looking at superheroes - myth, pop culture, ideology...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

best movies of 2006

ok. its come that time of year.... reviewing the films of 2006. firstly, i see most of the films that come out. i've forgotten the names of all of them, but if you asked me (have you seen blah blah) i'd probably say yes. or no. i don't know. but keep that in mind with this best of list. best of 2006, as much as i can remember right now

1. Little Miss Sunshine
2. Children of Men
3. Snakes on a Plane
4. United 93
5. Hidden
6. Tristram Shandy
7. Drawing Restaint 9
8. The Prestige
9. The Weather Man
10. Manderlay

Also good...

- V For Vendetta
- Kenny
- 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada (really, its a masterpiece)
- Mysterious Skin
- Transamerica
- Munich
- Superman Returns
- The Hills Have Eyes
- Syriana
- Jackass 2
- Borat
- The Departed


- Over the Hedge
- Ice Age 2
- Children of Men
- Gravehopping (from Sydney Film Festival)

Memorably ungood
- X Men 3
- Stay
- Miami Vice (great cinematography though)
- Pirates of the Carribean 2
- Jindabyne (1st half great, 2nd half shit. brilliant premise)
- Kokoda
- The Covenant

Saturday, December 09, 2006


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - After 12 months of naked partisanship on Capitol Hill, on cable TV and in the blogosphere, the word of the year for 2006 is . . . "truthiness."

The word - if one can call it that - best summed up 2006, according to an online survey by dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster. "Truthiness" was credited to Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert, who defined it as "truth that comes from the gut, not books."

"We're at a point where what constitutes truth is a question on a lot of people's minds, and truth has become up for grabs," said Merriam-Webster president John Morse. "'Truthiness' is a playful way for us to think about a very important issue."

Other Top 10 finishers included "war," "insurgent," "sectarian" and "corruption." But "truthiness" won by a 5-to-1 margin, Morse said.

Colbert, who once derided the folks at Springfield-based Merriam-Webster as the "word police" and a bunch of "wordinistas," was pleased.

"Though I'm no fan of reference books and their fact-based agendas, I am a fan of anyone who chooses to honour me," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

"And what an honour," he said. "Truthiness now joins the lexicographical pantheon with words like 'squash,' 'merry,' 'crumpet,' 'the,' 'xylophone,' 'circuitous,' 'others' and others."

Colbert first uttered "truthiness" during an October 2005 broadcast of "The Colbert Report," his parody of combative, conservative talk shows.

© The Canadian Press, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Eras of superman.

This article from Comics/IGN
Superman In Film

We analyze the two eras of Superman movies and offer our opinions on how faithful they are to the franchise.
by Richard George

US, December 1, 2006 - If you heard thousands of comic book nerds cheering this week, you weren't imagining things. For over 25 years, fans of the original Superman movie have been asking to see the cut that Richard Donner intended to create. For those not familiar with the story, Richard Donner was hired to direct two Superman films back-to-back (similar to how Peter Jackson filmed the Lord of the Rings trilogy). The producers of the films were not happy with Donner's approach. When he was nearly done with the films, the producers rushed him to complete the first movie and quickly fired him. A replacement director was hired who restructured the second film into the version that was seen in the theaters. Donner's film was never finished and released to the public - until this week.

In celebration of the release, and the massive 14 disc collection that became available on the same day, we thought we'd meander through the Superman films and take a look at what they've done right and what they've done wrong in terms of the comic book lore that they've tried to adapt. We'll take a look at the major characters (Clark, Lois and Lex), Superman's powers and their chemistry with each other in each of the two major versions (the Donner era films versus the Bryan Singer sequel).

Christopher Reeve - Clark Kent/Superman


We start with the best. Christopher Reeve is the definitive Superman and there really hasn't been anyone close since his portrayal. As Superman Reeve had a commanding presence tempered with warmth that was perfect for the Man of Steel. The character has always been a boy scout at heart and Reeve gave a nuanced performance that pulled this off. The movie scripts of the Donner Era films called for sequences where Superman would save a cat in a tree or become enraged, but Reeve inherently had those qualities built in to his performance. You could tell that this character was capable of unleashing his true power while still being able to be kind and gentle to those who deserved that treatment.

Though his Superman performance was excellent, it is Clark Kent that defined Christopher Reeve. In fact Reeve nailed the guise and the transition between the two better than the comics routinely do. We've noticed over the years that Clark Kent doesn't really seem like a nerd anymore; we'd know from personal experience. In fact all portrayals of Superman, aside from Reeve, seem to make a blind assumption that no one could possibly recognize Clark Kent. We were relieved to see a sequence very early on in the Donner Cut of Superman II that blatantly exposes this flaw even though Reeve's Clark Kent is the most convincing we've seen.

As we mentioned though, it's the transition between these two characters that is so good. It seals the performances into something that simply has to be seen to be believed. Watching Clark Kent straight his back, remove his massive goggle-like glasses, deepen his voice and change his mannerisms is astonishing. In most cases we have trouble suspending our disbelief. In Reeve's case that was not necessary.

For the most part the Donner movies (and subsequent sequels) were true to the comics. The writers weren't afraid to use the full spectrum of his abilities - heat vision, flight, super strength, frost breath, X-ray vision and super speed were all present. The one problem we have, and surely if you've seen the movies you know what we're going to say, is the time-traveling aspect that was injected into the storylines. We hate the fact that Superman can spin the Earth backwards to manipulate time. Not only is it a cheap plot device, it makes Superman look stupid.

Margot Kidder - Lois Lane


In our opinion Christopher Reeve carried Margot Kidder. Her Lois Lane performance only worked 50% of the time and even then had some problems. Lois's interaction with Clark Kent was workable. There is a chemistry there that Superman Return's Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth did not have. Kidder's Lane has an edge and energy about her that grinds against Kent's cheery yet bumbling mannerisms. In other words, it's perfect.

Unfortunately the grit in Kidder's Lois Lane doesn't wear off when she's trying to be in love with Superman. Lois is a strong, fierce and determined female lead who still knows how to turn on the charm. We didn't get so much of that in the Donner Era films. For the record, we think Erica Durance, from Smallville, gives a brilliant performance. Sassy, sarcastic yet playful and seductive, Durance is the best future Mrs. Clark Kent yet.

Gene Hackman - Lex Luthor


We love Gene Hackman but hate his Lex Luthor. Sadly his goofy, comedic, loser of a character is not at all his fault. Lex Luthor is written to be a joke - something that was picked up from an era of light-hearted comic books and a live action Batman television show. It was hard to take this version of Lex seriously. He surrounded himself by incompetent assistants, came up with ridiculous plots to acquire land and generally operated in the dumbest way possible - despite his assertion that he was brilliant. Hackman's chemistry with his co-stars made for some very funny moments, but the Lex Luthor in comic book is not that funny.

This Donner Era Luthor was also unbelievably simplistic. He repeatedly declared that he was evil, wanted to kill people for the fun of it and wanted land so he could make money. The comic book version believes he is the savior of the human race. He views Superman solely as an alien invader who will ultimately ruin the world (and ruin his plans to gain more power). He doesn't seek to kill people but doesn't mind eliminating anyone in his path or killing if it serves a purpose. Finally the comic book Lex is rich, doesn't hide underground and certainly doesn't aspire to strictly be a wealthy beachfront property owner.

If you haven't gathered by now, we have many problems with Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor.

Brandon Routh - Superman


Brandon Routh does an admirable job as the second film-based Man of Steel, but he falls short of Christopher Reeve. To be fair, Reeve had several movies to refine his role and Routh isn't necessarily trying to imitate his predecessor. Despite those acknowledgements, Routh's Clark Kent and Superman aren't that far apart. It's easy to see through the differences in mannerisms. Routh plays both characters as relatively reserved, and his version of Kent isn't very bumbling, nerdy or distinguishable from his super counterpart. Despite his subdued performance, Routh still looks the part. He blends in the Clark Kent role, he just needs to accentuate certain aspects of the Smallville farm boy. Likewise we think his Superman could be a bit more bold and regal. It's important to note that while Routh seems like a decent Superman, he doesn't act like a leader. That is the most jarring aspect of his performance since the comic book Superman is the leader of the most powerful team in DC - the Justice League of America.

In terms of power level, the Superman Returns version of the Man of Steel is quite good. We don't have time traveling or anything else equally absurd. Superman's powers are all represented well and the special effects are stellar. Our one complaint, and this applies to the original movie series as well: why can't we have Superman punch something. Yes, we know he's strong, but we still want to see a battle. To make a comparison, imagine a Hulk movie where he doesn't smash anything because we all know he's strong. Imagine a Spider-Man movie where his agility isn't tested because we all know how agile he is. It's a silly excuse not to give the fans something they want to see. We hope Singer can rectify this injustice in the inevitable sequel.

Kate Bosworth - Lois Lane


Kate Bosworth doesn't stack up to Margot Kidder who doesn't stack up to Erica Durance. Bosworth's Lane character ignores Clark Kent, but doesn't have the chemistry or fiery repartee with her colleague. The spark is completely missing. Her love for Superman tends to shine through though even that is easy to mistake for an apathetic look. It doesn't help that Brandon Routh doesn't exactly shine in his roles either. Margot Kidder's shortcomings are easy to overlook because Christopher Reeve is so brilliant. Kate Bosworth doesn't have that crutch. We would love to have seen Erica Durance spin some lines with Reeve or even Routh.

