Hunted by your future. Haunted by your past.

I’m not going to say a lot about Looper here, probably because I’m presuming that Benjie and I will talk about it on the next episode of the podcast. But I share a few very brief, very unnecessary comments…

Like, for example: I really liked this movie.

I really liked Brick, and I really liked The Brothers Bloom prior, so I went into this movie expecting to like it, plus it’s Rian Johnson dealing with time travel, which is one of my favorite sci fi devices, and it features Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the young exciting actor that I think everyone’s rooting for these days, right? So me liking this is not all that shocking, but this is a vastly different movie than Johnson’s previous films.

Brick was amazing, and as much as I liked its indie polish and the cleverness of transporting film noir into a typical American high school setting, I was more dazzled by the dialogue. That is a movie that is entranced by and enthralling in its dance to the music of words.

And The Brothers Bloom was also incredibly clever, playing with the style of films from eras past, making them modern, but never losing the cleverness of those tropes. But the movie was a bit precious, a bit twee, if you will, which the same argument could be made for Brick as well.

But then there’s Looper, which feels… a little more grounded, a little more hardcore, a little more mature, perhaps. This film is essentially a very geeky and more humanistic remake of parts of The Terminator, and then it turns into a western. On the past two episodes of the podcast, Benjie and I were discussing the various different forms of time travel out there, and one of the many things I like about Looper is that it is the perfect example of time travel in the movies. Is it the most realistic, the most accurate as far as dealing with cause and effect and the danger of paradoxes? No. But it is exactly what you want to see in a movie. It is a wonderful example of Time Travel In A Visual Medium.

And are there plot holes? (Or loopholes?) Yes, of course. But aren’t plot holes a constant in any movie featuring time travel? Aren’t they almost a requirement?

Also in film law correlation, but with spoilers: No one can touch Bruce Willis in psuedo-hero mode. This is the third time where he’s played a character who’s encountered a younger version of himself, and all of his bullets hit his targets and none of his foes’ bullets can hit him. The only thing that can stop him when he’s in Terminator mode is temporal murder/suicide.

(Also, loved that this is the first film to address Willis’ male pattern baldness realistically.)

Rian Johnson has now done movies featuring murder mysteries, con men, and also time travel. Some of the absolute favorite types of stories, at least to this nerd. Perhaps we can change the name of the podcast to Time Travel Murder Mystery Sexy Confidence Man Shenangians.

Or, more importantly, aren’t you dying to know what Johnson will dabble in next? As much word of mouth as this filmmaker gets, and more so lately in the advance buzz leading up to Looper‘s release, he still doesn’t get enough. He’s doing it incredibly subtly, but I like to think that Johnson is literally crafting some of the genre cinema of the future, and people aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

In the past week, Peter Jackson has publicly  proclaimed his love for Doctor Who and his desire to direct an episode and the moronic world at large has celebrated this and the BBC is seemingly now going to move Heaven and Earth to make that happen. Sigh. Whatever. This is the same week that Rian Johnson has also declared his love for the show and the desire to do an episode (the same for Game Of Thrones), and that seems all that more intriguing and exciting to me. I don’t watch Breaking Bad, but I hear the episodes he directed of it were pretty impressive, at least visually.

I’m not going to talk about the prosthetics that poor JGL was saddled with once they cast Bruce Willis in the film, except to say that JGL is an actor who can clearly thrive despite them, and you have to admire a film that is that committed to its set up to force such a thing on its lead.

Anyway, I’m saying more here than I intended, and plenty that I’ll probably repeat in a few days time (it’s like looking into the future, that). Oh, one last tidbit that I don’t want to leave out…

It’s fascinating that Shane Carruth was involved in the visual effects of this film, especially considering that he’s done probably the most mind bendingly accurate time travel movie ever, Primer. Probably a big contributor to why the effects looked as good as they did considering how low this film’s budget was.

from here.

Anyway. This was all inelegantly put down, I know, but I didn’t want to let the time pass without me saying something about Looper here, doing so with a bunch of pictures, or doing it without a few time travel puns. Go see the movie if you haven’t already, and then, even though time travel hasn’t been invented yet, go back to the theater and see it again. The person sitting in the dark there next to you might just be you, from either the past or the future.

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Past Prologue: September, 2009 – Part Two.

Continued from Part One.

As I said in the previous post: The end looms large, but is still a ways away and down the road a bit. But I kind of wanted to look back a little, month by month, at this blog. Maybe not every single month, but most, if I can. I guess I’m getting reacquainted with what I’m saying goodbye to? Or maybe in the back of my mind I’m always remembering that you have to put the chairs up before you turn the lights off and go home…

And we continue.

