Bwog goes to the movies: The Invasion

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In which Learned Foote, one of those delightfully over-eager first years (and a legit film reviewer), muses on Nicole Kidman’s latest risky venture.

sdfsdNo sarcasm intended whatsoever�Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which weird alien intelligence hits Earth and stealthily creates duplicates of the people we know and love,  should definitely be remade every twenty to thirty years. Humans know something�s off, but we can never figure out exactly what�s wrong until�gasp�we�re walking emotionlessly through the crowd, trying to hide our humanity from the alien majority. 

I had high hopes for The Invasion. The first two (1956 and 1978) are classics, and the 70s version is one of my personal favorites. Oliver Hirschbiegel. who recently helmed the Hitler biopic Downfall, signed on to direct the 2007 version, although he was fired during production. The movie stars A-listers Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. What really whet my enthusiasm, however, was the trailer, which nailed the poetic tension these B-movies need. Using a lulling and mournful Sigur Rós song, the film actually seems to be about The Loss of Humanity, not just gross sticky aliens. 

But no, The Invasion messes up right from the beginning, when Nicole Kidman freaks out under fluorescent lighting. Actually, that part�s rather cool, because you can instantly tell which scene from the original movies is being re-imagined, which is half the fun with the Body Snatchers series. Then, however, the story flashes back to the chronological beginning, and this is how the invasion takes place in 2007: a spaceship falls from the sky, leaving a trail of contagious debris from Texas to Washington DC (so much for the eerily quiet takeover). People scratch themselves with a sharp item from said debris, expose their blood flow to the air, and wake up in the middle of the night with a goo mask. That�s right, original Body Snatcher fans, The Invasion features nothing growing to life in the closet next to your bed. There�s just a virus or bacteria or whatever, as if this were some goddam zombie movie, rather than the highly-appropriate-for-wanton-subtextualizing process of the olden days: seedpods. 

The seedpod concept is totally archetypal, instantly worming its way into the psyche. It inspires a horror that adapts to any time or culture (ensuring that these films never feel dated). The version from the 1950s is totally paranoid about the Commies; the version from the 1970s frets over a pop psychology that reduces our profoundest emotions to Point A and Point B. Needless to say, post-9/11 America has plenty of issues to develop into sci-fi goodness. And The Invasion certainly reaches for modern context: divorce, over-medication, e-Bay. Yet the movie devotes a good 80% of its subtext to another political message� 

Now, the tagline to the 1978 version read, �be born again into a world without fear or hate.� Not much of a bone-chiller, is it. As the aliens begin to take hold in 2007, in turn, the newspapers blare: America pulls out of Iraq, President Bush and Hugo Chávez make sweet love. It�s an interesting moral territory that these body snatchers navigate, with their message of peace and cooperation. As a human audience, we don�t like to see certain implications made about our humanity. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers has always played this theme wonderfully, and The Invasion experiments more than any before it (and as a specifically American movie, it eagerly draws parallels to current US policy). All is good and well, aside from some ham-fisted musings on Darfur and Katrina, until we begin to hear dead characters delivering voice-over monologues, the dialogue wrapped in a thick twinkling aura of goodness. Um, only Gandalf can do that. 

sdfsDespite this PG-13 fairyland�where Nicole Kidman won�t even brutally murder a cute little alien boy, instead choosing to push him into a door or something equally ineffectual�The Invasion has its moments. The visuals are striking and sterile; the editor insists on flashing forward five minutes and then back again, which is occasionally cool. Aside from a tendency to lock herself into dark rooms before turning on the light, Nicole Kidman is awesome, obviously going batshit insane beneath her ice-cold exterior (she should always have roles where she pretends to be emotionless). Veronica Cartwright, one of the leads from the 70s version, has a small but meaty part, reminding us of the days when weird-looking actresses owned Hollywood. And for all its unwillingness to admit its heritage, The Invasion still manages to include the same monologue featured in every Body Snatchers film��They�re here already! You�re next!�  

I�d prefer to view this series as an incredibly important and evolving document of American history, but it�s not as sterling as I like to think. Nobody watches Body Snatchers, the 1993 remake, and this 2007 version seems doomed to the same fate. Marketing people: you�ve got to have the whole cheesy title. The Invasion sounds like a boring Kiefer Sutherland picture, but who could go wrong with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS!? I await the next entry, fully named, with undimmed enthusiasm.

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  1. not a "nigga'" other news

    good call on finding this kid bwog. i havent seen, nor will i likely see the movie so i dont know about the actual opinion expressed, but it was expressed well. hopefully we can get a few more freshmen that can actually write?

  2. a whitey

    pre-frosh who make bwog posts are such eager-to-fit-in tools. it's cute, really.

  3. wow  

    wait, why all the hate? Not all Columbia students support the expansion; most of us don't. The only reason I'm at Columbia and not some other school is that I have to be close to home to take care of my parents. Why lash out at all the students?