Kevin Spacey - Lex Luthor


Though we tend to favor Smallville's Michael Rosenbaum, Kevin Spacey does a stellar job as Lex Luthor. Again we have a great actor who is hampered by a script. Spacey's Lex is more menacing, sinister and suave than Hackman, but his motivations and means to achieve them are still bordering on goofy. Clearly we can see the influence of two decades of more serious comic books, but Bryan Singer's Superman I tribute hinders the development of a Lex Luthor that would truly represent the comic book character.



No doubt you've noticed a couple references to the show in this article so we thought we'd briefly mention it before we wrap things up. Smallville isn't perfect, but by observing the successes and failures of past Superman projects, the producers, actors and directors have done a lot of things right. Erica Durance and Michael Rosenbaum are two specific actors who have really brought a lot to their roles and have raised the bar for their respective characters. Though some of the episode plots might stray away from the characters' cores, the performances are ultimately very much on target. Our dream would be for the movies and Smallville to begin to find some common ground.


Common ground is the key word we think should apply to the entire Superman franchise, film or television. Christopher Reeve is the ideal Clark Kent though Bryan Singer's homage obviously creates a more believable Superman. Erica Durance is a brilliant, albeit a bit youthful, Lois Lane (we wonder how her chemistry would have been with Reeve). Michael Rosenbaum's Lex is superb though Kevin Spacey brings a very palpable rage to the screen as well. Mixing and matching the qualities of all of the eras of Superman on the screen would give us a true representation of the comic books. Nothing is ever perfect, but we can see something close to it when we look over the Donner, Singer and Smallville products.

Monday, November 27, 2006

late november, 06

through the glass on level 12 I can see a giant clock. It is so large, so close, that I can see every slight movement of the hour hand - its struggle to decide when to inch forward to the next minute. I have become aware that it does not do it in minute by minute installments, rather a kind of random clunky process of decision making where it gradually advances to the next minute, over a minute. how much the hour hand advances in within the minute divisions is entirely random.

there is a kind of irony about having a giant clock next to your place of work. it would make for a good photo, i think.

so how's things? my life has been pretty busy the last year. i've worked on a few movie productions, made lots of new friends ( i dont have a myspace to prove that yet though. ), and learnt a little about myself along the way.

i have a new job, to complement my projection/management job. i'm moving out of home soon. i still feel really tired, but you know. content.

rant rant. last week i went up to lake maquarie with only the bestest of bestest university friends! it was a 'blast' or a 'rad chill out sesh'. we drank a bit, and by a bit i mean i had a 6 pack of beers over the 3 days. any more than 2 beers a night and i'd be asleep. it was cool to stay at emma fernzys place, which is beautiful and i'm incredibly jealous of it. good company always helps. it was good just to stop for a bit. sleep if i wanted to sleep. eat when i needed to eat. sleep when i needed to sleep. i'd like to thank emma for inviting me up. wait - no one reads this blog but rhiannon.

hi rhiannon. !!!

i also like how you changed the design of your blog! its looks funky and fresh. new blog title, new look, new pic! puts me to shame. thats why i chose to be really derivative and cool and copy you. im a jerk.

superhero news - my Hoyts pal, Julian, went over to the land of Mao China recently. He got be a suprise present - a superman belt (and buckle) and a batman belt (and buckle). it would make any 6 year old boy named josh giggle with joy, and did i giggle.

he didnt get anyone else presents. aren't i spesh.

tomorrow night... (dot dot dot)... subject y - the film, directed by aaron mclisky, shot by yours truly (josh, jesus, learn names) is screening as part of focus at the chauvel cinema. Focus is a night where Mac Uni plays all the graduate students 2nd semester films, some of their docos and some honours projects. We were randomly fortunate enough to get our 2nd year film through to focus. Its a nice little treat, but I think the real test for the film will be out in the real world - in real festivals, not sham ones that mac uni puts on for one night where everyone will wank on about how great we all are and how much potential we all have. real festivals are the judge of success, and i think this film has a fighting (like rocky 4), fighting chance. but we'lll see. anyway, focus is on tomorrow. i'm really dissapointed that ribbon dancer didn't get through to focus - i think its an outstanding film - but as i said to kate, its all about festivals. if the film is good, it will get good reception at festivals.

kindof along those lines, but funny, camouflage man, superhero volume 2, is still kicking. it got into a final of another comedy festival, grand final screening in december. its a cool little flick, but i never thought it would get this far.

also - chris bradstreet's band, bird automatic have started playing gigs around sydney. they were at candy's apartment last week. if you know chris, i'm sure you've been already. however, if you've never heard of the band - do it. they've got alot of potential. personally, i think they're a bit of a cross between DEVO and Death Cab for Cutie. They've just got to amp up the synth a bit, and they'll be great.

note: bird automatic did the soundtrack for camouflage man. it had lots of synth.

superhero stuff..... i havent really sat trolling the internet for articles recently. it sounds like a lie, but seriously - ive been busy. monoxide will be shot sometime in january/febtober, but i want to make sure that the script is bullet proof before we start shooting.

and you know, it can wait. to make the best film, you need the best script. full stop. otherwise - hang on, and just keep writing.

so yeah. thats the status of 'now'.

also, there's a roger sharpe movie coming out soon. i'll stick it up on youtube when its finished (its being edited by andrew robbbards right now) so you can see me being an idiot trying to sell van mccoy records.

its champagne comedy.

until next time folks.... movember....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Freaks vs. the ubermench


Popped in to say hello. The following article was courtesy of Aaron. Uni is over for the year - two down, one to go. More soon.

X-Men vs. Superman

Mutation, Eugenics, and the Politics of Evolution
On the surface, both the X-Men and Superman films push a message of hope over fear, but what deeper instinctive fear could there be than that of being genetically supplanted?

::: Todd Seavey

This year, the climactic third X-Men movie made over $450 million at the box office worldwide and Superman Returns (from the director of the first two X-Men movies) nearly $390 million. Despite some obvious religious references (including sacrifices and resurrections for Phoenix and Superman), both movies are, at their roots, about Darwin. Each seizes upon (and misinterprets) a different facet of evolutionary theory, the X-Men taking the more anarchic and Superman the more fascist interpretation of biology.

That is not to say that there is, or should be, a correct political interpretation of evolution—the facts of nature speak for themselves and imply no specific proper course of action for human beings—but there have certainly been numerous attempts to derive political implications from evolution, not just during battles over “intelligent design” like the one fought (and if we’re lucky, ended) in a Dover, PA courtroom last year, but for over a century now. Those politicized takes on evolution have in turn influenced how artists and average people think about evolution itself, and both X-Men and Superman are without question latter-day fallout of that process of interpretation.

Some background on the various distortions, both right-wing and left-wing, of evolution is in order—but first some background on the X-Men and Superman.
The Two Universes

Superman was first published in 1938 by the company that would become DC Comics, and he was a conscious response to the ersatz supermen threatening the world from Germany and the frightening mobsters on the home front who’d been produced by Prohibition. Superman fought both—and later, aliens, superpowered villains, and countless other menaces—for sixty-eight years before, technically, dying just this year, in a comic book miniseries called Infinite Crisis (DC Comics’ latest attempt to revamp their whole fictional universe, as alluded to in a previous Metaphilm piece of mine. Don’t panic—there is another, virtually identical version of Superman still fighting the good fight and protecting Metropolis with his superstrength and rock-solid morals, but the original, slightly grey-haired and wrinkled veteran of decades’ worth of adventures passed away after saving the cosmos and defeating an evil version of himself by plunging with him into the heart of the red sun around which the planet Krypton once orbited.

So now is a fitting time for me finally to stop reading comics—not because I’ve come to look down on them, but simply because life is short and I could use some more spare time to develop adult hobbies. And it’s fitting that this turning point arrives just after the release of an X-Men film and a Superman film, since those two poles defined the parameters of the superhero world for plenty of readers like me over the past few decades.

While Superman was essentially an iconic mixture of golem and master-race muscleman, created as a defensive reaction by a Jewish writer and artist in the 1930s, the X-Men were, from their start in the 1960s, something more freakish and chaotic. Marvel Comics had already given the world Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and other characters, some of them better known to the general public than the X-Men, but in terms of comic book sales, X-Men would become Marvel’s most successful franchise, comprising dozens of mutants—featured, at times, in as many as twenty different simultaneous monthly comic book series. The death of a character or two in X-Men: The Last Stand shouldn’t really shock long-term fans: the X-Men are so numerous that the fallen can quickly be replaced (when they are not simply resurrected).

While Superman was the template for all of DC Comics’ characters (such as Batman and Wonder Woman)—solitary, simple, perfect—the X-Men were relative latecomers in the original stable of Stan Lee/Jack Kirby-created core characters at Marvel. They were less a template than an extreme extrapolation of Marvel’s impulse toward complexity, diversity, and angst (Peter Parker wonders whether he can make ends meet while fighting crime as Spider-Man, whereas the X-Men wonder if humanity will rise up en masse to exterminate them for being mutant freaks, and member Wolverine wonders if the government permanently stole his memories when they poured hot liquid metal into his body to turn him into an assassin prone to “berserker rages”—Parker should count his blessings).

And while Superman arose from the pre-nuclear modernist period’s belief in streamlined, geometric perfection and ideals of health and fitness, the X-Men arose precisely as 1950s Cold War paranoia—with its films about radioactive monsters—was being replaced by 1960s tolerance of weirdoes and the disenfranchised. If Superman is like a Nazi eugenics experiment turned into an instrument of good, the X-Men are essentially an extended network of radioactive beatniks.

To the early-twentieth-century mind (or at least to minds not so familiar with the limits of evolutionary theory as to prevent such political extrapolation), it seemed intuitively obvious that evolution and progress ought naturally to lead to one ideal type, such as Superman. To the mid- to late-twentieth-century mind, it seemed intuitively obvious that change and variety—mutation—were inherently good things, and that if we can’t embrace offbeat strangers like the X-Men, we’re little better than the jackbooted government thugs who invaded the X-Men’s mansion in the second (and best) film in the series.

