screenshots for a new cold war

The Cold War of 1945-1989 was a bad movie, with commies hiding under every bed and nukes of Damocles hanging over every head. A bad time to be alive and a great time to have behind us, at least until Hillary Clinton, pouting because she lost an election, singlehandedly revived it.

The second James Bond film, From Russia with Love (not to be confused with Trailer Park Boys' grease film From Russia with the Love Bone), is a First Cold War entertainment. The white hats are spy Bond (Sean Connery) and Russian agent Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), the black hats are, among others, SPECTRE operatives Donald Grant (Robert Shaw) and Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya).

Alex on Film says this about Grant and Bond:

The line where Grant talks about Bond having to crawl and kiss his (Grant’s) foot isn’t in the book. Was it improvised? Bond is, of course, a gentleman agent (what he’s called in the trailer) and a snobbish member of the upper class. He’s on to Grant as soon as he orders the wrong wine at dinner. In the book though Grant is a psychopathic serial killer triggered by phases of the moon, not someone with much of a class consciousness. He’s only working for the Russians because they let him kill people...

Watching the movie again after many years got me imagining things from the viewpoint of the women. My comment on Alex on Film's post (with added screenshots) follows.

klebb2

Poor Rosa Klebb. She learned a valuable lesson here: Never send a “paranoid murderer” to do the work of a real spy. Instead of testing Grant’s muscle tone by sucker punching him,

klebb1

she should have been asking him if Chianti was really the best thing to drink with grilled sole.

grant

Then, after her plans were thwarted by Bond, a super agent whose superiority she failed to anticipate, she goes after him alone, relying on a maid costume and poison tipped dart to stop him.

klebb3

Also, while admiring Grant’s physique at the beginning, she should have been asking him if he had any class anxieties that might impair his judgment in a contest of wills with a real English (well, Scottish) gentleman.
And what will be Tatiana’s story here? A zealot for Mother Russia, pimped out by the woman-admiring Klebb, she loses her heart to the English agent...

tatiana2

Promptly after the credits roll, the agent will dump her for his next paramour, and she'll end her days in a dreary MI5 decoding pool. Or will she use her extraordinary beauty to “land” another English gentleman? Or will she be exchanged back to Russia to be debriefed about SPECTRE, sadder but wiser, but unlike Klebb, still alive? We can only speculate.

Eraserhead: not a student film

One of the reasons I enjoy the Alex on Film blog is the author speaks his mind and doesn't pretend to be offering anything but his subjective take on movies.

But this is just going too far:

Eraserhead is a movie better experienced than talked about. I don’t think Lynch had any real statement in mind and people probably see in it what they want to see. I was mightily impressed by it thirty years ago, and while I came away from it this time with a lot of respect for what Lynch accomplished, on a shooting schedule that stretched over five years, I have to say it’s not a movie I enjoy as much today. It was student work, of the highest caliber but still student work, and it appealed to me as a student. But my imagination isn’t what it used to be.

Lynch may have begun the film as a student but five years later, keeping the same cast and crew together to film when time and budget allowed, he was an auteur. It's actually amazing how tight and focused Eraserhead is for having been shot over such a long time frame -- there's no loss of momentum at all. And one can see a more or less seamless jump forty years ahead to Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return, which might be an expansion and deepening of the same movie.

I didn't want to just flippantly troll Alex on Film for its flip dismissal of a fascinating film (seconded by a commenter) so I tried to say some nice things in defense:

