Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006
dir. Paul Robertson
This Australian cat named Paul Robertson made this badass animation that looks and feels like a video-game crossed with a horror film.
Pirates, monsters, blood, guts, nudity, Big Lebowski references... it's 12 minutes of pixelated (not "pixilated") perfection.
Download the film here:
Check out Paul Robertson's artwork at Deviant Art:
and his Live Journal:
aka Tokyo Elegy
dir. Ian Kerkhof
Thy rod and thy staff will bumfuck me. Thy will be done, thy kingdom come in my ass, forever and ever. Anus.
The above pseudo-biblical quote from one of the many graphic (but censored)* sex scenes in Shabondama Elegy pretty much sums up this masturbatory exercise in art-house experimental film.
The film is marginally poetic and sometimes clever as South African director Ian Kerkhof mixes sex and violence to explore what happens when a Dutch criminal (legitimate actor Thom Hoffman) meets a Japanese pornstar (real-life bukkake babe Mai Hoshino). Kerkhof then adds lube and bullets into the mix and the result is not at all surprising:
- pornstar + lube = semen
- criminal + bullets = blood
- semen + blood = sticky mess of red & white bodily fluids
The film opens with a figurative blood bath as the tragic hero murders two Japanese police officers, and predictably (as if ripped from the pages of a textbook about experimental filmmaking) one of the final images of the film combines fluids with the colors red and white to depict the heroine washingly herself clean (both inside and out) of her slain lover in, quite literally, a blood bath:
Clever, and yet amateurishly cliched.
* NOTE: I'm not sure if the version I saw was censored to meet strict Japanese porn laws or domestic art-house policies, but I doubt seeing an uncensored version (if it even exists) would improve my reaction to this film. The director intentionally superimposed enough other images, like the floating head seen above, that the blotches over genitals hardly corrupted his artistic vision.
(NOTE: I don't want people to think that I gave this film five stars so I gave it half a star to make it more obvious when really it deserves no stars. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone unless you want to test your critical thinking skills, or maybe if you enjoy infomercials, because that's really what this film is: an infomercial for New Age bullshit. It pretends to be a documentary but really it's a propaganda film by a CULT!!!)
What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? was recommended to me last year by Donna Segal, who thought I'd be interested to see the CG anatomical "fly-through" animations that peppered the film because I was working on a similar CG "fly-through" a bloodstream. Since I have a habit of hijacking conversations and frequently steering them towards science and/or philosophy, I suspect Donna was also curious about how I would react to the film's claims and implications.
What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? (aka What the BLEEP Do We Know aka WTFDWK) is an overlong infomercial for New Age nonsense posing as a documentary. It mixes pseudo-science with psycho-babble as it first asks the question "What the fuck do we know?", then answers with "not much." (Ultimately the film decides that someone or something, namely "god," does indeed know everything that we don't, but more on that later)
Though the filmmakers are trying to suggest that we, all of humanity, know very little about the "real" world, all they are really demonstrating is that they themselves are ignorant.
They blatantly misrepresent the known science of quantum mechanics by interviewing theoretical physicists, like Fred Alan Wolf and Amit Goswami, whose claims about the relationship between the universe and consciousness are extremely fringe and NOT at all accepted as fact by most physicists. CG-laden dramatizations of quantum principles, like wave-particle duality and Heisenberg uncertainty, mislead the audience into believing the contradiction that it is impossible to know anything and yet anything is possible.
One of the film's supposed "experts" claims that it is possible to "walk on water" if a person only believes it possible.
Another absurd claim the filmmakers make is that matter and the physical world can be affected by thoughts and emotions. The example given in the film is the work of Masaru Emoto, who alleges that water can be influenced by thoughts. Emoto's findings have long since been discredited by the scientific community for his refusal to repeat the experiments following proper scientific methods, specifically double blinding, but the filmmakers ignore the fact that Emoto's a quack and they go so far as to misrepresent his unscientific findings even further to make them seem more mystical.
