2020 stuff

Derived Absurdity
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2020 stuff

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:02 pm

Happy new year's or whatever. Anyway -

Neon Genesis: Evangelion - wow, has anyone here ever heard of this? Why has no one here talked about this yet? Idk, that was fucking intense. That's the best way to sum it up. Also incredibly dense and intensely confusing. I watched the show through twice, and I swear I paid attention, I did, but I still don't know half of what happened. Specifically, I think pretty much all the religious motifs and references flew completely over my head. It also seemed to be referencing and deconstructing some anime-specific storytelling tropes that I'm not familiar with at all. It also seemed very concerned with psychoanalysis, specifically of the Freudian variety, most of which I probably also missed since I know nothing about it. So, if I'm being generous, I think I missed at least 60% of the substance here, even though I watched it all the way through twice.

I did connect more with the more philosophical aspects. The show has a lot to say about identity, subjectivity, consciousness, and interpersonal perception. How everyone is trapped in their own subjectivity and true connection is impossible, and things like that. This dovetails a bit with Shinji's extreme personal insecurities and his debilitating obsession with how everyone around him sees him. This, by the way, is something I've struggled with my entire life to the same extent he does, so I sympathized. It made me so I couldn't function in society for a very long time. Reading Kierkegaard and Sartre helped me deal with it a bit, as well as philosophy of mind and evolutionary psychology. Intersubjectivity and how humans perceive each other has been an interest/obsession of mine for a long time, so I thought it was kind of neat this show felt the same way. I still don't really know how to interpret what it was saying about all of it, but I liked it anyway. It also referenced Schopenhauer's thoughts about the hedgehog dilemma and how many problems it presents for human intimacy. This show has a a lot on its mind. I'm not sure it wraps it all up neatly in a grand thesis statement, but it still juggles a lot of ideas. There are probably book-length treatises about what it all means.

Sorry I don't have smarter things to say about it. I will say that I think it's interesting and strange that such a deeply introspective, philosophically heavy, incredibly dense and complicated show became such a huge and influential cultural sensation in Japan. I can't imagine that ever happening here.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #1

Postby BruceSmith78 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:45 am

I don’t watch anime, but if I didn’t know any better I’d think you were joking. Gendo, the guy who created this board, took his user name from that show. I’m pretty sure Eva Yojimbo also took his username from that show. The only posters left here are huge Evangelion fanboys, from what I’ve seen. They’ve discussed it plenty. Just type Evangelion in the search field in the top right corner of this board, for fuck’s sakes.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #2

Postby Gendo » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:23 am

BruceSmith78 wrote:I don’t watch anime, but if I didn’t know any better I’d think you were joking. Gendo, the guy who created this board, took his user name from that show. I’m pretty sure Eva Yojimbo also took his username from that show. The only posters left here are huge Evangelion fanboys, from what I’ve seen. They’ve discussed it plenty. Just type Evangelion in the search field in the top right corner of this board, for fuck’s sakes.


See, now I can't tell whether this reply is a joke or not, because it seemed obvious to me that the OP was joking.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #3

Postby Gendo » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:24 am

So wait, did you just watch the show? Did you watch End of Evangelion? The original show or the new Rebuild stuff (1.0, 2.0,etc)?

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #4

Postby Raxivace » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:22 pm

As far I'm concerned NGE is the best television show ever made. Watch End of Evangelion if you haven't seen it yet, as that's one of the best films ever made.

The Rebuild of Evangelion movies are worth taking a look at too, especially with the last film coming out in Japan later this year (Who knows when we'll see a proper American release of it though. It took years for the third movie to even come out on blu-ray in the U.S.). Thematically they're about different things than the original show is, though at the same time its probably the closest in spirit that anything has ever come to the original show. From a plot point of view they initially seem like just a remake of NGE (With 1.11 being very close to Episodes 1-6, though there are some key differences to note), though they diverge more and more as they go on.

I'm going to try and give all of Eva a rewatch at some point this year before the last Rebuild comes out, so I'll probably have more to say then.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #5

Postby BruceSmith78 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:53 pm

I could certainly be wrong, but I really didn’t get the sense he was joking.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #6

Postby Derived Absurdity » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:36 pm

Wow, I didn't know Rax was that big of a fan of the show. Seriously, Rax, why have you never said anything before?

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #7

Postby Raxivace » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:06 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:Wow, I didn't know Rax was that big of a fan of the show. Seriously, Rax, why have you never said anything before?
Well DA my man, the truth is
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #8

Postby BruceSmith78 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:25 pm

In hindsight it should have been obvious it was sarcasm, but this is why we use the [none] emoji.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #9

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:06 am

I go my own way.

And I've only seen the show so far. I'm going to watch Death and Rebirth and EofE shortly.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #10

Postby Raxivace » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:09 am

Honestly you can skip D&R. Its basically a glorified recap.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #11

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:09 am

I need a recap.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #12

Postby Raxivace » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:40 am

Well get ready for some violin action then with your recap.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #13

Postby Gendo » Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:46 pm

I love those violin parts though. And it’s a cello.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #14

Postby Raxivace » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:43 pm

Gendo wrote:I love those violin parts though. And it’s a cello.
In my defense they're basically the exact same instrument. Its all hunks of wood with strings attached.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #15

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:55 am

Well, it's about damn time! I don't know if even DA really has any idea just how much Rax and I have written about this series over the years. I had like 8k posts on EvaGeeks before I left, and Rax and I met on the IMDb NGE board. I wish we'd collected much of what we wrote in some digestible format, but as is it's spread out everywhere, and much is lost to the IMDaByss.

Anyway, yes, the series/film is about as dense as TV/film gets. Not only is there are lot of superficial substance that's explicitly referenced (Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Freud, etc.), there's a ton of substance that's under the surface and is easily missed. EG, Jung's psychology/philosophy is arguably much more in-line with NGE's overall approach than Freud's. Especially if you ever read how Jung interpreted Genesis (basically: Eden = womb, God = mother, fruit of knowledge of good and evil = rise of individual consciousness) it's almost NGE's allegory in a nutshell. There's also a lot of red herrings and very complicated relations with its references. Some of the religious symbolism is there either for aesthetics or to "sound cool" (like the word "Evangelion" itself), but others are a bit more deep and complicated. The cross is a good example, since it symbolizes sacrifice, death, and rebirth, but NGE's relationship with these themes is entirely different from The Bible's, and Shinji (especially in the film) is about as far away from Jesus as you can get.

Anyway DA, feel free to ask any questions. I don't think there's any HUGE mysteries in the series that hasn't been satisfactorily cleared up over the years of fans endlessly discussing everything. Perhaps the most opaque one is what the hell is going on with Kaworu and SEELE in episode 24, and there's some vagueness overall about the mechanics of how Second Impact/Third Impact works, and a bit more about the exact history of Second Impact. Outside that, most of the major questions have answers that are either obvious with enough rewatches, or have been pieced together through discussion.

