Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Treebeard in the Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

Tolkien’s Green Time

Environmental Themes in The Lord of the Rings

Andrew Light enters Tolkien’s universe and shows how it ain’t easy being green—though we’ve got to try—in this prepublication chapter from the forthcoming The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy. A Metaphilm exclusive.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003
HulkFinding Nemo

Finding Hulko

Secondary Colors

It looks like little-finned Nemo is a small orange version of the big bad green Hulk. It’s a story about trying to survive in a capitalist empire.

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Sunday, July 13, 2003
Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Disney’s Pirates of the so on and so forth

Nietzsche’s Abyss is staring back at you and grinning with real gold teeth, implanted on actors for the sacred end of Authenticity.

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Saturday, July 12, 2003
28 Days Later

28 Days Later

Cool and the Triumph of the Bike Messenger

A guy who keeps his cool in the fight against rage, “Jim” takes his place as the best hero of the summer, the one we’d really like to be.

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

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”)

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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?)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Banner Wrath

The always interesting Thomas Hibbs (author of Shows About Nothing) has a piece on Hulk out now: “Indeed, the real-world drama operates as a kind of metaphor for the apocalypse that human power unleashes, when it aspires—as David Banner (Nick Nolte), puts it—to transcend the limits imposed on human beings by God.” (National Review Online, July 7, 2003).

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Legally Arnold

A review with minor interpretive elements, but clever enough to blog: “Rise above the plot, and the two franchises have plenty in common. Besides being built around scarily focused protagonists–a cyborg assassin and a superachieving sorority gal–both movies are reasonably well-crafted but wholly unnecessary sequels. . . . (If only the two studios had pooled their resources to make Legally Blonde Terminator 3.)” (Matt Zoller Seitz, “Legally Arnold,” New York Press, July 2003)

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Ideology Reloaded

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.)

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Pentium Matrix

Among the more amusing entries at a Matrix weblog is this post of an e-mail received that offers the definitive answer to the creation of “The One”—the Pentium Division Error. The Wachowskis aren’t Luddites, they’re Wintel-phobes. “Clearly, the Architect is talking about the pentium division error.  If the matrix were built on more reliable hardware such as Sun systems or open-source influenced processor designs like those from transmeta, then we would be living the rest of our lives in the paradise world of the original matrix. Instead, we’re all stuck in the substandard reality. But, since the machines are just machines without souls, they went for the less expensive, lower-quality corporate-endorsed w/intel solution. We’re all paying the price now.” (Matrix Theories, June 2, 2003). It’s up to you now: Buy a Mac or Linux box today!

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