystal Renn addresses her weight loss and maintaining plus-size model status.

The Criterion Collection is on Hulu Plus (and so is your mom).

Americans know so little about the bible.

James Van Der Beek to play himself on an ABC sitcom. Seriously.

Also: Aaron Sorkin to guest as himself on 30 Rock.

“We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.”

-J. G. Ballard

The sun unleashed a huge solar flare towards the Earth.

CBS News’ Lara Logan hospitalized after sexual assault in Egypt.

Living towers made of humans.

Hans Zimmer promises that the score for The Dark Knight Rises will be both “epic” and “iconic.”

Also, 1 in 5 films coming out in 2011 will be sequels.

Click here to see the beginning of something wonderful.

Natalie Portman cries a lot.

Who makes shittier movies, Guy Ritchie or Zack Snyder?

by Jason Brockert, from here.

Pakistan issues arrest warrent for Pervez Musharraf.

Whatcha thinkin’ about?

There’s a DuckTales comic coming out. How awesome is that?

Twitter, translations, and the new geopolitics.

The Onion’s AV Club interviews PJ Harvey.

Look at the trailer for this Dead Island game. I know nothing about this game, but based on this trailer, I want to play the fuck out of it.

Why the Oscars snubbed Christopher Nolan.

You rock, rock.

from here.

Why I want to fuck J. G. Ballard.

Maria Bello a reasonable replacement for Helen Mirren in the unnecessary remake of Prime Suspect?

An underground village in France where people lived for hundreds of years.

Jeff Mangum is touring.

Billy Ray Cyrus blames the Devil and David Lynch for his problems.

Facebook’s growing web of frenemies.

Justina Bieber doesn’t believe in abortions, even in the case of rape. Man… whatever.

from here.

Michael Emerson to star in Person Of Interest, the CBS pilot from J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan about predicting/fighting future crime.

Pitchfork gave the new Mogwai album a 6.6.

Top 10 famous people who didn’t actually exist.

Donnie Darko‘s Richard Kelly to do a normal, traditional thriller next.

What would Hüsker Dü?

There’s a campaign to replace the N-word in Huckleberry Finn with “robot.”

“I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that’s my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again … the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.”

-J. G. Ballard

I like and respect Jill Thompson’s visual take on Wonder Woman.

Speaking of which, Adrianne Palicki is the new Wonder Woman (in that David E. Kelley TV pilot).

…and here is the audition tape for Tanit Phoenix, who didn’t get the role, that shows how obsessed the pilot script seems to be with breasts.

Iain Sinclair on J.G. Ballard’s favorite artwork.

The underage cast of MTV’s Skins pose in their skimpies in Elle. Now go crazy, people.

The age of consent around the world.

The businessmen drink my blood just like the kids in art school said they would…”

The guy who was raised by cats.

The Goddamn Batman.

from here.

From the internet:

RIP Leslie Nielsen.

RIP Irvin Kershner.

Your 2010 holiday gift shopping sorted.

Here’s something you clearly (don’t) need: pocket chainsaw.

The top 5 most shocking things about WikiLeaks.

Vladimir Putin is Batman and Dmitry Medvedev is Robin.”

Celebrities quitting twitter for charity.

from here.

This Spider-Man musical sounds like just the kind of crazy train wreck that you want it to be.

Here’s what Christopher Nolan thinks of your Inception fan theories.

Natalie Portman, Halle Berry, and Tom Hanks to star in the Wachowskis’ version of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas?

Actor decapitates own mother in Masonic attack inspired by The Matrix.

The bad sex in fiction awards!

Fox Nation reprints anti-Obama article from The Onion, doesn’t mention (or possibly realize) that it’s a joke.

Music by David Lynch.

Previously on Counterforce.

An interview with Jorge Luis Borges.

from here.

This is just weird: Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal.

From 1993: The future of the internet!

David Foster, from 1998: “I’m not a journalist and I don’t pretend to be one.”

from here.

Klaxons “Twin Flames.”

The little white lies of online dating revealed.

Is this the year that we make contact? Maybe.

Doctor Doom vs. Doctor Who.

Are we about to be inundated with a wave of movie versions of the works of Haruki Murakami?

Batman and Robin investigate “The Carbon Copy Crimes.”

from here.

