Monday, August 02, 2004
Webslinger or Weblogger?
Web superhero-dom has its burdens.
Great piece in Wired on upcoming anime features; a good review of the genre and several interpretive elements. “Otomo intended Steamboy as grade-A fun. But it’s not such a stretch to view the clumsy and ultimately fragile behemoth in the sky as the US culture industry and jetpack-propelled young Ray as a personification of Japan. Fast-moving, improvisational, at home with the future, and ready to try almost anything, Japanese popular culture is riding high.” Good. Hollywood can use the competition.
Chris Meadows has a great blog essay on an under-appreciated human pleasure. Citing the Wodehouse story, “The Secret Pleasures of Reginald” (online in A Wodehouse Miscellany), he comments, “It’s one of Wodehouse’s funnier short works, and I find it perfectly captures the spirit in which to consider rotten movies such as Catwoman—the great degree of pleasure one can derive from reading the reviews and then not going.” Mr. Meadows continues with a pleasant rant on the need for Hollywood to mess with perfectly good stories. “You’d think that Hollywood types would have learned by now not to mess around with the goose or it’ll stop laying golden eggs. Why make a movie about an established character or concept, ostensibly to attract people who like that character or concept—and then change it beyond all recognition?” He suggests ego. It’s certainly that—embodied in a failure of craftsmanship to respect the materials, let alone the audience. Or it could come down again to the ever-tempting call of propaganda.
I have friends who enjoy the self-righteous anger you can generate by watching really bad movies. I think I’d choose this type of pleasure. Anyone for not watching the new Exorcist prequel?
A very interesting piece at Interference.com on the friendship and collaborations of filmmaker Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, The Million Dollar Hotel) and Bono of U2. “My life was saved by rock and roll . . . It was this kind of music that for the very first time in my life gave me a feeling of identity, the feeling that I had a right to enjoy, to imagine, and to do something. Had it not been for rock and roll, I might be a lawyer now.” Good save. Wenders is scheduled to be at the City of the Angels Film Festival this October.
Apparently like Hollywood itself where an Armageddon is followed (or was it preceded?) by a Deep Impact, reporting on Hollywood “happens” to hit the occasional trendy topic. This time it’s Christians at the movies. First it was TIME with “The Gospel According to Spider-Man”; now Fox News is reporting on Christians “finding faith at the movies.” This piece has a few good quotes and links. I suppose any attempt to find meaning and purpose in filmed entertainment is something to celebrate. But as Alex Wainer commented in a recent e-mail, one sometimes wonders if this is anything more than glorified sermon illustrations. I think several of the sites noted avoid that trap. Come to think of it, most of these sites have been going for years now. I hope their discovery wasn’t too much of a surprise for our intrepid reporters. And it’s not fair to Catholics and liberal Protestants to blame this all on evangelicals. There’s a strong tradition of spiritual film interpretation in many flavors of the Christian faith, though I suppose it’s fair to say that evangelicals would have a tendency to approach the filmed “text” in a certain characteristic way.
I want to see this one. USA Today reports on the new Metallica documentary: “The typical rock film puts these people on a pedestal and glorifies rock ‘n’ roll,” Berlinger says. “Our film is about the human wreckage that results from the incompleteness people feel when they are treated as icons. It demystifies the mythology of rock stars, and of this band in particular. If Metallica fans reject this movie, we’re in trouble. We’re stripping their heroes, the toughest of the tough guys, the guys who sing about Armageddon.” Documentary filming as free therapy, hmm? Nice to see that they’re trying to grow up. (IMDB entry.)
So now there’s a conservative-friendly film festival. Consider these two good questions. The producers of American Film Renaissance ask: “Where is the product for just regular Americans? A huge segment of the country is alienated by the entertainment industry (that) doesn’t understand half the country, and probably more. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be making films like Frida. Who cares about that?” And the reporter from the St. Petersburg Times—in an excellent piece of reporting—asks the question that’s on my mind: “Then again, who cares to see a movie (or two) raking Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore over the coals or a documentary praising President Bush’s religious faith? Who wants to see an exposé of liberalism on Ivy League campuses or a film linking gun control with 20th century tyranny?” I’m not sure their festival is the appropriate response to their question. I’m sorry: propaganda is boring no matter what the cause. If you really want to respond to the first question, the Anschutz approach is probably a better strategy.
“Barton Fink” has an article, er, essay, er, thingy aimed at the media-savvy Christian in the new issue of the pleasantly irreverent New Pantagruel: “You see, I work in the film industry. Your face just lit up! You want to know more, not just out of a need to make polite conversation—because you can tell at a glance that I’m not one for polite conversation—but because you want to know more. You need to know more. You need me to stand as your proxy and sanctify your desire to consume and be entertained.”
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
The Movie Theater is Officially Dead