FWIW, of everything I've written on this series, I think I boiled a good chunk of it down to three essays I wrote from three very different perspectives; though make sure to watch End of Evangelion BEFORE you read these.

This first one is my best "overall" view of the series. I wrote this either for people who hadn't seen it, or who'd seen it once and wanted a good overview perspective: https://fpscinema.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/neon-genesis-evangelion-the-end-of-evangelion-the-reason-were-all-here/

This second one was my "personal" essay, essentially trying to explain why NGE meant so much to me and had such a huge impact on my life. Of everything I've written, this is probably what I've gotten the most kudos for as a lot of people seem to connect with it. Of course, to me it sounds like something written by someone who was extremely young and naive (because it was), but it's how I felt at the time: https://forum.evageeks.org/thread/5091/My-Kinda-Sorta-Eva-Magnum-Opus/

Finally, this last essay is the longest thing I've written on it. Ostensibly, I spend the vast majority of it analyzing the film and, specifically, the final scene of the film; if it sounds gratuitous to spend nearly 5k words analyzing one scene, I assure you it's not, because essentially NGE condenses all of the series' motifs, symbols, and themes to that one scene, and I essentially use it as a catapult to show how it relates to everything that's happened in the series. This is, IMO, by far my best objective analysis of the series/film, and one that I think best argues for why the series/film is a masterpiece from an objective standpoint (and not just because of how it's subjectively affected so many). Goes without saying there's major spoilers for the film. This used to be posted to a movie review website that's defunct by now, so I'm afraid I'll have to copy/paste the whole gargantuan monstrosity here:

It behooves any critic of The End of Evangelion (EoE) to preface their review by informing viewers that they shouldn’t watch this film prior to having seen the 26 episode TV series that precedes it. The film is confusing enough with the series, and positively incomprehensible without it. The reason for its existence at all is fascinating and controversial. Initial theories were that it existed to placate outraged fans after the series’ ending (EoTV or “End of TV”), which stripped away the narrative that had been developed for 24 episodes in favor of characters directly analyzing their broken psyches through various philosophy/psychology 101 themes. It was then brought out that the film was actually the originally planned ending, but EoTV had to be substituted due to budget, time, and (perhaps) censorship problems.

Whatever the case, EoE stands as the pinnacle of the series and Hideaki Anno’s directorial artistry—as dense, difficult, spectacular, spellbinding a piece of fiction as has ever been crafted for the screen; but how does one consider it in light of EoTV? Throughout this review I’ll write as if the works are complimentary, as that’s the majority view amongst fans and the one that I, personally, think is best accounted for by the evidence. The film begins right where ep. 24 ended, after Shinji Ikari (Megumi Ogata—I’ll skip the English voice actors as the English dub should be avoided) has killed Kaworu Nagusa, sending him into his mental breakdown. After the death of the final Angel, SEELE has sent an elite attack force to Nerv in an attempt to commandeer Eva Unit 01 to initialize the apocalyptic 3rd Impact and Instrumentality. While under attack, the comatose Asuka (Yuko Miyamura) is placed inside Unit 02 in hopes to keep her safe, while Misato (Kotono Mitsuishi) sets about trying to rescue Shinji. Meanwhile, Gendo Ikari (Fumihiko Tachiki) is attempting to use Rei (Megumi Hayashibara) to activate the mother of mankind, Lilith, as his spurned lover, Ritsuko (Yuriko Yamaguchi) goes to confront him.

The film is split neatly into two halves, even utilizing ep. 25 and 26 title cards to emphasize their relationship with EoTV. The first half contains everything up until Asuka’s battle with the demonic Mass Produced Evas—set surrealistically to Bach’s ethereal Air from Orchestral Suite #3—and Shinji’s discovery of the battles aftermath once he’s inside Unit 01. But it’s truly the film’s second half that’s garnered the majority of criticism and controversy. Third Impact—essentially Evangelion’s version of the apocalypse—is played out as vividly and bewilderingly as any sequence in film history, as inexplicable, mind-blowing moment follows inexplicable, OMG!!WTF!!?? moment in a perpetual stream.

A rough rundown of events goes something this. Firstly, the Mass Produced Evas (MPEs) unleash the power of their S2 engines, uncovering the Black Moon, which is also the Egg of Lilith. After Unit 01 appears, the MPEs immediately assimilate with her, presumably to use her connection to Black Moon to usher Earth’s souls into it. After Rei returns to Lilith (her original self), she takes over the process, overpowering both the MPEs and 01 with her AT Field. She does this in order to give Shinji the choice of whether to live or die. At this point the film’s first surrealistic scene occurs, as Shinji finds himself in a symbolically rife playground, and then in the kitchen with Asuka. After Asuka’s refusal to help him Shinji’s utters the nihilistic line: “everybody can just die.”

Those words trigger the completion of 3rd Impact and Instrumentality—the latter being the joining of all souls into a “collective unconscious,” a return to the ur-womb of Lilith, where all individuality ceases to exist. The sequence is accompanied by a song entitled Komm Susser Tod (Come Sweet Death), a J-pop modified version of Bach’s song for solo voice and continuo. It’s as surreal a combination as one can ever see in film—the overwhelming horror and beauty of the apocalypse backed by “the most uplifting song about depression ever,” as one of my fellow EvaGeeks put it. Next we delve into the dream logic realm of Instrumentality, a state where Shinji gets to experience this “nothing” existence. After the most explicitly metafictional scene in the film—a shot of the theater and audience at the premiere of Death and Rebirth—Shinji decides to reverse his decision, resulting in the equally vivid dissolution of Instrumentality at the hands of Unit 01 and the return of Shinji to a now completely barren reality

If I had to point to one objective reason why I feel Evangelion is amongst the greatest works of visual fiction ever created, EoE’s epilogue, titled “One More Final: I need you,” would be it. In the span of 3 minutes writer/director Hideaki Anno manages to consolidate every motif, every symbol that has been utilized throughout the 25 preceding episodes of the series, doing so almost in complete silence, with only Asuka’s “Kimochi warui” line, her “bad feeling,” breaking the silence and ending the film. While its density merits an entire essay itself, I’ll try to analyze it as succinctly as possible here, as I feel it cuts to the core themes behind the film and entire series.

The first three shots consist of the bifurcated Lilith/Rei head, Misato’s cross necklace nailed to a telephone pole, and the seemingly petrified MPEs, all of them standing as symbols of what has been “sacrificed” in order to bring this reality about. The cross especially has encompassed the themes of a burden, sacrifice, death, and rebirth that are central to the series and film (one of the reasons the religious symbolism isn’t mere “visual fluff” as some skeptical critics like to claim). Misato’s cross has a particularly nice progression, beginning with Misato’s father’s sacrifice of his life to save her during Second Impact (this is how she receives the cross), to Misato sacrificing herself to save Shinji in EoE. Perhaps Shinji’s nailing the cross to a telephone pole is a symbol meaning “message received.”

