WEIRDLAND: Mr Robot, Fight Club, Donnie Darko, Lou Reed & Nico, Portia Doubleday: Confussion & Beauty

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mr Robot, Fight Club, Donnie Darko, Lou Reed & Nico, Portia Doubleday: Confussion & Beauty

Happy 46th birthday, Christian Slater!

Happy 46th birthday, Edward Norton!

Mr. Robot Is Fight Club’s Spiritual Successor: Just as Rebel Without A Cause couldn’t have predicted Taxi Driver’s post-Vietnam disillusionment, and Taxi Driver in turn couldn’t have foreseen the ad-led consumerism that Palahniuk savaged in his debut novel, Fight Club had little notion that the world was just years away from a tech revolution that would endow corporations and governments with levels of intrusive power that make its diatribes against IKEA seem quaint by comparison. Front and centre is the series’ voiceover by lead Elliot (Rami Malek), which captures the same sense of paranoia and sardonicism as Edward Norton’s fast-talking Fight Club narration. Source:

Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson and Christian Slater as Mr. Robot in "Mr. Robot" (2015)

With his raised black hoodie, vacant good looks, withdrawn demeanour and counselling sessions, Mr Robot’s lead Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) even channels the hero of another turn-of-the-last-century cult favourite: Donnie Darko. Moving even further down the timeline, casting Christian Slater as a co-lead almost certainly knowingly takes the influences back to 1990’s Pump Up The Volume and 1988’s Heathers, and Slater’s anarchic, criminal mischief-makers characters, Hard Harry and J.D. Source:

Donnie stands out as an anomaly. His parents pay for him to see an expensive psychotherapist, Dr Thurman (Katharine Ross), who prescribes him various pills with exotic-sounding names, but still Donnie doesn't quite fit in. From beginning to end, Donnie Darko straddles the line between the dreamlike and everyday, between the glossy, rose-tinted memory of what the 80s were like and the sharper-edged reality. Donnie's school is introduced in a delirious sweep of the camera and slow-motion shots cut to Head Over Heels by Tears For Fears.

Indeed, the sci-fi fable Kelly weaves around the central character could easily be read as a symbol of Donnie's troubled perception of the world around him. Frank could represent the area of Donnie's psyche that both disturbs and fascinates - a small but naggingly persistent part of an otherwise intelligent and likeable young man. Kelly isn't afraid to tell a story that goes against the grain of Robert McKee-type storytelling. He's since cited Terry Gilliam and David Lynch as being among his favourite directors, and there's more than a hint of their surrealist attitude in Donnie Darko. To regard Donnie Darko as a puzzle to be solved is to miss the powerful humanity in its drama. Source:

After discovering that Slater’s character is actually his father, Elliot (Rami Malek) will confront him about not revealing this to him earlier. The promo video of the next episode shows Elliot coming to terms with the fact that the leader of the hacker group FSociety is his father. Slater’s character, however, is more focused on Evil Corp and their plan. He asks Elliot to “stick to the plan” and ensure that the hacking of the company goes smoothly. The Chinese Hacker White Rose had revealed the flaws in FSociety’s plan and had set a deadline for the hackers to remove a “honeypot” from an Evil Corp server. Source:

Chuck Palahniuk (author of the "Fight Club" novel) explained: "Really, what I was writing was just The Great Gatsby updated a little. It was 'apostolic' fiction - where a surviving apostle tells the story of his hero. There are two men and a woman. And one man, the hero, is shot to death."

"I wanted to write the great American novel, but I also loved rock & roll," Reed told an interviewer in 1987. "I just wanted to cram everything into a record that these people had ignored... I wanted to write rock & roll that you could listen to as you got older, that wouldn't lose anything, that would be timeless, in the subject matter and the literacy of the lyrics."  A collegiate creative writing student who played covers in bar bands and briefly held a job writing pop song knockoffs in the Brill Building era, Reed drew inspiration both from literature (Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, William Burroughs' Naked Lunch) and his own life — the fellow Warhol collaborators that informed quintessential Reed character studies like "Candy Says" and "Walk on the Wild Side." Besides writing about the psychology of polymorphous sexuality and drug users, he penned some of the most beautiful love songs in history ("Pale Blue Eyes," "I'll Be Your Mirror"). Reed was also a sound scientist who, with the Velvet Underground and after, advanced what was possible with simple chords and electric guitars. Source:

"No Money Down" is a song written by Lou Reed, released as a single in 1986 and originally featured on Mistrial. The 1986 music video (directed by Godley and Creme) is a simple animatronic version of Reed singing along to the music. During the final verse, gloved human hands violently tear away at rubber and plastic parts of the robot, revealing wires and parts.

“White Light/White Heat” (1968): The title track to the band’s brain-busting freakout of a second album, “White Light/White Heat” sets the template for the ensuing 40 minutes of guitar-driven panic that would change the face of rock and roll forever, even if it took rock and roll another decade or so to figure it out. A hugely catchy song overdriven by heavily distorted guitars and a pounding boogie piano, Reed sings about various states of severe mental confusion in a bemused monotone, adding yet another layer of cognitive dissonance to the entire affair. Source:

Lou Reed & Nico during the recording of The Velvet Underground's Banana Album (1966)

Portia Doubleday plays Angela Moss in "Mr. Robot" (2015)

Portia Doubleday (here in a photoshoot for Foam magazine) reminds me slightly of Nico and Amanda Seyfried.

Nico (born Christa Päffgen) in the 1960s.

Nico with Lou Reed in Los Angeles, 1967.

Portia Doubleday and Rami Malek in the pilot episode of "Mr. Robot"

"I don't have a sense of time. Time is timeless to me." Nico

"I've always had a more spatial mind, mathematical, than literal." Portia Doubleday

Nerdist: There is always going to be something great about vigilante justice and the hacking does just that, but what Angela’s doing, going after Evil Corp, is perhaps the more logical path.

Portia Doubleday: One of my favorite moments from the show is the scene between Angela and Terry Colby when he completely devalues her and she comes back with the response of, basically, “You can go through with not taking this deal but inevitably you won’t have what you want most, which is respect and power.” Because that’s what she can identify with—and inevitably that changes his mind. Those two characters are very analogous though, which is interesting because he’s monstrous. In the next scene when she talks about her mother’s death, though, he has a moment of reflection and is humanized—[which is] interesting because we’re humanizing evil.

Portia Doubleday: “I don’t want to know what happens,” but I can’t help but think about it. And your guess is as good as mine: I don’t know what’s going to come out of Sam’s head. I was just going to text Sam today and say, “I have a couple hypothesis and theories about what he’s going to do, but I have no idea. No idea. The show is so unpredictable but it always lands, and it’s not that far-fetched, which makes it even more tantalizing.”  Source:

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