WolfmanOz at the Movies #34

Beyond the Infinite

I vividly recall the day I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, way back in 1976. It was on a fine Saturday afternoon and the soccer team I was playing for had a bye so along with a few of my teammates we decided to go and see the film which was on a re-release and being presented in 70mm on a huge theatre screen.

Of course, back then, before the days of the internet, our knowledge of the film and of Stanley Kubrick was quite limited but two and a half hours later one teenager came out of the theatre absolutely enthralled, amazed, bewildered and with a totally new perspective of movies and the art of cinema.

Back in 1964, after Kubrick had finished his nightmare black comedy Dr. Strangelove, he announced his next project would be about extraterrestrial life and resolved to make “the proverbial good science fiction movie”; his film would become as Spielberg remarked his film generation’s “big bang”, while George Lucas says it was “hugely inspirational”, calling Kubrick “the filmmaker’s filmmaker”.

The basic premise of the film is the discovery of an alien artefact (a black monolith) on the Moon which leads to a manned space expedition to Jupiter manned by five astronauts (albeit three are in hibernation) and a supercomputer called HAL.

The film is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects (no CGI) and ambiguous imagery. Kubrick avoided conventional cinematic and narrative techniques; dialogue is used sparingly, and there are long sequences accompanied only by music. The soundtrack incorporates numerous works of classical and avant-garde music.

This merging of image and music was never better exemplified when we leap forward from apemen a million years ago to spaceships in the future with the most audacious jump-cut in cinema history.

This will be the only clip I’ll post of the film in this post as there are so many scenes and moments that make this film so memorable and remarkable. But for those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this movie masterpiece which features 18 clips in total.

2001: A Space Odyssey Playlist

Kubrick made the film mostly nonverbal, to communicate on a visual and visceral level rather than through conventional narrative. Long periods without dialogue permeate throughout the film: the film has no dialogue for roughly the first and last twenty minutes.

Regarding the film as a whole, Kubrick encouraged people to make their own interpretations – “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film—and such speculation is one indication that it has succeeded in gripping the audience at a deep level—but I don’t want to spell out a verbal road map for 2001 that every viewer will feel obligated to pursue or else fear he’s missed the point”.

However, I would be the first to admit that this is not a film for everyone. It tells its story in a very non-linear manner; its pacing is slow and deliberate; it has only approximately 40 minutes of dialogue in a film with a running time of close to two and a half hours and has no real development of the human characters.

When 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered in 1968, film critic Renata Adler called it ‘‘somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring” and respected critic Pauline Kael declared it ‘‘a monumentally unimaginative movie”. Nearly 250 people walked out of the New York premiere.

But from the initial indifference of the established critics the film has emerged to be regarded as one of the finest ever made and is now often cited in critics and filmmakers lists of the greatest films ever made, with many critics and filmmakers considering it Kubrick’s masterpiece.

This from a filmmaker who only made 13 feature films of which most are the benchmark or the pinnacle of their particular genre ie. horror – The Shining; black comedy – Dr. Strangelove; period drama – Barry Lyndon; historical epic – Spartacus; dystopian – A Clockwork Orange; war – Paths Of Glory and Full Metal Jacket; and, of course science-fiction – 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kubrick’s output was limited in quantity but in terms of quality, IMO, there has been no filmmaker in cinema history who has matched the incredible quality of his output. For me, a part of cinema died when Kubrick passed away in 1999; it is ironic that he never saw the year 2001 !

Therefore to summarise for me, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a brilliantly controlled venture into science fiction which exists on an almost subliminal level. A hypnotic, intensely visual film with a peculiar artistic power which comes from the obsession of its creator and director, Stanley Kubrick. A cinematic masterpiece that defines film in terms of abstract communication.

And in the 46 years since I first saw it, I reckon I’ve watched and bathed in the glow of this movie masterpiece with well over a hundred viewings. For me, it’s not only my all-time favourite film of but one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century by one of the great artists of the century.

Enjoy.

