Monday, June 27, 2005
Star Wars Revenge of the SithBatman Begins

Star Wars - Batman Begins

Blazing Jedi

Are Batman and Vader twins separated at birth, or worse? I am Darth’s raging doppelganger envy. This and other mysteries herein revealed.

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Monday, June 20, 2005
The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man

Games of truth, anthropology, and the death of ‘man’

Despite appearances, it’s Foucault’s philosophy that provides the dread that makes this film a horror classic.

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Monday, June 13, 2005
Cape Fear

Cape Fear

The View Through Dani’s Window

For all the violence, what is real here is the skeleton in the closet.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Ocean's Twelve

Ocean’s Twelve

John Barth Goes to Hollywood

George Clooney and the difference between smartly self-aware and dumbly self-involved.

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Other Recent Long Stuff

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
Reading Inland Empire

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, June 30, 2005

Bruce Wayne, Defendant

Our fearless publisher, otherwise occupied, calls this to our attention. From Ted Frank at Overlawyered: “With the critical and box-office success of the comic-book movie Batman Begins, it’s worth exploring how today’s litigation culture would make sequels impossible in real life.” Amusement. And spoilers.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Bioethics at the Movies

Critic James Bowman has a lengthy review essay in the Spring 2005 issue of The New Atlantis addressing the ways films help us talk—or, more accurately, hinder our discussion—about the bioethics concerns of the day. “There is at the very heart of the movie culture, therefore, a form of dishonesty. This involves an attempt to pretend that property, in which Americans also tend to be strong believers, is the inevitable metaphor for their stake in their own lives, and that there is no question of any liens upon such property held by the Almighty.” You may not agree with all or any of his points, but he deserves credit for mentioning the unmentionable and insisting on real argument about some life-threatening issues. Discusses Million Dollar Baby, Alfie, The Sea Inside, and Kinsey.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Now there is an interpretation.

The inimitable novelist Neal Stephenson has an op-ed in the New York Times for 17 June 2005 that offers one of the best reasons I’ve yet seen for why Star Wars may survive as a cultural icon. Its Jedi are a metaphor for the Geek class of current society: “Twenty-eight years later, the vast corpus of Star Wars movies, novels, games and merchandise still has much to say about geeks—and also about a society that loves them, hates them and depends upon them.” Also an interesting comment on the march of technology: “In the 16 years that separated it from the initial trilogy, a new universe of ancillary media had come into existence. These had made it possible to take the geek material offline so that the movies could consist of pure, uncut veg-out content, steeped in day-care-center ambience. These newer films don’t even pretend to tell the whole story; they are akin to PowerPoint presentations that summarize the main bullet points from a much more comprehensive body of work developed by and for a geek subculture.”

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Miyazaki II

Speaking of Miyazaki, there’s more about him worth a read in the A. O. Scott piece linked below. Also, we have for your reading pleasure an article on SF Gate by Jeff Yang on the fundamental flaws of Disney animation, “Feelin’ Ghibli: A retrospective at PFA shows why Disney has a thing or two to (re)learn from Japanese animation kings Miyazaki and Takahata”: “Pixar isn’t the only asset in Disney’s portfolio capable of providing a critical transfusion of soul. Since its landmark 1996 deal with Tokuma, Ghibli’s Japanese distributor, Disney has had exclusive rights to distribute the studio’s works throughout the world outside of Asia. Despite the seismic tremors this sent through Ghibli’s fan community—who were both excited at the prospect that their beloved films might finally get a mass audience and terrified that the movies would be manhandled and misused in the process—this historic arrangement was given short shrift within Disney itself.

For the record, I saw Howl’s Moving Castle last night, and while the visuals are stunning, I prefer the book. Spirited Away is much better. While his storytelling is of a much higher caliber, Miyazaki can be just as didactic, even propagandistic, in his own way as the Disney machine.

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Mystery and movies

Barbara Nicolosi has a 4 june 2005 post up on her Church of the Masses blog that addresses the concept of mystery as an essential element in a film, along with theme and plot. In a discussion of Cinderella Man (which, a friend argues, is lacking because she doesn’t understand boxing), she concludes that one of the things she doesn’t like in Ron Howard movies is how overly resolved they are:

What’s missing in Cinderella Man, that keeps it from brilliance, is mystery. . . . Stories are supposed to acclimate us to the omnipresence of mystery as our lot in life. They are supposed to lead us to the peace that most things are too big for us, and that that is okay. . . . As C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we aren’t alone.” And this is what we get from stories too. That somebody else has encountered a particular mystery. We are all in this together. So, you don’t have to jump off a roof.

I dunno about her understanding of stories, but it’s at least a good conversation starter (hint). Interestingly, we have an 12 June 2005 interview by A. O. Scott at the NY Times with Hayao Miyazaki:

In an interview last week, on the morning before his latest movie, Howl’s Moving Castle, had its New York premiere, he spoke about the new technology with a mixture of resignation and resistance. “I’ve told the people on my CGI staff” - at Studio Ghibli, the company he founded with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki in 1985 - “not to be accurate, not to be true. We’re making a mystery here, so make it mysterious.” That conscious sense of mystery is the core of Mr. Miyazaki’s art.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Let’s Hope That’s Not the ONLY Reason…

Found art or raison d’etre for the moviegoer?  Either way, we hope there’s more to it than just this.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Use the Farm, Cuke!

The pro-organic Store Wars film, a must-see force of meme-remixing for the cause of crunchier granola.

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Other Recent Phlogs

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
If 2001 Came Out in 2012
Apple’s New iPhone Best Explained by the Movie The Prestige
You know You’ve Seen Star Wars Too Many Times When…
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TIME magazine mock-ups in movies