Category Archives: FIlm & TV

A personal messay on Interstellar & The Martian.

A messay is a fusion between an essay and a meme. As South Park teaches us, essays are usually for  your ese’s but a mEssay; well a messay allows one to express their individuality creatively, like Messi.

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Since I watched The Martian, I been verbally spewing around me on how the film compares to Interstellar. The similarities and the differences. Now that both The Martian & Interstellar are out on blu-ray. It seems fair to personally compare the two films.

While some may sense a certain bias towards one of the two films I discuss, I boldly claim that I have been as fair as my moral compass allows. Determined! To present my interpretations with a fairness akin to a Marxist doctrine. Not quite like Karl Marx’s manifesto per se, but rather, a collective mixture of the three archetypal personalities of the Marx Brothers; Groucho, Chico and Harpo in particular.

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Aliens

I’m watching The Martian and the beginning is hooking me in. Right around when Matt Damon is dramatically left stranded and abandoned on Mars. Assumed dead by his team. Shortly, we discover that he is alive, and the film descends into a survivalist Tom Hanks Cast Away in Mars type scenario. Needless to say, the following events of the film gradually lost my piqued interest.

Interstellar, interestingly, has a character befalling the same faith as The Martian. But, instead of Mars, dude is abandoned on a planet resembling water world.

vlcsnap-2016-05-19-21h50m03s223.png(Low-key hoping for Christopher Nolan’s: Aquaman).

Thing is, I walked into both films with an expectation to see some aliens or something sci-fi-ish. I walked away from Interstellar with an obsessive curiosity for synchronicity, consciousness, love as a ‘fact’ and parapsychology.

Whereas, I walked away from The Martian fretting the idea of eating potatoes and listening to disco music for the rest of my life.

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The Martian began promisingly. The early suspense confirmed my anticipation of Matt Damon channelling  Jason Bourne to mess up some effin aliens! But, not even a hint of extraterrestrials throughout the film… Naively, my expectations were built on director Ridley Scott who directed sci-fi classic Alien (1979), a film considered by Roger Ebert to be ‘one of the most influential action films of the modern era’.

So halfway through The Martian when I found the film dry in the action department but raining in the nerd department, I realised I got bamboozled by the marketing materials of both films and in the case of The Martian, I should of looked up the book before venturing into the cinema.

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Interstellar’s narrative on the other hand, teased the audience throughout the film with aliens. Aliens may even be benevolent beings; Contrary, to the violent imagery popularised  by H.G Wells or franchises like the Predator & Alien films. The alien antagonist stereotype been prevailing in storytelling for a while. Extraterrestrials, immigrants, etc… 

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Interstellar is set in the not so distant dystopian future where humanity is destined to doom. Earth’s habitable environment, little by little deteriorating, oxygen steadily turning into dust and food crops perishing. Feminism en-route to overthrow Patriarchy, it’s all very grim.

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Children for the most part in Interstellar’s plot are only allowed to study farming . As luxury subjects like liberal arts won’t be saving the human race. So ex NASA pilot turned farmer, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) looks to farming to provide for his family. The funny coincidence is Matt Damon farmed shit on Mars like the whole film. Literally, with his own shit.

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The alluded aliens in Interstellar are suggested from the get-go. Matt McCon, told straight up *Michael Caine voice* ‘”they” placed a wormhole for us to travel through’. ‘Alright, alright al… wait

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Interstellar’s elaborate Science took the audience further. Ghosts were thrown into the mix. “Who you gon call”?

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Interstellar’s speculations on ‘ghosts’ and aliens are suggested from the ethos of NASA, disarming any kind of dawkinite thinking while adding an authoritative edge to the narrative. Seriously if NASA drops a press con tmr saying ‘Sorry folks, ghosts actually exist and aliens from planet Nibiru about to touch down this December’… What would we collectively do?

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Now, with the low down on Interstellar. The Martian is basically a dramatised documentary film. A Mars edition of Man vs Wild crossover with BBC botany, with special guest narrator, Good Will Hunting.

‘The Martian’ is based on a best-selling novel. If you have not read the book like I haven’t, I should warn you that I got duped into thinking The Martian would be a film where Matt Damon wards off a Martian race of vicious acid blooded aliens, something Sigourney Weaver had to deal with in 79. But, there’s no Martians in this flick titled  ‘The Martian’. There is a dude named Watney (Matt Damon) who claims to be a Martian (slash pirate slash botanist) but if you expecting to see some space action, you won’t find much here.

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Humour.

