Future Shock

Nine years ago, Japanese writer-director Mamoru Oshii's "Ghost in the Shell" was the first anime film to be nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes. It became a cult hit, and now Oshii has returned with the highly anticipated "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence," opening today in Washington.

Both movies envision a world, circa 2032, where machines and humans have become interchangeable. There are gun battles and yakuza mooks, of course, but the characters quote Rene Descartes and Isaac Asimov, Confucius and the Bible, in an Aristotelian dialogue about the nature of man and machine.

The Post's Bill Booth caught up with Oshii in Los Angeles recently. We don't know about the movie, but his view of the future is a don't-miss:

* "The human body is becoming obsolete, and so we must find a place for all life forms -- human, animal, robot, computer -- where they are all equal."

* "People are very different from animals. We don't accept our original bodies. Humans wear clothes, have earrings and tattoos, do cosmetic surgery, take vitamins. If they are sick, they get organ transplants. And now we have radios, telephones, microphones, watches, computers, microchips outside the body now, but soon we will utilize these machines inside our bodies and then we will become part cyborg. This is inevitable. The process has already begun."

* "Humans have always created their environments so they can live more comfortably. A person has a heart problem. He gets a pacemaker. I believe in a new future where people will become mechanized. And you can see they are already starting to lose their original bodies."

* The pioneers of body mechanization "will probably be Japanese. That, and human cloning. . . . Because we do not have the same taboos. Japan is a really weird country without any religion. We take ideas from everywhere. We don't really care about what is lost and what is acquired. Japanese don't believe in anything. They don't have very strong wills. They are weak but adaptable." Oshii pauses. "I think Japanese people could live in outer space," he says. "Very easily."

Noted . . .

London tabs are taking the bauble and running with it by reporting that Avril Lavigne is engaged to Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley. True, the two are dating and, yes, the 19-year-old rockstress has been spotted sportin' a sparkler on her ring finger, but Whibley's camp denies denies denies, reports MTV.com. Lavigne's people are sticking to the boring no-commenting-on-their-personal-lives routine. Man, why they'd have to go and make things so complicated? . . . Okay, what's the first name that comes to mind when we say Erotic Museum of Hollywood? If you guessed Hugh Hefner, congrats! Naturally, Hef was the very first inductee into the museum's hall of fame earlier this week. "Hugh Hefner's brand of preened perfection became the standard of beauty for a nation," the museum wrote on its Web site. We also suppose he needs a place to store all those old pajamas. . . . Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have a lot on their plate considering they just started frosh year at New York University, but as of Sept. 8 the sister-act have become the celeb faces of Happy Meals for Mickey Dees all over France. Because, you know, eating is a good cause. . . . It's a good thing 25-year-old Kanye West is such a masta hip-hopper because the native Chicagoan certainly hasn't mastered geography. "I'm not too sure about how the U.K. breaks down," he 'fessed up to London's Daily Mirror. "Is Germany there?" Uh . . . .

. . . and Quoted

"Again, kissing Wolf Blitzer does not -- does not -- cause razor burn."

-- CNN's bearded anchor, assuring fans everywhere after Monday's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" asked: "Razor burn is an irritating skin condition commonly caused by what activity: shaving, flossing, shampooing, kissing Wolf Blitzer?"

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

Film director Mamoru Oshii envisions a future in which people and machines have merged and Japanese scientists master human cloning.