It’s worth noting that, like David Bowie, the creators of the X-Men were fond of the phrase homo superior, meant to describe the next stage in human evolution, but in the case of the X-Men, even more so than in the imagery of David Bowie songs, superiority implies an explosion of weirdness and diversity, not one ideal type. Bowie no doubt liked the gay sound of the phrase, and it’s interesting that both the X-Men and Superman film franchises have now been embraced by gays as metaphors for oppression and acceptance, hidden lives and secret biological powers.

Of course, according to real science, it is neither the case that evolution leads to one ideal type nor that most mutations are beneficial. The pro-superman and pro-freak positions are both exaggerations. But how did Darwin’s insights end up being twisted in these divergent ways?
Darwinism Before Darwin

The basic facts of biological evolution are not inherently political. As Darwin described the process in The Origin of Species in 1859, living things either reproduce or do not reproduce, and the next generation will tend to reflect the attributes of their parents, the successful reproducers. Exactly which characteristics confer survival advantage on individuals (increasing the likelihood of them bearing offspring) will vary with conditions in the environment. Sometimes environmental conditions reward speed and intelligence, but in other times and places (and mixtures of other living things), conditions may as easily reward creatures for being quiet and unobtrusive, or simply for smelling as if they’d be unpleasant to eat. Indeed, the same geographic area may reward speed and size in one epoch, then reward stealth or smelliness in the next epoch if, say, new predators migrate into the area who tend to eat any non-smelly thing that runs noisily. Evolution is not mysterious, glamorous, or “meaningful.” It’s just a fact of life (regardless of whether that life first arose unaided from a lifeless chemical soup or was nudged by an unseen God, but we’ll get to that later).

Nonetheless, the chief exponent of Progress in the nineteenth century, political theorist Herbert Spencer, believed the idea of evolution applied to more than biology. Spencer also believed in laissez-faire capitalism and “the right to ignore the state,” a view that would today be called libertarianism. All this was fairly mainstream thinking in the Victorian era—today’s political writers can only dream of achieving the popularity and acceptance that Spencer did with volumes such as Social Statics.

For proposing that biological change over time was analogous to cultural change over time, Spencer is now remembered as the quintessential Social Darwinist. That label has been used to paint Spencer as a defender of the rapacious and powerful against the weak and impoverished. But while Spencer believed in capitalism, individualism, and the cultural superiority of the West—hardly a set of a views that would qualify him as a leftist today—he saw those principles as winners precisely because they tended to foster peace, prosperity, freedom, and voluntary interaction, not violence and oppression.

Contrary to the image the public has today of Social Darwinists as exterminators of the weak, Spencer predicted that societies relying on authoritarianism and force would tend to collapse and, as it were, be weeded out of the political gene pool. The collapse of European communism 130 years later was really more a vindication of Spencer than of his contemporary Hegel, though the event has more often been described in Hegelian terms since.

Ironically, the man thought of as the first Darwinian political thinker coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” and promoted the idea of social progress as a weeding out of unworkable alternatives before the 1859 publication of Origin of Species (in a sense “Social Darwinism” thus not only had nothing to do with condoning violence and oppression, it also had nothing to do with Darwin, until being viewed through a Darwinian lens in retrospect). To find a specifically Darwin-influenced political movement, we need to look to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, at eugenics.
The Next Step After Hygiene

Today associated with the death camps of the Nazis, eugenics was once considered common sense by well-meaning people across the political spectrum. Margaret Sanger, revered by feminists as an early advocate of contraceptives, did so in part to lower the birth rate of “undesirables.” In the minds of many in that day, eugenics was not so much a plan for racial war as it was a natural extension of the immense and then-recent successes of public hygiene in eliminating disease outbreaks. First eliminate cholera, then the mentally retarded, you might say. The proto-fascists’ calisthenics, open-air hikes, and organic diets were all part of a larger ideal of health and purity that had no place for freaks and genetic defectives.

George Bernard Shaw, too, like many left-leaning early modernists, subscribed to a “superman” ideal (he phrased even his arguments for vegetarianism in strikingly masculine and triumphalist terms by today’s standards, noting in his Preface to Androcles and the Lion that meat-eaters have suffered “the most ignominious defeats by vegetarian wrestlers and racers and bicyclists”). He believed that breeding, like economics, should be “rationalized” by a powerful central state—indeed that a quasi-mystical “élan vital,” or life force, was causing humanity to progress in that direction. Like novelist Jack London, Shaw was equal parts Nietzschean, eugenicist, and socialist (as he made explicit in the lengthy postscript to his play Man and Superman). To think of eugenics, then, as an outgrowth of far-right nationalism and patriotism would be to overlook important reasons for its appeal to some of the brightest minds of a century ago.

Though it appears to be compatible with various political persuasions, “eugenics” has become a useful pejorative for attacking almost any application of evolutionary theory to modern human social structures, not just movements advocating racism and state-enforced breeding programs. The possibility of individuals and families making their own decisions about how to use emerging biotechnology is carelessly lumped in with Nazism and forced sterilization programs in the rhetoric of biotechnology’s foes.
The Parodist Precedent

Oddly enough, one of the earliest works to suggest that the superhuman ideal leads naturally to tyranny was a book that served as one of the chief inspirations for DC Comics’ Superman. In 1930, two years before Siegel and Shuster created Superman and eight years before they sold him to DC and introduced him to readers, Philip Wylie’s novel Gladiator depicted a man who grows up in a small, rural town as the son of a scientist who is obsessed with increasing human potential. The father experiments upon his son while he is still in the womb, and the boy grows up with superstrength and near-invulnerability that he must conceal in order to fit into society. The young man despairs after it becomes clear that scientists and corrupt politicians will want to exploit his abilities to create armies of supermen.

Gladiator (which has since been adapted in comics form by both DC and Marvel and turned into a film comedy that was released just months after Superman made his 1938 debut in Action Comics #1) is one of those strange cases of a text that sounds like a critique or satire of the very genre that it in fact preceded and helped create. Edgar Allen Poe’s seminal and ultimately absurdist detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is another example, and we find a sort of one-man example in the film Dark Star, in which scriptwriter Dan O’Bannon seems to parody not only 2001: A Space Odyssey but his own later screenplay, Alien.

So the possibility of human nature changing, of people transforming into something more, was viewed with a mixture of excitement and fear from the get-go. That didn’t stop us fantasizing about the possibilities.

The X-Men purportedly have a similar inspiration, the 1953 novel Children of the Atom by Wilmar H. Shiras, in which a nuclear accident leads to the victims’ children being born as super-powered mutants who are gathered together for their own protection and the improvement of the world by a kindly psychiatrist who runs a special school for the gifted youngsters.

Incidentally, Shiras’s friend, libertarian Joan Kennedy Taylor, told me in the mid-90s—prior to which time she was unaware that Shiras was often credited with inspiring America’s most successful comics characters—that Shiras was an ambiguously gendered pseudonym; both women had written pulp stories under such pseudonyms in the 1950s when it was still feared that an overwhelmingly young-male readership wouldn’t take stories by females seriously. By the time of Children of the Atom and, ten years later, the X-Men, society was beginning to feel a bit more compassion for its freaks and superhumans, and the fictional villains were as likely to be bigoted mutant-haters as evil mutants.
Surface hope, subliminal fear

On the surface, both the X-Men and Superman films push a message of hope over fear, but what deeper instinctive fear could there be than that of being genetically supplanted? If humanity is grateful to the mutant heroes of the X-Men and the Kryptonian Superman, it is partly gratitude that these beings have not conquered us, as they plainly could.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand goes the farthest in making the danger explicit, with a panicked but still somewhat sympathetic government encouraging mutants to make themselves “normal” by using a newly-developed pharmaceutical to eliminate their powers (tapping into trendy fears and conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies in the process).

Since the gravest mutant threat to humanity—and yet the most beloved member of the X-Men—is the psychic Jean Grey, a.k.a. Phoenix, who possesses both the power to kill and the power to resurrect herself; since the first mutant to consider using the drug is the effete Angel, misunderstood son of the pharmaceutical executive behind the drug; since the previous X-Men film in particular had analogized the plight of misunderstood mutants to that of gays; and since the third film ultimately sends the message that what is best is neither normality nor mutation but rather individual choice about whether to embrace or “cure” mutant powers, the series manages to layer evolutionary biological imperatives, what might be called anti-evolutionary political imperatives, and religious connotations on top of each other in a way that still seems fairly, well, natural. Something as big as the destiny of humanity will surely be decided by some force either divine, political, or biological, after all, so why not invoke all three? The note of individual choice at the end of this third film is somewhat reassuring—and morally laudable—but one can’t help being left with the nagging feeling that Earth’s fate would be decided more by homo superior’s choices than by normal mortals’.

Similarly, Superman Returns offers repeated reassurance that Superman is good and is here to help—but it is surprising the degree to which one is left feeling a little bit of the fear and resentment that Lex Luthor does about being supplanted by this ubermensch from the stars. When, in the movie’s most celebrated and celebratory scene, Superman rescues a space shuttle and deposits a passenger jet safely in the middle of a baseball stadium, it is as if he has simultaneously corrected the Challenger disaster, the Columbia disaster, 9/11, and the lack of integrity in Major League Baseball. And still some complain that Superman is not a promoter of “the American way”?

