Sunday, May 08, 2005
House of Wax

House of Wax

House of Wad

Copulate. Videotape. Dissemenate. Or, How to Interpret a Film By Only Seeing the Poster.

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) :::
Monday, May 02, 2005
Star Wars (comic book cover)

Star Wars

The Science of Consistency

On fictional universes and the fans who rationalize them.

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Sunday, May 01, 2005
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A Crisis of Conscience

Labels and the problem of defining the good.

By C. M. Huard :::

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.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Jedi as Religion

Orson Scott Card has a great piece on Beliefnet about Revenge of the Sith and the religious implications of Star Wars given the way the Jedi “faith” has made its way offscreen. “In a way, this is kind of bittersweet. It shows that the universal hunger for meaning is still prevalent, even in our agnostic era, which is encouraging; but these true believers will eventually realize that the philosophy behind Star Wars is every bit as sophisticated as the science — in other words, mostly wrong and always silly. . . . As a religion, the Force is just the sort of thing you’d expect a liberal-minded teenage kid to invent.” Worth reading in full for a few other trenchant lines on invented religion.

As a friend commented in sending this link, Card is an exceptionally talented writer, but the piece carries deep irony for those of us who are not Mormons because Mormonism offers “a mythology perhaps as preposterous as the farcical Jedi religion Card ably critiques in this piece.” Still, as Card says in the piece, “It’s one thing to put your faith in a religion founded by a real person who claimed divine revelation, but it’s something else entirely to have, as the scripture of your religion, a storyline that you know was made up by a very nonprophetic human being.”

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Monday, May 23, 2005

Juvenile Pop Culture Creators, Compared

The incomparable James Lileks finally got around to seeing The Incredibles this weekend, along with a couple of other movies. His quick summary captures something I was previously unable to put into words. “Team America was made by 17 year old boys who cut class to smoke cigarettes. Star Wars was made by a sophomore who was bumped ahead to the senior class because of his smarts, but never fit in and spent lunch hour drawing rocketships in his notebook. The Incredibles was made by 30 year olds who remembered what it was like to be 16, but didn’t particularly care to revisit those days, because it’s so much better to be 30, with a spouse and a kid and a house and a sense that you’re tied to something. Not an attitude; not some animist mumbo jumbo, but something large enough to behold and small enough to do.” There’s more.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Friday, May 20, 2005

Episode III Obligatory Commentary

One obvious interpretation is that Hayden Christensen is reprising his role as defrocked New Republic journalist Stephen Glass from his 2003 film Shattered Glass.  As he turns to the dark side of journalistic practice, you can almost hear the lines from the first movie transposed into the Star Wars universe:

“Are you mad at me?”

“I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Anyone want to run with this?

The other thing I kept noticing was how often it seemed like Lucas was borrowing the visual and cinematic cues of the other most recent successful trilogy, Lord of the Rings.  Can we have a dual-identity Gollum monologue within?  Check.  Can we have a dramatic scene that intercuts rapidly between the death of one hero and the moral indifference of another?  Check.  Can we have the climactic finale take place on a cliff of molten lava?  Check.  Memo to Peter Jackson:  George owes you some royalties, or at least a nod of appreciation.

I did like the Boris Karloff Frankenstein step however, when Darth first steps out of his medical gurney and into his new persona in the black suit.  That was a nice touch.

And still, for an old fart (i.e., above 21) like myself, I have to admit that I cried at the very end—when baby Luke is handed over to a young Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, and that classic music comes up.  Not for the cheesy predictability of this inevitable moment, but because despite itself, the scene transported me right back to that very own moment, at age nine, when I first saw Luke Skywalker look out over the twin sunset to wonder what the future held for him.  As a movie, it seemed about what I expected, another Lucas special-effects experience of more is less.  But as a vehicle for cultural or personal time-travel, boy, it’s a beauty.

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

George Lucas, Interpretive Vindicator

Readers often ask if our writers are kidding with some of the more outlandish or extreme interpretations on the site.  In many cases we are, and in some others, well, let’s just say…we wish we were.  Some readers were especially offended by the dark sexuality interpretation of our original Star Wars piece

But here—straight from the horse’s mouth!—is George Lucas, vindicating Metaphilm’s depth perception in a WiredOnline Q&A:  “Life and death, or ‘I really want to kill my father and have sex with my mother.’ It’s hard to talk about that kind of thing in a family situation without somebody getting upset. But in art, you can deal with those issues.” 

Oedipus, call your orifice, stat!  We are kidding, by the way, but it’s only funny if there’s some horribly tragic truth to it.

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link

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