“Beyond the black rainbow”: un film de…

Beyond the black rainbow” – (110 minutes, Canada, 2010 -NR)

How this film came to be is very easy to  imagine, as described by the writer/director: a typical awkward teenager browsing video stores in the ’80s, staring at video jackets of R-rated films his parents won’t allow him to watch, conjuring visions of what the movies are like.


‘Struth… But what makes it a little more unusual is that the kid’s father was George P. Cosmatos (1941-2005), who directed some popular movies in America and abroad, such as “the Cassandra crossing“, “Rambo II” and “Tombstone“. There isn’t much to find online about either father or son, and the elder Cosmatos’ decision to move his family to Victoria, British Columbia, reflects a strong desire for privacy and normalcy well away from Hollywood.

Barry Niles
Michael Rogers as Dr. Barry Niles

[…]1983. Dr. Barry Niles (Michael Rogers) runs the Arboria institute, created by his mentor Mercurio Arboria (Scott Nylands).

Mercurio Arboria
Scott Hylands as Dr. Mercurio Arboria

Dedicated to the development of human potential through technology and experimental medication, the facility houses a young girl named Elena (Eva Allan) with telepathic powers reined in by drugs and electronic voodoo in the form of a pulsating pyramid…

Elena
Eva Allan as Elena
Pyramid
Electronic voodoo

This is about as much of the story behind “beyond the black rainbow” which I’m willing to tell, because going further would only be laying out my own interpretation of a very personal film. “Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing. It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different.”  – Sherlock Holmes in “The Boscomb Valley mystery”.

The Sentionaut
The Sentionaut

Although “beyond the black rainbow” is very interesting visually, some would argue it isn’t anything particularly new. When I first saw the film’s trailer, I wondered: is that an early De Palma I missed? The stark decors with deep shadows and bright blue or red light, the mirrored surfaces and characters’ look…

But “beyond the black rainbow” is not imitation it is reflection, Pan Cosmatos’ imagined version of what 1980’s films were like, and an attempt at coming to terms with the loss of his parents. I suspect that a viewer’s take on the film will be very personal: much of what happens on screen, as well as the back story, is ‘hinted’ at.

Young Barry Niles chasing the rainbow
Young Barry Niles chasing the rainbow

Watching “beyond the black rainbow” is an experience of sorts, the combination of sharp visuals, slow pace and tonalities made me feel as though I was in some altered state. The unfortunate result being that I fell asleep twice trying to finish the film.

This in itself makes it somewhat difficult to recommend the film: it certainly doesn’t fit the usual “midnight movie madness” mold of entertaining weirdness. It does however has an appeal shared by  “the Lathe of Heaven” (the 1980 version), and “altered states“, exploring themes which are not readily translatable to the screen.

Niles' breakthrough
Niles’ breakthrough

I want also to single out the performance by Michael Rogers as Dr. Barry Niles, whose strange, androgynous appearance becomes clear in the last few minutes of the film. His  interpretation of a brilliant mind pulled between different realities, with muted lassitude, disgust and rage was subtle and fearsome at once.

Beyond the black rainbow” gets four jellybeans.

4 beans

Increase your website traffic with Attracta.com

Share

2012: JBoD’s year in review

Happy New Year!

Now is the time to take a minute and look back on this past year, and the ways it affected the JBoD microcosm.

We spent much of 2012 watching sunsets and wildlife (fins!) from local beaches, but in April, we chose to visit the neighboring hill known as Bernalwood where stunning California poppies in full bloom awaited. On another more recent trip, amazing clouds treated us to an ‘air show’…

California poppies on Bernal Hill
California poppies on Bernal Hill

In May, we finally managed a trip to see the California Academy of Sciences. The albino alligator named Claude is a real beauty.

Academy of Sciences
Claude on his warming rock. He’s quite a handsome devil. Photo by Ron DeCloux.

I took a lot of photos, so it’s in four parts. One, two, three and four.

In May, our glorious Golden Gate Bridge turned 75 years old. I’ve lived here for ten years and I never get tired of seeing her.

Golden Gate Bridge

In June, a contractor working a few doors down from our home base cut into a gas line, resulting in a gas explosion and fire. Purely by chance, prevailing winds minimized the spread of the damage, a very good thing considering how long it took to shut off the gas. The kind of scene best left in movies, not real life. The Pointy Eared people weren’t amused…

Gas fire and explosion on San Bruno Ave
Firefighters in action. The tan and brown building on the far left is where the construction was. The dentist office was in the white building.

Then in July, we lost our sweet, comical tyrannical food thief Kitsy to FIP. It was sudden and awful and I still haven’t been able to write a proper post for him. As for Lastech, he is still coming to terms with the possibility that the virus which took him might have been introduced by Miss Jenny. So little is known about FIP and no test being available, it remains a painful mystery.