If Superman were any more American, the Declaration of Independence would bear his signature—or perhaps simply his “S” symbol (so much more reassuring than the X-Men’s mysterious X, not to mention the V of this year’s most anarchist movie superhero). Yet the director of Superman Returns, Bryan Singer, surely knew that even for the conservative and superhero-loving among us, there was something about a stadium full of people cheering a triumphant Superman that seemed just a tad Triumph of the Will (oh, how the villainous General Zod from Superman II would have relished such a moment, shouting to the assembled masses: “Kneel before Zod!”).

What is arguably far stranger about Superman Returns, though (and you should skip this paragraph and the next if you haven’t already heard about the film’s big surprise regarding the Superman-Lois Lane relationship), is that at the same time that the movie bends over backwards to assure that Superman is humanity’s friend, it depicts him doing the one thing all male homo sapiens are designed to fear in their very bones: cuckolding an innocent male. Sure, it’s all a bit complicated by the fact that Superman disappeared for five years to visit the remains of Krypton without realizing Lois was pregnant, but at the end of the day—and, a bit unsettlingly, at the end of the film—Superman is allowing another man, Lois’s fiancé Richard, to raise Superman’s biological son under the false impression that the boy is his own (a secret that surely can’t last long, given that the boy is developing the sporadic ability to throw pianos around). Blogger and evolutionary psychology student Diana Fleischman has noted the strangeness of Superman’s cuckoldry (and asked the more theological question of whether a Christ-figure like Superman having an illegitimate child makes Lois Lane into a Mary Magdalene figure, but the question of whether Lois is a whore is beyond the scope of the current essay, as is the question of whether The DaVinci Code can influence what counts as a Mary Magdalene figure).

If superhumans expect humans to remain comfortable around them, they should forthrightly announce peace treaties in the fashion of the newly-appointed UN delegate (and research biologist) codenamed the Beast in X-Men 3 rather than surreptitiously tamper with our gene pool like the Superman of Superman Returns. Though the dilemma of Superman, Lois, Lois’s fiancé, and their son is treated respectfully and sensitively in the film, one can’t help thinking that Bryan Singer’s homosexuality must have contributed to the creation of a plot twist that likely would have seemed instinctively wrong—and thus as a side-effect sacrilegious—to most heterosexual male genre writers. As director and comics writer Kevin Smith has said, the whole thing is a bit “super-creepy.”

But then, creepy sort of goes with the territory if we’re talking about the transformation of the human race, whether that transformation is real or imagined and whether it’s being described in scientific, political, religious, or comic book terms—that is, whether you think like evolution-popularizer Richard Dawkins (who, when I saw him speak recently at the new 7 World Trade Center, the old one having been destroyed in the name of Allah, said he hopes people will come to see God as a “fictional character” and an “evil monster” to boot). Or whether you prefer the views of current DC Comics writer Douglas Rushkoff (whose comic Testament is partly an outgrowth of his psychedelics-influenced belief, explained in a recent public appearance with the mystic Daniel Pinchbeck, that the Old Testament is “source code” for hacking reality and raising humanity to a new level of awareness). Or if you prefer to think like beloved Christian writer C. S. Lewis (whose Narnia books I’m rereading and whose depictions of angels and other divine beings—including pagan gods like Bacchus—are often impressively scary and show hints of an H. P. Lovecraft influence, an aspect of his writing, much like his endorsement of socialism, often forgotten by his warm-hearted and conservative fans). Or even if you think like my favorite comic book writer, tarot- and alchemy-influenced left-anarchist Grant Morrison (who, fascinated by human potential for transformation, famously ended his run on the 90s Justice League comic with a story in which all six billion humans were turned into superheroes to combat a giant, evil head the size of Jupiter bent on bringing Armageddon to Earth).

Even if these people have radically varying beliefs—and even we disagree drastically about how to arbitrate between them—there’s no question that aesthetically and psychologically they’re all treading on the same dangerous ground. Parallels appear when talk turns to origins and endings and the supplanting of humanity, even if each of us dismisses some ways of talking about those things as nonsense.

In other words, certain ideas and images that are logically incompatible with each other may (for inescapable aesthetic reasons) simply be stuck with each other for a long time to come, like a slow dialectical process or even two strands of a DNA helix that never quite meet, simply because of the shared grandiosity of their aims: science vs. religion, heroism vs. lawlessness, superhuman vs. freak, monkey vs. robot, self-sacrifice vs. self-absorption.

Religious fundamentalists will be the first to deny Darwin and the first to illustrate his core point by elevating the imperative to “be fruitful and multiply.” Stalin promised to create a better world by forging the “New Soviet Man,” yet reportedly dreamt of defeating the Nazis by turning apes into super-warriors. Humanity loves Superman but supposedly “hates and fears” the X-Men, though they’re really made from the same stuff—our own potential, viewed through two different lenses. Some things inevitably suggest their opposites, aesthetically if not logically, and we may just have to live with that.

Similarly, hardcore X-Men fans have to live with the paradoxical knowledge that the X-Men’s co-creator, Jack Kirby, came up with a quasi-scientific explanation for their powers—mutation—but couldn’t resist adding a quasi-divine explanation later on, revealing in the 1970s that humanity’s capacity for benign mutation had been created by thousand-foot-high alien skygods called the Celestials. In an interesting bit of trivia, the Celestials are also credited in the comics with having created the evolution-catalyzing monoliths from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001—making Wolverine and Dave Bowman cousins of a sort.

The bizarre Celestials will almost certainly never be mentioned in the movies (though we are scheduled to see a similar Kirby character, the planet-eating giant called Galactus, in the movie Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in summer 2007). Indeed, they are almost never mentioned in the X-Men comics, except in so far as the X-Men’s greatest foe serves them—a fanatical accelerator of the evolutionary process known as Apocalypse, who is the world’s first and oldest mutant, hailing from ancient Egypt.

In a way that would make most philosophers and theologians nervous but comes perfectly naturally to artists, characters like these aggressively mix scientific and non-scientific aspirations, making transcendence seem all the more palpable for being a bit crazy, like a mechanical god or a chimpanzee on the cross.

(Actually, If you want aspiration and transcendence—which are at the heart of all hero stories, after all—without unsettling weirdness, maybe instead of staring at an X, S, or V on the screen this year, you should have gone to see what may have in fact been the year’s best superhero movie, Nacho Libre, which as it happens is also the story of an inept but devout monk who longs to make love to a nun, feed the children in his charge, serve God, and become a Mexican-style wrestler—but the same themes keep returning.)

I won’t pretend to be able to resolve all these tensions, but I do plan to set them aside for a while—by making one final, ritualized trip to the comic book store and then dropping the hobby. On that bittersweet trip, I’ll pick up the first issue of a final-sounding series, Omega Men, featuring the return of Star Wars-like characters I loved as a teen, now depicted as outlaws fighting a galaxy-conquering cult that believes the end of the world is at hand. I’ll also pick up the final issue of the Seven Soldiers series by the aforementioned anarchist-mystic Grant Morrison—featuring, as it happens, a guest appearance by the New Gods, another strange set of characters created by Kirby during his brief stint at DC—and the villain in this, the last comic I intend to buy, will be an evil, pale-skinned queen from a dying, drained world that lives under a bloated, red sun, a character Morrison almost certainly based, consciously or not, on Jadis, C. S. Lewis’s evil queen from the Narnia books.

Morrison, who has written popular runs of both X-Men and Superman comics, has depicted a race called the Sheeda in his Seven Soldiers comics, demons who appear periodically throughout history to destroy civilization—and who are eventually revealed to be visitors from the distant future, humanity’s distant evolutionary descendants. It’s a worst-case-scenario version of evolutionary fantasy, in which we do not stagnate, diversify, or ascend but simply develop into pure, parasitic evil. It’s not likely to happen in real life—and, against all reason, the fact that us eventually becoming Kryptonians or X-Men is just slightly more probable still has a certain power to inspire, doesn’t it?

We’re a little frightened about the future, but we still expect a certain amount of fun, no matter how weird things get. If we have to face the occasional Zod or Magneto, so be it. Nothing’s perfect, certainly not humanity—but we do seem to have an awful lot of potential, and that’s why the X-Men and Superman, no matter how dorky and unscientific they may be, ring true and why, decades after their creation, they still seem like harbingers of things to come. :::

Monday, October 09, 2006

you thought i was dead

but you were wrong!! this blog is dedicated to rhiannon/ who reminds me i have a blog.

news: superhero 4 - monoxide - will be made in the summer! i am the auteur, kitty is producer, arn is dop and dve is editorr and rhi rhi is running the show with 1st. monoxide is a black comedy about a depressed, middle aged superhero who is having problems with his wife, an identity crisis, struggles to quit smoking and other mundane events - in a costume! this todd solondz' happiness meets superman. its cinematic gold i tells ye!

this week i'm shooting a film - subject y - for uni. after a few painful months of pre production we're going to shoot.

one of the actresses is sussanah york.

she played superman's krypton mother in the 1970s film.

marlon brando's wife.

yeah. thats cool. so i'll be catching up with her. have a chat about the old superhero movie. hey, might even end up being a superhero volume,,,,,, everything is. fuck.

well, here's a funny article i read a bit of, but think you might like.

9 Reasons To Become an Evil Super Villain
October 4th, 2006 at 10:15 am By johnsee (Humour)
1. You will have more friends
Peter Parker was a social outcast. Norman Osborne was the popular kid. Reed Richards was a dorky scientist. Victor Von doom was a rich socialite. Anyone else sensing a pattern here? Everyone wants to get a little piece of the evil. It is like Starburst.

