About time too: from Interstellar to Following

A report on
“About time too: from Interstellar to Following, Christopher Nolan’s continuing preoccupation with time-travel” by Jacqueline Furby.

Drawing inspiration from a personal obsession with time travelling, Dr. Jacqueline Furby has decided to research and study Christopher Nolan’s work with the clear intention of finding a recognisable pattern throughout his movies which could lead her to the conclusion that this particular English director continuously expresses a not-so-veiled preoccupation with time, time travel and how to make sense of it.
Probably recreating the feeling of time travelling, Furby begins analysing Nolan’s last movie Interstellar and then proceeds backward making comparisons with Inception, The Dark Knight trilogy, Prestige, Insomnia, Memento and Following; for each one of these films she describes how time manifests itself, how it’s entangled with the story and, to better convey her message, she finds a practical visual representation of it.

To summarize: in Following Furby declares that time is fragmented and scattered without a clear order; in Memento there are two intertwined timelines, one proceeding forward in a linear way and the other backward, fragmented in a reversed order; Insomnia simply goes chronologically; in Prestige time is a matryoshka with at its core a tragic loss; in Dark Knight there is a spiral of events which engulfs the protagonist; Inception could be represented with The Persistence of Memory, a Salvador Dalí’s painting; and finally for Interstellar she displays an image of the Tesserac, a multidimensional cube present in the movie which tries to visually recreate four dimensions: the three spacial ones plus time.

Moving to an analysis of Furby’s work, a possible reaction to her thesis could be one of indifference due to the banality of the statements and the incorrectness of her claims.
It’s pretty understandable that most of the movies of any given director could be explained and/or represented with a time comparison if one takes into accounts that Cinema itself deals principally and heavily with time and the manipulation of time: compared to Theatre, its sister art, Cinema has the unique feature of “editing”, a tool which permits the audience to instantaneously travel through time and space with the simple use of juxtaposition; therefore it doesn’t come with a surprise that Nolan’s movies can be easily described through a time perspective.
In fact one could argue that Nolan’s obsession with time is not the only one deductible from his body of work, other themes are predominant in his stories, more present throughout his movies and more easily supported with a textual analysis; one of these in fact has been pointed out by Furby herself during the presentation: the continuous presence of weak women who are doomed to die.
Now, if one pairs this unfortunate gender recurrence with Nolan’s strong male protagonists, lonely heroes with a taste for violence and unconventional social rules, we may even argue that Christopher Nolan’s main obsession (or personal taste) could be Fascism and Patriarchy.

But maybe the best way to approach Nolan’s movies is with the intention of watching something entertaining and well shot and leave all the possible psychological-scientific-political analysis to better and more complex directors.

Male rape in comedy: Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps

“Male rape in comedy: representation in the family film”
by Isaac Gustafsson-Wood.

Analysing a particular scene in the movie Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps, Isaac Gustafsson Wood tries to make sense out of “male raping” used in comedies, specifically American/Hollywood comedies.

Nutty Professor 2 is a 2000 American movie starring Eddie Murphy, the versatile and often “vulgar” Afro-American comedian; the movie’s central focus is the conflict between the good, calm and rationale Sherman Klump and the subversive, sexually active and uncontrollable Buddy Love.
This narrative clash between two personality aspects of the same person (Buddy Love is actually Sherman Klump after he has taken a miraculous medicine similar to the one Doctor Jekyll takes in Stevenson’s book) this narrative, I was saying, is a symbolic clash between the abiding citizen and the instinct driven “savage” residing in all of us, a conflict which, for the preservation of society, must end with the annihilation of the latter one.

Gustafsson argues that representing this extreme and instinctual sexuality through the framework of comedy has the “advantage” of defusing it: having a laugh out of something possibly dangerous for a community of individuals reinforces interpersonal bonds and allows the expression of dangerous instinctual drives within the confinements of a particular time and space, in this case the duration of a movie and the four walls of the cinema hall.

The absurdity of the scene analysed here, a man raped by a gigantic mutated sex maniac male hamster, makes it even easier to be accepted by a large mainstream audience whom won’t feel threatened by concepts such as homosexuality and sexual violence if depicted in a funny and absurd way, even if they are actually central to the narrative.

Related to this concept of “comedy as transgression from normality”, Umberto Eco’s piece “The frames of comic freedom” is a good read to better understand how a society resists to its own destruction releasing instinct in small doses, for example during Carnival, a Christian festival when the people are allowed to deeply indulge in food, sex and other “bestial wishes” for a particular period of time. Releasing these animal instincts in such small controlled doses makes a society stronger: the steam of anger, dissatisfaction and revolt is let escape through a “safe valve” and the dangerous waves of this ocean of people called society will be broken and controlled.

What makes Nutty Professor 2 an excellent example of how society rules are actually reinforced through the use of controlled transgression is the incredible amount of sexual innuendo and blatant vulgarity present throughout the movie, something that a censorship board would (and probably should) take into consideration when appointing a censor rating to a certain movie; Nutty Professor 2 got a PG-13, a considerably sympathetic rating for a vulgar movie like this; as a comparison Brokeback Mountain, a struggling love story between two homosexual men, got an R.
This example makes it clear, if it was ever needed, that censorship is too often used as a tool to control society rather than protecting children from sex and profanities.To conclude, Gustafsson Wood has taken an interesting and unconventional approach when it comes to analyse behavioural restrictions in our society, one that may surprise and shock his readers, in the same way a man might be terribly surprised when he is approached by a gigantic mutated sex maniac male hamster.