Bliss is a new film that I stumbled across as I was browsing the “Free for You” category on Prime Video. I allowed the trailer to play, and lacking an immediate thumbs down from my watching partner, I let it play. I don’t care for trailers that give away the whole story, that leave watching the movie just an exercise in filling the gaps. That wasn’t the case here. I was expecting something a little off the beaten path, with some gritty scenes, and then some that seem other-worldly. It was enough to engage my curiosity.
This stars Selma Hayek as Isabel Clemens and Owen Wilson as Greg Wittle.
During the opening scenes, with Greg failing at his customer service job, it was comedy. But then it started getting dark, and very strange by the time the Isabel character was in play. Isabel starts referring to some people as real and others as fake. She is also able to demonstrate some kind of telekinetic ability which is given to her by consuming a mysterious yellow crystal.
I was developing a sinking feeling that this was turning out to be a rip-off of The Matrix. But that feeling faded as it was apparent the telekinetic abilities were somewhat trivial and gave them no power to prevent themselves from ending up at the mercy of the Police. These characters were turning out to be real dirt bags!
Half way into the film I started to feel like I understood the twist. It’s a good one. The true meaning of it all unravels slowly and the ending is satisfying and meaningful.
I really liked it. Why don’t you go check it out yourself.
The year 2016 came and this ordinary looking film appeared, and then the year passed. Several years passed, actually. In none of the years going by did this film catch my attention.
Last night was the exception. I was scanning the selection on Amazon Prime trying to find something that would have some appeal, and most importantly, not be immediately rejected by my watching partner / spouse. The trailer struck my curiosity because it appeared to be dull, on purpose.
It’s a story about a man, satisfied in his career as an anonymous bus driver who spends his free time writing odd poetry, that apparently, he has no ambition to ever share. His wife stays at home making cupcakes and painting things, such as the drapes, the carpet, and her clothes. She’s an optimist dreamer that entertains hopes of being a country music star, as soon as she learns to play her new mail-order guitar.
Everything is very real, complete with dust, shabby grass, moles, graffiti, and a lingering sense that something is due to happen. Some things do happen, some frightening and some disappointing.
Before the movie was over I came to the realization that this is a story about seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. As the closing scene ended I felt very satisfied with my realization.
Seeing Fantastic Planet at the drive-in is one of my earliest memories. Although the memories are not very clear, I think I may have hounded my parents to take me to see it again. Whether or not that hounding paid off is unclear. But I did go to the drive-in again, with a family friend, his wife, and their baby. (He made his wife and baby hide in the trunk of the car so that he only had to pay for me and himself on admission.)
This is a story about human beings living as pet “Oms” among a world of blue giants, the Draags, on the planet Ygam. It is a psychedelic trip to an alternate reality where the human experience is that of being a plaything of children, or worse, a pest to be exterminated.
But the feral Oms unite and organize. Through the use of education and the pursuit of technology they find their salvation. I wonder if this theme influenced my young mind in such a way, that to this day, I now believe that education and technology are the keys to confronting the challenges that face humanity now.
Reusable rockets with propulsive landing capability was pure science fiction in 1973.
It was a pleasure to rewatch this today. I am so drawn in with this film’s unique graphic style, and trance like pace.
The most recent Star Trek Discovery series has been very entertaining, with a major aesthetic reboot of the pre-TOS era, and a dizzying blast of relentless fast paced action and non stop twists. I suppose it’s somewhat of a masterpiece of its kind. I liked it. But I can’t shake this nagging feeling, that for as much as it has added to the franchise, I have a sense that something is missing.
Today I thought I’d revisit a memorable episode of TOS to refresh my sense of the Trek that I knew as a kid.
This image of Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, after the “ESPer” transformation begins to take ahold of him, is burned into my memory since the first time I saw it back in the early seventies. Mitchell has become a deeply ominous threat who sees you from afar with those eyes.
I remember this episode being thick with tension, and floating by at a dreamlike pace.
Watching with a fresh eye today, I notice many things about it that I don’t remember at all. For example, there was an awkward scene, near the beginning, where all of the department heads are standing in a group at the rear of the bridge to personally report the status of Engineering, Medical, Security, and the other departments. Long after making their verbal status reports they continued to stand there, in an awkward group at the rear of the bridge, as the story was playing out. It was also weird that Spock was shouting out status updates as he monitored the instruments, as if he was shouting above the noise which wasn’t there. It also bothered me that this distress beacon that they beamed aboard contained data that only Spock could extract, audibly with an earpiece, which was apparently too garbled to be very informative. By the way, what kind of Captain orders a probe beamed aboard without first thoroughly verifying what it is and being completely certain that it is harmless?
A lot of things were awkward because this was only the third episode of the first season. Spock was a little weird because Leonard Nimoy was still finding his way with this role. Some of the sets and props were unfamiliar, as they would be refined in later seasons. I have to admit, to be honest, this production is not the surreal, mesmerizing, piece that I remember it to be.
Considering my lasting impression of TOS Trek, and using that as a point of reference for evaluating DISCO Trek, I think this sheds some light on the disconnect. What I might believe the old TOS tradition to be — ethereal and dreamlike — is not how the current generation of writers and producers view it. They may be looking at TOS with the “fresh eye” of the present, lacking the lasting childhood impression, and coming to the logical conclusion that there is very little to be salvaged!
Despite all of the shortcomings of TOS, I still find the all seeing eyes of Gary Mitchell to be very haunting. And it was a pleasure to rediscover it on Amazon Prime Video. The digitally remastered version is very impressive. The richness and clarity of the detail, and the improved CGI space scenes, almost make TOS new again. I’m looking forward to going back to rediscover some other old favorites like “The Man Trap”, “Charlie X”, and perhaps even all of the rest.