The next shot consists of the red ocean washing up on the shore—a prime example of one of Anno’s synthesized, polysemous symbols, not unlike Wagner’s usage of compound musical motifs through Ring of the Nibelungs. Water has symbolized origins, the beginning: the first shot of the series and film is of water, the first Angel emerges from water, Rei—Lilith, the ur-mother—is always seen swimming. Water also symbolizes death: Shinji begins EoE after a failed suicide attempt in drowning, Asuka’s suicide attempt is inside a bathtub, Tokyo-2 is underwater. Red has symbolized reality and the emergence towards individuality and maturation. This is typified through Asuka being Shinji’s “love interest.” As Rachel Clarke once observed, EoE could be seen as Shinji leaving “Mother as the First Other”—Rei/Lilith—for his “Significant Other”—Asuka). Red is also found where that reality becomes overwhelming: the finale of ep. 3, Shinji running away in ep. 4, JA going berserk in ep. 7. Therefore, by combining the “red” symbol with the “water” symbol we have the beginning of a new, but incredibly harsh, reality, a Neon Genesis. Lest anyone doubt this interpretation, consider that the very first shot of the opening theme is a blue ripple becoming a red background, and in ep. 20 Shinji emergence, his “rebirth,” from Unit 01 is accompanied with another transition from blue ripple to red frame. Finally, the shore makes for an apt symbol too, itself being the meeting place between water and land, between origins and that new life.

The red ocean segues to the red streak across the moon. Similar to the ocean, the moon has always been associated with Rei and, consequently, with Lilith, the ur-mother, beginnings, etc. The red streak was actually caused by Lilith’s death, the blood from her neck squirting across the moon like a rainbow. So the symbol is, again, densely packed with meaning. It suggests the end of death, the end of fantasy, childhood, our original being. It echoes back to what Rei said in ep. 14 about being a woman that doesn’t bleed, which suggests menstruation and, consequently, the “birth” into reality (and what is birth if not the death of our original state of existence?). It also suggests the death of Rei/Lilith herself, the triumph of reality over fantasy, of individuality over collectivity.

We finally then get our first overhead shot of Asuka and Shinji on that beach, bathed in a harsh, white light, appearing minimized against the background, as if they’re still vaguely floating in the dream world of Instrumentality. Asuka’s eye and arm is bandaged after being damaged during her grotesque battle with the Evas where a spear pierced her eye and split her arm. The bandages themselves echo back to Rei in ep. 1 and Shinji in ep. 6, perhaps being a symbol that “damaged souls (eyes are frequently equated with souls) make damaging choices” (hands symbolizing choices, as I’ll go into a bit later). Then, there’s a tight two-shot of their hands, then back to the red-streaked moon, then the camera tilts left and cuts to a shot of Shinji’s head turning. We realize we’ve been viewing the moon from his perspective—a perspective transition that echoes back to ep. 2, appropriately titled “The Unfamiliar Ceiling,” about not feeling at home, now with the implied meaning of not feeling at home on Earth, in reality.

Then we get a more apparent perspective shot as Shinji sees a ghostly, floating Rei out over the red ocean, echoing back to the spectral Rei he saw in episode 1 after arriving at Nerv. It remains one of those inexplicable mysteries of a series, with some calling her “quantum Rei,” the omnipresent gaze residing over the characters. Then there’s a cut back to Shinji’s face, a cut back to an empty ocean, and a low angle shot behind Asuka. Then Shinji sits up, slowly looking and realizing she’s there. A cutaway to the red ocean shore, another cut to Lilith’s hand and two silhouetted telephone poles, bent in half, with the former being a foreshadowing of what’s to come, and the latter symbolizing the breakdown in communication throughout the series (as ep. 1 announced the arrival of the first Angel we see through the reaction of telephone pole wires).

After a cutback to the red streaked moon we finally get a long shot of Shinji mounted on Asuka, his hands around her throat. A medium shot of Shinji, eyes obscured (echoing the film’s beginning), a close-up of Asuka’s shocked reaction, a close-up of Asuka’s bandaged hand twitching, a cut-back to the long shot, and Asuka reaching towards Shinji’s face and we get a close-up of her caressing his cheek. Shinji slowly releases his grip, and tears fall on Asuka’s face from Shinji’s eyes, as he slinks down, weeping on top of her. Finally she looks down to acknowledge him before delivering the film’s final lines “Kimochi Warui” as the film cuts back to the wide shot.

Kimochi Warui was translated as “how disgusting” by the English translators, but the term is much more ambiguous. The literal meaning is “bad feeling,” which, depending on the context, can mean “I feel sick,” “how disgusting,” “this sucks,” etc. with all kinds of subliminal connotations (as one of the English commentators suggested morning sickness). It’s also a line that echoes back to Shinji’s first words when entering the LCL of the Eva, and, like so many elements in EoE, creates a rich circularity of things ending where they begun. One could just as easily read a wry metafitional commentary there, as if Asuka's words are really meant to be those of the audience, expressing a laconic, bewildering disgust over everything they've just witnessed.

Much more interesting than the line, in my opinion, is the attempted strangulation and caress. Many have speculated as to why Shinji is strangling Asuka, with theories ranging from: “he hated her and was trying to kill her,” to: “he was testing to see if he was really back in reality, if she was real, and if pain existed.” For me, the motif of hands, their association with life, death, decision, and hope, has been perhaps the most elaborately developed throughout the series and find their culminating expression here (as with every other symbol, but none so condensed into minimalistic, monumental significance).

It would be laborious to trace every instance of the symbol, but it’s enough to note that strangulations have been associated with death throughout, from 01 strangling the first Angel in ep. 2, to Unit 04 strangling Unit 01 in ep. 18, to Shinji strangling Asuka to start Instrumentality in the film. Meanwhile, open palms have always been associated with life, from Rei’s blood in ep. 1 (blood being related to LCL, the origin of life), to Shinji’s semen in the opening of the film (another “origin of life” symbol), to the Doors of Guf—the gateway for the souls—being placed inside Lilith’s palms. Lilith herself, we’re told, symbolizes hope in ep. 24. Meanwhile, Shinji’s clenching and unclenching of his hands throughout the series has seemed to stand for decision and indecision.

So what does all of this add up to in this final scene? In my estimation, it’s the central theme of the series in that life and death are in our hands, they’re our choice, but hope can only exist while we’re alive (something Yui as Unit 01 says explicitly in the film). The actions themselves embody this: Shinji strangling Asuka does indeed symbolize death, his attempt to return to the comfort of Instrumentality, as it was his strangling of Asuka in the surrealistic, Pre-Third Impact, kitchen scene that brought about Instrumentality to begin with. Asuka’s caress, however, is the antithesis to this “death drive,” or “Thanatos” as Freud called it (a term that shows up more than once in NGE, from the button Ritsuko pushes to destroy the Rei clones in ep. 23, to the title of the closing song of EOE). Her open-palmed caress echoes Yui’s caress to Shinji during the dissolution of Instrumentality. Perhaps more obliquely, it echoes the open-palmed images of Lilith into which all the souls on earth flow during Instrumentality, as well as Kaworu “reaching out” to Shinji with open palms during the prelude of Third Impact.

