Jodorowsky’s Dune ☕ d. Frank Pavich, 2013

Three films are competing for screen time in Jodorowsky’s Dune: a love letter to the greatest film never made, a Herzogian tale of a mad genius doomed to failure, and (drumroll) Jodorowsky’s Dune, the film itself.

Having not seen any of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s work, I may be at a bit of a disadvantage in suggesting ways in which this particular documentary does or does not take his oeuvre into account. Alejandro Jodorowsky himself is a transfixing raconteur; (apparently) a consummate artist, nothing he says is delivered at a rhetorical pitch below eleven. By his own account, his plan for Dune was that the film itself, like Paul Atreides, would become a prophet, leading humankind into a new age of enlightened consciousness. By the account of everyone else who worked on the project, Jodorowsky was perfectly sincere in his ambition. The film’s narrative trajectory traces Jodorowsky’s quest to assemble a fellowship of “spiritual warriors”—likeminded artists who, regardless of their film experience or credentials, had the soul needed to bring his project to fruition. Many of these people had never heard of Jodorowsky before he sought them out for this project; they, too, knew nothing of his oeuvre. What compelled them to drop everything and move to his headquarters in Paris was much the same as what this documentary expects will compel its own viewers, many of whom may not be familiar with Jodorowsky’s work: the charisma and prophetic vision of the man himself. Of a film that might have been, and which might have revolutionized human consciousness. Continue reading

Miyazaki says sayonara


One of the world’s greatest living directors has retired from feature filmmaking. Miyazaki Hayao has been circling retirement for several years already (I had been under the impression that Ponyo would be his last film until I heard about The Wind Rises). As both ANN and Guardian Enzo note, he may still participate in other projects in various capacities — I suspect that such a restless muse as Miyazaki’s isn’t quite done yet — but it looks like we won’t get any more films directed by the man himself. The finality of this announcement strikes a chord of bittersweet triumph. It’s sad that we can’t expect any more masterpieces from the single biggest artist in Japanese animation, yet it’s a testament to the size of his achievements that he’s retiring at the top of his game at the age of 72. Most artists fade away; they may retain some cultural stature, but few choose to abdicate the throne while their reign remains virtually unchallenged. Fewer still are in a position to step down after a reign of decades. To see a giant gracefully lay himself to rest, rather than fall, is a privilege, if a poignant one. Arigatou gozaimasu, sensei. Here’s hoping we haven’t quite seen the last. ☕ Continue reading

Talk about softening the blow

Patrick Troughton Doctor

I was pretty disappointed when I heard that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who in this year’s Christmas special. Not upset — he’s given us what I consider to be the definitive New Who Doctor, and if he wants to take a bow while he’s still in peak form, I can’t blame him. Not to mention that it’s always exciting to anticipate what fresh face we’ll get to see next. But I’m still disappointed. Smith is such a joy to watch, and he’s done such a great job bridging the feel of classic and new Who in his performance that I had been hoping to see him grow with the role for a few more years, especially since he started so young. Though he might pop in here and there in the future, his era is coming to an end, and it’s a bit of a shame that we won’t get another year or two out of him.

But this news, if true, could very well make up for it. I’ve tried listening to the audio recordings of some of those missing episodes. It’s just not the same. Half the reason (possibly the biggest reason) to watch the classic episodes, apart from the imagination and wit of their better scripts, is to relish the performances. The core cast members especially are often doing quite a lot with their roles, and nobody more so than the people playing the Doctors. Finally getting to see such ballyhooed stories as “Evil of the Daleks” would be a real treat. I’ll definitely be keeping an ear to the ground on this rumor. Via io9. ☕

Sinister ☕ d. Scott Derrickson, 2012



Morality tales aren’t really about nuance; they’re about getting across a point clearly and forcefully. I’m willing to forgive Sinister its one-dimensionality because it achieves two modest goals requisite for most great horror films: 1) it’s creepy, and 2) it is about evil. The first goal ought not be much of a stretch for someone as well traveled in horror filmmaking as Derrickson or the producers of Blumhouse, which has recently rolled in the dough with other morally-inflected shockers like Insidious and the Paranormal Activity franchise. Sinister is of a piece with those films, relying primarily on atmosphere, suspenseful build-up, and cheap-but-effective jump scares. Continue reading

“Are you from a defective clone batch?”

Commander Strax at a kids’ Q&A session. Sample quote: “I serve a penance to restore the honor of my clone batch. As a result, The Doctor chose the most fearsome punishment a Sontaran can endure: helping the weak, and sick, and  feeble… or humans, as I like to call them.” Via io9. ☕

Quote of the week: Williams on “the new social world”

The critical demystification has indeed to continue, but always in association with practice: regular practice, as part of a normal education, in this transforming labour process itself: practice in the production of alternative ‘images’ of the ‘same event’; practice in processes of basic editing and the making of sequences; practice, following this in direct autonomous composition.

We shall already have entered a new social world when we have brought the means and systems of the most direct communication under our own direct and general control. We shall have transformed them from their normal contemporary functions as commodities or as elements of a power structure. We shall have recovered these central elements of our social production from the many kinds of expropriator. But socialism is not only about the theoretical and practical ‘recovery’ of those means of production, including the means of communicative production, which has been expropriated by capitalism. In the case of communications, especially, it is not only, though it may certainly include, the recovery of a ‘primitive’ directness and community. Even in the direct modes, it should be institution much more than recovery, for it will have to include the transforming elements of access and extension over an unprecedentedly wide social and inter-cultural range. — Raymond Williams, from “Means of Communication as Means of Production”

If I were ever to teach a class on film, this would probably be a required text. Williams goes a long way toward clarifying the social importance to every level of society of understanding media. ☕

The Winter 2013 anime review


Apart from my reading schedule, the most media I’ve consumed in the last few months has mainly been anime. Since anime has comprised most of my entertainment diet, and since the 2013 winter season ended just a few weeks ago, here’s a set of capsule reviews of the stuff I’ve been consuming… Continue reading


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