Tuesday, May 25, 2004
21 Grams

21 Grams

The Old Man and the Sea

Should Hemingway have gotten credit for this screenplay?

Monday, May 17, 2004
Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Where Are You?

A Scooby Doo wish-fulfillment fantasy.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2004
The Player

The Player

Death of the Happy Ending

Robert Altman presents Hollywood as a metaphor for the real world.

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Monday, May 03, 2004
Phone Booth

Phone Booth

A New Genre Comes of Age

It’s official: the gunpoint conversion movie is now its own genre. And while it feels new, it comes from one of the oldest and most revered traditions of our storytelling species.

Other Recent Long Stuff

A Serious Man
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

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, May 20, 2004

The Gospel of Tomorrow

Sandy Starr at Spiked has an excellent discussion of The Day After Tomorrow as Green propaganda. Entertainment or science? “The answer you get from the filmmakers depends on whether they stand to gain publicity from a scientific debate about the film (in which case, it’s serious), or whether you’re taking them to task over the film’s scientific accuracy (in which case, it’s just entertainment). You have to hand it to the marketing department—the blurring of fact and fiction is an ingenious promotional technique.” Heads you win, tails I lose. “What purpose can raising ‘awareness’ of an unlikely or impossible scenario possibly serve, other than encouraging people to be more afraid than is rational? And why would scientists, of all people, wish to encourage such irrationality?”

Well Sandy, since you ask, it occurs to me that this is a reminder that ]http://www.perc.org/publications/articles/Crichtonspeech.php] much of environmentalism is, as Michael Crichton has argued recently, more religion than science[/url]. This movie is thus more than mere propaganda (boring). It is proselytizing (even more boring, not to mention hypocritical given the Passion hysteria). I’m all in favor of religion in movies, but let’s at least be honest about it. Truth in advertising? In this case let’s try starting with truth in science.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Offshoring the Audience

David Kipen has an extremely insightful and must-read review in the new Atlantic Monthly on a book on screenwriting “for a global market.” “Here, alas, is the virus laying waste to modern Hollywood movies. What do, say, the Batman and Matrix pictures have in common, besides banality? Just for openers, insipid, infrequent dialogue. Why take the trouble to bang out good lines—supposing one can—if they’ll only be mistranslated for their real target markets, abroad? Both these movies could have been silents if they weren’t so loud. They’re overbearing, carelessly told, and gang-written into incomprehensibility. Small wonder they were tepidly welcomed in the United States. Americans at the movies are guilty of the same mistake in the early twenty-first century that grown-ups made at the movies in the 1980s: supposing that the pictures are made for them.” Ouch. Interesting discussion of the auteur theory of criticism (it’s French). Could it be that the famous disconnect between the elites and the heartland is coming home to roost? Certainly French audiences are more amenable to what Hollywood elites want to say. This disconnect is ultimately bad for Hollywood, and Kipen argues that it’s bad for American audiences too. “Effectively, the major American studios and their writers are out of the originality business.” Cool and apropos closing metaphor.

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Perspective

Noted this on the blog of Derek Miller of Vancouver while searching for something else. Derek comments on one of the (many) refreshing things about Roger Ebert: his sense of perspective (dare we say humility?). Derek has definitely hit on something. Consider Ebert’s explanation of his star-rating system in this review of Shaolin Soccer:It takes more nerve to praise pop entertainment; it’s easy and safe to deliver pious praise of turgid deep thinking. It’s true, I loved Anaconda and did not think The United States of Leland worked, but does that mean I drool at the keyboard and prefer man-eating snakes to suburban despair? Not at all. What it means is that the star rating system is relative, not absolute.” (“superior piffle”!) Don’t miss.

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Monday, May 03, 2004

The Gift of Fear

Is the Hollywood romantic lead a lover or a stalker? Chapter 11 of Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear has a fascinating discussion. Highlight: “My generation saw in The Graduate that there is one romantic strategy to use above all others: persistence. This same strategy is at the core of every stalking case. Men pursuing unlikely or inappropriate relationships with women and getting them is a common theme promoted in our culture. Just recall Flashdance, Tootsie, The Heartbreak Kid, 10, Blame it on Rio, Honeymoon in Vegas, Indecent Proposal. This Hollywood formula could be called Boy Wants Girl, Girl Doesn’t Want Boy, Boy Harasses Girl, Boy Gets Girl.” He also has some comments on the double standard for women, as seen in Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, Basic Instinct, and so on. “When the men pursue, they usually get the girl. When the women pursue, they usually get killed.” He suggests that despite Hollywood’s reluctance to use the word, relationships are a clear case where more women need to learn to Just Say “No” for their own safety.

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