In Flightplan, motherly love is expressed not through the familiar tropes of maternal sacrifice or revenge, but through maternal paranoia. The mother and child bonding scenes early in the film that establish Jodie Foster's character Kyle Pratt as the mother-hero carry their emotional weight in the barely suppressed panic that flickers across Foster's worried face whenever she observes her daughter, a panic that escalates into a fierce and full-blown conspiracy theory when the little girl disappears.
It's almost intoxicatingly pleasurable to watch Jodie Foster stride wild-eyed and twitchy-faced through the plane, shoving passengers and stewardesses out of her way and spouting out technically dazzling demands for a full aircraft search. Because her over-the-top egocentrism is disguised as maternal devotion, Kyle is the ultimate validation of our forbidden desire for unrestrained megalomania. Apparently, any and all obnoxious behaviour, including racism, is not only forgivable but truly righteous if it's in the name of protecting your child. Thus the moral low road of selfish individualism becomes the moral high road of selfless concern for another. The film is so intent on legitimizing Kyle's monstrous behaviour toward everyone on the plane from children to the captain that it goes out of its way to end the film with a series of punishments for all those who doubted her. It not only forces the grave flight captain to apologize for not ceding to Kyle's demands over his concern for the well-being of the 400 or so other passengers, but most absurdly, it actually ends with an Arab fellow passenger deferentially helping her with her bags. This is the same man who Kyle had savagely and wrongfully accused of kidnapping her daughter and plotting to hijack the plane. Being a white mother not only means never having to say you're sorry, it also means that dark-skinned people will carry your baggage for you even after you brand them as terrorists. --Irene
It should be official by now: cgi morphing is NOT scary. Because of their affinity with supernatural phenomenon--both cgi effects and "ghosts" are immaterial, fluid, and free from the laws of density, gravity and temporality--digital effects are often enlisted to help visualize the supernatural. Thus the 1999 remakes of The Haunting and The Mummy both showed us vapory spirits from beyond, rendered in cgi, that were invisible in the original versions. Yet something about phantasmagoric digital effects allows them to elicit awe, bedazzlement, and even shock, but not deep, bone-chilling horror. "Bone-chilling" might be the important term, because it seems that contemporary uses of cgi typically fail to force their way into your very bones, to access the clenched solidity of absolute dread at a bodily register. The ghoulishly morphing faces and clouds that Father Moore and Emily Rose see when under demonic attack look like digital images tweaked in Photoshop ("Yeah, let's use the 'satanic distortion' filter.")
But the harrowing bodily contortions of the actress who plays Emily rose are so intense, every nerve and muscle across her body is wound so excruciatingly tight, that the true horror of the film is in watching this "hypersensitive" body react to and articulate demonic possession with such violent, unrestrained hysteria. It's essentially like watching an electro-shock torture scene over and over again--the face clenching and spine arching to breaking point as the body is racked by invisible bolts of electricity. It's not really about being disturbed by the spectre of true primordial evil. It's about being freaked out by this hollow-faced young woman's skewed and out-of-control physical body. A face transformed into an image whose contours can be digitally morphed is now a banality, not an abomination. But the transgression of a young woman's bodily integrity and comportment still horrifies. Ultimately, "Emily's story" is not where the the film, the lawyer, and the priest explicitly point us, in her maudlin letter about saintly visions. Emily Rose is essentially mute throughout the film and unable to narrate her own experience of being possessed. Her body, raging and convulsing hideously, takes on the weight of showing us everything. --Irene
The nuclear family is back with a vengeance, it seems, if indeed it ever went away. But what with everyone at the last Oscars falling over themselves trying to show off their children and moms, and even Britney Spears about to give birth, the most glamorous, fulfilling, and deep thing you can do nowadays is to squirt out 2.5 children and puff yourself out beneath the righteous flag of Family. And to find this current coursing through several recent Hollywood blockbusters--The Incredibles, War of the Worlds, only to land, a little touched but still pristinely didactic, into the twisted universe of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is getting to be rather alarming. After all, except in the few occasions when they are eccentric obsessives, parents in Roald Dahl stories are either gruesomely killed off or horridly gruesome themselves, leaving their children to take up with insects, giants, and cigar-smoking grandmothers. The new movie subtly deflates Willy Wonka's dangerous perversity by tacking on and pounding in the story of his integration into the Bucket family. The movie just can't deal with the idea of an effeminate adult man who gives candy to children and leave it at that, with ragged edges and cruelties left in place. It has to coax him into the soft and fuzzy narrative of the hurt man-child who needs an adorably cozy family to teach him about love. The thing is, I was thoroughly charmed by the ragamuffin Buckets with their horrid teeth and tottering cottage in the opening of the film, perhaps spurred by my love for Noah Taylor. It wasn't until they were rallied into the cause of Family vs. Dandy at the end of the film that I started to balk. And Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka started out promisingly enough by channelling Mr. Jellinek from Strangers with Candy, but lost his poreless, otherworldly, cgi-sheen and creepy awkwardness with the 4th "mumbler!" gag.