D. J. Caruso on why he quit the Y The Last Man movie. Wants to make it a TV show instead, huh? Someone owes me a check. You fuckers.

Suck on this: Animated Southland Tales prequel.

How does Commissioner Gordon really feel about Batman?

Do women avoid talking to their fathers because of evolution?

Edgar Allan Bro.

Hercule Poirot kitties. LOL.

from here.

Shocking link between people who like Batman and people who like pornography.

How to survive a mass extinction.

A Spanish woman claims that she owns the Sun and you can bet your ass she wants you to pay her for its usage.

from here.

The September Post.

This is the 750th blog post on this blog. Will we make “contact” with 1000 posts before the end of 2010?

We’ll see. But in the meantime, this is a picture of Betty White and Jon Hamm:

This is funny ha ha:

And this is just the truth, no matter how you try to fight it:

Look, I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but we’ve been hanging out for a while now, right? Well, here’s the thing…

In all that time, we’ve really gotten to know you. We know what you’re thinking…

You’re thinking, “Where did this blog go? I love this fucking blog and it practically disappeared into thin air!”

Calm down. Don’t be so dramatic. Take in a deep breath. Do not shit your pants please. Everything is going to be just fine. Trust us.

This is just a blog. And we are right here. And this is a picture of what looks like not only a completely unnecessary “remake,” but also something that is terrible:

Only slightly related, this is a video featuring a guy hitting on a girl at the beach:

This is a lot of yogurt:

This is a picture of James Cameron in the Amazon:

This is a picture of an average day in the life of yours truly:

This is a picture that I found mildly humorous:

This is Dwight’s perfect crime:

This is just a few search terms used to find us (as of 3 PM EST on 09/16/10):

And here is just a few from today, as of 1:28 PM, EST:

This is a picture of Thom Yorke wearing a headband:

from here.

Here’s Jack and Juliet’s fake kid totally checking out his mom’s rack:

from here.

This is both a picture and a “meta statment” about Counterforce:

This is what Bjork’s house looks like:

from here.

This is a picture that just  plain confuses my penis:

And this is an infographic about important distinctions that need to be made about some of the content on the internet these days:

This may be (but hopefully not) the only Counterforce post this month – so sorry! – so I hope you enjoyed it.

This is what I wish you and I could be doing right now:

And this is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire:

Your mind is the scene of the crime.

Your eyes may be open but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re awake.

All that glitters isn’t necessarily gold, not all travelers are lost, and that stuff underneath your feet isn’t necessarily Earth. When the sky’s the limit (and possibly not even then), when you can do and create anything, you’re still grounded by your own rules. Your own sense of understanding of ideas and concepts. Theft and violation are painfully easy, but inspiration is hard. Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there. Things can only appear strange to you sometimes when you’re told that perhaps that’s what you should be looking for. Sometimes it’s hard to fall, or to feel like you’re falling, when there is no gravity.

This is my simple, rudimentary thoughts on Christopher Nolan’s Inception in three and a half points.

1. Every time I go to see a good movie in a movie theater, one that both excites and intrigues and involves me in some regard, be it superficial or something deeper, more substantial, it’s like a dream, isn’t it? We love the idea of dreams because they’re the perfect metaphor for… anything. Anything you desire.

And more so, we love our stories, and we love comparing movies to dreams.

Film logic just has to captivate you for the time that you’re watching it, to keep you floating in a suspension of (dis)belief, and then the movie ends, the credits roll, and you crawl out of the cave of the cinema. If you’re going to see the matinee, then the sun outside is harsh, and cruel. Your senses are heightened to extraordinary degrees. Every step feels more epic, the angle of objects seems more profound. You just experienced something amazing and you’re taking a little bit of it with you, and by contrast, you feel like you’re leaving a little of yourself behind, but you move on from it because you feel touched, activated, feeling pretty amazing yourself. You move with your own soundtrack blaring, your mind working overtime and recovering from the shock of excitement.

Waking up from an intense, weighty dream can inspire you and invigorate you, especially if for even just half a second, you think you’re waking and walking into another dream, even more stupendous, and of your own design.

2. Comparing things to video games infuriates me. But mostly it’s the people doing the comparing that bother me because, honestly, the idea of comparing things, especially movies, and certain modes of reality, to the idea of a “video game” interests me. I’m by no means a gamer, but the idea, and it’s possibilities, excites me.

