Understanding 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.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
The Rings of Tolkien and Plato
Matt Kirby posted this idea for us back in May. Now another chapter from the forthcoming Lord of the Rings and Philosophy, posted on TheOneRing.net, takes up the theme in more detail. “Plato’s question to us is whether or not one should be a moral person even if one has the power to be immoral with impunity. Does immense power destroy the need to be a moral person? It is interesting to view Tolkien’s tales of the rings as a variation of this old Platonic moral problem.” (Eric Katz, “The Rings of Tolkien and Plato: Lessons in Power, Choice, and Morality”)
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The Way We Were
A combative conservative reading of the new DVD release. Most amusing. “To understand The Way We Were, you need to get beyond the old-fashioned star-crossed romance which is the film’s ostensible subject . . . Both the romantic and neofeminist angles are important, but only when seen in light of the film’s true (if understated) theme, the relationship between WASP America . . . and the American Left . . . For the most part, the film sees everything from Katie’s point of view, and so renders valuable insight into the self-understanding of the Left. (“The Way They’ll Always Be,” by Carol Iannone, FrontPageMagazine.com, July 29, 2003). Agree with the viewpoint or not, it’s a compelling interpretation. Barbra does come across as self-righteous, doesn’t she? (Anybody have a link to Libby Gelman-Waxner’s superb 1997 review of The Mirror Has Two Faces?)
Face of an Angel
“What do the films Bruce Almighty and The Green Mile have in common with The Family Man, the Matrix movies, and Ghost? All feature black characters whose main function is to help a white hero through magical or supernatural means. These are Hollywood’s ‘black angels,’ whose popularity has surged in recent years—so much so that in an episode last year of The Simpsons, Homer mistook a black man in a white suit for an angelic visitor, all because (according to his embarrassed wife) he’d been seeing too many movies lately” (David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2003). Suffers, perhaps, from a too-literal reading of some of these films, but worth pondering nonetheless.
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.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Lights, Camera, Action. Marxism, Semiotics, Narratology.
Feature story on film theory. Well worth reading. “Is there a hidden method to these film theorists’ apparent madness? Or is film theory, as movie critic Roger Ebert said as I interviewed him weeks later, ‘a cruel hoax for students, essentially the academic equivalent of a New Age cult, in which a new language has been invented that only the adept can communicate in’?” (David Weddle, The Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2003; free registration required). Expect a response from Metaphilm one of these days soon.
Friday, July 11, 2003
Sunny Side Up
“Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, who created Moulin Rouge, a film about the bohemians in early 20th-century Paris that has become a cult hit among the 18 to 25 demographic, says this is the generation that has seen it all. ‘They want something more meaningful, something from the heart,” Mr. Luhrmann says. ‘They’re tired of irony.’” Also: “This new generation also is not entirely without the knowing nudge or wink. It just won’t have the sharp elbow’s edge, say pundits. This is the era of the sophisticated innocent, again well-captured by Elle [of Legally Blonde 2] as she begs lawmakers to heed her call.” (Gloria Goodale, “Sunny Side Up: Cynicism is so 1990. sincerity is back in vogue,” Christian Science Monitor, July 3, 2003) There may be something here. Comments, anyone?
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
This is (shudder) a Lacanian reading of the Matrix and Reloaded. Well done—and it does make sense of many things in the films—but caveat lector: will likely inspire nightmares among those familiar with and not fond of the neo-Freudian critic. “The Matrix is one of those films that function as a kind of Rorschach test, setting in motion the universalized process of recognition, like the proverbial painting of God that seems always to stare directly at you from wherever you look at it—practically every orientation seems to recognize itself in it.” Also: “What, then, is the Matrix? Simply what Lacan called the “big Other,” the virtual symbolic order, the network that structures reality for us.” (Slavoj Žižek, In These Times, June 6, 2003). His final conclusion and connection with the struggles of the ideological left is very perceptive. (Thanks to jtatsiue for the link.)
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
The Movie Theater is Officially Dead
If 2001 Came Out in 2012
Apple’s New iPhone Best Explained by the Movie The Prestige
You know You’ve Seen Star Wars Too Many Times When…
When Search Engine Metrics Get… Awkward
The Cinema IS the New Cathedral
The Truman Show as DSM V Category
When You Have to Run and Pee During the Film
True Grit and Canada
TIME magazine mock-ups in movies
The Princess Bride as Grading Rubric