The most disappointing part of the movie was precisely in the area where I thought Tim Burton would excel. The visual spectacle of the chocolate factory's inner workings weren't nearly as awful as the ill-conceived, Cirque du Soleil sequences that are supposed to pass for never-never-land in Finding Neverland, a movie whose insulting sappiness hovers too closely around this one. But I found myself missing the lickable wallpaper, sudsy locomotive, levitation soda, and atomic-model-like Everlasting Gobstopper from the original film. The new film moves briskly and mechanically from one child's demise to the next, replacing the detours into Charlie's transgressions that propelled the original film with Wonka's childhood flashbacks. These would have been amusing if they hadn't been mere set-ups for a big family hug that ends the film. --Irene
David has discussed arranging books by color; something we do over here as well. He brings up getting "to know a book by its cover" but what i've realized is that you cannot count on the cover color to bleed around the corner. So you're really getting to know the book by it's spine; which, on a case by case basis, may or may not be the same as getting to know the book by its cover.
Some of you might prefer to organize by theme, but many of the titles on our shelves (and yours too I suspect) carry multiple, provisional themes -- making that difficult. Does, for example, Zsa Zsa Gábor's How to Catch a Man - How to Keep a Man - How to Get Rid of a Man go under 'self help' or 'comedy'? I could probably come to a decision today but five years from now (the next time, in all likelihood, I'll pick up this book), that choice may seem foolish. Or worse yet, the choices may be ever-equally appropriate. In this case what do you do? Buy a second copy, insert a block on your shelf directing you to the section in which it's filed? Anyone who's ever spent time at "Reel Video" in Berkeley, California can attest to the absurdity of the dual/multiple category system.
So how about those taxonomies which order things by focusing on some sliver of an object that imparts to us nothing as to the content of that object. This of course is not so different from arranging your books in alphabetical order-- a description, a flattening that technically has nothing to do with what's inside. Can we say, "this book, in addition to being about handling heterosexual romance from the woman's point of view, is about its having been written by Zsa Zsa Gábor?" (in this case I think so, Zsa Zsa is a special presense, but it is hardly always, or even often, the case). Can we add to that, "this book is also about its spine being white"? Maybe not, but if we're willing to, we've removed the need to know the author or editor (particularly difficult to remember!) of the book, and can zoom to the 'white section' where it shouldn't be difficult to locate.
I would enjoy talking more abouth this and hearing from those of you who have other alternative systems of classification.
Finally, sorting by color can really beautify your bookshelves!
Formerly irresolute and prone to freak outs, our friend bill has dyed his hair, developed an attractive tan and firmed up his temperment (not to mention his lats, pecs, 'ceps, quads, glutei and on and on!) He owns his own Thai kickboxing studio in Long Beach, California.