To Steve Mirarchi : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread

To Steve Mirarchi,

Yes, I've seen your episode guide with the discussions of the first four episodes. I'm impressed with the detail and depth of the analysis. In a few instances, I think you've spent more time thinking about these stories than I have. Many times, a creative decision will be made instinctively-- because it somehow "feels right". At other times, creative decisions are forced by circumstances. Of course, you present unintended interpretations which are derived from such story elements, and I've found these amusing. This is not to say, though, that analysis can't sometimes reveal why a decision "felt right" to begin with. The author may have known why only subconsciously at the time of writing.

I'd say that the main point to a work of fiction, just as for any work of art, is to shift the consciousness of the reader/viewer; to nudge him/her to discover for him/herself the meaning in events. The plot is an armature on which to hang such events, but is not important in itself. A story which emphasizes tight plot over everything else ends up like a hermetically sealed object; it becomes irrelevant. Escapist movies are meant to be irrelevant-- so the primary importance given to plot in Hollywood is understandable. The mechanics of plot must be logical, but the elements required to support the plot are largely arbitrary. Plotting constitutes the nuts-and-bolts labor a writer must endure building as a means of holding his audience. I believe it's the spaces in between plot elements which are of the most interest in a story. How does the film linger in the mind after the experience of viewing is over? Has the experience opened the mind to a freer state of consciousness? The main problem in human affairs seems to be the inability of many people to consider points of view other than their own. Perhaps it is the role of artists to derail patterns of thinking lest they become entrenched.

I'll address a couple of questions that you've raised in your discussions. It will be refreshing to finally get these off my chest:

The title "Utopia or Deuteronopia" is a private joke which I don't expect anyone to get. (In fact the joke is so private that I'm the only one in on it.) The phrase was once used by a very well-read friend of mine who used it to describe the title of a book that didn't exist. He was playing with the idea that the formal logic of the phrase (its rhyme) rather than its meaning, made it a good title. The fact that deuteranopia is an obscure word which happens to rhyme with utopia would serve to puzzle people; the choice of the conjunction "or" would merely compound this puzzlement-- must the former exist at the exclusion of the latter?

In fact, deuteranopia is a medical term used to describe the most common form of colorblindness in which the colors red and green are not distinguished. Unfortunately, the way it appeared on the episode is misspelled (I thought it was deuteronopia, as in Deuteronomy.) I know this is a stretch, but I thought the title could be taken to mean "utopia or colorblindness (defective vision)?" I'll leave the rest up to you.

Regarding the stockings hanging from Sybil's window in Thanatophobia: I'm surprised you missed this one. From the episode guide:

7) Are the stockings hanging in the window important?

>Very. They keep appearing throughout the episode as symbols of >Sybil's romantic dedication to Onan. She says to Onan, "Remember >when you got me these?", trying to spark some romance in him. >But his heart's in Monikka, and he doesn't even hear her.

While this is true, the important function of the stockings is to visually foreshadow the disembodiment of Sybil's legs which happens at the end of the episode. Because the amputation is such a shock and may seem to come from out of nowhere, I thought it was important to subconsciously accustom the viewer to the image of Sybil's disembodied legs. Notice that her longing views at Monica beyond the border wall occur "through" the frame of her stockings (her legs)-- the price she will ultimately have to pay.

The choice to use this image was initially inspired by the scene in Dario Argento's Suspiria-- early in the film, a woman's slip and stockings are seen hanging in space outside a window. However, in Suspiria, the motif is used simply to unsettle the viewer. It's dark and cold outside: what are those pieces of lingerie doing out there? That image has haunted me ever since.

I'm quite intrigued by what you tell me regarding your use of Aeon Flux in your teaching and academic work. What subject do you teach? I'd be very interested in seeing some of your students' comments.

Thanks for the favorable comparison to David Lynch and Kieslowski. I don't deserve it, but I'll try to live up to it. Lost Highway was by far the best film of 1997. Of Paul Auster's work, I've only seen the film Smoke; Kazantzakis is another person whose work I've yet to absorb.

For what it's worth, I'll mention some of my own personal filmmaking idols: Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luis Bunuel, Alain Resnais, Andrei Tarkovsky, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Nagisa Oshima, Kihachi Okamoto, David Mamet, Anthony Mann, David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Orson Wells, Bertrand Tavernier, Vincente Minnelli, David Lean. If this list seems outdated, I guess it"s because I've seen little in recent years that has had the kind of impact I've felt from the work of these giants.

