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I'm with Simon here: I love to read Mark on anything but I don't know why anyone would go anywhere near the nu 'improved' King Kong. Just the thought of all that empty bombast and Dolby chute noise fills me with more horror than any cine-text could any longer generate.

Surely this is just more ICONIC nonsense (lit.: non-sense)?

I'm sure that in some media interview somewhere in the world right now Peter Jackson is saying: "Well, I had to, because the original is SO ICONIC FOR ALL OF US ISN'T IT?"*

Which - as anyone who in the last year or so has watched a bunch of celebrities talking on TV about Marilyn Monroe, or Madonna, or Stan Bowles, or On The Buses, or Curly Wurlies, or George Michael's cheesey shuttlecock or pretty much ANYTHING UNDER THE POST WAR SUN, knows, calling something "iconic" is a way of looking smart while saying nothing.

And Jackson just proves the point. Now, no one expects hard working Hollywood directors or desperate Z list soap stars and yap heads to keep up with their Zizeck (altho it is something of a giveaway: that so many people in Hollywood are probably IN analysis, but which breaks down thus: interest 'in' Analysis: nil; interst IN Holy Self: 100%: they're only seduced by a benign, essentially narcissistic version of 'analysis'... an E-bay of the soul, where you can "get rid of" things from your life you no longer want to hang on to...), but isn't it CLEAR as FREUD's infamous MUD, that the original of something like King Kong continues to exert a pall or fascination over us - whereas the far more ostensibly "realistic" sweetly FX'd re-make slips from our mind like pop corn grease. Just like the Lacanian "Real" persists, persists, outside all logic (the 'get well soon' logic of American analysis, especially), so the tatty original King Kong persists (with its "un PC" - or so we're assured - echoes of Race War and horror of miscegenated gazes ...) where remakes that cost the budget of a small country are forgotten within weeks, days, hours... ; just as the original Point Blank is one of the most haunting films ever made, and Lee Marvin stalks our daymares like a Moloch, genuinely scared/scary - whereas the risible/hateful 'remake' - albeit full of bigger guns and 'better' violence - has no claws whatsoever: Mel Gibson probably had ten scriptwriters + an army of stylists + a publicity machine + Armani uniform + echoes of Trendy Hong Kong movies, whereas Lee had a half a bottle of Chivas and a bad memory of the Pacific conflict. Which one do we remember? Which one persists? What's more haunting? Chinatown? OR: some actor-wank Tim Roth abomination "about" incest, where there are "controversial" scenes where we ostensibly See It All? Why: Chinatown of course. My God - the other night I saw this slick violent thriller where we were asked to accept Stephen Dorf as a scary bad man! I've had cats who had KITTENS that were scarier than STEPHEN DORF! In the same film, Harvey Keitel was gven a five minute actor-wank scene where he simmers, then whimpers, then bangs the table, then throws the table... oh, fuck off Harvey, I thought, I've seen you Do This Before. It's sheer Actor Wank. And about as scary as indigestion. And you'll still never be one thousandth as scary as, say, James Fox in Performance... who persisteth like the ungentle tsunami, even if he is "an OUT OF DATE boy..."

I think there's probably a lot more theoretical stuff to be said about this (persistence of Real: why exactly it haunts... etc, how our media Time works, the big differences between Freud/Lacan's time and our own [i.e. we grow up with our heads and dreams populated by TV/cinema figures] and even the generational difference between someone my age and someone only 5 or ten years younger who grew up on FXs magazines and computer games and even, like Peter Jackson, did homemade GORE films with similarly nerdy pals...) but then I'm a bit of a hypocrite: I don't keep up with my Zizeck et al any longer, either.

But maybe what at first glance LOOKS like simple nostalgia for some version of the past (the 70s past, the 80s past, the silent movie Hollywoodland past), is actually still just a FEAR of whatever Real is lurking there, like a greasy troll behind the Chopper bikes...

So when a nerdy boy wonder director says he wants to make something look more real, harken unto that "look"... his FX enabling is just a way of not confronting some speck or spectre or Other**... (are we going to have the Schlinder's Ark argument here, maybe?) Something from some film or newsreel or cartoon that freaked him out big time as a boy, maybe***...