My sense of humour as it ages gets darker, sarcastic, but not nonsensical (yet?). On the other hand, something meant to be obviously funny I find obviously annoying. I myself am quite annoying, hahahaha. where r u going??

For a stress inducing survival film like The Martian, the jokes did lightened the mood. Like a lecturer telling jokes in between power-point slides on Mikhael Baktain and The Grotesque. The jokes supplied breaks from Watney’s dire situation. One joke in particular was rather annoying. A joke butting on Melissa Lewis’s (Jessica Chastain) taste in music (disco jams), which irritates The F! Outta Watney (Matt Damon) who is stuck on Mars with her mixtape on repeat. Joke feels repetitive almost immediately. It’s like you lucky you have anything in Mars! Joke already got annoying the second time Matt Damon glared sarcastically into the camera (while Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff was playing)

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We get it, you vape… I mean, you don’t like disco music…

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Another staged laugh stage to me was when Chinese NASA appeared. Choruses of laughter coursed through the cinema when Chinese NASA appeared on screen. Perhaps because I watched The Martian in Hong Kong? I remember chuckling just at the sheer reaction to Chinese NASA! I don’t know if watching The Martian say, in Moscow? Would of evoked such a reaction?

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Interstellar in comparison, did not have many que to laughter moments, the tone of the film was  seriously set from the beginning. The humour lightened the mood naturally. The humour was present in a subtler form. The idea that an A.I. that can exchange witticisms with Matthew McConaughey is pretty damn funny. 

I say in a generalised nutshell, the humour is subtler in interstellar whereas The Martian, it’s good old American in your face humour.

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Science.

I scoffed my scone when I read a pattern of critics pontificating interstellar too ‘sciencey’ to understand. Really? how is a film that has aliens and ghosts in the plot be deemed ‘too sciencey’ is beyond me. In the age of reality television and scientism dominated discourses, it is daring storytelling sure, but, not sciency. Interstellar took a chance with 5th dimensional beings, ghosts and possible aliens! The Martian, slammed all the Narnia doors shut, sealed it with cling film & nerd-shamed anyone who didn’t follow the casual science-dropping.

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Personally, the breakdown of science in interstellar is far easier comprehended than The Martian. The explanation of relativity was straightforward as can be. For example, Interstellar’s science tells you straight up, 1 hour in water world equals 7 years back on earth. A wormhole lets you travel beyond dimensions of space & time. Time is bendable, stretchable but it can’t go backwards; unless, maybe, you a 5th dimensional being but no one knows what that is.

The Martian talks to you like you should already know how to make water from condensation and a breast pump. Or which radioactive rocks keep you warm on a cold chilly night, or how easy it is to use cling film to repair whole space habitats.

Despite the science in Interstellar being explained by their on-screen characters, film critics pontificated Interstellar too hard to follow, because of its science…

Prepare to zone out like you in kindergarten class for The Martian folks, because, unless you internalised all your sciences at an elementary age, none of the casual science dropping will make sense to you.  Sure, The Martian is much more ‘scientifically realistic’ than Interstellar. But, a very realistic film does not make an entertaining film. (Just how many folks watch Big Brother on the live 24 hour stream?)

Would you believe The Martian received a Golden Globe for best Comedy? Look it up. I can’t even make that up. One of the reasons I was prompted to write this comparison.

On a side note, in the Martian, Matt Damon survives on potatoes. In interstellar, he looks like a potato. What kind of conspiracy is this?

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Courage.

Hands down!  The Interstellar crew is ballsier of the two crews. Even though, the two contexts of the films are completely different and should somewhat dictate character motivations. But, if I had to chose a squad for a Hunger Games type tournament I would choose the Interstellar squad, every time.

In Interstellar, the crew is the last gasp of hope for humanity, if they fail; humanity goes extinct. The Martiancrew are on a safety first basis to collect data from Mars…

With the two contexts of the film side by side. It still jumps at you to question the courageousness of the The Martians crew lead by Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). She straight up abandons Matt Damon, after displaying some poor leadership skills in the opening scenes of the film. Upon discovering Watney’s survival on Mars, she reasons to follow protocol and NOT head back to save private Ryan. Reasoning that Matt Damon a space florist anyways, not like he’s crucial to the team. It ain’t part of protocol, safety first and we been ordered to go back to earth first…

Cooper in Interstellar, chased an exploding mother-ship (The Endurance) with the aim of impossibly docking the smaller spaceship (The Ranger) to perhaps stabilise the Endurance. Battling G-Forces that could knock Cooper out and with the pressure of humanities survival on the shoulders of him and Anne Hathaway, in a galaxy far far away, thanks to the incompetence of Dr.Mann (Matt Damon).

