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[Friday, February 07, 2003]


Tenser, said the Tensor

In Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, somebody has method, or a device, or something, for generating songs that stick in the head irremovably. I'm sorry that's vague, I haven't read the book in years. Anyway, I suspect that Kander and Ebb must have occasional, expensive access to such a thing, and they were using it when they wrote the "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago.

Because, really, there's nothing on the level of meaning that explains why "Pop, Six, Squish, Uh-uh, Cicero, Lipschitz" should be such a memorable line. And the tune isn't that compelling.

Still in Movieland, the other night I went to see La turbulence des fluides, aka Chaos and Desire. Something compels me to do this point-form:

  • Believable user interfaces in a movie: excellent. Aging geologists playing Donkey Kong in a movie ("If it weren't for this, I'd be smoking my pipe!"): even better

  • I realize that to an anglo audience, The Turbulence of Fluids probably sounds too arty. However, the English title is a half-quote from the movie, to the effect that the three elements of life are, not hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, but desire, disorder, and danger. Couldn't we have had that? Too alliterative? That's a rich decision for Alliance Atlantis to be making.

  • I don't think any of the promotion and reviewing really gave any idea of how much fun stuff there was in this movie. For instance, Alice the seismologist buys an old milk truck to drive around Baie-Comeau as a portable lab, with an 8-track blaring Hank Williams. The benefit is that there's refrigeration in the back, since there's a heat-wave going on, and she even keeps ice cream in it. Dammit, I want one too.

  • The dialogue sparkles. Not all of it translates successfully, I think; with my poor French, I even managed to pick up a couple of missed bits: like when Marc asks Alice "What's the most popular folk dance in Japan?" and she says "I don't like .. folk", the French has "social dance" and something that seemed like "I don't do social". Much sharper.

  • Alice strolls into a pathology lab with an armful of mussels, during an autopsy, and nonchalantly dumps them on a table and asks for an estimated time of death. The doctor does it, and I have no idea how realistic that is, but it was a great scene.

Anyway, this is a recommendation; it's a fun and fairly thought-provoking movie, though it didn't quite have its ideas in order. It's finished here in Toronto, sadly, but I imagine it will show up at reps, and appear on video ere long.

posted 4:39 PM |

[Tuesday, February 04, 2003]


O Dove of science and of light / Upon the branches of the night..

"We once were young and blessed with wings

No heights could keep us from their reach

No sacred place we did not soar

Still greater things burned within us

I don't regret the choices that I made...

-VNV Nation, "Beloved"

posted 9:46 PM |