The first lasers were measured in “Gillettes”. A laser beam that could punch through a single Gillette razor blade in one second was a one-Gillette razor; a beam that could burn through two in one second was a two-Gillette razor; and so on. Think about it: The guys who came up with what became one of the most versatile innovations of the technological age at first had no real idea what to do with it, so they pointed it at razor blades and burned holes in them.
Primer is about the same sort of impulse: Two brainy guys invent something really astonishing in their garage, have no real idea how it works, and before they’ve even shown it to anyone or understood the principles behind it, they’re using it to milk millions out of the stock market. Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) have day jobs working for big companies, but at night they hobnob over circuit boards and signal testers, and dream of scraping together serious venture capital to work on something a little more ambitious than just homebrew plug-in cards for PCs. They’ve been working on simplifying an existing design to perform room-temperature superconductive levitation, or something.Read more
I could not tell you, offhand, how many teenaged girls in Korea prostitute themselves. I would hope it’s not endemic. I doubt it is, but that doesn’t make the events in Samaria any less troubling. It deals with two young Seoul girls who have made a pact to travel to Europe together, and who have chosen to raise the money to do so by selling their bodies. This is not the whole of the story, however, but simply the jumping-off point: the majority of the movie is about what happens when one of their fathers, a policeman, discovers what has been going on and is forced to confront his own willful passivity.
Samaria (or Samaritan Girl) is one of the more recent films from Korean director Ki-duk Kim (3-iron), who’s made a name for himself in his homeland by creating some of their most confrontational films. This is saying something, given that most Korean movies seem to always have an edge of confrontation to them, and often contain material that would be unthinkable in most mainstream cinema. I admired Kim’s earlier movie The Isle, even while I found its subject matter extremely hard to take. Samaria is not quite as lurid in its subject matter or details, but it is heartbreaking and troubling, and I’m sure that’s exactly why he made it.Read more
If you weren’t “there,” or so goes the conventional wisdom about turning points in the history of popular culture, there’s just no way to convey what it was like to be “there.” “There” could be Woodstock, or the last time Buddy Holly performed live, or, yes, the first time the Sex Pistols took to the stage and confused an audience of about forty people — about half of whom would go on to become some of the most influential figures in modern popular music.
That said, many people have gone on record to record what it was like to be there, and question many of its dogmas. One of my favorite examples is Lester Bangs’s hilarious and trenchant critical writings about popular music, in which he did everything from burst the Elvis bubble to bring Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane to the ears of many who’d never heard a single note of jazz. In a way, if you weren’t there, it was even better: you could stand apart from the hype and listen to someone who was similarly skeptical of it, and determine what really mattered. Read more