Feminism overthrows Patriarchy in Interstellar; the theme plays throughout the film. It seems if  Matt Damon and Michael Caine’s character personify traditional patriarchy. Jess Chastain’s brand of Feminism along with Dr.Brand (Anne Hathaway) is what really ensures the survival of the human race in the film.  

The Martian’s characters can be excused with the fact that their context was no where near as intense as Interstellar. Bravery would logically be exchanged for prudence, which of course would be safe and wise; but, it will also be very Boring. The most daring act in The Martian was skipping a safety procedure on an un-manned space craft, bruh. 

Besides the docking scene, Interstellar’s Murph (Jess Chastain) burns down seemingly the last crop of food available to mankind in a gamble,to get inside her childhood bedroom to perhaps communicate with a ghost… a Fucking ghost b! (And folks called Interstellar too sciencey!) To figure out how she can solve the equation of gravity and save the folks on earth.

The unwillingness to act outside of procedure in the Martian, gets boring and rather frustrating if you are an action/suspense film enthusiast.

Music!

Let’s be honest. Hans Zimmer slaughtered this ish. He bodied the soundtrack. He literally suffocated then resurrected the sounds-waves heard in Interstellar. When I found out the organ used for Interstellar’s main theme was in fact blessed and holy in itself  (The Church Organ of Temple church, Central London), it blew my mind!

Nolan himself said:

“They [Zimmer & his team] really wanted the church organ and I also made a case, very strongly for some feeling of religiosity even if the film isn’t religious… they [The organ & architecture of the church] represent mankind’s attempt to portray the mystical and the metaphysical of what’s beyond us”.

When I discovered the instrument used for the main theme in Interstellar was a magnificent Church organ, it was not surprising to realise that the music evoked such transcending responses. The music is without a doubt one of the main drivers of the film along with captivating visuals and of course superb acting. Without Hans Zimmer slaying the ish out of the soundtrack though, the film could of been a lot less memorable.

What’s the music in the Martian??


TL;DR

Interstellar is better la

 

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Bruce Lee inspired Linearity & Cyclical debate

When I first encountered Bruce Lee’s ‘Be Water’ philosophy circa 2002-2003, the internet was just beginning to buzz. Pre-social media times of course, (younger generation fathom a world without smart phones and WiFi). I was clowning Bruce Lee’s accent the whole time listening to the interview cos you know… what’s funnier than English spoken in a Chinese accent? To a Non-Chinese, Cantonese speaking 15 year old brown boy like me, it was ridiculously funny. Oblivious to Lee’s message of course, more than a decade later I stumble on the Bruce Lee interview again, this time round it was an amazing trip.

Listening to the interview in 2015  (without the giggles, mind you), it blew my mind. Bruce Lee’s message:

‘To be formless, like water. Water can flow or it can crash. You put water into the cup it becomes the cup, you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot, be water my friend ;)’

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This blew me the frruck away this time. It was so simple, how could I not recognize that the human body is largely water, I must be able to form into any situation with the right mindset. What about all that stuff about the beautiful things sound waves do to water? if I am water, there must be a sort of fluidity of influence caused by my thoughts alone? Bruce Lee fascinates me because he mastered the physical world without question, yet, here was a guy who mastered the symbolic world as well; I would have to whack my head to find other similar intellectuals like him (Genghis Khan??)

Bruce Lee suffered a well documented reoccurring back injury that bothered him throughout his life (sorta like Ronaldo with his knee), until one day he aggravated it so much that he was to be bed ridden for six months. While Lee was unable to train his physical body, he became restless from the inaction that he set upon himself to train the biggest muscle in his body, the FACE! (It’s Always Sunny pun) nah, his brain. He studied like his livelihood depended on it (docs told Lee he may not be able to kick again). Lee hit the books hard. Studying motivational psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, relgious texts, Alan Watts, Krishnamurti, Lao Tzu … etc dude was hitting them books hard! Lee motivated himself to understand the symbolic universe on top of his knowledge of the physical world which he was familiar and dominant in. Bruce was no average Joe.

