Thursday, December 04, 2014
A self-affirmation of America’s political role as global policeman.
A self-affirmation of America’s political role as global policeman.
The Uses of Disenchantment in the film that is set after but made before Monsters University.
The Law of the Sea
Davy Jones administers the trade in the souls of men.
Pearls Before Swine
An action-adventure movie based on a kids ride at a theme park is hiding a real national treasure.
More Than This
Knight and Day delivers all the profundity that Inception only promises.
Explaining the Madness
A new theory to help the viewer unravel the cult classic.
‘“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.’ Mystery novelist Andrew Klavan, “What Bush and Batman Have in Common,” The Wall Street Journal.
“Flaws aside, Spielberg’s masterpiece is, I believe, a rather important and uniquely American work of art. The idea of a small-town flatfoot realizing that his duty requires him to step on a boat and head off to sea is a metaphor that not only resonated with WWII veterans in the 70s, but still resonates today with anyone who’s had to leave the comforts of home to go confront a threat. Also, with its entire story circling down to that amazing moment when the grizzled old seadog Quint has gotten a look at the beast he’s going to be confronting and decides to unpack and assemble a fearsome harpoon, the film strongly echoes Melville, as well as all the other literature and art that’s been inspired by America’s centuries-long quest to tame the Atlantic ocean. This is one of our touchstone movies that won’t go out of style until people have lost their fear of sharks, the ocean, drowning and the unknown in general—in other words, never.” Ryan Stewart, Cinematical. In context of a review of a new documentary on Jaws titled The Shark is Still Working.
Science Fiction novelist John C. Wright reviews Lady in the Water and suggests that critics missed the point. It’s the first review of this film I’ve seen that makes me want to watch it. A quote on myth and critics: “When something supernatural or something epic happens to us in real life, we have no means of dealing with it except what we have learned through stories. Myths are the soul of the civilization. When a war starts, for example, whatever the governing myth is in the society dictates how men will react to this epic circumstances: if Viet Nam is the governing myth of the society, we will react to all wars according to what that myth says, and we will call the war a quagmire. If David and Goliath is the governing myth in society, then we will root for the little guy. So the movie had to deal with the question of what happens to a man who over-intellectualizes his myth. What do you do when you do not have a myth ready to deal with things of mythic magnitude in life? The character, to make this point, had to be someone who knew stories backward and forward, but who was not himself a creative person: a critic, in other words. Someone who sucks the magic out of myth-making for a living. Of course he has to come to a bad end: the point of the story is that we need stories to live, we need the inspiration as a lantern in the dark. A man who throws that lamp away, according to the logic of the story theme, has to stumble.” The article also reviews and interprets Take the Lead.
If you don’t have time to watch Modern Times, Citizen Kane, Brazil, The Wall, E.T., the Australian satire Bliss, Office Space and The Matrix, then steal a few moments to watch More, the stop-motion-animated film that captures the message of those films with the density and essentialness of a zen koan. In the age of time compression, look for this as the trend of future filmmaking: two years to make a six-minute masterpiece that is itself a condensation of 70 years of filmmaking.
Reader David Schaap has blogged a great interpretation of George Clooney’s feel-good political film (the black and white one, I mean). “This film is not about the wanton abuse of political power for self-aggrandizing purposes and the persecution of liberals and other political enemies during the 50’s. Oh, no. It is about the persecution of smokers today.” Great stuff. “Are you now, or have you ever been, a smoker?”
Just getting through a major back-log of e-mail and came across this link to a blog entry by Mike Lynch in Sydney on The Matrix. “The Matrix is a metaphor for capitalism, under which humans (the proletariat) are kept in a state of passive illusion (false consciousness) while the machines (the bourgeois) feed off their ‘energy’ (alienated labour). That’s why the humans-as-batteries scenario is necessary, even though it’s just silly in science-fiction terms - for the metaphor to work, the bad guys have to be stealing the labour of the good guys.” Funny and oddly satisfying . . .
Matt Bailey has a review of Metropolis at Not Coming to a Theater Near You, a DVD and video review site. Pretty much sums up my experience: “Metropolis has to be one of the most talked-about and written-about of silent films, yet I find that I have next to nothing to say about it. As visual spectacle, it is perhaps without equal in its era. There is no question that Fritz Lang was a crackerjack conjurer of images, one who continues to influence film technique and style to this day. Yet under the surface (and what a surface!) of Lang’s film churns a narrative that is, at best, befuddling, and, at worst, silly.” A nice, quick read that gets its point across without fuss.
Jeff at the Beautiful Atrocities blog calls to our attention his discussion of Zhang Yimou’s Hero, suggesting that it may not be promoting pacifism but passivism. As for me, I’m off to see Zatoichi this weekend instead.
Roger Ebert’s take on A Cinderella Story is couched in the form of an open letter to a teen-age boy. Apparently Mr. Ebert has untapped skill as a comedian. “Even when a critic dislikes a movie, if it’s a good review, it has enough information so you can figure out whether you’d like it, anyway. For example, this review is a splendid review because it lets you know you’d hate A Cinderella Story, and I am pretty much 100 percent sure that you would.”
Here’s a provoking take on Lars von Trier’s 2003 film as a meditation on Matthew 11.20–24. “I submit that Dogville makes more sense and is meatier when seen as a religious film rather than a political one, the unfortunately crude and literal closing credits notwithstanding. But as a religious work of art, Dogville is a rare breed today—unapologetically moralistic, and displaying and justifying the most unpopular Christian doctrine of all—Hell.” (Victor Morton, 24fps Magazine)
The Despecialized Star Wars
Summary Bug Creates Unintended Cinematic Beauties
See it live
Sizzling Bacon is HERE at Long Last
24 Things You Might Not Know About Fight Club
Tree of Life and the Lamb of God
Filming In Tongues
Martin Scorsese’s parents were aliterate
This Again—At A Theater Near You
Bollywood Directors and the “Cut To Switzerland”
The Constant Traveler
Save the Movies from Save The Cat!
Propaganda, A Primer
It may actually be long After Midnight
Dirty Wars playing, then disappearing, at a theater near you
Luke’s Change: An Inside Job
What Does Hollywood Have to Do with Jerusalem?
There are only fourteen books worth reading each year
Why Are Foreign Films So… Foreign?
Tree of Life Shooting Locations in Smithville, Texas