Kitsy narrating LOL woman in black
“… Don’t go chasing shadows, Gigadoon…”

In August, we went to the park on a foggy morning and came across some wildlife with a pissy attitude.

Belligerent crayfish Hey stupid

In September, Miss Nightshade Jenny brought me a most bizarre gift.

Miss Nightshade Jenny
Don’t let those innocent blue peepers fool you

Later in September, we got to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor fly over the Golden Gate Bridge. Incredible!

Space Shuttle Endeavor by Lastech
Space Shuttle Endeavor by Lastech

In November, we went to the Japanese Tea Garden and Arboretum for a bit of zen. We wound up having a wonderful surprising encounter with a hawk.

The hawk was sitting in the tree just above eye level and only ten feet from the path.
The hawk was sitting in the tree just above eye level and only ten feet from the path.

A week or so later, we went exploring the Coastal Trail near the Golden Gate Bridge. We encountered another hawk, a couple of hummingbirds, a slug and a wonderful sunset.

Anna's hummingbird
Did I mention that hummingbirds like the pretty purple flowers?

We finished off the year by exploring the cliffs around Battery Mendell, a coastal battery that was built before WWI.

Battery Mendell
Photo by Rudha-an

That was our 2012 for the most part. Some was good and some was bad. Hopefully, 2013 will be an even better year.

Happy New Year from JBoD

Rudha-an, Lastech, Tito, and Miss Nightshade Jenny


Increase your website traffic with Attracta.com

Share

Midnight Movie Madness: “Burke and Hare”

Burke and Hare” – (91 minutes, UK, 2010)

Funny story. Two Irish guys, both named William, go to Edinburgh circa 1827 and… Well, “Burke and Hare” tells of William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis), scraping by in a city experiencing a sort of Renaissance in scientific studies, particularly medicine. As it happens, two rival surgeons, Doctors Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson) and Alexander Monro (Tim Curry), are in stiff competition for fresh human meat to dissect.

Burke Pegg Hare Serkis
Burke (left) and Hare (right)

Continue reading “Midnight Movie Madness: “Burke and Hare””

Share

Feline flatulence and the future of civilization

My argument is that science often attempts to recreate naturally occurring phenomena by technological means, and that the results often are subject to the “law of unintended consequences”.

Over the past several decades, Hollywood has been instrumental in ‘gently’ opening the lid of the Genie’s bottle, through movies and television series designed to familiarize people with what was just over the horizon. Today, web instruments, like memes for instance, are used with similar intent.

We see hints poop up everywhere until they tend to coalesce into messages picked up and disseminated further by mass media.

Case in point, as we’ve all read and heard: the internet is made of tubes… The internet is made of cats… Fear the cat butt… Photos of cats’ eyes glowing in the dark “assuming direct control”… And now, cat farts. Why? To get a sense as to where this all might lead, let’s first have a look at NASA’s recording of solar events to analyze their occurrences and effects, using technology developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

The technology, developed to improve computer chips’ manufacturing specifications and performance, was used to great effect by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Below is a photo montage of slides taken by NASA’s vehicle:

LLNL NASA SDO Sun shots
Solar slides taken by NASA’s SDO

Now for comparative purposes is a now familiar capture of Miss Jenny’s fart using a mass spectrometer:

Jenny fart cloud
Mass spectrometer assisted photographic capture of cat poot.

While there do appear to be similarities, the shapes and energy releases (swirls and lightning) in the cat’s fart seem to display a more organized pattern, maybe even a design. But I’ll leave the potentially religious considerations to proponents of either Ceiling Cat or Basement Cat, and concentrate on the science.

The releases of energy, discovered by the LLNL scientists have been analyzed in conjunction with a researcher at Stanford’s Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), and have been shown to be ‘influenced’ by emissions of light particles popularly (and erroneously) referred to as “laser eyes”.

cat fart reacting to cat's eye photonic emission
Jenny’s fart cloud reacting to photonic emissions from Tito’s peepers

Notice the realigning of molecules and energy. An instrument developed jointly by LLNL and SLAC is used to measure the pulse by pulse levels of energy of an X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL).

Now, the XFEL’s ability to capture atoms and molecules in motion with minimal disruption led to another intriguing discovery at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) program: molecules in cats’ farts are imprinted with data and react to photonic emissions from their eyes (the cats’, not the molecules. And if you don’t stop cracking jokes in the back, you’ll get to stay after class).

