May 25, 2006
The LOST 2-hour season finale tonight was a little bit mind blowing, hunh?
Those guys are going all the way out now. They’re not holding anything back.
They have once again, completely transformed the scope and even the underlying concept of the show.
This thing is like a “serial” the way Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN was a comic book.
It’s true, at points along the way this season, I’ve felt like these guys have had no idea where they’re going. And I think some of that comes from their need (and orders from on high) to stretch the series out for five to nine years. But they’re answer to that is different that most TV shows, which try to recreate the same show season after season. Like CHEERS, most shows are all about giving you a place of comfort and familiarty to come to, where everyone knows your name.
But LOST, at the end of two seasons in a row now, have instead completely transformed the idea of what the show is about.
We now know that they are not on a normal island.
And we know how they were brought there.
And we know that when Desmond, the last inhabitant of the hatch, tried to escape by boat, he sailed for some eight weeks away from the island, and the first sight of land he saw – was this island again.
This brings up a few potential readings.
1) They’re in some kind of snow globe. A massive dome. And on the other side is:
a) Some kind of TRUMAN SHOW-like other world. Some huge experiment is being conducted on them from outside. The entire island is like the hatch. The hatch which was being watched by someone in an abandoned post for a very long time. The entire island itself is inside some kind of self-contained unit, and it is being watched.
b) Or maybe it’s some kind of virtual reality, where the edge of the world – like in a video game – just leads you back into the game platform.
c) Or there is nothing else out there, the rest of the world has been destroyed.
d) Or maybe, as Sawyer guessed, they’re on an alien planet. (Which would be backed up by the giant stone foot, the ruins of some colossus on the coast, which had only four toes.)
But I think the answer is clearer than that.
I’m leaning toward option:
2) It seems now that the island is, in fact, built on top of a massive magnetic energy generator.
The generator is controlled by the pushing of the button, which dissipates the excess built up energy every 108 minutes. When the button isn’t pushed, and the energy is allowed to build – the magnet effect builds so intensely, that anything with a few hundred miles is sucked toward it.
It’s this magnetism that, when Desmond failed to push the button, pulled Oceanic Flight 815 out of the sky and crashed it into the island. Just as the drug plane from Nigeria crashed, just as the 16th century slave ship crashed, just as Desmond’s boat was drawn there and the real Henry Gale’s baloon.
This explanation of the magnetic island seems to answer a lot of questions with some clarity. And, in terms of what the generator is, maybe even some kind of BLACK HOLE, pulling everything toward it with a gravitational sucking force.
But, then… there’s one clue at the very end that suggests one of the more wild first theories might be right.
After Locke doesn’t push the button, and the vast bright light fills the sky (which suggests a light coming from above, perhaps from the top of a dome), there’s quiet aross the beach… And then something falls out of the sky, from high, high above, and crashes in the middle of the camp.
What is it? …. The front door of the hatch.
The metal door of the hatch which seems to have been somehow sucked high into the sky, and then dropped back down when the button was pushed and the magnet when off.
So perhaps the island isn’t the source of the energy.
Maybe the source is high above…
At the top of a dome.
Or hey, maybe there’s a link of some sort, between the island and somewhere else – somewhere high in the sky. Maybe a dimensional portal or a gate is in the hatch. Or, maybe a black hole…?
6.1.06 – Theory Addendum
Remember that big re-stocking shipment of food and materials that fell from the sky during the hatch’s lockdown about 6 episodes back? Remember that nobody heard a plane fly overhead?
How much you want to bet it fell from a hole in the sky – like at the top of a big dome?
This theory’s really been floating around in my head a lot lately. The only problem with it – and it’s a big one – is how the hell did they get in there? They all left on a plane from Sydney, in the real world. At what point did they cross into the snow globe?
In honor of the vast conspiracy that ABC is allowing these very clever writers and filmmakers to spin for us happy and hooked audience members, here’s some conspiracy and Lost-themed tunes to download and listen to on your iPod today:
1) “Another Lonely Night” – The Willard Grant Conspiracy [from the album Mojave]
2) Fah Daa Bah Dee Bah Doo Bomph – The Mother Funk Conspiracy
3) “Le Monde (ft. Lou Lou)” – Thievery Corporation [from the album "The Mirror Conspiracy"]
4) “Samba Tranquille” – Thievery Corporation [from the album "The Mirror Conspiracy"]
5) “Lost Change in D Minor” – Will.i.am [from the album "Lost Change"]
6) “If Not Now, Whenever” – The Books [from the album "Lost and Safe"]
7) “I Slept with Bonhomme at the CBC” – Broken Social Scene [from the Album "Feel Good Lost"]
INTELLECTUAL QUOTE OF THE DAY:
And here’s a relevant couple quotes from a radio show I heard today on my iPod, while wandering around through a summer’s day in New York today:
On Kurt Anderson’s STUDIO 360 podcast from PRI, he was talking with the novelist Anne Rice about conspiracy theories, and specifically about the popularity of the DAVINCI CODE.
Rice said she understands why so many people are so drawn to the conspiracy story Brown has invented. “Most of life,” she says, “for most of us, is meaningless. Things happen at random. There’s always been a great desire on the parts of journalists and historians and the media, to try and find threads and meaning. So, conspiracy theories are glorified versions of that. Because the random nature of life is pretty scary. And it’s comforting to believe that things happen for a meaning and that there are connections.”
Of course, the other obvious tale-weaver she leaves out is religion, which provides exactly the same kind of vast and cosmic cover story, that explains everything.
Kurt Anderson agrees, that conspiracy theories and religious narratives spring from the same impulse. “To try,” he says, “to impose absolute clarity on an existence whose purposes and meanings are murky and mysterious… It’s why fundamentalism of so many stripes is so appealing to so many people. And why 60 million copies of THE DAVINCI CODE have been sold.”
And perhaps why LOST is attracting record numbers of viewers back to the dying technology of the boob tube.
May 8, 2006
THE ONE PERCENT
Director: Jamie Johnson
Film website: Tribeca Film Fest
Johnson Interview: Filmmaker Q&A
Director: Dhruv Dhawan
Film website: From Dust Press Notes
Both films viewed at: 2006 Tribeca Film Fest
“No great society has survived such a massive wealth gap;
who knows if ours will?” – Nancy Schafer
An extremely simple and personal film, The One Percent is a documentary that transcends its limits to become increasingly universal and political. Continuing in content and style from his first doc, Born Rich, director Jamie Johnson – an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune – reaches significantly further this time. Beginning as an exploration into his own class guilt over his inherited riches – the films uses diverse interviews with everyone from Steve Forbes to Ralph Nader to Katrina victims to Milton Friedman, the economist who coined the Regan-era term “trickledown effect” – to expand out into a powerful indictment of the stratification between the 1% of the population who own 60% of the wealth, and everyone else in this country.
Beginning with a surprisingly self-aware but obliviously wealthy friend who’s just bought a vast, light-filled loft across a parking lot from Chicago’s down-trodden Cabrini green housing projects, Johnson moves down to the streets. And in interviews with residents of Cabrini Green, we learn how Chicago has gone about gentrifying this neighborhood – by simply closing the schools and the hospitals and public services. Playing on the fear of crime and drug dealers as an excuse, the moneyed class running Chicago’s planning boards have gotten support to “clean up” these old neighborhoods. But Johnson’s interviews reveal a neighborhood where a generation of families have been raised – hopeless of getting out, but in harmony with each other – and where drug dealers are only one percent of the population.
But it’s the richest one percent of the country that’s making all the choices about who gets what. And this shocking little factoid, about Chicago’s closing schools to isolate and abandon the poor, seems like just a small metaphor for what the Federal government at large is up to. Johnson shows heart-rending imagery of the millions abandoned in Katrina, and makes good use of some Michael Moore-type animation to show how and why the country has changed since the days of the New Deal. How a process of governmental redistribution of wealth, that began with Reaganomics in the 1980s, has dramatically changed the direction this country is going. And Johnson’s film, with his incredibly intimate access to the richest of the super-rich, lays bare exactly how they work to preserve their monetary dominance.
But, in one beautiful sequence from the other end of the spectrum, Johnson takes a ride with an enlightened taxi driver caught up in the unfair economics of the Florida sugar industry. When Johnson admits he’s from one of the richest families in the world, the taxi driver takes it in stride. Then smiles a big smile and says:
“You may find this funny, but so am I… Except, not with money.”
Another film that struck a similar chord at this year’s fest was director Dhruv Dhawan’s shot-on-video doc, From Dust. The film exposes what’s happened to millions of inhabitants of Sri Lanka’s seaside villages that were destroyed in the December 2004 tsunami.
Right after the disaster, the government invoked a decades-old, never-before used law, saying that nobody could rebuild their homes within a hundred meters of the beach. The supposed reason was to act as a buffer zone against future tsunamis – even though the tsunami traveled many miles inland, not just a hundred meters. And everyone was supposed to be granted free new land and assistance to build on it – which was nice in theory, except that the land was up in the mountains, and these were fishermen who were feeding their families from their daily catch.
Now, well over two years later, none of the families filmed have even been given new land. And the beach-side properties that were taken away from them – living up to filmmaker Dhawan’s worst fears – have been opened up to development as tourist resorts.
In other words, the government used devastation of biblical proportions as an excuse to clear poor villagers from their land, and turn the beaches into profit-producing industries. (This is one of the exact same motivations the Bush administration has been accused of in not letting Katrina victims in New Orleans’ 9th Ward rebuild their homes.)
