South Park, The imaginationland

16 Nov

This three acts movie deals with popular imagery, censure and 21st century needs of artefacts. The boys of South Park are led into Imaginationland where all American icons appear, from the clown Ronald McDonald’s to the turtle ninja including Santa Claus, Jesus and Captain planet. Those “good” characters are separated from evil ones by a simple wall that arabian-like terrorists want to make explode.

I think this Imaginationland well represents America’s imaginary and fantasies. Icons as commercial as Ronald McDonald’s or Wonder Woman are as symbolic as Jesus or Santa Claus. Pagan and sacred are put on the same level which reveals todays USA’s culture. This iconoclast world is endangered by terrorists which from my point of view also make part of Imaginationland, that is America’s popular imagery that wants American values are always threatened by the exterior world.

The real terror here might be the censure whether it is aimed for by the terrorists or by the American government. The wall that the terrorists are threatening to destroy represents in my sense, the censure. Its destruction is either a symbol of obscurantism as a criticize of the over parental advisory or yet government control on culture. The Imaginationland gathers every powerful and well-known american icons that some, like terrorists, would like to bring down because they think they represents all what they hate. On the other hand, the American government, to avoid bad imagination be released in the real world, simply decides to “nuke” the door which leads to Imaginationland. To keep control over the population, the government prefers shut down even “proper” imagination than leaving a chance to “evils”, let’s say what wouldn’t please pressure groups, to enter the society. It can be seen in that decision a criticize of the effect of censure. It kills even good ideas! As to illustrate it, Night Shyamalan or yet Michael Bay are featured here like having no idea, repeating the same scheme that worked once again and again. Interviewed by the president of the US, they can’t figure out a way to save the imaginationland. Out of desperation, even Mel Gibson is asked to find a “good” idea.

I think the wall should be destroyed so that much unpolitically correct programs such as South Park could see the light of day. The boys of south Park succeed in showing that those characters from the pop culture, that is from TV or yet comics, are a necessity for people to feel unified as one culture and making an impassioned plea that pop culture artifacts are something sacred in the twentieth century.

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Aeon Flux season 3 episode 5 The Demiurge

11 Nov

The Demiurge is a god. The episode explores the theme of religion, prerequisite for every so-call science-fiction works. Because this existential metaphysical issue is dealt here in Aeon Flux‘s world, it is bound to be handled through the loony view point of Aeon and Trevor. While watching the episode I didn’t particularly laugh at it but now I have to analyze what I saw, I realize it was actually totally funny and absurd while being critical, that is so Aeon flux.

As usual, Aeon and Trevor are opposed to each others and fight, here followed by their respective armies. Trevor wants the super being because he believes it will be able to bring peace to Bregna. Aeon and the Monicans have captured it and, because they want to get rid of the god, prepare to launch it into the space via a rocket. This opposition is so faithful to the two different nation that are Monica and Bregna. In this episode more than ever, the viewer perfectly understands that the Monicans, in particular Aeon, are governed by anarchy, whereas the Breens need to be supervised. The Monicans are driven by their instinct which lead them to immediate plans, like throwing a god as far as they can in the space. This is so childish that we can only wonder how this people have made to survive and develop as a nation.

However, behind this childlike battle a definitely more dramatic scene happens. All of the troops on both sides die except for Trevor, Aeon, and two Monican lovers: Nader and Celia. This is definitely a criticism of what happens when people diverge over religion. The god is eventually launched into space but succeeds before in leaving a part of it in Nader.

True to the formula, the director chose to handle the subject to the exact opposite of what the viewer might expect. The god is on earth. To get rid of it, the Monicans just think about sending it to the sky, which is rather ironic. Also, the super being reborn… in Nader’s belly. For once, a man has a role in the Conception. Finally, there is no bias, as Aeon considers the creature is an evil while Trevor believes it is a salvation. When people of Bregna see the Demiurge they feel bliss or remorse. Even the name of the god reveals a contrast: Demi (not totally) Urge. Until the end of the episode Aeon and Trevor continue to disagree on the issue, like to illustrate religion is an endless debate.

Aeon Flux season 3 episode 4 A Last Time for Everything

11 Nov

The fourth episode of this season strenghtens a little more again the complexity of the two main characters, Aeon Flux and Trevor Goodchild.

This time Trevor develops a method for creating human duplicates. Aeon’s misson is to raid the lab where the clones are made and to destroy it.  During the raid Aeon confronts Trevor and frees a partner of her he was trying to duplicate. Meanwhile she allows Trevor to think he has secretly sampled her as well and then leaves. With the sample Trevor now has the possibility to duplicate his lover to his own pleasure. However, Aeon still wants to put an end to Trevor’s experiences and exchanges her place with her clone. The plan is to distract Trevor while the clone destroys the lab, and meanwhile to manipulate his emotions.

