WEIRDLAND: August 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Elysium": Rebooting Paradise’s System (Film Review)

Elysium (2013) is being considered one of the big disappointments this summer both in box office domestic revenue and on the artistic front. Director Neill Blomkamp’s previous effort was the highly celebrated debut District 9 (2009). In Elysium we find a classic dystopia story: we are in the year 2154, when humanity has adopted an extreme social class division. The rich and wealthy have built a new colony in Elysium, a planet outside the Earth’s orbit. A world (inspired by the Stanford Torus) with all the comforts, totally crime-free: luminosity, calm and security. Everyone else, on the other hand, keeps struggling for survival on our planet Earth, which is wrapped in pervading poverty, disease, decay in morality and overpopulation.

Our protagonist, Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) belongs to this second group, and he’s gotten very sick after having been exposed to radiation while working in a robot factory, he has just five days before he will die. Max’s only hope is reaching to Elysium, where laying on a Medbed he can heal his internal damage. Also, Max reconnects with Frey (Alice Braga), his first love never forgotten whose little daughter, Matilda, suffers from leukemia.

While in Elysium, Delacourt, a ruthless defense secretary played by Jodie Foster, tries to protect the space station’s borders. Delacourt is so overzealous in her mission of preserving the well-being of Elysium’s inhabitants, she conspires to overthrow the political regime with the help of mercenary Kruger (a manic Sharlto Copley) and Armadyne’s CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner). Carlyle develops a program that can dismantle Elysium’s security code and turn her into the new President.

Computer hacker Spider (Wagner Moura) agrees to help Max infiltrate Elysium’s orbit in a clandestine shuttle only if he’s willing to steal John Carlyle’s secret code in order to reboot Elysium’s security systems. Max is fitted with an exoskeleton, hardwired into his brain, and he’ll initiate a journey to defend his survival, and for extension millions of humiliated earthlings.

According with an interview for The Wire, Neill Blomkamp identifies as neither liberal nor conservative, which doesn’t stop people from ascribing all sorts of agendas to him and his films. Blomkamp believes that Earth will someday look a lot like his movie’s dystopian portrayal – a Malthusian catastrophe; how America’s hegemony is slowly eroding en route to a “third world deathbed.”

Despite of the superficial obviousness of the Elysium’s script at some scenes, we cannot disregard the multiple meanings that lie on its hidden symbolism. For example, it’s no coincidence Matt Damon’s character stands for the last Anglo-Saxon white man in Los Angeles and he seems equally alienated from his past criminal background with Latino gangs (his best friend is Julio, played emphatically by Diego Luna) and from his own aspirations of living in Elysium someday. The name ‘Max’ originates from English or German Maxwell or Maximilian, whose meaning is ‘the greatest.’

Although his romantic attraction to Frey is underdeveloped in the plot, there is a hint of a nebulose sexualization of Max and Frey that indicates Matt Damon’s character as merely symbolic towards the second half of the film – an outsider inherently conflicted between his natural impulses and his destiny as final martyr.

The story that triggers Max’s choice of self-sacrifice is Matilda’s tale about an altruistic hippo and a helpless meerkat. Matilda: “The meerkat was hungry. But he was so small. And the other big animals had all the food, cause they can reach the fruits. So he had to watch them eat all the nice foods and berries cause he’s so small. So he made friends with a hippopotamus, so he can stand on the hippopotamus to get all the fruits he wants. And they eat all the fruit together.”

Max cannot avoid to ask Matilda: “What’s in for the hippo?”, but Matilda assures him the hippo is rewarded simply with the meerkat’s friendship. It’s the key metaphor of the film, Elysium representing the hippo figure and Meerkat the destitute Earth.

Ensambling Max’s spinal cord into the exoskeleton can be read as the Christ figure nailed to a futuristic cross. Blomkamp even composes lingering shots showing blood dripping from Damon’s hands, as an allusion to the stigmata. Max tells Frey before he dies “I know why the hippo did it”. It’s a clear reference to the concept of Christian sacrifice needed to save all the sinners on planet Earth.

