Monday, March 6, 2006

The Oscars

No, I didn't watch.  The televised Academy Awards always fill me with a mixture of dread, revulsion and panic.  They are never funny enough and always too embarrassing.  I fall for cheezy "in Memoriam" moments, tears moistening my banal cheeks, as though these were people who actually meant something in my life--rather than being refracted light through tinted celluloid--or in the alternative, millions upon millions of eight-digit sequences of microscopic pits, read by a laser and transformed into imagery upon a cathode-ray tube. 

I did see some of the films.  Capote was especially good.  I thought Brokeback Mountain was beautiful, but I was more taken with The Mysterious Skin, which was far too extreme to find popular appeal.  My friend Jack wept copious tears at Brokeback Mountain, but I did not share his emotional experience.  However, an emotional experience was there to be had, judging from his reaction.  That's why it's always good to go with someone else to a movie.

My friend Robert is my favorite person to go to a movie with.  He can make sense of things in a way that really impresses me.  For example, he summed up Capote beautifully by saying, here was was a writer who exploited these killers for his own ends, and ironically, they wind up knowing that, and forgiving him anyway.  When you're facing death, nobody has time for a grudge, believe me.  Again, when Robert and I went to see Napola (AKA Before the Fall), he succinctly described the Napola as a school that trained killers.  That the filmmakers were presenting a society wherein there was no room for anyone who could not kill.  His description encapsulated the theme of the film beautifully and right on target.

I wish I could be so astute.  But my emotions get in the way.  It all becomes a blur of suffering and desire. 

Speaking of suffering and desire, what did I do instead of watch the Oscars?  I watched the Sci-Fi marathon of all five Hellraiser movies after Hellraiser 4--in other words, all the Hellraisers that went straight to video.  Now there's suffering and desire! 

I have to say that I was quite moved by Hellraiser 5--Inferno.  I was quite taken by the themes in the movie.  My suspicion with these five Hellraisers wasthat they were written as standalones, and reworked to fit into the Hellraiser universe.  So Pinhead makes an appearance in each of them.  Inferno worked as a kind of variant on Jacob's Ladder and Angel Heart.  It was an excellent story, though it does not fit into Clive Barker's thematic core--the Cenobites are almost Lovecraftian in their pitiless need to make human beings suffer the most excruciating pain in their flesh and their souls.  Pinhead almost becomes a moralistic figure in this film.  I've read that Barker hates this film--but be that as it may, the film works and is worth watching and even owning.  I cannot say that for the rest of them.  The thing, of course that connects the Hellraiser series is not only Pinhead, but the Lament Configuration: a puzzle box, one of three hundred created by a French toymaker.  When you solve the puzzle, the box opens a gateway to a dimension where the Cenobites exist, a kind of hell.  Cenobites are human beings transformed by pain and desire into otherworldy creatures who give such agony that it ceases to have any relevance at all, and becomes indistinguishable from pleasure.

It is a remarkable creation.  If Barker had created this alone he could be considered a genius.  But that he's created half a dozen other alternate realities, as fully imagined and detailed as this one makes him a paragon.

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