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11.21.2007

GALACTICA RAZOR

Galactica: Razor
Directed by Felix Alcala
Written by Michael Taylor








Frak me if the postapocalyptic sturm and drang of Ronald Moore's Battlestar rejig isn't still the seismic motherlode of current longform sci-fic TV
- - - as opposed to shortform sci-fic TV, which is what Doctor Who is, which is every bit as grand so far. Nowhere near series best, though,this recursive, supersized episode flashing back to the brutal goings-on aboard the Battlestar Pegasus under Admiral Helena Cain's watch means to hinge everything so far - - - the new signposts to where Earth is, New Caprica, the Baltar trial, the four new unmasked Cylons, the return of Kara Thrace and the repercussions of what she brought back with her, that Bob Dylan song and what it means- - - with its looming final leg and is so vigorously co-dependent on at least the last two seasons that it has no autonomy as a piece, is so of a piece , really, that rookies to the mythos - - -essentially a spacebound Book of Exodus but so much more than that - - - should back off and boot up with the pilot, suck in that aura of haggard doom then work their way here before all the backstories and foreshadowings and reveals start to pack brunt and bristle.

The choir of geeks it preaches to, though, is bound to shudder with glee - - -at what was going on between Cain and the Number 6 she had on board, at the old school Cylons and what they're guarding, at the eleventh hour revelation that darkens everything to come. It isn't so much the severity of the sociopolitical mirror this new Galactica holds up to the world as we know it post-911 but the way interpersonal dynamics mutate under such conditions that resonate more with me- - - less the space opera than the space soap opera. Cain has one line epitomizing her venomous temperament that somehow nails, too, what the show, at its core, is ultimately about: “Sometimes we have to do things that we never thought we were capable of, if only to show the enemy our will. When you can be this for as long as you have to be, then you’re a razor. This war is forcing us all to become razors. If we don’t, we don’t survive, and then we don’t have the luxury of becoming simply human again." * * *

11.17.2007

BRINGING UP BABY

Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Directed by Howard Hawks
Written by Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde







Hooks you purely on its lunatic velocity, also, it's irrevocably funny, because, let's face it, there's no one here to hang on to, no one to root for, no one to like. Not Katherine Hepburn's sassy monster and the kindling she makes of Cary Grant's spineless paleontologist. Nor the gaggle of loopy, batshit kooks that populate this snowball of ruckus. The leopard, maybe. A chaos mechanism full of grace,here is where Hawks' command of the frame gets truly masterful, propelled by nothing more than the anarchic glee with which he works that exquisite dissonance the auteur in him was always savvy at. With not a beat out of synch and not a hair out of place and with no let-up and no coming up for air: calamity physics on 11. There's a line about the love impulse showing up in times of conflict not meant to be throwaway but could misrepresent that cozy rom-com veneer this Kane of screwball has accrued over time to be more than what it is, a veneer. Grant's upright scientist flouncing around in a nightgown or scrabbling about for bones in the wild makes obvious that this is the anatomy of a breakdown, rather, a man broken down by a woman he loathes. But much as Hawks' odd couplings always had the never-ending war between genders as
fulcrum and also happily ending in armistice, he has no pat truce for the crackpot and the nerd here, no. Their misadventures reform neither the pushover he is nor the dominatrix she is and when they fall into each other's arms as a brontosaurus skeleton crumbles below them, after she browbeats him into submitting to her love, you just know their relationship is doomed.