Friday, September 7, 2007

Unisex, Kickass, Post-Apocalyptic Cyberpunk Hotness and other Passions of Mine

One of the things that makes life worth living is friends who press books and DVDs on you, insisting that you share the stuff they love. It's wonderful when it turns out that you love the stuff as much as they do -- as I did when I read Passion, by Jude Morgan (Jane Lockwood was reading it at RWA National and passed it along to me, and you can read her Regency-writer alter-ego's post about it here, at Risky Regencies).

But even when you don't quite love the book or movie so much, a friend's passion can lead you to a passionate discovery of your own. As when my pal (and fellow Joss Whedon-worshiper) Mark insisted I watch his whole 4-movie Alien DVD set so I could get the full effect of the fourth movie, Alien Resurrection. Resurrection's written by Joss Himself, you see, and it completes the arc that turns Ripley into the hybrid superwoman ("the monster's mother") with great deadpan Joss lines like:

Distephano: I thought you were dead!
Ripley: Yeah, I get that a lot of that lately.

It was to fun share all that (Mark and I will also be going to a midnight singalong showing of Buffy the Musical, at the Bridge Theater in San Francisco later this month). But for me the best part of the Quadrilogy (besides of course the first Alien movie, which is a tight, terrifying little masterpiece that everyone should see) was the third movie in the series, Alien 3. It's the one that's got the worst reputation (quite undeserved, imo). And it's the one, for my money, with one of the hottest, if briefest, erotic scenes I've seen in a movie in a long time.

It's short, so understated that most people don't seem to know it's there, and I can't find a still anywhere on the web. But if you liked Carrie's Story, or if you like cyberpunk sci fi, or a certain kind of unisex hetero hotness, or Wuthering Heights or even (to get back to Passion for a moment, and also to free-associate) if you're as fascinated by the love affair between Lord Byron and his half-sister Augusta Leigh as I am, rent Alien 3 and watch it with your remote in your hand so you can repeat the hot parts.

The director is David Fincher, who later went on to produce Fight Club and the terrific Zodiac. He didn't get much creative control over Alien 3, so it's a very mixed bag. But that's what they invented DVDs and remotes for, right? The premise of Alien 3 is Ripley on a prison planet -- with very bad men who've embraced an anti-sex, apocalyptic fundamentalist religion and haven't seen a woman in a very long time.

The alien monster shows up eventually too, but I didn't much care. What I loved were the big, ominous, rusty post-industrial interiors, all the anger and tension, and especially that all-too-brief erotic encounter, between a shave-headed Ripley and a shave-headed Charles Dance as Clemens, the planet's doctor, with a dicey past, and a nice angry, grim, very smart attitude, and excellent Brit diction. Nice delts, too -- he and Ripley in their matching olive drab prison-issue tank tops melted me into a helpless little puddle of couch potato juice.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a still of the Ripley and Clemens anywhere on the web. (Dance was the superscary Mr. Tulkinghorn from the PBS Bleak House if that helps).

I'm still not sure why I liked it so much. But I find myself fascinated by a kind of eroticism that short-circuits the usual male-female dance steps through the life cycle and comes up with something that combines the angry undifferentiated energy of childhood and the late, weary, cynicism of post-industrialism.

Makes me think of Heathcliff and Cathy in Wuthering Heights, as children running out together on the moors under the dairywoman's cloak.

Makes me think of Molly, from William Gibson's classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, the girl who had mirrorsunglasses surgically implanted where her eyes should be (and yeah, the inspiration for my Molly Weatherfield pseud).

Kickass, I guess, is the marketing term they finally came up for it, for the very tough women and the men who I always fall in love with because they love the very tough women.

Like the the image of Drusilla holding Spike in her arms in some Buffy episode maybe at the end of Season 2 (which I also can't find a web image for. How come they don't have web images for all the stuff I love?). Or even a little of Wash and Zoe from Firefly (when I searched the web for graphics of them, I came up with a piece of fan fiction that I really liked, so here, enjoy it too).

Sorry I could only be imagistic and sort of free-associating here. Anybody else out there like that kind of stuff? Any recommendations?


Rachel said...

Oh, God. No words for how much I LOVED Passion. And I too was fascinated by Augusta and Byron's relationship, especially since, from all I've read, Passion pretty accurately captured it. It was such a strange thing to find myself rooting for them as a couple, only to have to step back and say, "Hold up! Related!"
So glad you mentioned this truly awesome book, Pam!

Pam Rosenthal said...

I feel a responsibility to tell people about this book, Rachel, since I wouldn't have read it if Jane Lockwood hadn't told me about it. Glad you loved it as much as we did.

Anonymous said...

I know and love that scene in Alien3. I also love the look on Ripley's face as she falls backward into the vat of molten she really was its mother.

Sharon Page said...

A midnight singalong to the Buffy Musical would be so great. Have fun, Pam!
Really enjoyed the free association, and I will definitely check out Passion.