Wednesday, December 24, 2003
It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life

Youth Is Wasted on the Wrong People!

Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is a completely original inversion of A Christmas Carol.

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) :::
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Fight Club. Without the shedding of blood . . .

The Redemption of Guilt

Conscience bleeds as three men are prompted to initiate last resorts

Characters from Cider House Rules, Thirteen Conversations, and Fight Club take guilt into their own bloody hands.

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) :::
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
'Jack' and Bob in Fight Club

Fight Club

Tyler Durden is a M*ther F#cker

Fight Club is a smart new twist on the most famous of the Greek tragedies. Jack is a modern-day Oedipus and Tyler Durden is his father, Laius.

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) :::

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.


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Boomer ‘Revisionists’

Sigh. “Just as The Big Chill (1983) voiced older boomers’ worries over ticking biological clocks and waning idealism in their 30s, Something’s Gotta Give reflects new concerns as the generation heads toward 60. ‘They’ve defined themselves by their youthful attitudes, so what are they going to do now?’ Thompson says. . . . This is hardly the last filmgoers will hear from boomer ‘revisionists,’ Thompson predicts. ‘We’ll see different images of the “old-old,”’ he says. ‘They’re going to make us follow them right into the grave, inevitably, though they’ll make it clear they’re not actually consenting to go into it.’” (Marilyn Elias, “In ‘Something’s Gotta Give,’ boomers see themselves,” USA TODAY, 22 Dec 2003) Thanks to boomer deathwatch for the link.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Miracle on 34th Street

In honor of our feature interpretation on It’s a Wonderful Life, herewith a link to the award-winning Connie Willis short story, “Miracle” from Asimov’s Magazine, 1991, courtesy of the Internet Archive. There are a number of interpretive elements of both Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, which our heroine much prefers (as does your editor). (The story is also available here.) Merry Christmas.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

J. R. R. Tolkien, Enemy of Progress

In honor of the Return of the King, two links today. Reader The Other Joey calls our attention to this piece from SF author David Brin on Salon from 2002. TOJ comments, “Basically, the article takes the side of Sauron, insisting that the story of The Lord of the Rings is elitist, anti-progressive, anti-industrial, pro-aristocratic, and oversimplifying in terms of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil.’ The article considers LOTR to be primarily a work of anti-scientific, anti-democratic romanticism, against the modernity that supposedly would destroy beauty and tradition. . . . Long live Sauron, defender of the proletariat!” (Well, this should balance the von Mises piece the other day. Talk about oversimplifying.) Worth thought if you haven’t seen it yet, and it does call us to critical engagement with our entertainment. Were there time, I would argue Brin makes his own false dichotomies and has a fundamental misreading of Tolkien, tradition, and fantasy as a whole. But SF writer Gene Wolfe has read Tolkien more and better than Brin, so I’ll let him argue for me in “The Best Introduction to the Mountains.”

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Groundhog Almighty

Since its debut a decade ago, the film has become a curious favorite of religious leaders of many faiths, who all see in Groundhog Day a reflection of their own spiritual messages.” Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Wicca, Falun Gong—it’s all in there, apparently. “‘No one comes down and issues this formal command, and so he doesn’t know, and the audience doesn’t know, why this day is repeating, but it is,’ Prendergast said. ‘And that’s why it is appealing to so many different religions. He faces this existential test, but he does not know it’s a test, and he doesn’t know what the results will be.’” (Alex Kuczynski, The New York Times, via Salt Lake Tribune, Dec 2003)

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Monday, December 15, 2003

Finding Nemo

Barbara Nicolosi has a review with some interpretive elements: “It was brave of Finding Nemo to buck this formula and make the kid’s story a sub-plot to the adult’s story. The main emphasis in the film is on Marlin, and his struggle to become a better parent despite his own woundedness. This is a good message to put out there for kids to brood over. The idea that parents are people too with sadness, fear and suffering might make kids a little less demanding and a little more tender towards their Moms and Dads.” Also some thoughts on the real bad guy. (Catholic Exchange, 4 Nov 2003)

philm shorts ::: from editor ::: Link
Sunday, December 14, 2003

Kill Bill, Vol. 1

This, in the end, is the most troubling thing about Tarantino and his work, of which Kill Bill may well be the best representative: not the violence but the emptiness, the passivity, the sense that you’re in the presence not of a creator but of a member of the audience—one who’s incapable of saying anything about real life because everything he knows comes from the movies. (It occurred to me, after I left the Kill Bill screening, that Tarantino may well think that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ really is an ‘Old Klingon Proverb.’) People worry about Tarantino because they think he represents a generation raised on violence; but it’s as a representative of a generation raised on televised reruns and replays of videotapes that he really scares you to death.” (Daniel Mendelsohn, “It’s Only a Movie,” New York Review of Books, December 18, 2003) Good stuff. Thanks to Caleb Stegall of The New Pantagruel for the link.

philm shorts ::: from editor ::: Link

Economics Lost in Translation

Discussion of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation from an apologist for capitalism. “Murray’s character seems to serve as a focal point for the movie’s main theme: capitalism destroys art. . . . The city serves as a symbol: Tokyo is where art comes to die. This is a theme repeated throughout the movie.” Is the movie arguing against capitalism, per se? (Matthew Hirsch, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 28 Nov 2003) Worth reading, but not perhaps completely persuasive.

philm shorts ::: from editor ::: Link
Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Sensitive Guys’ Guide to Mayhem and Death

A feature on The Missing and The Last Samurai: “These are brutal films from directors so well-known for depicting sensitive men that they are virtually symbols of the boomer generation and its 60’s idealism. In their new movies, the characters’ code of honor—violence in the cause of inner peace—suggests the fraught ethos of that generation today. The heroes embrace alien 19th-century cultures, but despite those period settings, the films express our current cultural moment, mixing the new-age sentiments of the last few decades with the brutal realities of the last few years.” (Caryn James, “The Sensitive Guys’ Guide to Mayhem and Death,” New York Times, 7 Dec 2003. Free registration probably required.) Does this mean some Boomers may finally be growing up? I guess we can hope—it’s only taken 50 years.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link

Other Recent Phlogs

The Despecialized Star Wars
Summary Bug Creates Unintended Cinematic Beauties
See it live
Sizzling Bacon is HERE at Long Last
24 Things You Might Not Know About Fight Club
Tree of Life and the Lamb of God
Filming In Tongues
Martin Scorsese’s parents were aliterate
This Again—At A Theater Near You
Bollywood Directors and the “Cut To Switzerland”
The Constant Traveler
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