My theory is that a cat farting on a human is simply an attempt to fully communicate with us, by ‘flagging’ all of our senses, and making us inhale information, so to speak. This process, or more accurately ‘collection of processes’ is now the subject of study for applications ranging from data storage and management to renewable energy (they cannot stop farting, it seems). So if the law of unintended consequences does apply, we may well end up with complete world domination by cats and find ourselves in the litter box… Remember:

He who controls the farts
“HE WHO CONTROLS THE FARTS CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE”


Increase your website traffic with Attracta.com

Share

Friday Night Cats Blogging: with sadness and a whiff of disgust

Regrettably, I need to talk about the passing of two of my favorites… Let me rephrase that: the passing of gas by Mazuzu “Mace” Whang and Jenny N.
This is another dimension to the old “fear the cat butt” slogan, such as the one I wrote about in “when the nitty gets real gritty”.

Mazuzu farts, Tito is camouflaged
Mazuzu farts, Tito is camouflaged

When I grew up, our cats were indoors/outdoors with a large yard in which to romp. Our current crop of kittounes are housebound, but still get plenty of exercise. So, why they should squeeze out the foulest SBDs* on a semi-regular basis, I have no clue.
There’s no competition to eat, they all have plenty and stress-free nomming sessions.

peas in a pod farts in a box
Peas in a pod, farts in a box...

I have no idea whether Tito ever cuts the cheese, but there is no doubting the other two open up the valves of hell whenever they get heavy petting.
The most foul? Miss Jenny. That’s right, and I can tell when it’s her as the air takes on a different hue and seems to shimmer as in the summer heat. That’s just before the cloud envelops you like an overly friendly drunk who hugs you and won’t let go and follows you all the way to the window.

Jenny's fart photo using a Mass Spectrometer
Jenny's fart photographed with a mass spectrometer

You best start the fan, because the fiendish aerosol hangs about for a while and sounds travels slower through it: in her farts, no one can hear you scream. It even generates its own lightning!

No. There is no silver lining to those clouds… As to Maz, you can hear the faintest “buzz”, a bit like a distant boat motor and get a look of heavy sarcasm: “there’s more room outside than inside”, it seems to say. Then you feel like someone pelted you with rotten eggs and cat food.

* SBD: Silent But Deadly


Increase your website traffic with Attracta.com

Share

“The last winter” – (2006, USA/Iceland, 101 minutes – NR)

Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman) has a tough job: he flies back to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska from the US on a mission. The small party he has waiting for him at their base camp will be tasked with laying the ground work for a new pipeline.

Ron Perlman as Ed Pollack

Matters are complicated by the presence of James Hoffman (James LeGros), a concession from the oil company KIK to political interests and environmentalists.

James LeGros as James Hoffman is watching the skies

Hoffman has observed and documented fluctuating temperatures preventing any notion of building a road as the ground would be too soft, and has a theory about strange behavior and visions affecting group members: Hoffman believes that climate change causes sour gas, a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen sulfide, to seep from the ground.

Continue reading ““The last winter” – (2006, USA/Iceland, 101 minutes – NR)”

Share

Midnight Movie Madness: bleak future and killer bots

“Screamers” – (1995, USA/Canada/Japan, 108 minutes – rated R)

On a mining colony called Sirius 6B in the late 21st century, the survivors of two warring factions may have to join forces to survive a new threat: self-replicating weapons evolving of their own accord since being “fielded” by one side. “Screamers” are scavenging robots produced in underground factories for the alliance, burrowing just below the surface until they launch themselves at their prey, their razor sharp blades whirring at a painfully high pitch sounding like a scream. Scary and gory stuff.

Watch the trailer here:


They then slice their target to pieces and drag the gruesome remains below ground.

Variety one

Continue reading “Midnight Movie Madness: bleak future and killer bots”

Share

Midnight Movie Madness: “Phase IV”

“Phase IV” – (1974, USA, 93 minutes – rated PG)

The DVD version of Saul Bass’ only feature length film is missing 9 minutes, cut by producers. The cuts were mostly at the end of the movie, surreal images and sequences they probably figured would turn audiences off.
And perhaps they were right, although in the end “Phase IV” was not a commercial success and as a result, Bass did not make another feature film.

Some of these images can be seen in the trailer below:


Phase IV” belongs to a certain pantheon of sci-fi and horror films, films which some would qualify as visionary, cerebral and other adjectives reserved for “2001: a space odyssey”, “Farenheit 451”, “Solaris” and “THX 1138” to name a few.
Not all of “Phase IV” is satisfying or even readily attainable, in other words. What it has are some of the most chilling images and sequences and a script which takes the audience seriously: contrary to much of the poster art, “Phase IV” is no exploitation movie.

Continue reading “Midnight Movie Madness: “Phase IV””

Share