This tag is associated with 3 posts

A quick word on The Social Network (2010)

Director: David Fincher
Writers: Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake

My one-paragraph take: The Social Network comprises of witty and fascinating storytelling, particularly due to the quick lines and the pacing of the settlements. At its heart, it’s a story of friendship and its fragility under the unenviable pressures of better connections and profit. The cinematography and the editing are brilliant and coherent. We really see this in action when the editing matches Zuckerberg’s frenzied programming talent when he cobbled together the Facebash.com. Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg was an intense, unrelenting performance, crafting a character that effectively courts both my contempt and sympathy in multiple successions. This was a portrait of Zuckerberg that isn’t out to vilify him, but shows his uninhibited determination to get what he wants, with the intellectual capacity and belligerence to see it to its end. He is the antihero par excellence of our decade. No one really leaves The Social Network with their initial reputations unscathed – Harvard University’s elitism perhaps the most irreconcilable negative portrayal of all – and perhaps that’s just the point.


A grab-bag of Madonna, Mirror’s Edge, and Death Note (no kidding)

I can’t help but see Madonna’s music video for Jump coinciding with Mirror’s Edge. Though the photography and “cinematography” is very different, especially since Madonna’s video has a centric focus on the superstar herself, while Mirror’s Edge has Faith, the protagonist, organizing the POV shots. However, the play on the theme of urban parkour and the lyrics “don’t look back now baby” is very suitable towards an adventure-puzzle genre. Madonna’s dance improvises on a parallel style of movement seen in Faith’s reliance on her hand-to-hand combat and evasion techniques.

And, I also found the very amusing connection between the Jump MV and the manga/anime Death Note’s Mello character in multiple youtube comments. The whole idea that existent superstars are cosplaying is definitely an appealing topic that I hope to revisit one day. Death Note is one of the few mangas that I would describe as an “intensely deliberate and involving narrative that probes at questions of moral conscience through modern and popular appeals”. The story is very urban, space- as well as time- driven. Concerns about independence, coming-of-age (and of power) and the need for heroes who can pull criminal in through feats of passion are all central to Death Note – and certainly Jump’s visual and lyrical aspects fit this theme.

A mix-bag of Lady Gaga to Luis Royo

Lady Gaga’s latest video, Alejandro (2010), has endeared itself to me on the very first playthrough. The only Gaga video that I hold higher esteem for is Paparazzi. I would contend that the aesthetic atmosphere of the Alejandro MV lends itself to comparisons of paintings by the prominent erotic fantasy illustrator Luis Royo. Luis Royo’s artwork features precarious beauties who wield smoke and rusted steel in an uncompromising cyborg terrain. Somehow, Royo makes his images soft like reveries but hard like industrial winters. There’s something bitter about the grimy but refined aesthetic.

That Alejandro employed less of the hyperextended MTV cuts so promiscious in many of Gaga’s videos made the MV look positively similar to a tableau. However, while Royo’s paintings are imminently directed towards a heteronormative male fantasy over the exotic female object, Alejandro is more progressive by questioning images of male and female beauty as well as who moves with authority or leadership in such an image. Alejandro overturned the relentlessly unquestioning beauty of the gothic woman as artifact and gave her teeth (for Gaga’s fangs, see 2:26) and a roving, penetrating gaze.

Note: Counterparts are a series of short posts that compares one film or video to another cultural object based on what I’m tangentially reminded of when I experience a certain cultural or leisure activity. It basically lets me casually mention images that capture my attention and, also equally casually, work in Humanities modes of analysis that I’ve read about or employed the last few years. Furthermore, it encapsulates the philosophy behind the hodgepodge of topics that I’ve allowed on Engine Tones: because games do generate conversations with everything else, and visa versa with other cultural progresses. This loose and fast compare-and-contrast can work between TV commercials and museum pieces, MVs and video games, films and plays, and so on. I will aim to update with new renditions every Friday, although this is by no means a hard and fast rule. Friday has consistently been the day that my university’s club offered a good offering of non-mainstream films in the screening facilities. Friday had also been consistently the day that is notoriously bad for me to schedule any large chunk of extracurriculars, between dance practice and relatives visiting. So this is an open but indirect homage to all those Friday indie films that I’ve missed.

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