WW Movie Clips

“The Fixer”

Over the past few days excerpts from Simon Benson’s and Geoff Chambers’ new book, Plagued, have appeared in the media. (Admission: I have only read the first excerpt, which appeared in the Weekend Australian, but since then through the media more details have emerged.)

What initially struck me about this first report was the reason given for the addition of the health portfolio to Scott Morrison’s then prime ministerial responsibilities, and the level of power, (and therefore risk to the nation), that section 475 of the Biosecurity Act could afford to the Federal Health Minister if invoked by the Governor General, (*though with the subsequent disclosures today in the press this aspect of what was going on in the previous government during the pandemic is being overtaken by events, but I will plug on).

Reported in the excerpt is that the first aspect to the change to the ministerial responsibilities of Scott Morrison as prime minister arises because the Victorian president of the Australian Medical Association, Julian Rait, advised Minister Hunt that,

Hunt and the other political leaders of the day needed to draw some crucial lessons from the 1919 pandemic. Chief among them was how federalism almost collapsed when the politicians let themselves believe they were medical experts. They needed a mechanism that put the expert health advice at the apex of political decision making, along with a unified national approach from all levels of government. Hunt swiftly relayed Rait’s observations to Scott Morrison.

The second aspect to the change to Scott Morrison’s ministerial responsibilities arises the authors tell us because,

A declaration under section 475 gave Hunt as health minister exclusive and extraordinary powers. He, and only he, could personally make directives that overrode any other law and were not disallowable by parliament. He had authority to direct any citizen in the country to do something, or not do something, to prevent spread of the disease. Morrison knew that if he asked the Governor-General to invoke section 475, he effectively would be handing Hunt control of the country. If they were going to use them, Morrison wanted protocols set up as well as a formal process to impose constraints. The protocols required the minister to provide written medical advice and advance notice of his intentions to the national security cabinet.

Revealed, is that the Federal Government did indeed have extraordinary powers to control, direct or constrain what the state premiers were doing during the pandemic if s. 475 was invoked. And with the addition of protocols to provide written medical advice and to provide advance notice of the Federal Health Minister’s intentions to the national security cabinet, the control and direction during the pandemic did have the prime minister at the centre of that decision-making and far enough in front to be well beyond the premiers’ preview. Conversely, if s. 475 was not invoked, then why take this course of action?


But this revelation of the question of using s. 475 is at odds with what Morrison said at his February 1, 2022, National Press Club Address, and which I wrote about and quoted from on NewCat on February 5:

There, Morrison said:

‘The pandemic did not suspend the constitution or the federation. It did not change what the States and the Commonwealth have always been responsible for: they didn’t get any more powers they didn’t get any less; and I have always sought to put the national interest first by seeking to work together with the Premiers and the Chief Ministers through the National Cabinet and not engage in petty fights…my job was keep everybody together in the room working together…and I have sought to work together…’

When Scott Morrison made those remarks at the National Press Club on February 1, 2022, those words were not correct. S.475 did materially alter what the Commonwealth and the States were doing – and could do – during the two and half years of the pandemic and without the constraint of the constitution or the federation. Through the position of (“shadow”) Federal Health Minister and the powers of s. 475, to allow or disallow the state governments’ blanket vaccine mandates, police powers abuse, and the banning of healthy people from earning a living were entirely within his control.

(*The revelation today that using the same administrative instrument that circumvented the requirement to be sworn in by the Governor General, Scott Morrison also became the Finance Minister alongside Matthias Cormann and, later, Energy Minister alongside Angus Taylor and Resources Minister alongside Keith Pitt, and without the knowledge of these ministers, or seemingly the remainder of the Cabinet, the Coalition, the Parliament or the people.)

Gender dysphoria among famous women

I read this morning that some wokester academics working for Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, have cast doubt on the gender identity of Queen Elizabeth I. Apparently her claiming to have the stomach and heart of a man was plain-speak for I’m non-binary before my time gimme some testosterone. And Joan of Arc was much too butch to be a genuine gal. Women with swords? Come on.

