larvatus: (MZ)
“Was nicht verboten ist, ist erlaubt”, announced Schiller’s First Hunter. What isn’t forbidden, is allowed. But you can do better—observe social rules only as far as necessary to trespass them with lawful impunity. “Questa è l’unica speranza—l’uomo nel disordine.”

larvatus: (rock)


Еврейский анекдот наоборот:
— Мойша, а ты знаешь, что Жора — пидорас?
— Что, он занял денег и не отдаёт?!
— Да нет, в хорошем смысле.

Une histoire juive à rebours :
— Moishe, tu savais que Gégé est un pédé ?
— Quoi, il a emprunté de l’argent et ne le rembourse pas ?
— Non, dans le bon sens.

The contrary of a Jewish joke:
— Moishe, you know that Gerry is a fag?
— What, he borrowed money and refuses to repay?
— No, in a good way.



Tenue de soirée vingt-sept ans après:

larvatus: (rock)


—Tu sais ce que c’est que la morale ? Moi je vais te dire ce que c’est la morale. La morale, c’est fait pour ceux qui la tiennent, les riches. Et tu sais qui a raison à chaque fois ? C’est les riches. Et c’est les pauvres qui trinquent. Tu veux la voir ma morale à moi ?
—Euh… Ouais.
—Ouais ? Tu vas pas regretter après hein ?
—Je sais pas.
—Je crois que tu vas avoir un peu peur. La voilà ma morale. La morale c’est ça. Tu sais pourquoi je me balade avec ça ? Hein… ? Parce que celui qui m’amènera la morale avec son uniforme, OK ? Il aura plus de chance, OK ? D’avoir sa putain de justice derrière lui. Et moi, la voilà ma justice. Que tu te trompes ou que t’aies raison c’est la même chose mon grand.

—You know what morality is? I’ll tell you what it is. Morality is made for those who own it, the rich. And you know who is right every time? The rich. And it is the poor who pay the price. You want to see my morality?
—Uh… Yeah.
—Yeah? Sure you won’t regret it?
—I don’t know.
—I think it’s gonna scare you a little. Here is my morality. That’s morality for you. You know why I'm walking around with it? Huh…? Because the guy in blue shows off his morality, OK? He’s got the upper hand, OK? To have his fucking justice backing him up. But me, here is my justice. Right or wrong, same difference, my friend.

—Gaspar Noé, Seul contre tous, 1998
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Gwanghae, The Man Who Became King, distributed internationally as Masquerade, is billed by its distributors as a ”2012 Korean Historical Movie version of [Mark Twain’s] ‘The Prince & Pauper’“. I saw it on 22 September 2012 at CGV Cinemas in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, a reliable local venue for the latest Korean film releases.


Last seen two years ago as a secret agent opposite Choi Min-sik’s superhuman sociopath in Kim Jee-woon’s superb neo-Elizabethan revenge tragedy I Saw the Devil, Lee Byung-hun plays both titular characters: Prince Gwanghae, the ill-fated fifteenth king of the Joseon Dynasty, and Ha-sun, the lowly comedian pressed into service as a stand-in for the monarch who faces the threat of assassination. This speculative fiction draws upon an episode in the eighth year of Gwanghaegun’s reign, when the court chronicles omit all records for the fortnight that followed his statement, ”Do not put on record what is meant to be hidden.“ The central conceit of the plot is that the king’s loyal and able adviser Heo Gyun (Ryoo Seung-Ryong) forced Ha-sun to impersonate Gwanghaegun while he recovered a coma after an apparent poisoning attempt. While this contemptuous potentate starts out by micromanaging his puppet through his official court functions, he soon develops an appreciation of Ha-sun’s patriotic and humanitarian concerns for the kingdom and its subjects. Meanwhile, the head of an opposing Greater Northerner faction, Park Chung-seo (Kim Myung-gon), the Queen Consort Lady Ryu (Han Hyo-joo), and the king’s bodyguard Captain Do (Kim In Kwon), all become suspicious of the sudden shift in the king’s behavior.