The viewer’s feelings are once again diverted. We expect to see Aeon and Trevor as frivolous characters who only aimed to fulfil their own (sadomasochistic) pleasure. However, though in this episode they still act for their own interest, they are shown as sensitive human beings and above all: reasonable. Trevor does not realize at first that the real Aeon took the place of the clone in his bed, and rejects her because he seems to realise that he can only love the real one, as a clone will never have her personality. Aeon, in contact with Trevor, begins to forget about her mission and think about betraying Monica. She even gets transformed in a regular woman. Her hair gets straightened and she adopts a much more casual look. She now wears a jeans and a jumper and has smoother features. Those changes make the viewer think that Aeon is ready to leave her eccentric life to settle down with Trevor. I found her so much more pretty like this but a casual lovely Aeon Flux would mean there is no show anymore.

When the clone meets Aeon, she sais that Aeon is pathetic. The Aeon clone looks like the real one now, strong, forward, selfish and ultra sexy, as if the director wanted to tell us that the happy end “they got married and had many children” would make no sence. Indeed, at the end of the episode, the real Aeon gets killed by the security guns of Trevor’s estate while the clone succeeds in cross border to Monica. Trevor, who watched the scene and realizes that he had been with the real Aeon, now lying dead in his arms, lets the fake leave, as if he was hoping to see her again.

 I like the fact that the viewer is not given a chance to expect a change in the story. Though we have been introduced to a deviation of the scenario, the death of the “regular” Aeon brings us back to the essence of Aeon Flux. It is totally off its trolley and it has to continue this way.

Aeon Flux, season 3 episode 3 Thanatophobia

4 Nov

At the beginning of the episode the timbre of clapping with a maintained tempo is heard as two children throw fists near each another’s faces. The view then shifts to the source of the sound. A third child happily clapps in his hands near the border wall that separate Bregna and Monica. The episode focuses on this border, heavily controled by soldiers, automatic guns and video cameras. A couple tries to cross the border from Bregna to Monica but only the man succeeds while his lover is shot in her spine and stays on the other side. The men falls in Aeon’s arms in Monica and the woman is cured by Trevor in Bregna and is forced to work in a factory making “medical parts”.

Here again, secondary characters are stuck between Aeon and Trevor’s game. However, what makes this episode different from the first two seasons is that both of them seem to feel guilty about it. The woman is missing a vertebrea and has to regularly get it changed for an artificial one, which Trevor personally takes care of. Meanwhile Aeon who lives just across the border and can see what happens in the woman’s room, decides to pleasure the boyfriend so that Trevor will get jealous in return. I really liked this episode because a new tone is set. Aeon, tired of her silly game with Trevor, feels empathy for the woman who is cheated by her boy friend and manipulated by Goodchild, and decides to help her cross the border again.  Also, for the first time in the show, a real political thought appears. The governor of Bregna wonders if the border should be secured as it is because he believes people should stay in the city because they want to, not because they are afraid of crossing the border. He somehow manipulates the woman to make her reveal that she knows about Aeon’s terrorist plans and thus that she is faithful to Bregna.

However, we are still in Aeon Flux ‘s world, where utopia does not exist and the dark side of things prevail. The woman still wants to reach Monica, though she finally dumps her unfaithful boyfriend. She seeks freedom and is not taken by the false freedom offered by Trevor Goodchild’s ideology.

The end of the episode made me shiver. The woman goes further than the first time in her progress through the border crossing. On the verge of stepping in Monica however, she gets trapped by tiny wires and  machines come out of the wall, anesthetising her legs. With saw blades, the machines cut them off and sew them up. The real horror comes from the fact that the woman, now lying on the floor, realizes that the machines were built with the same parts she constructed at the factory. Both Aeon and Trevor watch powerlessly the scene.

The last scene repeats the very first one, except that we can’t hear anymore the sound of clapping and the view shift to the kid who now has his arms cut and sewn shut.

With this episode the show evolves to have deeper meaning. It is not only absurd and grotesque, as the characters appear more complex and concerned by their behavior, the atmosphere turns more dramatic.

Aeon Flux season 3, episode 2 Isthmus Crypticus

2 Nov

In this episode, Trevor becomes obsessed with and imprisons an anthropomorphic bird creature, while Aeon tries to rescue the creature’s mate also a captive of Trevor. We are introduced to Una, a friend of Aeon’s who can translate a ancient writing on a document that would allow them to rescue the two creatures. Nevertheless, Una, who sees a photo of the anthropomorphic male bird, develops feelings of love towards him. At the end of the episode she literally falls for him when she looks into his hypnotic eyes. They flee together in the sky while the female is killed and lies in Trevor’s arms.