The film shows a closeup picture of muddy dam water and then shows a magnified photo of the same water after it has been "blessed" by a monk. Miraculously, the formerly disgusting murk has transformed into a beautiful ice crystal (i.e. a snowflake). What the filmmakers fail to mention (quite intentionally) is that Emoto FROZE the fucking water!!! They also forget this freezing fact when showing pictures of bottled water with various labels on the side like "chi of love," "thank you" and "you make sick I will kill you." Again, as though through supernatural intervention, the water that was labeled with postive messages turned into snowflakes after being "left out overnight" and those labeled with negative words turned into jagged blobs.
And again, the filmmakers neglect to mention that the bottled water was frozen, and then photographed by people who knew what the labels on the water said and therefore the photographers knew which sort of ice crystals to look for.
But the biggest bunch of bullshit spewed by the filmmakers is the implication that if positive or negative thoughts could have such an effect on water, then naturally these thoughts can have a direct effect on humans, since afterall, as the film reminds us, that "90% of our bodies are water." No that's not a typo. The film actually makes the factual error that the human body is composed of 90% water, even though, in reality, the human body is only between 78% to 55% water, depending on age and sex.
If the filmmakers can't even get a simple widely-known fact like the human body's chemical composition right, then it's not that surprising to hear them make up history by claiming that Columbus' ships were invisible to Native Americans because the natives had no prior knowledge of large boats and so they were unable to see them until they were told that the ships existed by their "shaman." This nonsense is both historically unfounded and a gross misrepresentation of epistemology.
But why would the filmmakers misrepresent science and flat out lie to their audience?! Well as it turns out, they have a hidden agenda: the promotion of a New Age cult.
That's right, I said "cult."
I knew something was fishy when the film starts preaching about god near the end. After misrepresenting science during the first part of the film, the makers of What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? covertly shift gears and gradually try to convince the audience that scientists are arrogant to think that universe can be explained without god.
See, the "expert" featured most prominently in the film is a charismatic blonde woman (wearing way too much makeup) who dispenses great words of wisdom like "it only takes one sexual fantasy for a man to have a hard on." But it isn't until the end credits that we learn who this woman is and what sort of credentials qualifiy her to make any of her scientific and ultimately spiritual claims. As it turns out, the credits don't really tell us much, only that the woman is "Ramtha, Master Teacher - Ramtha School of Enlightenment, Channeled by JZ Knight."
I was curious just what the fuck "channeled by JZ Knight" meant, so after consulting wikipedia, I learned that the blonde talking head in the film belongs to alleged psychic JZ Knight, but the words coming out of her mouth are credited to Ramtha, 35,000 year-old spirit, "channeled" through Knight, who claims that Ramtha was a Lemurian warrior who fought against the Atlatians [as in "Atlantis" (as in "the lost city of")].
What a load of steaming bullshit!!!
Not surprisingly, the three directors of the film, William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, and Mark Vicente, are admitted students of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment and the concepts of the film, including the final part about spirituality, are all consistent with the "teachings" of this cult.
Now I don't know if any of the film's other so-called "experts" (a chiropractor, an anesthesiologist, and a graduate student among others) have any association with RSE and the film itself never specifically mentions Ramtha or RSE (except in the credits), so I guess the film cannot be labelled explicitly as a recruitment film, but it's definitely stealth propaganda disguised as a serious scientific documentary. Sadly, the film has won several awards in the documentary category. Maybe Scientologists should've tried the same strategy for their scifi epic Battlefield Earth...
Still, I need to thank Donna for recommending this film to me. It is definitely thought-provoking (and anger-provoking), and it further solidifies my resolution in the scientific method by exposing the utter nonsense that results in deviating from it.
My friend Robyn Yannoukos is an intern at ShadowMachine Films working on Robot Chicken and after watching the first 6 episodes of Moral Orel, another stop-motion animated series on Adult Swim that's also produced by ShadowMachine, I decided to see what sort of work Robyn's been doing.
Robot Chicken is insanely hilarious as beloved childhood toys rape and murder each other in rapidfire one-liner visual gags and retro mashup parodies.