Said to have been filmed in the real historical palaces in Seoul, the movie combines lavish mise en scène with competent direction of fine actors playing strong characters in a familiar story. While not quite Kagemusha caliber, being far more affected than Kurosawa’s masterwork, it makes for a compelling spectacle in its own right, marred slightly by Ha-sun’s tendency to emote by shedding tears on demand. The climactic confrontation between Captain Do and a band of assassins dispatched by the recovered king to retire his stand-in with extreme prejudice, is especially notable as a vivid illustration of the vital difference between slashes and cuts in a sword-fight. I recommend this movie to all fans of international costume drama.
larvatus: (Default)
Song Kang-ho does his tough dick thing while the most charismatic bad guy in Asian movies walks on all fours, dealing revenge to evil bipeds, stopping only to lead out of a burning house one smart and tough chick cop, whose sexist oppression by uncouth colleagues fails to deter her from hobbling henchmen with hot lead pursuant to absurd Korean police deadly force protocol. Justice triumphs, alas.
larvatus: (Default)
A native speaker of Russian might appreciate this festering travesty of a French classic solely as the inspiration of a popular Soviet self-esteem formula: “Все пидорасы, а я — д’Артаньян” (“Everybody is a fag, and I am d’Artagnan”). Everything else, beginning with the physiognomy, habiliments, elocution, comportment, and gesticulation of its befuddled, stultified, and manifestly intoxicated cast, bespeaks spectacular ineptitude. Every witticism worth witnessing and every sword thrust worth watching in this preposterous pageant of Brezhnevite imbecility has been forestalled a quarter century earlier by the Three Stooges in Musty Musketeers. Avoid at all costs.
larvatus: (Default)
Gaspar Noé is the only living film-maker worth watching.

No, Gaspar Noé is the living film-maker worth only watching.

(But sometimes worth hearing, too.)




Le temps détruit tout.

p210 legend

May. 2nd, 2011 05:43 pm
larvatus: (rock)
The following is a draft version of my review of Sauer’s new P210 Legend pistol. It will be updated in this space with photos and text as my study continues.

0.

“You William Blake?” yells U.S. Marshal Marvin Throneberry at the rapidly approaching outlaw, while cycling and shouldering his Winchester Model 1873. “Yes, I am. Do you know my poetry?” responds the killer as he raises his 4¾" Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver and shoots Marvin in the heart.

Guns and poetry. None better illuminated their interplay than Jim Jarmusch in his 1995 movie Dead Man. To talk guns is to talk poetry. What follows is a riff on the latest incarnation of my favorite poem. Read more... )

8.