    • wow  

      ...and by the way, there are black student s here as well, some of us who are FROM places like Hollis, Harlem, and BedStuy (like me, who has lived in all three)

    • don't

      encourage him, it's probably the same guy who spammed bored at butler awhile back. and it's probably a student. the language is way too contrived and up on current events. go look on some myspace or youtube comments for an idea of how people actually write racist spam and it's much less, uh... creative... than this.

      turn his ip address in to the feds, bwog, and just delete his shit.

    • wow you

      pompous jerk.

      "Not all Columbia students support the expansion; most of us don't."

      did you poll all 23,000 students or a significant sample? or did you just assume your opinion speaks for some silent majority that doesn't attend your coalition meetings?

      "The only reason I'm at Columbia and not some other school is that I have to be close to home to take care of my parents."

      staying home to take care of your parents is admirable. but cry me a fucking river. what a tragedy to not have any other options and instead attend a school you didnt even want to. Its not like there are any other colleges in Manhattan, let alone the city? Surely there isn't a college 15 blocks away from Columbia. Obviously there were other reasons you chose Columbia beyond your heroic altruism.


  4. KER

    We deleted the comments because 1. they contained offensive terms, threats, and material and 2. because they named specific Columbia students, which is both unacceptable and makes us think the person had an inside knowledge of Columbia.
    Ok, thanks.

  5. wow  

    bwog, calm the fuck down with deleting posts. People need to see stuff like that. Hell, I'd be mad, too if I voiced an opinion and get my comments deleted. Um, isn't that what Columbia's trying to do? "Delete" people? (When you delete something, it's not like they cease to exist, they just go to the Trash Bin where you don't have to deal with them anymore. exactly what columbia's trying to do in manhattanville)

    • not a free country

      they've got the right to delete whatever they want. plus, it's a student playing a joke in very poor taste and making racist threats, not a serious manhattanville discussion. there's one of those a few posts down, I think.

      • No they don't

        All of our tuition money goes into this site, it doesn't belong to them. It belongs to us.

        • rich uncle pennybags

          allllllllll of it? my monacle has popped out! how ever shall the university operate with all of our tuition money vaccumed up by this "bwogosphere?"

          this is like the argument "my tuition money goes into the university, therefore they must divest from the interests I do not support."

          and yes, a specific portion of your money goes to a "student activities fund." that's part of the deal. you don't like it? go to dartmouth. where similar things exist, but in the middle of no-where, where no-one cares.

        • bwogger

          This site is COMPLETELY independent of the university. All money to run the site comes from the pockets of editors and/or meager advertisement funds. This is important.

          • BnW

            Is this Blue & White independently funded too? I thought you guys were an ABC group (flee them!)

          • You use

            University computers to run the site? Even once or twice? Then it's university intellectual property.

          • alum

            Based on that logic, wouldn't any e-mail written from a University computer be University property, even if it's sent from a gmail account? I find that doubtful.

          • Sorry, that too

            They just chose not enforce it.

            Remember: All your base are belong to us.

          • Uh...

            care to cite chapter and verse of the law on that one? Because... bullshit.

          • Trustees

            It isn't bullshit. They don't seem to care about this site and yanking it would be a pr disaster, but I'm sorry to say, it is Columbia intellectual property. Just you wait, if Matt Sanchez or someone like that launches a libel suit or something--you'll see.

          • Dude

            I can't help but notice you're not citing any law or precedent for your crazy-ass claim.

          • hmm...  

            If the production of print version of The Blue and White is funded by ABC, it seems to me that Columbia could theoretically censor the content of the magazine and/or lay claim to the copyrights for the material contained within. (So in the extremely unlikely event that Columbia decided it wanted to rein in B&W, I believe it could issue a valid cease and desist letter to have the print content removed from, as well as revoke B&W's aliases, etc.)

            I don't think the same applies to the Bwog, though, which purports only to be "compiled by the staff of The Blue and White" and is hosted on an external server. If what #36 says is true -- that intellectual property altered through Columbia's network guarantees the University legal ownership and culpability -- why isn't ConnectU suing Harvard? Surely Zuckerberg produced parts of Facebook while on the Harvard network. And by that token, would any edit of any kind (e.g. - a comment on a NYTimes article) grant Columbia ownership of that content?

            I agree -- that needs a citaiton or two.

          • coda  

            This doesn't settle the question, but it's worth noting from the University's network usage policy:

            "Use of University systems or networks for commercial purposes, except where explicitly approved, is strictly prohibited. Such prohibited uses include, but are not limited to, development of programs, data processing or computations for commercial use and preparation and presentation of advertising material."

            I don't think that guarantees ownership in any way, but it would seem to declare a lot of network use -- both for Bwog and others student orgs -- a violation. But whatever, I still download music illegally.

          • It would

            It would fall under several different state and federal jurisdictions. I'm not an IP lawyer, but I do know that you're using Columbia e-mail addresses, funds (yes, you are, it's contaminated with student money) updating at school, etc, etc.

            You could fight it, sure, but you're exposing yourself... just an FYI. I wouldn't worry about the school. I'd worry about a student getting pissed off about a profile or something like that.