You may say, perhaps, that that’s an awfully simple (if not downright cliched) theme to be expressed in such a convoluted manner, but the extraordinary thing about NGE and EoE is its ability to dramatize the simplest of themes, taking them to the zenith of experiential meaningfulness. It’s one thing to SAY “life and death are our choice, and while we’re alive there’s hope,” and it’s quite another to craft a narrative that take us through the apocalypse with painfully real characters to the point these themes feel profound to us because we feel as if we’ve lived them, not merely learned them dryly and intellectually. What’s more, such reductionism can be applied to any number of great works of art: Hamlet can be reduced to “life sucks and the only reason we don’t kill ourselves is because we fear death;” War & Peace reduces to “there’s an invisible force, God, controlling the actions of man, as man clearly doesn’t control their own by will;” Tristan und Isolde reduces to “love is an illusion and our will can only bring death and despair.”

Yet I don’t believe that reducing these symbols to their simplest, most fundamental meaning is accurately representative of just how rich they are. However much they may “mean” what I’ve stated above, their usage in the context of the narrative disallows for such easy resolutions. In fact, further analysis of the hand motif reveals other associations, significances, and even ambiguities.

The example of the hand motif in ep. 1 has Shinji standing over Rei with Rei’s blood on his hands. I stated earlier than this blood is a symbol of life because of its association with LCL, yet blood is often more commonly associated with death, and the fact that he’s standing over Rei, the series’ character symbol for death, origins, and the mother, it becomes even more ambiguous. Likewise, consider the instance of the hospital scene in EoE in which Shinji masturbated over a comatose Asuka. While Asuka does represent the polar opposite of Rei, and semen is an obvious symbol of sexual maturation and individuality, if one takes in the full context, including Shinji’s implied suicide attempt (the wet hair in the beginning of the film; I don’t think he’s been for a relaxing swim), is not his masturbating yet another attempt to escape the harshness of reality? Carefully tracing the latter point further we can read more of Anno’s metafictional theme (more on this later) about Otaku culture, whom have undoubtedly escaped reality by masturbating to idealized images of their favorite female anime heroines.

Apart from the further associations and contexts of the symbols, one can also see this richness and ambiguity by analyzing the tonal qualities of these scenes; what is the overriding tone of “One More Final: I need you”? Some have said it’s abject despair, while others find optimism in it, with Asuka’s caress suggesting that because they’re alive and together, things will be alright. For me, the truth is actually more complex and substantial than such a simplistic either/or.

First, to understand the significance of the film’s final scene one has to juxtapose it to the surrealistic happy ending of EoTV, where Shinji emerges from the enclosed theater into a blue world with the entire cast telling him “Congratulations!” Both endings are the polar opposites of each other. EoTV is happy, talkative, collective, bathed in blue, and spatially/temporally disoriented; EoE is depressing, laconic, individualistic, bathed in red, and spatially/temporally suffocating in its solidity. Indeed, One More Final contains some of Anno’s starkest usage of establishing shots that fix us in the linearity of space and time, powerfully contrasting the dream world of Instrumentality where time and space are never established and always violated. My interpretation is that EoTV ends while still inside Instrumentality (even though it’s after Shinji’s revelation that he can, indeed, live in reality) while EoE ends in reality, effectively showing us what happens AFTER Shinji’s revelation in EoTV.

When taken together the two endings show the dualistic states the series has insisted on between fantasy/collectivity/death and reality/individuality/life. The former is comforting because it’s so unreal, because it’s ideal, because without being an individual separated by others one can’t feel pain and hurt and isolation. Yet that state isn’t reality. Likewise, reality is cruel, harsh, isolating and painful. So the central crux of the series becomes, in the immortal words of Hamlet, “To be or not to be?” But NGE has the advantage of being able to juxtapose the two states, rather than relying on death being “the undiscovered country” from which nobody returns.

Shinji ultimately decides that it’s better to exist as an individual in reality than to “exist” in the comforting nothing of collective fantasy. But it’s one thing for him to come to this resolution inside that comforting fantasy (EoTV) itself, and it’s quite another thing to actually take that revelation out into reality and learn how to live. That’s one of the series’ greatest achievements as a work of philosophical art: that there is an immense, seemingly uncrossable chasm between the revelation and realization of certain truths, and one's ability to live them, and to Anno’s immense credit he doesn’t sugarcoat just how achingly, bleakly, overwhelmingly painful the aftermath of that decision to live is.

This fantasy/collectivity/death VS reality/individuality/life dichotomy is also found in the series’ metafictional, deconstructive aspects, as in how the persona of the characters is equated with the narrative of the series itself. Like Ingmar Bergman in Persona, Anno is one of the few writer/directors who were aware enough to make the metaphoric link between fiction as the lie that covers up the truth of the artist and an individual’s persona that covers up the truth of the person. But Anno is the only one I know that sought to exploit the audience’s desire to indulge in that “fantasy” by, first, establishing the fantasy through tradition, and then subverting and deconstructing that fantasy. He exposes the lie of the fiction at the same time he’s exposing the “lies” of his characters, getting to the core of their pain and where it converges with the pain that drove Anno to create the series.

One can almost imagine this relationship as a double cone. In the middle is where the core emotions, the events that shape the individual lies, and from that source springs the individual at one end and their expression, their “art,” at the other. It’s almost like trying to trace time back to the singularity. The closer we get to that gravitational infinity, the more condensed and violent the universe’s “genesis” seems to become. There’s a similar violence found in NGE at the places where the fictional world and persona of the characters break down, are ripped away, are penetrated as if in a rape (such as Asuka’s mind rape in ep. 22), and we begin to touch on the raw, exposed nerve of truth. It only makes sense that EoTV is the most extreme expression of that relationship, with the narrative laid bare at the same time the characters are baring their souls.

The rampant allusions to Genesis itself also relates strongly to Jung’s interpretation of the Book. He saw it as symbolic of the arise of consciousness in which man broke away from the collective unconsciousness of “God,” forcing themselves to live a life of painful hardship separated from each other (indeed, the “goal” of all the characters in NGE seems to be to escape back to the collectivity of “God” in the form of the mother). One could also read it through the more artistic rendering of William Blake, in that man’s origins were a perfect union of the fourfold individual (nature, emotion, intellect, creativity), and that unity was the “God” within man. It was only once one aspect broke away that we had both “the fall” and “the creation”. Indeed, EoE’s 3rd Impact and instrumentality faintly resembles Blake’s apocalypse in Jerusalem and The Four Zoas in reverse.

