10 November 2005

A couple of movies.

Firstly, The Residents put up the plot outline to Vileness Fats, the movie they were working on in the early-to-mid 1970s, intended as a Quintessential Midnight Movie type-a thing. They ended up abandoning it, due to them shooting it on an early form of video that became obsolete quickly, and finally, in 1984, editing it into a nonsensical videocassette release with a new soundtrack completely overpowering anything on the original tracks, making it thus even harder to follow. Although, strangely, knowing the story now makes me curious to go back and see if I can make heads or tails of it from that 30 minute mess.

Secondly -- last night, Werner Herzog, like Santa Claus, came to town. Unlike, Santa, however, instead of toys, he brought a film and an actor. Comparatively, toys suck. (But only comparatively.)

The Wild Blue Yonder is about, well, ultimately, Herzog's idea that mankind will never find anything interesting in space. Ever. We can't get far enough, and who knows if there's anything actually out there anyway.

He actually used words very close to that (I wish I could have remembered the exact quote). I do disagree with him, and, hey, am interested enough in the trying that I think it's worth it even if Herzog turns out to be right. But that doesn't stop the film from being funny, interesting and beautiful.

One of the films Herzog made back-to-back-to-back-to-back (right after Grizzly Man), the parts with Brad Dourif (the narrator and the only non-himself character) were shot in Southern CA over 6 hours. Dourif played an alien from Andromeda, whose civilization abandoned its planet (The Blue Yonder) because it was dying, and found themselves on Earth as it was the only hospitable planet around (and even that wasn't really "around" -- it took them hundreds of years to get here). There's a little bit of backstory on Dourif's alien race, but the thrust of the story is about Earth scientists and astronauts fearing the Earth's imminent demise (as a result of tiny microbes on the ship that crashed at Roswell), go on a search for a possible secondary planet to colonize.

One of the interesting things about this film is that there's interviews with real mathematicians (including the guys who figured out how to slingshot Gallileo around Venus to Jupiter and Dr. Martin Lo, the researcher who discovered Chaos Transports (real), which the astronauts used to find the Blue Yonder (fake)). Herzog used the real theories and real science (he turned out to be a hardcore math geek during the Q&A, when he spent an extended time talking about various mathematicians; I knew Herzog was brilliant, but I didn't know it was in that realm as well) and nudged them in the direction to talk about the story of the film. Very interesting and lending it a very documentary style.

It's a little long -- footage of the astronauts could have been cut down (though it was rare footage that had never been seen before Herzog found it), but some footage (taken under the ice in antartica (!!)) was just gorgeous. The parts with Brad Dourif as the alien have a bit of a Cory McAbee vibe to them, too. All in all, it's worth seeing... if you can.

Which might be trickier than it sounds. Hopefully it'll come out and be a-OK, however, to date, it's only shown twice -- in the Venice Film Festival (where it apparently did well; Herzog said he wasn't there, but heard that people seemed to like it) and last night at the Seattle Art Museum. The problem -- NASA hasn't seen it yet, and they own a lot of the footage, so they need to sign off on it. Herzog doesn't sound too concerned (he said that he belives that "even large organizations can develop a sense of poetry; I believe even the CIA could develop a sense of poetry!"), but it's still up in the air -- particularly since Herzog's stated point runs just a little bit counter to the whole, you know, NASA raison d'etre and all. But still -- if it comes out, it's definitely worth seeing.


Blogger Lee H. said...

Oh cool about Vileness Fats... I've seen excerpts before on "Video Voodoo" and "Icky Flix," but the story is just... great. :D I'd gathered almost NONE of it from watching the bits and pieces all these years, but I sort of wondered if there really WAS a story, or if it was just acid-inspired, off-the-cuff improv.

The Herzog flick sounds right up my alley. I *hope hope hope* he manages to get a version released.

10:53 PM, November 10, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

I know! I wish the stuff they'd released from VF was more... coherent. Although looking at what was shot and what wasn't, I'm not sure if assembling something coherent is really possible without resorting to title-cards explaining huge swaths of the story. (Although I wish that they'd have mixed the original audio, well, in at all on it. I would have been really interested to hear what was being said. (It's always weird and frustrating when the Residents miss Video Stuff so much -- just because there's so much palpable evidence that they GET video HARDCORE, it just makes the misfires so much more baffling.)

And yeah -- I mean, I'm figuring that even if it doesn't get released for real (but I have my fingers crossed for that), it'll be making the bootleg rounds, so at least that's somethin'. But I hope it comes out...

11:38 PM, November 10, 2005  

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