your damn right ignorance is bliss!

Ever wonder how nice it would be to not know how to read?

Or how about being a eunuch? You never have to have sex again. Sounds like a good deal to me.

What about being a monk? You know, never having to talk, being separated from society, and you get to read all day.

Or better yet, how about being a eunuch monk that doesn’t know how to read?

Sounds like my ideal existence.

woyzek and ninth configuration

I swear that I don’t plan what movies I’m gonna watch. I sit on my ass and scroll through some app on my smart TV and find random shit.

Oddly enough, the two movies I watched back to back were Werner Herzog’s Woyzeck and William Peter Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration. Both films are about military personnel dealing with insanity and philosophy….not subjects that you find in most films.

This is probably not one of Herzog’s more appreciated films and I wasn’t entirely certain what to make of it. If you watch it, it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to you that it was shot in 18 days. For a period piece, it’s very small scale and stage-like. But knowing this might help on a second viewing.

Klaus Kinski plays the titular character Woyzeck. He’s a lowly soldier that’s essentially being gaslit by his commanding officer and a quack doctor. He’s a loving father and husband, but his wife sleeps around with another officer and that officer publicly humiliates Woyzeck. Finally, he murders his wife.

Other reviewers called this an “anti-Enlightenment” film. I think that’s apt. The two men egging on Woyzeck’s decent into madness are obsessed with science and philosophy. The officer even mocks Woyzeck, stating that he lacks “morals” due to his status in society. Woyzeck defends himself, claiming that as a man without money or education, he simply does what’s “natural”. When viewed from this perspective, the Enlightenment ideals espoused by the Officer and Doctor come across as abusive, while Woyzeck is actually the only sane and moral person in the movie. The small scale of the movie contributes to the anti-enlightenment narrative, as it isn’t flashy or self-congratulatory like we’ve come to expect with these kinds of films.

Meanwhile, The Ninth Configuration couldn’t be more different. I could tell you what it’s about, but then I’d be lying. I just know it takes place in a castle acting as a psychiatric ward for Vietnam vets, Stacy Keach is in it, and there’s a bar fight. The movie is totally disorienting. At times it’s a psychological drama, other times it’s a comedy, and at one point it becomes an 80s action flick. The tone is all over the place. Perhaps that’s by design but I’m not totally convinced. Either way, this disorder contributes to the overall mystique of the film.

It should also be noted that The Ninth Configuration apparently exists in The Exorcist expanded universe. Not that it has anything to do with those films, except that one of the characters is in the first one.

To be honest, if I watched these movies in isolation, I wouldn’t be a fan of either. But they work very well in tandem. The military aspect of both films seems trivial, but when we consider the discipline and order that the military provides, it contrasts with the chaos associated with insanity. Additionally both films expose the problem of insanity in different ways. One is very plain and straightforward. The other is a complete fucking mess. Woyzeck proposes that insanity is brought forth by the imposition of morals, logic, possession, and science. Ninth Configuration says that it’s the absence of such ideals…or more precisely, the absence of God… is it’s true driving force. Woyzeck is nihilistic. Ninth Configuration is hopeful. Yet both might agree that insanity arises out of the eternal battle between chaos and order.

nothing ever changes 😀

As 2021 comes to a close, I’d just like to remind everyone that if you think the world is getting worse, you’re dead wrong.

Things have always been shit. Always will be. To be alive means to live in tyranny.

Read ancient texts…Ancient Greece or Rome for example…you’d find the same old complaints: the decadence, the spectacle, the tyranny of the majority, the tyranny of the minority, the anguish of having to live in a society.

We’re in good company.

Maybe 30,000 years from now, humans might achieve a higher state of being…one that currently remains outside the realm of imagination. But none of us will see that day. For the time being, we’re just playing our role.

Sure, there are those that are WAY worse off than you or me. But I’d venture to guess that if you can read this blog, you’re doing alright. So look on the bright side, at least you’re not in the drunk tank, at least you’re not begging for your next meal, at least you’re not slipping some digits into the butthole of a paying john, at least you’re not being trafficked across the Pacific Ocean in a shipping container. Think on those people. Depressing? Yes. But with this despair comes opportunity to give a kind word, a shirt off your back, to be a ray of hope in an otherwise meaningless existence.

Face it, life sucks. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

See you in 2022.

..and my dick’s small too

Assthetics

When it comes to the Star Trek vs Star Wars debate, I stand firmly on the Star Trek side (the Gene Roddenberry/Rick Berman era. Not the JJ Abrams/Alex Kurtzman era). I prefer my science fiction to be a bit more grounded. Star Wars, to me, is more Sci-fi/Fantasy.

The success rate of Star Wars, in terms of quality per production, is well below 50% (Star Trek hovers at around 50%). If you think about it, there are really only TWO really good Star Wars films: Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. The Mandalorian is alright, but it’s a bit too predictable. Nevertheless, I can appreciate George Lucas’ creation. Despite some of the terrible storytelling, when historians reflect on the artful impact of cinema, Star Wars will be to film what William Shakespeare was to the English language or Plato to philosophy.