18.

09/16/09: Children Are Our Future by Conrad Noir: Linking to the then current Newsweek cover story, “Is Your Baby Racist?” And in the comments section, you’ll see that Peanut St. Cosmo offers a good point on this.

19.

09/17/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus,” by yours truly: I’ve always been fascinated by the Frankenstein story, inside and out. The story itself, the way it’s constantly adapted and how it is, but also with its writer and the creation of the story.

There’s one more post in September of 2009 about this, and I was going to do a whole series of things, just exorcising some of my fascination with everything to do with Mary Shelley and her monster and the connections I was seeing between that and other things I was interested in. The series fell through, obviously, and I never said everything I wanted to say, and sadly, that moment has passed. For now.

But it still interests me, the way we focus all of our frustrations and excitements and failings into the characters and monsters that we create, and then we let them loose into the world. Sometimes those monsters redeem us and sometimes they destroy us. Sometimes they live on long after we’re gone, stuck between the darkness and the light.

20.

09/18/09: Hell Is A Teenage Girl by myself: Speaking of Megan Fox and whoa!-mankind and monsters. Jennifer’s Body was not a great movie, but it was certainly an interesting one. Easily the best possible vehicle for Megan Fox (and for Adam Brody).

21.

09/19/09: Spirits and Sexy Singularities in the Noosphere by myself: This post is so typically me. Honestly, this is the kind of wacky shit that I’m reading about all the time.

It’s just interesting to me now to see discussion of The Lost Symbol turning into Dan Simmon’s The Fall Of Hyperion, then turning into talk of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Omega Point, and a thinly veiled pondering/lusting about 2012.

22.

09/20/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus, part two: Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves,” by yours truly: Again, with the Frankenstein, but also tying into that classic (it is a classic, right?) episode of The X-Files. Otherwise known as “The Cher Episode.”

What can I say? This series, or longer essay, or whatever you want to call it, was going to start small and then get bigger. Instead, it just stayed small. The lack of further movement on it really betrayed its connective tissue.

23.

09/21/09: American Jokes Are Better Than British Jokes,” by August Bravo and myself: Ha ha. This was a great episode of Mad Men. Ahhh, the tractor episode. The British are coming, they came, and then they left, and they left part of their feet behind.

Also, August Bravo is barely hiding his desire to be physically dominated by Ken Cosgrove here.

24.

09/22/09: There Are Two Kinds Of Light,” by myself: More links, interesting quotes, and pretty pictures. The light that glows, and the light that blinds: that’s interesting, and charming wisdom from Thurber.

Part of why I started with this month to look back on first is that it’s September, just like it is now, here in 2012 as I write this, but also because it was just a little over a year after the blog had started. You’d think we’d have found our legs a little, kicked off some of the training wheels, for example. In intrigues me to notice that when Counterforce was really rolling, there was always two kinds of themes to each month, as if each month was its own issue of a magazine or some kind of periodical: the theme that was intended, and the one that was unintended.

I know, I know, that’s some hardcore Wittgenstein-like wisdom there.

25.

09/23/09: Because It Needs To Be Said,” by me: Well… yeah. What’s said is here is as true in 2012 as it was in 2009, only more so, I guess. Enough said.

26.

09/24/09: PSA by me: Whatever. Cthulhu is funny to me. We create our monsters to embody that which we most find fault within ourselves, and then those monsters proceed to drive us insane and enslave humanity and collapse reality upon itself. It’s just one of those things.

27.

09/25/09: Just because we saw this show doesn’t mean it has to happen,” by myself: I wonder how similar me ranting about the pilot to Flashforward is to Benjie ranting about the pilot to Revolution.

Neither of these shows is or was the new Lost, and I think that’s important to say because clearly the ghost of Lost still haunts network TV. They were trying to resurrect it with Lost even before the show was officially over.

I remember reading Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, Flash Forward, and thinking it was interesting, even if it was a little weak. There were certainly elements there to create an interesting TV show out of it, but David Goyer and the rest of the show’s makers clearly avoided those parts altogether. Instead Flashfoward the TV show plays out like the most pathetic of all Sideways Universes, in which Charlie and Penny Widmore are still out there somewhere, and things are just really, really mediocre.

28.

09/26/09: Cosmic Caturday.” Meow.

29.

09/27/09: It’s only a matter of time before we all burn by myself: I really like that Death Cab song, and it’s interesting how music can transform and transport you. In this case, a song took me back to a place that I used to live in, one that only exists in my memories now, and was on fire.

Also, this was back when Benjamin Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel were still married, LOL.

30.