Video games are like dreams in a certain regard, aren’t they? At times you’re completely powerful, in control of everything in your surroundings and yourself, and then, with little to no warning, you’re absolutely powerless and everything is completely out of control. The shit hits the fan, then the fan explodes, and somebody gets their head cut off.

Inception feels like a video game. It’s a cerebral maze of ideas, working on a multiple of levels, dabbling exquisitely in both terms of narrative, time structures, visual metaphors, and big ideas and memes (and sorry, everybody, I know the word is beyond detested, but the concept of it, the virus of the idea that spreads and can’t be killed is both thrilling and terrifying).

The other day Benjie Light and I were talking about things that we want to do in our lives, stupid things that we want to imitate from the movies/books/pop culture stories that we’ve ingested and loved over the years, and my big three things were 1) solve a mystery, preferably a locked room murder mystery, 2) plan and execute a (hopefully successful) heist, and 3) diffuse a bomb with mere seconds left on the clock. Commander Light also understandably suggested “car chase” as a scenario that would be nice to throw in the mix, and he’s right, but I’d toss that into the heist paradigm.

My point: I would love to play the video game based on Inception. The one that has a story that works brilliantly and ambitiously and only gets strange when a stranger suggests to you that something seems strange. And then you explore the depths of that strangeness. You have fist fights in rolling hallways, watch cities rise up to meet you, get attacked by angry mobs and the spectre of your Oscar-winning French hottie wife, fire guns, blow shit up, both run and chase after faceless nefarious goons, and deliver mind blowing bits of exposition while looking incredibly GQ.

Also, I’ll say this: Inception had a certain frame of mind to it that I feel like The Matrix could’ve really benefited from having had ten years ago.

It’s a video game that would excite you on a variety of levels, both on the superficial and the deeper, the more intellectual. A cerebral workout. An existential knife fight. The only thing that would make it better than the movie, though, would be that it was presumably interactive.

2 1/2. The thing I’ve noticed about Nolan’s films is that they’re all plot. They’re far from indulgent and long and dense and they move fast, leaving very little time for fireworks that are purely character building. In that sense, he’s the exact opposite of P.T. Anderson, who’s films are all character, and sometimes those characters move in a certain direction that takes them from a starting point to a stopping point. But in the exercises of narrative, Nolan manages to paint shades of characters, both skeletal sketches, like Cillian Murphy’s character in Inception, and those with the driving illusion of more depth, like Dicaprio’s in this film.

And grounded. So grounded. Nolan’s films are fantastical creatures of oneiric energy that are dreamed up by inhabitants of the real world. As scholarly influenced as they are, even their madness, and his, is grounded, and logical. His Gotham City and battle gear clad vigilantes are both out of this world and something that could play on the 5 o’cock news in this world.

Nolan doesn’t speak in a language of dragons and flying carpets and talking animals and liquid robots that morph in physics-defying feats of light and spectacle. His characters live in dreamlands based on urban mazes and high speed travel and real world concern and drabness. And they dream/create with the tools that their worlds give them.

Half of movies is glamor and glitz and show and all preconceived notions. And Nolan is good about using that, especially in his casting. Michael Caine can walk into just about any scene in a movie now and seem like the wise, but slightly jaded mentor who knows that you’re about to go down a pretty dark, fairly shitty path, but still supports your decision and has a few nuggets of sage wisdom for you. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a certain level of cool attached to himself, either earned or not earned. Ellen Page perfectly fits into the category of smart newbie who’s still learning the ropes and is beginning a journey, despite her probably immense and amazing knowledge of all things Cisco. Ken Watanabe always carries a certain sinister edge with him, though perhaps that’s just an occidental thing. And Leonardo Dicaprio has perfectly aligned himself with a certain archetype, that of the little boy grown up into a man, hardened with anger and guilt, and we’ve accepted him as the protagonist cipher who will either work through his issues or ultimately be destroyed by them.

My only complaint about the actual production/composition of this film is the level of soundtrack on display at all times. I really liked Hans Zimmer’s score to the film, so much so that I went and bought the soundtrack immediately after the movie concluded, which was a surreal experience all of it’s own since I saw the film at the theater in the mall which was a weird labyrinth to wander through as I was re-composing myself into reality after exiting the movie. Maybe it was just a bad mix at that theater, but the score seemed to be too loud at certain points, competing with the actors and their dialogue, sometimes defeating them a little, which is a shame because as I said, with Nolan’s movies, nothing is wasted, not a single shot, not a single glance or expression, and especially not a single word or sentence.