Star Wars is so ubiquitous in modern culture that people don’t stop to appreciate how it really was a game changer. Watch a Hollywood film before 1977 and watch one after. You’ll see that film and pop culture entertainment was forever changed by it.

To be honest, I don’t think George Lucas’ screenplay (or direction) was that revolutionary. The revolutionary aspect was the production design, music, special effects, and editing (although I’d argue that the James Bond films were far more revolutionary in film editing). In this respect, Lucas was more of a CEO overseeing various departments in creating a lived-in universe. For Star Wars, the stories were always secondary. What grabbed everyone’s attention was the myths and scope: it was like watching an ancient epic being played out on the big screen in a way that films before weren’t able to capture.

So I don’t think that devout fans enjoy Star Wars because of their incredible stories and performances (unless they’re watching because of Harrison Ford). It’s purely an aesthetic experience. Make a Star Wars movie without storm troopers, Star Destroyers, light sabers, Boba Fetts, Jedis, Death Stars, etc. then you probably wouldn’t have a Star Wars movie.

You could make the argument that you can’t make a Star Trek movie/TV show without Starfleet. But fans of Trek have shown to be more open to bending its internal rules to further explore its universe.

But I don’t know dude, you like what you like.

But you know who my favorite Star Wars character is?

Admiral Piett

I hope he gets his own spin-off.

faith based (2020)

So I was watching Spalding Gray’s Terrors of Pleasure when I thought “I’d probably enjoy this if I was sober.” So then I searched for something on Amazon Prime.

I came across a comedy called Faith Based, about two buddies that try to make a Christian film. It had all the ingredients to make a good film, or at least a movie that I’d enjoy. But it serves as a good reminder of how difficult it is to make a good motion picture.

It’s a story that I’d otherwise enjoy: about mediocre, yet good natured, talent trying to break into the big leagues by making a movie to help save their father’s church. Naturally, they discover the business is populated by cynical assholes.

Some of the jokes land. When the lead characters explain that “no one wants to see a movie where they don’t recognize anybody” and the camera lingers on the two actors you don’t recognize, I chuckled a bit. The film could have used a bit more of that self-awareness.

But I really am like my lead character in A Shot at the Title: I rarely watch a movie that I don’t want to completely rewrite and redirect. I think the film could have been salvaged by jettisoning all the Office inspired interviews and extending the length. The movie couldn’t have been made for very much money, but the production quality is pretty good. Maybe lingering on some of the shots would have extended its impact.

Of course, it’s not my movie, but if I were making it, as the lead characters go through their trials and tribulations, I would have played with audience by getting the movie as close to a shitty Christian film as one could possibly go before pulling the rug out from under them. That would have accentuated one of the film’s themes: that all of our hopes and dreams are actually just a scheme to make some asshole more money.

But if you’re interested, despite its subject matter, it’s not an anti-Christian or anti-religious movie. At its heart, it’s a film about family, community, and belonging. Nothing we haven’t seen a hundred times before.

Anyways, now I’m sober. Back to Spalding Gray.

“Layer Cake”: Britain’s finest hour

Before his James Bond got blown to shit on some rooftop on a Japanese island in No Time To Die (sPoIlEr AlErT!), Daniel Craig was in what is perhaps the greatest British film ever made: Layer Cake.

While every actor (except Tom Hardy) acts their ass off and every line of dialogue is an absolute banger, the film is perhaps best known as a turning point in film history: introducing the world to Daniel Craig’s god-like body.

Daniel Craig was blessed with being able to make whatever he’s wearing look like it was tailored specifically for him. He spends much of the film wearing the same plain gray raglan t-shirt with Levi’s…an outfit that probably costs $50 total, but it looks like he’s modeling Brioni.

I couldn’t pull off that look. I tried.

Another thing Craig succeeds at is showing his “sex” gaze:

Sorry, this is the best screenshot I could find.

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m happily married now because I mastered that gaze. Now personally, I like to use the Sean Connery method of tilting my head forward, arching an eyebrow, and smiling with my eyes. But every man has to master the “sex” gaze, to knock em dead with one look, if they want to be successful with the ladies (or the fellas).

That haircut is pretty good too. It’s definitely a 60’s style throwback, echoing the aforementioned Sean Connery and his toupee during his James Bond tenure. Unfortunately I’m a balding man, have been since I was 13, so I was never able to pull off that style. But because I’m balding, I’m sort of an expert at spotting hair plugs. And Craig, in my humble opinion, probably has hair plugs. That being said, I’d pay good money to find out who his specialist is.

Another thing on Craig’s style is that pimpin purplish/maroon jacket he wears to start the film:

I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: no man has ever looked as good on film as Daniel Craig did in Layer Cake.

“We get it, you’re in love with Daniel Craig. But what about the film?”