Yet curiously Elysium‘s humanist message (enhanced immensely by Matt Damon’s performance) could however be interpreted as nihilist if we follow Max’s character arc in a literal way. In the beginning of his journey Max’s only aspirations are selfish and survival-oriented, not attached to any ideal, so his drastic moral evolution can be explained as a side-effect provoked by the lethal dose of radiation he’s suffered. Twirling down a desperate frame of mind, Max could not want to stay alive anymore in such a bleak chaotic world, so he ends committing suicide in the form of retrieving the data loaded inside his brain to liberate the humans and allow their entrance into Elysium – the Paradise.

Article first published as Movie Review: ‘Elysium’: Rebooting Paradise’s System on Blogcritics

"Prisoners" Telluride Review: Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, GQ Style scans

Scans of Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in Total Film (UK)

As Keller’s interrogation continues in scenes that are gruesome but never exploitative, Villeneuve frequently cuts away to follow the lead police detective (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is pursuing his own investigation that includes questioning Alex’s lonely aunt (Melissa Leo), whose troubled family history may have led her nephew astray.
As the film weaves all the plot and character strands together, the vise tightens. There are some truly scary scenes as new suspects appear and the film twists its way to a dark, mordant conclusion. It’s worth remembering that Incendies, despite its Oscar nomination and excellent reviews, was essentially a high-class melodrama, and that’s the way that Prisoners should be viewed as well. And thanks to the efforts of an expert filmmaking team, it’s a smashingly effective melodrama. Villeneuve enlisted brilliant cinematographer Roger Deakins, who captures the rainy, chilly atmosphere of this Pennsylvania community with visual eloquence. (Pennsylvania was convincingly recreated outside Atlanta.) The editing by Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, two editors of many of Clint Eastwood’s recent movies, is also first-rate. Although the film runs two and a half hours, there doesn’t seem to be a wasted frame. Source: www.hollywoodreporter.com

Scans of Jake Gyllenhaal in GQ Style (Germany) magazine, Fall-Winter 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Fred MacMurray

Happy Anniversary, Fred MacMurray!

Fred MacMurray and Madge Evans in "Men Without Names" (1935) directed by Ralph Murphy.

Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll in "Cafe Society" (1939) directed by Edward H. Griffith


"Honeymoon in Bali" (1939), starring Fred MacMurray & Madeleine Carroll, directed by Edward H. Griffith


"Standing Room Only" (1944), starring Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard, directed by Sidney Lanfield


"The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961), starring Fred MacMurray and Nancy Olson, directed by Robert Stevenson.

Artificial Grass in Texas

Background Artificial Grass, also known as artificial or synthetic turf, is a grass-like, man-made surface manufactured from synthetic materials. It is most often used in sports arenas where sport games were originally or normally played on grass. However, it is now being used for residential lawns and commercial applications, as well.

Artificial Grass in Dallas: Artificial Grass first came to prominence in 1965, when Astro Turf was installed in the newly-built Astrodome in Texas. After the installation of artificial surfaces in the 1980s in some football (soccer) clubs in Europe, artificial turf gained a bad reputation on both sides of the Atlantic with fans and especially with players. It became known as an unforgiving playing surface causing more injuries to players. Therefore, because the surfaces were much harder than grass, and aesthetically unappealing to many fans, the artificial surfaces were removed from many arenas and stadiums. In general, artificial grass was accepted for certain sports such as tennis and field hockey.

In 1997, new generation fields were installed in the US by Fieldturf who invented the system and used Bonar yarns to meet their system requirements. In the early 21st century, new artificial playing surfaces using sand and/or rubber infill were developed. This new generation of artificial turf is becoming more popular.

Requirements Artificial weathering is essential to estimate the service lifetime required for artificial grass surfaces. The current standard for UV stability requirements is set so that yarns may not exceed 50% reduction in tensile strength after 6000 hours testing in a xenon-arc weathering instrument. Tests were performed in an Atlas Ci4000Weather-Ometer for a minimum of 6000 hours according to ISO 4892-2, subjecting the samples to a continuous light cycle of 0.50 W/m2 at 340 nm and a Black Standard Temperature of 65° C including a spray cycle (102:18). The selected filter combination was “Type S Boro” for the inner and outer filter. This so called “Daylight Filter System” is the most common combination for weathering tests providing a perfect match to global solar radiation.

