A movie for every day of the year – a good one
Statue of Liberty arrives in New York, 1885
On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, designed and made in France, arrived in New York. Depicting the Roman goddess of freedom Libertas, the statue was made in pieces, the first completed bits being the head and torch arm, and then shipped in crates to the USA, where the Americans had already built a pedestal in anticipation of its arrival. Its sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, had originally started work in the late 1860s on a gigantic torch-bearing statue designed to stand at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal. Nothing came of the project and Bartholdi turned his attention to the USA, noticing on his arrival by ship in New York on a scoping exercise that there was a large island perfectly poised to greet arrivals from the Old World to the New. The island was called Bedloe’s (or Bedlow’s) Island and as luck would have it was owned by the US government. The statue is hollow, being made of 90,800 kilos of copper around 2.4mm thick originally intended for anchoring to a brick pier inside. This plan changed when Bartholdi’s original structural collaborator died and Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) came on board. He decided that the statue would be better off anchored to a metal “curtain wall”. On its arrival in New York, the statue had to wait for the pedestal to be completed – fundraising had been fitful – and re-assembly didn’t start until April 1886. Work proceeded quickly and the statue was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland on 28 October 1886. The New York Daily News described it as towering “to the skies above all known statues of the present and the past”.
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (2011, dir: Madeleine Olnek)
It’s a great title, but is Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (CLSASS) a great film? Yes, if you admire can-do spirit, wonky humour and a spaceship that appears to be made from a styrofoam burger box. Taking a twin-track approach, writer/director Madeleine Olnek drops us at the beginning of the relationship between Jane (Lisa Haas), an employee at a gift card shop, and Zoinx (Susan Ziegler), an alien who has left her home planet of Zots, possibly because she isn’t capable of corralling her feelings the way her fellow Zotsians can; though her two fellow space travellers seem to have fallen in love with each other, so who knows. Meanwhile, in a car parked around the corner, two unusual Men in Black are keeping an eye on things and having bi-curious conversations that veer between the uncomfortable and the hilarious. Made for nothing, in black and white and looking like it was shot guerrilla style, it’s faintly in the New York scavenger style of Basket Case – grungy, lots of street noise – and makes a virtue of its make-do-and-mend graphics, the Theremin on the soundtrack, all in homage to cruddy sci-fi B movies of the 1950s and 1960s. This is a frequently funny film (“the elders can perform intercourse on themselves,” we overhear) which uses aliens to make perceptive points about humans – in a conversation between two of the aliens we learn that the sea makes us humans sad, unless we are in love, in which case our whole outlook on life is so occluded (the aliens’ word) by emotion that we’re barely aware of where we are. We’re a piece of skin stretched over a bag of organs and driven by a motor of emotion, it seems. And it does seem like a good way to describe us, the bald-headed female aliens by contrast speaking in a flat matter-of-fact monotone the entire time, their gills hidden by high Elizabethan collars, their costumes looking like something run up on a sewing machine while the machinist had half an eye on a 1960s Star Trek episode. If you’re the sort of person who isn’t comfortable with gay stuff, sexual politics, modern life, don’t worry, it’s all kept very much in the background – the joke about one of the MiBs not liking cream filled donuts because he’s not comfortable with the way the cream shoots all over his face is about as knuckly as it gets.
- Good, leftfield sci-fi
- Come on – great title
- Lisa Haas as Jane the chunky heroine
- Great tinfoil SFX
© Steve Morrissey 2014