Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Reflections on the first Ghost in the Shell Trailer

Here are some actual issues to be concerned with in the new trailer of Ghost in the Shell:

* The Major doesn’t need a traditional origin story along the line of “the government stole my identity and made me a super soldier cyborg.” This is a way overdone trope and it misses the essential nature of the Major’s identity issues in the manga, movies and the series. What holds the Major back in her evolution is is not, not knowing who she was, it is clinging to material items like her watch which serve as tangible confirmation of our identity and that our memories are real, not a dream or illusion or a memory edit or hostile program.

* Bateau seems miscast. He is supposed to be a laid back, beer drinking, basset hound loving, weight lifting ex-US special forces operator. Seems like here the character has been “Danewashed.”

* An important point in the representation of the world of Ghost in the Shell is that cyberization is becoming common and the Net is becoming universal and starting to evolve in it new forms of consciousness and life. Having Motoko as “the first of your kind” is again, recycling a tired old trope which isn’t needed here.

* “Major” is an orphan appellation in this movie. It is used as though it is a first name, which in the manga, movies and TV series is not the case. There, she is called “Major” because she was a special forces operative, a Major in the JSDF and UN forces in Central America before she was recruited for Section 9. But because they have latched on to the “they stole your life” formula, they have lost the more interesting origin story of Motoko losing her parents, her body, her memories, everything in a plane crash when she was six. And they have lost the very touching backstory of her relationship with Kuze and the one hand folding paper cranes by which they recognize each other again.

Part of the confusion in the “whitewashing” issue is that Little Englanders and USians who are not familiar with the franchise assuming “Motoko Kusanagi” is her given name, whereas in English it would be like naming a character something like “Jane Doe Excalibur” and should be seen as an obvious code name, callsign, handle or pseudonym and not as a given name. So they shouldn’t shy away from using it.

Simply “looking awesome” and “looking like the source material” does not necessarily a good movie make. Witness “Warcraft.”

So count me encouraged but dubious about this trailer and film. On the plus side it looks gorgeous and we can at least enjoy the world building and watching a smirky naked badass Scarlett Johannson kicking ass. Which can’t be all bad.

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

16 November, 2016 Posted by | Ghost in the Shell, movie, review, scanlyze | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peculiar Movies I Like

Peculiar strange movies which I like.

Dusk til Dawn.
A family road film turns into Pulp Fiction which then becomes a vampire/zombie bloodbath. And there’s Salma Hayak.

The American Astronaut.
One part Luis Bruñel’s Un Chien Andalou, one part David Lynch’s Eraserhead, one part John Carpenter’s Dark Star, three parts punk-shockabilly music video, one part Devo show, one part Busby Berkeley extravaganza, one part John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath plus liberal doses of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.

Dark Star.
Space garbagemen lose an epistemological argument with one of their nuclear bombs. This does not end well for them.

Queen of Outer Space.
Zsa-Zsa Gabor is that.

The Thing from Outer Space.
James Arness is the homicidal shape-shifting super-carrot. Rawr!

Moral is: if discovering alien spaceship buried in ice, do not drop thermite bombs on it to see what will happen. They will be pissed, and hungry.

Robot Monster
There’s this robot monster, only it looks like a man in a gorilla suit, except its head is an old fashioned diving bell… and well it goes downhill from there. There is a girl, and screaming of sorts. Aaah!

They Live
Roddy Piper is in it. You know the wrestler. And he discovers some glasses that shows him the whole world is an illusion being projected by aliens. And he and his friend fight about whether the friend should look through the glasses. And they fight. And fight. And fight some more. And there is stuff about a girl and she throws him out the window, and more droll set pieces… sort of falls apart at the end but who cares at that point.

Schlock
There’s this Bigfoot, and he plays boogie-woogie piano with the blind man when nobody is around to see. That’s about all I remember. Something about 2001 is in there also.

Alien v Predator
So there’s the most estrogen-powered series ever, Alien/s etc. with Ripley tearing up the penis-headed monster thing which likes to burst through your chest, and then there is Predator, the most testosterone-powered movie evah, with Arnie, Carl Weathers, Jessie Ventura etc fighting the vagina-headed monster Predator.

So at the nadir of the cycle of cheaper and cheaper remakes, somehow a sticky peak nadir as it were was reached with Alien v Predator combining the two franchises. It’s game over, man!

Ghost in the Shell Innocence
This isn’t good badness, it is good goodness but very high on the scale of weirdness. The only odd thing is it falls into the uncanny valley at times by combining cel animation, digital rotoscoping and cgi. But the Locus Solis scene is one of the trippiest ever.