On rewatching for the first time in decades I realized how much of a comedy it is. Even the weirdest bits have comic timing. When the monster baby breaks out in disgusting chicken pox, there’s a beat and Henry says with a concerned, fatherly tone, “oh you *are* sick.” Then another beat and he has placed a vaporizer next to the infant’s head. The dinner scene is a mad hatter’s tea party of “people behaving strangely for no reason” (as an Amazon reviewer once described an Argento film), carefully choreographed to provide tension and release. Even the feature you eloquently pointed out, “that within [the film’s] dream of dark and troubling things the dreamer only dreams of things more dark and troubling still,” has macabre humor.
As for the meaning, you can take a lot at face value. A man is going quietly crazy in a low rent urban apartment, with a failing marriage and a deformed child who he eventually kills. It’s a “post-industrial landscape,” a milieu that was barely identified in the mid-’70s and became commonplace as a description in the ’80s. Lynch arrived at this early on, indeed nailed it, based on pure artist’s intuition.
Also it’s hard for me to evaluate Eraserhead as a fragment of my own youth because Lynch never went away and I in effect grew up with him. The signature tropes of this movie (white noise, disgusting growths, people behaving strangely for no reason) continue in almost all of his subsequent creative endeavors. So I watch it now as the psychic blueprint for an amazing (and amazingly improbable) career.

aeon flux vhs vs dvd: End Sinister

end_sinister650w

screenshot from Bregna 215 (resized)

In the '90s, MTV, between the "shitty music video" era and the "spring breakers" era, briefly hosted some trippy animation. Aeon Flux emerged then, under the direction of Peter Chung, who was 30 at the time, with all imaginative pistons firing. Shortly thereafter MTV released the three seasons on VHS tape, and in 2005 Chung remastered the tapes and re-released them on DVD. To the annoyance of some fans, he added new dialog to four of the shows. He claimed this was to bring the characterizations of Aeon Flux and Trevor Goodchild "into better continuity with the series as a whole." New dialog was also written for the character "Clavius," former leader of Bregna. Three of the episodes he altered ("The Demiurge," "Reraizure," and this one, "End Sinister") were directed by Howard E. Baker, a fourth, "Utopia or Deuteranopia," was directed by Chung himself. Here are some belated notes on the changes to:

End Sinister
Peter Chung had no involvement in the original (1995) writing of this episode; he at least had "Story" credits for the other three episodes he later altered. So perhaps not surprisingly, this one got his most severe revisions ten years later. The main change is to make Trevor Goodchild more humanitarian and less of a eugenicist Hitler.
VHS DVD
No opening title Opening title:
Trevor prepares to shoot a ray that will change the course of human evolution.
Trevor Goodchild: Strength is not an absolute value. To be strong is to evolve. Mutability is strength. Evolution is a stream of victories by the strong over the meek. The meek shall not inherit the earth. What is strength when a 200 pound man can be killed by a ray emanating from a satellite in space? Strength is within. Case in point: I make two men sick by exposing them to the same ray, Aldous B. One dies, horribly, with pain. The other one buries him without remorse. He is the winner. Who will the other winners be? Those who will be left once I use the ray. We have already evolved so much that our actions would be incomprehensible to a human from 1000 years ago. It's the evolution revolution. Tomorrow we speed up the process. All sectors. All species. Only the strong shall evolve. Trevor: Go forth and multiply. Procreation is the fundamental act of faith. We divide even as we conquer. And is it losses on the field of battle? No, it is the battle of love. So I turn my weapons to the task of evolution. Case in point: I transform two men's semen into armies of conception by exposing them to the same ray, Aldous B. Sadly one dies. The other one buries him with honor. The ray is imperfect. Some will die but the alternative is the death of the entire human race. We have already evolved so much that our actions would be incomprehensible to a human from 1000 years ago. It's the evolution revolution. Tomorrow we speed up the process. All sectors. All species. Only the strong shall evolve.
Aeon Flux [arguing with Trevor]: And let you kill off half the planet? I don't think so.
Trevor: You have nothing to be afraid of. The rays will only affect the meek. They'll strengthen the strong, like you and me.
Aeon [to herself]: No one can make me be anything.
[Aeon nuzzles up to Trevor, then kicks and handcuffs him]
Aeon [arguing with Trevor]: And let you kill off half the planet? I don't think so.
Trevor: The ray will be fatal only to a small minority at most. It will strengthen the strange, like you and me. If we're all doomed, what will you live for, Aeon?
[Aeon nuzzles up to Trevor, then kicks and handcuffs him]
Aeon [talking to alien]: You can't stay here, it's not safe. You don't speak, do you?
[Aeon pulls off cloth, revealing alien's weird body]
Aeon: Come on!
Aeon [talking to alien]: Where are you... All right, you don't have to answer that. I know someone who's just going to love you.
[Aeon pulls off cloth, revealing alien's weird body]
Aeon: Bit much... Let's go, I'm getting you out.
Trevor: These creatures have died from exposure to Aldous B. Somehow it shot from the satellite to their planet. They must have come to search for the source of the ray. But they failed. It wasn't enough. They're not different or adaptable enough. It will be your fault if the human race does not survive.
Aeon: These creatures are dead and you're guilty as hell.
Trevor: As a matter of fact I feel quite guilty.
Trevor: These creatures have died from exposure to Aldous B. Somehow it shot from the satellite to their ship. They had to find the source of the ray but the ray killed them first. They lacked the resilience to survive. We need exposure to Aldous B. We must remain a virulent strain.
Aeon: You've made your sickbed. Who else are you going to ask to die in it?
Trevor: As a matter of fact I feel quite guilty.
[Aeon points at Trevor's stomach]
Trevor: They don't have one of those, or one of these [tongue-kisses Aeon]
[Trevor and Aeon begin making love as the alien watches]
Aeon: Maybe they don't have sex.
Trevor: Maybe they've found a better way.
[Aeon points at Trevor's stomach]
Trevor: They don't have one of those, or one of these [tongue-kisses Aeon]
[Trevor and Aeon begin making love as the alien watches]
[Alien rejects Aeon's sex offer and leaves]
Aeon: Please, stay.
[Alien implants vision in Aeon's mind of the alien having "mental" sex with Trevor]
Aeon: I don't think so, sweetheart.
[Alien rejects Aeon's sex offer and leaves]
Aeon: You'll be back.
[Alien implants vision in Aeon's mind of the alien having "mental" sex with Trevor]
Aeon: I don't think so, sweetheart. You'll definitely be back.
Trevor: Why am I bothering to save these people with their secret appetites and sorry needs? The alien - by contrast - is remarkable. She relies on no physical sustenance. No need for air, for food, for water. She does not defecate or perspire. She lives in the mind. Her feelings are real, more intense than our own. Her language of pictures is at once more poetic and more precise. She needs no one else [touches alien's face], but she wants someone else. That’s where I come in. I've got to stay with her. Trevor: Why am I bothering to save these people with their secret appetites and sorry needs? The alien - by contrast - is remarkable. She relies on no physical sustenance. No need for air, for food, for water. She does not defecate or perspire. She lives in the mind. Her feelings are real, more intense than our own. Her language of pictures is at once more poetic and more precise. She needs no one else [touches alien's face], but she wants someone else. This will be my evolution.
Aeon [sending Trevor telepathic message]: Trevor, there's a bomb! Throw it off the rocket! Aeon [sending Trevor telepathic message]: Trevor, there's a bomb! Eject the tube!
Aeon [talking to alien]: Don't... Don't try to...
[Alien implants scene in Aeon's mind of alien ingesting floating energy cell]
Aeon: No!
Aeon [talking to alien]: Out! Get out of my head, you!
[Alien implants scene in Aeon's mind of alien ingesting floating energy cell]
Aeon: It's you or me now!
[Aeon sees new connective organ on sick alien's body]
Aeon [thinking]: Trevor was right. They are human.
[Aeon sees new connective organ on sick alien's body]
Aeon [thinking]: They are us. I am alien.
Trevor: We are all winners, those who will be left once I use the ray. We have already evolved so much that our actions would be incomprehensible to a human from 1000 years ago. It's the evolution revolution. May the best man win. Trevor: We are all winners, those who will be left once I use the ray. We have already evolved so much that our actions would be incomprehensible to a human from 1000 years ago. It's the evolution revolution. Go forth and multiply.

previous comparisons: Utopia or Deutoranopia / The Demiurge / Reraizure

Update: This is my own comparison and transcription, based on review of the VHS and DVD versions of this episode. After posting (sigh) I found this tumblr post. I made a few tweaks to my chart based on that transcription.

