Thursday, October 19, 2006

Q: Why is this man smiling?

A: Because Friday is the last day he'll be teaching the slimy creatures.

A five-week slog through the swamp of nightmarish memories-- memories of my pain-wracked indenture as a high school teacher in the States-- has left me spiritually winded, mentally flaccid, and emotionally impotent. I detest teaching high schoolers, and this was by far the worst crop of incoming freshmen ever to splat brownly at my feet.

I did, however, recently watch a bootleg copy of the French animated SF thriller "Renaissance," which was a fun ride; the movie partially compensated for my existential gloom. The plot of "Renaissance" is fairly conventional, and the animation is reminiscent of the motion capture done in films like "Waking Life" and "Through a Scanner Darkly" (a movie whose title is a cyberpunk reference to 1 Corinthians 13). I watched "Renaissance" in the original French-language version; my coworker, X, had downloaded the movie and burned it to a DVD. Unfortunately, the movie was useless to X because it was bereft of features like subtitling and dubbing. X, undeterred, is going to search for and download the English-language version of the film (the one where the big corporate bad guy is voiced by the always-cool Jonathan Pryce).

"Renaissance" is a crime drama set in a futuristic, "Blade Runner"-style Paris that is dominated by a megacorporation called Avalon (possibly a pun based on the verb "avaler," to swallow, because Avalon sounds a lot like the present participle "avalant"). In the story, a cop named Karas has been tasked with finding a kidnappee named Ilana Tasuiev, a Russian-born Frenchwoman who was scooped out of the Caucasus along with her sister Bislaine when they were children.

Ilana was originally wanted by Avalon for her intelligence, and she develops into a formidable scientist under the tutelage of a certain Dr. Muller. Muller is a man driven by demons, not least of which is his obsession with finding a cure for progeria (an actual disease involving rapid aging; Rabbi Harold Kushner's son died of it, which in part led Kushner to write his famous When Bad Things Happen to Good People). Bislaine is more street-smart than book-smart, and you know right away she's going to develop a thing for the maverick Karas, because that's how these cop flicks work (speaking of flicks, "flic" is French slang for "cop").

Muller and Ilana work for Avalon, a company that sells youth and beauty; someone kidnaps Ilana, Karas is brought in to find her, and that's when the fun begins. Gunfights, car chases, wild cityscapes, weird apartment buildings, some animated titties, and a large, imposing Muslim dude-- what's not to like?

I won't spoil the film by revealing anything more; go see it if you can.

Yessssss, Precioussss... by noon Friday, I'll be free of the filthy freshmenses. FREE, I SAY!

(fresh menses?)


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