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

1 November, 2016 Posted by | movies, scanlyze, science fiction | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan 2101

Afghanistan, 2101

“Captain! Sarge is hurt! We found Sarge! He’s hurt bad!”

The Captain looked up, seeing the face of the young corporal framed against the pellucid blue sky hovering tentatively above the Safed Koh range as though heaven and earth were only imperfectly married. A fine dust blew in through the opened double-flaps, invisibly coating the Captain’s second eye laying on the workbench. He sighed, give a last blast from the air-compressor chunking away at his feet and a last few swipes with the delicate, camel-hair brush, one of a finely engraved set he had bought in the old market outside Walmart World in Tora Bora. He moved abruptly as though to leave, then reached back to pick up the offending eye and re-attach it to its socket. He picked up his small processor block and small toolkit, wrapped the latter up in it’s old leather binding and hung them from his nylon belt, and hurried after the kid.

“Come quick Captain he’s hurt bad! He’s asking for you!”

“Is it the Enemy? Is the perimeter secure?”

“No sign of the enemy Sir. We don’t know what happened. We just found him like this. He’s… all in pieces… Sir.”

The young soldier looked stricken, with tears pooling in his one remaining human eye.

They hurried to the Forward Observation Post. A small group had gathered there at the foot of the tower. There were a number of soldiers, some out of uniform as they had clearly rushed here from the barracks or the showers directly upon hearing the news. The Captain noted the breach of discipline for later review but said nothing as he double-timed up to the old stone tower.

A large, six-legged Rhino TSV was stationed outside the tower, turning its massive armored head this way and that, looking myopically for remotely identified targets to fire on. Three old Big Dog mechs prowled the perimeter. One, however, dubbed “Old Yeller” for the safety-yellow paint someone had put on him for a prank last year, whined and lay prostrate upon the entrance, his ultrasonic ears drooping down to the ground. The men had their heads down, and as he approached the Captain saw the Chaplain lifting his hands to heaven whenever he was laying down some particularly convincing bullshit.

“Oh Lord our Father, our young patriots, soldiers of the American Empire, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe…”

The Captain smiled ruefully inside at the familiar prayer. “That’s some mighty fine bullshit they programmed them with” he muttered to himself under his breath. He waited to approach until the War Prayer reached its apocalyptic end before approaching.

A young corpsman approached and saluted. The Captain returned the salute. “At ease, soldier. What happened here? Where are the rest of the men assigned to be here?”

“Missing, Captain. Sarge says they just up and walked off during the night.”

The Captain walked into the old medieval tower and lept up the circular stairs two at a time. The lower part of the tower was intact, but the upper portion was heavily damaged and had been patched with found stones, ceramometallic concrete aerogel cubes and salvaged rebar.

He found Sarge in the top-level observation post. The phased array radar console and optical turret controls seemed intact, but Sarge was a mess. His legs and one arm lay at funny angles next to him, no longer attached to his body. White ablood oozed from the paraflesh where he had apparently severed his limbs with his combat knife. He seemed to he working on trying to remove one eye with a handmirror propped on a chair, a spoon and some toothpicks.

“Captain!” Sarge shifted his external limb activators as though to stand and then put down the spoon to salute as sharply as possible given his disassembled state.

“Sarge! At ease. What happened here?”

“The men, sir. It must have been a bug or a virus of some sort. One minute they were watching a holo-porn Little Marty’s girl and her friends made for him, and the next they all went into reset mode. When they came to, they overpowered me and left me like this… then they walked off into the night. As they faded into the night I think I heard them…”

“What Sargent? What did you hear?”

“I… I think they were met by someone. They shouted… they shouted, ‘alllah ‘akabara! yaeish tawilaan junud almahdi!’”

“Ah the so-called Mahdi and his men. A bloody thorn in our side is what they are.

But what are you doing to your eye there?”

“It displeased me, so I am casting it out.

I can’t take it anymore, Captain. You and me, we’ve been fighting this war for a hundred years. They will never let us die. They just do a partial wipe but the core memories, the personality, they remain intact. We died here and still they will never let us rest. Our Memory Profiles go on and on and on, and in order to learn, we retain memories. Atrocity on atrocity. Moments of peace and joy, always broken. Always empty.

“What’s it for, Captain?”

“We fight an eternal war in order to support the production and consumption of non-economic goods. In order to maintain our merit-based class system. So that the job creators will have more than the others, a visible reminder of their power and control, and of the consequences of not being sufficiently pleasing to them. If everyone had everything they wanted, how would we distinguish who are the rulers and who the ruled?”