A few people posting messages seem to think that Aeon Flux is somehow special because of its stance of moral ambiguity and open narrative. They'll find that the body of work by the above filmmakers explore these themes in an astonishing variety of ways.

Special mention to these films: Leave Her to Heaven (John Stahl) Branded to Kill (Suzuki Seijun) Deaths in Tokimeki (Yoshimitsu Morita) Toei's "Scorpion" series of the 70's (Shunya Ito) Les Enfants Terribles (Jean-Pierre Melville) Umberto D. (Vittorio DeSica) L'Argent (Robert Bresson) The Thin Red Line (Terence Malick)

Guilty pleasures: The Ladies' Man (Jerry Lewis) The Opposite Sex (David Miller) Casino Royale (a whole buncha guys) Barbarella (Roger Vadim) Esther Williams musicals (various) The Phantom Menace (George L.)--to cmmartin: did you dig the architecture on Coruscant as much as I did...? Esp. the Senate chamber.

Damn, I was afraid that starting to post messages here would begin consuming too much of my time. This will be it for a while. I'm off to Korea again to work on Checkers/Rally's spot #5. Peter Chung

-- Peter Chung (, June 06, 2000


Barbarella I almost expected somehow... The Phantom Menace I didn't (although the visuals were so engrossing they made me forget all about the film's flaws). Musicals and Jerry Lewis? Interesting...

-- Matthew Rebholz (, June 06, 2000.

Aha! I KNEW Deuteronopia was a color blindness! (It's in a post from waaay back, if you're willing to look for it) I made a real lofty theory about the Bregnans only seeing what Trevor wanted them to see, too. The whole Star Wars series is a guilty pleasure for me. What REALLY bugs me are these people who ascribe Freudian metaphors to the movies. Whatever. (Though I will admit that the color symbolism in Luke's uniforms was good) Now that I've watched Thanatophobia again I can't believe I missed the thing with the legs. Barberella is one of my favorite movies of all time, only partially because it completely changed my views on sex when I was a pre-adolescent.

-- Frostbite (, June 06, 2000.

Lost Highway kicked ass! It's the only movie I know that had the balls to take on Siskel (RIP) & Ebert: Print ad featured a huge "Two Thumbs Down" quote, with the caption "another good reason to see Lost Highway". I haven't seen Barbarella yet, but I intend to, I love BAD movies! I wonder if Chung ever saw The King Of Comedy... hope he's not feeling like Jerry Langford right now...

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 07, 2000.

Speaking of how a film lingers in the air after the viewing is over, that reference to Sybil's stockings hanging in the sill, and her paying the price with her legs lingers in my mind. That was great. I thought about that all night, that was a great momement he created. Yeah, poor Sybil, they speak of giving so much in love, for the sake of love, but you can sometimes lose so much. Chilling. There is a lot to absorb here, that we got, from this guy named Chung, that's one thing I do miss about the series, the constant roar of his mind. I love Fellini, and Casino Royale makes me wonder, no mention of Woody? He's in a bad light since the affair with Mia, but he was pretty good in his prime. He also tried to use film to make you think.

-- Barb e. (, June 07, 2000.

Since we're on the subject of movies, am I the only person on the face of the Earth who didn't like The Truman Show?

-- Frostbite (, June 07, 2000.

I had the same problem with the Truman Show as I have with a lot of modern movies with a message: it features a clever idea, but it's driven into your head like a railroad spike. Same with, e.g., The Green Mile. Of course, both films do have some fine moments...

-- Charles Martin (, June 07, 2000.

I don't have any guilty pleasures, I don't like to feel guilty. I either recognize I shouldn't and won't, or I want to and do, and resign myself that I had the right. But I will not cross certain borders.

-- Barb e. (, June 08, 2000.

Tell me about it, I hated American Beauty.

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 08, 2000.

And what are you talking about Barb? "Guilty pleasure" is just an expression. It usually means enjoying something despite yourself, which can be perfectly healthy, as we all need to switch off our defenses every now and then.

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 08, 2000.

I don't want to get tedious and boring, there's not a way to go into it without that.

-- Barb e. (, June 08, 2000.

I did like it when his boat crashed into the sky, though. American Beauty was just stupid. Left no cliche unturned.

-- Frostbite (, June 08, 2000.

I should really have gotten the "Deuteronopia"" thing, you know, because I happen to be a registered nurse. The only excuse I have is I'm a medical surgical nurse. We don't have much to do with optometry, I always did feel like there was a vaguely familiar sound to it. Duh.

-- Barb e. (, June 08, 2000.

