January 23, 2006

New Rose Hotel - {It’s NOT Cyberpunk! Mkay?}

Year: 1998

Directed by: Abel Ferrara

Written by: Abel Ferrara, Christ Zois (Gibson’s name removed to protect the innocent)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Fox: Christopher Walken
  • X: Willem Dafoe
  • Sandii: Asia Argento
  • Rating: 1 out of 10

    screen capture


    Overview: It’s not cyberpunk, mkay? No, truly, it’s not!

    • Yes, it was based on a very good cyberpunk short story written by cyberpunk Godfather, William Gibson,
    • Yes, New Rose Hotel is on most every list of cyberpunk movies you can find on the internet, some of which are only 10 movies deep,
    • Yes, this movie seems to be a throwaway mention in about half the cyberstudy reviews of modern cyberpunk movies.

    Please trust me here - I’ve seen (and own) at least 95% of all cyberpunk movies currently in production and a very high percentage of the ones out of print (all that I can find out about and get). New Rose Hotel is NOT cyberpunk. These people are lying to you. I’m betting major bucks that the vast majority of those who have New Rose Hotel mentioned as cyberpunk have never seen it. If they had seen it, New Rose Hotel would not be on their cyberpunk list. Why do I say this?

    • This movie has NO cyberpunk visuals,
    • This movie has NO interesting philosophical message,
    • This movie has NO cyberpunk themes embedded in it, and
    • This movie takes place in modern time, not in a near future.

    On top of its lack of cyberpunknesss, New Rose Hotel as a movie is boring as shit! Ferrara needs an award for taking a high quality cast consisting of Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe (both of whom I LOVE as actors) and Asia Argento and producing this steaming pile of dung!

    The story: So what’s it about, you ask? Dafoe and Walken try to use a hooker (Argento) to convince a high profile geneticist to defect from one corporation to another. If they do, they pocket major bucks! In short, things go bad after an affair develops between Dafoe and Argento. But the bottom line is nobody watching this cares as the story as the cinematography and the acting are poorly enacted and uninspired. Worse, the last 15 minutes involves replaying of scenes from the first half of the movie. Why? For absolutely NO reason! Believe me when say that I look for meaning in films even when there isn’t really a basis - there was absolutely no reason for the flashbacks.

    Truly, this movie sucks on just about every aspect of movie making one can imagine. But I really don’t berate it for this reason - I intensely hate the fact that everyone has engaged in a cow-like groupthink in continually mentioning this as one of the main cyberpunk movies out. New Rose Hotel is only interesting in that it seems to have turned into a virus meme, infecting as many as possible with the mistaken belief that it’s something worthy of mention. As punishment for New Rose Hotel’s atrocities against good cyberpunk, I’ve dropped it a few stars in my rating (if I was unbiased, I might have given it a 3 out of 10 star rating). So in closing:


    Memo to other movie sites who have this listed as cyberpunk: Admit it, you haven’t seen it. Please remove New Rose Hotel from your cyberpunk movie list.


    Memo to cyberstudies researchers who list this movie as a representative cyberpunk movie: Please remove it. There at minimum 80 movies which would come before New Rose Hotel as far better examples of cyberpunk. If you are looking for specific movies to back up a particular point you are trying to prove, just drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to provide you detailed assistance in selecting more appropriate movies. Just PLEASE stop spreading the belief that this movie is cyberpunk!


    And um, yes, there are MANY other selections due for a rant like this. Escape from New York, anyone?


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: non-cyberpunk movie review rose hotel

    This post has been filed under 1 Star Movies, It's Not Cyberpunk! Mkay? by SFAM.

    Source: IBM via Engadget and VentureBeat

    Today (18-Aug-2011), IBM researchers unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today’s computers.

    This is your brain on a chip. Last Thursday IBM announced the development of a new computer chip that works like a human brain (press release here). Not content with pwning Jeopardy!, Big Blue is now looking to take artificial intelligence to the next level… or at least another step closer to human.

    The chips are part of the DARPA funded project SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) and their production is completion of phase one.

    Dharmendra Modha (Venture Beat pic)

    Dharmendra Modha, principal investigator: “This is the seed for a new generation of computers, using a combination of supercomputing, neuroscience, and nanotechnology,” Modha said in an interview with VentureBeat. ”The computers we have today are more like calculators. We want to make something like the brain. It is a sharp departure from the past.”


    Think about this. The idea behind the SyNAPSE project is to create computers with human-like abilities; Computer chips that accurately mimics the operations of the brain. IBM’s chips can do things like navigate and identify objects and patterns, but the ultimate goal would be to analyze more complex systems and learn. Yes, learn. All while using less power than current technologies can.