As suggested in the beginning of this review, Sauer’s P210 “Legend” is a study in contradictions. Its newly encumbered and unbounded trigger action places it at a palpable disadvantage with respect to its Swiss precursors on the firing line. And while its rugged finish and improved safety features might have rendered it more apt for defensive applications, ill-secured and cumbersome controls undermine its ergonomics while fatally compromising its reliability. Even if to imagine is to misinterpret, I cannot imagine the debilitating misprision that caused Sauer’s engineers to degrade the retention of controls in their version of the SIG P210. Nor can I depend on a gun liable to spontaneous slide lockups and reversals of safety settings. I would have liked to receive Sauer’s response to these concerns. As long as they remain unresolved by the gunmaker, I must regretfully give the Legend a failing grade.
larvatus: (Default)
Around the turn of the twentieth century, innumerable eggheaded wags took up and carried forth the wingèd words attributed to President Arthur Twining Hadley of Yale University: “You can always tell a Harvard man, but you cannot tell him much.” A little later, unsolicited avowal bolstered the certainty of recognition by invidious townies: “How do you know that someone you just met went to Harvard? — He’ll tell you in the first five minutes.” And thus, nel mezzo del cammin di sua vita, Zadie Smith felt compelled to tell everybody in the first paragraph of her essay-length review:
I can say (like everyone else on Harvard’s campus in the fall of 2003) that “I was there” at Facebook’s inception, and remember Facemash and the fuss it caused; also that tiny, exquisite movie star trailed by fan-boys through the snow wherever she went, and the awful snow itself, turning your toes gray, destroying your spirit, bringing a bloodless end to a squirrel on my block: frozen, inanimate, perfect—like the Blaschka glass flowers.
—Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?”, The New York Review of Books, 25 November 2010
A web search readily confirms that Zadie “was there”, as a 2002–2003 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Only a churl would question her entitlement to peerdom with famous Harvard alumni of that vintage, ranging from Natalie Portman to Mark Zuckerberg, by way of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Noah Welch, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, media stars and athletes, whose XXIst Century Ivy League undergraduate experiences may have marked them no less memorably than Zadie’s XXth Century Cambridge Third in her Part Ones. Unlike most of her underprivileged readers, Zadie was at Harvard. Consequently, she understands the innermost motives of its overachieving élite:
Personally I don’t think Final Clubs were ever the point; I don’t think exclusivity was ever the point; nor even money. E Pluribus Unum—that’s the point. Here’s my guess: he wants to be like everybody else. He wants to be liked. Those 1.0 people who couldn’t understand Zuckerberg’s apparently ham-fisted PR move of giving the school system of Newark $100 million on the very day the movie came out—they just don’t get it. For our self-conscious generation (and in this, I and Zuckerberg, and everyone raised on TV in the Eighties and Nineties, share a single soul), not being liked is as bad as it gets. Intolerable to be thought of badly for a minute, even for a moment. He didn’t need to just get out “in front” of the story. He had to get right on top of it and try to stop it breathing. Two weeks later, he went to a screening. Why? Because everybody liked the movie.
Ibid.
Or not. Harvard takes care to inform its undergraduates that in the field of psychology, evidence consists of empirical research results rather than quotations and opinions of scholars. In the matter at hand, empirical data implies the unlikelihood of profound aversion to not being liked forming the characters overwhelmingly motivated by the expectations of “a generous starting salary at a prestigious, brand-name organization together with the promise of future wealth”. Likewise, the favorite industry of Harvard grads, the one that rewards its most accomplished members with the title of a Big Swinging Dick, can scarcely provide a worthy workspace for Harvard alumni obsessed with ingratiating everyone standing in the way of their advancement. More specifically, Zuckerberg’s career track employed a broad selection of peers, partners, and associates as stepping stones, earning his rightful place in Dickipedia. As a geeky digital performance artist, Zuckerberg resonates with the louche motives averred by Charles Baudelaire in then flourishing and now obsolescent paper media: « Quand j’aurai inspiré le dégoût et l’horreur universels, j’aurai conquis la solitude. » Once he has inspired universal disgust and horror, he will have conquered solitude. The same solitude postulated in The Social Network as the defining trait of Mark Zuckerberg, downgraded from one friend to zero in the course of its narrative.

It is all too easy to underestimate the potential of Facebook to inspire universal disgust and horror. Imagine that your government offered you the opportunity to consign all your communications with your friends and associates to its care. It would manage their posting, editing, and retraction, and control their transmission and availability to the intended audience. In return, you would grant its executive branch the right to bombard you with political and commercial solicitations. Each time you had to convey, receive, modify, or withdraw your message, you would expose yourself to a barrage of administratively approved pitches. You would have no privacy, but what degree thereof you had chosen to retain by opting out of the state’s oligopoly. That is our current predicament with Facebook, except in so far as all control therein vests into a preternaturally fortunate Harvard College dropout presumptively beholden to the economic interests of his shareholders, rather than our democratically elected head of state fully answerable to his electorate via its legislative and judicial branches. That private CEO is fully warranted to set aside all concerns of faith and fidelity not arising from considerations of profit and loss. His term is unlimited by expiration or revocation. The only means of divesting him depend upon manipulation of the marketplace.

