Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Twitch of the Eye Nerve

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - I think I'm starting to get that twitch in my eye again.

Over spring break last summer, I had to deal with my very first instance of blepherospasm---the medical term for an eye twitch. It was a (to borrow a Britishism) pretty nasty little bugger: whenever I yawned, or even on random, inopportune occasions, that optic nerve would start moving on its own as if I was actually angry at something. Eh, who knows? Maybe I was angry at something at that point---angry at basically being stuck doing a shitload of work while many people I knew were off going wild in either Florida or some exotic island somewhere, for one thing (damn you, Media Ethics!). Mostly, though, it's probably because I either a) didn't get enough sleep in the previous few weeks, or b) was drinking a bit too much caffeinated soda in general.

Well, it looks like it might be on the verge of happening again. But hey, can I help it if I have a 50-point Editing & Layout design project to finish in a night---as I did last night, staying up 'til, like, 4 a.m. to finish---or if I seem to have trouble staying awake in my 1:10 p.m. French Film class even with a bottle of Mountain Dew constantly on hand?

Life of a typical college student, I guess. But hey, if I ever decide to become a teacher or something, at least I'll have some experience in the teacher lifestyle as far as sleep deprivation goes...


Can you believe it?

Our Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team---which, a few years ago, went something like 1-11, and is now 8-0 this year---is now so much the hottest ticket in college football that it was the source of campouts, fights and a special visit---complete with over 50 pizza boxes---from Coach Greg Schiano as students almost literally fought their way to advanced game tickets yesterday in anticipation of tomorrow night's nationally televised football game against No. 3-ranked Louisville. Who woulda thunk it?

Funny thing: I actually know pretty well the guy who---at least he tells me---was the first guy on line for the tickets yesterday morning. (If you're expecting me to reveal names, no luck; I guess you can e-mail me, IM me or Facebook me or something, but you're not getting it here; feel jealous on your own time.) He apparently went to Busch at around 8:30ish p.m. Monday night and camped out all night for tickets. Now that's dedication. (He told me he made the extra effort partly because he expected this to be his last football home game, so he knew he definitely wanted these.)

The game, for those who don't already know, sold at about around noonish Tuesday. And already you can find tickets for this game selling for over $1,000 on eBay! Hats off to whoever would be willing to plunk down that much money for one or two tickets to a football game; I'll applaud you even if I don't entirely understand you.

As for me: yeah, I think I'll watch it on TV. In fact, I'm actually getting pretty excited about it. Yeah, I'm a frontrunner, I know. But might as well have some team to root for now. My New York Mets were eliminated in fairly heartbreaking fashion, and the New York Jets are 4-4 right now and apparently not doing so good with its offense. But apparently the Rutgers football Scarlet Knights is firing on almost all cylinders, especially its defense.

I guess it isn't all bad to have some school spirit, right? Go team!


I liked Christopher Nolan's newest film The Prestige (*** out of ****) well enough even though a) I'm a bit of a Christopher Nolan agnostic (Memento is okay, I guess, although I've never been able to see it as more than a fleetingly impressive narrative stunt; and I still think Batman Begins, for all its obvious sincerity and seriousness, provided master classes in both editing incoherence in action scenes and prosaic compositions in a comic-book movie) and b) I thought this year's earlier movie-about-magic The Illusionist was more elegant and fun than this intriguing but kinda cold tale about revenge and betrayal.

Still, there is one way to take the various twists and turns of The Prestige seriously: as a study of obsession. Robert Angier's quest to avenge the death of his beloved wife is mirrored by Alfred Borden's obsessive quest to simply be the best. Yeah, the movie's kinda cold in its tone, but is there any way to really relate to such singleminded, driven people except to observe them as tiny, nasty insects going to near-outrageous lengths to outdo the other? Best, perhaps, to simply observe these specimens as tiny, nasty insects whose problems more or less don't really matter much in the grand scheme of things---except, maybe, to Christopher Nolan, whose previous films have featured similarly obsessive heroes whose existences seem mostly defined by other people's existence, or by vengeance. In that way, perhaps The Prestige is a kind of auteurist masterpiece, complete with fractured storytelling, hollowed-out characters and a mythical, storybook visual style (courtesy of DP Wally Pfister, who also lensed Batman Begins) that occasionally provides more visual interest than his other films have provided. (In other words, some of The Prestige looks genuinely, beautifully atmospheric, like frames out of some forbidden adult storybook fairytale.)

Some have complained about the supposed absurdity of the twists in this movie. Absurd? Perhaps, but I think they all make some kind of sense within the psychological context this film provides. (SPOILER WARNING) I mean, what resonance isn't there in this double-barreled tale of obsession when you find out that one of the characters was able to clone himself four times and use all four of his doubles to pull off his biggest trick of all?

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