One way to sum up the importance of origins is what I stated in my very personal essay titled Evangelion: My Neon Genesis[1]: “It is only appropriate that End of Evangelion ends not with an ending, but a beginning. The end reveals that NGE was not a journey towards a conclusion, but a journey towards a realization—towards the death of old paradigms and the rebirth of oneself and the world of reality around them. Moreover, it’s only logical that this rebirth is not depicted as a painless one, but one that produces arguably more pain and confusion than that which the previous state held—a rebirth that leaves the comfort of familiar ways behind to embrace the uncertainty of a new and frightening path not yet taken. But unlike that previous state, the rebirth holds one advantage, and I liken it to exiting hell to enter the maze in that now exists a hope that you can, of your own volition, find the light to guide your way out. It is also fitting that such an ending causes fits to those who demand resolution. But how appropriate is it that NGE begins with the familiar, and ends in a place that is so unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and dangerous to make us long for the comfort of that which came before?”

While I tend to avoid intentional criticism, it’s worth noting that Evangelion began its life after Anno’s disillusionment with anime, the Otaku subculture, if not the Japanese nation as a whole. The deconstruction of the mecha genre was, for him, his method of criticizing what he saw as “self-imposed autism” on those who escaped reality through the fantasy of anime, which he saw as nothing short of ego death. But what he ended up creating had implications for almost anyone that’s ever felt the need to escape the oppression of reality, even if they came to that need through completely different circumstances.

Anno had to recognize the irony of expressing this disillusionment through the medium of illusion itself. One of the more ambiguous lines in the film is Rei’s “reality is at the end of your dream, your dream is at the end of your reality.” Within the film, we can see this “meeting point” between polarized states in symbols such as the shore of the finale (again, the meeting place between death/origins and life/individuality), yet we can also see this from Anno’s perspective. Evangelion was his “art therapy” as some fans call it, his attempt to deal with his own depression and disillusionment; yet it was also an escape as well. By “expressing” this issue through a fictional medium, was Anno merely just putting off dealing with it in real life? Perhaps taken in this light, such themes are as much his message to himself, that now that the “fantasy” of Evangelion is over with, he has to learn how to actualize these personal revelations in his own life, as he won’t have the “comfort” of his artwork.

This is a theme that Anno explored arguably more thoroughly in his live-action film, Shiki-Jitsu, but it’s unlikely Anno will ever equal his achievement in Evangelion, both the series and film. It’s telling that I’ve written at least five (counting this one) lengthy reviews/essays on the series and film[2], yet I still don’t feel I’ve exhausted all of its substance. There’s always more there. At first one is tempted to try and summarize what it’s all about, but the deeper one looks, the more one realizes the multitudinous intricacies of those themes and expression. In the film alone it’s easy to overlook the serenely beautiful and quiet moments in the face of the earth-shattering apocalypse, the equally startling rebirth, the oft-infuriating lingering mysteries, and the scenes of shock value (Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka, eg)… Yet moments like Shinji’s SDAT player out of batteries, or Rei holding Gendo’s broken glasses, or Misato’s understated death, or Gendo’s reunion with Yui, or Yui as Eva 01 final elegiac farewell to humanity, add a tender poignancy to the proceedings that don’t rely on overwhelming scale or melodramatic sentimentality.

Ultimately, the deeper I looked into the series, the more I realized the need to analyze myself and why I was affected. After all, the enormous complex of allusions, symbols, and “loldeep” (as some of the more cynical Eva Geeks would say) themes would be meaningless without the passion that drives it and the deep connection that it’s forged with individuals who “get it.” But that “getting” is not an intellectual thing, but rather an emotional one. For those who have never been in a place in their life similar to the characters—that black abyss where, as I said in the above essay, it feels as if shadows are eating away at your soul—then it becomes very easy to disconnect from the series/film and criticize it for wallowing in “juvenile angst with meaningless references to Christian symbols and pop psychology/philosophy”. Those whom have connected with it deeply—some, like myself, so deeply that they’d proclaim it saved/changed their life—have inevitably been those that saw themselves reflected in the characters, who themselves were analogs to Anno’s self, as well as being his means to analyze that self (both patient and psychoanalyst, one might say).

In that sense, it’s always difficult for me to find an appropriate closing for these essays. I feel as if I’ve never said enough, that I’ve either generalized or specialized too much, and that I still haven’t penetrated that singularity infinity within myself that holds the truth of just why this series and film meant so much to me. Yet there’s not much one can do but to keep trying to express that experience through whatever medium one chooses. In that sense, trying to express the reaction one has to art in the form of criticism is little different than the art it criticizes. It’s ultimately just another mirrored cone representing how the truth of experience gets transformed through a medium into something that does, yet never quite perfectly, reflects that truth. Yet such efforts may be all the more truthful because of the lies that truth is covered in. After all, a thing never seems more essentially itself than when it’s contrasted with its opposite, and perhaps that sums up the relationship between art, artists, reality, and the audience’s relationship with all of them as a whole.
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." -- Carl Jung

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #16

Postby Raxivace » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:12 am

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Well, it's about damn time! I don't know if even DA really has any idea just how much Rax and I have written about this series over the years. I had like 8k posts on EvaGeeks before I left, and Rax and I met on the IMDb NGE board. I wish we'd collected much of what we wrote in some digestible format, but as is it's spread out everywhere, and much is lost to the IMDaByss.
The more time that passes on the more I really regret not getting as many of the old IMDb threads properly archived. I'm not sure how many of my own old thoughts about NGE I still stand by (Hell just seeing Kare Kano made me completely rethink how the High School AU stuff in Ep. 26 is being played, to say nothing about how NGE relates to broader trends of mecha anime at the time. Remind me that I need to trick you into watching Ideon at some point, even though its a bad show), but it would be nice to have for the sake of comparison.
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #17

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:46 am

Well, damn, Eva. That was a lot.

I just watched Rebirth (Rax was right, it was a glorified recap, although it cleared absolutely nothing up) and EoE, and I'm still trying to process it. I generally just took Shinji strangling Asuka as him trying to find out if he was outside Instrumentality by seeing whether pain and conflict still existed. I didn't register all that stuff about the hands.

Yeah, my mind is kind of overwhelmed. This whole thing just felt draining. In a good way, I guess. This is kind of the inverse of when I sent you that thing about Fury Road a while back. I sang odes to it, and you said something about how you could see how I felt about it, but it didn't reach you the same way, or something like that. That's how I'm feeling right now with your essays. I'm happy it touched you so deeply, but right now the only thing I'm really feeling is a general diffuse sense of overwhelming-ness.

I mean, I guess a lot of it stems from a lack of understanding of some of the plot mechanics and backstory and so forth, but I think I got most of those, and they seem rather secondary anyway. Kaworu and SEELE's whole deal in episode 24 actually seem rather straightforward in relation to everything else going on. I know in broad strokes what happened, I think, it's just a lot to take in.