My favorite visual gag from Season One depicts two naked guys playing a backyard game of ring-toss with donuts:
[from Season 1, Episode 09 "S&M Present"]
And my favorite parody features a vengeful Jesus hellbent on killing the Easter Bunny:
[from Season 1, Episode 02 "Nutcracker Sweet"]
Cheers to Seth Green and Matthew Senreich for creating such a twisted show.
Dawkins examines how religious faith infects the human mind and deludes people into believing in the absurd.
Dawkins interviews distinguished believers among the major faiths, Christianity, Judasim and Islam, and he politely challenges their denial of science and rationality.
It one remarkable interview, Dawkins chats with anti-abortionist Rev. Michael Bray, a friend and supporter of convicted (and executed) murderer Rev. Paul Hill. During the chat, Bray is cordial and well-spoken, but he condones the killing of doctors who perform abortions as justified by the Bible, and the fact that he smiles sincerely while spouting hate causes Dawkins to remark afterwards that he "quite liked" Bray, but then he quotes the Nobel Prize-winning American physicist Steven Weinberg:
"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion."
And this notion that religion motivates people to commit morally reprehensible acts is the punchline to Dawkins' message.
Dawkins argues that religion, through its suppression of rational thinking, is downright harmful (especially to impressionable children) and we, as highly evolved being capable or rational thought must not passively tolerate the evil caused by faith.
I should note that Dawkins does NOT think that religion is the root of ALL evil. He repeated several times in an interview with the Center for Inquiry's podcasted radio show "Point of Inquiry" that he protested against the name of the series, but only managed to get the producers to add a question mark to the title, as if the show was asking, "Is faith the Root of All Evil?"
As a former Christian turned staunch Atheist, I wholeheartedly agree with Dawkins that faith is not the only thing that drives people to act immorally, but it is certainly a "root of evil" in this world.
Americans are notorious for proclaiming religious tolerance (especially among the faithful who are ironically often the most intolerant of religions that differ from their own), but as an American (and as a member of the human race) I will NOT tolerate religion whenever it is defies logic and reason.
I am frustrated and angry that Atheists are often accused of being intolerant whenever they question a person's faith, and yet the faithful rarely cry foul when science is ATTACKED outright.
'Life' is a four-letter word. -- Lenny Bruce
Robert B. Weide (executive-producer and frequent director of Curb Your Enthusiasm) wrote, directed and editted this Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning documentary about comedian-turned-First-Amendment-martyr Lenny Bruce.
Through archival footage, including unaired TV routines and Lenny's homemade films, and new interviews with Lenny's friends (like Nat Hentoff), family (like his mother Sally Marr and daughter Kitty Bruce) and even his enemys (Richard Kuh, the lead prosecuter in Lenny's New York obscenity conviction), Weide masterfully tells Lenny's story, from his "guiltless" childhood as the son of a vaudeville dancer to his tragic death from a drug overdose.
Lenny Bruce made America laugh at itself by forcing Americans to confront the things they considered too "obscene" or "sick". But not everyone was laughing. When the Catholic Church and morally-righteous politicans targeted Lenny for his jokes about religion, he became depressed and paranoid. His routines took a serious turn as he replaced his jokes with readings of transcripts from his legal proceedings. Lenny explained, "I'm not a comedian anymore. I'm Lenny Bruce."
Bill Hicks: Sane Man
dir. Kevin Booth
"Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we're the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather."
It's debatable whether or not Denis Leary straight-up stole Bill Hicks' pissed-off, chain-smoking on-stage persona, but it's very hard to deny that Denis Leary at least "borrowed" many of Bill Hicks' routines. A casual comparison between Bill Hicks debut concert film Sane Man (1989) and Denis Leary's debut concert film No Cure for Cancer (1992) reveals striking similarities, including jokes about John Lennon, Jim Fixx, cigarettes and drugs. In fact, both films end with the comics pantomiming death.
Now I'm not going to go so far as to call Denis Leary a "thief." I happen to like Leary a lot. But I love Bill Hicks even more. Hicks' comedy is much closer to social commentary than Leary's. And Sane Man is a classic example of Bill Hicks' hilarious rants.
RIP Bill Hicks