Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sniper Team Observer Winona

Alien: Resurrection: not only is it Exploding Kinetoscope's very all-time favorite Alien sequel, but it provided the only collectable action figure recreating the personage of Winona Ryder! Despite more than twenty years of nonstop movie stardom par excellence, Ryder has been captured in plastic just once, unless one stretches to include toys based on the Beetlejuice cartoon show. Why is this? Imagine the throngs who would snap up polystone statues of Veronica Sawyer from Heathers, posed with a croquet mallet and a fistful of Red Vines!

Life is lonely for this, the doll-sized version of Annalee Call, Resurrection's resident adorable robot with feelings. When Cocteau said the poet must shed the white blood of his soul, he must have been talking about those sad robots! Sorry they don't print miniature copies of Catcher in the Rye, Winona Ryder doll!

The resemblance is uncanny! And out of focus! For many years has the Call doll sat around, weirdly bow-legged, slightly walleyed, and without the company of other Winona Ryder-looking toys.

Hark!... a knock upon the door spurs our heroine to adventure. Your sculpt is square jawed and determined in ways the real Ms Ryder has never been, so: Rise! Face what others dare not!

Music like a hundred harps of gold with strings of fire crowd the soundtrack! A new dawn is come, borne on the back of this strange new visitor!

Another figure sculpted to resemble Academy-Award nominated actress Winona Ryder exists! Plainly unlicensed - perhaps illegal - and based on no motion-picture entertainment source, this "N.Y.P.D. Emergency Service Unit : Sniper Team Observer 'Winona'" figure promises to make dreams into 1/6 scale reality! The grim packaging (disrupted by splashy pink "Winona" script) claims that gun-totin' Noni boasts an impressive 12" inch "highly-flexible" body, and a "life-like head with character"! She is not endorsed or sponsored by the NYPD, as the box points out. Why a scrawny bohemian actress who has never played a cop was the inspiration for this figure is a mystery for the ages. But when the box promises the triple jointed limbs allow "difficult poses", who is not thrilled? The Call figure cannot handle such difficult poses as "standing unsupported".

Issued in 2000 by Dragon Models Ltd., the company website lists Sniper Team Observer Winona as a discontinued item. The hobby store price tag on the box marks her at $34.98 American greenback-dollars. Surely the collector's market price increases exponentially every passing hour.

Do it Winona Ryder doll! Stand face to face with the Sniper Team version of yourself, and know you are equals! The box must open!





Crowd response: Tom Kitten, obviously freaked-out beyond belief, becomes numb with horror, unable to react.

Blythe remains cool and impassive. The stony, impartial angel offers no judgement.

The strange Sniper Team visitor is clearly no kin to the Alien: Resurrection figure. Team Observer "Winona" may be out there, somewhere, observing or sniping or whatever, but for today, only an ugly man-head stares back, where she was supposed to be.

An unexpected melancholy descends gently as the scene closes. While she faces no competition from obscure, semi-legitimate corners, she also feels no sisterhood, and must bear the burden for every Ryder character who is not immortalized in poseable miniature. Uncontested, legs awkwardly wide, she stands wobbly and alone: the only Winona Ryder action figure.

Special thanks to our own Sniper Team Observer, Linda Pine, for finding this horrid thing and bringing it home to me.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Echo Chamber - Antonioni Moving, Reflecting, Passing

Our place in the world is unnecessary. Roving sparks of dying energy, bouncing like aimless, dimming embers against the cold, hard planes and the streaming seas of numbers that comprise the planet's surface. Retracting into ennui, or reaching out in desperation, humanity makes its own mysteries.

Michelangelo Antonioni's films document those deepest mysteries of human existence; what space lies beyond a draped picture window, behind each pillar, around each corner; the inability to leave imprint where we have walked, loved, quarrelled, wept, moved. The mystery of L'avventura is not an unresolved disappearance but the unresolved continued existence of everything, of form and of void. The puzzle of Blow-Up is not a beguiling amateur sleuth story, but a genre implosion, demolishing the entrance and exit points of detection drama.

Not anti-mystery: ur-Mystery.

If we say Antonioni died on July 30, 2007, or was born September 29, 1912, it is to trace a narrative with selectivity. It speaks to a compulsion to give shape to a matterless tour through one plane of sight, sound, experience. But the sands of a red desert are at once unintegrated granules, restless and shifting, and members of a vast, open, sun-blasted expanse; the unified field image of a photograph at once the objective frieze of a moment in time and space, and a death-mask reproduction, built of microscopic chemical blobs, depthless, unmoving. The harder we insist on giving them shape, imbuing them with meaning, the greater the margin of slippage, until, indeed, in the fluoroscopic light off the eclipsed sun, it may be said that Antonioni was never here at all.

The master image of Antonioni's filmmaking is the glacial mask-face of Monica Vitti, staring into some middle distance, beyond herself, and back into herself. Feeling too much (Red Desert) or too little (L'avventura), the space she occupies simultaneously a non-space hole where a woman was-not / is soon to not-be, and the inside-out nexus of her body, molecules in continuum with the architecture, the landscape, the universe, the net of maths stretched into the infinite. What moves behind those black eyes, what world can be shut out by the drawn draperies, what fracture can there be between lovers, when they are all isolated, but intrinsically connected? Like the subatomic push-pull that unites/tugs at all things, mirrored large scale by the bind of gravity, the looping orbit of astronomical objects bound on track but never meeting , the affirmation of 1, negation of 0, Antonioni pierces the illusory continuity of a life-as-narrative, of the character as collected traits moving to resolution, of the cinema as the device to capture a world in motion, and finds beyond the veil, a deeper continuity; mystery surviving resolution, unresolvable.

Mastroianni and Moreau on the flat, ordered stage of a golf course in La Notte, wander the corridors of their marriage, and land in the soft, disordred hazard zone of a sandtrap. She reads a love letter, plucked out of a lost pocket in a version of their story that could-have-been. He asks who wrote it, and she tells him: "You did," and they are lost and found, all possibilities and dead threads of their story before and continuing beyond the film at once preserved, and gone in the loose doom of the sandtrap.

The all but wordless romantic breakup that opens L'eclisse is the death of a relationship, but to join the stream as it closes existence indicates it once existed. Alain Delon and Vitti in languor, posed in pain, moving only long enough to freeze once more, but the undulating trees outside the window, the oscillating electric fan, signal invisible movement the audience cannot see or feel: air, moving in time, around the eroding bodies and objects on the motion picture screen.

Monica Vitti sat on this sofa. This street lamp stood upon this corner. This loaf of bread filled this movie screen in Zabriskie Point. Michelangelo Antonioni was born 1912, died 2007. These grains of sand surrounded this pool of oily water in this desert. And BOOM, they were gone. Some were chosen for documentation as they passed through, but none were Truer than the others. Which caused the others? Which stories are over? Where are they now? To isolate the image, movement, object, life, drains it of context; to imply its place in even an unfathomably large whole is to superimpose a beginning, end, solve it, reduce it, conscribe it to history. To say Michelangelo Antonioni is gone is to say : Michelangelo Antonioni was here, and thus always here. Time shuffled the molecules of Michelangelo Antonioni into form, and pressed outward on that form until they dissipated once more.