Friday, April 19, 2019

The Interpretation of Dreams: On the Beach at Night Alone

Kim Min-hee in On the Beach at Night Alone (2017).

There seems to a a trend of metafiction in South Korean arthouse. Before Burning (2018) there was On the Beach at Night Alone (Bamui Haebyeoneseo Honja / 밤의 해변에서 혼자, 2017), by Hong Sang-soo and starring his real-life mistress (now partner) Kim Min-hee as Young-hee, a former mistress of a great Director (Moon Sung-keun). It’s also a slow burn, with the central affair merely hinted at for most of its running time. But Kim gets two stupendous set-pieces, all facilitated by alcohol, and she burns it all down.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Real Tesla: How Visionary Eccentrics Transformed Our World and Why We Need Them to Do It Again, Please

Nikola Tesla’s lab in Colorado Springs, calmly making environmental electricity in 1901.

Review of the new book by Richard Munson, Tesla: Inventor of the Modern, released Fall 2018 by Norton, Penguin/Random House. 

Nikola Tesla could have been elected President of The Outsiders Club, if such a thing existed. One of the most gifted and strange individuals who ever lived, his inventions transformed our world and his visions have continued to inspire other great minds for generations. I guess given that is an affirmative review of a serious and important book about a grand thinker, I shouldn’t really start out with the crucial disclaimer that: This is about the real Tesla. This has nothing to do with that twerp Elon Musk who stole his name to brand his company, after more or less stealing the core notions of an electric automobile that Nikola had conceived ages ago, but to whom no one paid any attention. What the hell, there, I said it.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Us: Cheap Stuff

Lupita Nyong'o, Evan Alex, and Shahadi Wright Joseph in Jordan Peele's Us.

The first few minutes of Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele, before the opening credits are spooky and unnerving. A little girl named Adelaide (Madison Curry) wanders away from her family on the beach in Santa Cruz; she’s drawn into a fun house where she sees her mirror image – only the twin is facing the other away. This Magritte-like image is startling; it’s also the best thing in the movie by far. As soon as Peele catapults us some three decades into the future, where grown-up Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) is back in Santa Cruz vacationing with her own husband (Winston Duke) and kids (Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph), and the home they’ve rented is invaded by malevolent, scissors-wielding replicas of themselves, Us sinks to that lowest common denominator of horror devices, a series of jump scares.