This poster broke two or three days ago. It went right by me until a friend asked “whaddaya think?” What I think is that until today I hadn’t imagined how nuts Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! (Paramount, 10,13) might be. Obviously a good thing. Directed and written by Aronofsky; costarring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Harris and Kristen Wiig.
Late this afternoon I submitted to Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Carne y Arena, a six-and-a-half-minute virtual reality trip that simulates with all-encompassing realism what Mexican immigrants often go through while attempting to cross the United States border in the Southwestern desert region. It was my first virtual-reality-plus experience (not just sight and sound but a realistic vibe and an atmosphere that I was walking around in barefoot), and I was so knocked out I’m returning next week for a second go-round.
I took off my shoes and socks, strolled into a red-lighted sound stage with a floor covered in sand, put on a virtual reality backpack and headset and…bing, there I was. Or there it all was. The headset screen was circular and not CinemaScope-like as I’d expected, but I was suddenly standing in the pre-dawn desert amid the sloping mounds and cactus and slightly damp morning air. Then a small group of immigrants, led by a “coyote”, approached in the semi-darkness.
A few seconds later an overhead chopper approached, and then a blinding light hit my eyes. Border guards pulled up in a pair of SUVs, shouting and aiming their weapons and telling me to get the fuck down on my knees. I put my hands up and dropped to the ground, looking around and behind and all over. Then I got back up and started roaming around in a crouched combat position, feeling like Charlie Sheen or Willem Dafoe in Platoon. Then I got yelled at again: “Down on your knees…hit the ground…now!”
In short, within seconds I had forgotten the tech aspects and fallen into the reality of it. It wasn’t a viewing experience — it was a being experience. You can do a 360 any time to see what’s happening here or there. There were dozens of things I could have done including (I assume) challenge the guards and tell them to back off or say “yo…my personal hotspot isn’t working…do you know where I can find a reasonably decent wifi signal?” Mostly I crouched and watched and just took it all in. I was half-expecting to get shot at any moment. Which would have actually been cool, especially if the VR assistant had punched me in the chest at the exact moment the muzzle flash appeared.
Carne y Arena is an all-CG creation but sourced from actual footage with real actors. It was easily the most immersive, head-turning viewing I’ve ever sampled, tasted, felt and touched. And yet it also delivered in emotional terms, prompting me to feel compassion for immigrants all over. So yes, I now know a little bit about what it’s like to go through something like this for real. I felt intimidated, fearful. But I have to say that I simply loved the primal juice of it. I especially liked walking around that big desert sandbox barefoot.
Carne y Arena director Alejandro G. Inarritu, inside viewing hangar at the Cannes Mandelieu Airport — Thursday, 5.19, 3:35 pm.
Roger Ailes, the founder and chairman of Fox News from the mid ’90s to his resignation over sexual harassment allegations last July, has passed at age 77. I’m not sorry. If I was still drinking I’d be popping a magnum of champagne right now. I’m sure he was regarded as a nice guy by some, but what is that in the greater scheme?
When I heard the news my reaction was “good…a fundamentally evil guy is no more.” As the architect and maestro behind Fox News, Ailes promoted a daily dose of distorted rightwing talking points and malicious ignorance across the land, which struck a chord among millions of dumb-as-a-fencepost rurals and old white guys and their wives. He made rightwing bullshit into a highly profitable brand, and energized the dumbshits like nobody before or since. Right now he’s roasting on a spit in the hottest cavern in hell. For Ailes was a liar and the father of America’s political toxicity for 20 years. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on, but cheers to the gallant steed that carried him out.
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