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Morgan
Posted on Saturday, November 05, 2005 - 04:44 am:   

I was watching The Addiction the other night and it struck me as a good example of a postmodern vampire story. Like in The Dead trilogy you find the analogy to drugs and addict behaviour set off the stark nature of the existence of these creatures. (As always Christopher Walken delivers a flawess performance, even if he is only on for three minutes...) It is a good idea, as well, to have a philosophy student as the main character, giving room for all kinds of transgressive nihilist behaviour.
It is so hard to depict transgressive behaviour anyway since there seems to be a general trend that the taboo has become the fetish in these works. I just thought there was a parallell here to the Dead trilogy, as well as lots of lovely quotes and references to books like Naked Lunch, Baudelaire, Nietzsche et al.
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Richard Calder
Posted on Saturday, November 05, 2005 - 02:02 pm:   

Morgan --

I haven't seen The Addiction, but your message had me looking it up on imdb.com and I must say it sounds most interesting. (I've always been a fan of Walken, so am disppointed he gets only a three minute showing!) In movies, and life in general, addiction is almost invariably (and I suppose for rather obvious, if not always justifiable, reasons) presented in a negative light, but an analogous state is obsession, and a writer -- are at least a certain kind of writer -- always seems to me necessarily obsessed, that is, an addict of certain themes, images, fantasies: an addiction that, in other, less metaphorical circumstances, would be called crime. Two cheers, then, for the addiction. I'll have to get a copy on DVD.
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Morgan
Posted on Friday, November 11, 2005 - 05:51 am:   

Richard -
Kathleen Conklin, the movies principle charachter, says "Dependency is a marvelous thing. It does more for the soul than any formulation of doctoral material." Which I suppose is akin to the obsessive state you're describing. I agree with the necessity for a certain degree of ... well, we can call it addiction, paraphilia or just plain pig-headedness in order to work as an author. For the most part it is a lonely existence, and even if you do find an audience they are not likely to share your obsession one hundred percent.
I have studied literature (and film) and I find you can ferret out themes and tropes while looking at an author's, or filmmaker's, entire body of work that create a kind of backdrop for the individual pieces. To me it speaks of constency and I always find that interesting.
I hope you enjoy the movie. I loved the fact that it is shot in black and white which makes blood so black it looks like people are bleeding tar.
Let me know what you think of it when you've seen it.
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Richard Calder
Posted on Saturday, November 12, 2005 - 02:26 am:   

Morgan --

The lush, moody 'Nadja' (dir. Michael Almereyda, 1994) was also shot in b&w -- another unusual (and indeed beautiful) take on the vampire theme, I thought ...

Still to see 'The Addiction' ...
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Jason
Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 02:20 pm:   

These days psychologists have defined a narrow window of emotions that we're allowed to experience and still be "balanced" and IMO science and art have suffered for it.
At one time obsession and madness were respected and they gave us the greatest minds in history. Almost anyone considered exceptional from Einstein to Nietzsche to DaVinci suffered from some sort of mental problems by today's standards.
In a lot of ways I think Brave New World shows a psychologist's paradise. Everything bland and vaguely pleasant and whenever something becomes slightly uncomfortable there's a pill for it.
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Richard Calder
Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 05:56 am:   

Jason --

Blandness is the enemy, certainly. And these days it's so often the bland leading the bland. Part of the problem, perhaps, is that we find ourselves cirumscribed by imaginary freedoms -- for instance, to say what we like as long as it doesn't matter: freedoms that are in effect the walls and bars of a subtle, imaginary prison (somewhat like Piranesi's, perhaps) and which have the power to exert ghostly, unspoken but very real checks on all we think and aspire to. A Brave New World, indeed -- a de-centred, invisible dictatorship where the status quo is regulated by fear -- of risk, threat, unregulated fantasy -- and maintained by self-censorship, a readiness to embrace the anaesthetic of blandness and to exorcise, or
more worryingly, to co-opt (and thus denature) anything 'abnormal' into 'normality'.
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Morgan
Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 02:02 pm:   

Freedom seems to me to be one of the grand narrative illusions of contemporary society. It seems to be a case of having too much, and not enough, of a good thing. Freedom to starve to death under whatever circumstance you might find yourself, freedom to express an opinion securely located within the realm of the norm or at least normative thinking. Aldous Huxley thought of Piranesis Carceri as metaphysical prisons “… whose seat is within the mind, whose walls are made of nightmare and incomprehension, whose chains are anxiety and their racks a sense of personal and even generic guilt.” Obsession and madness can seems like accessible tools, but as Nietzsche so eloquently put it: when you gaze into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you… and he ended up stark raving mad in an attic where his sister charged tourists money to gawk at the lunatic. Acute perception might be a better thing to strive for.
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Richard Calder
Posted on Thursday, November 24, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   

Morgan --

The artist who's mad because inspired, inspired because mad, is something of a Romantic cliche, and perhaps we do well to question it. But I'm sympathetic to Nietzsche's 'acute perception' that art is at heart Dionysian -- a vortex of sickness, neurosis, obsession -- framed by Apollonian form. (If I remember rightly the quote about the abyss surfaces -- of all places -- in Beineix's 'Diva'; said by Gorodish, I think.)

Nietzsche went mad, and died of, syphilis, and not of an over-indulgence in the imagination. The 'myth' of Nietzsche was cultivated and espoused by that truly awful sister of his, who misinterpreted him and gleefully fed the fire of the Nazis' own myths.

Thumbs up for 'perception', then. I've always subscribed to the quasi-Platonic view that a writer discovers -- or perhaps uncovers -- as much as creates. And thumbs up for voyages into dark, proscribed -- or simply ignored -- territories.
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Morgan
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 07:28 am:   

Richard

It is definitely in the hinterlands of the imagination that things begin to become interesting. I’ve always been suspicious of the Romantic notions of Divine inspiration, the supposedly thin line between genius and insanity and general codes of mental hygiene. Nietzsche certainly put his imagination to good use, which I suppose you could argue didn’t help him in the end.

The vampire myth, which is what I started out discussing, has always had that connection to imagination and also to physical illness, especially TBC and syphilis. It’s neither here nor there I guess, but it seems sometimes to reproach those who put their imagination and libido to too active a use. Stoker, for instance, is rumoured to have suffered from syphilis, Edgar Allen Poe had family members (including a much loved young wife) die of tuberculosis. In the 1980s the vampire myth shifted swiftly to becoming a blood disease lining up with the other contemporary terrible blood disease AIDS. This idea of the physical and non-physical interacting in interesting ways… it’s one of the things that made me interested in the Dead trilogy.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 04:45 pm:   

I like some of Ferrara's work, but I found THE ADDICTION hopelessly pretentious and full of itself. Much more affecting and heartfelt was George Romero's MARTIN.

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