Saturday, May 17, 2003
Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

Ears Wide Shut

Kubrick confounds the critics—and their critics—with a best-of-breed film. The trick is figuring out the breed. A Metaphilm exclusive.

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Friday, May 16, 2003
X-Men

X-Men / X2

The Dark Wisdom of Erik Lensherr

Marvel Morality and the Once and Future King. Magneto has a lesson about evolutionary geopolitics to share with the would-be leaders of the world.

Friday, May 09, 2003
bake your noodle. Daniel 5:15

Daniel 05:15

Interpretation: It’s a Matter of Life and Death

Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, learns a lesson about the interpretation of signs.

Magnolia. Watch out: Falling Frogs

Magnolia

The Exodus for Kids

Maybe it is all about the frogs. A master prestidigitator tells the story of the children in bondage, with child genius Stanley Spector playing Moses.

By Shane Hipps ::: (11) Comments
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Solaris - Chris Kelvin and Rheya Kiss

Solaris

Men are from Mars, Women are from Betelgeuse

Blade Runner meets Memento in a film about the memories of love.

Other Recent Long Stuff

Up
Sympathy for the Devil
Watchmen
The Maltese Falcon
Neo’s Passport
The Dark Knight
A Copy of a Copy of a Copy
The Dreamers
The Dreamers
Reading Inland Empire

Books to Phlog

Understanding Jaques EllulUnderstanding Jacques Ellul, by Greenman, Schuchardt, and Toly, will be of special interest to Metaphilm readers as Jacques Ellul understood cinema as one of the chief tools of propaganda used by the state to distract the masses from that which matters.

Metaphlog

Saturday, May 31, 2003

One Baaad Messiah

E. J. Park has done a brilliant piece on Neo’s qualities as messiah. Our black-clad Matrix-redeemer is someone even St. Peter could love—and much more appealing than Jesus. “Neo’s reluctance and kick-ass power are the perfect messianic combination.” (E. J. Park, “One Baaad Messiah: Neo-Christian longings and the satisfaction of kung-fu saviors,” Killing the Buddha, May 2003)

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Friday, May 30, 2003

The Message of Bruce Almighty

Director Tom Shadyac has a solid grasp of what he’s doing as a filmmaker if this interview is any indication. “We are telling a parable here.” “You know, we don’t start with perfect people in movies. We start with imperfect people, and then they have to go on a journey. . . . I think it’s important to embrace the whole of humanity, and to say we are imperfect.” Also good stuff on interpretation of texts: “By the standards of most Christians today you could not read your Bible” (“The Message of Bruce Almighty,” Catholic Exchange, May 2, 2003). Remarkably revealing. Not to be missed—particularly by Christians of any stripe.

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Scent of a Woman

“Take like, and I don’t want to push Scent of a Woman, but Scent of a Woman is the book of Ecclesiastes. Now, how many Christians will stay away from that movie because there is cursing and he sleeps with a hooker? That is the book of Ecclesiastes. The man who says, ‘All is vanity, all is lost, I have no hope.’ It is the love of a boy, the love of a child, God incarnate through a boy, comes in and says, ‘I love you,’ and it changes his life.” (Director Tom Shadyac, interviewed for Catholic Exchange, May 2, 2003)

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Thursday, May 29, 2003

Fab hats, with a smirk

Very thoughtful piece from Canada on Down With Love, Far From Heaven, and similar recent films. While there may be more going on in the former than he realizes, he seems to have identified something accurate about the genre.  “Retro revivalism is now a permanent aspect of pop culture; it’s only a matter of which eras get cycled through.” And “They’re ostensible tributes to styles of the past, but act, in fact, as cheap flattery for the audiences of today” (Adam Sternbergh, “Fab hats, with a smirk: When filmic homage turns into paint-by-numbers forgery,” National Post, May 17, 2003). Don’t miss the ending.

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Why We Are Drawn to The Matrix

Interview with Chris Seay, coauthor of The Gospel Reloaded. “The second film, in some ways, is more interesting to me in terms of the spiritual dialogue. It doesn’t revolve as much around acceptance and belief, but it’s really much more about walking the path. What do you have to do when you believe?” And, “To leave behind doubt and to embrace faith is really what this movie is about.” (”Why We Are Drawn to The Matrix”, The Dick Staub Interview, Christianity Today, Week of May 26, 2003)

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The Matrix as Midrash

Finally, a semi-reasonable explanation of the orgy scene in Reloaded. Just “a little interpretative imagination makes the Matrix universe almost as Jewish as the Mishnah. . . . In the second film, there’s everything from Shabbat to the Jewish definitions of freedom and hope in the human purpose.” Thus, “after all, what are the citizens of Zion but a sort of chosen people, not superior but simply serving a different role by shining a light for their fellow humanity still inside the Matrix? And what was that massive party if not their version of Shabbat, dropping their toils and struggles to embrace the possibility of a world where the machines have been defeated, just as we embrace the possibility of tikkun olam fulfilled?” (Bradford R. Pilcher, “The Matrix as midrash,” Jewsweek Magazine, May 27, 2003)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded

Mondschein’s project—persuading cubicle-slaves to reject their own matrix—drives his reading of the film, which is, to say the least, amenable to his treatment. The results are, um, illuminating. On the Architect: “In Gnostic theology, it is Satan, not God, who has created the world in order to imprison humanity.” And: “The first movie made use of Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation; this movie seems to be dipping into Foucault and Derrida, who wrote that the systems of power and control are all-pervasive, and language is one of the ways they make their influence felt. The Prophecy is, like all prophecies, speech, and thus language. More importantly, it is a religion, and, as John Zerzan writes, the purpose of a religion is to manipulate signs, that is, words, for the purpose of control.” (Ken Mondschein, “Kung Fu Philosophers: The Corporate Mofo Guide to the Matrix Reloaded,” CorporateMofo.com)

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There’s No Exit From the Matrix

An interesting extrapolation from movie to movie-industrial-complex. “The genius of the P.R. strategy was its exploitation of the original film’s geeky cult status as a thinking kid’s kung fu extravaganza. . . . This does not explain why the movie’s multicultural orgy scene looks like a Club Med luau run amok, but maybe the inspiration for that was Kahlil Gibran.” And then: “We are not just plugged into their matrix to be sold movies and other entertainment products. These companies can also plug the nation into news narratives as ubiquitous and lightweight as ‘The Matrix Reloaded,’ but with more damaging side effects” (Frank Rich, “There’s No Exit From the Matrix,” The New York Times, May 25, 2003). The article also evokes metaphors of pots and kettles. . . .

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Friday, May 23, 2003

The intellectual and ‘The Matrix’

Professor Cornel West “became a kind of muse for the brothers, called ‘college dropout comic book artists’ . . . West offered a focal point for the film, in which various academics and others find bits of Buddhism and Christianity as well as feminism, Marxism and nihilism.” And “In ‘The Matrix Reloaded,’ the citizens of Zion pin their hopes on computer hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves), who struggles with his role as their savior. West says the film has a ‘fascinating,’ if subtle, critique of ‘salvation narratives’.” (Lynn Smith, “The intellectual and ‘The Matrix’,” latimes.com, May 20, 2003)

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Thursday, May 22, 2003

The Matrix way of knowledge

Reasonably insightful piece on Salon.  “This is the pop carnival of souls where the Matrix films rightly take their place—the flea market of genre movies and rumors of God that, for many these days, is the only portal left into the meaning of it all.” Interesting: “The Matrix comes to resemble the multifarious world of shamanism rather than the black-and-white world of the Christian afterlife.” (Erik Davis, “The Matrix way of knowledge,” Salon.com, May 21, 2003 [must watch ad to view whole article]). A virtuoso performance, but flubs the landing.

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