2. You get to laugh maniacally
Good guys don’t get to do this. No one has ever heard Superman or Batman laughing like a maniac and no one ever will. Trust me, this is something everyone wants to do. It is strangely liberating. While you may pass chances to do this every once in a while during your civilian life, you will never get the quantity of opportunities that come with a career in villainy.

3. All of a sudden, you will have the budget for all kinds of toys
Super bad guys are never broke. Not only are they never broke but they always have more resources than the hero could ever hope for. Apparently the villain racket pays very well. It also seems to be recession-proof. I hear the tax breaks are good too.

4. Hot chicks dig evil guys
You never see an evil villain with a busted ass woman. Sure, they may be dirty, rotten, and out to steal your empire, but you can always kill them if they get out of hand. Studies show that breasts of women who hang out with evil guys are an average of two cups bigger than the nice dudes chicks. Studies don’t ever lie.

5. You will be safe from everyday accidents
Evil villains are never killed in car accidents. It just doesn’t happen. You won’t slip in the shower, get smashed by a falling piano, or die of food poisoning. The only way you can be killed is in an explosion created by the hero by exposing the one flaw in your plan that no one could ever possibly foresee. Even then…

6. You don’t have to worry about anyone killing you
Evil Villains simply can not be killed. People may think you are dead but you will secretly be lounging in an easy chair on your secret desert island hideout planning your next caper. The only way you can be taken out is by another villain eviler than yourself who will subsequently take over your identity and continue upon your path of world domination.

7. You can kill anyone you want
You won’t go to jail. For some strange reason, cops never come to bust Evil villains at their homes even when the evidence is overwhelming. You could kill Superman on a live video feed in front of the entire planet and not one cop would try to arrest you. They can’t even arrest you for the stash of plutonium you have in your shed. It is in the charter when you join the union.

8. You get to dress how you want
You never have to wear a suit and tie again. You can even dress in the most outrageous outfits while demanding the world bow to your demands and no one will even make the slightest of snide comment. This could have something to do with the fact that you can kill anyone you want and can’t be killed back. Remember, no one ever made fun of Magnetos helmet…

9. No matter how weak you are, you will be more than a match for any hero facing you
“But zero, Batman would kick my ass in two shakes of a stripper’s ass…” None of that matters. The sheer newness of your evil plot will confuse the hell out of any good guy. As long as you aren’t doing something that has been done to death (ie goblin themed villains) you should have no problem getting your plans off the ground.

the link is hereeeeee. check it out.

more soon. be cool, stay in school. i'm serious.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

and im back.

just a short one. camouflage man (superhero volume 2) was selected as a finalist for the Funnybone 500, a short comedy film festival for sydney filmmakers. pretty cool for a short (skit) film that was made only because we had the costume until the next day. kudos go out to chris bradstreet, camouflage man himself. he also composed the music for the film. the grand final is in september in willoughby.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

subject yyyyyyyyeah

i'm at uni, filling in time before our first production meeting (or is it second, i dont know if the first one counted. it seemed unofficial. yeah. ok. im not counting that one) for our semester 2 production - Subject Y note: Subject Y is the working title.
The film is directed by Aaron McLisky (visionary, auteur, genius and so on..) and we've got a rockin and rollin crew. Some people I've worked with, other people I've wanted to work with and just other people. Subject Y (working title) is a fucked up film, kind of similar to Eraserhead of Matthew Barney's (very fucking brilliant) Cremaster Cycle. Needless to say, this film is incredibly exciting. Its a huge challenge, but its very strong visually, has a lot of powerful cinematic elements and will be a very weird film. It has the potential to be extremely good, bigger than MAS213, bigger than the course. If its good, it could be one of those viral movies that spreads the internet and people send to each other as a test to see if they 'have the balls'.
There are a few... provocative scenes in it. A new born (freakish looking) baby is put in a desk drawer. A woman files her fingernail until it bleeds. Alot of vaseline, sticky stuff. A few orgasms. Sweat. Theres a lot more. The film has a disturbing vibe. I really want to get into someone elses film, post-Beekeeper. It was great to do that film, and it still needs a lot of work to finish it off, but i want to collaborate with another person on their film, and make it awesome. Just what i want to do right now. Subject Y is really exciting. It's (touch air with single finger, followed by stern nod) hot.

Back to Superheroes, I'd like to film 'monoxide', a film about the death of the superhero figure in the contemporary age. Its a cool concept. I'm thinking I might extend it into a feature, have three different story narratives: one of the superhero, one of the sidekick, and one of the supervillain. set it over one day. that would give me complete freedom to explore any ideological concerns I have about Superheroes, and who knows, maybe even get it out of my system. Jess asked me the other day why I don't do films that aren't about superheroes. At this stage, I guess, thats all that interests me. I could do dramas about a man bitten by a rabid monkey, or a wheelchair olympian going through a divorce - with his brother (!), but frankly im not interested. Even though Superheroes are kindof the same film i've always been doing (deconstructing costumed identites, ex. clown, death, gorilla) i think its getting more intelligent and maybe im starting to make better films. maybe not. i dont know. i enjoy it though. and everyone likes a superhero, don't they?

'monoxide' could even be my attempt at a magnolia film. i may have missed the mark (donnie darko, look both ways, any other recent film with multiple narrative strands and a sad song sequence in slow motion), but fuck it. x men and superman and spiderman and batman and all that shit, they're all too hollywood, too glamorous, too iconic. the superhero needs to be torn down to what it is and people need to see this. myth is always being made, constructed. that means it can be changed. the balance of power can shift. everything is ideological. fuck superman. hes an asshole anyway.

so yeah. in production soon: my short drama about a fax machine, send back through time to the middle ages, who is believed to be a witch. its a romantic comedy. working title 'You Can't Fax Love'. you know, that could make a lot of money for me.

and if you even think of stealing it.... i'll make sure that valerie solonas comes and shoots you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


firstly, its not as if anyone reads this. no one (i know) is interested in the hidden ideology of superheroes, how they work as a contemporary form of mythology and how fucked up (yet great) it is. i would also like to say 'back of the net' to rhiannon, for annoying me enough to update this blog. I was watching LvT's The Kingdom, but hey, blogs are wikid orsum.

right. i had uni break, and shot the beekeeper (superhero volume 3). it was an attempt at a kind of transcendent cinema. dont know if it worked. its still being edited. it was great to get out and make a film. the actors were great, location was pretty good. no one died from bee stings, no goats were killed. we shot the film over 3 days in riverstone, which is out near windsor/richmond. it was pretty cold. there was an awesome team on the shoot, including rhiannon keyte (producer), bernd abrahms (cinematographer), dave brading (sound), aaron mclisky (ad), kate witchard (art design), as well as emma ferns and gaz (i dont know your surname). for film students to be making films whenever they can... its a good thing. the film will go for about 20 minutes, and hopefully, be a meditation on violence and revenge. to be continued.

new film written a few days ago, 'monoxide'. had to hand in a short script for production (it might get made, im betting it wont). its a superhero film (no suprise there - in fact its superhero volume number... four! a continuing series! thats actually happening!) its a black comedy. its pretty bleak. ive always felt that the best director for Alan Moore's Watchmen would be Todd Solondz, because he would be able to show the tragedy of each of the characters. The ridiculousness of the costume. The corrupt ideas of justice. Messed up people in a messed up world, who happen to be superheroes. I figure that Todd Solondz would never make Watchmen, so I'm doing my own version. 'Happiness' meets Superman. I'm telling you, it wont get picked. Hopefully I can shoot it end of year, after a bit more script work. It could stretch out nicely to a 15 minute film.

And here's the research for this post:
Not really research, but more a really cool article based on an interview from the comic con (i will go to the comic con one day. nerd dream). its worth reading, and more or less sums up what the hell i'm trying to do with this site anyway.
Its from IGN, written by Hilary Goldstein.
July 21, 2006 - Thursday at the San Diego Comic-Con brought an intriguing collaboration. Grant Morrison and Deepak Chopra, having met for the first time the previous night, had a discussion about the role superheroes play in the social fabric. We had the fortune of sitting in a small roundtable discussion with Grant Morrison, Deepak Chopra, Virgin Comics' EIC Gotham Chopra and CEO Sharad Devarajan. This was followed by a public conversation between Morrison and Chopra. We took the key elements of both discussions to bring you an enlightened discourse on the spiritual nature of superheroes.

The duo admitted, right off the bat, that they had no concrete notion of the seven spiritual laws of superheroes. The discussion itself, with audience participation, was meant to help create that model.

A superhero is "symbolic expression of the social subconscious," according to Chopra. "The superhero is a mythological being" who exists "beyond outerspace and innerspace, creating a new idea of being."

"Superheroes show us the world through x-ray vision," Morrison said. By this, superheroes are more than just a reflection of ourselves, but a look at the very deepest core of human existence. He added affectionately that "Superman is a beautiful idea of an American who does not kill people, but solves problems." The superhero, or at least characters that star in comics, have evolved to reflect society. The invention of Superman in the '30s is a great leap in the fabric of social mythology. Throughout the decades, the tone of comics changed to match the times. Now, "Celebrity has replaced heroes," a theme that can be seen in today's comics.
Even deconstructing superheroes, a '90s movement fronted by the likes of Morrison, "comes from fear," according to the comics writer. "People are scared to be hopeful." And though writers and society pummeled Superman, he persevered and the core character survived for the new era of comics just now emerging. Chopra suggested that the seven spiritual laws could mirror the seven chakras. "A Chakra is a junction point between consciousness and reality," Chopra explained before leading the audience through all seven.

