The Dead Don’t Die, 2019 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

With a tone so droll that the title might refer to the deadpan and dry wit rather than the dead themselves, whose remains remain, if not six feet in the ground, a background and laggardly creeping threat, less frightening and less urgent (especially considering their stereotypical lack of speed) than the film’s real horror, catastrophic climate change. Far more terrifying and deadly than the undead, anthropogenic climate change is simultaneously slower than the lurching ghouls (what Tim Morton calls a “hyperobject” that only reveals itself inchmeal) yet more imminent and grave, the rise of zombies from their crypts here figured as a secondary symptom of the underlying disaster. Of course, climate change itself is a secondary symptom of a deeper social ill, the zombie-like nature of postmodern consumerist existence under the object injunction of late capitalism—a sociological point that Jarmusch, in the grand tradition of Romero, drives home in the film’s final moments, when a character described early on as a ghost who abandoned ordinary civilization comments in whispered tones upon the spectral lives at hand. By frequently breaking the fourth wall and drawing out a sense not of doom but of droning, the message seems to be that so long as everyday people merely follow the script handed to them, then (as we’re reminded time again) things really aren’t going to end well.

Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

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Annotated Bookshelf: $urplus

Kordela, A. Kiarina. $urplus: Spinoza, Lacan. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.

For long stretches a difficult and demanding text—yet necessarily laborious, contributing to the broader ontological argument about what Kordela describes as “secular causality,” a form of non-foundationalist, non-teleological reasoning that finds its origin in Spinoza and culmination in Lacan, wherein the effect (the surplus, supernumerary element) retroactively is posited as its own cause: In reading this book, I have gained knowledge; therefore (so the logic goes) I was seeking and drawn to knowledge all along. Following Spinoza (or, more specifically, Marx’s Spinoza; or better again still: Lacan’s Marx’s Spinoza), Kordela grounds her articulation of an immanent causality of transference on the former’s central claim that “truth is the standard both of itself and of the false,” illustrating how Spinoza’s monism breaks with Platonic dualities, including that between the (active) beginning and the (passive) end. Modeling her claim not on linearity but topologically on the Möbius strip, Kordela utlimately contends that ‘‘[o]nly through the logic of immanent causality and transferential knowledge can we understand the mechanisms through which capital and its Other produce a subjectivity that sustains them—precondition also to undermine them’’ (87).

This post is one entry in an ongoing annotated bibliography of my bookshelf. If it’s useful to any person other than myself, all the better.

The Ambulance, 1990 – ★★★½ [Movie Log]

Part kitschy Stephen King horror novel from the mid-80s and part 70s-style paranoid thriller, you can always count on a Cohen film like this one to embrace the unusual: Rich characters where you least expect them, offbeat performances from otherwise familiar faces, strange genre combinations, unpredictable and enigmatic narrative convolutions. His work may never have been particularly stylish (Eric Roberts’ mullet should get top billing here) or subtle, but it always was singular and surprising in an interesting way.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Society, 1989 – ★★★★ [Movie Log]

Shocking without being surprising, don’t let the simplicity of the satire fool you: Considering the corrupt corporeality of the final scene, that the class allegory is somewhat heavy-handed and on-the-nose seems practically to be the point; for what is the grotesquery of a stomach-churning orgy compared to the grotesquery of the rich?

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

The Stuff, 1985 – ★★★½ [Movie Log]

For Lacanians—and yes, I can already hear the groans—there is a distinction to draw between objects of desire (objet a, McGuffins) and objects of drive, which Zizek defines as an embodiment of enjoyment. No doubt, the titular “Stuff” fits the latter description, an “extraordinary protuberances” bubbling up from the earth itself—whether or not it is extraterrestrial or some chthonic entity is never made clear—“whose growth cannot be stopped,” indestructible and threatening like the (similarly face-hugging) libidinal Xenomorph. In this way, The Stuff is a irresistible metaphor for Reaganite consumerism, the acephalic impulse of late capitalism to consume and be consumed, death being the only option (as death is the only drive).

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan

Q, 1982 – ★★★ [Movie Log]

The movie itself is as much a queer chimera as Quetzalcoatl, an inscrutable hybrid part sublime and part horrible, winged and wonderfully weird—or perhaps the ‘Q’ in the title stands not for the god-monster, for ‘Quinn,’ the part-time crook, aspiring jazz musician played by Moriarty in a performance that is only better for being so batty.

Note: Listen, I watch more than my fair share of movies. They are as often incredible examples of ideology and political economy as they are works of world-expanding art. At best, they are thought-provoking, and at worst, they are mediocre entertainment (especially when they fall into that uncanny valley of “so awful it’s fun”). Since I generally write up a few quick thoughts for each movie I watch, and in the interest of making public more of my thinking and writing processes, I figured that I might as well post the occasional review to this blog as well as to my Letterboxd/Rotten Tomatoes accounts.

Via Letterboxd – Jake Cowan