09/28/09: Maybe I’m late because I was spending time with my family reading the bible,” by that fucker August Bravo and myself: Again, it’s just weird to me to relive this season of Mad Men through these posts as I look back at them. The show was always so good about the connection between and identity and a name, about crossing boundaries, and playing with all of those things at the same time.

And Don’s always been very hard on Peggy, hasn’t he? Telling her what he’s needed to hear, as if he’s fully recreated himself within her. I’m looking forward to how they keep her character integrated into this show as it continues, but that’s the future, and that’s another place, especially when we’re talking about the past.

31.

09/29/09: Perennial with the Earth by myself: I really liked this ad campaign, or at least, it stuck with me as a piece of art, beyond it’s creation as a piece of advertisement. The perfect marriage of Walt Whitman, jeans, and the “idea” of America.

32.

09/29/09: Things that make you say, hmm…?” by the always amazing Peanut St. Cosmo: Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Someone should remake My Dinner With Andre just starring those two guys. Maybe it could be directed by Peanut St. Cosmo, who is always sorely missed when she’s not appearing in Counterforce.

33.

09/30/09: Eternities Of Darkness by myself: The month ends like it began, with links and pictures. But now there’s men and women, pictures in black and white, and words by Nabokov. The continuation of that quote, which is from Speak, Memory, is: “Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour.)”

As I’ve said before, my favorite band name (but certainly not my favorite band) is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, which is just a great name.

And that’s how this month, September in 2009, ended, with us declaring our love for you (perhaps), and abandoning the light for a time to sail away into the darkness.

* * *

I enjoyed doing this, so I think I’m going to do a few more retrospectives of other months in the history of this blog before it becomes permanently just that: History. Again, I don’t think I have the time, space, nor total desire to do every single month, but at least a few more, if I can help, and quite a few more, if the universe is kind. Any suggestions for which month to look back on next?

Romancing the Stone.

The other day I went to see that totally forgettable Total Recall remake and this was waiting for me out in the theater lobby afterward…

A historical “action drama” movie featuring cops and gangsters and Sean Penn and Josh Brolin and fucking Nick Nolte. Ugh. All pretty high on my list of least favorite things at the cinema, and yet… Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone? That’s chemistry goldmine right there. (As opposed to featuring Bryan Gosling, that loser.)

I’m not saying that the presence of those two together will get to go see this movie, but it will seriously make me wish that they were in a different movie together.

They were the best thing about Crazy Stupid Love, right?

Why can’t they do a movie where they fight vampires or something. Or a Shakespearean adaptation. Only… set in the future. But maybe it’s really the past? And taking place on a holodeck? And Mercutio is a robot! And a ghost. And a traitor! And it’s all really a dream. Of course.

Anyway. Anything other than gangsters next time, please?

It’s just sad because I want to say that Emma Stone clearly has more onscreen chemistry and just works better in a movie with Gosling than her actual boyfriend, offscreen and on (in Spider-Man), Andrew Garfield. But, you know, whatever.

Meanwhile… have you been checking out our podcast?

If not, you should be. Obviously. Check out the Time Travel Murder Mystery site, or find us in itunes. The last two episodes, “Bad Nudity Batman” and “The Jon Snow Show” were fun, I thought. And a new episode should be up in a few days.

Sheep have great potential.

People whose arms were stroked by a robot nurse named Cody felt more comfortable if they believed Cody was cleaning them than if they believed Cody was attempting to comfort them. People who have low serotonin levels underestimate the intimacy shared by couples they do not know. The children of depressed fathers are four times as likely to be spanked, and the brains of depressed mothers are less responsive to the cries of the mothers’ children. Mental illness was going largely untreated among American babies. Test subjects experienced fear when they were given a third, prosthetic arm and researchers threatened that arm with a knife. A connection between violence and happy hour was noted in Wales, where officials planned to move ahead with a badger cull in Pembrokeshire and to rebeaver the countryside near Furnace. In England, Slimbridge scientists surveyed the fatness of swans’ behinds, and doctors treated a three year old for alcoholism. Welsh mountain sheep were deemed capable of following rules. “Sheep have great potential,” said Jenny Morton of Cambridge University. “They’re not as daft as they look.”

Chemists discovered why Van Gogh’s yellows were fading; a Dutch ornithologist remained unsure whether the yellow breasts of great tits change with age but found that the offspring of older females are likelier to die young. In Finland, tawny owls were evolving from gray to brown and sperm quality in humans was deteriorating. Religion was going in extinct in the Czech Republic. A sacred soft-shelled turtle in Hanoi, one of only four species left in the world, was gravely ill yet continued to evade capture. A female mite preserved in amber with her mate was observed to have been controlling the terms of their copulation. Florida could be up to 50 percent older than previously believed. Astrobiologists hypothesized that the first multi-cellular animal resembled cancer. Tonsillectomies make children gain weight. Weight-loss surgery makes children lose weight. Doctors touted the benefits of removing the gallbladder through the vagina. Texas scientists cut holes in the hearts of baby mice; the hearts then healed themselves.

