Monday, December 06, 2010

The Docks of New York

von Sternberg's The Docks of New York is a classic silent movie that will hold your attention if you give it a chance. The themes of love and sex are quadrangular with a fifth character Andy (Mitchell Lewis) as comic relief.

A tough stoker of steamer ships has one day's leave and wants to enjoy it. He saves a prostitute who tries to commit suicide by drowning herself. He's a tough guy, really tough - he can outfight everyone in the low-life bar near the docks where all the action happens and it does. George Bancroft is magnificent in this silent role - he is tall and has presence. He almost plays to the camera and it works. Students of film and acting could learn a lot from watching this performance. If he were around now and playing tough guys he'd outclass most of the field 83 years later - the film was made in 1928. It is also set in the time when stokers were necessary to run ships (and trains) but it's down in the bowels of the ship and it is a job from hell.

Sternberg's masterly direction means you won't miss a beat and there's rare times when your attention flags. The love story between Bancroft and Betty Compson (Mae) is moving and the tension offered both by the plot and Bancroft in portraying this tough good time guy fluctuate between love's commitment and pleasure satisfied's flight is very effective. The denouement is excellent and the final scenes touching. I note that you can probably see this film on youtube. Try and give it attention. It's well worth it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There's a giant mirror-like enitity somewhere in the Universe

Hi All this is naughty Squorch saying a holographic hello to all you fans of intergalactic information.

What's been happening lately is that the fabric of the Universe and its origins are being steadily questioned and we may be on the verge of a paradigm shift. It should not be surprising given the way that in the last ten years, with the Internet and computers running at zillions of flops, information is being processed as never before.

The first piece of news is from Sir Roger Penrose who finds in some concentric cosmic waves he has studied, the echo of the "Universe" before the big bang. That is, a Universe before this Universe. Penrose is thus positing a more cyclical view of the Cosmos. The Big Bang is not t-zero.

Sir Roger Penrose on the cyclical universe -from 2007

The second piece of news - this article links to it - is the idea that reality is a hologram and we live only in two dimensions. Time supplies the third dimension.

Black hole physics, in which space and time become compressed, provides a basis for math showing that the third dimension may not exist at all.

As a puppet who serves humankind with my jests and performances I feel that what is being overlooked is the mirror. I have spoken of this many times before. Jaques Lacan in his psychoanalytical endeavours saw that the child's formation of emotions and kinetic action are formed in the mirror that is the mother's face firstly and then other people's movement, speech etc.

With Hanny's Voorwerp we saw a kind of mirror in the heavens. I say the structure of space-time has some kind of mirror in it that might have some bearing upon the holographic nature of reality.

On another note I am deeply sorry that my article on cinema and evil has offended some of my fellow performers and that I am barred from entering Hollywood for the next six months. All I can say is that the article is to receive a part two soon. But space-time being what it is "SOON" might be found in one of the mirror's in my dressing room. Or yours!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


What links these films is the theme of EVIL and also the notion of how films and stories should end. I say should but I don't mean to be coercive. Formulas are useful but they can suck.

Both The Town (2010, dir Ben Affleck) and The Getaway (1972, dir Sam Peckinpah) are about bank robbery and tough guys. Both are good films but they fail in the credibility stakes as the heroes are too heroic, too Superman for us to really believe. It makes us happy but happiness lies in credibility. Yes, my hero really can/could do this. What Affleck and McQueen's characters achieve is ultimately not realistic and thus a let down. Both films address certain areas of realism very well. In The Town we have a great insight into the poor Irish Bostonion community. In The Getaway the psychological and relationship dimension of the central characters is refreshingly complex need to repeat my gripe about realism. What is also problematic - more so in The Town is the idea of Evil which is addressed and gives the film its watchability and profundity. The Affleck character, who is surrounded by evil fellows and who is a violent thief, basically, encounters good in the beautiful woman who is present at the first robbery. But one example of the immaturity of the handling of evil is where the beautiful woman has had a problem from some people on the estate she lives on. The Affleck character just goes and beats them up. His remorse ultimately is shallow and the problem of evil in this film is painted over by the generosity of superman Affleck at the end of the film.

The Getaway makes no bones about evil in that there are no scruples about it and there is a greater evil in one of the fellow bank robbers of the Steve McQueen character. This is a kind of template for No Country for Old Men: deepest evil's pursuit of bad (but not as evil) protagonist. There are real scum out there and McQueen gets rid of them. But really he is also scum. No one wants to be robbed. But we do invest in wrong-doing hard men and this investment is made effectively when they are up against greater evil, stomach turning evil. (There are gentlemen and women bandits, probably, but they must be really rare).

Evil and its subtle insinuations are explored in Haneke's White Ribbon (2009, dir Michael Haneke). No simplistic solutions here; no one medium evil versus a greater evil. There are a few spotless characters, like the protagonist, but Evil and brutishness is pervasive among the leading men of the community (Pastor, Doctor, Baron) and their children. Set before WWI this is an unsettling film in which no one is let off the hook and in which the only resolution is the purification which the war brings. Like a number of his films the lack of resolution can lead to a feeling of almost being cheated narratively but the unblinking attempt to look at evil is perhaps so unflinching as again to fall short of the credibilty of greatness that masterpieces achieve.

Dramaturgy needs obstacles. Evil provides a ready and powerful obstacle. But for a narrative to really impress us, how evil is dealt with, the credible nature of its effect and impact is an important factor in the satisfaction felt by an audience and that may have something to do with the Ultimatum Game, which is often used by economists to analyse fairness in transactions.

Simple explanation of the game:

I have 10 gold coins. I must offer you them as a precondition of the game. If you refuse my offer we both go away with nothing.

There is a great chapter on this in The Wisdom of Crowds where capuchin monkeys are offered food in return for pebbles. Exchanges are smooth until one monkey is given a grape for nothing. Then the other monkeys throw away their pebbles and refuse to play.

"In many cultures, people offer "fair" (i.e., 50:50) splits, and offers of less than 20% are often rejected"[1].

In short and at a tangent when it comes to Evil perhaps our mechanism for the Ultimatum game is partly at work.

UDFy-38135539 and 13 billion years!!!

I say wow! too much I know but will any one hear it in 13 billion years. Will any one see me in the future?

UDFy-38135539 is a small galaxy that existed when God was starting work on the Universe. Some say this galaxy the oldest and farthest 'thing' ever seen was only 600,000,000 (six hundred million) years away from the Big Bang from whence the Universe was created. Let there be light or Hawkingsian gravity aside this is a phenomenal moment in History when we will see puppets from the dawn of reality waving at us. I'm joking but to imagine seeing the distant truly primordial past is mind blowing. In fact, it's cosmic, maaan:)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Wow! A Star Is Truly Born(Whitest, bottom centre)

Truly amazing and only 4,300ish years ago in our galaxy. Scientists still can't explain how stars ten times or over our Sun's size do not blow themselves away, as when you light a gas ring too fast perhaps). Anyway...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gnuthausen Systems is what K1 is involved with.

What do I really think? Pah! Pah! to anything that sidelines my major star qualities. Pah!

Monday, February 15, 2010