NOISE = PROPHECY” except Hollywood Style

Even though Armageddon has the longest sustained purely abstract-expressionist avant-garde sequence ever edited into the heart of a mainstream blockbuster, I didn’t catch much of it last night. A friend wz in relationship meltdown; i wz on phonebuffy max alert ; most of Five’s suddenly too-well-named ‘Disaster Evening’ passed me by. But the opening minutes of Armageddon reminded me of the degree to which at-the-time heart-tugging boilerplate of US city police and firemen doing their duty as buildings fall have gathered abt themselves many new layers of emotional force ( I first noticed this when finding I wz tearing up duting the closing scenes of the very ludicrous Volcano as screened ITV last September, when Tommy Lee Jones is all covered in ash).

There was an odd season, 1996-98, which Hollywood spent imagining the worst, aimed at NYC: Independence Day, Twister, Volcano, Dante’s Peak, Armageddon, Deep Impact, Godzilla – even Titanic maybe. Back then it felt like end-of-history peace-dividend relief (possibly): Imperial America has no more real-life foes, can divert itself into tales of its own catastrophic immolation. Now it seems ghastly in its prescient unease: not just that terrible things can still happen to this so-long safe haven, but that the response will in each case be a small-minded further disaster convincing itself it’s brilliant improvised genius? The endings are focus-grouped for feelgood, as per, until you actually think abt what happened to anyone who didn’t get onscreen. Plus also consider this: the plan that saves “all” of us “works” in the movie, but really only as the result of a sequence of hair-raising gambles – such gambling is cool fun in a thriller, but fantastically criminally dumb and irresponsible once intruded into the actual real world.