"First chakra - Stability. Infinite centered awareness and dynamism.
Second chakra - Transformation. An absolute allegiance to transformation. Willingness not to have a permanent identity
Third - Power. Not in the sense of muscle, but in intention.
Fourth -- Love and compassion. Nothing better… it is integrated with the rest of the Chakras.
Fifth - Creativity. Always creative solutions.
Sixth - Intuition.
Seventh - Transcendence."

The seven chakras can also be linked to the idea of seven gods, a theme that clearly parallels the seven main characters of the JLA. "Look at the JLA," Morrison said. "They all map on the chakras. Batman is a human being of ultimate power [and intention.] Flash is communication. Superman is about giving selflessly… He represents the sun. He is that thing that loves us unconditionally." He added later that "Batman is like Christ harrowing Hell, because only he can withstand it. He endures everything for us. Batman is a character who was almost brought to the brink of his destruction," but who persevered. Batman is our shadow and "we have to look at the shadow and integrate the shadow [into our consciousness]."
And "yeah," Morrison admitted, Seven soldiers is an allegory to seven gods. "Mr. Miracle is the transcendent character," the seventh Chakra.


Superheroes are our new mythology. They are not so different from the Greek Gods, who were not as deeply seeded in religion as some may think. But what is mythology on a deeper level? As Deepak Chopra asserts, a mythology "must address the collective consciousness in a certain archetypal way. It must offer an idealist vision to aspire [towards]." He added that, "a good story should never end and good guys should never win."
"There are six plots that people retell," Morrison said. "These stories are told again and again." Myth is related to the word mother. As Chopra called it, "the womb of creation." Myth is not just hokey stories that explain why the sun rises and falls. That's a very simplistic view. To put it poetically, myths are where "we express our deepest longing and aspirations of collective being." Myth is a social experience beyond genetic codes or organized religions.
"As our consciousness evolves," Chopra said, "no doubt we will create new mythologies." Yet these will still center around the same principals of human existence. How many thousands of years have passed and yet there are still incredible parallels with the myths of ancient Greece and those of modern society? "The human story is about a quest, falling down, but getting up again," Chopra said. "Death and rebirth. It's about redeeming yourself and then redeeming others."
Comics are one of the strongest translators of mythology in the modern age. When reading a comic book, you use both the left and right brain at the same time as there is both language and art. "Comics talk through images directly to the subconscious mind," Morrison said.
"It would be great to examine the brainwaves of a comic-book reader," Chopra added. "I'm sure there is a coherence of right/left brain activity." Chopra noted that "the first art form was a comic book in a cave… The first comics were about fight/flight. Then [evolved to become] about the ability to achieve." Consider that cave painting. "By affecting the model of the buffalo, by adding a spear [in its back], you hope to affect reality."

The New Human

"Everything is all happening simultaneously," Morrison explained. "We are born simultaneously as we die. The whole thing is dynamic, it never dies." Everything is connected, we all come from the same material, the same big bang.
"We are the dust of stars," Chopra said. Our existence is still young in the eyes of the universe. "In many ways," Chopra said, "we are reaching puberty. There's a lot of curiosity, mistakes, risk-taking. But it is an exciting time." One full of possibilities, though there are certain to be some growing pains. Chopra proposed that our current destructive nature may not mean the end of human existence. In fact, it could be part of the natural order of evolution. "The are no fossil records of the evolutionary transition between lizard and bird." It happened, but we have no true proof, just as we cannot find the missing link between ape and man. Chopra suggested that it is possible a species can experience a "creative quantum leap."
Think of a caterpillar. "A caterpillar consumes more than it needs to eat until it reaches a point where its body begins to decay and die. Imaginal cells cluster. The send communications to each other. The caterpillar is imagining a new entity. [The imaginal cells] use the dying carcass of the caterpillar to feed. A dormant gene awakens and the dying caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a completely new creature."
Now consider that "cloning, tinkering with the intelligence of the universe," are "ideas that existed in ancient mythologies." Yesterday's mythologies are today's science. So think of our modern myths. Think of the superhero. "Look at destruction of environment," Morrison said. Look at what has become of our world and our society. "We are the imaginal cells."
Chopra put it plainly. "Superheroes may be a prelude to an actual leap in our evolution," as our social conscious has the knowledge of the possibility of flight and other incredible, superhuman feats.
So what are the seven spiritual laws of superheroes? That was never clearly defined. But Morrison and Chopra provided food for thought. It's unfortunate that more couldn't attend this discussion. It's impossible to accurately relate the entire discussion or provide the subtext offered by the two panelists. But should the Chopra and Morrison show come to your town in the future, be sure to check it out. You may be enlightened or, at the very least, entertained.

And I went to splendour in the grass which was pretty awesome.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The White Messiah from Krypton

Found this comment for Superman Returns on IMDB.

Superman-3, African Americans-0, 30 June 2006
Author: Christopher Priest from the United States

There is not one black person in even a single frame of this film. Not an extra, not a cameo, not anybody pushing a broom or driving a cab. This world, this antiseptic, Disneyland world, is a world of white people. A Republican fantasy where Ronald Reagan is still president and Newt Gingrich runs the House of Representatives. This is a thoroughly whitewashed universe of white people where blacks and other minorities may be a passing blur at best (and that's giving Singer the benefit of the doubt. Frankly, I did not see any black people and, yes, I was looking for them). Like President Bush's election campaigns, Superman Returns completely writes off black America, figuring, perhaps correctly, we wouldn't be interested in the film in the first place.

Superman Returns is a film that is not about us, that doesn't engage us, that doesn't speak to black America in any meaningful way. It insults my intelligence to suggest Director Singer or Warner Bros. executives didn't notice there were no blacks in the film, therefore I assume they did, in fact, notice, and decided it made no difference since we were likely not going to see it anyway.

Additionally, I became uncomfortable and then irritated by the ubiquitous messianic iconography so blatantly employed in Superman Returns. In journalism school, I was once taught that, if you're going to plagiarize something, the Bible is the best source for free material. Singer's ham-fisted attempts to fit Routh with a crown of thorns made me uncomfortable as I thought it was, first and foremost, bad writing, but also a long and clumsy way to go to hammer us with an awkward and somewhat offensive cliché. My mind started wandering out of the plot as, instead, I began debating with myself whether or not I should be offended by the cheap-shot messianic imagery heavily borrowed from The Passion of The Christ.

Out of 611 comments so far, only one has ranted about the ideology of Superman. Interesting, I guess.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pauline Kael's Superman review, 1979

from The New Yorker page.

Christopher Reeve, the young actor chosen to play the lead in “Superman,” is the best reason to see the movie. He has an open-faced deadpan style that’s just right for a hero. Reeve plays innocent but not dumb, and the combination of his Pop jawline and physique with his unassuming manner make him immediately likable. In this role, Reeve comes close to being a living equivalent of comic-strip art—that slang form of simplifie storytelling in which the visual and verba meanings can be totally absorbed at a glance But “Superman,” one of the two or three mos expensive movies ever made, and with th biggest event promotion yet, is a cheesy-looking film, with a John Williams “epic” score that transcends self-parody—cosmic fanfare keep coming when there’s nothing to celebrate The sound piercing your head tells you that yo should remember each name in the euphoric opening credits. That’s where the peak emotio in the film is: in the package.

“Superman” gives the impression of having been made in panic—in fear that “too much” imagination might endanger the film’s appeal to the literal-minded. With astronomic sums of money involved (though not in ways perceptible to viewers), the producers and the director, Richard Donner, must have been afraid even of style—afraid that it would function satirically, as a point of view (as it does in the James Bond pictures). Style, to them, probably meant the risk of camp, which might endanger the film’s appeal to the widest audience. Several modern directors (most notably Godard) have been influenced by the visual boldness of comic-strip art by the primary colors, unfurnished environments, and crisp, posterish sophistication—and the Pop artists who did blowups of comic-strip frames made us conscious of the formal intelligence in those cartoons, but “Superman” hasn’t been designed in terms of the conventions of Pop. It has no controlling vision; there’s so little consistency that each sequence might have had a different director and been color-processed in a different lab. Visually, it’s not much more than a 70-mm. version of a kiddie-matinée serial. “Superman” carries a dedication to its cinematographer, Geoffrey Unsworth, who died shortly after completing the production, but this poorly lighted and, for the most part, indifferently composed film is not a fitting tribute to the man who shot “Cabaret.”

The narrative immediacy of comic strips is what has such a magical effect on kids. The plot is socked to them, with exclamation points. And we go to “Superman” hoping for that kind of disreputable energy. But it isn’t there, and you can feel the anticipatory elation in the theatre draining out. Donner doesn’t draw us in and hold on to us; we’re with him only in brief patches—a few seconds each. The plotting is so hit or miss that the movie never seems to get started. It should, because there’s a marvellous, simplistic fantasy in the story of Superman: a superior being from another planet who is so strong that he can take care of the problems afflicting ours with his bare hands, but who must not reveal himself, and so goes among us in disguise as Clark Kent, a timid, clumsy, bespectacled reporter. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the Cleveland teen-agers who developed the idea and began trying to market the strip in 1933 and finally succeeded in 1938, provided a metaphor for the troubles and conflicts of boy dreamers: hidden inside the fumbling, fear-ridden adolescent is the all-competent giant. The divided hero is both a ninety-seven-pound weakling and Charles Atlas, but, unlike human beings, with their hope that the clown will grow into the hero, Superman is split forever. He can perform miracles, but he remains frustrated: as Clark Kent, this lonely stranger cannot win the woman he loves—the girl reporter Lois Lane—because she is in love with Superman. (Like the Scarlet Pimpernel and a number of other mass-culture heroes, he is his own rival.) This tragicomic figure might have provided a great central character for a space-adventure picture—a supremely human non-human hero—if only the moviemakers had trusted the idea of Superman.