Asuka's disembowelment at the hands of the Evas in the movie was just... horrific. Why the fuck did that even happen? Like, narratively speaking? Did I miss something? That actually disturbed me. I didn't even like Asuka very much and I felt depressed by it. Why did the show just immediately take her highest moment away from her? I'm also depressed by Ritsuko's end, it seemed pointlessly ugly. I know those aren't the primary takeaways but whatever.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #18

Postby Raxivace » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:29 pm

Well, just on a plot level they disemboweled her because she was an enemy. Some people even think EVA-02 was beginning to go Berserk like EVA-01 does at the end there, which could have been a problem for the MP-EVA's/SEELE.

Thematically though, one of Asuka's biggest flaws in the series is sense of superiority over others she gained because of being an EVA pilot/retreating from having to connect with others by being an EVA pilot, so I'm not sure a story that ends with her ultimately saving the world by being an EVA pilot would have really worked.

Jimbo might have some more or different thoughts about this.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #19

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:58 pm

^^ "Mind being overwhelmed" is, I think, the typical response to EoE. After my first viewing I sat until the end of the credits (I never do that), stood up, walked to my couch, plopped face down, and stayed there for a good hour-and-a-half. Yeah, the experience is completely draining. You know you've really been through something afterwards, and there's so little art capable of doing that. As for only feeling "overwhelmed" right now but not connecting to my essays, don't worry about it; Kubrick said that "movies are - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later." I think the more overwhelming the experience, perhaps the MORE later all that meaning stuff has to come because it takes a while to process experience into meaning.

I'd definitely agree that the plot mechanics/backstory is more secondary. NGE is first and foremost an allegory, where its narrative is richly symbolic of its themes/meaning, and it was the latter that drove the creation of the show, while all the "mythology" was, if not exactly an afterthought, also never at the forefront. I also think there has to be some level of confusion in order for any work of art to get an audience to that "overwhelmed" place, because if you can perfectly understand everything that's happening then there's no room left for mystery and awe.

Anyway, the confusion about Kaworu and Seele is exactly what their relationship was; what Seele wanted with Kaworu, what Kaworu wanted from them, and how did that contrast with what actually happened. Kaworu is quite surprised when he reaches Terminal Dogma and sees Lilith there; why he's surprised, and why he was even going there in the first place (and whether that's what Seele wanted him to do, whether he betrayed them, or some variation) is nearly impossible to piece together (there's a 20+ page on EvaGeeks of myself and others trying to dissect the issue).

As for Asuka's disembowelment, I don't think I have much to add to what Rax said. One thing perhaps to point out is that we'd already seen Evas go berserk/animalistic back in ep. 19, so EoE was probably just reiterating that by showing how brutal and remorseless the MPEs were. Really, the entire series was about the characters failing; the same thing happened to Shinji back in ep. 16 when he got too cocky, and ended up getting swallowed and traumatized by the shadow Angel. Basically, any time the characters start to get prideful about piloting the Evas, the series is there to slap them with the reality that their piloting is, in itself, just an act of running away.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #20

Postby Derived Absurdity » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:20 pm

Yeah, but her sense of superiority was to cover up her severe inferiority complex. It was clear that piloting the Eva was the only way she took pride in herself, and her insecurity primarily stemmed from her mother not acknowledging her or validating her. Then she realized her mother was watching her all along in the Eva, which gave her the confidence to annihilate nine Evas in three minutes. It just seemed pointlessly mean to let them disembowel her right after.

I guess you're right that having her crowning moment being piloting an Eva wouldn't have made sense, though.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #21

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:22 am

All of EoE is meant to be pretty brutal in general; it is the apocalypse after all. I think more fans get shocked by Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka, while Asuka's disembowelment is more par for the anime course. Even if Asuka hadn't died in the Eva, Shinji would've tanged her along with everyone else in 3rd Impact. On a symbolic level, there was at least a need for her eye and arm being damaged to complete the motif of that happening to every pilot. It's also worth noting that since piloting Evas is essentially returning to the womb, becoming "one" with the Eva is essentially an ego-death anyway since your personality is absorbed (or at least combined) with that of the Eva's soul (the pilots' mothers). I remember I used to quote this from Jung that I thought was a dead-on description of what that the Eva "psychic bond" and Instrumentality is supposed to be like:
"All those who do not wish to deprive themselves of the great treasures that lie buried in the collective psyche will strive by every means possible to maintain their newly won connection with the primal source of life. Identification would seem to be the shortest road to this, for the dissolution of the persona in the collective psyche positively invites one to wed oneself with the abyss and blot out all memory in its embrace. This piece of mysticism is innate in all better men as the 'longing for the mother,' the nostalgia for the source from which we came."
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #22

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:36 am

I guess I'll have to think about it. Anyway, I've seen some more things:

Cold War - a very artistic and sophisticated production. Black and white, 4:3 aspect ratio, historical period piece, sweeping epic romantic drama - you know, you can tell. Very high-minded. The only real break from tradition is that it isn't obnoxiously lengthy. In fact, it's refreshingly rather short. It's edited to within an inch of its life and it leaves in only what the director seems to feel is absolutely essential. It's a dramatization of the story of the director's parents' love affair, or what he imagines of it, cut down to the bare bones. The plot engine of the movie is mostly the off-screen external political turmoil that keeps roiling and churning and pulling the two stars apart and together again, which fits given the title. The title also works on another level, as the film is very distant and emotionally austere. The cinematography is beautiful and crisp but harsh. Everything that happens here seems fleeting and ephemeral, which is probably intentional, as everything moves so quickly and is edited so rapidly, intensifying as the film goes on and the events, paradoxically, get weightier. But it left me fairly unmoved. I think I was supposed to feel, in the end, at least bittersweet, but I didn't really feel anything, because it almost seemed like nothing really happened. The music was by far the strongest emotional thread throughout, and it was my favorite part of the movie. Almost heart-stopping sometimes.

Knives Out - it was fine.

You (season 2) - it was about as silly and entertaining as the first season. I think what happened in the last episode sort of destroyed whatever point it was trying to make in the first season. Or maybe it was trying to make a comment about how men don't accept women having the same flaws as they (men) do, and how men hold women to higher standards than they hold themselves to. Or maybe not. I don't know.

The Boys (season 1) - A show about the evils of corporatism, brought to you by Amazon Prime. It's also about superheroes and the media, sort of, but I think primarily it's about corporatism. In this show, superheroes are real, but they're all a bunch of flaming assholes, and they all basically exist as just marketing gimmicks/brands for one giant evil corporation. Everything about their public personas and images is processed and manufactured, all their rescues are PR stunts, their main jobs are generating media spectacle and sponsors, and so on. The evil corporation's ultimate motive turns out to be remarkably banal for a gigantic comic book megacorp - it just wants to make more money by, essentially, private contracting. The superheroes are basically just celebrities that can conveniently be rented out sometimes as soldiers. This show is basically what the real world would be like if it had superheroes - i.e., not very different at all, they'd just get sucked up and co-opted by the capitalist-militarist-media machine like everything else. It's a cynical outlook, I suppose, but it's, you know, true, so. It's definitely trying to be edgy and subversive and say... something about our superhero-polluted mass culture and the superhero-entertainment complex that currently engulfs us all, although I'm not entirely sure what. I think it's more anti-capitalist/anti-corporatist than specifically anti-superhero. "Capitalism Eats Everything" is a somewhat ironic thesis statement for a show on Amazon Prime, obviously, but the fact that the capitalist-entertainment-media machine co-opts all dissent and digests it and spits it back out is not a novel or ground-breaking observation. In fact, it's an observation made by corporate-produced shows before. I wonder how many levels of controlled opposition that must qualify as.

But it's pretty entertaining and fun, so.

Inception - I don't know. Whatever. It was okay.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #23

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:07 pm

Before Midnight - it was fine. I probably enjoyed it the best of the trilogy, even though it was pretty brutal. The characters are a bit more mature and cynical and less annoying. They still often speak in faux-intellectual lofty worldly "philosophical" screenwriter-speak in casual conversations that seem blatantly scripted and at odds with the movie's naturalistic feel. I realize that some people talk like that, but absolutely no one I have ever encountered in real life does, and it kept distracting me. I do wish more people would be interested in lofty philosophical stuff in their day-to-day lives anyway, and admittedly these two characters are a bit smarter than normal, so I guess it didn't bother me much, especially compared to when they were younger and it just sounded pretentious. But they meet other people here and everyone else always talks that way too. That's not how people talk! Not even those types of people. It was obviously just one guy talking for all of them.

Maybe I'm just not around the right people.

The fight scene was pretty spectacular, I thought. It made Marriage Story's fight scene look like shit. It was far more subtle and less yelly, but it managed to get a lot across, and it had basically three movies' worth of emotional weight behind it. The extended talking scene at the beginning was also good - it wasn't just empty endless blathering like before, but IMO was clearly meant to cover up their deep-seated resentments and true feelings of each other that had been building for the past nine years through endless artificial chatter. Too much quiet would be scary, it would allow a dangerous opening, so shove it down with incessant talking. Kind of a flip to the previous movies... IMO.

But yeah mixed feelings. The dialogue felt theatrical and sort of forced, as always. It wouldn't be a big deal except it clashes with the naturalism of the rest of the movie(s). I wonder what the next one's going to be about. I can't imagine any reconciliation after that, but maybe that's just my condition talking.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #24

Postby Gendo » Mon Jan 20, 2020 5:26 am

I think that's pretty similar to my feeling towards it as well.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #25

Postby Derived Absurdity » Tue Jan 21, 2020 8:01 pm

Undone - a very unique and good 8-episode show on Amazon Prime. It's about a woman who starts seeing visions of her dead father after a car crash who tells her she needs to go back in time and prevent his death. It's basically a trippy scifi show with grounded emotions and realistic character relationships. It uses rotoscope animation, with scenes shot on a bare stage and the actors' movements minutely traced and then superimposed on animated backgrounds, which are often oil paintings. It's very beautiful and usually surreal, and strikes an extremely good midpoint between the expressive freedom animation offers over live action (if this was live action it would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make) and its severe limitations at conveying and rendering emotion. You basically get the best of both worlds with this - all the characters' micro-expressions and tics are rendered in detail here, which obviously lets you connect with them more and makes the show more affecting. The main character is also very likable and charming, at least in my opinion, which helped. It's very good and very short and I recommend it. The only real criticism I have is that it gets bogged down too often in empty science babble in trying to explain what's happening, wasting precious time blathering about enlarged brain vesicles and such. When will people learn that audiences don't care about making this stuff plausible as long as it's compelling?

Unfortunately, the ending was bad. It made the whole thing ambiguous as to whether her visions and experiences were real or were just products of possible schizophrenia, which she may or may not have. Not only is this a kind of boring and cliched question to end a show on, neither answer is satisfying. If she was simply schizophrenic, then nothing we've been seeing through the entire show was real and the whole thing comes dangerously close to depicting as sort-of awesome what is in reality a horrific mental illness. If it was all true, then it just uses schizophrenia as a narrative red herring, which I also think is sort of offensive. Also, she demonstrated multiple times throughout the show that she knew things she couldn't possible know. How can it possibly be just a mental illness, then?

Nevertheless, the journey was good, even if the ending sucked.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) - it was a'ight. I guess it's supposed to be a metaphor for something, but I thought it was just good as a movie.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #26

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:14 am

The Lovely Bones - wow, that was fucking stupid. I think I've seen it before? Idk. It's a piece of shit compared to Heavenly Creatures.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #27

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Jan 23, 2020 3:32 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:Inception - I don't know. Whatever. It was okay.
I wrote a long review for that one back in my Cinelogue days:
https://fpscinema.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/inception/

Derived Absurdity wrote:Before Midnight .
Our opinions on these films seem to be reversed: I liked Before Midnight the least of the trilogy, perhaps in part because I just felt the formula was starting to run out of steam. I also think that it was a bit of a mess tonally. The first film had that busting-at-the-seams youthful energy, the second had that somber, elegiac mood to it; but Midnight just seemed to vacillate between apathy and anger much of the time. Not that I couldn't imagine the relationship developing in that direction, but it still wasn't as compelling as the first two. But, yes, I do agree the fight scene was riveting stuff.

As for the notion that people don't talk like this, I'd say it's not as black-and-white as you make it out. Yes, if you find the right circle of people/friends who are into this stuff (which is not impossibly difficult) then, yeah, the types of conversations had in the Before Trilogy aren't that uncommon. OTOH, it's a bit unbelievable that they would just randomly run into such people that talked that way. Still, I rarely mind films that do this: Godard and Rohmer are rather infamous, early French examples. But even outside of the philosophy talk, I'm generally more a fan of good writing regardless of whether or not it's artificial. I guess it goes back to my notion that all art is, on some levels, artificial, so trying to hide that artifice is, to me, no different than just being honest about it. It's one reason I love the writing in much of classic Hollywood even when it was utterly ridiculous (His Girl Friday being a perfect example; nobody has ever talked like that). The key point, to me, is whether or not it's engaging, not whether it's natural/artificial.

Derived Absurdity wrote:The Lovely Bones - wow, that was fucking stupid. I think I've seen it before? Idk. It's a piece of shit compared to Heavenly Creatures.
You're harder on it than I was. Yes, Heavenly Creatures is much better, but The Lovely Bones, despite its silliness, is still a pretty imaginative film. I think I gave it a 7/10 IIRC.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #28

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jan 23, 2020 8:27 pm

The dialogue in the Before trilogy was only sometimes engaging. Usually it was just cloying and dull. It never felt particularly perceptive or deep or challenging or to me. Except for the fight scene, I wouldn't consider the writing in the trilogy to be particularly good.

I wasn't impressed by the imagination in The Lovely Bones, compared to every other Jackson film I've seen (well, except the Hobbit trilogy). The movie's vision of the afterlife was dumb.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #29

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:00 am

The Birds (1963) - It took like an hour for the birds to start doing anything. I get increasing tension, but come on. Once it actually started, I guess it was fine. It's nice to know that the horror movie tradition of characters being incredibly stupid for no reason stretches back all the way to 1963. It started getting really spooky and intense near the very end, and then it was over.

Not sure what was going on underneath it all, if there was anything. I've heard that the birds represent everything from nuclear war to nature reclaiming itself to biblical plague to female sexual aggression to society's impositions of its standards of morals. Those last two interpretations are the most interesting, although I'm not sure they really work. There was certainly something strange going on with Mitch and his mother, there were blatant Oedipus references, the birds did seem to attack at meaningful moments, and Melanie basically went into sexual ecstasy as she almost died, so there was *something* going on, but idk what. This is the first Hitchcock I've seen btw. I don't know where to go next.

Toy Story 4 (2019) - It was better than Toy Story 3. Had a deeper and more meaningful ending (even if it might not be the ending) and a better message, and the plot was a bit looser and more fun. It was lame how Forky's storyline just petered out halfway and he just became a plot device. In fact he ended up basically just being a gag. They also reused several basic storytelling devices again, and most of the main characters we've known since the beginning, particularly Buzz, were sidelined. Toy Story 2 still happens to be the best Pixar film and one of the best films ever made.

The Faculty (1998) - The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A match-up I didn't know the world needed. Also threw in some very heavy The Thing references. I approve of its pro-drug message. Doing drugs is good.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #30

Postby Lord_Lyndon » Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:47 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:This is the first Hitchcock I've seen btw. I don't know where to go next.


Try Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). I think those are his best.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #31

Postby phe_de » Sun Feb 02, 2020 1:05 am

Lord_Lyndon wrote:
Derived Absurdity wrote:This is the first Hitchcock I've seen btw. I don't know where to go next.


Try Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). I think those are his best.

I preferred "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Strangers on a train". Maybe also "North by Northwest" which was ok mostly because of Cary Grant's performance.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #32

Postby Gendo » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:24 am

I watched several Hitchcock 2 years ago; from my memory North by Northwest stuck with me the most as memorably good.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #33

Postby Raxivace » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:40 am

Rear Window and Vertigo are both better than Man Who Knew Too Much (Both versions), Strangers on a Train, and North by Northwest- of that last bunch, I think Strangers is probably the best.

Biggest problem with North by Northwest is just that there's just not a whole lot going on under the surface, especially compared to other Hitch movies coming out around the same time. Still, its Cary Grant's last outing with Hitchcock and that film's set pieces are iconic for a reason. The other big thing in its favor was that it was basically used as the prototype for the James Bond films (Yes the Bond novels existed too but the movies took a lot from NBNW). Cary Grant was someone who was even considered to play Bond at first but was considered too old by time they got around to making them.

As far as The Birds go I would have to rewatch it to really say anything specific. Haven't seen it since I was in high school.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #34

Postby Derived Absurdity » Tue Feb 04, 2020 5:28 am

Thanks for the recs, guys. Psycho it is!

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #35

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:42 am

Bojack Horseman - it was good. The ending was very fitting. The penultimate episode was probably the best episode of the series.

Chasing Amy - This movie was probably perceived by straight audiences as progressive at the time, and I guess it sort of was, sort of, even though the "lesbian" in the movie serves exclusively as a prop in the clueless nerd bro protagonist's coming-of-age story, and she was quite obviously bisexual, even though apparently she didn't know that and the word "bisexual" is never uttered once and the movie never once alludes to the concept. I'm not sure why. Even in 1997, everyone knew bisexuals existed, or at least they knew of the concept. This movie might be woke and perceptive purely by accident, unintentionally portraying the limits of forcing people into binary boxes of attraction when human sexuality can very often be much more fluid. But Kevin Smith seems to think he really did portray her purely as a lesbian, and even though the movie lampshades the whole "lesbians just need a good dick" thing more than once, how how is making her fall in love with a guy not a portrayal of exactly that? I would think that would be the message this movie's target audience of fellow nerd bros would take from it.

Alyssa's sexuality is ultimately peripheral to the primary conflict, anyway. It centers around Holden's pitiful insecurities about her being more sexually experienced than him, and the fact that he only has a problem when it happens to be with guys just reflects his infantile view of female sexuality.

Event Horizon - Deep space is scary. Hell is scary. Ergo, this movie is scary.

The Ring (2002) - I have to give major kudos to anyone who is able to actually sit through this. I managed an hour. Then I took a nap, put it back on out of a sense of obligation, and aimlessly played around on Twitter until it was over. I tried to pay attention. I really did.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #36

Postby Raxivace » Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:19 am

I think Chasing Amy is like a lot of movies Kevin Smith has made where what initially seemed like some ironic detachment from the events of the story now more just seems like not only just Smith's own world view but a fairly limited one at that. Like I remember thinking when I first saw the movie that Affleck's character was meant to be seen just as an idiot, he's in way over his head with these LGBT issues and let's laugh at how dumb he is bumbling around them, but now a days it seems more like he's just a stand-in for Smith's own confused views and without really enough self-awareness to still make a story about that really work.

I remember being spooked by The Ring as a kid but I dunno what I would think of it now.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #37

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:31 am

Oh yeah Ben Affleck was an idealized stand-in for Kevin Smith. A comic book artist, his dream job, who's lucky enough to work with his best friend from high school. And instead of being a fat dork, he's Ben Affleck, and he literally gets a lesbian to change her preferences just for him. Oh, and his best friend is also attracted to him. Lol. Yeah, Affleck represented Smith.

Apologies for linking to Buzzfeed, but this article on the movie is interesting. Smith is kind of a strange guy.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/amphtml/sh ... ears-later

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #38

Postby Raxivace » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:29 pm

Lol I had completely forgotten about the comic book part. Yeah that makes it pretty obvious.

That's an interesting article. I guess Smith...sort of now gets that he was pretty naive back then? Kind of? He's such a frustrating director because I don't think he's completely talentless or anything, but that guy just seems like he's barely ever tried to grow as either an artist or person throughout his entire career.

His movie Tusk may sort of be an exception just because of how weird the idea of it is, and the execution of that is still pretty bad.
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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #39

Postby Gendo » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:53 pm

I'm the one guy that likes Jersey Girl. Along with almost all Smith stuff.

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Re: 2020 stuff   Reply #40

Postby Derived Absurdity » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:28 am

I sort of liked Dogma.


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