    But this is a DARPA project. DARPA, as in the Mad Scientist division of America’s DoD. The same people who made the Internet possible. Most likely, this is being developed for some sort of military analysis and strategy generation system, like a high-stakes chess machine.

    But isn’t that how Skynet started?

    Watson on Jeopardy!

    Alex Trebek: “The answer: The human race… Watson”
    Watson: “What is screwed?”
    Alex: “Correct!”

    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: CBS News (60 Minutes)

    Watch CBS News Videos Online

    This past Sunday’s (8-Nov-2009) 60 Minutes broadcast included this piece about Brazil’s blackout and how hackers were involved. But were hackers really involved? Anyone up for a history lesson?

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before… There has been a massive blackout in Brazil affecting Rio de Janeiro , Sao Paulo, and parts of Paraguay (BBC, Guardian.co.uk). The blackout is reportedly caused by problems at the Itaipu dam, some say by a storm in the area, others say corporate incompetence is to blame.

    Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. They have already decided that “hackers” were the cause. The same “hackers” who caused Brazil to go dark in 2007:

    “We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness,” the president said.

    President Obama didn’t say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil.

    Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007.

    That one in the state of Espirito Santo affected more than three million people in dozens of cities over a two-day period, causing major disruptions. In Vitoria, the world’s largest iron ore producer had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is not clear who did it or what the motive was.

    And to back up their claim, CBS News interviews some government-military-intelligence types who say “The US is not ready for a cyber-attack,” or some sound-alike crap, I really wasn’t paying too much attention.


    Chicken Little. We’ve heard the stories about multi-million dollar thefts due to hacks, and we do tend to believe them. CBS tries to make the big leap to infrastructure attacks by adding how hackers have penetrated military and government systems by leaving USB thumbdrives lying around for sheeple to find and plug into their systems, infecting them and leaving backdoors open for further intrusions and attacks. It sounds like if such an attack is possible, it was made so by clueless soldiers and wage-slaves.

    But are such attacks possible, even by “foreign” government agents? I wouldn’t put it pass them… but then again, I did read The Hacker Crackdown (I have to get a review up here!), and knowing that there’s a war for control of the Internet on, I would have to call shenanigans.

    Someone beat me to the phone…


    Wired Calls Shenanigans. (Wired) No sooner than CBS News puts the video and transcription up for public review, Wired’s Marcelo Soares knocks the foundation out from under:

    Brazilian government officials disputed the report over the weekend, and Raphael Mandarino Jr., director of the Homeland Security Information and Communication Directorate, told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that he’s investigated the claims and found no evidence of hacker attacks, adding that Brazil’s electric control systems are not directly connected to the internet.

    Uh oh. It looks like Brazil did something right (not connecting directly to the Internet), so CBS’s hacker claim is just some gov-mil-corp scare tactic. But if hackers didn’t cause those blackouts, what did?

    The earliest explanation for the blackout came from Furnas (Centrais Elétricas) two days after the Sept. 26, 2007, incident began. The company announced that the outage was caused by deposits of dust and soot from burning fields in the Campos region of Espirito Santo. “The concentration of these residues would have been exacerbated by the lack of rain in the region for eight months,” the company said.

    Brazil’s independent systems operator group later confirmed that the failure of a 345-kilovolt line “was provoked by pollution in the chain of insulators due to deposits of soot” (.pdf). And the National Agency for Electric Energy, Brazil’s energy regulatory agency, concluded its own investigation in January 2009 and fined Furnas $3.27 million (.pdf) for failing to maintain the high-voltage insulators on its transmission towers.

    (Note: See the original article from Wired for links to the pdf files mentioned above)

    Yep, corporate incompetence caused the blackouts. Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. It’ll ruin their image as a corporate propaganda machine.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: BBC News Magazine.

    I wanted to blog this sooner, but a stomach virus kept my power levels down for a couple of days.

    The idea of a personal robot has been on most everyone’s mind lately, even driving an intrepid inventor to build his own. Having a two-legged, walking, talking, thinking, tireless robot that can do household chores would be a blessing to some. But a recent article from the BBC News Magazine shows that such personal robots may not as close as most might think.

    While many obstacles have been cleared so far, there are still some major roadblocks ahead (other than price) that may keep personal robots a dream:

    Walking. With the likes of Honda’s Asimo robot seen walking about, one would think they would have the robotic walking mastered. But it’s actually harder than you might think. “Human walking is controlled falling. Robots doing controlled falling ends up in falling - but with a complete absence of control,” goes the article. If you watch Asimo’s walk, it definitely doesn’t look like human-style walking. Also consider this following video of another walking robot that ends up on the floor instead. So much for progress.

