Folded Space

I had seen this scene, showing a Guild Heighliner, in many clips from Dune (e.g. this one), but hadn’t paid close attention to its interior.

Heighliner in the scene where the Bene Gesserit arrive on Caladan

I think what we’re seeing (or, supposed to be seeing) is “the other planet” at the end.

If true, this is a clever re-imagining of the structure of this giant “carrying-ship”; instead of showing it vanishing-then-appearing, it shows it bridging the two planets.

This is what you’d expect if it had folded space.

Midnight in Paris- a dialogue

I had to tack on this bit of — well, surreal — interaction between Gil, who happens to meet, in a cafe, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, Man Ray:

Gil

It sounds so crazy when I say it and you’ll think I’m drunk but I’ve got to tell someone I’m from a different time – a whole other era – the future – and I pass from the two thousandth millennium to here – a car picks me up – I slide through time.

Man Ray

Exactly correct – you inhabit two worlds – so far I see nothing strange.

Gil

Look, you’re sur-realists – but I’m a normal guy – See, in one life I’m engaged to marry a woman I love – at least I think I love her. Christ, I’m supposed to love her if I’m marrying her.

Dali

Love – the word love – love – the word love – same as the word rhinoceros – the rhinoceros makes love by mounting the female – but is there difference in beauty between two rhinoceroses?

Man Ray

But there is nothing more sur-real than the human heart.

Dali

Past is also present.

Gil

In a dream – which is fine for you because you guys dabble in dreams.

Man Ray

There is another woman?

Gil

Adriana is her name. And I felt drawn to her – but it wouldn’t matter – men much greater than me, profound artists – she’s drawn to geniuses – and they to her.

Dali

I see you with Christ – he is smiling while you are crucified on the heavy wooden cross of self-doubt.

Gil

Of course my biggest problem is reality.

Bunuel

Reality is nothing more than a dream – we all exist in the dream of a dog.

Gil

I was born in the wrong time.

Dali

Time is all the mind. Time melts – the watches melt – the hands of the clock melt.

Man Ray

A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph.

Bunuel

I see a movie.

Gil

I see an insurmountable problem.

Dali

I see – a rhinoceros.

Midnight in Paris

Right before entering the “belle époque”, from the 1920s

Happened to catch the movie on Netflix and having watched and enjoyed it before a few times, decided to watch a bit of it again, and — given how relaxing it was, just what I needed — ended up watching it all over again.

Some quotes by characters in the movie

Paul (the annoying pedant):

Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present

Gertrude Stein:

We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.

Hemingway gets two quotes:

You’ll never be a great writer if you fear dying, do you?

No subject is terrible if the story is true. If the prose is clean and honest and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.x

From the beginning of the book Gil was writing:

“Out of the Past” was the name of the store, and its products consisted of memories: what was prosaic and even vulgar to one generation had been transmuted by the mere passing of years to a status at once magical and also camp.

Finally, Gil himself (the “protagonist”):

Adriana, if you stay here though, and this becomes your present then pretty soon you’ll start imagining another time was really your… You know, was really the golden time. Yeah, that’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying.

P.S.

  1. It came out at a time when it was believable fantasy, because it was before the era of “ubiquitous smartphones”. Today one would wonder why he didn’t have his phone on him to take a selfie as proof. No one is sitting and looking at their phones, c’mon !!

  2. I wonder how much longer it will still be possible to make “a movie set in a different era — surely the basic logistics of maintaining old cars must get too unwieldy, etc.

  3. (In the movie) the renaissance is to the 1890s, what the 1890s is to the 1920s, what the 1920s is to 2010. It is easy to imagine, now, how 2010 might seem like someone’s idea of a high point, just before the new hive-minds emerged, perhaps from the vantage point of … 2050?

  4. I realize now how it is one of the best “time travel” movies, without “overt” science-fiction-y touches.

  5. True story: Me and my wife watched “Midnight in Paris” in 2011 when it came out. At midnight. In Paris.

  6. This is one of the most brilliant soundtracks of all time. Leave it on in the background, you’ll see what I mean.

Fantastic Fungi

I saw a poster for Fantastic Fungi somewhere (can’t remember where now) last year, and since I’d just seen The Hidden Life of Trees, I was immediately curious.

I found https://fantasticfungi.com, but at the time, it wasn’t available to stream anywhere or even buy, and I had to watch it on my laptop.

Got this update today

The Mycelial Mothership has landed! Fantastic Fungi is now on Netflix! It’s time for mushrooms to come up from the underground and into the mainstream! When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration, and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world. Watch it today!

It covers a lot of ground, and not all of it is equally entertaining or informative, but seeing how fungi are these ancient ancestors, and how they intermediate between plants and animals, nearly controlling them (!) … was quite the revelation.

It’s available on Netflix now, so … go watch it!

(Through) A Scanner Darkly

I had written previously about how 2006 was a year with a lot of great movies.

Yet, since I was going by what came to mind then, there was one important omission: “A Scanner Darkly

If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t believe it starred each of:

  • Keanu Reeves (a long way from Bill and Ted, shortly after the Matrix trilogy, and before John Wick)
  • Winona Ryder (for me, she will always be Lelaina from Reality Bites, 27 years ago now, and under-appreciated until her recent role in Stranger Things)
  • Woody Harrelson (old-timer familiar to younger audiences from Hunger Games and No Country for Old Men)
  • Robert Downey Jr (right before he entered the Marvel-verse as Iron Man, became Sherlock Holmes)

I would say that the movie was “prescient” given its portrayal of surveillance, drug addiction, all themes in the world today, but then I’d have to say that the book was even more prescient.

The style of the movie is animated-but-not-animated, using “digital rotoscope”, which combines the live-action is “painted over”, which creates an impression of … well, you’d have to watch it.

The movie is based on a a Philip K. Dick book of the same name, from 1977.

From the Kirkus Review for the book:

Much of the straightforward narration is theatrically bad, yet dialogue and internal monologue carry a cruel (and cruelly funny) conviction. And the larger plot is brilliantly hinged upon a consciousness split by two insanities: the Kafkaesque charade of secret self-surveillance and the terrible advance of irreversible brain damage. Flawed, almost too grim to take, but stunningly realized.

Yes — no doubt you’ve seen a lot of surveillance in movies, by now, though I’d guess you haven’t encountered self-surveillance.

From the Guardian Review:

It has the feel of the apocalypse about it, a sense of these being the last days

At the nadir of his despair and double-agent confusion, he wonders whether the agencies spying on him through their scanners have a clearer idea of who he is than he has himself. He has surrendered himself so totally to the service of the state that the authorities now have a godlike insight into him: godlike in its power, that is, but with a very human malice and caprice.

Heh

Minor trivia:

  • Something I learnt today: the audiobook for this is narrated by … Paul Giamatti !!
  • There are other Philip K. Dick novels made into movies,