The Null Device

2001/6/24

Yesterday I was at Windsor Station, and noticed that the music in the café in the former stationmaster's office sounded rather familiar; the stereo there was playing one of my favourite discs from some years back, Dead Can Dance's Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (the closing strains of Xavier and the opening of Dawn of the Iconoclast). Then my train rolled in, and for a moment I had a vision that it was not the nondescript Hitachi tin can it was, but something from an earlier era; a great steel locomotive, with one baleful burning eye of a headlamp.

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I rewatched Dark City today on DVD. The visuals and set designs (dig that groovy art deco!) are quite spectacular in places, though with every viewing it seems less like an internally consistent story and more like a stylistic pastiche, referencing films from Metropolis to The City of Lost Children, as well as the entire film noir genre and much of recent scifi. It's not fatally flawed (one can suspend disbelief), but there are a few things which don't quite hold up under scrutiny (i.e., if the Strangers have a group mind, why doesn't each Stranger immediately know what happens to each other of its kin; also, if they can change reality by mental powers alone, why do they need to physically arrange props for their guinea pigs?). Still, for the visual experience, it's worth seeing (especially on DVD or in the cinema).

(I'm rather fond of boldly visual films, and recently noticed that a lot of my favourite directors come from predominantly visual backgrounds. Jeunet and Caro worked on music videos in the 1980s, as did Alex Proyas (though I wouldn't call him a favourite on the strength of one film, and The Crow didn't really seem that special), and Terry Gilliam was, of course, the Monty Python team's resident animator. By that token, I'm really looking forward to Chris Cunningham's take on Neuromancer.)

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Vivendi Universal takes its brand of Pimp-Style Artist Management(SM) online, as its newly-acquired subsidiary MP3.com drops Analog Pussy, one of its most successful acts, and confiscates its CD sales revenue, citing unnamed "suspicious activitles" and refusing to elaborate. The fact that Analog Pussy was (a) successful and (b) already signed to an independent label has suggested to many observers that they were an early victim of a cull of MP3.com artists not useful to Universal's strategic vision.

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So what did I do over the past 24 hours, whilst offline? Well, I

  • Went to see Down Town Brown at Revolver; the show wasn't quite as spectacular as the one a few weeks ago, but was nonetheless enjoyable.
  • found a DVD of Dark City (recently deleted); which I bought mostly for the visuals
  • upgraded my Macintosh to MacOS 9.1, and fixed all the stuff I broke doing so.

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