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Tom Gordon's Blother

February 5, 2006

Somewhere in the 21st Century
And so I pull back from the terrifying panorama of Geopolitick -- with all its grim implications for the future -- to my own safe little world of not-quite-blasphemous picture-making again. Just a tiny bit from my sketchbook:



Gah. If I had a nickel for every time I've drawn somebody wearing futuristic armor and toting some MagLev flechette/handheld minigun variant... I'd... uh, have a whole stinkin' lot of nickels. And since Blogger's image embedding doesn't work on my geriatric web-browsing computer of choice, I'm also forced to relegate myself to HTML image tags and Old Skool uploading. We hates this, my precious! We hates it for ever!

More PopCult detritus: just watched "The Battle of Brazil" today, encoded somewhere amidst the production-end making-of DVD for that particular two-decade-old dystopian flick. It's funny: my first exposure was the Eeeeevil Diluted Corporate Sid Sheinberg "Love Conquers All" edit, which aired on television -- and nevertheless I loved it to pieces, inexplicable chronological gaps and all.

But when I witnessed the True Uncommercial Artistic Vision™ a few months later, at I-CON VIII, I found Terry Gilliam's version both inferior and horribly repellent -- 'omg WTF' as the monosyllabic instant messaging Gen Z'ers would have it. If The Bureaucratic State ultimately wins in the end (as the conclusion clearly indicates), then what's the frickin' point of the film at all -- "keep your nose down, and be a good citizen-unit"? Great.

In any eventuality, the documentary goes into Gilliam's well-publicized tangle with the American distributor of the film -- and the deck is VERY clearly stacked beforehand in the director's favor, most notably by never even showing the face of the video-game 'boss' villain of the entire fracas, Sheinberg. Instead, tape recordings of an old interview are played back against a black screen with white lettering -- Sid's the voice of Faceless Corporate America, don'tcha know -- while Gilliam recieves flattering lighting and intimate closeups, where he can make the most asinine proclamations and still look like some kind of Randian heroic figure.

Yet even as The Deep Artiste's slinging the usual revolutionary blather about Sticking It To The Man, Mannnn and Creative Freedom Running Free On The Streets Of Hollywood, for me what ultimately sticks in the end is Sheinberg's well-reasoned (if badly presented) assessment of the original product. He sounds for all the world like a well-versed 'fanboy' anxious to make a more accessible film, and most certainly not a soulless beancounting suit at all. Witness his response to Gilliam's mechanizations with a Los Angeles critic's guild (who openly proclaim "making a difference" as their primary motivation towards supporting the original edit, not its artistic merit), and how keenly he discerns "Brazil" being a story of an oppressive State, NOT what Gilliam's public-relations mythologists would have written, afterward.

Ah well, One blasphemy deserves another. I'd venture Monty Python afficionados will be a right jolly murderous bunch in a few hundred years or so. Oh -- one other thing I'd gleaned from the DVD -- according the original script and its Prime Minister character, the 'terrorists' in the world of "Brazil" had actually been completely destroyed decades ago by the government -- and that the current rash of bombings were simply being kept up in-house in order to 'keep the economy going'. I merely cite this to contradict Gilliam's recent idiocy to the effect that post-September 11th America is equivalent to the society portrayed in "Brazil." If there's something the world isn't short of right now, it's homicidal whackjobs anxious to deliberately expend their explosives on unarmed civilians, dammit.
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