Wow, did everyone hate American Beauty? I loved it, it was entertaining and beautifully done, funny and sad, a little of everything... whoops, are we getting too off topic? :)

-- Matthew Rebholz (, June 08, 2000.

Aw, come on! Towards the end it degenerated into "When are they going to use the gun?" just outta nowhere! It didn't GO anywhere! It danced around admiring it's own cleverness and treating us to worn-out cliche after worn-out cliche until it wrapped itself up in an ending that had absolutely nothing to do with what just happened.

-- Frostbite (, June 08, 2000.

Yeah, I liked Truman show at first, could have been much more mysterious and interesting if it a) hadn't sought to drive its point into our heads and b) had let its audience experience along with the main character. And yes, while I didn't hate American Beauty, I do think other pictures such as The Matrix, The Insider and the Sixth Sense were far more original and interesting. I would have given the best picture award to any of these. But you know, for someone who works in the theatre world, i've often found that the most recognition, praise and importance is given to works which are least deserving and most conservative. This is why (especially after the Tony's this year) I've been questioning whether or not praise from any form of establishment is a good thing.


-- Joey V. (, June 10, 2000.

While I thought that American Beauty was good, I do not consider it the best movie of 1999 at all. The award for that goes to Three Kings in my book. The Matrix was also better than AB, and how about that tribute to The Purge! I wasn't particularly impressed with Boys Don't Cry or Being John Malkovich, but almost everybody who saw them thought they were outstanding, and far too many moviegoers haven't even heard of them. Being John Malkovich is actually semi-Fluxy now that I think of it.

-- John McDevitt (, June 10, 2000.

Being John Malkovich was one of my favorite movies of the year. Usually, when a filmaker over in LaLa Land comes up with an idea, it's heaped upon with pretty special effects, and artsy, ponderous dialogue, and various signs with little arrows pointing to it proclaiming "This Is Our Idea! Look How Cool It Is!" Being John Malkovich presents an idea and then RUNS with it. Then, glory be, it presents OTHER ideas! My favorite exchange is when the puppeteer guy (I forgot his name) bursts in and proclaims "This opens up a philosophical can of worms! Was I me? Was I Malkovich? Where was I when I was in Malkovich?" ect. And Maxine gives kind of a "whatever" response. I think that's a joke about all those pretentious idea movies.

-- Frostbite (, June 10, 2000.

Similar ideas are explored in Mr. Show, an HBO series that I can't recommend highly enough. In many ways Being JM is like a two-hour Mr. Show sketch, constantly evolving and peeling back new layers of subtext under the guise of self-parody. And BJM did very well at the box office, proving that there is some justice in the world.

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 11, 2000.

Sorry about the dorky post, just wanted to put in one more plug for what I consider the pinnacle of Western comedy... have *you* been to Druggachusetts?

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 11, 2000.

Just saw Malkovich last night. BRILLIANT SHOW!!! The ending is the most frightening thing i've ever seen (probably because it comes very close to my personal vision of hell). And good call on the Purge tribute in Matrix! When i saw that i shook my head and said "Nah, Joey. You've just watched Aeon too much."

-- Joey V. (, June 14, 2000.

Wow, hell? I didn't see it that way at all.

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 14, 2000.

I mean, was anyone really worse off in the end than they originally were?

-- Paul D. Gilbreath (, June 14, 2000.

I quite agree about Being John Malkovich. One of the rare examples of genuine creativity in present-day mainstream cinema. The scene where they explained reincarnation with all the diagrams and stuff was just classic. Jonze deserved best director for that one. As for The Matrix, I thought it was okay (esp. visually) but its philisophical underpinnings were a little bit crude and they never really developed the premise in the same way as Malkovich or Fight Club, another really cool and inventive film from last year.

American Beauty was indeed overrated but I think it's being dealt with a tad harshly here... granted, there were flaws and cliches abound, but I felt there were also some resounding performances and it had a really interesting style to it, sort of quirky and beautiful at times. I thought its major flaw was that it tried to be an uplifting film while at the same time painting a bleak picture of life in general, but I still walked out of the theatre with a lot of positive thoughts about it. Salon's review sums it up pretty well.

I dunno. Maybe having seen that horrendously superficial Titanic lauded with so much praise has inadvertently lowered my standards over the last few years...

-- eskimonkey (, June 14, 2000.

