October 12th, 2005

ECC, TradeMark, Thimbletron

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A couple weeks ago I was part of a panel discussion at the WebZine 2005 conference called "Culture Jamming in the Post-9/11 Mindset". It seems that they've made podcasts/mp3s of the various sessions and talks; you can download the one that I was in here. Other sessions include "18 or Over Only: A Look at the Laws, Technology, and Style of Adult Sites", "$elling Out: Making money doing what you love" (wasn't as good as I'd hoped), and "Using the Internet to Kick the Man’s Ass".

Remember RU Sirius, the editor of Mondo 2000 magazine? Ever wondered what he was up to now? Well, neither had I, but the answer is that he has a weekly radio show available by podcast from his (I presume) MondoGlobo Network. I've been invite on the show in a few weeks; I'll post a broadcast date when it's known.

I miss the 1980's for a number of reasons, one of which is that it was easier to know the world's enemies: They were supervillains, a motley bunch of bullies, evil to the core. The better-looking only got as good as Lex Luther; at worst, a deformed face half-molten from a radiation accident. Sadly, nowdays I have to deal with the sad truth: The face of evil is that of a smirking old white texan. Thanks to the efforts of videomaker System D-128, you can take a nostalgic strut down Evil Lane with his new Supervillains Video. (Nice soundtrack, too)

Bay Area weird music fans: Negativland performs live in a couple weeks at the Great American Music Hall for two nights. Mark Hosler told me that their show will be short on theatrics and long on content -- at least two hours long -- no intermission. It will be much like a live performance of their radio show, Over The Edge. Having been part of a couple, I can say that you should bring something to watch if you go.
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ECC, TradeMark, Thimbletron

Movie Review: Reflections Of Evil

Film Review: REFLECTIONS OF EVIL (Dir. Simon Packard)

A few months ago this movie came up on an email list and caught my attention. I promptly added it to our Netflex queue and forgot about it until it arrived recently. Thinking back, I’m not sure what in particular caught my attention in the email discussions I read, but it was probably the fact that nobody could really describe the movie. Now that I’ve seen it, I can understand why.

Is it a cult classic? Ehhh… probably not.

Does it suck? Well… no…

Does it defy easy explanation? Ohhhh yeah.

In “Reflection of Evil”, there are few certainties. On all levels. Seriously, this is a tough call. “Avant Garde” if you’re generous, “A complete and utter waste of all time, money, and energy put into the movie as well as of the viewers who suffered through it” if you’re not. My guess would be 99%+ will choose the latter description. Perhaps the best way to review this movie is to try to describe the few “knowns” in the Reflections of Evil universe. Let’s begin with the few certainties we are sure of.

The characters: An ever-expanding obese man (played by the director), a girl in a nightgown, the obese man’s mother, members of the LA homeless community. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Feels like: 4+ hours. Upon its release in 2002, Damon personally mailed and distributed 29,000 promotional DVDs of the film. According to the director, the response was underwhelming.

• Almost all voices are overdubbed with voices that don’t come close to matching the actors. Much of what’s spoken doesn’t match what the actors appear to be saying, like when you watch an overdubbed Japanese film.
• The obese man spends his time trying to resell talking wristwatches. On his time off, he eats.
• If the man trips and his head hits the ground, exploding in a spray of blood. This happens a lot.
• However, in one scene the obese man is impervious to machine guns, explosions, and other attacks, falling to the ground, bloodless.
• Bodily fluids, especially blood and puke, are prominent in the film. Occasionally their appearance makes sense.
• When any bodily noise should be heard, the opportunity is seized over and beyond the need. The movie is a never-ending cornucopia of farts, burps, retching, bloody squishes, and other indescribable gross noises. It is unclear whether the intent is serious or comic.
• All black people are trying to kill the obese man, as well as everybody else, especially other black people. The F-word is about 1 of every 3 words they speak.
• All dogs hate the obese man. The man takes a tour of LA dogs to show this.
• Unrelated stock footage? Sure, why not!
• “Continuity”? Is that the same as “Contrast”?
• “Script”?
• Adobe’s “Punch” and “Pinch” filter effects are fully and completely demonstrated.
• Through the movie, the obese man grows larger, gains more headphones around his neck, and more shirts.

It’s all of the confusion and discomfort of Eraserhead with a fraction of the cinematic brilliance. Some have described the movie as being a good cinematic interpretation of an acid trip. While contemplating this and other theories about just why and how this movie ever came to exist, I came across the most frightening of all:

It might just be that Reflections of Evil is a movie that expresses the director’s vision perfectly.

Actually, I’m serious. After the movie finished, I very nearly ejected the DVD before checking out the extras. Having seen them, let me just advise that BEFORE watching the movie, you should watch the “Behind The Scenes” bit. It’s another filmmaker’s documentary showing “Reflections of Evil” in the making. For the brief moments that he gets Packard to explain himself, Packard comes off surprisingly… well… sane. And coherent. He knows that he has spent all his money, his inheritance, and more to make a movie that will likely result in absolutely nothing. He knows what he’s doing, even if he doesn’t understand why. This one exchange probably says it all:

Q: “What would you say to filmmakers watching this? What can they learn from you?”
Packard: “Nothing. They can learn that it’s a completely monumental waste of time in making a film.”