Tag: philosophy

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A stylized shot from Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin", depicting an alien (Scarlett Johansson), in profile, at the beach.

Through the Void: on Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin” (2013)

Jonathan Glazer might not be the greatest director still active, but his filmography is surprisingly varied, considering how relatively few films he’s made compared to the other top dogs in the business. His third film, Under the Skin, further estranges itself from the others in terms of its subject matter, and while it may be his weakest film (particularly in light of its finale) it still bears an unmistakable Glazer imprint, and, like Birth, manages to carry itself most of the way through in spite of an outlandish premise.

But not so outlandish, really. We’ve seen alien sci-fi before, but what distinguishes Under the Skin from other such movies is its distinct style. There is an almost Kubrickian detachment from its genre elements, an arthouse stylization that mixes a strong sense of formalism with authentic guerilla filmmaking.

Now, I’ve never been the biggest Scarlett Johansson admirer, and that’s not because I think she’s a bad actor—on the contrary, I’ve only ever seen her be passable to good. Maybe it’s simply due to the fact that I watched a lot of those Marvel blockbusters and I’m used to her being utilized as kickass eye-candy and not much else. […]

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A stylized montage of ladies in hats

Ladies in Hats: or, Aesthetics vs. Reality

De gustibus non est disputandum, goes the medieval Scholastic saying: “About taste, there is no dispute.” At first blush, this seems a pretty straightforward statement, opposing reason—which is purportedly objective—with preference, which is subjective.

For instance, I like ladies in hats. Not the pillbox, Jackie O–type, or the Roaring 20s close-to-the-head, cloche-style, or even the fedora-style, but hats with brims, floppy hats, summer hats, the kind of hats which to me, even make the Wicked Witch of  the West look good, the kind Julia Roberts wore in “Pretty Woman.” I also like raspberry sherbet in a waffle cone.  Both of these preferences do not admit to some kind of logical argument. If I were asked why I like ladies in hats and raspberry sherbet, I’d just say, “because.” I would feel no imperative to explain, no need to go on social media to bolster my statement with some ideological gymnastics.

I suppose those who MUST have a tidy answer to everything, or those who claim some insight into the dark and labyrinthine  recesses of the human consciousness, would say something mind-boggling mushy, something which smells like psychological determinism:  I like women in floppy-brim hats because my mother or grandmother or sister or first grade teacher wore them; I like raspberry sherbet because one idyllic summer I was sharing a raspberry sherbet cone with my first crush and I had my first kiss on a grassy knoll overlooking a placid lake. […]

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A collage of Simone de Beauvoir, with sepia tint to indicate entropy and passage of time

Entropy and Simone de Beauvoir

In this COVID Age, entropy is especially on my mind.  That and the deliciously bold derrière of author, philosopher, and feminist, Simone de Beauvoir.

Entropy is, put simply—if not simplistically—that quality of a system which exhibits increasing disorder and randomness, a decline into senile smoothness.  It is the broken egg on the kitchen floor, never to be whole again.  It is the spilled cup of coffee which will never rise from the floor, full and steaming.  It is the running down of Everything.  For us humans, it is aging.

Entropy is a fact of this universe (and any parallel ones), but knowing all that doesn’t ease my transition out of bed into the morning’s waking world.  It seems to me that this decade of my life came sneaking across the threshold of my reality unbidden, unannounced and, until it was taking up residence in the house, unremarked. But that’s the way of things for humans, isn’t it?  We flourish, follow our trajectory, and never give thought to our demise, let alone the long (if we are lucky) downhill slope which precedes it. […]