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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

altered states. +

i just signed up for netflix yesterday, something i've wanted to do since xb360 made it an option. i set up my instant play, and added a ton of movies to my queue and have sort of gotten addicted to rating and browsing the library. i watched my first movie today, starring william hurt called altered states. it followed a man deeply interested in the human mind's reaction to different stimulus, starting with sensory deprivation which then built into hallucinogenic drugs and things like that. the biggest of them all became a form of mushroom found amongst an indigenous mexican tribe who made a tea or beverage out of a form of mushroom which created a unified experience amongst all who drank the substance. amongst other things, one chemical found in the drink was scopolamine, a drug which i posted about more than a year ago on this blog. it was more or less an exhibition of the unborn soul. sounded pretty intense. we follow jessup (the professor) as he starts to experiment with sensory deprivation after this drug he's taken and how it's slowly devolving him each time he enters the chamber. it was made in 1980 so a lot of the special camera work necessary to exhibit some of the more psychedelic experiences felt a little corny, but i still appreciated everything they did with the movie. i think when directors have to be a little bit more creative and resourceful with what they have to work with, it tends to lend itself to some interesting results. see the difference between the original trilogy and the newer trilogy in star wars. overall, i thought the movie was great, definitely worth checking out if you're into hallucinogens or drug culture at all as well as more visually experimental film making.

in fact, i have actually been looking around for more experimental or just overtly visual films to play either on my computer or tv while listening to album. i'm not saying i want a full psychedelic trip or anything, but just something to have on that's NOT a "visualizer" on itunes or something of that nature. something with real imagery. sigur ros' HEIMA dvd comes to mind, though just the one isn't enough. i tried looking for silent films and things like that, though nothing really interesting came up. i know i've seen a few industrial bands and more experimental bands do things with films playing behind them as they're on stage. nine inch nails have done the same thing, on a huge scale... manson has too i think. something of that nature. i feel a little odd sitting around with headphones on staring at nothing. i'll be working on that. i just downloaded the battleship potemkin, and while it's not entirely visually stunning or anything, this was one of the earliest films that really was intentionally avant garde. i really liked watching it in a film appreciation class. i'll see if it translates.

what's up with this new TUMBLR blogging service? judging by the few that i've seen, it seems to be a little bit more aimed toward the twitter/flickr/facebook crowd which is more for the mass-sharing of information. that's great and all, but not really for me. it seems like it's going to get pretty large, i'd assume. it seems to tend to the bug that people get where they want to post an image or video to their myspace, but don't have anywhere to put it on their layout. i noticed that a big part of it, too, tends to be that you can openly reply and be replied to on that site and it will show up on your blog as well. there's a big blend of a lot of sites and ideas going on over there, and i think it's going to blow up if it already hasn't.

i picked up a bunch of books the other night at barnes and noble, one of which was superman: red son, a reimagining by mark millar (he wrote the original series wanted which the movie was based on, contributed to marvel civil war, etc.) in which Kal-L lands on earth 12 hours later, and in ukraine in the 1950s, and ends up in the hands of Stalin. a really good book, and while i'm not a fan of superman at all, i like what they did with the character, and there are a bunch of good cameos by other DC heroes. worth checking out.

miami in 6 days.

1 comment:

B. Martinez said...

I watched Altered States when I was probably in ninth grade, around there. Which is to say, way too young to get what was going on. I do remember finding the de-evolution parts interesting, though.

I definitely agree about the limitations of art being so important. I think CG has given us some incredible things but at the same time it's made so many film-makers lazy. The example I always use is Gremlins: imagine those movies if they were made today (which, let's be honest, it's only a matter of time). The creatures would be digital and we wouldn't care. One of my favorite scenes from the first is when they're in the movie theater. First, the sight of hundreds of individually-controlled Gremlin puppets filling the seats is genius in its scope. And second, there's this great shot when the Gremlins start to chase the human characters who are behind the screen, and you see all these menacing shadows coming up at them through it. You just know they did that because they were limited in their technology, but the result is so much more real and effective and interesting.

I'll try to come up with some films for you to watch. In the meantime the first to come to mind are Pink Floyd's The Wall and the silent film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, the latter you can definitely download for free since it's public domain, as almost all silent films are by now. They do have narratives, but they also have a lot of avant-garde/impressionist imagery to them.