During the bed ridden period Lee had his enlightenment and so to speak ‘awakening’. He saw through the matrix and decided to change the mold of his stereotype as the kung fu man from China in Hollywood, to utilize his influence in a more positive way. He started promoting Taoism and Oriental philosophies, in his movies and to his peers in his personal life. Lee started pointing out the similarities in western and eastern philosophies and the universal truths that ought to unite humans, not divide them. He even stated after this period that he ‘did not believe in different ways of fighting anymore; for example, the English way of fighting or the Chinese way of fighting. It was all the Human way of fighting to him now’.

After recovering from the injury Lee didn’t take purely action roles any more, (Hollywood back then probably didn’t want Bruce Lee to be anything more than a stereotype. God forbid an intellectually influential person on the scene, he already befriended many elite Hollywood influencers like Steve McQueen, James Coburn…etc).

Lee started to spread positivism like most ‘awaken’ people do. It is people like Lee who create that spark in society that would bring about something of a positive changing revolution. (Funny how influential figures who champion for positive change usually get robbed from earth early, Tupac, JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Benazir Bhutto, River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain, Mike Jackson,… who else?)

What grabbed me via Lee  this time round was the whole linearity & cyclical debate. I acknowledged that I myself had been conditioned to operate on a linear mode of thinking. So in mid 2014 I set upon the task to adapt to a  more cyclical mode of thinking, and perhaps to favour it. Hearing Bruce Lee talk again reminded me that I never really embraced the non-linear style of thought growing up. Which led me to ponder, is life more likely to be a bunch of linear chronological events? Or is it a cyclical mess?

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But then again did I really have a choice?

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I feel IF the population of earth adjusts to a cyclical thought pattern over the linear pattern (which is drilled into folks all over the common wealth countries during the education years) Earth would be a lot more friendly and pleasant place to be in. Cyclical thought is usually at odds with Corporate thought or philosophies which are largely chronological and linear. Linear thought encourages the individual growing up to embrace concepts like atheism, skepticism, scientism more readily at the expense of Spirituality & Religion. Yet, the elite of the world believe in spirituality, isnt that some sort of funny circle? Hell, most of them believe in occult magick. Yet ask an average Joe and he will tell you religion, spirituality and magick is bollocks (thanks to corporate media, who runs it though?).

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The first intellectual that fascinated me was Leo Da Vinci  during my first years at uni. I would hand copy some of his fables and maxims into the bottom of my notebooks. He was  extraordinarily ahead of his time, in some manner like Bruce Lee. I started noticing a pattern that most people with transcending views were ahead of their contemporary’s time. Einstein, Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, Arsistotle, Plato, James Joyce, Marshal McLuhan, Sartre, Foucault, Lacan, Tesla list is near endless. Most of their contemporaries didn’t understand them, laughed at them (like me laughing at Bruce Lee’s accent). Because of their unusual and un-graspable philosophies, these figures were seen to be rather eccentric to their contemporaries, which just makes me think change can only come about if you can convince your contemporaries; otherwise they are just good ideas that never really manifest … perhaps someone in position of influence should carry them out?

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I find it important to look back at some of the influential figures who were fortunate enough to leave behind a legacy for us to study from. As I am approaching a wordcount, I am going to sign off with quotes from Marshal McLuhan from the audio version of The Medium Is The Massage (which illustrates well how the linear modes of thinking have been subconsciously influencing us):

“Every new technology creates a new environment in which men live and work. Printing extended the emphasis upon linearity. It fostered and encouraged a fragmenting process, a process of specialism and of detachment. A habit of thinking in bits and parts, and step by step. The technology of the alphabet and of moveable type, printing, predisposed us to think and act in certain ways. The alphabet is a construct of fragmented bits and parts which have no semantic meaning in themselves, and which must be strung together in a line, bead-like, and in a prescribed order. Its use fostered and encouraged the habit of perceiving all environment in visual and spatial terms—particularly in terms of a space and of a time that are uniform, c,o,n,t,i,n,u,o,u,s and c-o-n-n-e-c-t-e-d. Printing completely changed everything. It changed what men thought of themselves, how they behaved towards each other, it changed systems of government. And so on and so on and so on. — Printing technology confirmed and extended the new visual stress. It provided the first uniformly repeatable commodity, the first assembly line—mass production. It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy and in isolation from others. Man could now inspire—and conspire.”

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Rust Cohle’s Mirror Interpreted via Roger Sperry & Carl Jung

“I Know Who I Am”­ – Interpreting Rust Cohle’s Coin Sized Mirror via Roger Sperry & Carl Jung.

Before I start breaking down why Rust has a coin sized mirror and nothing bigger. We need to talk about Roger Sperry and his split brain experiments which landed him a Nobel Prize for Medicine/Physiology in 1981 .

