This Week You Will Contemplate the Follies of Man Through:
- Alien prequels
Thanks to Drunk Napoleon for contributing this week. Send articles throughout the week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
Filmmaker Sammi Aran Leto – previously known around these parts as the mad genius trans witch friend – takes to Gatecrashers to claim the Alien prequels as an expression of Ridley Scott’s ambivalence over being god of his movies and his grief over the passing of his brother:
But besides this dry and dusty lore-keeping and wet and bloody mayhem, besides the apparent soul-baring in Covenant, there’s something else that keeps me coming back to the duology of Alien prequels, and that’s the possibility that they’re commentaries on themselves. Like The Matrix Resurrections or Mad Max: Fury Road, they’re films that see the return of a genre trailblazer working against the staggering investments of a corporate body (20th Century Fox for Scott, WB for Lana Wachowski and George Miller) and their inane reductive demands (Fox tried to get Prometheus down to a ludicrously tame PG-13 for maximum four-quadrant return, WB micromanaged Resurrections and Fury Road to a similarly constrictive extent). There’s a rebellious streak to all three pictures, an anti-corporate pro-artist sentiment, and all three chart what could be described as allegorical journeys into the making of their own selves. Prometheus even sees the ostensible leader of the mission have the rug pulled under them to reveal that it was all the work of an aged maestro.
Vulture prints an oral history of Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, the quirky last gasp of the Florida studio’s hand-drawn animation branch that avoided becoming another of the studio’s string of disasters by avoiding Michael Eisner:
Kevin McDonald, voice of Pleakley: Now that I’m an old man and I bring every conversation back to myself, here I go: The Kids in the Hall were like that! On our original series, we were in Toronto, and HBO very rarely flew up to see us. Lorne Michaels only made the flight once a year. That was mostly to see his family because he’s from Toronto. So we were hidden like that, too.
[Director Chris] Sanders: We were the equivalent of a spy plane that was being built at a secret hangar with a very elite group of people. And that’s another reason that Florida was magic, because no one knew what was going on in Florida.
Scott Tobias pens a New Cult Canon piece on Under the Skin:
It may sound disrespectful to praise the screenwriter for not wanting to read the book, but Under the Skin is a prime example of why fidelity to a novel is a neutral virtue at best, if not a potential pitfall. Too many adaptations are acts of illustration, picking out elements that either don’t translate readily to film or need to be cut for efficiency’s sake. Not enough filmmakers have the courage—or the temerity, really—to extract what they see as the essence of the material and leave the rest behind. Glazer may have conceived Under the Skin as a “spiritual” companion to Faber’s novel, but he understands film and book to be separate entities. he result is a haunting work of science fiction that confounds and challenges its audience, stripping away so much information that all we’re left with are questions, mostly answered by suggestion.
At The New York Times Magazine, Wesley Morris argues that Americans love trashy movies and should be given more trash to chew on. Who is declared the best active purveyor of movie trash at the end of the article? The answer may surprise you:
The trash urge gave American movies its musk, its fun, its hickies, its exercise — in action and horror and thrillers, in the disaster movie, in just about anything that had the brass to cast Shelley Winters or Faye Dunaway, and the brains, if you think about it, to hire Jodie Foster. It stressed the id in idea. By the end of the 1960s when Kael named it, trash was on the verge of ubiquity, a genre of its own, in stuff like “Slaves,” from 1969, which has Dionne Warwick cavorting with her white enslaver (Stephen Boyd) and the strapping field hand (Ossie Davis) he just paid top dollar for. It’s fully evident during the 1970s, in the hunger and violence of the so-called blaxploitation era, and in “The French Connection” and “Carrie”; in “Mahogany,” a melodrama with Diana Ross as a runway model preyed upon by a fashion photographer (Anthony Perkins, turning his “Psycho” serial killer part into a paying job); and “Eyes of Laura Mars,” a slasher film with Dunaway as a fashion photographer who, somehow, can envision what a serial killer sees.
Speaking of treasured trash, Atlas Obscura‘s Anna Mindess sheds light on the world of French cheese label collectors:
[Collector Serge] Schéhadé specializes in historical labels, which he defines as lithographed works from before 1960 or 1970. “More modern labels that are made on printing presses include unsightly bar codes,” he says. “They lack the artistry of the lithographed models that were etched on engraving stones, with each color added one by one.” He currently has about 35,000 labels, organized into 200 albums. […] When asked about his motivation, Schéhadé provides a French word that does not have a simple English translation: patrimoine. The term contains a complex web of meanings which include heritage, tradition, cultural inheritance, and the bonds formed between generations.