Magazine article Filmmaker

The Need for Speed

Magazine article Filmmaker

The Need for Speed

Article excerpt

It was sheer stupid curiosity, I'll admit it, that lead me to Jupiter Ascending on a cold, sunny afternoon in early March. With a mixture of shame and defiance, I shelled out my 10 hard-earned dollars and entered the newly carpeted theater, where the movie began to play to a grand total of three souls. I had been intrigued by the terrible reviews, the sort that actually make a film sound interesting. The comparisons to Dune (although completely misplaced, in my book) helped with the allure, as did the notion that this was a cult film in waiting. There's also an important difference between "liking" a film and appreciating it; I've never really liked any of the Wachowskis' films, but what does that matter? Each of them have offered an angle of vision not my own, and watching each of these films as they attempt to sustain that angle of vision has been, for me, a fascinating process.

Apart from a few intimate exposition scenes, Jupiter Ascending is nonstop spectacle, and I think that the sheer length of some of these sequences, which stretch on in a hectic blur beyond all narrative purpose or reason, helps explain the aura of cult that seems to be developing around the film. But there's also something else at work, as the film can be read as the fullest, most extreme cinematic expression of accelerationism yet. The term, at its most basic level, refers to a set of loosely connected social and political theories that suggest that - rather than trying to slow down, redirect or subvert capitalism - it's preferable to accelerate it, thus bringing it ever-faster to its inevitable self-destructive end. This hasn't exactly worked out politically. As media theorist Steven Shaviro has noted in his essay, "Necessary Inefficiency in Times of Real Subsumption," capitalism and the vast data machine it has constructed indeed work ever-faster, appropriating all transgressive movements, so that, as he says, "we are all caught within this loop."

Shaviro and others have written about accelerationist aesthetics - art, books, films, video games, music - that make us feel this speed. And it can be a terrible and sublime feeling. Consider the sheer data avalanche of Jupiter Ascending; practically any single image fromthefilm is overwhelming in the amount of visual information it conveys, and such speed and excess render the film's politics mute, for who can speak or think in the face of such orchestrated chaos? Or, it might be more accurate to say that the film's chaos cancels out two opposed political threads in the film; the "conservative" thread: a nostalgia for the individual hero (well, heterosexual couple hero) with free will who stands up and defeats evil; and the more progressive thread, the one that critiques in savage ways the coming genetic industrial complex and that openly acknowledges that time is the new commodity, to be harvested, hoarded, bought, sold and traded among the . …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.