So here we are. The great movement to wipe women out of sport is extended to wipe women out of history. Margaret Thatcher was clearly intersex. “The Lady’s not for turning.” Pull the other one, so to speak.

Queen Boadicea, Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto were clearly in the closet. Celts, Hindus and Muslims might not have taken kindly to them revealing their true mixed-up selves. Hilary Clinton and Kamala Harris? Surely there’s a clue in their pant-suitedness.

Anyway, we men have always known it. Women can’t hack it. When the going gets tough, they go to water. Hence, the wokesters have belled the famous cats, so to speak; they’re all toms in disguise. Liz Warren adds weight to this persuasive view by claiming that she would be president if she had a penis. (Linked to that one, in case you didn’t believe it.)

Pardon us Liz, but just say you’re a man, slip into a pair of jockeys, stuff a sausage down there, and, Bob’s your uncle, and you’re his nephew. It’s not like pretending to be Cherokee. That’s cultural appropriation; much harder. Feigning manhood is a bagatelle. Feted you’ll be. From Liz to Liam in a trice no need for drugs or cruel knife.

WolfmanOz at the Movies #33

And All That Jazz

Cinema’s ability to produce top class musicals has been in decline for many decades now. I’ve seen numerous commentaries that public tastes have changed and they no longer desire to see musicals.

However, I disagree with this view.

Given the numerous musical stage shows that are continually being released and the public’s insatiable appetite for them and their popularity, albeit, IMO, the music and songs seem to pale into insignificance compared to yesteryear, I believe it’s simply a case that the filmmaker’s craft for producing such entertainments has dissipated over time.

However, the dearth of a really good musical was broken in 2002 with the release of Chicago, based on the 1975 stage black comedy musical which tells the tale of two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago.

The film starts with a bang with Catherine Zeta-Jones (in her Academy Award winning role) as Velma Kelly belting out the opening number.

The films’ numbers are cleverly presented as mostly cutaway scenes in the mind of the character whilst scenes in real life are filmed with a gritty hard-edged style. The film marked the directorial debut of Rob Marshall who seemed to get his cues from the late, great Bob Fosse who had directed the original 1975 Broadway production. However, Rob Marshall would go on to direct the absolutely dreadful Cats ! ! !

The film also boasts one of the great all-time show stopping numbers ever filmed for a musical.

It’s an absolute corker of a number, brilliantly choreographed, in which six women, at the Cook Country Jail, explain their presence in the prison, all of whom stand accused of killing their male partners.

The film also stars the excellent Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart, a bored housewife who dreams of becoming a musical star and Richard Gere as Billy Flynn the smooth-talking, slimy lawyer who turns his female clients into celebrities to gain public support for their acquittal.

Unusually for a musical, the characters are mostly unsympathetic and quite dislikable as the whole film eschews any sentiment. It’s the excellence of the execution in terms of direction, acting, choreography and the music that makes the film such a standout.

For those that are interested I have created the following playlist from this movie which features 13 numbers in total.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLt5qtosTj5OURSX3OyEzktcKEm067sD8

Singin’ In The Rain is my favourite musical of all-time, but I would include Chicago as one of the best 5 musicals ever made to come out of Hollywood.

Enjoy.

WW Movie Clips

Reviving the letters to pollies

Two years ago the Energy Realists started sending briefing notes to 800+ politicians across the nation and we recruited some letter writers in almost half the 151 Federal House of Reps electorates to send follow-up mail to their local MP.

The letter-writing program did not proceed because it did not yield enough interesting replies.

We are starting again with the added value of the National Information Network which will establish active groups across the country with the help of selected ex-candidates for minor parties at the last election.

Two notes have been sent by the ERA since the election and I sent one myself to the members in the House of Reps on the eve of passing the Climate Bill.

Soon will post the same message to the Senators.

I am contacting all the original letter-writers to find if they are prepared to continue.

We do not have writers in a lot of key seats, notably all the ALP cabinet members, so volunteers are invited from those electorates. Applicants must be citizens of good standing in the Cat community?