Avengers: Infinity War

 

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Thanos and his lieutenants – Cull Obsidian (Notary, playing a character known as “Black Dwarf” in the Comics), Ebony Maw (Vaughan-Lawlor), Proxima Midnight (Coon) and Corvus Glaive (Shaw) – begin Infinity War by intercepting the Spaceship carrying refugees from the destruction of Asgard at the end of Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Thanos subdues Thor and hurls Hulk (Ruffalo) across space before murdering a sneakily recalcitrant Loki, thereby successfully making off with the Space Stone that was the Power Source for the Tesseract that fuelled the Invasion plot at the heart of The Avengers (2012). This forms one of the six infinity stones that Thanos requires for full mastery over the governing principles of the Marvel Multiverse. Ebony Maw captures Strange (who is using the Time Stone as a focus for his own Superpowers) during a confrontation at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York (see Doctor Strange (2016) for more on the sanctums and the Cities to which they are connected) and is pursued by Iron Man (Downey Jr) and Spider-Man (Holland), who stow away aboard Maw’s vessel at it leaves earth. A bout of fisticuffs in Edinburgh sees Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive ambush amorous runaways Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and Vision (Bettany) in pursuit of the Mind Stone inserted into Vision’s forehead during Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): World War Two veteran Captain America (Evans), along with loyal members of his faction of Avengers (see Captain America: Civil War (2016) for more on the cause of this schism) rescues Scarlet Witch and Vision and suggests they all travel to Wakanda (for which see Black Panther (2018)) in hope that Wakandan Scientist Shuri (Wright) has the Technology to remove the stone from Vision without destroying him in the process:-

Avengers: Infinity War entry

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Shame

Take off your clothes. Dim the lights and draw the curtains.

Find two coins. Lie flat on your back on the floor before carefully placing each of the coins over each of your closed eyelids. Count to ten. Breathe deeply.

Something happened to you.

Where is the pain?

HEAD (Accusation)
THROAT (Secret)
HEART (Trauma)
BELLY (Regret)
GROIN (Disgrace)
LEGS (Contempt)

Toss a coin to your left.

HEADS
Rehearse a grandiose and arrogant reaction to your shame.
Spend a moment demanding envy and appreciation.

TAILS
You’re oversensitive, hypervigilant, easily hurt.
Spend a moment accusing someone of being abusive toward you.

Stop here if you want to win the internet.

Now lean to your right to toss the second coin.

HEADS
Relive the MEMORY that caused your shame. Now suppress it: bury it deep down inside yourself. Your shame is contagious every time you become angry.

TAILS
Relax into the pain in your BODY. Rationalise the pain: it’s just a sensation. Your shame is contagious every time you think of another person as being inherently bad.

Unless you choose differently.

Take ten deep breaths. Put on your clothes, draw the curtains; go outside. Every naked piece of you is beautiful.

Starfall

Giant, beetle-like Aliens dubbed “Scarabs” destroy earth’s twelve most populous Cities in the autumn of 1951, fortifying the impact of their Invasion by use of superior Weapons and Technology to bring much of humanity into conditions of Slavery. As with the invaders from Mars in H G Wells‘s War of the Worlds (April-December 1897 Pearson’s1898), the Scarabs have been observing the planet for some time, and have scheduled their arrival to occur at precisely the point between planetary depletion from War and developments in Nuclear Energy. Nigel Kneale-scripted dramas such as The Quatermass Experiment (18 July-22 August 1953 6 episodes) and Quatermass and the Pit (1968; vt Five Million Years to Earth) direct Starfall‘s comprehension of the thematic link between humanity’s predisposition to fascistic behaviour [see “Nigel Kneale and Fascism” under links below] and the suitability of planet earth as a target for the Colonization of Other Worlds:-

 

Starfall entry

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I’ve had couple of trips down to Surrey in the last week or two, once for a hike and once for live action roleplay.

The convenience of the North Downs being less than an hour away on the train cannot be overestimated. Get out there if you can: sunshine and play are the best restorative.

 

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Don’t laugh; I cut a magnificent figure.

The Cabin in the Woods

Commentary is rendered as reality conspiracy. White-coated Scientists Sitterson (Jenkins) and Hadley (Whitford) preside over a team of underground technicians whose aim is to draw victims into a Godgame dedicated to satiating the appetites of chthonic entities who are the ages-old Secret Masters of planet earth. Similar danse macabre – the pope, emperor, king, child, and labourer archetypes of medieval tradition are here commuted to whore, athlete, scholar, fool and virgin – are carried out at other facilities around the globe according to local custom: this provides Goddard and Whedon with an opportunity to send up Swedish sobriety, Japanese schoolgirl tropes and so on, and thereby to display Whedon’s usual facility for ventriloquizing Fan Language through characters. As long as one of these global offerings to the gods (see Gods and Demons) of down below goes off, the End of the World is averted. American college students Dana Polk (Connolly), the “virgin” and, therefore, according to the rules of the genre, the “final girl”, Curt Vaughan (Hemsworth; the “athlete”), Jules Louden (Hutchison; the “whore” who dies as soon as she exposes her breasts), “scholar” Holden McCrea (Williams) and dope-smoking free-thinker Marty Mikalski (Kranz) – a character similar in register to that of Zeke Tyler from The Faculty (1998) and, indeed, to a great many similar characters in American high-school movies – all start the film by adhering to the clichés of the form but gradually begin to deviate from the railroaded idiocy of their roles as the Technology of the presiding technicians – a holographic containment field around the cabin, Drugs in Louden’s blonde hair dye that make her dumb, pheromones, trapdoors, surveillance and the like – begins to go awry. This is counterpointed with the failure of the corresponding rituals around the world, and a fair degree of Humour is derived from the interplay of filmography and Fandom, and from Hadley and Sitterson’s growing comprehension of impending doom, but the film never quite succeeds at being both scary and ironic. If there is any point to postmodernity (accounts differ) it is about who owns or delivers the constructed narrative and what they derive from it, and about what kind of moribund or frightening truth is revealed when that process is undermined. Sigourney Weaver is (as usual) convincing in her role as “The Director” – a kind of precursor to her depiction of the Villain Alexandra in the television series The Defenders (2017) – but the off-stage unknowability of the chthonic entities here arouses none of the intensely lyrical subjectivity of H P Lovecraft‘s protagonists in the face of cosmic time, or the connotations of Holocaust attendant to the appearance of the lost daughter in Hideo Nakata’s Ring (2000), or even the existential implications of Cube (1997). Dana and Marty share a spliff at the end of the movie and decide that humanity is not worth saving. Would that the vastations of planet earth were so easy to shrug off:-

 

The Cabin in the Woods entry

 

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