Friday, July 12, 2013

"The Machinist".....

....desperately needs to get remade.

If cinema today endlessly mines the past, it stands to reason that eventually all the nearly-were films, the almost great films, will start to be remade. I can see that happening in the future.

Bowie always said that he never really finished anything- he just stopped at a certain point in the process. He always wanted to go back and tinker with it some more.

I wish someone would have tinkered with this film some more.
Just an opinion.

 It has stayed with me, despite having only watched it once. The Flyway Cafe especially has a kind of archetypal hold on me. Having a thing for planes, it seems to live in a familiar yet foreboding kind of place- like a place i had dreamt in my childhood. I remember going to a restaurant when i was very young, the Skyliner. i always loved that name. it rang a bell in me. it called to mind this sort of pure landscape. Many of my dreams over the years kind of happen in places like this- just glimpses. Like Brasilia, or empty freeways, or business districts at night.

I think "the machinist" would have done itself a classic turn by underlining that atmosphere. the MUSIC, for one thing, would be the first thing I would scrap.

Watching it tonight for the first time since i saw it years ago, i kept imagining Delia Derbyshire crawling behind everything. Spare, eerie electronic sounds would have made this film a million times more unsettling, and subtle, and surreal. i am not a fan in general of orchestral soundtracks, but sometimes they are appropriate. in this case, an eno-esque route would have been the edgier choice, while still maintaining some kind of mainstream appeal. personally tho, i would have gone with delia. but "music for airports" would have done nicely. as it is the swooping-then-stabbing violin action going on here is as ubiquitous as dirt, and adds no real tension, atmosphere or interest whatsoever. and its true alot of people wouldn't care about these things, but i do, and it makes the difference sometimes with me. imagine "2001" without the music. its TERRIBLY important.

i would have liked to see less hooker-with-a-heart and needless tit-flashing going on.

SUBTLETY. one of the things i love about "rosemary's baby" is the freaking subtlety. the creepy teensy little details. the way a doorbell ringing in distance can mean so many dark things. the way ordinary things suddenly get turned on their head.

there is some of that here, but amping that up would have amped up the WTF factor a millionfold. there is so much room there to do that. but you can tell that there is too much compromising going on, really. there is an attempt to reach the audience at times. TOO many times. it seems to pull back at the decisive moment.

the profession he works at, that sense of foreboding industry. the way everything seems to happen in a storm or at night.... the apartment building and cafe...... these things could have been drawn in even starker, Expressionist tones. a whole other world could have functioned as a character, even more than it already does.

It would be fantastic if say, someone recast this and filmed it in Norway, during endless night. THAT would live there quite elegantly. this story should have snow in it, perhaps. fjords that are only hinted at, lying just on the edge of everything.

In fact, yes, the Norwegians. get them on this. run it through that kind of sensibility, that kind of noir.

With Delia Derbyshire behind it you would really have a startling, spooky mother of a movie right there.
just an opinion.

the 0 and the 1

i realized tonight that hauntology is a near-total inverse of the whole idea of retrofuturism.

some things are hard to explain. some things you just feel. you arrive at a point by feeling your way, and then the thinking and linking up sets in. you weave a tapestry of your own as you go, and when you discover there is a word for the way these threads are composed it can be very important and quite inspiring. Beyond the idea of insipid genres, isms, and false parsing, hauntology is more akin to an art movement than a genre. boil it down even more and its a way of seeing. 

having said that, it is of course, something of a genre, inasmuch as alot of these bands are drawing on the same set of influences and touching upon the same themes in their music. considering it from that perspective, it is really fascinating to link retrofuturism and hauntology as being very gracefully opposite. in fact hauntology seems like a natural moodier outgrowth from the retrofuturism of the nineties.

retrofuturism embraces the past as it was imagining the future. hauntology, on the other hand, is firmly planted in the present, imagining the past. in fact its BEING in the present that creates that tension, that sepia-memory experience. that cannot be experienced in a retrofuturistic or even revisionist way. that distance creates that essential surreal tension that to me is the very basis of hauntology. the same distance in retrofuturism seems to create a sort of whimsical, debonair dressing-up, a wholesale worship of the goofily optimistic spirit of the Space Age. Hauntology is an almost queasy reexamination. Its remembering the spookiness of childhood, painting in a kind of Romantic spirit, but Romance painted with electricity and film dissolves and 70's television and bad dreams.

I have always loved the novel "The Virgin Suicides" and it quite cleanly expresses this idea of memory- the way it haunts you and how the way you examine it says something about who you are. there is a fetishistic nature to it- we invest in life by remembering it in a certain light. we invest places and things and people with our memories and we imprint importance on to stray objects, photographs, people. distance in time makes the heart grow fonder, and weirder.

its a reimagining, without revisionist trappings. revisionism makes me quite tired, really- i can't think of anything more horrible than trying to push it out garage '66 style anymore. there is so much lost in the translation, almost always- and a hamhanded grab for "what it was like" leaves so many colors out of the picture. and i probably wouldn't mind it so much if they didn't get it WRONG so much of the time. but that's just my secret snooty mod bitchery kicking into effect- too many nights at soul clubs watching the girls all dressed in what are really early 70's "New california" style frocks passed off as Quantism.

 i don't want to pretend i am in the past anymore.

 it looks better from HERE.