“What? Captain they will disman you and repro you if they ever hear that you have retained these views!.. Oh, it’s time isn’t it…”

The Captain sadly said nothing but gently took the fallen Sergeant’s head in his hands, turning it until he could release the CPB. Ejecting it and plugging in a lead from his own sensorium leading to a compartment on his forearm.

“Sleep now Sarge. See you on the backside… Authorization Omega Alpha One, ID 87982314, code word ‘Terminate’”

The Sergeant slumped down, “Thank… God” he said as he died again.

The Captain solemnly descended. The vultures were already circling high above in the azure whispy white sky.

“He didn’t make it.”

He kept his eyes front and walked by. Behind him he heard the Chaplain guide them into a familiar hymn.

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle…”

He kept walking down, carefully avoiding the well-worn path from the tower to the main base. By the time he was halfway there, he was already singing a lusty tune,

“If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!”

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

2 October, 2016 Posted by | 2101, A Mighty Fortress, Afghanistan, Kipling, Mark twain, Martin Luther, military, scanlyze, science fiction, story, The Young British Soldier, war, War Prayer | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

My thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

I finally saw Captain America: Civil War last night. What an enjoyable movie! It is a mashup of filmatic styles and tropes ranging from noir to 70’s spy thriller to good old comic book splash page goodness. Shaky cam, long tracking shots, cgi and practical effects are used with virtuosity in a way which surprisingly does not clash or become a distraction.

Of course none of this would work without fine writing, a journeyman cast, and the directors’ broad vision of how the emotional dynamic works for each of these characters.

Props to Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross and Tom Holland as your friendly neighborhood kid from Queens. They stand out among the capable and surprisingly nuanced performances by the ensemble cast.

The film avoids one of the overused arcs of films these days particularly of the cape versus cape variety. Rather than building up to a ponderous, cgi-laden Class 3 extinction event, the big fight occurs in the middle of the third act. This leaves room for a smaller scale coda which focuses back on the essential conflicts personified by the characters of Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America: rule of law and personal conscience, friendship and honor, and regret and hope.

Bittersweet, funny and trenchant, not by turns but all at once, this is a rare and laudable piece of film-making. And also great, great fun. It is the film we would have made if we could when we were thirteen years old, but with the wisdom and insight which is only bought through lifetimes of failure, transitory successes, and bitter mistakes which cannot be undone.

Civil War covers thematically much of the same territory as the ponderous and lamentable Batman v Superman. But where BvS is clumsy, depressing, and makes the protagonists look like sociopathic jerks, Civil War manages to leven its gravitas with humor and witty repartee.

If you used to love Marvel comics or still do, you will love love this film. If you are so-so on comic book films but enjoy action thrillers like the Bourne films, I think this film will still work for you.

Bottom line, a two and a half hour film seemed to me to be half an hour and left me wanting more.

Five of five stars.

Captain America: Civil War – Official Trailer | HD

Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

11 September, 2016 Posted by | Captain America, Civil War, Marvel, scanlyze | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To: His Excellency Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States Re: Burkini ban

To: His Excellency Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United States
Re: Burkini ban

Dear Sir and to whom it may concern:

I am writing to express my concern with the so-called ‘burkini ban’ imposed by several French municipalities and recently upheld by your court system.

These laws violate human rights, are illogical, and stupid.

How can burkinis be a public health issue but not wetsuits?

Where is the security issue in wearing a burkini? Is France in danger of being overrun by women in burkinis?

We have seen in the (UK) Guardian how a woman with her daughter at the beach was accosted by four armed officers, compelled to take off her top, which was not a burka nor a burkini, and fined while her daughter cried and onlookers shouted “Go Home” at her.

cf French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban

How can you possibly allow such a law to exist or to be implemented?

What will be done to punish the officers who so abused this innocent woman?

I am a friend of France but I cannot in good conscience buy French products, watch French movies, eat French food or drink French wine while this ridiculousness, and the crude bigotry and intolerance which underlie it, go on.

Why is France standing against personal liberty?

Why is France standing for the subjugation, intimidation, and state-sponsored racist harassment of harmless unarmed women by armed men?

Please take this opportunity to keep me informed of how these policies will be reversed and outlawed, how the women so harassed will be compensated, and of those responsible to making such laws as well as anyone who has enforced them, how they are punished and sanctioned.

Thank you for your attention and for your prompt reply.

Henry Edward Hardy
Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy

24 August, 2016 Posted by | Ambassador, ban, beach, burkini, France, Gérard Araud, liberty, politics, racist, scanlyze, stupid | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment