Friday, April 3, 2015

Scarlett on Acid

Alert the media: it's a film review in Limboland!

I just watched an hour and a half of Scarlett on acid and wow...what a trip. Fuck the labels. This film is such a giant blendo of labels known and unknown that the standard critical habit of assigning a genre, or style, or attempting to pigeonhole it in any other way will doubtlessly fall short. Like it's own "brain without borders" theme, the film blows up reality, for real, and unreality for just as real, with a seamless combination of the natural and the supernatural, the physical and the spiritual, the known and the unknown, and ultimately the capacity of the human brain to comprehend infinity. Best of all, it's solid camp: daring to be so ridiculous that if the idea of infinite knowledge is too out there, there's plenty of shoot 'em up to compensate for it. Not to mention, Scarlett as Lucy, which is also the name of the oldest known Australopithecus, forbearer of humans, is just as super yummy as always, even with a fat (or should I say "fatter") lip.  And though she acts like she's on acid she's actually on something much stronger: the essence of cell growth, a crystallized distilled magic compound that powers the fetus to grow bones, develop organs and ultimately become human. It is super scary shit.

You gotta at least give Luc Besson and his wife Virginie Silla a hearty pat on the family rump for even attempting to depict what might happen if humans - not just any human, but Scarlett, oh Scarlett - could use the 90% of the brain that is dormant. We might conclude that Besson believes that if the human was made in God’s image, then a human brain that is completely utilized is, in a word, God. Not God-like, but God, attested to by Scarlett’s post-nirvana text message: “I am everywhere.” It is a very juicy hypothesis - Zen mind incarnate - and the husband wife writer/producer team of Bresson and Silla are to be commended for taking a crack at it. The special effects and visuals throughout the film conjure the best of all possible acid trips, and if an Imax 3D version comes out, a little pull on the Kool-Aid tank might be advised.

At the same time the film tries to depict the possibility of the infinite mind - surely one of the heavier topics one might tackle (hence Morgan Freeman) - it weaves in an unbelievably predictable and downright camp plot the splatters so much blood around that it sometimes looks like a food fight with a ketchup squeezer. I suppose you can’t just make a film about what might happen if humans were able to use dormant brain cells without throwing in some crap that demonstrates exactly what humans, especially filmmakers, are doing with the brain cells in use: lots of gratuitous violence, drug smuggling, ruthless killers and car histrionics (but not nearly enough sex for a Scarlett movie). There were so many obvious holes in the good guy/bad guy plot that it really does become a silly, sometimes fun and sometimes flat out stupid sideshow compared to what’s happening to Scarlett’s brain. At times I wondered if Bresson hadn’t planned it that way, just to juxtapose the profundity of his hypothesis with the banality of Hollywood entertainment.

Whether purposeful or not, the film is such a wild jumble of contradictions, metaphors, analogies,
proclamations, hypotheses and theories that you can’t help but feel a little tripped out just watching it.  The segments at the beginning that juxtaposes images of a little African antelope getting run down and munched by a leopard against Scarlett (Lucy) getting captured by Asian drug goons serves as a warning to the audience not to take what they’re about to see too literally. And while the viewing experience is mostly pleasurable (hard not to be with SJ scampering around in stilettos and tube skirts), it’s the profound questions it tees up about the origins and evolution of the universe - things you think about after the curtain falls - that make it worthwhile, even if it doesn’t quite fulfill the promise of the opening and closing lines:

“Life was given to us billions of years ago. And look what we've done with it.”

Next: images of chaos, crowds, urban decay, war, atrocity etc. etc.

Then, at the end:
“Life was given to us billions of years ago. Now we know what to do with it.”

And it’s all on a flash drive in Morgan Freeman’s lab coat. Can’t wait for the sequel.

I got 'yer Hack right here...

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