::: metaphlog ::: philm shorts
Wed, Nov 29, 2006
Get Happy, Get Bliss
If you don't have time to watch Modern Times, Citizen Kane, Brazil, The Wall, E.T., the Australian satire Bliss, Office Space and The Matrix, then steal a few moments to watch More, the stop-motion-animated film that captures the message of those films with the density and essentialness of a zen koan. In the age of time compression, look for this as the trend of future filmmaking: two years to make a six-minute masterpiece that is itself a condensation of 70 years of filmmaking.
Mon, Feb 27, 2006
Good Night and Good Luck
Reader David Schaap has blogged a great interpretation of George Clooney's feel-good political film (the black and white one, I mean). “This film is not about the wanton abuse of political power for self-aggrandizing purposes and the persecution of liberals and other political enemies during the 50's. Oh, no. It is about the persecution of smokers today.” Great stuff. "Are you now, or have you ever been, a smoker?"
Tue, Mar 08, 2005
Just getting through a major back-log of e-mail and came across this link to a blog entry by Mike Lynch in Sydney on The Matrix. “The Matrix is a metaphor for capitalism, under which humans (the proletariat) are kept in a state of passive illusion (false consciousness) while the machines (the bourgeois) feed off their 'energy' (alienated labour). That's why the humans-as-batteries scenario is necessary, even though it's just silly in science-fiction terms - for the metaphor to work, the bad guys have to be stealing the labour of the good guys.” Funny and oddly satisfying . . .
Wed, Dec 29, 2004
Matt Bailey has a review of Metropolis at Not Coming to a Theater Near You, a DVD and video review site. Pretty much sums up my experience: “Metropolis has to be one of the most talked-about and written-about of silent films, yet I find that I have next to nothing to say about it. As visual spectacle, it is perhaps without equal in its era. There is no question that Fritz Lang was a crackerjack conjurer of images, one who continues to influence film technique and style to this day. Yet under the surface (and what a surface!) of Lang’s film churns a narrative that is, at best, befuddling, and, at worst, silly.” A nice, quick read that gets its point across without fuss.
Sun, Sep 05, 2004
Hero and Propaganda
Jeff at the Beautiful Atrocities blog calls to our attention his discussion of Zhang Yimou's Hero, suggesting that it may not be promoting pacifism but passivism. As for me, I'm off to see Zatoichi this weekend instead.
Sat, Jul 17, 2004
A Dear Byron Letter
Roger Ebert’s take on A Cinderella Story is couched in the form of an open letter to a teen-age boy. Apparently Mr. Ebert has untapped skill as a comedian. “Even when a critic dislikes a movie, if it's a good review, it has enough information so you can figure out whether you'd like it, anyway. For example, this review is a splendid review because it lets you know you'd hate A Cinderella Story, and I am pretty much 100 percent sure that you would.”
Tue, Apr 20, 2004
Here’s a provoking take on Lars von Trier’s 2003 film as a meditation on Matthew 11.20–24. “I submit that Dogville makes more sense and is meatier when seen as a religious film rather than a political one, the unfortunately crude and literal closing credits notwithstanding. But as a religious work of art, Dogville is a rare breed today—unapologetically moralistic, and displaying and justifying the most unpopular Christian doctrine of all—Hell.” (Victor Morton, 24fps Magazine)
Wed, Apr 14, 2004
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
James Bowman of the American Spectator has an interpretive review of the latest Kaufman film, suggesting that “All the science of this film’s science fiction is really there just to allow Joel and Clementine this moment of insight which, had we sufficient moral imagination, we all might share without any help from Dr. Mierzwiak and his black arts. . . . Here, in short, is a sort of playing God that is not just OK but is morality’s highest achievement..” (JamesBowman.net).
Mon, Mar 29, 2004
Life of Brian
James Lileks has gotten his hands on the new DVD of Monty Python’s Life of Brian and offers a good discussion of its felicities and foibles. “Is it blasphemous? Well, no. It’s about human fallibility, and the way it infects—at the first possible opportunity—any search for transcendence. Not an original idea, and not a profound one either, but it’s done with grim brio and comic skill.”