I think it’s safe to say that this is the kind of movie that Counterforce has been waiting for all of it’s short life (2+ years now).

SPOILERS, from here.

Apropos of nothing, here’s an idea that you should carry with you into viewing this movie: “just as movies are metaphorical dreams, maybe dreams are metaphorical movies.” Well said. Inception can be just another popcorn action heist movie for you if you want (especially in 2010, the year we make contact with heist movies like The Losers, The A-Team, and Takers), or it can be something more. Or both.

Benjamin Light put forth a desire that I’ll repeat here: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page should do more movies together. They’re the brightest of the hip young things in the world of thespians with cred these days, yes?

That said, amazingly, James Franco was close to getting Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role originally. And Nolan’s original desire was to cast Evan Rachel Wood in the role of the architect, and then it floated towards Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams, and even Emma Roberts before Ellen Page was cast. That’s just fascinating. And so bizarre.

3. I haven’t repeated the plot of Inception here and I’m not going to. Go look it up. Then watch the movie. Then watch it again. Here’s a spoiler though: Inception ends just like Shutter Island, after a fashion.

There’s a college course or at least a long conversation for armchair cineaists and philosophers in movies like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Mulholland Drive, and Synecdoche, New York, and Inception belongs in the mix with them. Movies are all dream logic, especially more so in the last few years. At a certain point, a 1/3 or 2/3 of the way through movies with a certain “out there” kind of story, we start to look for the seams and loose threads of the eventual reveal that “it was all a dream.” Especially in Synechdoche, New York. By the end of that film, you’re pretty sure that at some point you’ve crossed over into a dream world, but the question is simply: Where? At least Mulholland Drive is a little more straight forward about that, at least, for the filmgoer with is both actively looking for and completely open to massive weird download of logic and strange visuals and strong, penetrating emotions the film requires you to take in.

Shutter Island almost belongs in that same thread of films, and somewhat suffered because of it. Read any two reviews of that film and at least one will say some variation of “I could guess the ending of this movie long before the finish line and you know why? Because I’ve seen movies before.” So little shocks us these days, and we’re somewhat let down by twist endings now just because they’re expected. We set an extra place at the dinner table for them. Identity was a fine, harmless movie, but after about 25 minutes into it, you were pretty sure that a crime was being committed against you and the culprit was going to be a writer with a flashy, showing idea about tricking your expectations.

And once you start to look for those tricks, you feel like a trick that’s been turned. You open your eyes, you see the money on the dresser.

At least Inception is up front and honest about all of this, with it’s simple and confounding tagline: “Your mind is the scene of the crime.”

from here.

To mix metaphors even more: I think one of the many problems with the modern take on “twist endings” and “it was all a dream” logic in the cinema is that your goals as a viewer and participant get too confused. Are you looking for the map or are you looking for where the map leads you. X is supposed to mark the spot, but it’s tough to translate that when you’re X in that equation.

And, slowly but surely, twist endings are becoming the new “Hollywood ending.” Once upon a time and through the woods and only in a dream can you live happily ever after.

The thing that saves Inception and Shutter Island‘s endings is that they fall down to the user. You’re required to make a certain level of decisions, to feel something, and decide what you believed just happened. You have to be both actively involved, and also open and ready to receive, you have to “get it,” and in return, the film lets you pick a path to go down. It was all dream. Or it wasn’t. The main character remembers everything. Or doesn’t. Something happened here. Or maybe it was there. Maybe it was earlier. Or later. This is a review. It isn’t.

Actually, it isn’t. Just my immediate reactions, of a sort, having just walked out of the movie something like two hours ago (it’s roughly 5 PM as I write this). Such a strange experience watching the end credits rolling for that movie. Like I was walking out of a half remembered dream of sorts, standing on a widening chasm between a narrative flashing on the walls of my unconscious/subconscious mind and the harsh light of day in the real world. Which works dually for this movie as well: An artsy movie full of deep ideas, or at least ideas that can feel deep, but done in a slick, expensively executed mainstream way. As if Michael Mann had remade 8 1/2.