Virtually indistinguishable from grass when viewed from any distance, it is generally regarded as safe to play on as a typical grass surface: – Artificial grass surfaces should last longer than natural turf and their durability makes them more suitable for multi use stadia. Artificial grass can be a better solution when the environment is particularly hostile to natural grass, such as an arid environment or one where there is little natural light.

Basically, three base materials are used to design artificial grass yarns:

– Polyamide (PA)
– Polypropylene (PP)
– Polyethylene (PE)

Polypropylene has shown the best performance for these important physical properties:

– Resilience
– Abrasion
– Post fibrillation

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Elysium draft (extracts), Matt Damon video

Matt Damon is the last Anglo in Los Angeles, an overcrowded Mexican slum city with no sense of identity or civic unity. The – mostly white – wealthy people have fled the earth to establish another home in space, but are finally overrun a second time by illegal Third World migrants after Damon dismantles their security system. For Steve Sailer dystopian 'Elysium' is "another Malthusian tale about open borders" and its catastrophic effects on civilization, whereas the rich in their carefree, gated "Beverly Hills" space community profit from the collapse of the borders on earth.

Jodie Foster, Matt Damon and Neill Blomkamp attending "ELYSIUM" premiere in Los Angeles, on August 7th, 2013

Max Da Costa. 36 years old.
Incarcerated twice. 2.4 years, 3.5
years. Trafficking controlled substances. Grand theft auto. Vandalism.

EXT. ELYSIUM
The huge 100 km diameter ring spins ever so slowly. Birds of paradise wave gently in the clean air. We pan over to--

A large government complex. THE CCB. Its metal exterior looks like a shiny version of the Pentagon.

EXT. LOS ANGELES COUNTY HOSPITAL - DAY
The hospital is old, dirty, run down. And very overcrowded.

INT. LOS ANGELES COUNTY HOSPITAL - DAY
We move through the masses to find: MAX sitting, holding a tissue to his lip, still bleeding.

A Nurse emerges. She is beautiful, but has the look of not enough sleep and too much stress. This is FREY, late twenties. She slows when she sees him.

FREY
Max...? Max DaCosta...?

He smiles, but it pains him to smile.

ROBOT PAROLE OFFICER
Police officers noted violent anti social behavior. We regretfully must extend parole. Elevation in heart rate detected. Trace amounts of testosterone in bloodstream. Would you like a pill? Personality matrix suggests a 78.3% chance of regression to old behavior patterns. Would you like to talk to a human?

MAX: (mocking in robot voice) No, I am ok.

ROBOT PAROLE OFFICER
Change in speech pattern noted. Are you being sarcastic and or abusive.

MAX
(still in robot voice) Negative.

ROBOT PAROLE OFFICER
It is a federal offence to abuse a parole officer.


MAX lies on a surgical table. Sandro stands over him. The other gangsters are getting ready. We see carts wheeled in, full of the most godawful looking saws and instruments.

MAX
When this thing is installed, will it hurt?

The gangsters laugh.

SANDRO
Yeah bitch, it's gonna hurt.

A gangster grabs Max's hand and shoves a needle in between his fingers. Max winces in pain, but doesn't make a sound. Max wakes up. He feels his neck, it's neatly bandaged. He looks down to see his stomach bandaged.

SPIDER
Please If you're re-atomized now, it'll scramble the data. You can't heal yourself, not yet.

INT. GANTRY ELYSIUM
The gantry is suspended hundreds of meters up, like a bridge over the immense sub-structure of Elysium. It looks like something out of STAR WARS. Huge volumes of wind swirl.

Kruger keeps coming, a relentless killer.

MAX: You got nothing to fight for.

Max and Kruger collide in a deadly sequence of moves.

KRUGER
I have everything to fight for. I have all this.

Max struggles. But he makes a desperate move, GRABBING hold of the NERVE CENTER on the back of Kruger's HULC. Max tears it off with all his strength. SPARKS explode and shredded circuitry come out in his hand. We hear Kruger's suit power down, and--

KRUGER: You fucking idiot... That data will kill you the second it's retrieved. You wanna save... all your little earthlings... then you're gonna die.

Max collapses next to the central computer. Spider closes and seals the door behind them. The glass floor of the protocol room is the final barrier between the inside of Elysium and space. EARTH looms directly under them. Max looks down at the world that raised him.