    Handling abilities. Imagine your robot trying to grab a beer from the fridge, only to crush the can or destroy the bottle in its iron grip. Now imagine that same robot trying to shake your, or another person’s, hand. Being able to grasp something without crushing it requires a fine touch… no pun intended. But may be a bit easier than some other obstacles.

    Vision and Thought. In humans, vision and thought are fundamental and often integrated functions: What we see triggers our brains to “react” to the input. Unfortunately, robot vision isn’t so advanced since they have yet to develop human-like thought.

    Multitasking. Humans are great at handling multiple tasks, even though some are incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. Robots can only do one task at any given time. Until robots can walk and chew gum at the same time, they will only be useful for what they were designed and programmed to do.

    Human stuff. Humans came about as the result of millions of years of evolution. Some are trying the same tactic with robots. So far, they have yet to “leave the swamp.”

    Ethical issues. OK, what would happen if the robots finally achieve human-level abilities? Would they be slaves to the man and woman? Does the world really need a mechanized “human?”

    Rosie The Robot

    What’s a robot to do? They’re still saying that household robots are possible in ten years, but they won’t be the humanoid C3PO types. They’ll be limited, specialists like Roombas. Designed to do specific tasks like wash the windows, take out the trash, or get a beer from the fridge… hopefully without crushing the can or destroying the bottle in its iron grip.

    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Sept. 20, 2007. Dan Rather is suing his former employers at CBS and Viacom (CBS’s former parent company) for $70M.

    I know, it’s not something that would normaly be on the front of Cyberpunk Review, but what Dan Rather says about how the network “news” is being filtered and delivered to you…

    Samantha Gross (Associated Press Writer):

    Dan Rather said Thursday that the undue influence of the government and large corporations over newsrooms spurred his decision to file a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and its former parent company.

    “Somebody, sometime has got to take a stand and say democracy cannot survive, much less thrive with the level of big corporate and big government interference and intimidation in news,” he said on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

    Rather cites the “discredited” 2004 story about Bush’s military service for making him a scapegoat, causing his removal from the CBS Evening News in 2005.


    Sound familiar yet? One theme of cyberpunk is corporate control over society (see What is Cyberpunk?), and what better way to exercise that control than to inject propaganda into the evening news, displacing hard reality with brain-draining fluff about some pop-tart.

    Ever wonder why the “news” seems dominated by the latest Britney Spears fuck-up while little to no negativity against the Bush administration is present? And why has the number of bloggers exploded, while traditional press and news outlets struggle to adopt the Internet’s abilities?


    What’s the reality, Kenneth? Rather’s career has been historical, but also controversial at times, including an on-air confrontation with then Vice-President “Papa Bush.” Like father, like son; George Bush senior never gave Dan Rather another interview and junior has never been interviewed by him either. Ironically, it was Air National Guard documents that described junior Bush as “unfit” that began the end of Rather’s career. A Bush family vendetta against Mr. Rather? Quite possible…

    But Rather’s beef goes beyond the Bush family; He also says that journalism has lost its guts:

    Daniel Terdiman, Staff Writer, CNET News.com:

    During his hour-long keynote address Monday at South by Southwest Interactive, Rather opined at length on the state of his profession, in which too many journalists have become lapdogs to power, rather than watchdogs.

    Rather reiterated the journalist’s role as a watchdog.

    “Not as an attack dog…But what does the lapdog do? He just crawls into someone’s lap,” he said. “A good watchdog barks at everything that’s suspicious. I submit to you, the American press’ role is to be a watchdog.”

    Part of the problem, according to the the CNET article, is that journalists don’t want to rock the boat and risk confrontation with the power elite so as not to jeopardize their access to them… something even Rather admits to doing. Unfortunately, this leads to the journalist becoming a puppet of the elite. Another problem is the growing consolidation of media companies that causes newsrooms to be more interested in keeping shareholders happy than finding the truth.

    While he sees traditional journalists as seduced by corporate (and government) interests, he also sees hope in the Internet’s blogosphere:

    “The Internet is a tremendous tool for not just news, (because) its potential is unlimited for that,” Rather said, but for “illumination and opening things up.”

    Rather responded that he sees a lot of potential in the Internet, and in the blogosphere in particular, but that he worries about anonymity on a lot of Web sites and blogs.

    He said it’s very easy to attack someone when you don’t have to put your name to your complaints. He’s not sure how to strike the right balance between professional and citizen journalism, but he believes the market will eventually provide that solution.