And seeing as all we seem to do nowadays is recycle the past, we must be very fucking frightened indeed of some shadowy bright loss or lack or insistence or other....


*{And you know, Peter, there's a clue in the word itself here: no one ever looked at a staggeringly mysterious sublime - but patchy - early Icon of some religious scene and said: Well, what's wrong with this is that it isn't REAL enough... }

**{Somewhere in here is also the reason why Dead Ringers is (in my opinion) Cronenberg's masterpiece; and why his actualisation of The Naked Lunch shld never even have been contemplated, never mind actually made...}

***{I remember two primal moments in my own personal Oz-tale journey through the Imaginary, both luridly monochrome: the original Bob Mitchum slimy-steamy Cape Fear (and if ever there was a case of the shadowy repressed all-subtext Original being a million times more frightening than the slick-FX Method-man Remake, jeez...), where my Pa put his big fingers over my little eyes at a certain moment in the narrative; and being home alone with the telly aged 6 or 7 and suddenly being shown some Concentration Camp footage - which exact image I can still recall to this day ...}

posted by Ian 1/04/2006 08:52:00 AM

The problem w/ most films/etc for me, is that they don't look UN-real enuff. I want that sense of heightened 'unreality' where I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm seeing, or how to interpret it.

I think that's why I love Italio Splatter and no-budget z-sploitation fodder so much...the cheepnis, lack of production 'values', the low-grade film stock (or mis-use of cheap video), unconvincing levels of acting, etc all conspire to hint at some sort of 'Otherness', at different ways of percieving or interpreting the world....our Hollywood-induced habitual notions of how films should look is completely short-circuited by Phillipino Women in Prison films, Indonesian Witch/Ghost films or some homemade zombie flick shot for $200 in Seatle by college kids...the least convincing a film looks, or the more it auto-highlights its own processes, the more it becomes, I dunno, something else...

I don't like these films because (groan) "they're so bad, they're good", I loooove them because they are basically sign-posts to other ways of looking at things....they hint at routes we can take to by-pass the consensus Hollywood/mass-media views of 'reality', 'history', etc...

It's great that an old skool director like John Carpenter was recently slagging off CGI recently, saying it was the death of creativity....
Another thing about "realness"...I've noticed that CGI effects actually give films an unrealness that clunkier films (like Star Wars) aren't burdened with. Take the dinosaur chase scene in Kong. It looks a lot like a rubbery cartoon. And the computer driven camera angle swoops (prominent when Harry Potter plays that sport on a broomstick)create impossible shifts of perspective that remind me of the latest video games. There is something very new going on here, I think. Whereas the effects designers working on Star Wars were taking believability strongly into account, it doesn't seem so with Jackson's films. The action sequences are more amazing, but look cheesily phoney (and gratuitous). But this doesn't seem to matter as it once did. The point is to employ the technology not make a point with the aid of technology. By the way where does your horror-in-the-face-of Dolby Surround Sound come from? Do you think F. Jameson didn't pay his $10 and sit among the throng with a popcorn in his lap? How can a person expect to know where we're at if they have too much contempt for our culture to sit right down in the middle of it?
It's not a question of "contempt", mate. Goddamn you people READ TOO MUCH INTO EVERYTHING. It's TOO LOUD FOR ME. I'm a 46 year old who spent the best part of his formative years at dub and rock gigs. For the first 15 mins of every morning I have a high pitched keening noise in my left ear. Ever since an experience with Beverley Hills Cop 2 (of all things) where the volume was so balls shrivellingly loud I had to leave - well, if it ain't a Straub/Huillet retrospective, I just don't go anymore... I.P.
Of course talking about how "real" something in King Kong or Harry Potter is is not-quite-right is it? On the one hadn this stuff is clammily hyper-real, video game derived etc; on the other hand a lot of its formal narrative qualities are BANAL AS SIN. It may be 'realisitc', but here's no 'Real' there (a la Lacan) -which you DO get with someone like Cronenberg...

"impossible shifts of perspective"--that's what im always on the look out for. i collect them.
Can't resist the lure of pointless remakes plus actors doomed to failure when trying to look scary plus Mitchum: there is a remake of with, in the Robert Mitchum role... Richard Chamberlain. Yes, the man best known as Dr Kildare. Beat that.
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