Oh yeah, the film’s good too.

another shot @ the title (part vi)

“This proceeding has been a disgrace to the Los Angeles Superior Court, to the State of California, and to the justice system as a whole,” the judge ruled. “I have no choice but to rule in favor of the plaintiff. James ACHOO 🤧…excuse me, I sneezed…will get full credit for directing AND writing Like A Fart in the Wind. But do not count this as a victory James. With your reputation for belittling and suppressing governments and various newspapers around the globe, I deem you to be a menace to society. Unfortunately, this is a civil case and not a criminal one. But I have seen the final cut of this film. I am doing Dallas Howard Austin Antonio and Pee-Wee Weepee a favor for not giving them credit for this picture. I can’t think of anything worse than giving you, James, sole credit for this disaster.”

“Thank you for your ruling,” I said to the Judge. “But with all due respect, I believe you to be a bitch that wouldn’t know art if it bit her in the cunt. I believe this picture to be my finest work….far exceeding This Tastes Like Ass. Court stenographer, take note: Like a Fart in the Wind will be the greatest motion picture ever made. Thank you and good day.”

I walked outside the courtroom where Pablo greeted me with a cigar and bottle of brandy. “You were brilliant,” Pablo said. “With the attention that the case brought to the project, this movie is on pace for being the highest grossing film ever made.”

“Any publicity is good publicity,” I replied.

I lit up the cigar. “You know Pablo,” I continued, “I just want to thank you for bringing me back into the game. If I went on with retirement, I would have been dead in a year. Now I feel more alive than ever.”

Pablo cracked open the brandy and we began drinking at the courthouse. “James, you’re a rare talent,” he said. “After this film succeeds at the box office, I have the feeling that this will be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.”

We both patted each other on the back and shared a few laughs as we walked down the courthouse steps and into the beautiful California sunset.

****

From the Idaho Statesman

He Will Never Work in This Town Again“ says Steven Spielberg

By Dick Shaftsburg

“Hollywood is in a panic over the abysmal opening weekend of Like A Fart in a Windstorm. It grossed $1,500 against a $10 Billion budget.

Produced by Kathleen Kennedy of Trainwreck Productions, and directed by (name redacted due to ongoing legal disputes between the individual and the Idaho Statement. Henceforth, he will be referred to as the “Director”), the project was fraught with problems from the beginning…from various court cases to the death of its leading actor, Christian Bale.

Critics panned Like a Fart in a Windstorm from the beginning. Leonard Maltin stated that, “I’d rather have tweezers shoved up my pee hole than watch this shit again. Christian Bale deserved better.” Even Roger Ebert came back from the dead to ask, “Who was the leading character? Was it Christian Bale? Or was it his disgusting ass cheeks?”

After her firing from Trainwreck Productions, Kathleen Kennedy has become the first woman to have been exiled from the United States to Saskatchewan, Canada, often called the “hairy taint of North America.”

Meanwhile, the Director has gone missing. Given his obscene wealth, he’s likely in Namibia where Prime Minister Wesley Snipes has named him Finance and Defense Minister, as well as Attorney General.

Given the poor box office performance of Like a Fart in the Wind, it is unlikely the Director will return to Hollywood. In addition to his professional troubles, he is also under investigation by the EU, UN, and FBI for allegations regarding human trafficking, racketeering, and bribery of numerous foreign governments.

“If I had known that I was going to be in the same profession as him (the Director),” explained acclaimed Hollywood legend David Lynch, “I would have prostituted my asshole years ago.”

“He’s a disgrace,” said Martin Scorsese. “Just a total disaster, just like Shutter Island.”

THE END

another Shot at the Title (part v)

After Christian (Bale’s) funeral, I began lamenting some of my decisions at the production studio. “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him to gain 150lbs,” I said.

“You’re one arrogant son of a bitch,” Jeffery Greco said.

“Don’t blame me for his death!” I replied. “Chris could’ve turned down the role!”

Kat was two sheets in the wind when she spoke up. “I’m finished in this town,” she said. “Because of you, I’ll never work again.”

“Lay off the sauce, Kat,” I said. “Now pour me a drink.”

“There’s no way we can release the film now,” Kat continued. “$7 billion down the toilet!”

“Now calm down!” I interrupted. “We’ll just have to do some reshoots. I’ll step in for Chris’s role. I’m an Academy Award-winning actor too, ya know?”

“Hold on there bucko,” Greco said. “There ain’t no way the studio will let you back on the set. Not after the lawsuit with Dallas and killing your leading man. That’s to say nothing about the numerous investigations into your international holdings!”

“If the film’s gonna be completed,” Kat said, “then your assistant, Pee-Wee, will finish production.”

“Well that Machiavellian son of a bitch,” I said. “I knew he had an ulterior motive.”

“Since we are 90% finished with filming, we’ll use CGI to complete Chris’s scenes,” explained Kat. “That will considerably jack up the budget, but we have no other choice.”

“Then I guess I’m fired,” I said as I stood up. “But I still want full credit for directing this picture.”

“Not happening,” Kat replied.

“Kat, you’ve crossed me for the last time,” I said. “I’m going to the Director’s Guild. If you want a court battle, you’ve got one sister!”

TO BE CONTINUED

Christian Bale (1974-2021) 😞