    A quest for the TRUTH… maybe. Reuters reports that Rather’s reason for the lawsuit isn’t about the money:

    Reuters/Hollywood Reporter:

    Instead, Rather said on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that he wants to use the litigation to find out what really happened behind the scenes after his discredited report on President Bush’s military record aired on “60 Minutes II” in 2004.


    If this lawsuit leads to a gov-corp-newsroom connection being exposed, it will confirm the extent of the ruling power’s influence in crating a virtual reality to keep the sheeple clueless and sedate. If not, we can file it a conspiracy theory, complete with whispers of corporate control of the newsrooms.

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Sixteen Tongues Screencap


    In a recent post in the Meatspace forum, Stormtrooper of Death advocates the development of a new Cyberpunk Manifesto, ver 3.0. Stormtrooper of Death has started the process by creating a node in the Cyberpunk Wiki. The previous two version are reproduced here. In 2007, we’ve entered a world in which the power of mass collaboration is changing the mode of production (See Wikinomics for a good read on this subject). As a consequence, this process should also drive the development of a new cyberpunk manifesto. Please join us in writing this.

    This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by SFAM.

    Mind over Matter


    Brian sent me to an article on Physorg.com that details research to get the computer to respond directly to commands from the mind:


    Sitting stone still under a skull cap fitted with a couple dozen electrodes, American scientist Peter Brunner stares at a laptop computer. Without so much as moving a nostril hair, he suddenly begins to compose a message — letter by letter — on a giant screen overhead.

    “B-O-N-J-O-U-R” he writes with the power of his mind, much to the amazement of the largely French audience of scientists and curious onlookers gathered at the four-day European Research and Innovation Exhibition in Paris, which opened Thursday.

    Brunner and two colleagues from the state-financed Wadsworth Center in Albany, New York were demonstrating a “brain computer interface (BCI),” an astounding technology which digitalizes brain signals emitted as electrical impulses — picked up by the electrodes — to convey intent.

    While no spoons were bent, this was definitely mind over matter.


    Mind over Matter


    The technology works very slowly, requiring 15 seconds per letter, but for those totally paralyzed, this would provide them a boon in communication:


    Dr. Sellers estimates there are some 100 million potential users of BCI technology worldwide, including 16 million sufferers of cerebral palsy, a degenerative brain disease, and at least five million victims of spinal cord injury. Another 10 million people have been totally paralyzed by brainstem strokes, she said….

    The Wadsworth system, one of several that detects electroencephalographic (EEG) activity, is based on an algorithm that analyzes the brain waves and identifies peaks in activity that correspond to particular mental efforts. As Dr. Brunner concentrates on the “B” of “bonjour” in a keyboard-like grid of letters and symbols taking up half the screen, a computer randomly highlights lines of characters in rapid succession.

    Each time the row — vertical or horizontal — containing the letter “B” is illuminated, Brunner’s brain emits a slightly stronger signal. It takes the computer about 15 seconds to figure out what letter he is looking at. The system is doubly adaptive, with both the software and the person using it becoming more efficient over time.


    Truly, this is a pretty cool step in improving a portion of the human condition. It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves.

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by SFAM.

    Ergo Proxy screen capture


    Budo (username ETM) found this wonderful new anime out of Japan called Ergo Proxy. Apparently it started broadcasting in Japan this February. Ergo Proxy is directed by Witch Hunter Robin director Shinichirô Watanabe, and is written by Dai Sato the same guy who wrote Samurai Champloo. By all accounts the production values are high and the story is multi-layered and complex. The anime goes for 25 episodes, and like many cyberpunk animes, chances are that a lot of the story and plot will remain unclear until near the end of the series.


    Ergo Proxy screen capture


    I’ve been surfing around to find out more about this, and have found some decent story write-ups and screen captures. The Cinnamon Ass Anime Blog Summerizes the setting and story as follows:


    In the futuristic, post-apocalyptic Romdo City, humans co-exist with artificial androids and other robots known as “Autoreivs”, ranging from industrial models to more humanoid ones. An epidemic of a disease called Cogito has been sweeping through the Autoreivs, corrupting their programming to give them free will. Lil Meyer and her sidekick Autoreiv Iggy investigate Cogito infections, but Lil is attacked by a monstrous humanoid thing; she (rightly) suspects that the central intelligence bureau, newly headed up by Raul, is covering something up, and it seems she may be more involved than she realised as she is placed in danger in her own home; meanwhile, the seemingly innocuous Vincent Rowe, an Autoreiv technician, may know more about what’s going on than it first appears, and judging from the pre-airing info and the credits the Autoreiv child he repairs for an obnoxious aristocrat, Pino, is going to be important along the way.