Matt Damon (Baby Be Mine) video

Happy Anniversary, Preston Sturges!

"A pretty girl is better than a plain one / A leg is better than an arm / A bedroom is better than a living room / An arrival is better that a departure / A birth is better than a death / A chase is better than a chat / A dog is better than a landscape / A kitten is better than a dog / A baby is better than a kitten / A kiss is better than a baby / A pratfall is better than anything." -Preston Sturges (on his "golden rule" for successful comedy)

In the course of his career, Preston Sturges employed the simplest cinematic syntax to convey the hypothetical stories, achronological timelines, and meta-linguistic reflections that we have analyzed thus far. While some of the most prominent Hollywood filmmakers of the 1930s and 1940s were adopting deep-focus, tracking shots, montage sequences, masks and other striking visual solutions, Sturges’s lack of cinematic virtuosity was so blatant as to appear almost in conflict with his complex narrative style. This absence of easily recognizable cinematic marks has often been interpreted as a deficiency in terms of aesthetics that prevented Sturges from making it into Andrew Sarris’s “first line” of auteurs because—as Sarris himself wrote—he “may have been contributed more to the American language than to the American cinema.”

The modest, unobtrusive visual style of Sturges’s movies, in fact, is perfectly functional in relation to a narrative structure and comic style that are mostly based on “external focalization”—the case in which (to use a literary terminology introduced by Gérard Genette) the events seem to happen before the spectator’s eyes, without the intrusion of an internalfocalizer (a character’s viewpoint) or an external narrator’s viewpoint (zero focalization). Sturges’s comic style relies entirely on an unpreventable chain of self-triggered events that unfold “naturally” before our eyes and rely on fast-paced, witty dialogue, fully appreciable only through a high degree of technical transparency. In Sturges’s films, gags and events unfold before our eyes. And even if sometimes an internal focalizer might emerge (a character whose point of view is used as a representational filter—for example, Jean commenting on Pike’s behavior through her mirror in The Lady Eve), or if the dormant implicit narrator unexpectedly appears (as in the silent music sequences from Sullivan’s Travels previously analyzed, or the “narratage” technique that will shortly be discussed), external focalization remains the main narrative strategy used by Sturges to make us laugh.

It is for this reason that Sturges’s cinema is characterized by an extraordinary frequency of long takes and one-shot sequences that usually punctuate the most verbose and motionless sequences: the long discussion between Sullivan and the producers, at the beginning of Sullivan’s Travels, is introduced by a brief shot in the screening room, and followed by a four-minute take in the producer’s office; moreover, the scene from The Lady Eve in which Jean tries to seduce Charles in her cabin features a three-minute static close-up. In general, Sturges reserves long takes for discussions between couples, like the four-minute single-shot sequence between Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea having dinner in The Palm Beach Story, or the second daydreaming scene in Unfaithfully Yours (a threeminute sequence including a two-minute long take).

In all these examples, the long take appears every time Sturges wants his audiences to sit back and concentrate on what his characters have to say (which is usually a relevant piece of narrative information). Examples of this characteristic include the first meeting between Woodrow and the Marines in Hail the Conquering Hero (a five-minute take that includes a tracking shot onto Woodrow’s face, to intensify his monologue about the Marines) and the hysterical existential reflections of Harold in The Sin of Harold Diddlebock—the Sturges movie that featured the highest number of long takes.

Barbara Stanwyck and director Preston Sturges on the set of The Lady Eve, 1941

When Sturges’s venture into independent cinema (the California Picture Company, co-founded with Howard Hughes in 1944) failed miserably after only a couple of movies, Sturges ran back to the studios, signing contracts with Fox and MGM, and even trying to negotiate a return to Paramount. It was too late, as the system had rapidly changed: The end of the war, the loss of profits, the beginning of serious competition from television and, soon after, the Paramount Decision (1948) of the Supreme Court forcing the studios to divest themselves of their theater chains had forced Hollywood to restructure its modes of production and to re-focus on more alluring aspects.

That this change affected Sturges’s creative freedom is quite clear, if we compare the 1933 advertising campaign for The Power and the Glory with the 1949 one for The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend—the former pinpointing the “radical innovation” of Sturges’s “story telling technique,” the latter focusing on the essential value of Betty Grable’s legs. Sturges tried to adapt his creativity, by structuring his script for The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend entirely around the character of Betty Grable, with a storyline and a series of gags centered on her body and her musical numbers.

Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert in "The Palm Beach Story" (1942)

Sturges’s work reflects in many different ways this attitude, by presenting reservations towards most of the moral, sociological and economic values effectively portrayed in Classical Hollywood Cinema, and by underlining the contradictions of that all–American way of life that many other directors were sanctifying. His cynicism towards the myths and beliefs of Western culture gave birth to explicit parodies of the American West (The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend), as well as of the British and French cultures (Les Carnets du Major Thompson), and his satirical approach emphasized the contradictions of the capitalist system (Diamond Jim [1935], The Power and the Glory, Christmas in July, The Palm Beach Story [1942]), wartime propaganda (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero), the institution of marriage (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, The Palm Beach Story —originally titled Is Marriage Necessary?), and even the tales of the Bible (The Lady Eve and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek).

Far from singing the praises of the American common man, Sturges’s characters strive for survival in a world that forces them to embrace values such as the pursuit of money, success, career and self-esteem. When they are not mistaken for heroes (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Hail the Conquering Hero), they either end up miserably defeated (The Power and the Glory, The Great McGinty), or they are left with the bitter taste of a highly questionable “happy” ending (Christmas in July, Sullivan’s Travels [1941], The Palm Beach Story). Sturges, however, doesn't propose solid alternatives, let alone “universal truths.” He simply exposes the contradictions and the absurdity that lie beneath the cultural, social and economic values commonly accepted by most people. -"The Cinema of Preston Sturges (A Critical Study)" by Alessandro Pirolini

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jake Gyllenhaal: new clip of "Prisoners", Bravo Interview, Elle Men China

Jake Gyllenhaal in Elle Men (China) magazine

Only a few dramas releasing this fall have a more stacked cast than Prisoners, a searingly intense drama about how the families of two missing girls respond when the case against their suspected abductor hits a dead end. The film stars a group of hugely respected actors and actresses including (deep breath) Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano.

Now, we’ve got a new look at Prisoners, courtesy of MTV. The clip shows Gyllenhaal’s brash young Detective Loki doing his best to frighten a confession out of the eerily silent lead suspect Alex Jones (Dano) after apprehending him during a downpour. Source: wegotthiscovered.com

Jake Gyllenhaal on Bravo's 'Inside the Actors Studio' August 20, 2013

His first time on the series, the actor discussed his films "Brokeback Mountain," "October Sky," "Donnie Darko," "End of Watch," and the upcoming "Prisoners."

In addition, he discussed his famous Hollywood family and revisited his relationship with late friend and "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Heath Ledger. Source: www.thewrap.com

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Celebrity Reputation Management: What Stephen Finfer Can Teach Rising Stars

Stephen Finfer, the CEO of Arthouse Entertainment and a professional photographer, promotes the importance of the right photo in creating a lasting impression on viewers.

The speed of modern communications has created an interesting dilemma for celebrities who depend upon public good will to retain their status or to maintain their upward mobility. These well-known individuals are pursued by amateur photographers and journalists on a continual basis. Any unguarded moment or temporary lack of glamor can have a serious impact on career prospects and public perception of established stars and aspiring celebrities. Implementing a proactive reputation management strategy can provide protection against unwanted publicity and can create a positive perception of celebrities at all stages of their career.

Establishing a Baseline

For aspiring celebs, building a portfolio of online information and photographs can help to blunt the effects of bad press if and when it occurs. As the CEO of Arthouse Entertainment and a professional photographer whose work has appeared in In Touch, People and Us magazines, Stephen Finfer understands the importance of the right photo in creating a lasting impression on viewers. “Photos can be so powerful. Capturing a moment can appear so simple, yet have such depth and complexity,” Finfer notes. The art of capturing a single iconic moment and using that moment to define the career of a public figure is a critical element in celebrity success.

Retaining Rights

Another element that can impact the career paths of aspiring actors, musicians and performers is the amount of control over photographic representations retained by the rising star or established celebrity. In most cases, the rights to the photographs and negatives remain with the photographer. Unless those rights are clearly transferred to the client in the contract documents, celebrities can be subject to the release of less flattering photos at any point during their careers. These unpleasant surprises can derail the prospects of added work for younger stars and can create public relations nightmares for those who have already made a name for themselves in the movie, television or music industries.

Negotiating a Workable Solution

Stephen Finfer began his career in the legal field before shifting his focus to entertainment and photography. His eclectic experience has provided him with a unique perspective on the challenges facing celebrities in the modern online marketplace. As a result, Finfer and other photographers offer an alternative to the traditional model in which publication rights remain with the photography studio. By surrendering these rights to the subject of the photos as part of the contractual agreement, these photographers can establish a higher degree of trust for novices to the celebrity world and can offer valuable peace of mind to established stars of stage, screen and performance venue.

When the Damage Is Done

Even the most careful celebrities can occasionally fall victim to an unscripted moment or an unfortunate public appearance. Creating a counterbalance to bad press can sometimes shift the focus away from the faux pas and on to the next opportunity or career move for the star. By generating increased attention for movie roles, concert appearances or other upcoming performances, celebrities and their agents can minimize the damage caused by these unfortunate incidents. A controversial but tasteful photo shoot, an impromptu guest appearance or the tried-and-true charity fundraiser can be useful tools in the reputation management toolkit for these public figures.

The best advice for managing public reputation issues, of course, is to avoid bad publicity and seek out opportunities for good press mentions. Maintaining a backup plan is critical, however, to ensure career longevity and to deal with these challenges as they arise.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Californian Noir and Sci-Fi Dystopia: "The Day of the Locust", "D.O.A.", "Elysium", "Blade Runner"

Fred MacMurray & Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" (1944) directed by Billy Wilder

Of the three writers [Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain] connected with "Double Indemnity", Cain was the least inclined to see California in dystopian terms—this despite the fact that he began his career as a journalist and college teacher on the East Coast and served briefly as an editor of The New Yorker. Like Dashiell Hammett, Cain was a veteran of World War I who wrote about violence and who published with Blanche and Alfred Knopf. In one of his most widely discussed essays, “Paradise” (1933), he attacked Southern California’s automobile fetishism, bad food, and lack of organic culture; in the same breath, however, he declared that the state was populated by a more talented class of people than other parts of the country, and that “some sort of destiny awaits this place” (quoted in Cain's biography by Roy Hoopes). But Cain avoided the pulps and did not write detective fiction; instead, he specialized in Dostoyevskian narratives of criminal psychology, transposed into lower-class America and strongly influenced by the naturalism of Theodore Dreiser, the modernism of Ring Lardner, and the cultural criticism of H. L. Mencken. He was therefore discussed alongside such “serious” writers as John O’Hara, William Saroyan, and Nathanael West, whom Edmund Wilson dubbed “poets of the tabloid murder.” -"More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts" (2008) by James Naremore

Still of Karen Black as Faye Greener in "The Day of The Locust" (1975) directed by John Schlesinger

The Day of the Locust is a 1939 novel by American author Nathanael West, set in Hollywood, California, during the Great Depression. Its themes deal with the alienation and desperation of a broad group of odd individuals who exist at the fringes of the Hollywood movie industry: "New groups, whole families, kept arriving. He could see a change come over them as soon as they had become part of the crowd. Until they reached the line, they looked diffident, almost furtive, but the moment they had become part of it, they turned arrogant and pugnacious. It was a mistake to think them harmless curiosity seekers. They were savage and bitter, especially the middle-aged and the old, and had been made so by boredom and disappointment. All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks and counters, in the fields and at tedious machines of all sorts, saving their pennies and dreaming of the leisure that would be theirs when they had enough. Finally that day came. They could draw a weekly income of ten or fifteen dollars. Where else should they go but California, the land of sunshine and oranges?" -"The Day of the Locust" (1939) by Nathanael West

A reformed thief with tattoos riding up his neck, Max now labors in a factory that manufactures the robots that police the masses and, shades of “The Jetsons” and Philip K. Dick, serve the Elysium elite. That the robots appear to have it easier than the humans stuck on Earth is one of the bitter truths that Mr. Blomkamp deploys as he begins filling in the story. He’s better with some big-picture details: On Earth, folks speak English and Spanish (Max switches between both), while on Elysium, the well-heeled drop a little French in between exchanging pleasantries and exercising their privilege. The movie gets going after Max receives a lethal dose of radiation, sending him on a mission of self-preservation. “I don’t want to die,” he says, voicing the fear of extinction behind all dystopian fiction.