We all have two brain hemispheres. Left and right, which are connected by the corpus callosum, a bridge that connects the two hemispheres.

Our right hemisphere controls the left side of our body and the left hemisphere controls the right side of our body.

corpus callosum

Roger Sperry conducted ‘split brain’ experiments by removing the corpus callosum. After removing the link between the two hemispheres, Sperry proceeded to test the two hemispheres independently.

What Sperry and his team found was if they covered up one side of the body after cutting the link, the results were interesting to say the least.

Some claim pseudo science but I’m like why the fuck would they give dude a noble prize? Does that mean generations of noble winners are questionable too? Who created this Mickey Mouse propaganda prize anyways?

I drift, so after removing the corpus callosum (the link that exchanges information between the two hemispheres) and covering the whole left body, eye patch and all, Sperry studied each hemisphere independently.

The right side of the body (which is controlled by the left hemisphere),could name an object such as a pencil and the right hand could write down what it was but the test subject could not verbally explain what the object was used for.

Whereas, left hand and eye (controlled by the right hemisphere), the patient could verbally explain and demonstrate its use but could not name the object.

Sperry did more studies that further proved to him that thoughts are localised in different sides of the brain. Either right or left.

What this showed Sperry was that there are two modes of thought, Verbal and Non Verbal. I interpret verbal and non verbal to Instinctual and Intellectual.

Keep up; I am going to time travel forward on some Back to the Future ish.

Contemporary society at large is left brained (yes, a mass generalisation) so most constructed identities you see in the urban capitalistic city environment are left brained Identities/Personalities. Imagine the opposite of a money driven capitalistic society, Bingo! an anthropological primitive but predominantly right brained society (generalised to prove a point again); a friend recently returned from Cambodia and most his retelling of his encounters with the locals of Cambodia sounded like he was interacting with a predominantly right brained society (generalisations galore!).

The right brain is minimally used in most social interactions due to the identity we project to others. The left brains allow people to be fake, calculated, ‘civilized’ e.g pretending to be nice when actually not. If it were not for the left brain we would never be able to construct sarcasm or cattiness or whatever the fuck it is high school girls do to psychologically annihilate their frienemies.

“Interestingly, not only are we not aware of our right brain identities, we can’t even control them! The right brain is non verbal and in touch with the unconscious, which is also non verbal. Many prominent psychologist such as Jung and Dr. Scott Peck, explain that the unconscious could be another term for the soul, or at least the window to it. Because of the crossover, our LEFT eye goes to our right brain. The left eye therefore, is literally the window to the soul and the indicator of the hidden, unmasked true self.

http://www.scienceofsoulmates.com/The_power_of_the_left_eye.htm

The right brain is non verbal and in touch with the unconsciousness or even the collective unconsciousness. While reading one of my favourite Psychiatrists Carl Jung, he convinced me that the word “Soul” can substitute the more scientific sounding, unconscious.

Therefore, when Rust says to Marty [in True Detective] “I know who I am”, what the average consumer didn’t realise was (like Marty), Rust meant he knew himself on multiple dimensions. Not just a vague ‘I know myself fooh!’

He know who he iz! (Great JC flick btw)
He know who he iz! (Great JC flick if you haven’t watched btw)

Nah, Rust truly knows himself inside out, more importantly Rust Cohle knows his Soul! This can be concluded by besides the many times he uses the word soul throughout the series.

  • The zero fucks Rust gives for superficiality and materialism as seen in his apartment and throughout the series.

    Rust's Apartment
    Rust’s Apartment
  • Rust has no TV in his apartment, only books. Plus some Irish whiskey.

    Rust's versions of a TV
    Rust’s versions of a TV
  • The only mirror Rust has is a coin sized mirror. I propose that the mirror is used as a form of meditation just as he uses the crucifix in his apartment as a form of meditation.

Martin Hart: Can I ask you something? You’re a Christian, yeah?
Rustin Cohle: No.
Martin Hart: Well, whadaya got the cross for, in your apartment?
Rustin Cohle: It’s a form of meditation.
Martin Hart: How’s that?
Rustin Cohle: I contemplate the moment in the garden; the idea of allowing your own crucifixion.

  • Rust meditating/gazing into the mirror before going undercover as Crash.
    Rust meditating before going undercover as Crash.

    Marty tryin to figure out the coin sized mirror. lols.
    Marty tryin to figure out the coin sized mirror. lols.

Basically, your soul is in your left eye… Rust out of all knows this… Man.

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