When the Crew first met each other, they all sat at a bar and told stories of how they died. They laughed over drinks as Gavin told of his trip on the Nina, on the voyage across the sea to the new world and how he died when a broken beam fell on his head. Geoff told about how he died, the only casualty of the Boston Tea Party. He had gotten into a scuffle with another protester over an expensive bottle of whiskey they had found while grabbing boxes of tea. Jack talked about how the Spanish Inquisition had broken down her door, dubbing her a witch and burning her when in reality she was just someone who sheltered a young boy from the same group. Michael was the youngest, having died in the second World War due to mustard gas inhalation. Ryan acted smug when he spoke about dying in a Viking raid, taking an arrow to the chest as he broke down the door to a blacksmith’s house. They all blanched however when Ray set his glass down. He clasped his hands as he leaned forward onto the table.
“I want you to guess.” he smirked, looking them all in the eyes.
“2002. Shopping cart accident.” Gavin laughed as Ray shook his head.
“1972. Blazed too hard” Michael grinned.
“Farther back.” Ray said as he sipped his drink.
The Gents decided to jump centuries with their guesses.
“I want to say 1800, that Earthquake in Missouri.” Jack guessed. Ray laughed at that.
“Why the fuck would I be in Missouri in the 1800’s?” he said as Jack grinned.
Ryan tapped his knuckles against the table, deep in thought. He looked Ray in the eye, trying to gauge him. Draining his drink, Geoff sighed.
“Are you older than America?” he asked as he set the glass down. Ray nodded and called the waitress over for another bottle of water. Scowling, Geoff held his glass out too.
“Older than Shakespeare?” Jack asked, shocked as he nodded in confirmation
“Khan?” Ryan rumbled, eyes widening as Ray dipped his head again.
“Dude, did you meet Jesus?” Michael leaned across the table, fingering his cross necklace.
“Man, I’m older than Jesus. Older than the pyramids in Egypt.” He sat back smugly. “I’ve done it all”
p>They kept guessing throughout the night, Geoff guessing a few years before Jesus, smashing his glass when he was told he was incorrect. Ryan finally guessed the closest.
“Mesopotamia.” he stared Ray down as he nodded. He was thousands of years older than the rest of them.
“I’m one of the original BrownMen” he laughed.
Disclosure: This film probably won’t satiate disciples of the millennium aesthetic, but it touches on themes and references that I think are inseparable from the time period. It is also a great example of what DVD technology offered as a potentially interactive medium of storytelling - perhaps one of the best that I’ve come across.
A little while ago I found a DVD at a (now closed) dollar store in Ashfield, which in its final days provided the community with a smorgasbord of Video Ezy ex-rentals (for which I am very grateful). Made in 2002, My Little Eye was a horror movie clearly influenced by the mania around Big Brother, telling the story of five contestants who move into a house rigged with webcams, totally unaware of their location. They are enticed by a million dollar cash prize - if they have the endurance to stay for a full six months. The contestants are bound by a series of rules and curfews that curtail their activities. If any of them leave, the deal is off. Spooked by suggestive digs at their past that arrive with their rations, they begin exploring the possibility that the stream’s backers are banking on their instability to avoid paying out the cash prize. Hijacking internet access from a visitor’s phone, their suspicions are confirmed with the discovery of a highly-encrypted website offering the stream, with projected odds of their survival.
I put the DVD in and was greeted with the option of watching My Little Eye in “Interactive Mode”, which lets you view the film from the perspective of a web browser. The contestant’s profiles are lined on the right, displaying their audition videos if you choose to access them (and their survival odds/life status updates in real-time with the story). There’s an ARCHIVE page that allows you to recap episodes that take place before the film starts, updating intermittently with clips as you pass key moments of the story. This gives you a good insight into some of the characters, surveilling their private moments to learn how they really feel about each other. In fact, one clip implicates a contestant in an act that may have directly led to another’s death, which you would have no idea about if you were to watch the film conventionally.
Extraneous features include alternate camera angles (cycling through the webcams in real-time), listening in on the website admins as they take delight in the characters’ suffering, etc. Even though it spoils many things prematurely (like I have probably done), I would highly recommend Interactive Mode as the definitive means of experiencing the story. Just make sure you have a legitimate copy of the DVD, as there’s an access code inside the case (typing this brings back nightmares of my burned copy of Metal Gear Solid).
Bit of trivia: The writer, James Watkins directed the incredibly unsettling Black Mirror episode “Shut Up and Dance”, which also deals with people competing against each other for survival.
Bear in mind, all of these are pretty strong stuff. The series is notorious for a reason (the second one in particular for being falsely mistaken for a snuff film). Some of the other films above, such as Tetsuo: The Iron Man, and Bunman: The Untold Story, contain some pretty graphic and disturbing imagery.
I’m only disappointed that I couldn’t find links for Organ (1996), or Ab-Normal Beauty (2004). Also, take note that some links may require a bit of cajoling to get things started (whether it be waiting for ads, or waiting for it to load). I’m sure I’m probably forgetting a few good ones, as well. In any case, enjoy! :3
The way the dog trots out the front door
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her dog house
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.
Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Ghandi with his staff and his holy diapers?
Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.
If only she did not shove the cat aside
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.