Of course, I understand, it can certainly be argued that using the beaches for tourism will bring in millions of dollars and may, in the long run, help the entire country’s economy. But, in order to get there, millions are being disposessed of their homes, their lives, their livelihoods.
As a film, From Dust is very slight, in a way that The One Percent is not. It focuses on just three main characters, and favors quiet poetry and long takes of social realism over delving into the political questions it raises.
But in conjunction with The One Percent, it reveals a trend that’s spreading all over the world – call it the ugly side of globalization, America exporting our “trickledown theory.” The wealthy class increasingly have their hands in the pockets of democratic governments everywhere, and are using invisible under-handed laws and sub-committees to redistribute land and wealth and power into the hands of the few.
This is certainly nothing new.
But it is ugly, and it’s happening during my lifetime. And I’m waking up to it.
One of the reasons The One Percent has stayed so strongly with me, is because – unlike so many other angry liberal films of the past six years – it actually offers an idea. A way out, a model, a road map for how to save this country.
At the end of the film, Johnson talks to Kevin Philips, author of “Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich,” a very humanist economist who reminds us of the Progressive Society that came into place after the Depression.
At a time of vast poverty, our country didn’t rise up in rebellion. We didn’t turn Communist or Socialist, as so many feared. Instead, for a brief period under FDR, people came together to help each other. A progressive government began building systems to redistribute the wealth through social services meant to help everyone out. A progressive government – i.e. a “big” government designed to help the 99% of the country that collectively share only 40% of the wealth.
If our country is ever going to climb out from under the current regime that’s controlled by and caters to the richest 1%, our society is going to have to wake up and become Progressive again, all on our own. And all together.
I personally think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better, a lot more people are going to have to suffer before enough people get angry enough to change things. But it’s good to see a film come along to remind us about the New Deal and the Progressive era as a model for what we could once again become.
May 7, 2006
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT
Writer/Director: Eric Eason
Film website: Journey to the End of the Night
Viewed at: 2006 Tribeca Film Fest
To start with the worst first – let’s call it a gauge, before I start waxing rhapsodically about the films at this year’s Tribeca Fest I loved – Eric Eason’s Brazil-set thriller was so bad, I literally had to walk out of the theater in physical pain.
The first few minutes of the film, I was actually pretty entranced by. The setting was exciting – seedy Sao Paulo at night. The photography was super-interesting, using both muted colors and film bleached to high-contrast. And it starred Mos Def doing a spot-on Nigerian accent as a migrant dishwasher caught up in a dangerous game of drugs and money.
But, by less than a quarter of the way in, it was clear the filmmaker had no idea what he was doing and was wasting my time. And I was ready to walk out.
The hard part was, it was the film’s cast & crew premiere – so all the stars were there, and the producers and the executives and their families, all filling the Reserved section in the middle of the theater. And I was sitting in the middle of the second row.
I held out for as long as I could, out of sheer embarrassment. Until it got to the point I actually wanted to go punch the filmmaker in the face for wasting an hour of my life and pushing me ever closer to my death.
So I noisily gathered my coat and my umbrella and my bag and my hat and squeezed my way out of the aisle. Of course, I then went for the wrong exit on the side, so the usher had to shine his flashlight across the theater for me – and spotlighted me as I crossed right in front of the actors and the producers and the executives and the filmmaker. What could I do? At least, I assured myself, if most of them were seeing the film for the first time, they were wishing they could walk out too.
The truth is, the film was really two-films-in-one. Mos Def starred in the first, and his acting was beautifully subtle, nuanced and smart. The guy’s amazing. And his scene as the dishwasher trying to pretend he knows what he’s doing with a group of dangerous African drug dealers, was unexpectedly scary and funny.
But the rest of the time we had to watch Brendan Fraser and Scott Glenn in an abysmally written and over-acted father/son drama that had absolutely no emotional or psychological truth to it. Catalina Sandino Moreno, the girl from Maria Full of Grace was there to stand around and look sad, as father and son fought over her. But I never believed any of them could ever fall in love, and with a plot line that evinced no understanding of humans or reality, lots of over-the-top emotional outbursts, and not a beat of forward movement in the story – you can understand why my fingernails were scratching into the armrest.
Eason had a small indie hit with a film called Manito four years ago. I didn’t see it, but here’s what I suspect happened. He probably spent years working on that script for his first film, and when it made him a name, people with money started coming to him and asking him what he wanted to do next. Problem was, he didn’t have anything else he’d written. So he had to write this next thing in a week, and get into production while the money was there and the stars were interested – and he never got to advance past a first draft.
It’s the same theory I have for why the two Matrix sequels were so bad.
What’s so scary, though, is that nobody involved in the project had the balls or the foresight to offer their editing services to him. If Manito was really as good as people said, then the fact that his second film is so shockingly bad, may say more about the way films are made and supported, than about this poor schnook’s failure as an artist.