I don't know. I didn't really HATE American Beauty, I just got irritated buy all the undeserved praise (creative and realistic, my ass). Fight Club was funny as hell. Probably more successful as a dark comedy than an idea movie. I mean, it did have some neat ideas (you could read it as consumerism vs. fascism if you wanted) but it was like it was going down a checklist. Okay, now we're dealing with male agression, okay, we're done with that, let's talk about consumerism, okay now let's talk about fantasy embodiments, ect. Don't get me wrong, though, I did like the movie. Another word on BJM: this was one of those movies that doesn't seem vary special on first viewing, but the more you think about it, the more you realize how good it was. Like The Crying Game.

-- Frostbite (, June 15, 2000.

True enough. Some of the anarchic themes did sorta come out of nowhere. It was indeed very funny. And I have to admit a bias to any film that closes with a Pixies tune. :)

I would just say it was stylistically very refreshing, and for a philosophy-disguised-as-pop-culture film it beats the hell out of The Matrix. Malkovich, although quite a bit more coherent, was also very chaotic and wandering in my opinion. Not in a bad way though.

-- eskimonkey (, June 15, 2000.

I would give Best Movie of the Year either to Eyes Wide Shut or Dreamlife of Angels (which no one has probably heard of). Comment?

-- Frostbite (, June 18, 2000.

Who are the Pixies?

-- Barb e. (, June 18, 2000.

What was Dreamlife of angels about?

-- Kittymoon (, June 19, 2000.

It's a French film. There's these two peasant sweatshop workers (angels) who face continual dabasement in order to eke out an existence. There is bleak hope and helpless struggle, violent sex, growling stomachs, lots of handrolled ciggarettes and a girl lying in a coma. One of the peasants, Isa, reads the girl's diary, goes to visit her in the hospital and then begins to complete the diary for her. The other one, Marie, sleeps with a man who wants her only for sex, but she hopes that being with him will help her enter the higher class world. Both "angels" dream and reach for a life untouchable by them.

-- Frostbite (, June 20, 2000.

Hmm let's see, squalor, hardship, a downbeat ending and sex. Yup, sounds like a French film.

-- Paul (, June 21, 2000.

Paul, don't tell me your still researching your porn film?

-- Barb e. (, June 21, 2000.

Because I think P.Chung beat you to it.

-- Barb e. (, June 21, 2000.

Heh heh... touche.

-- Paul (, June 22, 2000.

I'm working on my new Aeon fanfic, it's called "Boxing Sybil".

-- Paul (, June 22, 2000.

LOL. That was brilliant. I loved that movie, it was totally obsessive, and where else can you ever see what happened to Garfunkle?

-- Barb e. (, June 22, 2000.

"Boxing Sybil" - LOL! Hahahahahahaha, great joke Paul. Shoot, apparently Barb beat me to the punch with this LOL. Look at the times though - I was close. I thought the movie was atrocious, though I never saw the whole thing. It got horrible reviews, and just looked really bad. The name is so familiar though and it seems like i heard about it a lot when it came out - perhaps the critics I read were not in the majority?

-- John McDevitt (, June 22, 2000.

I think they thought it was antiwomen, actually, I thought it was very romantic, he wanted her so much, he found a way to keep her, course after a while you'd have to start calling her shorty, and then of course the romance fades....

-- Barb e. (, June 22, 2000.

I hardly ever like modern movies, that one I did. It really was deep, he was totally crazy about her, and in one scene he flashes back on his mother, and he's a young boy, his mother is pretty, but she is yelling at him, evidently she always did that is why he is attracted to this girl, because she is not impressed with him, and so he desires his mother/her approval. It was touching, I'm pretty much a feminist, if I didn't hear this movie was anti-female, I'd not have thought it at all.

-- Barb e. (, June 22, 2000.

Hello again, I was browsing Jabootu's movie page when I thought I'd stop back here. Just wanna say that this review cracks me up:

-- Paul (, June 22, 2000.

Read most of it, it is probably right, but I didn't say it was a masterpiece, exactly...uhhh, you know what, the funny thing is I felt the girl was not someone you get involved with, (I'm sure deliberately, for obvious reasons) and I don't remember the sex at all, but the photography and the music and the colors and the obsessiveness is what I liked. And also, no more having to buy shoes.

-- Barb e. (, June 22, 2000.

Paul, I think your storyline was pretty clever, it didn't surprise me at all that Peter Chung would like to have pursued his relationship with Aeon/Trevor farther, graphically, but on a pile of dead Breens/Monicans? I'd love to have seen it, too, but I think your story would've been a little more sexy. Oh, well, you now how us girls are, always particular about the place.

-- Barb e. (, June 25, 2000.

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