Putting the world in Mr. Damon’s hands is as smart as making him the star of a big special-effects fantasia. At once preternaturally boyish and middle aged (he’s 42), Mr. Damon has become the greatest utility player in movies: No one can better vault across rooftops and in and out of genres and make you care greatly if he falls.

He’s so homespun that he could have sprung wholly formed from a corn silo (he shares James Stewart’s extraordinary likability if not his later-life, postwar neurotic edge).

But it’s the ease and sincerity with which Mr. Damon conveys moral decency — so that it feels as if it originates from deep within rather than from, say, God or country — that helps make him a strikingly contemporary ideal of what used to be regularly called the American character. Source: movies.nytimes.com


The Stars My Destination is a science fiction novel by Alfred Bester. Originally serialized in Galaxy magazine in four parts beginning with the October 1956 issue, it first appeared in book form in the United Kingdom as Tiger! Tiger! – after William Blake's poem "The Tyger", the first verse of which is printed as the first page of the novel – and the book remains widely known under that title in markets where this edition was circulated. A working title for the novel was Hell's My Destination, and it was also associated with the name The Burning Spear. The Stars My Destination anticipated many of the staples of the later cyberpunk movement, for instance the megacorporations as powerful as governments, a dark overall vision of the future and the cybernetic enhancement of the body. Bester's unique addition to this mix is the concept that human beings could learn to teleport, or "jaunte" from point to point, provided they know the exact locations of their departure and arrival and have physically seen the destination.

Elysium feels like a hybrid of Alfred Bester's science fiction classic The Stars My Destination and Rudolph Maté's film noir classic D.O.A. It impresses not only in Blomkamp's use of visceral violence and body horror - holdovers from District 9 - but also in the compelling analogy for people smuggling. Source: themomusreport.com

D.O.A. (1950), a film noir drama film directed by Rudolph Maté, is considered a classic of the genre. Small town accountant Frank Bigelow (Edmond O' Brien) goes to San Francisco for a week on the town before he marries his fiancée Paula Gibson (Pamela Britton). One morning Frank wakes up feeling more than just hung over. This prompts him to go to see Dr MacDonald, who tells him the shocking news: Frank is suffering from radiation poisoning and has only a few days to live. Source: www2.eufs.org.uk

The film stars Edmond O'Brien and Pamela Britton. D.O.A. begins with what a BBC reviewer called "perhaps one of cinema's most innovative opening sequences." The scene is a long, behind-the-back tracking sequence featuring Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) walking through the hallway of a police station to report his own murder.

"Elysium" takes off from a pure existential thriller situation (which it borrows from the great 1950 film noir "D.O.A."), and it's been shot in an incredibly effective mode of raggedy, quick-cut anxiety. Yet apart from that health care allegory (and the 1 percent--versus--99 percent theme it emerges from), the plot is fairly basic. Source: edition.cnn.com

“Elysium” is kind of what you’d have if Philip K. Dick, author of “Total Recall” source material, had written the noir classic “D.O.A.” An orphan, Max is reunited with his childhood love Frey (Alice Braga), whose young daughter also has a death sentence hanging over her head. She has terminal leukemia. Mix in an exoskeleton turning Max into super-strong robo-drone makes “Elysium’s” connection to Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” even clearer. Also add similarly decked-out assassin Kruger (Sharlto Copley of “District 9,” chewing the scenery), an outer space Cruella de Vil (Armani-clad Jodie Foster, out-chewing Copley), a loyal buddy played by Diego Luna, a corporate pig named Carlyle (William Fichtner), as well as explosive shootouts and fight scenes, and you have “Elysium.”

In addition to the afore­mentioned classics, you’re going to catch bits of another Dick-based work, “Blade Runner,” as well as “The Matrix,” “Mad Max” and “Escape from New York.” Blomkamp’s perhaps apartheid-bred fondness for multicultural sci-fi fables is apparent once again. Source: bostonherald.com