The theater I was in was virtually empty, the two other people there with me more invisible than usual, and it was so strange to feel that as I walked out of the shared dream that is the cinema that way. Dreamspace faded away, light entered the room, the real world was knocking on the door, and I felt more alone than usual. It was a scary but important feeling, my brain decided as it’s gears grinded and took delight in processing what it just took in, but even still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the movie was over and now it was time to go back to sleep.

Fire Walk With Me.

Thru a glass, darkly, twisted, and broken.

“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experienced is a narrowing of the imagination.”

-David Lynch.

Your Thought Of The Day, courtesy of David Lynch.

Browsing through the internet tonight, same as usual, nothing too sexy or exciting, and I click on one of the hundred thousand links I seem to click on that’s supplied by someone on tumblr: The Top 10 Best David Lynch moments.

Lynch directing.

I’ll say this for Lynch, he’s made a name for himself. And by that, I mean, he’s made his name a genre onto itself. Weird horror? Weird Americana? Esoterica existentialism? We could spend a decade defining it.

The other day I was actually talking with someone about cinema, about horror and sci fi directors, directors who step outside the norm a tad, and through the course of just bullshitting and casual riffing, I started comparing Lynch with Canada’s David Cronenberg. Another man who’s made his name into a genre all of it’s own. A man who’s every choice seems to be a weird one. And when he plays normal? It’s even weirder.

And I can think of no better example there than when he actually had a two episode acting stint in J. J. Abram’s Alias. Before that, he had several cameo roles in various movies, and weird ones too, of course, like Jason X, and The Fly, and Gus Van Sant’s To Die For.

The David Cronenberg within.

The difference between these two directors, the difference than I can easily glean for you now, is that they’re both weird, but that with Cronenberg, I think he just lets his interests in body modification or transformation or infections of both the physical and psychological kind just run away with him. I love that wikipedia actually uses the term “venereal horror” to describe his personal brand of cinema.

Damn good cup of coffee.

But then there’s Lynch, who’s a weird guy, has weird tastes, likes to make weird art, and loves to cultivate his own weirdness. A lot of times, I think it’s just a part of his brand, his act, his personal style of show, but more times I get the impression of a man who walked off the reservation years ago, realized that he was leaving a certain kind of reality behind, probably smirked to himself, and kept going. His movies, his short films, his website and stunts are all just little polaroids that he shoots back to us from his journey.

His hair looks like a flock of birds that would like to hang out with Salvador Dali.

Plus, I’m sure that even Morrissey thinks that David Lynch spends too much time on his hair.

This is not weird nor surreal enough for me.

I may be giving him too much credit there, but what’s the difference. Let’s talk about the major totems in his career…

White Horse.

Movies/TV shows of David Lynch’s that I have watched/enjoyed:

Dune, the adaptation of the Frank Herbert “sci fi classic.”

Twin Peaks, the TV show.

Blue Velvet, or, well, most of it when I was a kid.

Mulholland Drive, the failed TV that was resurrected into a film.

-About an hour and some change from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the movie follow up/prequel/general ephemera to the television show.

Welcome To Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks the show was just 85 to 90% brilliant weird fun. A perfect television murder mystery before we were worried about semen stains and making lab work sexy meets the weirdness of small town America, and all of it recycled through David Lynch’s odd brain. There was a lot of elements to the show that were just weird for the sake of weirdness, but for the most part, I excuse it all because it never left the confines of the logic of the show. The logic of the show wasn’t necessarily easy to decipher, but once you get a legitimate idea of what’s going on with things like Bob, the arm, the doorknob, the talking backwards, the Black Lodge, and Laura Palmer in general, you just kind of get it. Also, one of the must frustratingly wonderful endings to a TV show ever.

Watts and Harring.

Its’ the same for Mulholland Drive, which would’ve been murderously frustrating as a television show, but works perfectly as a film. It’s also hard to figure out at first, but give it some time, possibly a second viewing, and if needed, a friend to explain it to you, and you’ll get a tale of lost love and just brutal, puncturing sadness set against the glitz and flashy bizarrness of LA.

This is the tantric sex scene in Dune, featuring Kyle MacLachlan, Captain Picard, and Sting.