The story has been updated from the thirties to the seventies, but not modernized, not rethought—just plunked down in the seventies. In the era of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Woody Allen—a time when people acknowledge the humor and good sense in cowardice—might not the girl reporter (Margot Kidder) find herself drawn to Clark Kent’s unsureness and feel some conflict in her swooning response to Superman? (She might even prefer Clark Kent.) And, in an era in which urban corruption and decay are deep and widespread, Superman’s confident identification with the forces of law and order, and his thinking that he’s cleaning up Metropolis (New York City) when he claps some burglars and thieves in jail, might be treated with a little irony. (It would be more fun to see him putting out a fire while kids threw stones at him, or arresting a mugger and being surrounded by an angry, booing crowd, or tackling the garbage problem.) The Superman who announces “I’m here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way” needs a little ribbing. But the film doesn’t bring any ambiguity into this portrait of an outsize F.B.I. man from space. It doesn’t risk new sources of comedy. It sticks to dumb jokes about spelling, and low-comedy scenes between Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), the criminal mastermind who makes his home under Grand Central Station, and his bungling helper (Ned Beatty), with Luthor’s floozy (Valerie Perrine) looking on. You can see that Hackinan likes the idea of dressing up in what must be Liberace’s castoffs and playing a funny maniac, and when he has a halfway good line he scores his laugh. But he’s strenuously frivolous, like a guest villain on a late-sixties “Batman” show. Most of the time, he and Beatty are doing deliberately corny material—a kiddies’ version of the kind of burlesque routines that Roy Kinnear does in Richard Lester movies—and the director can’t seem to get the timing right.

Probably the moviemakers thought that the picture would sell on its special effects—Superman’s flying, and his rescues, and the disasters and cataclysms. The special effects are far from wizardly, though, and the editing often seems hurried and jerky just at the crucial moments. The biggest effects (such as Superman’s zipping up the San Andreas fault) are truncated—a couple of quick shots and out. In the early scenes on the planet Krypton, where the infant Superman lives, we’re acutely conscious of the lack of elegance in the design, because Krypton, which is supposed to be more advanced than Earth by thousands of years, has plastic-chandelier decor, like a Vegas lobby. There is only one truly elegant trick effect in the Krypton footage: three revolutionary “traitors” who are expelled from the planet become reflections trapped in a fifth-dimensional object that suggests a flying mirror. The conversation of the advanced beings on Krypton isn’t very stimulating, either. Mostly, it’s just the infant’s father, Jor-El (Marlon Brando), delivering ponderosities. Brando has begun to look like an Indian chief, and he confers a distinguished presence on his scenes. His magnificent head is topped with white hair, and he does a straightforward God the Father performance, with perhaps a trace of Claude Rains in his intonations. Jor-El packs his plump, bright-eyed infant off to Earth, in a little star-shaped spaceship, just before Krypton is destroyed. It’s a husky three-year-old with an impish expression who lands in a farming area, in a sequence of considerable charm. Glenn Ford is an inspired choice for Pa Kent, the farmer, who, with Ma Kent (Phyllis Thaxter), adopts the boy—Ford’s resources as an actor having contracted to the point where he has become a comic-strip version of the simple good American. Photographically, this farmland section, with almost motionless clouds hovering over wheat fields that stretch to infinity, and one or two looming figures, has a look that’s related to Pop enlargements, but it’s the enlargement of Wyeth or Peter Hurd. It doesn’t have the stylish crude strength of cartoons—its strength is softer, more genteel. Though visually striking, this section is weakened by a choice that makes almost no sense: instead of going directly from the child actor to Christopher Reeve and letting him play the eighteen-year-old Superman, the film introduces another actor (Jeff East), who doesn’t look like the little boy or like Reeve. This intermediate figure is very inexpressive, and something about him seems all wrong—is it just his pompadour, or is he wearing a false nose?

Part of the appeal that has made Superman last so long is surely in the quasi-religious feelings that children develop about him: he’s the savior myth of their very own subculture. Although this film tries to supply an element of mysticism (the box-office lesson of “Star Wars” and the Force has been learned), it’s Superman in the form of the joyless interim actor who goes to the North Pole to commune with his psychically still alive father. Jor-El informs him of his mystical mission to serve “collective humanity,” and Brando shows a gleam of amusement as he instructs the youth in the capacity for goodness of the people on Earth, and says, “For this reason above all—their capacity for good—I have sent them you, my only son.” The sequence takes place at the Fortress of Solitude, which constitutes itself out of the ice for Superman. This should he the magical heart of the film, and surely a building that materializes out of ice might do so with occult symmetry? But the mystic fortress looks like a crystal wigwam that is being put up by a stoned backpacker.

The film rallies when Reeve takes over—especially when he gets out of the drably staged scenes at the offices of the Daily Planet, gets into his red cape and blue tights, flies over Metropolis, and performs a string of miracles. Yet after the first graceful feat, in which he saves Lois Lane, who has fallen from a helicopter that crashed on a skyscraper, and then steadies the falling chopper (with the injured pilot inside) and gently lifts it to safety, the other miracles don’t have enough tension to he memorable: each one wipes out our memory of the one before. And the insufferable shimmering metallic music—as congratulatory as a laugh track—smudges them together. When Superman takes his beloved up for a joyride in the sky, the cutting works against the soaring romanticism that we’re meant to feel, and, with Lois reciting Leslie Bricusse lyrics to convey her poetic emotions, even the magic of two lovers flying hand in hand over New York City is banalized. Lois Lane has always been one of the more boring figures in popular mythology: she exists to get into trouble. Margot Kidder tries to do something with this thankless part, but she’s harsh-voiced, and comes across as nervous and jumpy; she seems all wrong in relation to Reeve, who outclasses her. He’s so gentlemanly that her lewdness makes one cringe. (We aren’t given a clue to what our hero sees in Lois Lane. It might have been more modern fun if he hadn’t been particularly struck by her until she’d rejected his cowardly Clark Kent side for his Superman side—if, like any other poor cluck, he wanted to be loved for his weakness.)

“Superman” doesn’t have enough conviction or courage to be solidly square and dumb; it keeps pushing smarmy big emotions at us—but half-heartedly. It has a sour, scared undertone. And you can’t help being aware that this is the sort of movie that increases the cynicism and sense of futility among actors. In order to sell the film as star-studded, a great many famous performers were signed up and then stuck in among the plastic bric-a-brac of Krypton; performers who get solo screen credits, with the full blast of trumpets and timpani, turn out to have walk-ons. Susannah York is up there as the infant Superman’s mother, but, though Krypton is very advanced, this mother seems to have no part in the decision to send her baby to Earth. York has no part of any kind; she stares at the camera and moves her mouth as if she’d got a bit of food stuck in a back tooth. Of all the actors gathered here—all acting in different styles—she, maybe, by her placid distaste, communicates with us most directly.

Enjoy Superman Returns.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

lost souls on ninemsn, the sydney film festival and a superhero for a day

I came across this and was moved: Idaho girl becomes superhero for a day.

Logging out of Hotmail. I saw in the news headlines something about Peter Pan's Wendy being Pornographic. It was destined to happen, sooner or later. The controversy over Alan Moore's Lost Souls has reached Australia. God bless that man.

I've been working my way through Sandman: Brief Lives.

Tomorrow I have a rest day. (Sleep and movies and sleep again). After that its back into writing beekeeper and pre-production. Should write tomorrow. Probably will.

Went to the Dendy Awards at the Sydney Film Festival yesterday. They were all great movies. I loved Stranded, with Emma Lung and Emily Browning. Deserves every award it gets, and the director should make a feature film. There was a short film, 'Fish', that was great too. Short, simple, effective. The mangled, grotesque fish and the maggot-ed arm were great in the intimate character drama.

Coffee is great.

I'm trying to develop some thoughts into an idea into a short film for next semester. In an absent minded way (Beekeeper is being shot soon), its coming together. Superhero, of course. I like the image of a Superhero in the 1950s, smoking in a television advertisement. Superman in the 40s vs. Superman today vs. Superman tomorrow. Same character, changing social ideologies. Anyway. Thats not even an idea yet. Its an image.

I'll do a quick wrap up of the films I saw at the Sydney Film Festival.
Note: Le Cercle Rouge and Le Samourai were sold out. I doubt if I will ever see them. If I see them before the year's end, its been a damn good year.

An Inconvinient Truth: Frightening, powerful and intelligent. Al Gore does a speech about how fucked up the world is, how no one wants to change anything, and how a lot of polar bears are going to drown if there is no ice. (10/10)
Little Miss Sunshine: Tragically funny. Great ensemble drama in a well written comedy about a fucked up family, fucked up car, fucked up contest, fucked up dreams in a fucked up world. There is so much joy in it though. Will probably be the best comedy of this year... (10/10)
Pusher 3: Really want to see Pusher 1 and 2 now. This 'day in the life' film of a minor drug lord was really interesting. The kind of violence that hostel should have been, but wasn't. It had a dogme-esque feel to it. Great acting. (9/10)
Gravehopping: Off beat, quiet, random. About the strangeness, tragedy and joy of life. Loved it. (10/10)
CRAZY: French Canadian movie about a teen in the 70s coming to terms with his sexuality. Mythic storytelling! Ziggy Stardust as Christ! Interesting moments. Last third drifted off a bit... Worth checking out. (8/10)
The War Within: Pushy, poorly written and acted. Interesting concept, but I didn't like it. Had some good moments, but overall... 9/11 told from a terrorists POV. American indie filmmakers pretending to feel what a terrorist feels, from within a Western paradigm. Come on. (4/10)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Myth of Superman pt. 3

Superman is examined as a mythical figure in this CNN article (Jesus Christ Superman, June 14 2006) . I guess this is a mainstream take on the whole thing.

