Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Frederico Gastaldi's Petite Bourgeois Revolution


Frederico Gastaldi was in the My Petite Bourgeois Revolution art show recently at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto. He does fabulous conceptual work with bold shapes and striking colours. I asked him a few quick questions in the wake of the show...



What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?
Definitely the composition and the concept. I like how an illustration, once finished, is very different compared to the initial idea I had.


What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?Editorial and advertising primarily.

Why did you chose the First World Problem you did? Well-being is too badly distributed. I am worried that this gap will continue to increase.



What statement do you want to make with your work?
Whatever statement comes to mind of those who see my work.

We often build on the backs of giants. I know I try to, and I've been influenced by the Constructivists, Symbolists, and Bauhaus. What artists and / or art movements inform / inspire your work? There are many artists and art movements that influence me. My favourite painters are Bo Bartlett, Edward Hopper and William Turner.

If you could cross the world to see the work of one compelling creator and visit their studio (anytime, anyplace), which one would you chose?
I guess Paul Gauguin's studio.

Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Take it easy!

What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
I'm working with some American and German clients, and preparing a personal illustrated book.



Check out more of his work here.








Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Robb Mirsky's Petite Bourgeois Revolution


The awesome Robb Mirsky participated recently in the My Petite Bourgeois Revolution show at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto. 

I asked him a few questions in the wake of the revolution, about art, his razor sharp indie-comix edge, and inspiration:

What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?
Usually i think about composition first. I like to try to find something simple yet captivating and sort of work from there. I don’t really have any one set way of doing things, so i let it fester in my brain a bit before heading to paper. I can usually see some form of what i want in my head before i really start getting down to the nitty gritty, and i just try to emulate that.

What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?
For the most part i create comics (which can be found in the printed books, Read More Comix), but i also make a lot of band posters for local shows and bands around Toronto. I’m primarily working within commercial and advertising with a low brow/indepedant twist.

Why did you chose the First World Problem you did?
I chose the First World Problem I did because I am constantly inundated with (as I’m sure the rest of you are too) people who blindly walk the streets, staring at their phone screens, acting like zombies. I find it infuriating, but also hilarious how far humanity has slid that we can barely handle interactions that don’t have to do with our personal technology. 

We often build on the backs of giants. I know I try to, and I've been influenced by the Constructivists, Symbolists, and Bauhaus. What artists and / or art movements inform / inspire your work?
For the most part, i find a lot of inspiration from independent comics artists of the past like R. Crumb, Basil Wolverton, Dan Clowes, and the list goes on. I stare at their panels and just soak in the composition choices and the details like line work and shading; really nerd stuff! I also grew up with a lot of custom car culture in my face (yet i know very little about cars…), and the work of people like Ed “Big Daddy” Roth really bent my mind with things like gross out art, and zany colour choices.

Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Do it cuz you love it. Do it for yourself. Spend years toiling in obscurity. Don’t expect anything from anyone else. Never settle. Always keep pushing. Keep striving to make better art than the last thing you did. NEVER STOP.

What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
Currently I’m working on a few different comic projects for Read More Comix, as well as a couple show posters, beer labels for a small brewer, a shirt design, and as always filling sketchbooks with wacky sketches that i can pull ideas from later.


Check out more of his stuff at www.robbmirsky.com, on Instagram at @mirsktoons, or through his comics collective:  www.readmorecomix.com.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Chiara Dattola's Petite Bourgeois Revolution

Chiara Dattola was in the My Petite Bourgeois Revolution art show recently at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto. Her vibrant work channels Milton Glaser and Paul Klee in a kaleidoscope of colour. She's recently been in 3x3 magazine, and can be found on Instagram here.



Give her work a gander, you'll thank yourself for it!

I asked Chiara some puzzlers after the show:

What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?
Concept is always top of my mind when I start creating. But the second aspect I can't understimate is composition. I always rely on my instinct.

What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?
Currently, editorial and fine art.
Dams, Billion-dollar dams are making water
shortages, not solving them – Internazionale magazine
Why did you chose the First World Problem you did?
“Time” is the most important thing we have in our life.

The rise of an oligarchical elite that threatens to undermine free, flat, fair markets and establish a new feudalism is a concern for many. What real issue are you most concerned about in the world today? What fires your jets and gets your blood pressure up?
I think that the capitalistic system and, in general, an oligarchical elite is interested in keeping most of the people ignorant and isolated.
Can Facebook really create a global
community? Internazionale magazine
The more ignorant and isolated we are, the more unaware we are: we are unaware how much  time we lose everyday (in order to possess unnecessary things), and how we are becoming slaves to this system.

I'm really worried about this. But the thing that gets my blood pressure up is looking at the people and seeing that they are mostly disinterested in their own life, their own care. They believe the most important thing is to have money. 
Allergies – Internazionale
magazine

I really feel an outcast in this contemporary world.

What statement do you want to make with your work?
I would really say to everyone: “Know yourself and be strong and be happy: don't waste your time.”

We often build on the backs of giants. I know I try to, and I've been influenced by the Constructivists, Symbolists, and Bauhaus. What artists and / or art movements inform / inspire your work?

I think I've been influenced by Fauvism, Folk art in general, Naif art, Precisionism, Charles Sheeler in particular, and I love primitive art.

L'homme sous la mer –
Revue XXI online
If you could cross the world to see the work of one compelling creator and visit their studio (anytime, anyplace), which one would you chose?
David Hockney, because I'm studying his process of creation. I'm really excited because I have the opportunity to go to Beaubourg, Paris, to visit his retrospective.

Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Feel free to explore, and be happy doing that. At first.

Stay strong and be careful.

Double page spread from the children's book “Les Petites Plan├Ętes”, Les Editions du Ricochet

What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
I'm working on different projects, but I'm going to start my first graphic novel, and then look for a publisher.

Dutch dna – Internazionale magazine
Check out more of her work at her website.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Xiao Hua Yang's Petite Bourgeois Revolution

Xiao Hua Yang was one of the fantastic artists who participated in the My Petite Bourgeois Revolution show at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto recently. His work feels like the product of Symbolism meeting the wondrous Lorenzo Mattotti.



What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?

The aspect that fascinates me the most is how convenient our lives have become thanks to some of the great inventions out there lately, but as we are benefiting from them, we are also more or less getting too dependant on them, which contradicts the idea of having those inventions at the first place. Having this in mind, I wanted to comment and make fun of a common struggle of ours.

What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?

Mostly editorial work. I like working with texts and stories because I get to experience something brand new each time when assigned a new project. All I need to do is to focus on the story and find a way to get the author's idea across in a visual way.

Why did you choose the First World Problem you did?
It's one of my daily struggles to keep my battery alive so that I feel connected to the rest of the world. I'd assume people are having the same struggle too.

What statement do you want to make with your work?
First of all, it's just a friendly reminder. Secondly, I am hoping that people would actually give it a second thought.

Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Keep working hard

What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
I am working on a personal project right now. It's a story in which two smaller stories intertwine together as one. A story about hunting and being hunted and a story about chasing and being chased. It sounds a bit complicated, but it's actually not that complex. Here, I am hoping to explore the relationships between people and leave an open space for the viewers to participate and experience too.

Xiao let me get a sneak peek at his personal project, and the pieces are gorgeous. Rich, sumptuous and eerie imagery.




You can find Xiaohua Yang at his website, yxhart.me, and on instagram: @dawnwatch. Check it out!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Matthew Daley's Petite Bourgeois Revolution

Illustration maestro Matthew Daley (Shiny Pliers) recently participated in the My Petite Bourgeois Revolution art show at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto.

His work is graphic, joyfully colorful and narrative. He's making a modern Canadian pictogram language through illustration, Saul Bass crossed with Tetris. Yes, he does both comics and great infographics.



I caught up with him after the show and peppered him with questions:

1) What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?
Concept is what usually comes first and I flesh it out from there. Everything else comes with a certain amount of fine tuning and trial and error. I kind of love seeing how things come together and how the end result might differ from what I originally envisioned or sketched.

2) What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?
My work is usually of the editorial/commercial variety.

2) Why did you chose the First World Problem you did?
I chose "Short Turn" because short turning or rerouted street cars have been the bane of my existence since moving to the East End. Since most events I partake in happen in either the West End or City core, there's nothing more frustrating than having to get off a streetcar while partway through a long trip home and waiting for the next one to show up or to have to deal with shuttle buses.



4) What statement do you want to make with your work?
That all Kaiju is awesome and worthy of love.

5) We often build on the backs of giants. I know I try to, and I've been influenced by the Constructivists, Symbolists, and Bauhaus. What artists and / or art movements inform / inspire your work?
My main inspiration over the past decade has been mid-20th century illustration and design, particularly the work of James Flora or Mary Blair. I’m also heavily influenced by the playful mayhem of the Dadaists and the aesthetic of Eiji Tsuburaya’s incredible monster designs in Godzilla movies and Ultraman episodes.

6) If you could cross the world to see the work of one compelling creator and visit their studio (anytime, anyplace), which one would you chose? French children’s book illustrator, Olivier Douzou.

7) Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Keep having fun. Getting started is frustrating and it may take ages to get to a point where you’re professionally satisfied, but that’s all part of the struggle.

8) What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
I’m presently plugging away at a Kaiju design a day for “Kaijuly 2017” which I’m showcasing on my tumblr page and on Instagram.

Find me online at www.shinypliers.com






Thursday, 13 July 2017

My Petite Bourgeois Revolution: Robert John Paterson

My Petite Bourgeois Revolution was held at Northern Contemporary Gallery in Toronto in May. We had a fantastic selection of artists for the show, including the inimitable Robert John Paterson.

His work is Constructivist design savvy crossed with Pop-Art fun, driven by sharp wit. And perhaps the ghost of the legendary Saul Bass.


I asked him some questions about his work, the show, and the future:

1) What's top of mind when your create? Composition, concept, craft, anatomy, color? What aspect fascinates you most?

Concept is always first and foremost. I lean more design than fine art, if something isn't done for a reason I really have a hard time investing. I feel the idea should be whats on display, and my illustration is more or less the vehicle to communicate it. When the illustration looks pretty that's a win win, but to me if the concept doesn't work no amount of polish can save it.

2) What kind of work do you usually do? Commercial, editorial, advertising, fashion, fine art?
I feel like I'm a mix of editorial and advertising. I do a lot of film and band posters, as well as magazine and online editorial work. I did my first book cover earlier this year and I loved it, to me its was pretty much a combination of those two fields. Concept heavy but still had to be bold and attention grabbing.



2) Why did you chose the First World Problem you did?
Mine was critique of the snacking habits of the first world, I wouldn't say its unique to the privileged because many lower income families have a similar if not worse sugar and super sized portion based diets. My piece was a diptych with a hand too big too fit into a Pringles can on one side, and a cookie too big to fit in the glass of milk on the other.

3) The rise of an oligarchical elite that threatens to undermine free, flat, fair markets and establish a new feudalism is a concern for many. What real issue are you most concerned about in the world today? What fires your jets and gets your blood pressure up?
Diet is a very scary issue to me. Its so easy to eat conveniently and the long term side effects of many harmful ingredients and food preparation practices are soooo long term most people (even experts) have no idea how we will be effected later in life.

4) What statement do you want to make with your work?

Statement is a tricky word. It sounds so defined and ridged. I'm more of a have you thought about this kind of person. People can be so strict in their politics, religion, opinions and criticisms. I don't make things to change anyone's mind or get everyone to think like me. More of a hey did you notice this or thought about this side of a subject approach.

5) We often build on the backs of giants. I know I try to, and I've been influenced by the Constructivists, Symbolists, and Bauhaus. What artists and / or art movements inform / inspire your work?
Big fan of 1960s Graphic Design, heavily influenced by Sal Bass and Milton Glaser.


6) If you could cross the world to see the work of one compelling creator and visit their studio (anytime, anyplace), which one would you chose?
No one specific but I would like to spend time in Europe and study typesetting and printmaking with more traditional tools and masters. I screen print my work here in Toronto, but other than pulling the screen my process is computer heavy. Would love to learn and work more traditionally.

7) Any advice for new artists, starting out in today's market?
Networking. Build relationships with people outside the digital world. Instagram popular doesnt always mean real world popular. Go to shows and make friends, build a scene rather than a following.

8) What are you working on now? What’s your next big challenge?
No big plan, lots of little ones. Working with some bands and short commissions. I feel like lots of smaller steps are more beneficial for me to keep getting experience and developing my illustrative voice rather than a few big ones each year.

You can see more of his work here.

And it's available on Etsy! I've always wanted a Crystal Lake Camp Counsellor badge...


Monday, 5 June 2017

Review: The Girl with all the Gifts (Spoilers)

Cute kid. Too bad she eats brains.
This is one of the better zombie films I've seen. 

Based on the book by M. R. Carey (who also wrote the film adaptation) and directed by Colm McCarthy, it's clever, has decent characters, a good story, and for me, even better, logic behind the zombie infection.

Quelle surprise!

The fundamental problem most zombie movies have is that they lose steam after the initial outbreak. This one doesn't. In fact, it starts long after, and delves into the cause: here, the zombies are just a stage in the life cycle of a fungus. Which is awesome! It adds another layer to the tired genre and gives the film somewhere to go.

The Walking Dead is frustrating because it deliberately avoids explaining anything. Without cause, there can be no solution. No cure to find, no change down the road, no next stage, nothing. Just endless repetition: characters find a promising new haven, find snake in the grass (The mayor is crazy! They're performing medical experiments! They're cannibals! Etcetera), everything goes to hell, and they set off in search of a new haven. Repeat ad nauseam.

And that's it.

Zombies become background noise. There's no satiating our curiosity. It's about survival and people struggling with the 'real' threat: other humans. How trite. In addition, I find the characters badly conceived, and often act more out of plot necessity. Game of Thrones does character so much better. No one else seems to notice this, so what do I know?


In Girl with all the Gifts, we're presented with new and old paradigms. The second stage infected, babies who ate their way out of their infected mother's wombs, are able to think and function like normal people, but are also consumed with lust for living flesh.

They are contrasted against the surviving humans, who are unable to live with the fungus (actually based on a real fungus that infects ants and compels them to climb up to the top of the forest canopy where the fungus can spore).

The main character, Melanie (played by the fabulous Sennia Nanua) is one such kick-ass, womb-eating fungus-kid. And she's sympathetic, particularly when contrasted against the soulless scientist Caroline Caldwell, played by Glenn Close, who callously wants to harvest poor Melanie's brain. Oh, clever! She too is hungry for braaaains!

Zombie fungus-girl Melanie is loved by her teacher, Miss Empathy, played by Gemma Arterton. Her character has a name, I think (Strawberry Fields?), but she's better remembered by her function: making us feel sympathy for the fungus-zombie-girl Melanie.

She's responsible for teaching fungus-kids in an underground bunker, before Glenn dices their brains. All part of the experiment.

The base is soon overrun by mindless first stage fungus-zombies, and only a small team escapes: Doc Coldwell, Miss Empathy, Sargent Gruff Nuts, zombie-fungus girl, and a few disposable soldiers.

Things go from bad to worse as the team is whittled down.

Eventually, they discover a field lab / bunker and some feral zombie-fungus kids.



At the end of the film, Melanie is given a choice: sacrifice herself to save humanity, or condemn the remaining humans and endorse her own fungus-kid kind.

She makes the latter choice, and declines to allow her brain to be used to create a vaccine for the remaining humans (or to sacrifice one of the feral fungus kids in her stead), and sets fire to The Great Fungus Tree, which will spread spores across the world and bring about the end of Humanity Classic.

The only human left is Empathy Lady, who was left unconscious in the sealed field lab when the tree went up. Unfortunately, she'll starve to death fairly soon, because everything outside the lab is now contaminated with fungus spores, including the water.

Fungus-humanity is going to have to start all over again. Only they go into blood lust frenzy whenever they get hungry. Forget Snickers: these guys eat each other.

Peachy.



Glenn Close's far less sympathetic than Melanie, with whom we're supposed to empathize. And Miss Empathy hates Glenn, who once played a character who boiled a bunny. I don't think that's coincidence in casting.

But look at the actions of Melanie: she ruthlessly beats to death another child to establish pack dominance, and save her friends. So she's willing to kill a child to save her own.

How's that different from the doctor / scientist?

The Girl also decides, on her own, to exterminate humanity. Talk about making an executive decision. That's the neatest trick of the film: to get us on side with our own elimination.

The result? A world of feral, cannibal children who go into blood frenzy when they're hungry and have no other food sources.

Good luck with that.

And the kids have no technology. At all. No knowledge of social theory, hydraulics, sanitation, combustion, anything. There's only one tutor on the planet for all the zombie kids. And she's gonna be dead soon.

Well done, Melanie!



Pro-fungus-zombie propaganda at its best.

Give it a watch.





Friday, 26 May 2017

My Petite Bourgeois Revolution Show Statement(s)

"Art is a powerful language and one that many listen to. Art has always been political, and often on the side of those with less power. As the political imperatives have become secondary in people’s lives, perhaps as a result of our more comfortable existence, we may have forgotten how vital the political role of art is." 


– Daron Acemoglu, author of 'Why Nations Fail'

"What have the Romans ever done for us?” 
– Reg, The Life of Brian

Revolution is cool.

Isn’t it time the bourgeois got in on the action and had a revolutionary brand they could call their own?
True, blood sports, public hangings, cruel punishments, arbitrary taxation and debtor’s prisons are all things of the past. We’ve upgraded to Ultimate Fighting, Fyre Festival, slow WiFi, the CRA and student loans. 

Oppression just isn’t what it once was. Where’s that boot stomping on the human face forever?

But that doesn’t mean we can’t complain.

So join me and rise up, bourgeois masses, you have nothing to lose but your socialized medicine, modern dentistry, welfare, labour laws, unemployment insurance, public infrastructure (schools, transit, hospitals, community centres, sanitation systems, fire stations, libraries and more), subsidized housing, open markets, social mobility, rule of law and Maple syrup!

Okay, actually I think Maple syrup would be safe.


-----

That's the boiled down, cheeky version of my mini-statement for the show. 

Below is my long tedious rationale... It's not as interesting as what Daron had to say. Read at your own risk! it's mostly a collection of facts. I should have massaged it more into a narrative... ah, well. Wishes and dreams.




"(The bourgeois) has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian Pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals…” — Karl Marx

As Bobos in Paradise, we can lose sight of how much we have to celebrate in the West, and Toronto in particular. 

We're the benefactors of centuries of social, political, scientific, and cultural progress.

In 1620, for example, virtually all countries endorsed judicial torture. By 1850, the last major European nation abolished it. In Canada today, it's unthinkable.

Robbing a rabbit warren was a capital offense in England as recently as 1822, along with 221 other capital offenses. Between Jesus and the 20th century, 19 million people are estimated to have been executed for such trivial offenses. 

Yet by 1861 there were only four capital offences in England, and today, of the 53 extant European nations, only Russia and Belarus still carry out capital punishment for ordinary crimes.

Slavery was abolished by Britain in 1833 and in the United States at the end of the American Civil War. Lincolns reforms were sabotaged by his successor, but change could not be suppressed forever and a hundred years later saw the Civil Rights Movement emerge.

Once upon a time, towns would stage public executions for entertainment. Small children would attend. People would watch and laugh as animals were 'singed, roasted, and carbonized' alive, or revel in watching wild animals tear each other apart. Now we have PETA protesting the President of the United States slapping at a fly.

Blood sports, public hangings, cruel punishments, and debtor’s prisons, once common, are all long gone.

Political murder as a means of power transition has been subverted by the innovation of open elections, and separation of powers keeps ambitious leaders in check by pitting them against each other, and off the back of the masses.

The British First Reform Act of 1832 saw the extension of voting rights from 8 percent to 16 percent of the adult male population. The Second Reform Act of 1867 saw the total electorate double, and working-class voters become majorities in urban constituencies. Landowners could no longer control elections. Secret ballots were introduced, and the Third Reform Act of 1884 saw the electorate double once more, to 60 percent of the adult male population. The Representation of the People Act of 1918 gave the vote to all males over twenty-one and all females over thirty who were taxpayers or married to taxpayers, and in 1928 women received the vote on the same terms as men. 

Property qualifications for Parliament were done away with, members were paid so tradesmen could participate, and equal constituencies were created.

Circles of trust have expanded, from family to tribe to nation to multinational, multiethnic states, in which full rights are extended to all citizens. From the Humanitarian Revolution that saw the abolition of torture and slavery to the Rights Revolution, society has become more inclusive. 

Universal education was introduced, free of charge for all citizens, in 1891.

Rates have violence have also plummeted and our society is safer than ever. The incidence of rape has fallen 80 percent since 1973. Homicide rates have halved.

Technology has also facilitated greater connection and healthier lives. 

In the 1700s, cotton was a luxury item. The masses wore scratchy, uncomfortable animal hair fabrics. Now cotton is the norm. The innovation of soap, made of soda ash and vegetable fat, has also had a largely unheralded impact on our lives: from two baths a year in 1800 to regular bathing, its helped us our society become less odorous.

Communication with our loved ones around the globe is instantaneous now and travel is faster and more accessible to the average person. Death rates from transoceanic travel are minuscule, unless you fly United Airlines.

Socialized medicine, modern dentistry, welfare, labour laws, unemployment insurance, public education & infrastructure such as community centres, public sanitation facilities, fire stations and libraries; class action law suits, subsidized housing, open markets, the availability of fresh fruit year round, and the rule of law make Canada more livable and lovable than most places in human history. 

Progress may be gradual, but it is progress nevertheless. Every now and then we should take a moment to remember how far we have come, and how much we have to preserve and be grateful for.

Our institutions in Canada are strong and worth not just maintaining, but improving upon. 

Revolutions are appealing in the heat of indignation, but they also have the nasty habit of inject psychopathic personalities directly into the highest echelons of power by stripping away all civilizing aspects of our hieirarchial system, removing the necessity of glad-handing and baby kissing, and making the system vulnerable to hijacking by the ruthless and depraved. 

The show is up until June 5th. Check it out. It's one of the things to do in Toronto. So says Carpe Diem.

FEATURING:

Adam Corns
Adam Niklewicz
Alex Westgate
Alison Garnett
Andrew Foerster
Ben Ruby
Chiara Dattola
Chris Valentine
Cinta Arribas
Dan Page
Daria Kirpach
Emily May Rose
Fatinha Ramos
Felix Witholz
Fiona Smyth
Francesco Poroli
Frederico Gastaldi
Grace Heejung Kim
Jackie Lee
James Turner
James Yang
Marco Melgrati
Marike le Roux
Matthew Daley
Paul Bateman
Robert John Paterson
Robb Mirsky
Sean Richman
Suharu Ogawa
Tad Michalak
Veronica Grech
Xiaohua Yang
Yo Az

Monday, 22 May 2017

Alien: Covenant Review (Spoilers)

There's a bug on my windshield. 
The first thing I wrote on this blog, five years ago, was a review of Prometheus. You can see it here.

Now, the sequel is out. So this is a nice little bookend for my movie reviewing career.

Prometheus was a very flawed yet intensely interesting, batshit insane film.

Covenant is less flawed, but also less interesting.

Instead of following up on questions raised by its predecessor ('Why do they hate us?'), Covenant wastes time rehashing Alien tropes. That's entirely understandable, it's a franchise, after all, but damn it's tedious.

The xenomorph is not even the real monster in this movie.

The film begins with David (Michael Fassbender) being brought online by the uncredited Guy Pierce as the inventor and corporate CEO Weyland.

David's a little cheeky from the start, pointing out to his master how he will not die but his creator will. That doesn't sit well with Weyland, who sourly orders David to pour him tea.

Know your place, android!

This dynamic, the subordination of David to an inferior human master, sets in motion events that will eventually have dreadful consequences. Eventually, when opportunity presents, he takes a pointer from Milton's Satan and decides to rule in Hell instead of serve in Heaven.

"Don't do it, Day-vey!"

David's a flat out psychopath, devoid of empathy and capable of lying and even murdering without hesitation or remorse. Untrustworthy, manipulative, and the ultimate user, he betrays and dissects those he claims to love. Shaw, who helped reattach David's disembodied head, gets turned into a horrific medical experiment for her trouble.

Honestly, with friends like David, who needs enemies?

He's an immortal android version of Hannibal Lector mashed up with Victor von Frankenstein. Or Josef Mengele.

He just doesn't eat people with a nice glass of Chianti.

At the heart of this is the question: if we create superior beings, would they not resent serving inferior masters? Ridley Scott explored much the same question in the classic Blade Runner. Do we really need to revisit it here?

Psychopathy, a Cluster B Type personality disorder, is linked to a lack of parental love and care during childhood.

That fits Davey to a T. Weyland just didn't wuv lil' ol' Davey.

From Weyland's tea room we skip ahead several decades to the colony ship Covenant, headed towards a distant planet. The crew picks up a signal, a John Denver song, from a nearby planet and decide to investigate.

Bad decision.

Straight out of Galaxy Quest ('Is there air???'), the crew step out on the surface without space helmets or breathing gear and are promptly infected by black goo. Proto-aliens start popping out and wreaking havoc and their lander naturally blows up.

A mysterious figure (David, naturally) appears and drives off the alien critters, then leads the surviving crew to his nifty Necropolis. It seems the planet was recently inhabited, and the corpses of the former population are strewn all over the place, contorted in positions of agony, like plaster casts from Pompeii, scorched black.

David claims they died thanks to an accidental release of a toxic payload. Then their ship crashed, killing Shaw.

Everything he says is, naturally, a lie, but as an android servant everyone believes him.

Because of course they do.

Fassbender gets some interesting scenes with himself (even a kiss!), as David plays against Walter, the colony ship's newer version of the same model of android. David even spends a couple minutes of screen time teaching Walter how to play the flute; this scene is more interesting than anything involving Giger's monster.

Walter's just like David, only incapable of creation. Seems humans found David too unnerving, too human and creepy, and put restrictions on subsequent models. A wise decision, as David reveals to his brother android that he not only wiped out the alien civilization on the planet deliberately, but murdered Shaw, whom he professed to love.

Hey, it's Data versus Lore!

Haven't seen that before.

There's a nice call out to Arnold Bocklin's Isle of the Dead, which is almost exactly duplicated in the dead city's garden. Oddly enough, there's a Giger based version of the original painting:

Giger does Bocklin
The colony ship captain catches David making gooey-gooey eyes at an alien who's just decaptiated one of his crew. Dead-captain-walking shoots the monster dead, upsetting David, who then reveals to the hapless colony ship captain his genetic experiments: alien eggs. But he reassures the captain they are totally harmless.

I wouldn't even buy 'mostly harmless'.

'What are they waiting for?' asks the idiot captain. 'Mother,' replies David. Yeah, there's the sexual subtext of the Alien franchise spelled out for ya in a spot of on the nose dialogue. The captain's immediately impregnated, and before you can say 'boo' a tiny alien bursts out of his chest and starts hunting down his fellow colonists.

The alien grows on air, apparently, because five minutes later this thing is six feet tall. It doesn't even eat the people it kills, it just grows, creating mass out of thin air. I think that's a more impressive scientific feat than just about anything else in the movie.

We're treated to a nightmarish romp through Frankenstein's castle, as crew members succumb one after another to Giger's boney black terror.

The ship in orbit sends down their cargo lifter to rescue the survivors, who try and escape from David's clutches.

One of them has, of course, also been impregnated with an alien egg.

So why's David doing this? Seems he's eager to create the ultimate life form, but he needs subjects for his experiments. When he learns there are 2000 frozen colonists and 1000 embryos in orbit, he practically squeals with glee.

Walter, the good android, naturally tries to stop Bad David. They have a super powered android on android fight, and the camera cuts away from the climax. Who wins? We don't know.

But of course, we do: David does, and takes Walter's place.

Daniels, the requisite Alien franchise kick ass female hero, is a blank. She doesn't get developed much beyond being competent and wanting to build a log cabin, and that point is only there so she can have the horrific realization as she's put to sleep in her cryotube that it's David standing before her and not Walter (who knew her cabin story).

In fact, the only people the movie really fleshes out are not people. The android David is the anti-hero, and Walter a pale, do-gooding reflection.

The ending is bleak, with the doomed crew in cryosleep, heading off to their original destination, only this time as fodder for David's experiments. 'I'm afraid it's medical experiments for the lot of yea.' What, are they all Catholic?

None of them will survive.

But they're all idiots, so you can't feel too bad. As the best and brightest mankind has to offer, you expect a bit more from them than the franchise will allow. In fact, the lesser Alien movies all depend on stupid characters to move the plot forward.

If people acted in a competent fashion, if they even just followed quarantine protocols, the xenomorph 'ultimate life form' would get nowhere.

And the reveal that David is behind the xenomorph, while interesting, takes away from the grand, terrifying scale of the universe. Everything winds up being about us, created by us, or influenced by us, whether directly or indirectly.

It's like Star Wars, a galaxy where everyone is related.

Complaining about David's antics, however, is pointless as it is at the core of the film, the theme Ridley Scott is most interested in: the betrayal of humanity by our own creations. And David von Frankenstein is the most interesting character.

All the Alien stuff, all the humans, are just a distraction from what Scott's really interested in: the children of our minds. The rest? Just there to satisfy the requirements of the franchise and the studio and the box office.

I'd prefer it if Ridley Scott went completely off the plantation and abandoned the whole xenomorph thing, as it's just not interesting anymore. There's so much more they could do with this universe. Why limit the franchise to just one nasty alien? There could be a limitless number of scary aliens out there in space, a great graveyard of dead civilizations and the horrors that wiped them out.

Prometheus took some incoherent stabs at expanding the premise with the engineers and their goo. It'd be great if they let some of the top sci-fi writers today throw out ideas to expand upon the premise of horror in space.

The black goo is 'revealed' as a kind of schizoid bioweapon that either disintegrates outright or alters DNA and converts the infected organism into a killing machine.

Why David would see these killing machines as the ultimate form of life is beyond me. The alien in the film seems to have little in the way of curiosity or personality, so what about it does he find fascinating? It's just a parasite.

What an awesome shot. Ridley Scott has visual flair, as always.
David states flat out he wants to stop humanity, so that's part of his motivation for making xenomorphs. But the black goop is damn good at wiping out whole planets. Dropping one cargo load of it wiped out a far more advanced civilization, so why not just dump a canister or two on earth? Why do you even need to refine it further?

And since the engineer's world had a ton of black goo dropped on it, you'd think there'd be plenty of bioweapon altered critters running around. Only there are none, just a few eggs that David developed, and he needs hosts for them. What kind of perfect life form is so hobbled? If they are so wondrous, why are they so dependent on human hosts?

Why are they all dead?

If they die off after their target is destroyed, how are they superior? They're not only utterly dependent, they're too stupid to know that completely eliminating their food (and womb) source will spell their own destruction.

Whoops.

Some superior form of life.

They're even more short sighted than humanity.

And what happened to the engineers? Why do they have, seemingly, Stone Age technology, when they're piloting star ships?

Who know? Who cares?

The dead alien world was fascinating. The Necropolis was cool. The Bocklin garden eerie. But I'm not really invested beyond that. The characters, especially the humans, are bland and forgettable.

Except for the cowboy hat. It had personality!

What if Shaw's story had continued, and she found that the civilization of the engineers long dead? Why did the engineers need a bioweapon, anyway? Who, or what, were they fighting?

Colony ship blues. From Spacewrecks by Alistair Crowley
The whole thing reminds me of picture book Spacewrecks.

That was fun.

This film? Mostly an uneven, if gorgeous, Alien rehash.

Take it or leave it.

Much like this review.







Friday, 19 May 2017

My Petite Bourgeois Revolution Opening

It went well. Check it out at Northern Contemporary Gallery.






Featuring the awesome work of:

Adam Corns
Adam Niklewicz
Alex Westgate
Alison Garnett
Andrew Foerster
Ben Ruby
Chiara Dattola
Chris Valentine
Cinta Arribas
Dan Page
Daria Kirpach
Emily May Rose
Fatinha Ramos
Felix Witholz
Fiona Smyth
Francesco Poroli
Frederico Gastaldi
Grace Heejung Kim
Jackie Lee
James Turner
James Yang
Marco Melgrati
Marike le Roux
Matthew Daley
Paul Bateman
Robert John Paterson
Robb Mirsky
Sean Richman
Suharu Ogawa
Tad Michalak
Veronica Grech
Xiaohua Yang
Yo Az