Dune is Dune. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If you enjoyed it, you were probably on a lot of drugs or just a really gross person. Or maybe you’re a hardcore Sting fan? I don’t hate the movie by any means, but I’ll happily say that the Sci Fi channel miniseries version of the book was vastly better.

I get this a lot.

And now we delve into the darker recesses of me with the films of David Lynch that I’ve never seen:

Eraserhead, his first film.

Wild At Heart, which I really should’ve seen by now, at least for Nic Cage, if nothing else.

Lost Highway, which had a soundtrack that I loved, or kinda loved, back in the 90s.

The Straight Story, a fairly straightforward story of a real life man that just seems that much more creepy because it was done by Lynch.

Inland Empire.

-And the rest of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Do you remember back when Bravo was a cable network that played real art, really culturally significant stuff? Classic movies and TV shows. Friday nights, I remember, would be foreign cinema and that’s where I’d see things like All About My Mother or Run Lola Run because, I guess I had no social life. I remember they used to play old Poirot movies all the time, mostly the Peter Ustinov ones, which were all pretty good.

Lynch as Gordon Cole in Twin Peaks.

Anyway, the point of me asking that is one summer they started playing episodes of Twin Peaks during the weekdays. This is where I first latched onto the show, and I remember that they played something like two episodes back to back starting at 9 AM. Now, if you really consider the weirdness/juicy soap opera factors in that show, then 9 AM is a really insidious time to air the show, leaving you creeped out through the rest of your youthful summertime abandon during the day, but hey, whatever.

James Hurley, you, sir, are no rock star.

But I loved the show. As I said, on one hand you had this bizarre police procedural gone crazy, and then on the other, you had a fantastical soap opera element as the show started to explore the facets of the various characters of the small town of Twin Peaks. And of course I was left hooked by the ending of the last episode. It was the ultimate cliffhanger, when your hero survives the trip to the Black Lodge that is so horrific that you can’t look away, only to discover that he may not be our hero after all…

Bob and Cooper.

Some actors that had an early start or appearance in their careers in Twin Peaks:

Heather Graham.

Lara Flynn Boyle.

This is why I love you, Audrey Horne.

Sherilyn Fenn.

Madchen Amick.

Special Agent Dennis (or Denise) Bryson.

And David Duchovny, in drag.

Anyway, so Bravo aired the follow up film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me a week or two after the syndicated run of the show ended and I was so excited to watch it, knowing that it’d handle some of what really happened to Laura Palmer, the teen whose murder initiated the show in general along with tackling a lot of the back story and featuring appearances by people like Keifer Sutherland, Chris Isaak, and David Bowie. Of course. These are perfectly Lynch-ian actors, much like Kyle MacLachlan doesn’t seem like a human being himself, just a caricature of a human drawn by David Lynch to snicker at.

Twin Peaks

Anyway, I’ve seen more bits and pieces of the film here and there since then, but haven’t been able to good and proper finish watching since that night I first sat down to watch it (on TV, no less!) and encountered this scene…

…featuring “my mother’s sister’s girl.” Even as I embed that  youtube clip for you, I’m not watching it. I hope it’s the right one. I can’t handle it, man. You may look at it and think it’s tame and laugh at me. You’re probably right to. But watching it back then, something about it creeped me out past my then limits. It crawled inside my skin and started doing things and I had to leave the room and I haven’t come back to that particular metaphorical room since.

Aaahhhhhhh!!

Hope you don’t mind me rambling on about David Lynch here but it’s Friday night and if you’re reading this, well, then you’re probably as lost as I am. But I’m someone who has, I’d like to think, watched a lot of movies across the years. My tastes are massively pretentious, and I’ll be the first to admit it, but in dichotomy, they’re also extremely low bro, just barely scraping the floor of what a human can stand to watch. And going along with that, I’m a horror movie fan. Hardcore, for the most part. I don’t really like “gore” movies, but it’s not typically a matter of finding them unsettling, just uninteresting. But one of the few times I ever felt nearly sick to my stomach was during a viewing of the unrated cut of Miike’s Ichi The Killer inflicted upon me by Conrad Noir. That film is deliriously gross and there’s a fun campiness to it. But there’s also a scene where a character very slowly cuts out his own tongue and seems to enjoy doing it and I nearly had to tap out there.

