Sunday, April 01, 2007
Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane

The Post-9/11 American Mind

This B-movie helps us address our existential fear and phantasmic preoccupations.

By Jason Del Gandio ::: (4) Comments

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

300

Reader Timothy Moran sends this link and comment: ‘Victor Davis Hanson, an expert on ancient Greece, says that 300 is told in the way ancients would have told the story of fighting the Persians.’ From the article, discussing the film’s attempt to follow Frank Miller’s comic book style: “The Greeks themselves often embraced such impressionistic adaptation. Ancient vase painters sometimes did not portray soldiers accurately in their bulky armor. Instead, they used ‘heroic nudity’ to show the contours of the human body. Similarly, Athenian tragedies that depicted stories of war employed contrivances every bit as imaginative as those in 300. Actors wore masks. Men played women’s roles. They chanted in set meters, broken up by choral hymns. The audience understood that dramatists reworked common myths to meet current tastes and offer commentary on the human experience.”

Moran asks, ‘That may be true, but if so, that raises other questions. Should we be telling stories in ancient ways or modern ways? Maybe we should take a modern view and avoid portraying our enemies as monsters? Is 300 a bad movie because it promotes a “tribalist” view of conflict, rather than a more “rational” view?’ Good question. One response I’d suggest is that art that causes us to question our own assumptions is probably more good than not. It seems like this movie has provoked more real discussion than any other film this year.

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Jaws

Flaws aside, Spielberg’s masterpiece is, I believe, a rather important and uniquely American work of art. The idea of a small-town flatfoot realizing that his duty requires him to step on a boat and head off to sea is a metaphor that not only resonated with WWII veterans in the 70s, but still resonates today with anyone who’s had to leave the comforts of home to go confront a threat. Also, with its entire story circling down to that amazing moment when the grizzled old seadog Quint has gotten a look at the beast he’s going to be confronting and decides to unpack and assemble a fearsome harpoon, the film strongly echoes Melville, as well as all the other literature and art that’s been inspired by America’s centuries-long quest to tame the Atlantic ocean. This is one of our touchstone movies that won’t go out of style until people have lost their fear of sharks, the ocean, drowning and the unknown in general—in other words, never.” Ryan Stewart, Cinematical. In context of a review of a new documentary on Jaws titled The Shark is Still Working.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lady in the Water

Science Fiction novelist John C. Wright reviews Lady in the Water and suggests that critics missed the point. It’s the first review of this film I’ve seen that makes me want to watch it. A quote on myth and critics: “When something supernatural or something epic happens to us in real life, we have no means of dealing with it except what we have learned through stories. Myths are the soul of the civilization. When a war starts, for example, whatever the governing myth is in the society dictates how men will react to this epic circumstances: if Viet Nam is the governing myth of the society, we will react to all wars according to what that myth says, and we will call the war a quagmire. If David and Goliath is the governing myth in society, then we will root for the little guy. So the movie had to deal with the question of what happens to a man who over-intellectualizes his myth. What do you do when you do not have a myth ready to deal with things of mythic magnitude in life? The character, to make this point, had to be someone who knew stories backward and forward, but who was not himself a creative person: a critic, in other words. Someone who sucks the magic out of myth-making for a living. Of course he has to come to a bad end: the point of the story is that we need stories to live, we need the inspiration as a lantern in the dark. A man who throws that lamp away, according to the logic of the story theme, has to stumble.” The article also reviews and interprets Take the Lead.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Shining—The Feel Good Movie of 1980

YouTube justifies what Metaphilm readers have known all along… Shine On, You Crazy Diamond.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Welcome to the new site

We have upgraded to the latest version of Expression Engine. At present, we’ve not enabled the membership feature; you just need an e-mail address to post a comment. Some links may not work yet. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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