As rumors circulate of Google offering its staff engineer $3.5 million to turn down Facebook offer, it makes sense to contrast their modes of operation. Google is a monstrous outgrowth of a traditional software company, purportedly run by engineers encouraged to give free rein to their technical fancies. Facebook is nothing of the sort. Its technical ambitions are limited to the traditional IT agenda of gathering, managing, and transmitting information. And yet both companies derive their revenue primarily from selling advertising whose value derives from targeting enabled by personal data they collect from their users. The difference is that Facebook’s users contribute most of their personal data deliberately, whereas Google mostly infers it from the usage patterns of its services. Correlatively, Google derives a competitive advantage from the speed of its services, whereas Facebook distinguishes itself by stickiness. It might seem that betting your net worth on stickiness of personal contribution is a safer long term bet than staking it on the fleeting contingencies of speed. After all, a speedier newcomer would have a harder time poaching a customer base vested into deeply rooted stores of prized records. And yet, as Zadie Smith implies, the life cycle of this very platform argues to the contrary:
At my screening, when a character in the film mentioned the early blog platform LiveJournal (still popular in Russia), the audience laughed. I can’t imagine life without files but I can just about imagine a time when Facebook will seem as comically obsolete as LiveJournal. In this sense, The Social Network is not a cruel portrait of any particular real-world person called “Mark Zuckerberg.” It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.
Ibid.
On 14 December 1904, U.S. Civil War veteran Charles F. Porter of Denver, Colorado presented himself at the office of President Hadley of Yale, to ask for funds with which to get to Syracuse. Porter said that his father was an old Yale man and that he was absolutely without money. Upon digesting Porter’s plea, President Hadley telephoned local police headquarters for a detective, and got instructed to detain the beggar. After a rough-and-tumble fight, the President got the better of the importunate intruder and delivered him to police custody.

Over a century later, the Ivy League is proving itself much more hospitable to cadgers of free rides. Facebook got its start herding today’s lily-livered academics onto its free communications platform, to suffer commercial solicitations from far less deserving parties hell-bent on getting to college towns everywhere. This sufferance is the true cost of social networking access for 500 million of its users. Can you tell much to XXIst century Harvard men? Mark Zuckerberg told them to entrust their privacy to gatekeepers for a myriad advertisers. And Harvard men rose to the occasion.
larvatus: (Default)
The Ghost [Writer]: a hardened professional paints by numbers. “Remember, Jake, it’s no Chinatown.”

Shutter Island: it wasn’t meant to make you feel so clever. “I’d rather be lucky than good [looking].”

Un prophète: Egypt repays the little corporal. A French-directed Arab trumps Corsicans beating Italians.


Un prophète: Niels Arestrup, Jacques Audiard, Tahar Rahim
Philippe Prost / Toutlecine
larvatus: (MZ)


Elaborating on his fascination with Che’s will, Soderbergh explained: “His ability to sustain outrage is what is remarkable to me. We all get outraged about stuff, but to sustain it to the point of putting your ass on the line to change what outrages you, to do it consistently year after year, and to twice walk away from everything and everybody to do it—it’s not normal.”

Soderbergh’s treatment explains the cult of Che Guevara for me. Its grounds are not to be found in the fighter’s altruism looking out for the victims of oppression contrary to their will welcoming its violation. Neither is the would-be liberator morally disqualified by the resistance of his potential beneficiaries; for what good is his intelligence, if not to warrant his authority to speak and act on their benighted behalves? Be it due to sacrificial selflessness or intellectual vanity, Che’s capacity for staying pissed off makes him stand out.

Anticipating his own political martyrdom, Cicero commented on an earlier occasion of noble failure: “ut aegroto, dum anima est, spes esse dicitur”. (Letters to Atticus 9.10.3.) To the sick, while there is life there is hope. Proverbial wisdom condensed Ciceronian dicta to expand their purview: “dum spiro spero”; while I breathe I hope. But to the truly outraged, hope is beside the point. Suffice unto them to spew forth. Dum spiro sputo.
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Responding to tepid box office for his latest venture into transgressive ersatz hardcore, Ang Lee is developing a simultaneous sequel to his two greatest hits to date, tentatively entitled Crouching Penis, Hidden Arsehole.
larvatus: (Default)
Read more... )

Crossposted to [info]larvatus and [info]ru_translate, retromoderated from the latter.
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Martin McDonagh is the author of the 2003 play, The Pillowman, which ran on Broadway last year to uniform, adjectivally laden reviews. More recently he has distinguished himself as the first-time director of Six Shooter, a 27-minute splatterfest of filial, spousal, and parental bereavement. McDonagh’s latest opus went on to win the 2005 Academy Award for best live-action short. Watch it here. Hear lead actor Brendan Gleeson and co-producer John McDonnell discuss its Oscar coup.

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