I could compare that scene with a similar one in Oldboy where a character has to do something similar, but unlike Ichi The Killer, it makes sense for the story and it’s not done in a way that attacks the viewer. It’s part of the story, an act of desperation, and kind of makes sense, even though it is an unsettling notion in general. I’ll stop there because I know everytime I bring up the words “Asian” and “cinema” in the same sentence, Benjamin Light falls asleep.

My point is that there’s really gorey stuff that can get to you and there’s psychological horror like, for example, Irreversible. And there’s movies that dance drunkely on the line in between the two, like the entire Saw set. Speaking of which, can you believe they plan to make at least 8 of these movies?  Jesus fucking Christ.

And then there’s the special David Lynch touch. There’s moments in his films that are gorey and there’s moments that are flashes of psychological horror. And then there’s something else, something beyond those two. To me, Polanski was a master of the rare art of taking the creepy parts of a film and making it feel like they were in the room with you, crawling up behind you with a sick glint of terror in their eye. Gore (nice first name, buddy) Verbinski’s remake of The Ring had flashes of that same vibe. There was gore there, and existential dread, but with David Lynch, there’s something more there, something scary. I almost want him to throw some tentacles and racism in his movies so that I could say that his film studio lives in Cthulhu’s butt, man.

Another example, from near the beginning of Mulholland Drive:

I had forgotten that Phil from Lost/Jimmy Barret from Mad Men was in that scene. And yet, he’s perfect in it. And the film is shot perfectly, with the camera just hovering around these characters in semi-tight close ups in the diner, lost in the dreamtime as it fluctuates into a nightmare. It’s a brilliant decision to make us feel the character’s shock and fear rather than drift into cliched screams and quick cuts, etc. And sometimes the most horrific part of a terrible thing is being told exactly how it’s going to go down before it does. It’s what makes the ending of The Blair Witch Project work despite itself.

“Every little detail is either feeding the mood or destroying the mood.” I love that quote, from the above discussion on his techniques. Lynch is obsessed with the aesthetics of any scene.

This is the girl.

But that scene may not be indicative of how perfect of a David Lynch movie that Mulholland Drive is. The way it lures you in with it’s seemingly straightforward plot of a amnesiac girl on the run meeting up with the good-natured wannabe starlet moving to LA, a world where the real meets with the bizarre fantasies of the real, combined with the slightly amateurish way that Lynch sometimes does his films combined scene to scene with some masterful bits of directing and editing. Maybe the “No Hay Banda”/Club Silencio scenes show all of this a little better…

…which uses the spanish language a cappella version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” perfectly, and beautiful performed by Rebekah del Rio, to give the two characters, Betty (Naomi Watts) and Rita (Laura Elena Harring), something magnificent to take in. In a lot of ways, the whole film plays out here in this scene, as the two women, newly lovers, watch the ridiculous elements on the stage before them, but our overcome by sadness from an event that they’re not aware has ever taken place. They’re oblivous to the fact that they’re merely daydreams of their real selves, whose relationship has ended in a violent tragedy. Just as the song keeps playing long after the performer’s dead body has been dragged from the stage, some dreams stick around long after one has woken and are poisoned by the harsh southern California sunlight and turned into nightmares.

In which Mulholland Drive morphs into Persona for just a moment or two.

For all his weirdness, and all his attempts at capturing and being the sole conquerer of the American weird film zeitgeist, David Lynch has never been and probably never will be more perfect than he was in Mulholland Drive.

Naomi Watts and David Lynch.

And there’s a reason that this movie, despite it’s weirdness, launched Naomi Watts onto a career that ultimately could be called merely so so. It’s not the “so so” of it that’s important, it’s the launching. It’s not totally shocking to me that she would be the common denominator in this post, having worked with Lynch, Cronenberg, and was in The Ring. But she’s perfect in this Mulholland Drive, at one moment sunny as the weather and bursting with bright eyed optimism and at other times, dark and torn apart, nothing but raw hurting nerves as she cries and masturbates. It reminds me of myself whenever I write one of these diatribes for you people.

No, actually, this is the girl.

That said, I have Inland Empire sitting around on my shelf, just waiting to be watched. Anyone care to join me? Or to hold my hand in an attempt to make it all way through Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me? It’d be much appreciated.

This is not untrue.

But for now, I leave you in peace, with a final thought from David Lynch himself, about movies and iphones: