Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Pretentious Summer Superhero

A. O. Scott has a great tongue-in-cheek but thoughtful piece on films and interpretation and “the rise of the term-paper blockbuster.” “This summer, millions of teenagers have been invited to experience the tedium and pedantry of graduate school in Dolby surround, accompanied by the latest in computer-generated special effects.” One lesson: “In any genre it is dangerous to put the thematic cart before the narrative horse, which is what the makers of The Hulk and The Matrix Reloaded, so besotted with the allegorical dimensions of their stories, have begun to do.” (New York Times, 13 July 2003). A reasonably persuasive try at defending film criticism, plus a tip of the hat to Lord of the Rings. Thanks to Kirby for the link.

phlog ::: from editor :::



Does A. O. Scott like brainy movies or doesn’t he?  In The Pretentious Summer Superhero, Scott states, “As someone who dropped out of real graduate school…I have to admit I’m a little perplexed.”  Sounds like a complaint.  But then Scott goes on to acknowledge that sci-fi and super hero movies can be illuminating and even profound. 

The article is a lost opportunity.  As an avowed movie expert, Scott should’ve pointed out examples of worthwhile movies (aka:  La Jette, Blade Runner, and Solaris)  that provide striking visualizations of the significant questions, and themes (identity, time, memory…) which have challenged the great philosophers.  Too bad.     

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