Friday, April 2, 2010


What do we think about this?


kamapuaa said...

Even robots have manic pixie dream girls.

Litcube said...

Just finished the whole thing. Pretty good film, excellent production values.

I'd like the know the story behind it, who produced it, why, what budget, to what end.

Lungclops said...

Maybe I'm reading too much gender politics into it, but this film sort of rankled my chancre. The hero is another in fairly recent line of neutered nonentity dudes with nothing to offer but their boring devotion. It's a mirror image to the knight rescuing the damsel. Here, our dudebot still rescues the femmebot, but only ex post facto, because he's utterly ineffectual. All he can offer is parts. And his donations aren't real sacrifices: the milquetoast actually enjoys dismembering himself! The final sacrifice isn't even bittersweet for this masochist. He's achieved his goal: a state of total dependence on his beloved. The final image recalls a mother emerging from the hospital with her newborn. Robopus Rex, much? This sick deluded fuck is no better than an angler fish.

Lungclops said...

THAT SAID, I enjoyed the depressing little world Jonze made here.

Fugu said...

I found this movie insulting to librarians. Also pretty mundane. It's like Avatar: What's the point in translating something into science fiction if it's not going to add anything essential to the story? I guess this could help bridge the gap between indie movie lovers and the sci-fi freaks, but do we really want that?

Panic you'll probably hate me for this, but Lungclops' argument is the same problem I had with Let the Right One In.

Galspanic said...

It's funny you should say that, as I found the relationship in this to be very dweeby, whereas I found Let the Right One In to be very powerful. I found the male character in LTROI to be very caged by the antagonistic forces around him, whereas this male character lives in a self imposed prison, and that makes me annoyed.

I can see where you are coming from, but I don't think it's the same relationship. You're more than welcome to have that viewpoint though, no matter how wrong you might be.

Mr. Pony said...

I liked this movie. I was tired and feeling blue when I saw it a couple of nights ago, and I thought it was only going to be a couple of minutes long, and I was pleasantly surprised when it kept turning out not to be and I was still interested.

As far as I can tell, this movie was paid for by Absolut Vodka; a project similar (probably) to A Vodka Movie.

Lungclops, Galspanic; I think you're right, this robot isn't a positive role model, but I do think his actions are a reasonable metaphor of real, actual human behaviors that one sees in the actual humans around one. The hero of a story is not always heroic. Thus, I found it interesting, and thought/emotion-provoking.

Fugu, I disagree with you on two counts. One, the idea that you shouldn't set your story in a sci-fi world unless you're telling a "sci-fi" story really seems unreasonable to me. Most stories are about people. I guess the possible exception is a certain subset of sci-fi stories which over-focus on some neat bit of gadgetry, but I hardly think you should have to be writing Snow Crash to put a virtual world in your story. Setting is more often about relocating the metaphor so the audience doesn't get defensive before taking in the message of the story.

Second, I think a robot donating body parts to another robot was kind of essential to the story, you madman.

Lungclops said...

I don't expect or want every fictional hero to be a role model, but we're clearly meant to see this as a sweet love story, and not much else. There's nothing to indicate that we're supposed to critically examine this relationship. Maybe that's the real heart of this film's error: a story that takes a more neutral or critical angle on a robot with the personality of an angler fish would have been smarter, not to mention less saccharine. Perhaps that would have simply been weird. But as a shallow tale of soul mating, it's unintentionally revealing of the writer's own oedipal/wuss predilections. Cover thyself, dude, no one wants to see that.

Mr. Pony said...

I don't think any of us saw it as a sweet love story; shouldn't that count for something? I'd have a hard time debating the filmmaker's intentions, but just because the events weren't accompanied by ominous music doesn't mean we have to see the story as an advertisement for that type of behavior.

I realize that it's a stretch to say that the filmmaker was subverting the language of filmmaking by showing us something lame and then pretending to try and make us feel good about it. But wouldn't that be interesting? Maybe I'm being too charitable with this movie (wouldn't be the first time) but I think I watch movies more for the experience, and less to be taught a lesson.

Heeero said...

Couldn't even make it through the trailer...for some reason, I couldn't get a frame rate faster than 5. I'll pass.

Fugu said...

Pony, you're right on the first point. Of course not every science fiction tale has to be about the technology. I guess what I meant to say was that the addition of robots felt hackneyed and unoriginal, in the same way that Avatar feels like Dances with Wolves with the Photoshop Blue Alien Filter ™ applied to it with nothing else of substance to make it his own.

I'm sure this isn't fair, and I did just see LTROI, and I'm sure Mr. Jonze is a wonderful man, but it's just my impression.

Unfortunately, your second point is the same as your first point. Also, I never specifically mentioned the donation of robot parts thing, so I'm sensing that you are again being deliberately outrageous to further your own nefarious goals. But since you mentioned it, sure:

I would argue that this is not at all essential to the story. Your own central point is that the story is about the people and not the technology, right? So then the donating of robot parts is just a plot device, and it could have/has been handled a dozen different ways without altering the actual story in any significant way. If this was filmed with people instead of robots, and instead of donating robot parts he donated his organs/fortune/children/soul/ —> isn't this the same story?

Lungclops said...

It's not an advertisement for that type of behavior, but it thoughtlessly presents it as sweet and romantic. How is one able to determine this without the aid of ominous music? Several indicators present themselves to careful viewers. The dudebot's life is depicted as bleak and empty before pixiebot enters. The femmebot precipitates a number of Pinocchio moments for the dudebot--she's humanizing him, which we're clearly meant to see as unmitigatedly positive. She inspires him to dream. DREAM, for god's sake--that gigantic cliche alone should clue us in that this storyline will not be terribly nuanced. And what does he dream of? How awesome it would be to dismember himself for her (there's probably sweet music playing in the background here, but I don't feel like checking).

There's plenty more to back my ass up, but whatevs. As I said, I liked the world and I liked the tone. I don't even object to the plot, just the way it's handled. If this thing isn't trying to be sweet, how come I feel so icky?

Hey, know what'd be funny? A third act where the femmebot grows to resent the needy dudebot-head living in her apartment. Resentment grows to hate, and she proceeds to torture him with a string of meaningless coaxial couplings. Still, the dudebot adores her. Then one night, femmebot doesn't come home from work. The phone is ringing. She's clearly been in another stupid accident. We zoom in on the dudebot's head, its face straining to make itself move. Exeunt. LLLLLOOOOLLLL!

Mr. Pony said...

Fugu, I would say this: Your argument as written could apply to just about any genre film ever made. I know you're not advocating setting every single movie in a timeless white room so I'll just unoutrageously repeat what I said before: Setting (especially sci-fi and fantasy setting) is more often about relocating the metaphor (making it alien, and thus bypassing normal defenses) so the audience doesn't get defensive ("is this about me? fuck you!") before taking in the message of the story. ("ooooooOOooo. This was about me! Inneresting!"

However: If my first point was correct, and you think my first point was the same as my second point, then isn't my second point also correct? And didn't we both just do a lot of typing for nothing?

Mr. Pony said...

Lungclops: Yeah, you're probably right about Jonez' intention. Is this the difference between you and me: You see this movie, object to the robot's behavior, and become angry at Jonez. I see this movie, object to the robot's behavior, clap for Jonez' accurate portrayal of human behavior, then become angry at/feel pity for humanity.


Galspanic said...

"Clops's last 'graph FTMFW.

I wonder why Fugu brought up Avatar so many times in this argume-discussion?

Fugu said...

Right. I guess I should have said, "your second point sounds like it is the opposite of your first point."

But that's cool.

Fugu said...

Err, I brought it up twice because I thought it prudent to stick with the same example. That's all, really. And yeah, Clops: now there's a movie I would like to experience and/or learn from! How about the same treatment for Welcome to the Dollhouse...

Lungclops said...

Pony, I think the main difference is that I get angry at art I don't like, and you don't. I recognize this as a vice, but I enjoy it too much to give it up. Hate sustains me. Also, I think you're more forgiving of junk writing, as long as the visual and other technical elements are handled well. Me, I thought Blade Runner basically sucked until they removed that voiceover.

I'm not angry with I'm Here because it accurately portrays human foibles. I don't think there are all that many instances of pure altruistic love out there. My main objection has more to do with what I see as a trendy faux-naif story aesthetic, which feeds into the whole neutered male gender crap I've already ranted about. It's all a lie and a pose, so it annoys me.

Lungclops said...

Wait, Fugu, are you saying that Welcome to the Dollhouse isn't already mean and corrosive enough?

Fugu said...

Well, since you put it that way. I guess my problem with that one was that making the audience feel gross and unpleasant was the whole point of the movie, and that felt gimmicky to me.

Interesting that you bring up the art analogy. I had this conversation with Pony the other night (I don't think we were drunk this time), and I said something like I was tired of tragic and depressing art; that this seemed like a cop-out, akin to sensationalism and hackery. I guess I see these movies the same way. I'm probably just projecting my own dislike for a specific type of banality but it's hard for me to see the point of making something like this, let alone enjoying the experience of watching it.

Mr. Pony said...

Fugu, I guess I just make a distinction between a story and the metaphors and settings used to tell that story, and that an author should have all possible metaphors and settings available. For example, I think we can all agree that Young Guns II is a movie about friendship, not just friendship in the Old West. Limiting genre to stories specifically addressing that genre seems odd, and persnickety. Sometimes you need to go to strange places to find the right metaphor. I don't think you can just substitute a child or a soul (or even an organ) for a robot body part, and be making the same exact point. (And wouldn't the donation of a soul pull the story into Fantasy, which I assume you'd shield from "regular" fiction as energetically as you'd shield Sci-fi?)

In fact, your point here is so bizarre, I suspect it is you being intentionally outrageous in this situation!

Galspanic said...

Has anyone here seen Cold Souls? Is it worth seeing? (he typed, intentionally derailing the thread to dodge Fuge's incoming outrageous response.)

Fugu said...

I'm Outraged! Well, no. But Pony, you seem to be obsessing on things we already agree on, and I’m not sure why.

I said, "Pony, you're right on the first point. Of course not every science fiction tale has to be about the technology." So why do you keep obsessing on that point? What is your problem, Pony! I went on to clarify that the movie “seemed like a cop-out, akin to sensationalism and hackery.” Why don’t you comment on that instead of old news?

For the other bit: I think we’re straying into a conflict of semantics. Instead of being bizarre and outrageous, maybe we’re just not understanding each other.

How about those Joseph Campbell universal myth stories: I’ve been calling them stories. I guess you call them universal myth metaphors, so that’s fine if it makes you happy, since it’s completely asinine to harp on this point. So they’re universal because they’re told in various cultures and settings with all sorts of filters applied on top of them, but the underlying story/metaphor is ultimately the same. Hey! On this it seems that we perfectly agree!

I deeply and humbly apologize if this confusion started because I used story instead of metaphor, and I'm sure that obsessing on this is by no means odd and persnickety.

Litcube said...

I’ve noticed a terrifying pattern in Mr. Pony’s argument with Fu, and also in Fu’s argument with Mr. Pony. They’re both mistranslating each other, maybe. I’m not sure they’re doing this intentionally just to fill posts with words, or make them sound more interesting (which succeeds!), or perhaps because they know each other in real life, they’re reading things that I couldn’t possibly absorb. Or maybe I’m making this whole thing up. In my head.

For example:

Mr. Pony: “One, the idea that you shouldn't set your story in a sci-fi world unless you're telling a "sci-fi" story really seems unreasonable to me.”

That’s not actually what he said. He actually said, “What's the point in translating something into science fiction if it's not going to add anything essential to the story?”

Those are two different things. But then! Then! Fugu accepts the challenge and goes on to dispute Mr. Pony!

Fu: “Pony, you're right on the first point.”

Or not. I guess he totally agreed with Mr. Pony. But then Fugu continues to argue his first point, the one he first tried to make. The one Mr. Pony is arguing.

Fu: “Unfortunately, your second point is the same as your first point.”

It totally wasn’t though, on account of the fact that Fu might be unaware that Mr. Pony is arguing a mistranslated point made by Fu initially, wherein he makes a claim that genre should be additive, and Pony claims Fu is claiming that genre should be telling a story about it’s own genre (i.e. “..sci-fi story..”).

After this post, I’m pretty sure that I don’t know what they continue to argue about. I agree with Fu that a genre should add. What “add” constitutes is totally relative, and maybe I would have liked to see more energy behind this fact in this debate. Granted, it was covered by Mr. Pony on the “second point”, but by this time, we’re all speaking two different languages. I also agree that robots in this case constitutes an “add” to the genre. Organs, sure, that would have worked, I guess, Fu. So does robots, though, for serious. Just as effectively.

So while I totally agree with Fu! I also totally agree with Mr. Pony! And also about what ‘Clops said about the alternate ending! He is funny; ‘Clops.

Mr. Pony said...

So you guys don't think Young Guns II was about friendship?

Lungclops said...

Young Guns II is friendship.

Mr. Pony said...

Also, I agree with Litcube; there's a crossed wire or two, here, and all three of them are mine.

Fugu, your Original Point: "What's the point in translating something into science fiction if it's not going to add anything essential to the story?" I agree with the essence of this point, to an extent, but I think I'm getting overly hung up on (and persnickety about) your application of this point.

(I think the fact that they are robots is essential to the story, and I don't think I can defend this point better than by mis-quoting you:

"If this was filmed with people instead of robots, and instead of donating robot parts he donated his organs/fortune/children/soul/ —> isn't this TOTALLY NOT AT ALL the same story?")

So: In error, I re-interpreted your Original Point based on your application of it. If you're against these characters being robots; and you're also against the girl in Let the Right One In being what she is, (I think both facts add quite a bit to both stories) then I falsely assumed you must subscribe to a very strong version of your Original Point, in which every story must take place in the present day, in the town you live in, unless that story is Matrix: Revolutions.

I realize now that this was kind of uncool, assuming that your Original Point was insane (and in need of attack), and I'm sorry that in my misunderstanding, I took this so far off the rails.

Galspanic said...

I don't think Fufu was against the girl in LTROI so much as the male protagonist's relationship with the girl. I think he was aggrieved by the way the male in the relationship is sort of this subservient ineffectual dweeby type, that falls for the first interesting thing to come along his way, which happens to be a vampire The protagonist (I'll call him Oskar) can't help but be excited by this different creature, and becomes the loyal, loving thrall of the vampire.

That's the way I think Fugu is seeing the story, and if I saw the story that way, I probably would be annoyed with it as well. (I see it differently, but that's not the point.) I think the female character is neither here or there in relation to Fugu's argument with...well whoever it is that Fugu is arguing with. ( I kind of lost track what with all the angry penises being jabbed in everyone's eyes.)

I agree with Litcube, but not about his second point, which I believe to be a misinterpretation of something Odori said in another post (which I can't find right now.)
Mostly I think 'Clops is kinda hot, but I'm staying out of this.

Fugu said...

Have you always read my posts like I'm an insane, crazy person? Because that would explain a lot in regards to previous conversations on this blong.

Litcube: Thanks for shutting us up, ref.

Panic: Re LTROI--Yeeeeah it's the relationship that angers me. But in a interesting and exciting way that still makes me like the damn movie.

Galspanic said...

When I'm not 100% positive who you are addressing in your first graph it makes me doubt your sanity a little, Fufu.

But only a little.

Like maybe an inch. Five centimeters tops.

Mr. Pony said...

Fugu: I do have a tendency to pick up where we leave off. Sorry.

odori said...

So great we're back at it again! Love you guys.

First, I too love Lungclops' third act. Would dramatically improve the movie.

Second, am I the only one who wonders what gender the robot becomes ones she receives all her boyfriend's parts? Is she a woman? Man? I suppose transgendered.

Lungclops said...

I was wondering that as well. But then I remembered the sex scene: their genitals are located in their heads. She still has a female socket, and he still has a male.

Galspanic said...

That was kind of my favorite scene, just for the simplicity of it.