Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Kill Bill

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Violence as Therapy, or: How to Be a Dick

Tarantino revisits his childhood and produces a postmodern, gender- and genre-bending psychotherapy session in an attempt to remake the past.

Friday, November 07, 2003
Matrix Revolutions -- Talk about your bait and switch ad campaign

The Matrix Revolutions

Entertainment Marketing 101

It’s not a story. It’s not a philosophy. It’s a global marketing experiment that’s all about control. And George Orwell saw it coming.

Other Recent Long Stuff

A Serious Man
Sympathy for the Devil
The Maltese Falcon
Neo’s Passport
The Dark Knight
A Copy of a Copy of a Copy
The Dreamers
The Dreamers

Books to Phlog

Book cover of Walker Percy's the Moviegoer at FiftyWalker Percy’s The Moviegoer at Fifty: New Takes on an Iconic American Novel has just been released from LSU Press. This well-received collection of twelve new essays includes a contribution from Jonathan Potter and Read Mercer Schuchardt revisiting “The Moviegoer’s Cinematic References.”

This is the first critical work devoted solely to Percy’s debut novel. Coinciding with the centenary of his birth, this collection offers fresh perspectives that underscore the novel’s ongoing relevance.


Sunday, November 30, 2003

May I have a show of hands?

Alan Vanneman offers some insight into Hitchcock with a focus on hands. “In the Jesuit school that Hitchcock attended as a boy, misbehavior was punished by blows to the hand with a sort of rubber truncheon or club. I suspect that this experience helped Hitchcock to think of hands as the symbol of human vulnerability. In his films, people are always extending their hands in hope of assistance, and very seldom getting it.” (Bright Lights Film Journal) Thanks to Relapsed Catholic for the link.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Friday, November 28, 2003

Marshall McLuhan, Film Interpreter

In his last taped lecture, “Man and Media,” (Spring, 1979), Marshall McLuhan suggests that “horror movies, vampire movies, and our general cult of horror” are collective responses to the grievances of electronic culture:  “This is a response to situations of the media which people feel are involving them, embedding them.  The Exorcist is an account of how it feels to live in the electric age, how it feels to be completely taken over by alien forces and hidden powers.  The viewer feels he has been obsessed or possessed.  And, of course, there is the one-liner, ‘If you don’t pay your exorcist, you will be repossessed.’”  Full transcript of the lecture, plus lots of other goodies, now available in print for the first time in, Understanding Me:  Lectures and Interviews.

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link

On Good Movies

“A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theatre; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact , not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption. The movie doesn’t have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line. An actor’s scowl, a subversive gesture, a dirty remark that someone tosses off with a mock-innocent face and the world makes a little bit of sense.” —Pauline Kael

quotes ::: from publisher ::: Link
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Stone Reader Succeeds

Stone Reader, which we encouraged our readers to see, not so much for cinematic quality as for desired literary effect, has achieved just that:  Mossman’s book, The Stones of Summer, is now back in print and availabe at the usual outlets.  Read an interview with Mossman here, and then perhaps you should even read the book . . . but at some point the old question is going to raise its ugly head again: Did Mossman fade into obscurity because, after all, his book wasn’t that great in the first place? Several reader/critics, the film notwithstanding,  are now retroactively agreeing with publishing history’s original assessment.

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link
Monday, November 24, 2003

Whit Stillman, Class Clown

My wife just had me watch Barcelona over the weekend, a film with its own meta-level discussion of other films and film criticism (don’t miss Fred and Ted discussing text and subtext). I was intrigued enough by Stillman to do a little surfing. Here’s a link to a review of Doomed Bourgeois in Love, a book of essays on Stillman, which sounds like it will be worth reading. Editor Mark Henrie argues that “The perplexity that animates each of Stillman’s films is how to find our way, how to live well, when the cake of custom has been broken. . . . Perhaps in an age such as ours, it is not tragedy but comedy which is the mature response.” There is also an NRO interview and an Onion AV Club interview. Viva la comedia.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Monday, November 17, 2003

Matrix Revolutions, The Corporate Mofo Guide

Ken Mondschein is back with an amusing and generally helpful exegesis of Matrix 3. Something to do with Plato vs. the Nominalists. “Just as Trinity couldn’t have survived the final encounter, neither could Neo. (What kind of life could they have, anyway? They’re archetypes, not characters. What would they do, raise a bunch of clichés?)” Seems like a lot of this stuff got deconstructed a few centuries ago. The problem with ignoring historical philosophy and theology is that you have to go through the same tired theories over and over again. But then, it’s all too easy to see only what you want to see.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Friday, November 14, 2003

Every Man a Demiurge

A thought-provoking piece on the alternate-reality genre that includes the Matrix franchise (“People might not like to be forced or tricked into a false world. Evidently, though, they’ll jump at the opportunity to enter and exit one at will.”) starts out with this most amusing opening interpretation. But don’t miss the rest of the article. “If you want to understand the Matrix trilogy, think of it as a capsule history of baby-boom rock. The original Matrix is a three-chord riff of a movie: a simple, familiar idea—‘What if reality is a great big fake?’—amplified and transformed into an irresistible hook. The Matrix Reloaded is a 1970s prog-rock concept album: sprawling, pretentious, and ultimately incoherent, but brimming with ideas and virtuoso displays. And The Matrix: Revolutions is an over-the-hill pop star recycling someone else’s material—the sort of music you’d hear on a Michelob commercial, circa 1987.” (Jesse Walker, Reason Online, 10 Nov 2003)

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Haunted Hollywood

Professor Hibbs comments on some of the issues raised by the faults of Matrix Revolutions. “Walker Percy was fond of describing the south as Christ forgetting and Christ haunted. The much-anticipated final entry in the Matrix trilogy, Matrix Revolutions, a disappointing film roundly and justifiably lambasted by critics, provides evidence that the story of Christ continues to haunt the most unlikely of communities—Hollywood.” And, “what is surprising about Revolutions is the clear ascendancy of Christian imagery: the suffering servant, the One who conquers evil by enduring it, light overcoming darkness, and especially the cross.” (Thomas Hibbs, National Review, November 10, 2003)

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Friday, November 07, 2003

Bleating the Matrix

Mr. Lileks has seen Matrix Revolutions. And he basically liked it. As frequently, he offers a commentary with humor and flashes of true insight (don’t trip over the formatting glitches). And some great hits on fatuous movie interpretation and the limits of computer animation. “Trust me, Harry—what someone believes is of great consequence. And if your society believes nothing it ends up making its last stand in the Temple of No Particular Belief System with the squiddies hammering on the door, possessed of a terrible certainty: they believe you should die.” If you’ve never read James Lileks (or if you have), you’re in for a treat. Don’t miss the concluding paragraphs.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Thursday, November 06, 2003

If Pigs Could Fly

This is total anti-factory farming propaganda, but it’s too good to pass up. What is the Meatrix?

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link

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