Monthly Archives: July 2010

Splice

Splice is Vincenzo Natali’s delightful and disturbing concoction of science, absurd humour, dark sex and of course a monster.  An update of Frankenstein in the era of genetic manipulation, Splice takes us into the lives of Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) who are the rockstars of the scientific world.  The film begins with them having spliced together pink sluglike blobs named Fred and Ginger from whom they can harvest proteins for the pharmaceutical company funding their experiments.  When Clive and Elsa try to request funding for a project that involves splicing human DNA into their creatures they are quickly shut down.  Not easily deterred Clive and Elsa decide to go ahead with their project in secret and in a series of escalating dares and temptations, they allow their creature, Dren, to grow into a big problem.

            The film had its ups and downs and although the conclusion proved to be a little absurd it ends up going down easy as Natali navigates his audience through strange terrain, all the while maintaining a healthy balance of disturbing plots twists and dark humour.  It is able to tackle issues such as genetic manipulation, cloning and definitions of humanity with varying degrees of success.  The film’s more unsettling elements spoke to the Cronenberg lover within and had me squirming in delight.  Natali’s inclusion of quirky jokes and absurdist situations allows viewers to settle in for an amusing, albeit dark ride.  The real element that works in the film is Brody and Polley’s chemistry.  Each handles their character with a dark intensity and is able to breathe life into their onscreen relationship in a very believable way.  Another definite highlight in this film was the creature, Dren.  Created with an almost seamless blend of makeup and CG, Dren is a fascinating and simultaneously skin crawling sight to behold.  Dren’s ‘not quite human’ existence is the moral centerpoint of the whole film and serves as a stunning example of what can happen when moral judgements get blurred and situations slip beyond our control.

            Although Splice is entertaining and perhaps one of the most creative films in recent years it definitely will not be everyones cup of tea.  The film rests firmly in the science fiction/moral parable genre and is not a typical horror film .  However, what this film lacks in scares and suspense it more than makes up for in its disturbing storyline which puts an innovative twist on a classic tale.

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Filed under David Cronenberg, genetics, Horror, Monster, Science Fiction, Vincenzo Natali

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers takes an insightful look into one of the most shocking revelations in the history of American government.  The film takes a historical account of Daniel Ellsberg’s life and how he reached his position within the Pentagon.  Ellsberg narrates this documentary and details how after years of disagreeing with US tactics in Vietnam, he decided to smuggle out and leak a top secret report regarding US involvement in Vietnam to the press in the hopes of ending the controversial war.

            The most standout aspect of this film was the ease in which filmmakers Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith were able to break down complex historical events as well as reveal the consequences of Elsberg’s choices through an array to archival photos and video, interviews and some creative reinterpretations.  Running parallel to the historic story is the tale of Ellsberg’s own life in which he is portrayed as an individual who always stood by his choices no matter how they conflicted with his previous endeavours.  In one of the many interviews Ellsberg makes it clear that he began the next chapter of his life (as an infamous whistleblower) after he saw Vietnam draft dodger Randy Kehler give a speech and proclaim that he would rather go to prison than fight in the war.  Ellsberg acknowledged that he felt the same way and since he believed he had the power to stop the war, set out to do so by copying and releasing the Pentagon Papers to the NY Times and several other major publications. 

            Ehrlich and Goldsmith’s film did an excellent job in aligning the scandal of the Vietnam war with the current US led war in Iraq, such as how the US government spread misinformation in order to get the support of its people.  Ellsberg, even in his old age, is still portrayed as an advocate for peace and makes clear his disappointment in the lack of public action against government tactics which he views as morally unjust.  While Ellsberg’s actions may have led to the end of the war, the film makes it clear that unless there is a vast social movement to prevent war and hold governments accountable for their actions, the state of things will remain very much the same.             

 For all its good elements the film still showed some weak spots.  Several of the interviews with Ellsberg seemed choppy as they had very little linking context to the story.  The interview between an aged Ellsberg and Kehler in particular comes out of no where and feels wasted.  The audience witnesses a short emotional speech from Ellsberg but there is no interaction shown between the two men, and no context is provided for Ellsberg’s statements, such as his claim that Kehler changed his life.  It also would have been interesting to get some interviews from Ellsberg’s main opponents in the government.  The film would have benefited from more careful integration of material but despite the cut and paste feel of some interviews overall the story progressed fluidly and Ellsberg’s character and history provides a fascinating subject for the film.

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In the beginning…

…there was a massive delay in any feasible creation!  But no worries, that shall soon be rectified.  This is my first post on here and I’m refamiliarizing myself with the blog world.  I will shortly begin sorting through my documents to pull out some solid film reviews for your reading pleasure…until then…stay tuned!

Michaela

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