The masterful short films of Neill Blomkamp and Oats Studios!

Okay so it is Sunday 30 July 2017, and it has been a minute since I posted.

One of the things that has been occupying me (besides today’s POWER and ELEMENTARY marathons):

OATS STUDIOS

I do not like You Tube if I have to go to its web page, for the simple fact I hate its un-moderated comments and ignored idiocy and stupidity. But the YouTube channel on Amazon Fire or Roku is something else. I find it actually useful, and nice to view on my big screen TV. And no un-moderated comments to deal with.

The main thing I go to YouTube for is short films, followed closely by movie trailers.

But for short films YouTube’s Roku or Fire Channel, is a great boon. Giving a stage and platform for filmmakers who would otherwise go undiscovered to develop an audience and a name, through short films that wow you and stay with you far more viscerally than most feature length films can.

That brings us to OATS STUDIOS, a production company created by Neill Blomkamp of DISTRICT 9 and ELYSIUM fame.

I am not a fan of the feature films of Neill Blomkamp, they have wonderful core ideas, but tend to get lost under poor Hollywood casting or unnecessary backstory. However in the short film is where Blomkamp’s OATS STUDIOS shine.

Sporting cutting edge world class visual effects, great actors and performances, and big screen direction the films of OATS STUDIOS are, 30 minute or less, masterpieces of creativity and speculative fiction, of science fiction mixed with war, mixed with horror, mixed with a cautionary mirror tainted with pressing concerns, both moral and material.

 

FIREBASE

RAKKA

ZYGOTE

Those Oat Studio short films form a loose trilogy, united by a common theme of mankind pushed to the brink by powers unearthly. And the films are also united by being superlative and imaginative, and gems of 21st century short films.

FIREBASE (which I have also titled DREAMS OF THE RIVER GOD), the 2nd film released, is a little over 26 minutes, and set in Vietnam War era Vietnam… combines so many mind-blowing concepts, and creates one of the screens memorable creations, in the character of… The River God. I can see this spawning a lot of spin-off short films, set in this universe.

RAKKA, the first film released, moves several decades ahead to a world on the brink of extermination by a threat otherworldly.

and ZYGOTE, the last film released as of this writing, further still in the future, sports one of the most imaginative and horrific monsters since Carpenter’s THING. I like RAKKA but I love FIREBASE and ZYGOTE.

All this to say if you are looking for something to watch, then make it to the Oats Studios site and find the aforementioned films by Neill Blomkamp.

As of this writing they do not yet have a BLURAY up for these films, but I urge them to release one. Quality productions such as this deserve a quality Blu-Ray production with special features and director’s commentary, and not simply the ephemeral availability of websites and streaming.

Today’s Recommended short films!

 

O Tidings of Comfort & Joy! Israel America and Dark Reichs

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

I’m listening to old 70s Soul Cinema trailer clips, and they are cracking me up. The best? This little tag line from Fred Williamson’s BLACK CAESAR…

“This Caesar comes to bury you!”— How Frigging cool is that!I have to pick up that movie on DVD and watch it now. 🙂

God rest ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ our savior
was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan’s power
when we were gone astray.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

The odd thing I find about Christmas, and this supposedly benevolent time of year, one of them, is it is typically the time America ramps up her military strikes against non-christian countries.

“Celebrating Ramadan with your families are you? Well let me drop off my present from Uncle Sam….
this megaton bomb bitches!! Merry Christmas MFers!!!”

I sadistically jest, but the truth is that sadistic without any jesting involved.


From God, our heavenly father,
A blessed angel came.
And unto certain shepherds,
Brought tidings of the same.
How that in Bethlehem was born,
The son of God by name.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

I want to highly recommend a book I had mentioned picking up previously, DIGGING:THE AFRO-AMERICAN SOUL OF AMERICAN CLASSICAL MUSIC by Amiri Baraka.

A compilation of essays covering several decades of this uniquely American art form of Jazz/Blues as only an insider can, it is not only a seminal dissection of the times and the players in the music scene, it is as brilliant a dissection of America the American id and American fallacies as I’ve ever read.

It is an essential book, and is easily my recommended read of 2009.

It is a book on the masters of the medium, Trane, Coleman, Miles, the list goes on, told by someone who knew and played and laughed with them.

It is a book told with an authority, validity by one of not just the world’s preeminent poets but one of the world’s preeminent music lovers, and you’re NEVER going to get that again, EVER. By anyone.

Because those pioneers are all shuffled off this mortal coil, and what is left is the vultures to retrofit their memories and their music. The vultures who would paint Black Gods white.

We are now deep in the age of Sony and Time Warner and American Idol and corporate bs as the end all and be all of music.

Deep in the age of the tail wagging the people.

So the discussion DIGGING engages in, of the music as the gestalt, and the natural by product of the fears, the hopes, the politics, the loves, the controversies, and most of all as a chronicler from an abused mass of Americans not allowed to be Americans, this understanding of music as a call and a component in change, you are NEVER going to see presented from this capitalist controlled society again.

Music to them. the suits, is either a way to sell you something or to divert you from something, but never a way to engage you in something constructive or progressive or enlightening.

So DIGGING, written by this eight decade old LIVER and SURVIVOR and SHAPER of the most turbulent of American Years, I see as absolutely a historic document from day one, and an essential component to understanding what music was, and what it can be again.

You’re looking for a gift to give that music lover in your life? This is the book you give them. His list of recommended CDs alone is worth the price of the book!! I’ve tried some of his recommendations and they are dead on. Highest Recommendation.

“Jazz is the music of Americans who were not allowed to be American.”

To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

I’ve followed the recent rash of removals of Black Mayors, from offices throughout the country, for the most trumped up nonsense with some interest. It is very Jim Crow like, and in the age of Black Newspapers and Black Radio Stations and even Black owned theaters… we would have called this convenient confluence of events what is it… a witch hunt, and a power grab, and a turning back the clock.

We would have called it clearly… injustice, and undemocratic, this usurping of the duly elected representatives of the people, by legal maneuverings of a very few people.

But we no longer live in an age of Black owned anything. Brown vs. Board of Education led the way to that.

Brown vs. BOE while a good case in the micro-level, on the macro-level can clearly be seen for what it is, a defeat cloaked as a victory. Zora Neale Hurston said this decades ago, and she was derided for it by everyone, Blacks as well as Whites.

She ended up dying a broken woman. But she was right, and no one has ever been more right.

“Our victories give them weapons they did not have before”

Separate but Equal, there is nothing wrong with that concept. The problem was the practice. America was never Separate AND Equal. It was alway seperate AND UNEQUAL. Inferior service, inferior representation, inferior choices.

And BROWN vs BOARD rather than treat the root cause of the problem, unequal and unjust allocation of dollars and resources, instead became a model for even more unequal allocation/distribution of resources.

That leads to our present atmosphere of disenfranchised people, devoid of real recourse or representation. With representatives picked off one by one, with not even a real Black owned paper or radio station left .

And you may be saying, I’m not Black why should I care?

You should care because

“what you do to the least, you do to to me”

or

“They came first for the Jews, but I wasn’t a Jew so I said nothing”

or

Because ultimately the crimes they, the robber barons of this… trifling age, get away with in Haiti or Iraq or Palestine or Philadelphia today, they are ultimately perfecting to try on you tomorrow.

Because while I’m fond of terms like Black and White, the truth is that this is a class struggle, between those who want to be, once again, their fathers’ sons and be the masters of men. And they will not let color deter them from your fall. They want the mass of men as slaves or serfs, and each peoples’ fall, from Liberia to Haiti to Iraq to Palestine brings them a step closer… to preparing your fall.

They are greasing America to fail, the agents of Oligarchy, they hope to put to bed, at last, even the lie of liberty.

So that the people, frustrated with services closing, taxes rising, food and water unsafe, quality health unaffordable, cost of living escalating, fear and crime their only constant food, and hunger and pestilence and perversion and death in the air, and America made into Gomorrah… so the people, frustrated, will be ready at last for their nation’s march to terror and totalitarianism.

Will be ready, at last, for America’s fall.

Mistakenly blaming their liberty for their pains, when it was not liberty that failed them, but they that failed their liberty by not killing the leaders that led them to such mire and such madness.

So remember this… rambling of mine from the edge… the next time you hear of a suspicious removal of an elected representative, or of an odd arrest, or a case tried in the press/tv, as many increasingly are.

Because with every broadcast, you are being manipulated closer to that day of your own dark Reich.


Ohhhh,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

What I’m Reading and Listening to

“We love only heroes. Glorious
death in battle. Scaling walls, burning bridges behind us, destroying
all ways back. All retreat. As if
some things were fixed. As if the moon
would come to us each night (&
we could watch
from the battlements). As if
there were anything certain
or lovely
in our lives.”

— excerpt from “THE DEATH OF NICK CHARLES” by Amiri Baraka (available in the great anthology BLACK VOICES)

*************

I have been listening all day to an old time radio program called CRIME CLASSICS. From the 1950s it is absolutely riveting half hour based shows, that dramatize infamous places in history. It dramatizes our crimes. From Lizzie Borden to Billy the Kid to others who I have never heard of. It tells of places deep and dark and devious, that can only accurately be called the human heart. It is brilliantly directed/produced by Elliot Lewis, written by Morton Fine and David Freemen, and captivatingly introduced by Lou Merrill portraying Thomas Hyland and performed by some of the best radio actors of the day, from Paul Frees to William Conrad to Bill Johnstone.

I don’t know how to sell someone on audio dramas, anymore than I know how to sell someone on reading. To me it’s analogous to having to sell someone on breathing or sex. It is something people should be, of their own volition, racing toward… racing to do, racing to consume.

Audio dramas, the best of them, are such a pure medium. Such an interactive one, while still being a completely solid vision/narrative.

And Old Time Radio is a very reflective medium, it can teach, by that distance of time, of old oaths that we have turned our back on, and old follies that we have embraced.

I highly recommend this show. And you can find it here. I recommend getting it quickly as the shows have a tendency to disappear as greedy corporations and venal lawyers and their lobbying… erodes the concept of Public Domain… erodes the concept of The Public. It is a great show. Enjoy.

****************

“His name is…

Will it ever come to me? There is a grand lapse of memory that may be the only thing to save us from ultimate horror. Perhaps they know the truth who preach the passing of one life into another, vowing that between a certain death and a certain birth there is an interval in which an old name is forgotten before a new one is learned. And to remember the name of a former life is to begin the backward slide into that great blackness in which all names have their source, becoming incarnate in a succession of bodies like numberless verses of an infinite scripture.

To find that you have had so many names is to lose the claim to any one of them. To gain the memory of so many lives is to lose them all.”
—From Thomas Ligotti’s GRIMSCRIBE short story collection

I find Ligotti an acquired taste. I’ve read several of the stories in GRIMSCRIBE in his more comprehensive collection, THE SHADOW AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, and I wasn’t particularly taken by them there. I thought the GRIMSCRIBE selections were the weakest part of THE SHADOW AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD (an uneven, but worth having anthology, because the stories that do work, four come to mind, are worth the price of admission). But I found the above excerpt from Ligotti’s introduction to GRIMSCRIBE quite compelling.

********************

“Formal business has certainly decayed in the city centre, with empty shops, boarded-up office blocks. Maybe a Black guy will buy a shop and start selling pap, the local food, but there’s been no boom of Black businesses- prices are still high, and because of the Group Areas Act it’s mainly Asians who own the shops and warehouses. There are plenty of traders and hawkers in the streets now, ladies doing other ladies’ hair for money and services like that. There are big working-class taxi ranks because the public transport is so bad. But the general economic trend is very clear: the rich have got richer and the poor poorer. Under the ANC, South Africa has now surpassed Brazil as the most unequal country in the world. According to Statistics South Africa, the average African household has got 19 percent poorer in the past five years, and the average White household 15 percent richer.”
—Trevor Ngwane discussing the current conditions of South Africa, from Tom Mertes’ A MOVEMENT OF MOVEMENTS.