The episode put Aeon and Trevor in the background to focus on Una it seems. We can see her dreams when she falls asleep where Aeon appears like a parasite who enables her to fulfill her fantasies. It is interesting to see that Peter Chung, the director, is able to give his heroine, Aeon, an antipathic aspect. The reverse theme is recurrent in Chung’ s universe. The main characters in this episode and their preoccupations are secondary.  By focusing and giving consistence to a second role, Una, Chung once again proves that everything is not all black or all white. While usually, the right vision of a situation is the one of the hero, here, and as in the episode “war”, he shows us that it is just a matter of point of view. For Una, Aeon and Trevor’s passionate war is an embarrassment to her own fulfillment. The director succeeds in showing that everybody’s fantasies interact and at the same time hamper one another. Indeed, Trevor Goodchild keeps captive in another room his bird creature’s mate not to be disturbed. Aeon gets jealous of Trevors relationship with the creature and accepts to deliver the creatures only to annoy Trevor. At last, Una betrays Aeon to escape with the male bird creature.

I like the way the heros are punished in this episode. Neither Trevor nor Aeon get what they want. As Aeon reminds us “Some people are not made to be together”. We are shown that depending on how a situation is depicted and from which point of view, we are likely to be on the side of the one whose perspective is put forward.

Aeon Flux season 3, episode 1 Utopia or Deuteranopia?

2 Nov

Obviously, the third season has a new format: the episodes are now longer. They are twenty minutes in length and above all, the characters are now talkative. Somehow, I think the fact characters now have more of a voice makes an episode last longer. Indeed, in the first and second season the characters were extremely articulate and expressive. A few mimics or movements could express a whole sentence. In the third season however, the characters are much less expressive, partly because they talk, and have smoother features. Now long sequences are shot on characters’ faces while they are talking. The dialogues takes the attention away from the image. I have to admit that when I watched this episode I felt a little bit disappointed because I was getting used to the atmosphere of the previous episodes. Gildemere, a loyal Breen who tries to demask Goodchild, says to Aeon ” You are crazy”. This season was broadcast in 1995, three years after the first two seasons, but for those who knew the show before, it is obvious that Aeon is crazy, there was no need to add it in  dialogue.

Nevertheless, speech adds a good point to the show. The viewer now knows a little more about Aeon Flux’s world. There are the Monicans, whom Aeon belongs to, and the Breen, people of Bregna, governed by Trevor Goodchild.

In this episode we learn Trevor took the power of Bregna by sheer force. Aeon searches for Clavius, the former ruler of Bregna, who Trevor has held captive. True to the formula, in Aeon Flux everything is not black or white. Though Trevor Goodchild illegally became governor and set up an omnipotent surveillance system, he really seems to believe he is doing this for true justice. It appears later in the episode that Clavius is actually totally insane and thus that it is not so bad Trevor governs.

Also, the relationship between Aeon and Trevor is clarified. In the two first seasons depending on the episode, they were lovers, enemies, targets or indifferent to each other. Here they appear like old lovers who really know about one another but who can’t be together because they are natural enemies, and somehow can’t stand to be together.

I rated this episode 3/5 because I feel like Aeon Flux has lost a bit of its essence with this format, but on the other hand it still spontaneous, which I appreciate in this show.

Aeon flux season 2 episode 5 “War” 5/5

31 Oct

This episode condences 4 mini stories of five different characters who are involved in the same war. There is Aeon who first enters in the scene and gets killed by a blond soldier whom we follow his movement in a base. Inside, he is confronted by a sword-wielding long haired man who deflects a shot from the blond soldier before stabbing him. The Monican soldier then comforts his daughter and sends her to her living quarters after an alarm goes off. Meanwhile another Monican soldier’s painting is interrupted by the alarm and he leaves to join his clan’s forces. While the swordsman opens a gate to leave the base, grease drips into a pool on the floor. Inside the ship, he kills a few more soldiers, but he is shot in the chest. Then comes a female soldier, wielding a powerful machine gun, who enters the base using the painter’s body as a doorstop. She then frees her captive lover and they run from gunfire, unknowingly towards the dripping pool of grease which I believe that the base might explode in a moment and that they might die as well as the others.

I haven’t talked about the soundtrack of Aeon Flux yet but I think it has a really important place in this show. The sound designer, Drew Neumann, probably wanted to create a futurist or science fictional atmosphere. However, for a new viewer such as myself who discovers the show in 2010, it sounds definitely early 90’s that want to be futuristic. I like it, it reminds me that some works of the past are much more creative, experimental and futuristic than what can be done now. In this episode, each character has its own theme which underlines the transition between the different view points among the soldiers.

The theme of cascading events and their effect allows the director to play with the emotions of the viewer, by going again against the stereotypes of the Hollywoodian hero who would be invincible. It crushes those assumptions and keeps the viewer truly on their toes feeling a sense of shock and loss every time the new “hero” is killed. The heroin, the Apollonian blond, the father, the lovers, they all die, while those types of character are usually untouchable in large public cinema and well thinking audience.

Again Aeon Flux proves its anti conformism and strikes the viewer. Everything can happen, at any moment, there is no taboo, no censure.