    Ergo Proxy screen capture


    The Anime on my Mind Blog Describes Ergo Proxy as Follows:


    The best way to describe Ergo Proxy is “CSI meets GitS meets Bladerunner” with only a hawt gothic girl replacing hawt military girl and androgynous android replacing ta-chi-ko-ma-kun. Ril is the hawt gothic girl, and she is a detective for the Citizen Security Bureau for Romundo, a city-state where androids live amongst men. Her partner is the android Iggy. The setup is pure Bladerunner… if Ril doesn’t start questioning her humanity by episode six, I’d be shocked.


    Ergo Proxy screen capture


    The Wakaranai Blog has some comments about how Ergo Proxy fits in to other cyberpunk animes and movies:


    …In this regard, a lot of people, too many people, have commented on its “similarity” to GitS and/or the Matrix. I’m sorry people, but the Matrix didn’t invent dark clothing or knee-length jackets, and GitS didn’t invent computers. The show is heavily inspired by the cyberpunk genre itself, but has its own unique style and setting, and does not borrow concepts from other entries in the genre. The best way I can think of to describe the atmosphere, is dark, gritty and sexy, a mature combination that works surprisingly well in illustrating a caged society on the edge.

    This style is awesomely achieved with engaging direction, from abstract angles to a practical, yet sleek, approach. I cite this as a major reason for my love for the first Matrix film, and this raises the bar to a similar level, making everything far more memorable than it could be. The animation lives up to my demands, despite not being anywhere near as flashy as Samurai Champloo’s was. I think there is a slight shift in focus of animation from fluidity and movement, to detail and artwork. The show doesn’t feel more static than it should be, but, fitting for the dour, shadowy atmosphere there is a slot of standing around looking reflective. I’ll make sure you understand that it wasn’t a problem at all, though, and the attention to detail and consistency more than makes up for it. I guess we have plenty of time to find flaws though.


    Ergo Proxy screen capture


    Ergo Proxy is being delivered in High Definition, which only contributes to it’s polished look. Apparently there is a DVD being produced on May 25th, but it appears to be only for the Japan market, so I doubt there will be English subtitles on it (my preferred language - others clearly have other needs). Budo says he’ll be providing a review as soon as he watches it (he’s downloading it now). I can’t wait to see it :).


    Ergo Proxy screen capture


    Many thanks to the Anime on my Mind blog and the “OK, AQ” blog for the screencaps. I haven’t seen it, so I had to take these and resize to fit my 650 pixel constraints.

    This post has been filed under Upcoming Movies by SFAM.

    I found this on the Livejournal Cyberpunk Collective. Looks like the DARPA, the US Military’s high-tech R&D arm is investigating the use of implanting cyborg devices in insect larvae so that when they fully develop, they’ll be cybernetic killing machines! Or, um, at least they’ll be able to snoop out the enemy.




    “Darpa believes scientists can take advantage of the evolution of insects, such as dragonflies and moths, in the pupa stage.

    “Through each metamorphic stage, the insect body goes through a renewal process that can heal wounds and reposition internal organs around foreign objects,” its proposal document reads.

    The foreign objects it suggests to be implanted are specific micro-systems - Mems - which, when the insect is fully developed, could allow it to be remotely controlled or sense certain chemicals, including those in explosives.

    The invasive surgery could “enable assembly-line like fabrication of hybrid insect-Mems interfaces”, Darpa says.”

    One wonders how well butterflies will work in the Iraqi desert.

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by SFAM.

    Great news everyone - A new reviewer has joined the Cyberpunk Review team!

    Neuromancer, a frequent site participant, is going to start reviewing cyberpunk games!

    We should see Neuromancer’s first review up on the site in the next day or so. This is terrific as the goal of cyberpunkreview.com is to eventually encompass all forms of cyberpunk media. Game reviews will make a terrific addition both to the content and to the discussions. So everyone give him a warm welcome as he gets his feet wet.

    Also, if anyone else is interested in participating, PLEASE PLEASE drop me a line at sfam”at”cyberpunkreview.com. I am VERY interested in expanding the content to cyberpunk games, books, manga and graphic novels, art, and even cyberpunk music. I know Desirina mentioned she might be interested in reviewing books (I’m hoping to hear back from her on this), but I’m guessing that in the case of most forms of media, multiple reviewers won’t be a problem. So again, speak up if interested. And welcome, Neuromancer :)

    This post has been filed under Site Development by SFAM.

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