May 11th, 2004


Stanislaw Lem.

stanislaw lem is eighty three years old, and he's an outspoken, harsh, lucid bastard. it's fucking great:

Space has become an arena of rivalry between the great powers, and a hallmark of prestige.

This is not development but militarization, pure and simple. Moreover, it has nothing to do with the Universe: All that matters is within 300 kilometers from the Earth. Militarily, say, the Moon is not very important: After all, 400,000 km is way too far. As for prestige, it is not worth a brass farthing. What really counts is the speed of information transfer. Should a stock exchange go bust someplace in Hong Kong, the whole world will learn about this within two seconds. I am not an expert on economics, but this is what globalization is all about. As for space, it will be the domain of astronomers, astronauts, astrophysics, and so on.

What about Solaris then?

Excuse me, but this is science fiction.

Then perhaps there was no call to argue with Tarkovsky?

Frankly, I only saw the second part of his film. Still, Tarkovsky had a message to deliver. And then he had great talent, while this pathetic Soderbergh--

But you said yourself, didn’t you, that Hollywood would make a mess of it — and then gave your consent.

I did. And I got $500,000 for letting them botch the job. I don’t want to see Solaris: I have read all sorts of things about the film. Now the Americans are going to make another of my books into a film. But I have not given my consent.

right here.

and his personal website is here.
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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

on the same night as the free jet, i went and saw eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, because, frankly, i had heard many good things.

i had my reservations about this film. despite the fact that many people call it a charlie kaufman film, it's actually a michel gondry film, and he made human nature, which wasn't very good. kaufman, by the way, wrote the script for that film, too. now, the film didn't suck in a big way, but at the end, you certainly couldn't argue that it was good. it wasn't.

but you know, many people said eternal sunshine of the spotless mind was fantastic. people called it ground breaking and amazing and (in a comment that has stuck in my head) raw. the problem, of course, with such comments, is that a film can't possibly live up to these expectations: eternal sunshine of the spotless mind isn't groundbreaking, isn't mind numbing, and didn't leave me raw. but: i did enjoy it quite a lot, and i do think it's a fine film.

it deals with a couple, played exceptionally well by jim carrey and kate winslet, who decided to have each other wiped from their memory by a mind wiping procedure. perhaps the finest line is uttered by tom wilkinson in relation to this concept, when joel (carrey) asks if there will be any damage, and he replies, 'well, the procedure is essentially about damaging your brain.'

from here, the film follows a tour through joel's mind, tracking the emotional state of someone after a breakup. painful memories first, nice ones later, then that little bit of something you hold onto at the end, which, as seen in the first fifteen minutes of the film, convinces both joel and clementine (winslet) to go to a cold beach, where they will meet again. this, of course, introduces the statement of the film: that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes if we simply toss away everything we learnt from our previous relationship.

at least, that's what i view the statement of the film is. i could also go with: there's someone for everyone, and that some people are just meant to be together.

but, in the end, i lean towards the first statement, since that seems to me to be the point of the film. most of the film is dedicated to joel and clementine's tour through joel's memories, looking for a place to hide, digging into his mind, into their arguments, and laying down the bones of what went wrong in the two of them. to go with the second statement, you have to play up elijah wood's character and his obsession with clementine more than the film does. but it's there, since he does steal joel's memories and possessions to move in on clementine as a fake joel, intent on being him for all intents and purposes, except, of course, that clementine doesn't take to it. and, with that, kirsten dunst's character arc really supports the first statement within the film.

still, i enjoyed myself, and the film, though there are two things, in the end, that let the film down (just a little) for me:

the first is that the whole crawling through someone's mind and digging into their psyche is not a new idea. we were introduced to that in being john malkovich, and in a few places, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind does echo that earlier kaufman scripted film. but still, the end result is something much different, and it isn't, in the end, a problem.

the end of the film, however, was a bit disappointing. i can't tell what exactly it is that disappointed me, except that it felt like a fizzle, like everyone had got to the end of the film, and was standing in a narrow hallway, looking at each other, and said, 'well, what do we do now?'

'end it?'

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