            You could ask the Columbia legal department if you're curious

          • Orrrr

            I could ignore you. Frankly, citing any one law, state or federal, or any settled case, would be good enough here. But you can't. Because that's not how intellectual property works.

            Not only that, but if I break into your house and use your laptop to write my memoirs, that doesn't mean you own my memoirs. You can recover damages for me smashing the window, yes, but in no sense do you have these rights.

            Columbia asserting something in a disclaimer is also not law. That said, even if CU network policies were being violated, that doesn't give them some magic right to seize third-party creative works.

          • Okay

            I'm really not in the mood to pay $100 a pop to dig through WestLaw to find specific cases. Besides, like I said, any claim like this would fall under multiple jurisdictions (i.e. this isn't about breaking a statute like committing murder or something). You could argue it one way or another.

            You're ignoring the idea of copyright, and assuming the author hadn't copyrighted his or her book, then the laptop owner would have a compelling claim.

            A more compelling, though not entirely analogous, scenario would be patents owned by the university. Because the research was done in a university lab etc, etc, they own the patent.

            Another area of exposure is with Columbia's trademark. Whether you mean to or not, you're presenting yourself as an agent of Columbia - by using their domain names on your e-mails and talking about the school - so someone maligned on your site could try to claim that you are an agent of Columbia and shake them down... Which would make them pull the plug on your site.

            BWOG isn't the Spectator, you're under the thumb of the administration. These aren't third-party creative works. And all Columbia would have to do shut you down is send a threatening e-mail from their legal department.

  6. well

    On another note, Learned Foote writes well, more reviews please.

  7. rjt

    I don't know what's going on here, and I do think this movie review was very well-written, but I have no idea why anyone's movie agenda right now involves anything other than going to see Superbad over and over.

  8. i like

    this kid ... give us hope, buddy.

  9. this guy

    will do well at columbia.

    i love how he took what could have been a boring old film review and turned it into a contemplative musing on how this series fits into american culture and why we feel the constant need to revisit it (not just that we did, with this remake).

    english professors will like you. and i do mean that as a compliment, not a veiled insult.

  10. ...  

    I like this guy. He's in the Spec group, though, so does that mean Bwog and Spec will have to vie for his talent?

    ... and he's cute, too.

  11. overcritical alumnus

    Hard to say much bad about this review, except that someone took the time to visit a movie theater in the hopes of seeing Nicole Kidman relive the glory days of early 70s, trashed-out "interesting looking" actresses.

    More importantly, here's hoping that Learned Foote continues to mark up the electronic pages that are the B&W. God, get him together with his doppleganger and the two would write reviews like gangbusters.

  12. yeayeayea

    ya niggas really need to stop turning this motherfucking issue into a motherfucking judgement of my motherfucking character. you know me, motherfuckers? all im saying is ya white motherfuckers at columbia is racist to the point that ya stand against this manhattanville issue wearing them pink ass shirts and got ya nasty ass toes out in sandals like a bunch of motherfucking niggas from soho, and then ya go and delete posts from this shit? oh word, why dont you go turn me into the feds for cursing on the internet? fucking pussies

  13. I'm surprised..

    ...that such a fan of these movies didn't mention "Body Snatchers" from 1993.

    What, no love for Abel Ferrara?

  14. STOPIT

    I hate that young man Sustin Atevenson who runs that club A-Teams Midwest finest, who does he think he is, he is just a fat asshole from Ohio.

  15. ....

    ...I would never say most of us don't AGREE with the expansion, but most students don't support it, judging from the lackluster attendance at all of the meetings last year. Most of us who did go were against the expansion and spoke up about it.

    And I don't know if you actually deal with any of your own finances, but college admissions usually cost between 50-100 dollars a pop. If your parents can't support you financially, that's 8-13 hours of a $7 an hour job per application. So I could only apply to 2, one being my dream school, the other Columbia. Columbia was closer to home and my large family, so here I am. Don't get me wrong, now that I'm here I love being here fiercely, and think it is a fantastic place, but I disagree with many of their practices just as fiercely. And since we're talking about a school FOUNDED on dissent, with a rich tradition of it, i think it only follows with tradition and curriculum to demand debate, argument, and hearing of opinions. Wouldn't you agree?

    • i disagree

      the fact that a huge crowd of expansion supporters didn't show up hardly implies the absent students aren't in favor of expanding. rather, we realize your dissent and resistance is simply a mild irritant and has a very minor effect in slightly slowing down the process but in the end prezbo and his cavalry will take the field (manhattanville) and win the day. theres no need for us to come out and debate you when our desires will be manifested soon enough.

      as for the college thing, you're full of it. why? i don't know. but i don't think i like you judging from your posts on this thread.

    • Stop showing

      Blah, blah, blah, I'm poor. I'm better than Columbia. Blah, blah, DISSENT. Blah, blah, blah.

      Stop showing off.

      What a self-righteous piece of shit.

  16. Dear God,  

    I love Columbia, and yet I hate so, so many Columbia students. This pious douche is a perfect example.

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