CRUELTY, FROM HOLLYWOODERS TO EXTRATERRESTRIALS
From Hans Eisler and his “Hollywooder Lieberbuch” to Fritz Land and his “Metropolis,” there is only one step to jump to find ourselves in Geoff Nelder’s International Space Station invaded by Extraterrestrials on their way to conquer the world, and that is no entertainment, not even a film. Not even by Orson Welles adapted from H.G. Wells. Just some much entertainment for today’s audiences who want some blood and violence, vengeance and hatred, so that they can practice their empathy for as cheap a price as a ticket for the film and nearly nothing for a Kindle.
AMAZON PRIME — THE LAST TYCOON — SERIES 1–2017
The series is brilliantly produced, directed and acted. The smallest and lightest detail is perfect for final reception. Just as a series it is both dramatic and suspenseful. It deals with characters that are provided with depth and complexity, at times contradictions. And yet the subject of the series is grave and serious. We are dealing with Hollywood around 1936 when Hitler is arising in Germany and starting to open the concentration camps (Dachau is named). We are in the USA, and in Hollywood the debate about what we can say or show about Germany is raging. The Germans are heavily blackmailing American producers with the very dynamic cinema market in Germany.
That’s the first element. Some, like Monroe himself, have to hide their Jewishness by changing their names. The subjects dealing with Germany have to be absolutely apolitical. You can have the sound of the music but certainly not the sound of any protest in Germany or in the world against Hitler. There is a tremendous lack of courage among the people in the cinema industry at the time. This is a serious question that is pushed aside by many at the time.
The second dimension of the series is the hyper-realistic description of the ugly and often criminal atmosphere among the professionals of the cinema in Hollywood. They are ready to recuperate Fritz Lang, at least for a short while, as a Jewish and German refugee, but they are not ready to support any opposition to Hitler. And among them, we have family practices and professional practices that magnify the power of the bosses of the studios, then the power of the producers over all artistic professions, and then a dependency hierarchy with some who can block the system, like of course authors.
Then we have a professional environment made of rivalry, hatred, exploitation, ambition, ruthlessness, inequality and hypocrisy. They do one little good action to cover all their crimes and they show to the world a positive and beautiful façade that has nothing to do with their reality. They smile to photographers and they kill one another with daggers in the back all the time. And it is in this atmosphere that some beautiful films are produced and Oscars are won. And Oscars have their feet in blood, literally: the blood of assassinated people or people worn out and burnt out so much that they can only cut their wrists and take an overdose of opioids or whatever other drug they can put their fingers on and grab.
But the series is a real beauty and you will like it if you are not too sensitive to airsickness or vertigo. Be sure — and do not overlook the following fact — that the dead people on the screen correspond to dead people off the screen. Hollywood is not ethical and has no morality. It is all about money and fame, Oscars and domination. Hollywood is a control freak at the level of the global planet. And it hurts when some shares of this market evade them. It hurts so much they are ready to sacrifice a few sacred cows, or stars, to regain the ground they’ve lost.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
GEOFF NELDER — ARIA: LEFT LUGGAGE — 2011
Imagination, when compared to life, is so absurd that it becomes fascinating, mesmerizing and even hypnotizing. And Geoff Nelder really puts the smallest dishes imaginable into the biggest ones till the latter are overflowingly full.
The story is simple. Some extraterrestrials decide to take over the earth. So they deposit a suitcase on the International Space Station. The suitcase is taken down to earth, then opened by some reckless cat who will not even be killed by his curiosity. That spread a virus on the planet at the speed of light. This virus destroys the memory of people backward, so that they lose their memory from right now back on, one year in just a few days. And they reach twenty or more years in a few months. It creates an artificial Alzheimer and the consequences should be the extinction of the human race when the loss of memory reaches birth since then they will lose the memory of their basic needs like hunger and thirst, though the book pretends they will keep the memory of reproduction, at least the need of that type of physical contact, producing babies that would be forgotten as soon as being born. Destruction all around.
But later on, the extraterrestrials deposit a second suitcase on the ISS. The team decides to take it down themselves with their shuttle and they select a base in Wales that is entirely cut off from the rest of the world and where a band of uninfected scientists have taken refuge incognito of anyone. The second suitcase is then opened and it reveals it propagates a second virus that amplifies the memory of people to the very simultaneous remembering of absolutely everything down to the last detail since even before birth. This mental cramming causes serious mental disruption and at least people simply get psychotic with headaches to accompany the disruption. And from psychotic to psychopath there is only one step and the victim of this second disruption starts killing or trying to kill. But he is also endowed with enhanced humanity and life and he can even survive mortal wounds, hence death itself.
Then the conclusion is simple “Where’s there’s life, there’s hope.” It sounds like Obama and these uninfected scientists manage to travel all around the globe to another isolated area where some scientists have taken refuge in the south Pacific. Yes, definitely, they can.
The best part is for me the emergence of the first virus in a Boeing Dreamliner flying from New York to London. It is hilarious to see how the people who are losing their memory are also losing their consciousness of why they were travelling to London and so they hi-jack the plane to go back to New York, and the book reveals that this hi-jacking is impossible today because any plane can be taken under control directly from some air-traffic controlling center and then no one can pilot the plane from the cockpit and the plane can be taken anywhere the technicians in the air-traffic controlling center decide. The bully passengers who have taken over the plane thus find out the plane is directed onto a disaffected airstrip where it will be quarantined for as long as they will remember, and remember is interesting since they are losing their memory. Quarantine forever.
There are dozens of situations of that type that are dramatically humorous. And the escape of the English scientists and the ISS team from Wales to move to the South Pacific is just both incredible and funnily absurd, not funny ah ah but funny strange of course, like the famous joke of old about French cows who have five legs and not four like all self-respecting English cows.
But the author is titillating us with an important question: what is the role of memory in life? It is crucial since the loss of memory is the surest way to die, and at the same time, the preservation of memory will provide every living person with the consciousness that life is lethal since it leads to death anyway and at all times. You must admit it is crucial, isn’t it? Unconscious death as opposed to conscious death. The choice of the century.
And excessive memory leads to psychosis. Luckily the author avoided the now un-trendy if not politically incorrect term of schizophrenia. Psychosis means killing to survive, though survival is short lived in a way. But it also leads to self-preservation on the side of “normal” people who kill the deranged people with no pangs of conscience at all. Memory is the core capability of our brain and central nervous system that enables all other mental capabilities starting with sensing, perceiving, identifying or recognizing (naming), experimenting, speculating and conceptualizing without which no language is possible, no abstract thinking is possible, no human species is possible. Our memory associated to the mutations brought to us by the emergence of the bipedal long distance fast runner that Homo Sapiens was some 300,000 years ago gave Homo Sapiens the tools he needed to invent and develop our human articulated languages. No memory then no language, not even the simple set of eight or nine calls a standard monkey species have at their disposal.
Yet I think the description of this loss of memory is rather tamed by the fact it is seen essentially through people who do not lose their memory. When someone is severely hit by Alzheimer they may well lose the ability to eat and drink and only very basic physical functions will survive for a while, like breathing and rejecting waste. That leads some older people to the simple situation when they have to be fed otherwise they won’t do it on their own, and they won’t communicate anymore. They are not reduced to a vegetal state because a plant does not forget to breathe and their roots do not forget to work and the plant’s nourishment comes from the roots and the breathing of the leaves.
Highly entertaining though totally foolish crazy mad science-fiction directly out of Mad Magazine and their Alfred E. Newman. In a way, it is refreshing to know that on this planet some people might be slightly saner than most others, especially politicians.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU