Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Elysium Movie Review

It’s more than obvious that when people go to their local movie house on rent/buy a DVD, they don’t want to think about anything, aside from having a good time. Fair enough, but being voluntarily stupid doesn’t exactly contribute to society. Message films today are kind of looked upon as “pro-Commie, bleeding heart propaganda” (thanks, Fox News), but they still have a place in the world. One of them is “Elysium”,  Neill Blomkamp’s slam-bam yet thoughtful follow-up to his Oscar-nominated “District 9”.

            Like the song by the funk band, War, the world has become a ghetto by the year 2154, due to disease, pollution and overpopulation, and anyone big-pocketed has high-tailed it to a halo-shaped space station, its’ name shared with the film’s title, decked with Beverly Hills-like mansion, servant and security droids and rejuvenation chambers. Any “undesirables” are quickly shot down, under the command of Delacourt (Jodie Foster, “Taxi Driver”, “Flightplan”) the station’s secretary of defense.

            The fly is in the ointment happens to Max Dacosta (Matt Damon, the “Jason Bourne” saga, “Dogma”), an ex-thief turn robot factory worker, who’s dying of radiation poisoning after a work-related accident. Refitted with an exo-suit by “smugglers”, he’s sent to capture and download financial intel from the brain of his apathetic ex-boss (William Fichtner, “Prison Break”, “Drive Angry”) as payment for his journey to the space station, but the intel’s actually a reset program for said station as the ingredient for a coup, making Max a target for DelaCourt and her field soldier, the sociopathic Kruger (Sharlto Copley, “District 9”, “The A-Team Movie”).

            Like “District 9”, which allegorized apartheid in South Africa, “Elysium” brilliantly allegorizes illegal immigration, social division and healthcare. Did it have to take a South African-born filmsmith to make a sci-fi satire about the aforementioned topics? Guess so, else the film’s wouldn’t had a sharp edge, the space station being a pristine heaven while Earth’s a garbage-encrusted, decaying hell. Production designer Phillip Ivey captures that division, especially in the look of the technology. No one here’s in exactly good or bad, just opportunistic, noting how society can fall so low.  Damon fits in a role Bruce Willis could have played to a T; Foster echoes Sigourney Weaver with pure coldness and Copley, the 21st  Century’s Bruce Campbell, is both bottle-cap sardonic and sinister. They’re helped by Alice Braga (“Repo Men”) as an old childhood love of Max; Diego Luna (“Rudo Y Cursi”) as Max’s old heist pal and Wagner Moura as an “tech coyote”.

            “Elysium” is one of those films that deserves to be watch more than once because, like Blomkamp’s first film, it tells the truth about the human condition in a sci-fi canvas.   


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Patty: A Short Story

            I was watching TV when I heard the crash. Knowing what happened, I sighed, but I didn’t leave my room. I waited for the show to end. Politeness. When I did leave, I  went into the kitchen.

            I found shards of an aqua-blue painted mug on the floor. Hovering over the mess was Patricia. I swore under my breath.

            “I’m sorry,” she mumbled.

            “Go, Patty,” I said.

            “I’m sorry,” she left the kitchen as I grabbed a nearby broom and dustpan to clean up the mess my older, mentally handicapped (retarded is crueler, politically incorrect) sister made. Six years apart in age, I always thought I was the older one, yet I never knew what’s it like to be trapped in the sense of you can’t be like everyone else. By God’s unbreakable will, you’ve given the intelligence of a three-year-old. That’s Patty. She wanted to be like everyone else, but doesn’t have the capability to do be. The shards told me that.

            I sometime wondered why they are mentally retarded people in the world. Pardon me if you think I’m a supporter of eugenics. I’m not. I dare not think it. The only answer is probably humanity needs flaws, warts on the butt cheeks, so that we can be a little nice and civil towards each other. Patience. I didn’t knew if I could have that at the time when I was growing up, wishing about what could have been. I wish I had a big, normal  brother, who helped me with life and be more understanding than my father. It’s not easy being a middle child, let alone the only son, in the family, who doesn’t “act like a man”. I’m not gay, mind you. Just thoughtful and reflective.

            But what about Patty? A twisted version of Peter Pan, who didn’t ask to be this way. A lover of food-especially cheese, bread and milk-when someone “raids” the fridge.

An illiterate when looking at a newspaper or a magazine; the photographs fascinated her. If I told her the ugly truth about her idol, the pop singer Michael Jackson, whose hit single, “Beat It” was on the tip of her tongue-but just the title-she wouldn’t care. She “loves” him. Patty was also a giggler. What was in her mind that made her chortle will forever remain a mystery.

            She was a pain in the ass, too. Sitting on the commode and never getting up (unless she wants to) was a common habit. Two reasons were excretory and her  menstrual cycle. The latter seemed eternal, because the sight on blood-stained  maxi-pads was common, gross and weird. Especially weird when a person’s body keeps growing but  their mindset is forever stuck. My mother and younger sister sometimes had the thankless, unfortunate task of helping Patty with maintaining her hygiene. I didn’t have a strong sense of patience as they did. Guess I saw her as an ubiquitous, undeviating ball-and-chain, punishment for a sin I had in a past life. Who needs religion to keep you on a high, moral ground?

            And she was stubborn and sneaky. If it was time to eat, Patty refused to. If you force her to, she’d eat slow and throw away the rest in the kitchen’s garbage pail when no one was around. If she wasn’t quick, I would devour her dinner, but devour with sorrow, since she was skinny as a twig. Mom had to get prescription medicine so Patty could liv longer. The mean side of me wanted my older sister to die.

            Naturally, of course.

            Patty often placed a current newspaper on the pile of old, read newspapers, making the search of an important news article into a treasure hunt for the rest of the family. Patty did that with other items, including an envelope containing my birthday money when I turned ten. Maybe there was some deep, hidden animosity and jealously from her towards me because I wasn’t like her. Kids used to think I was mentally retarded, and they mocked me. I tattle-taled and got punch-drunk. Was I defending myself from being “trapped” ? Yes. Was I insecure about having a relative who had a IQ of 12 and asked for “juice” and “what’s your name?”? I guess so. Was I defending my sister? Maybe.

            After cleaning up the shards and dumping them in the garbage pail, I went back to my bedroom, turned off the TV and went to bed. I wasn’t sleepy, though. I started to read some chapters of a library-owned copy of “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. When I read the prose, I was jealous, wishing I was Kerouac, traveling across America without a damn in the world and writing down my adventures. Love and responsibility kept me away from that. They are chains unbreakable.

            I heard Patty mumble to herself. A sigh left my lips, and I left my bed and room. I found Patty in the living room.

            “Time for bed, Patty,” I tapped her right shoulder.

            “I wanna go to the bathroom.”

            “Please go.”


            “Just go. Please.”

            “Kiss,” she shoved her lips towards me.

            I shook my head, not wanting to kiss any of her acne-coated cheeks, but I gave a kiss on her cheek, escorted to her bed and was grateful we had two bathrooms in the house.