Not everybody welcomes the Superman-Jesus comparisons.
"It's a misrecognition," said Amy Pedersen, who is writing her doctoral thesis in art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, on superhero comic books.
Pedersen said Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who introduced Superman in 1938 in a comic book, were Jews who were inspired by the Old Testament story of Moses and the supernatural golem character from Jewish folklore. (Author Michael Chabon made much of these similarities in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.")
The Christian allusions are recent innovations that compromise the integrity of the Superman myth, she said.
"This does not need to be a consistent cultural form from its beginning to its present, but something has to be maintained," Pedersen said. "Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer said the notion of Superman as a messianic figure is simply another case of contemporary storytelling borrowing from ancient motifs.
Singer, who is Jewish, said his neighbors' Christianity played a powerful role in the community where he grew up.
"These allegories are part of how you're raised. They find their way into your work," he said. "They become ingrained in your storytelling, in the same way that the origin story of Superman is very much the story of Moses."

I read on a blog somewhere that seeing Superman as a Christ like figure is problematic, because more people will go to the Church. The author sees the Jesus-ness (is it a word? it is now) of Superman as ideologically hidden. Problematic.

"My concern is that in a time where an aggressive Christian right is looking for new ways to reach young people, one of America’s most positive icons threatens to be hijacked. The more Superman resembles Christ, the more Christ resembles Superman. For some young people this may be the kind of link they need to buy into a cult of ignorance."

Cult of ignorance? What? Superman has as much in common with Jesus Christ as do hundreds of other modern icons. Simba in the Lion King. Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. Neo in the Matrix. Large in Garden State. Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Frodo. Wolverine. It is storytelling. It is retelling one, grand narrative that helps us all understand what this world is, what life is, who we are. What is right and wrong.

I don't think that Superman being a Christ figure will win the church any more followers. The important thing to note is that the bible is a form of tribal mythology, that over time has been made historical, authoritative 'fact' through normalisation.

Also worth a look is this essay, Batman Crucified: Religion and Modern Superhero Comic Books. Its PDF, its not too long, and its fucking awesome. It looks at constructions of the heroic icon from within a religious paradigm.

Sydney Morning Herald has an article, "Is Superman the new Messiah?" (June 21, 2006). Similar stuff to whats above, but more local.

More soon.

The Myth of Superman pt. 2

Article at the Journal of Religion and Film titled 'Superman as Christ-Figure: The American Pop Culture Movie Messiah'. Its an academic examination of mythical parallels between Superman and the Christ figure.

Divine Mission

[24] Superman came from the planet Krypton, which in Greek means “hidden, secret,”38 just like the mythic location of Heaven. It also “sounds like “Tikkum olam” a Hebrew concept of restoring [correcting] the world’s wrongs.”39 This theme was reinforced by Jor-El in the Arctic Fortress of Solitude when he told Kal-El that his destiny and duty was to help right the wrongs of a troubled Earth. Similarly, Jesus was an off-world visitor of unspecified location who came to Earth to right cosmic wrongs with a God-inspired message of love. He left the planet with an expectation of a Second Coming, and a religio-political agenda that advocated God above Rome using the coin of love. Within S2, this Messianic “return” expectation was partially fulfilled near the end of the film when Superman apologised to the US President for being away so long. Thus implying “that Jesus has never been indifferent to our sorrows but that urgent reasons of his own have kept him away.”40

[25] Superman is the invincible crusader devoted to “truth, justice, and the American way.” Not for his own self-glorification, but acting like Jesus who claimed: “I seek not mine own glory” (John 8:50). Indeed, Superman was the guardian of Earth, its tireless servant who resisted many temptations and was therefore loved and adored by the people because of it. This resonated with the Apostle Paul’s claim of Christ’s humility who “took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7), and generated millions of followers worldwide as a consequence of his self-imposed servitude.

The article goes through twenty notable instances where the pop-culture myth of Superman intersects with Christian myth. Is Superman our messiah? A God-among men in this time of fear, corruption and capitalism? Perhaps. Personally, if there was a real Superman it'd be something of a cross between 'The Superman', Booster Gold and David Bowie in The Man Who Fell To Earth.

The Superman/Christ parallel is something that was incorporated into the 1978 film deliberately. Director Richard Donner was aware of the narrative similarity between the texts. What I find interesting, is in the way the Superman/Christ myth has no closure. Since the 1940s, Superman stories have told us about his heroic feats. They have been popularised by comic books, serials, movies, television programs, costume parties, jokes, music. In the grand narrative of Superman, there is no death. The story goes on. Like Jesus, prior to the crucifixion/rebirth, the story of Superman is about a God living among men, using his supernatural powers to change the world of mere mortals into a better place.

In the early 1990s, DC Comics killed off Superman. It was the death. He would not exist after this.
He came back not long after. I guess that finishes off the narrative arc. The resurrection of the hero.

how to make a million in hollywood

joseph campbell's ten commandments

Joseph Campbell's Ten Commandments
for Reading Myth

1. Read myths with the eyes of wonder:
the myths transparent to their universal meaning,
their meaning transparent to its mysterious source.

2. Read myths in the present tense: Eternity is now.

3. Read myths in the first person plural: the Gods and Goddesses
of ancient mythology still live within you.

4. Any myth worth its salt exerts a powerful magnetism. Notice
the images and stories that you are drawn to and repelled by.
Investigate the field of associated images and stories.

5. Look for patterns; don't get lost in the details.
What is needed is not more specialized scholarship,
but more interdisciplinary vision. Make connections;
break old patterns of parochial thought.

6. Resacralize the secular:
even a dollar bill reveals the imprint of Eternity.

7. If God is everywhere, then myths can be generated anywhere,
anytime, by anything. Don't let your Romantic aversion to
science blind you to the Buddha in the computer chip.

8. Know your tribe! Myths never arise in a vacuum;
they are the connective tissue of the social body
which enjoys synergistic relations with
dreams (private myths) and rituals (the enactment of myth).

9. Expand your horizons! Any mythology worth remembering
will be global in scope. The earth is our home
and humankind is our family.

10. Read between the lines! Literalism kills;
Imagination quickens.

from the monomyth webpage: well worth a look

bees, beekeeping and apiary

The Beekeeper is a short revisionist superhero film that I'm directing. I also wrote it. It is an examination of contemporary morality, the role of law, innate human desire for violence, revenge versus justice, the interior landscape of a troubled individual, the nature of reformation. It covers alot, by being minimalist. Its a meaty and interesting script, lots of stuff to explore.

Yesterday I had my first experience with casting, and first time dealing with 'real actors' on a production. Probably one of the most interesting days of my life. Seeing actors work with a script, bring something unseen to the table. Its a bizarre and strange sensation to see something that was just an idea in your head - words you wrote on a page - be transformed into reality. This reality is sometimes 'method acting'. Or it could be people just reading lines. Or it could be a transformation into the written character. Each of these happened yesterday.

We looked at about 12 people, taking up all day. Some were american (strange for a 'westy' character, but hey, lets try it.). One lady was 'methodic'. She taught acting, was very Shakespeare. She needed to psychologically understand the location, the space of the room, in order to be the character. Strange, when the character is a woman who walks to a postbox, sees nothing, and walks back. They come up with these huge, sprawling backstories - maybe the woman lost her husband in a war and is now dependent on her children, who she has not seen, and on a pension, which she is not comfortable with receiving. (its pretty weird).

Personally, I like to watch miminalist films. I'll watch anything at all, but I really have a love for filmmakers who can create a meditative pace with a film, challenge and frustrate audiences, change their outlook. Its really hard to do in movies. Be devoid of cinema to tell a cinematic story. The two actors we settled on for the Ellard role and the Female role were minimal. They were slow. They had a painful pace. But watching them you were mesmerised, like a child staring at ants he lit on fire with a magnifying glass. Theres a beauty in the reality, in the realism, that comes from a place I didnt know existed. Acting is more than reading lines, its more than just understanding the script. Its a form of creation and destruction. Make a character while tearing it apart. It is a fake reality.

Our crew is great. We have a location for the film, that at this stage, seems available to shoot, and perfect for the script. Rhiannon, producer, has done a painful lot of work on this. Frustrating, i'm sure. Putting up with a whole lot of anxiety and wank from the 'auteur'. Shes done a great job, and hasnt shot me in the head just yet.

The script, draft five, is going to be tinkered with again. There are a few things (with thanks to screenwriting tutor matthew gear) that need adjusting. writing is the key to a good film. after all, what are movies but filmed stories? its difficult writing, but i feel like i've got a whole lot out of the process through the frustration. i love it. i hate it. i love it.

so, the 'superhero volumes' are underway. Volume 3: The Beekeeper, will be shot in two and a half weeks. In a month's time it will be done. After this it will be in festivals. Maybe it will be good. Maybe it won't. Its been a very difficult film to make, especially at this level, but I still think that it could be a very interesting, challenging piece.

I also want to finish editing Volume 1: Sparrowhawk, sometime. Its in the can, just need a faster editing machine to get through all the footage. Volume 2: Camouflage Man is available for viewing. I like camouflage man. Its ridiculous, amateurish, short and cheap but hey... come on... its a funny idea...

And so, the production plunges forward. I'm sure there are hundreds of things that have happened in the last 3 or 4 weeks that were really interesting and funny and would make good anecdotes but I guess they've gone in the vault and hidden forever. So fuck you for asking. I'm tired.

Until the next time we meet, jurassic park.