Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney
rozk

The Pope, the Rock and the NipTuckalypse

The world is full of people trying to discredit religion right now, most of them active believers. In the last few days, we have had the never-ending saga of damn fool things Mick Huckabee said in the past which he doesn't back away from now - I am appalled that even someone who does not stand much chance of getting his party's nomination could believe in interning everyone with HIV.

But this is almost as nothing to the Pope, who has announced that abortion, birth control and gay marriage are as great threats to world peace as inequality, the arms trade and racism. This sounds loopy, but it is worth unpacking - his argument is that the traditional nuclear family is the greatest bulwark world peace has, and that accordingly anything that threatens it threatens peace. His logic is not as our earth logic, of course, because it is so set up as to be perfectly circular and to depend on a completely a priori and unexamined set of premises. 'Why is birth control a threat to world peace. Because it threatens the family. How does it threaten the family? By being a threat to world peace, of course...' This is both insane and wicked nonsense - I wish I could bring myself not to despise the man too much to laugh at him.

******
I am the person who does not dislike Southland Tales as much as everyone else, in spite of having snoozed through part of it. I actually want to see it some other time when I have taken cold medicine and am slightly spacy, because mostly I rather enjoyed it. I also did not find it nearly as incoherent as everyone who wrote reviews...



The set up is that this is the last three days before the end of the world in an alternate 2008 where there were a series of atomic strikes on Texas in 2005 and the Patriot Act has been massively extended. The Republican candidates are involved with a national identity card and surveillance system, and with the German inventor of an alternative tidal energy source that is also a hallucinogenic drug. The Marxist underground, based in Venice Beach, are planning an uprising, supposed to be triggered by the faked death of two performance artists at the hands of a racist cop. The dim actor husband of the VP candidate's daughter has disappeared, and reappeared, and written an apocalyptic screenplay with a porn star who cannot be trusted...

Now that is all easy enough and paying attention will get you through some of the rest. Clearly the Marxist underground got the idea from Cameron's Strange Days as presumably director/screenwriter Kelly did. The German scientist names his airship 'Jenny von Westphalen' which is a bit of a hint that he is behind the Marxists as is the name of his company, Treer. (Oh, pay attention - Marx's wife was Jenny von Westphalen and he came from Trier. Come to that, at the end, 'all that is solid melts into air' and the plot is both tragedy and farce at the same time, as is appropriate to something which is about time lines layered over each other.)

The LAPD has been replaced by the Urban Pacification Unit, whose motto is not 'To Protect and Serve' but, as we see occasionally on their cars, 'oderint dum metuant' which was Caligula's remark about 'let them hate me as long as they fear me'. The fact that their ultimate boss at USIdent is played by Miranda Richardson is perhaps a reference to her role in Blackadder as a demented Queen of Hearts Off With their Heads Elizabeth 1.

The cop who genuinely does murder the performance artists and steals the tape himself at one point says 'Flow My Tears'. Since he has no connection with John Dowland's madrigal of that name, this is obviously a reference to Phil Dick's novel 'Flow my tears, the policeman said' and thus to the entire Dickian corpus, full as it is of interlocking conspiracies and hallucinogens.

The fact that the Republican leaders are called Eliot and Frost is clearly a reference to the apocalyptic strain in those poets' most famous works - Eliot's Hollow Men is constantly referenced in reverse. Frost of course wrote that poem about the world ending in fire or ice, as well as the poem about the road not taken - appropriate in an alternate universe film.

And so on - this is a film full of lovely gnarly stuff to unpack. It is also a film full of touching performances - I never expected to be moved by the Rock and Sean William Scott and Justin Timberlake. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mandy Moore and Wallace Shawn are good in it too.

I suspect it is a mess, in the end, but I want to read the accompanying comic book and give it my full attention - I would also like to see the uncut version. Oh, and it genuinely obeys Chekhov's dictum about hanging a gun on the wall in the first act if you are going to fire it in the third - or in this case the rocket launcher...

I suspect that the critics who hated it resented having to do all the work and pay that much attention - it made me laugh a lot, mostly at things that were intended to be funny.

*****

And Nip/Tuck was amazing this week in a train-wreck way - it is clearly going to end this season because Ryan Murphy is stretching our tolerance of Sean and Julia as far as he always stretches our liking for Christian and Matt and Kimber. All of whom are peculiarly awful this season, in an entertaining way. Do we assume Matt survives setting fire to himself, falling and drowning? Because if he does not, bang goes the future set up in Season Four's flash forward and no-one is safe. Also, I loved the fact that Liz turns out to be a UFO true believer and that the contactee plot goes rationalizing and then X-Files rather than the other way round... Also, o my god, but the very very wrong scenes between Sean and Eden are hot. (I am particularly disturbed right now because on vschanoes' recommendation I watched Betsy's Wedding which has a young Dylan Walsh (who plays Sean) married to Molly Ringwald. My eyes, my eyes and my hurting brain).

All this and bunnies for a Revenge Sex Meredith Grey fic....
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