The Fountain

On Tuesday, I saw Darren Aronofsky’s film, The Fountain, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I’ve seen (and greatly appreciated) both Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and at the very least, I assumed that it would be challenging (and it was). I was also aware that The Fountain received enough bad reviews to place the film on the rotten scale at Rotten Tomatoes. Let this be a lesson to ignore collective criticism, because in this case, they don’t have their fingers on my pulse.

Film Synopsis at Wikipedia...because I don't think I need to rehash what's already been written (although my interpetation is slightly different than the synopsis. Perhaps, I'm just being lazy.)


I hung on every word of this film, because it forced me to look in the mirror and face some very personal issues about illness and dying that I haven’t been prepared to deal with…and while it didn’t necessarily ease my current anxieties, the confrontation was gentle enough to keep me from immediately sticking my head in the sand like an Ostrich. Bonus points for that.

The visuals are beautiful, and The Fountain engages in the kind of myth-making that nests nicely within my thought patterns. It’s not dogmatic, and it doesn’t feel like proselytizing. Instead, it makes use of storytelling to ask and maybe answer questions while creating a certain sense of awe. I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone else, but in my world, stories and personal myth-making allow the days to pass with a bit more color and meaning…fairytales for the soul and all that.

Sonya Taaffe

At the request of a friend, I've put together a list of Sonya Taaffe works that have been published online. Since I've mentioned Sonya several times within this blog, I'm posting it here as well.

A Maid on the Shore
Crossing the Line
Niobe Aftermath
Moving Nameless
Theagenes Remembers
Over the River
The Reliquiae
On the Blind Side
Follow Me Home
The Windfalls
Green and Dying

The Wicker Man Remake

I just wasted precisely 102 minutes of my life watching the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. It was painfully bad, and yet I watched it in its entirety hoping that some small shred of the original may have survived within this steaming pile of Hollywood blasphemy...but it didn't.

Probably, I should have let the film stand on its own, but comparisons are inevitable, especially since I'm extremely fond of the original film. If you haven't seen either version and you don't want spoilers, don't read any further...

Where to begin?

  • One of the most compelling things about the original 1976 version of the film is the soundtrack, but the director scrapped the beautiful Scottish folk music in favor of an Angelo Badalamenti score (and an American setting). That doesn't seem like a completely awful choice given some of the previous work that Badalamenti has produced, but it was completely flavorless. Give me drums, fiddles, panpipes, and penny whistles, please. Overly produced orchestral music just doesn't provide the ambiance of an isolated pagan society, particularly during festival time.

  • In the original film, the Sergeant was a solidly Christian man who arrived on an island where the locals practiced the “old religion.” The society was more accepting of sex and nudity, and they openly took part in traditional fertility rituals, most notably the dancing of the maypole and the leaping of lovers over the midsummer fires. It produced a certain amount of confusion and discomfort in the Sergeant, but it was subtle enough to allow the tension to build gradually...and it gave the film a deeper meaning that dealt with differences in viewpoints without actually manipulating the viewer into believing that one side was good and the other bad.

    The 2006 version of the film glossed over the fertility rituals almost completely, and instead of showing a society that was sexually free among both genders, it displayed an extremist matriarchal society that abused its men (which was pretty damned offensive for both genders since it was so badly skewed). Additionally, Nicholas Cage's character didn't carry the same religious strength of conviction that the Sergeant had in the original film. Instead, the conflict relied on the aforementioned gender divide which effectively destroyed the depth that was originally there. As far as creating new meaning...Remember kids...women are evil and men are stupid & cowardly.

  • There was also some added (yet supremely lame) violence, and I can only deduce that it was meant to add to the “horror” of the film. What it really achieved was making the ending less effective. The Wicker Man isn't supposed to be a slashery horror film. When is Hollywood going to learn that sometimes subtlety is the key?

  • There were some decent actors involved in the project (namely Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker, whom I will continue to adore), but the script was so bad that their presence couldn't even salvage certain parts of the film, and really...Ellen Burstyn is no Christopher Lee. In that regard, I wouldn't have been pleased even if the film had been well done. Lee was the perfect choice for Lord Summerisle, and it would be next to impossible to fill his shoes.

And one more thing before I wrap this up (because I could probably complain for several more days, and I really need to move on to more interesting things)...

If you're about to be stuffed into a giant Wicker Man and set on fire, don't you think that you could come up with something better to say than: You bitches! You bitches!? I'm not sure why that worked my nerves so badly, but it did.

So there you go. I hate the new version of The Wicker Man, and I remain a solid devotee of the original. Anyone up for a nice dance around the midsummer fire?

Second Life

I mentioned earlier that I was playing in IMVU, a virtual chat client that allows a person to design their own 3D avatar. The idea was amusing to me, but I'll admit that I didn't like the idea of being restricted to one I've graduated to Second Life.

Second Life is a virtual world that, like IMVU, allows a person to have a 3D avatar, but what makes it so much more intriguing is the ability to wander through user created spaces...sometimes complete cities. Thus far, I've spent most of my time exploring some of the brilliant atmospheres that people have created, but I'm also considering the roleplaying possibilities.

A couple of places that I've enjoyed:

Babbage town – A gorgeous steampunk city that has very little traffic at the moment. That's unfortunate, because it would be a supremely fun place for roleplaying.

The Dune Project – A SIM set up specifically for roleplaying Frank Herbert's novel. It has a learning curve, so I've only wandered through as a tourist, but I'm seriously considering a more serious commitment to the game. I just haven't decided which faction I want to play. (I'm a total Dune geek)

The Wastelands – A post-apocalyptic salvage SIM. I haven't fully explored this one yet, but the atmosphere is dark and dirty...just as it should be.

Etopia Eco-Village – This place is just plain pretty to look at. It's based on sustainable living and eco-friendly building design, and it was obviously a labor of love by whomever put it together. I spent a great deal of time just playing all of the drums that are available for drumming circles.

On the downside, there's a lot of advertising, especially in the main hubs, but it's pretty easy to escape those one you learn where to go. Also, there seems to be a lot of “Gorean” roleplay, which I'm assuming is based on the Gor novels given the references to female slaves. I've tried to avoid those areas like the plague.

Anyhow...if anyone happens to play on Second Life, feel free to find me there. My character's name is Cyan Taurog, and I'm always up for good company. Exploring can be lonely trade.

Wrapped up in books

I'm sad to admit that I haven't had much time for reading this year since the mundane parts of life have commanded most of my attention. This tends to fracture my peace, and I recently forced myself to take some time out just to quiet myself with books.

The first was China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh, a novel set within a future dominated by communist China. It's a difficult novel for me to explain, because it's presented mostly as glimpses into the lives of several characters rather than as one cohesive plotline, but if that sounds like a disjointed's not. It's detailed and character driven, and I couldn't put it down. In fact, I found myself wanting more. I would have easily read another 300+ pages, particularly about life as imagined by McHugh on a Martain colony. Of course, that's generally my cup of tea. I've always thought that the most interesting job that a person could have would be as a cultural anthropologist on a newly colonized planet...or maybe a botanist.

The second novel that I read was The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper, and I'm still processing it mentally. For that reason, I don't want to go into a great deal of detail, but I will direct you to a synopis at Strange Worlds, because I can already say that the book was well worth my time. It raised some interesting questions and stirred up all sorts of conflicting emotions that I can't seem to shake...which is exactly what I'm looking for. It's not that I enjoy being disturbed, necessarily. I just enjoy indulging in things that make me feel deeply in one direction or another...or sometimes in many directions all at one time. It beats sitting around and feeling numb, which is far too easy to do.