aeon flux vhs vs dvd: Reraizure

narghile

screenshot from Bregna 2415 (resized, autoleveled)

In the '90s, MTV, between the "shitty music video" era and the "spring breakers" era, briefly hosted some trippy animation. Aeon Flux emerged then, under the direction of Peter Chung, who was 30 at the time, with all imaginative pistons firing. Shortly thereafter MTV released the three seasons on VHS tape, and in 2005 Chung remastered the tapes and re-released them on DVD. To the annoyance of some fans, he added new dialog to four of the shows. He claimed this was to bring the characterizations of Aeon Flux and Trevor Goodchild "into better continuity with the series as a whole." New dialog was also written for the character "Clavius," former leader of Bregna. Three of the episodes he altered ("The Demiurge," this one, "Reraizure," and "End Sinister") were directed by Howard E. Baker, a fourth, "Utopia or Deuteranopia," was directed by Chung himself. Here are some belated notes on the changes to:

Reraizure
VHS DVD
No opening title Opening title:
Trevor's interrogation of a Monican agent leads inevitably to his favorite subject... Aeon Flux...
Aeon [in Bregnan uniform, surprises Muriel in prison corridor]: Stay calm. The guard drag is dress-up. I'm not going to hurt you.
Muriel: I'm desperate. Keep away from me.
Aeon: Let's pass like ships.
Aeon [in Bregnan uniform, surprises Muriel in prison corridor]: I don't care who you are or what you're up to but you're in my way so just let me pass.
Muriel: Keep away from me. I'm desperate.
Aeon: Desperate to live or to die? Your choice.
Rordy: Appearances can be deceptive.
Aeon: No kidding.
[Both laugh sarcastically]
Rordy: Appearances can be deceptive.
Aeon: No kidding.
[Laughs edited out]
Rordy: Did you see a woman? 23, short hair, very pale, would have been wearing a grey prison uniform. Rordy: Did you see a woman? Short hair, very pale, would have been wearing a grey prison uniform.
[Rordy removes Narghile from water pipe]
Aeon: What is it?
[Rordy removes Narghile from water pipe]
Aeon: You caught that?
Rordy: It's called a Narghile. I collect them.
Aeon: Are you serious? Narghile?
Do you have the bliss pellets?
Rordy: It's called a Narghile. I collect them.
Aeon: You collect... [under breath] Could have met you earlier.
Do you have the bliss pellets?
Rordy [yelling at Narghile in jar]: You little bastard! What have you done to my Muriel?
[Aeon seduces Rordy]
Rordy [yelling at Narghile in jar]: You little bastard! What have you done to my Muriel?
Aeon [begins seducing Rordy]: What has it done to you? Is getting rid of them really so hard? First thing you do is stop thinking about them.
[Aeon studies orbital platform through telescope]
Rordy: Muriel took each of the Narghiles up there.
Aeon: Why didn't you just destroy them here?
Rordy: How? You can't kill them. I was collecting them to blast into the sun. Now I don't know what I'll do.
Aeon: All right. I'll do it.
[Aeon studies orbital platform through telescope]
Rordy: Muriel took each of the Narghiles up there.
Aeon: That was her idea? Not to destroy them?
Rordy: How? You can't kill them. I was collecting them to blast into the sun.
Aeon: The sun...
Rordy: Now I don't know what I'll do.
Aeon: Sounds good. I'll do it.
Trevor: That's the funny thing about memory, isn't it? We are not what we remember of ourselves; we are what people say we are. They project upon us their convictions. We are nothing but blank screens. Trevor: We are not what we remember of ourselves; we can undo only what others have already forgotten. Learn from your mistakes, so that one day you can repeat them precisely. Stop, erase.

other comparisons: Utopia or Deuteranopia / The Demiurge / End Sinister

Update: This is my own comparison and transcription, based on review of the VHS and DVD versions of this episode. After posting (sigh) I found this tumblr post. I made a few tweaks to my chart based on that transcription.

reraizure_pipeline650w

screenshot from Bregna 2415 (resized)