Given the news that the Pythons are also re-releasing Life of Brian to theaters to counter The Passion of the Christ (to which the Fark editors attach the hilarious label Jesus Chainsaw Massacre), it’s worth reconsidering this comedy classic—which I love. Though this is not his point, Lileks makes a good case that Brian is another instance of true believers (in nihilism, in this case) promoting their dogma through art. The Pythons are thus unintentionally ironic in using their movie to attempt to undermine that of another faith. Just remember that the last joke is on you.
Wed, Feb 25, 2004
The Passion over the Passion
Steve Beard’s Thunderstruck blog is the definitive place to find links to articles of all sorts on The Passion of the Christ. Beard comments for himself: “The Passion is the Sunday school flannel board lesson for a generation that grew up on violent video games, skipped church, and stood in line to watch Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume 1.” There you are.
Also, don’t miss Roger Ebert’s extremely well done review: “I prefer to evaluate a film on the basis of what it intends to do, not on what I think it should have done.” He puts things in perspective.
Fri, Feb 13, 2004
This article includes coverage of Amores Perros, as well: “In what can only be interpreted as an explicit echo of their first picture, Iñárritu and Arriaga again use a car wreck as the unifying narrative event in their new film, 21 Grams. This time, however, they take a new, more entwined tack with their characters—creating tensions within their social worlds and forcing them together.” Of note: “(incidentally, Iñárritu's portrayal in these scenes of evangelical Christian belief and its potentially transforming intensity are among the most believable and least patronizing anywhere on film).” (Matt Hermann, “Life Doesn’t Go On,” Newtopia Magazine, Feb/Mar 2004).
Thu, Feb 12, 2004
The Silence of the Lambs
CinemaShrink, the film commentary website of Dr. Jane Alexander Stewart, has a feature article on her hero, Clarice Starling of Silence of the Lambs, who “represents an emerging model of a new female heroine . . . who carries a set of feminine ethics. She goes beyond self-growth or professional accomplishment. She manages to achieve a far greater victory: she establishes the strength of the feminine up against unmitigated evil and creates hope for the safety of a feminine presence in our society.” Lengthy but carefully argued.
Mon, Feb 09, 2004
The Ring and the Diabolical Imaginary
A thoughtful-looking take on The Ring (includes Lacanian and Buddhist readings and a discussion of the differences between the English- and Japanese-language versions) is available at Cinetext. I didn’t read through the whole thing, but somebody else may want to; it looks coherent enough. (Matthew Sharpe, Cinetext, 12 Sep 2003). One thing I want to know is if anybody else sees a connection in this film with Roger Shattuck's Forbidden Knowledge?
Mon, Dec 15, 2003
Barbara Nicolosi has a review with some interpretive elements: “It was brave of Finding Nemo to buck this formula and make the kid’s story a sub-plot to the adult’s story. The main emphasis in the film is on Marlin, and his struggle to become a better parent despite his own woundedness. This is a good message to put out there for kids to brood over. The idea that parents are people too with sadness, fear and suffering might make kids a little less demanding and a little more tender towards their Moms and Dads.” Also some thoughts on the real bad guy. (Catholic Exchange, 4 Nov 2003)
Sun, Dec 14, 2003
Kill Bill, Vol. 1
“This, in the end, is the most troubling thing about Tarantino and his work, of which Kill Bill may well be the best representative: not the violence but the emptiness, the passivity, the sense that you're in the presence not of a creator but of a member of the audience—one who's incapable of saying anything about real life because everything he knows comes from the movies. (It occurred to me, after I left the Kill Bill screening, that Tarantino may well think that ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ really is an ‘Old Klingon Proverb.’) People worry about Tarantino because they think he represents a generation raised on violence; but it's as a representative of a generation raised on televised reruns and replays of videotapes that he really scares you to death.” (Daniel Mendelsohn, “It's Only a Movie,” New York Review of Books, December 18, 2003) Good stuff. Thanks to Caleb Stegall of The New Pantagruel for the link.