Why My Phone Is Probably More Interesting Than You

Skynet was supposed to attain self-awareness last week.

Yep, that Skynet, the fictional global grid of linked computers featured in the Terminator films that started as an automated global defense network intended to reduce human error and swiftly evolved into a renegade global power that fired nukes against Russia, launched a protracted war against human threats and sparked the only cinematic franchise which featured a governor naked. Three times.

A lot has been written about Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, both in the mainstream media and even here on TNB. It was an important feature of Matt Baldwin’s “When Stupid People Go To Smart Movies,” and was also mentioned in “Legacy, Lightcycles, and Lady Gaga,” a discussion between Cynthia Hawkins and Gloria Harrison. As it happens, I’ve also tapped Ms. Hawkins, who has become TNB’s resident film expert, for a post about Black Swan. Below you’ll find a conversation she and I recently had about how audiences perceive independent films compared to those built using the more traditional Hollywood model, as well as some questions for you, the TNB reader. Thanks in advance for sharing your time and thoughts with us.

My all-time favorite quote comes from Steve Martin’s character in the film Grand Canyon: “You know what your problem is. It’s that you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” It’s my favorite because, for better or worse, I’m convinced it’s true. When word spread that James Cameron was assembling a team to solve the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, most laughed at what they thought was a pompous disconnect between real life and the CGI bombast of Avatar. I, however, turned my television up and thought, “Why, of course!”

Something about watching live feed of the oil billowing into the gulf reminds me of watching that first black scrawl of smoke unwinding in the clear Manhattan sky on the morning of September eleventh. My ribs ache with that same bracing-for-a-punch kind of dread that the repercussions of this moment will be life-long and life-altering, that as bad as it looks it’s about to get worse. I remember in the weeks after 9/11 one official said that we’d simply suffered from “a lack of imagination” and therefore could not anticipate something like this. At the same time others were saying 9/11 was like the most terrifying Hollywood films come true. Maybe our real problem is that we have the imagination, but we just don’t take it seriously.

So if James Cameron says his work on The Abyss and The Titanic has given him ideas and introduced him to innovative deep-sea engineers and technologies and that he loves our planet as much as Pandora, why not let him give plugging the damn hole a try? At this point, until those relief wells are completed, it looks as if it’s either Cameron or that chintzy saw that snapped during the “cut and cap” procedure. I didn’t hear anyone laughing, by the way, when that relief-well plan was aped directly from this scene in There Will Be Bloodclick here.

In fact, lets just make James Cameron a little to-do list. First up, oil spill. And when he’s done with that, he can get busy thwarting any and all development towards the creation of a Skynet, beginning with that monkey that’s learned to control a robotic arm with his mind: here. I know where that leads. I’ve seen enough movies.