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Thursday, June 23, 2011

STEVEN SEAGAL THE LEGEND


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Here comes the lightning, thunder and rain. Every day we get thunder and lightning and rain. Not complaining, though the lightning sometimes is something to complain about when it hits close to the house. Caterpillar has gone to one of her hiding places. We need the ground water. The rain is splashing on the stone walkway along the house. The sound of rain in the leaves and splashing on the rocks brings to mind flames we can watch in a fireplace all our lives and never see one split-second pattern repeated. No split second of the sound of rain is ever the same as any other. It's this infinitely non-repeating pattern by sound or sight that relaxes us. This is God's way of doing things. The way of the human mind is repeating patterns like techno in music, the metronome, the beat in about all music. The steady repeating sound or visual tends to charge up our nervous system and make us want to get in motion. Move around the floor in a loco-motion.



We like both. Where sound is concerned, the repeating sounds mixed with non-repeating sounds makes music. Visually, disco strobe lights make a repeating pattern with the repeating patterns in the music. It's pretty cool first time you see it. Movies too, repeating patterns and non-repeating patterns, both. There is always a disco/strobe moment in a Steven Seagal movie. Like there is always a moment of tits and a moment of ass. The mandatory T&A in an action movie is always in his films. A checklist item. Making an action movie? T&A any way you can get them in and multiple big explosions. The purpose is to avoid such summations, 'Nah, man, that movie wasn't any good. I didn't see one tittie. Did you, man? When I watch a movie, man, I gotta see some titty. Know what I mean?' I think the punctuation of American films by explosions is to wake the audience up periodically, attention aids. Hollywood knows very well that after half a century of television the average American attention span is about the same as a cat's. The rest of the world too. The whole world loves American movies. They don't make you think.



Speaking of Steven Seagal, I saw his movie THE KEEPER the third or fourth time last night. It's one of the dozen or so of his 30 or so movies I like the best. It's fairly recent, 2009. One of the repeating patterns from one movie to the next of his would be rescuing a daughter from danger, most often his, but this time the daughter of a friend. And/or a good looking woman is being rescued. That's an oriental theme that I'm sure he repeats for the oriental audience, perhaps his biggest. He is non-racist as a man, as is his character. Girlfriends will be of any race. Seagal is not one to hold the white race up as superior, rather it's just another possible skin color to be born with. One of his producers is Thai. In this film, he was being told about somebody, one of the characteristics being racist. Seagal shook his head and said, half to himself, 'That's stupid.' Another repeating pattern, consistent from movie to movie, is he doesn't kill anybody that isn't trying to kill him.



He also plays a repeating character from movie to movie, a different name each time. Only in 2 movies did he use the same name, Jonathan Cold. The first one happened in Poland where he was what was called in the movie, a Foreigner, meaning CIA they didn't claim if something happened. The ultimate rogue. A master martial artist too. The next time he was Jonathan Cold, he turned up by surprise in LosAngeles, a man who will walk into a gunfight rather than away from it. He goes into every situation with full confidence he will survive it. In another 09 release, DRIVEN TO KILL, he demonstrates to a girlfriend how he does a trick with a spike under 3 tall paper soft drink cups. She shuffled the upside down cups, one with the spike under it, while he closed his eyes. When she was ready, he opened eyes and slapped one of the cups flat to the table. It didn't have the spike. She was impressed and asked how he knew. He said, 'The trick is not to give a fuck.' It explains how his character enters any dangerous situation. It's not that he's fearless, not that he knows he will come back all right. It's that he doesn't give a fuck. The international macho man, "I don't give a fuck!"



He uses a different director in almost every movie. And they're all good directors from all over the world. Different photographer and always ones with a good eye for urban and interior compositions per film and frequently the same script writers, Joe Halprin, Steven Seagal, and others. This one, The Keeper, had interesting visuals all the way through. It opened with the credits on Los Angeles at night with all lights on from a helicopter flying among the skyscrapers, each one a work of magnificent 20th Century architecture, a huge city,  carbon footprint. Most of the camera work was interiors and enclosed outdoor areas. Seagal has a friend in this movie, somebody from his past he'd known long enough that the man told the sheriff regarding Seagal, "I trust him." That was spoken from a world of men where the law is trust no one. It's not just rule of thumb. It's absolute. He and the sheriff knew each other, and the sheriff knew what he was saying. That was all he needed to hear.



I hear complaints about Seagal films from all quarters. They're not this, not that. He can't act. He doesn't really do martial arts---because he doesn't do cheap frilly martial arts of slinging feet around like ballet dancers. I don't agree with any of them. These are people who have seen one or none, maybe a preview, putting all the action movie heroes together in one bundle, which can't be done. I've seen them all but a few. They're called adolescent, etc, but please remember boys didn't pay attention in school. Intellectual films don't reach them when they're grown up. They're a valid audience. I like a Seagal film for the same reasons I like a movie of Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman. In the same way, it's not realism so much as legend. Seagal's character is a legend who reappears in each film in a new way, new name, new place, new maiden to save and protect. He defined himself to a priest in Pistol Whipped, a bad man trying to do some good. Then he said to the priest, 'You know, that's what I like about you. A good man like you got time for a bad man like me.' It's the legend in the stories that keep me going back to them, and Seagal the martial artist who choreographs the moves in a martial arts bout. He doesn't do flashy martial arts, but quick moves and dirty fighting. He does whatever it takes. And he knows how.



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