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Showing posts from December, 2010

War of the Worlds

Spielberg's 2005 War of the Worlds is, according to Wikipedia, on Cahiers du Cinema's list of the best 10 films of the Noughties. I can't say I agree, but like a lot of later Spielberg, it's an interesting film, if deeply flawed, and does put on show many of Spielberg's ongoing motifs and ideas.

War of the Worlds is the next Spielberg sf film after AI (2001) and Minority Report (2002), and, of course, has the same star as the latter film in Tom Cruise. These three films are significant revisions of the kind of visionary sf Spielberg essayed in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) but continue that film's focus upon deficient fatherhood. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfus), the boy-man who leaves his family behind and takes to the stars in Close Encounters, escapes censure for his seeming irresponsibility (the cosmological imperative outweighs the familial), but Minority Report's John Anderton (Cruise), a broken man suffering the loss of his young son and subseq…

Thoughts on Lost Girls

For those of you who don't know, Lost Girls is a graphic tale by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie (who became life-partners during the making of the book), which re-writes the characters and histories of Wendy Darling (Peter Pan), Alice Liddell (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/ Through the Looking Glass) and Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz). The book is sexually explicit, offering a fantasia of couplings, flows and desires - it's positively Deleuzian in its representations of desiring machines - it's Sadean too, but we'll get back to that - and it is utopian, in that its re-coding of the latent sexual content of Victorian and Edwardian children's literature is released (orgiastically) from the structures of repression into a polymorphously perverse world of unrestricted desire and sexual pleasure. A special roundtable discussion of the online journal ImageText (which can be found at: http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v3_3/) does a good job of investiga…

V for Vendetta

Some ten years ago now, I was due to give a paper at the University de Alacala, near Madrid, at a conference that considered the influence of George Orwell. At the very last minute, I was unable to go, but I had planned and written a paper on Alan Moore and David Lloyd's graphic novel, V for Vendetta. This narrative had a curious publishing history: it had first appeared in Warrior, a short-lived monthly British comic that was intended to provide British writers and artists with the same measure of artistic control and expressive freedom as was available in the American comic book industry. As it turned out, this proved to be a false hope: Warrior, published by Quality Communications (and edited by Dez Skinn, who had worked for Marvel UK) was subsidised by the turnover from Quality's retail outlet, folded after 25 issues, when many of the writers and artists – some, like Alan Moore, disillusioned with the British comics scene – were recruited by US comics publishers to work on…

Nuclear Armageddon

I've been reading a lot of nuclear fictions, as I'm writing a book chapter on Nevil Shute's classic novel On The Beach, wherein the last survivors of a global nuclear war, eking out a last few weeks in Melbourne (the southernmost major city), inhabit a slow entropic drift down into death. It's a wonderfully moving book, with several characters taking their own (and their loved ones') life with the onset of radiation sickness. Having watched Peter Watkins's suppressed 1965 BBC film The War Game (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2864871032688882557#), I realised that, although it's very moving in its depiction of a quiet decline into death, Shute's narrative effaces the full horror of nuclear war, and its domesticity verges on the sentimental. The War Game is clearly lensed through Dresden and Hiroshima and doesn't spare the viewer images of radiation burns, children blinded, and the euthanising of casualties who cannot be treated. (In fact, …