Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What I Bought, What I Watched

I am getting so lazy as a writer and it clearly shows on this blah-ug. I struggled with severe writer's block for two days trying to create an eight-page intro to the new novel I am working on. Finally the words arrived today and when I finished I realized I was going to have to write it all over again, this time in a different setting. Same story, different stage. When writing fiction I have to dig around for the actors in my head and "get into character". Then I get to change locations. It's cheaper than making movies.
  Last night after work I used my 50% off coupon at Movie Stop and for about $13 I bought The Big Lebowski and (to my surprise found) Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. 
This would be my first time viewing this movie on TV. I have twice seen this film but only at a revival house. And I thought for years I could maintain a record of seeing it only in theaters before seeing it at home. Well, it's great to have it, in case I need to watch it for inspiration or if I want to study the amazing opening crane shot. Having reviewed the opening this morning it still doesn't compare to the big screen, even watching it on my 42" flatscreen.

  In its entirety I watched David Cronenberg's eXistenZ. This I haven't watched since it originally played in the theater a decade ago. Seeing it again I realized how much the story and concept owed to Philip K. Dick, so much so that the name of the fast food place they get their lunch from is called Perky Pat's (named after a hallucinogenic cynosure in the book The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch). Also, it is certainly a distant relative of Cronenberg's Videodrome and works much better than Naked Lunch because of its lower budget and original story, also written by Cronenberg. I also consider this a superior film to The Matrix. Less is more, in this case. Similar ideas appear in both films but the setpieces in eXistenZ are kept to a minimum. The factory where they build game pods out of animal parts is truly gruesome, possibly one of the most disgusting scenes in any movie (I would dare say it's on par to almost anything in Sweet Movie). It reminds me of my paranoid fevered dreams.
Also on the screen today was Orson Welles' The Trial. I had to watch an old public-domain tape I've had for about ten years. Eventually I will track down the remastered DVD and rejoice, since Welles stuck very close to the original source material for this low-budget, minimalist film. This movie demands another revisit. It deserves a new cult. I can't believe how much of it reminds me of Brazil. A few more viewings by me will determine whether this was Welles' best film.
  He seemed to think so.

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