The passages above are from the “Findings” section in the May 2011 issue of Harper’s and were written by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi.

See previously: here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday.

The story of so many people’s lives:

from here.

Contact.

It’s 365 years later and the end of another year. Was it a good one? A bad one? A combination of the two? Did you make “contact” with something?

from here.

Are you optimistic about the future? What about just tomorrow? What about just tonight? What do you think when you look back on this year that just ended? Are things going according to your plans or are you finding yourself constantly delivered into new and different and exciting and altogether unforeseeable outcomes? Are we living in the future? Or are we just dreamers lost in our own magic spells and writing the story as we trip over the words and the lines and the chapter breaks?

Do you have more questions than answers, or vice versa? Which do you prefer more, sunrises or sunsets? Beginnings or endings? Or are they intrinsically tied together, just like all of us, in the grand scheme of things?

Just curious.

This was an interesting year. As much one full of little victories and joys as it was of big failures and sadness. For me, at least. Things happened. The players moved the pieces across the chessboard. The game continued. It was exciting, it was heart breaking, and sometimes it was just one or just the other, and sometimes it was both. The wheel kept turning.

from here.

Next year is possibly the year before the year the world ends, and that kind of puts everything into some kind of perspective.

If you’re reading this now or read it before, then some kind of contact was made. With you, with us, with it, with “the other,” with nothing and everything and anything that falls in between all of that.

It’s really up to you there, though. It’s all subjective. Just as you choose your own level of involvement in all things (but especially the future), you also bring your own meaning to the equation. In the end we’ll all be getting exactly what we what. The angels of tomorrow will all be speaking the same language: glossolalia.

Things can seem small in one moment and in one kind of light, and loom large in another. Understanding has to be unearthed and earned and meaning was to be extrapolated. We keep guessing, we keep surmising, we keep poking and attempting things and shining our torches into the dark.

And if there’s something out there, then have no fear, we’ll find it.

Videos killed the internet star.

Okay, I’ll admit that title makes no sense. Whatever. Some days you feel like being clever and coming up with good to decent to passable titles for your blog posts and some days the things on your mind CAN ONLY BE EXPRESSED IN ALL CAPS.

I’ll get back to you on what kind of day this is.

Anyway, some videos that I’ve come across in the past few days on the internet (yes, I’ll admit that these are all a few days old):

1. One of the new promos for Conan O’Brien’s upcoming show on TBS (debuting next month). This is just excellent stuff:

And it looks expensive-ish. Finally, with the addition of Conan, TBS’s tagline of “very funny” is actually becoming accurate.

2. The latest episode of Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, this time interviewing Bruce Willis.

…which you can find here. I don’t dislike this little gimmick that appears online every now and then on Funny Or Die, but it’s kind of one note. That said, Willis’ episode feels especially great to me. Why? Just cause.

3. That dirty/hot/bizarre sex scene between Mary Louise Parker and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris!) on Weeds recently. I don’t watch Weeds but I do love that several people emailed me a link to this. Thanks, fellow internet weirdos.

That’s just the preamble to it all. You can find it talked about here and actually see it here (at around the 23 minute mark).

3 1/2. I’m really starting to hate the name Zack in any and all of it’s forms. No offense, but if you’re going to go name your kid Zack, then fuck you. It’s not 1987 anymore.

from here.

3 3/4. People doing condom tricks on youtube. Yes.

4. The intro to The Simpsons, as story boarded recently by Banksy:

Bottom line: It was pretty great. And all over the internet already. Shockingly it happened on major network TV when similar issues can’t be addressed on the cover of major magazines. Also, probably the best thing to happen on The Simpsons in, what… ten years? Jesus. Why not Banksy story board an entire episode next.

5. For cross promotional reasons, Michael J. Fox recreates the Back To The Future teaser trailer for the Scream Awards on Spike. And also because it’s the 25th anniversary of the film:

Back To The Future nostalgia is definitely something I can get behind, but that Spike thing just seems so sad. I’m just amazed that it’s taken a quarter of a century for us to actually see some of the footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. I mean, shit, this isn’t news. We all knew that he was originally cast in the movie and did five weeks on it. Even Fringe referenced this. Of course, the footage scene in that clip floating around the internet is just meh, but the wowza really hit me, like a lot of people, when we saw that alternate fading away photograph: