Potpourri

Today is April 19, which Egan has dubbed International Reflection Day. Check out Egan’s contemplative thoughts, and remember: you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggonit, people like you!

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The Monkey Barn Campfire Story got started yesterday, and seems to be a success. (Read Part I here.) Today Bear takes up the reins, and the mystery deepens. Who came through that door? What does he/she/it want? And what happens when you shoot a piano at someone out of a canon? All this and more as we bring you Monkey Barn Campfire Story Part II.

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I elected to start the campfire story with a picture, and go from there. It wasn’t the only picture I was considering. The others were so good that I may start a feature on Literary Hype where we take a famous painting and write a story from it. Want to see the top ten paintings I almost used?

Here’s #10:

For more, see Campfire Paintings.

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I get accused often of not liking stupid movies. Mostly true, but there are some exceptions. To show you my heart is in the right place, I thought I’d review two movies I liked that weren’t all that bright; yet somehow I liked them anyway. Today: Aeon Flux. (This review and others can normally be found on Movie-Hype):

MovieHype00653 – AEON FLUX

In the early ‘90s MTV had a show called Liquid Television, which featured alternative animation. My favorite was Aeon Flux; little three minute episodes about this crazy dominatrix assassin who never spoke, and never lived through a mission. Later she got her own half hour show, and sometimes even a plot, but the show was no more sane or comprehensible. You simply enjoyed the weirdness for what it was.

When I heard they were making a live-action version, I decided to skip it and stick with my beloved original. However, by accident I found myself viewing AEON FLUX. The filmmakers do their damndest to give us the spirit of the cartoon. They don’t succeed, but it’s sure fun to watch them try.

The story takes place 400 years in the future, where a virus has wiped out 99% of the people in 2011, leaving only 5 million. (Forget for a moment how bad that math is. Even if there were 5 billion people instead of 6.5—or even 7 billion by 2011—killing 99% of them should still leave 50 million. Sigh.)

Life is now is idyllic and peaceful, ruled by Trevor Goodchild, a dynastic scion apparently, as it was an earlier Trevor Goodchild who developed a cure for the virus. Yet all is not as it seems. (Dun Dun DUN!) Rebels are trying to bring freedom to the people (who don’t appear to need or want it, but that’s another story).

Rating Guide

Suspension of Disbelief: 9.99. The only reason I don’t give it the full 10 is because the cartoon had Aeon wearing outfits that would never stay up, and Charlize’s obviously did.

Genre Grade: Futuristic Sci-Fi. Not nearly as bad as the unwatchable ULTRAVIOLET, but not even in the same breath as a Matrix. C-.

Family Fare? AEON FLUX is PG-13, and it’s okay with me if you want to get this for the kids.

Kickassability? Aeon definitely has cool outfits and even cooler moves. I wish they’d filmed it better, but at least they tried. 21.

Pantheon Percentile: 30, and that’s generous.

In the first 15 minutes or so I pretty much wrote the movie off. There are some cool sci-fi touches, like when Aeon swallows a pill that releases a chemical in her brain that allows her to talk with the other rebels, or a pool where each drop of water is a mini-movie. Overall, though, the action and plot were just confusing. The biggest problem was the camera-work. You want to actually know what you’re seeing, but there were so many cuts and close ups that you have no idea the cool things Aeon is doing.

I almost turned the film off, but somehow stayed with it. I’m now glad I did. After that rough patch AEON FLUX started getting cooler and cooler. I realized how much they were trying to capture the spirit of the original. True they don’t put the luscious Charlize Theron in the same outfit as the cartoon (easily one of the top five outfits of all time, and yes, someone should do a list on this), but they do put her in sexy skin-tight garb, as best they can. Aeon’s trademark ability to kill scores of bad guys unerringly is there too. Even the fly in her eyelid shows up. (Fans will know what I mean.)

And the story is almost as confusing as the original. Once it becomes clear what’s going on I found myself more interested in the concept than the movie. I want to talk about that, so let me finish up here very quickly: AEON FLUX is ultimately a failure. Unless you were a big fan of the cartoon, you probably won’t like this. It was certainly made on a sub-par budget, and could have used one more rewrite and stronger supporting characters. (Francis McDormand and Pete Postlewaite show up for unfathomable reasons. What are actors of that caliber doing here? Did they lose a bet to Charlize?) All that said, I actually enjoyed the film. Wouldn’t recommend it, but might even watch it again.

[THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS A PRETTY MAJOR SPOILER, AND SHOULD NOT—REPEAT SHOULD NOT—BE READ BY ANYONE WHO MIGHT EVEN CONCEIVABLY SEE THE MOVIE]

The big secret of the film turns out to be that every human left is a clone. When the original Trevor Goodchild cured the virus, a side-effect made the population sterile. He cloned everyone, and they artificially inseminate women now, without their knowledge. (The problem arises in that the memories are starting to blur together, causing people to fall apart.) Here’s the reason I bring this up. Trevor does this (including cloning himself, continually, so he can keep working on a cure for the sterility) because he can’t stand the idea of humanity dying out. That’s laudable. On the other side is Aeon, who insists people are meant to die, as it’s the only thing that gives life meaning. My question is: if the human race was going to die out, would you want us cloned? As I understand it, cloning embryos would be akin to having twins; they wouldn’t be the same people as soon as the womb started giving them different stimuli. And though in the movie everyone started having weird memories, as far as I know that wouldn’t happen in real life. (Although who knows?) But would you be in favor of this? Would being cloned in order to keep the human race viable be an acceptable solution, or do you demand that we die? This leads into another question: if you had the power to never die, would you take it? What if you were the only one? I need to do an entire column on this. Too bad these great questions couldn’t have been in a better movie.

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