I enjoyed both “The Town” and “The Social Network”, but I was struck by each film’s treatment of women. I’ve seen a lot of articles online bemoaning the sexism of The Social Network, specifically that such a significant film contains no significant female characters.
Rebecca Davis O’Brien writes in the Daily Beast, “Women [...]
On the ride home from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Weezer’s “Only in Dreams” came on the radio. Let’s forget for a moment how amazing it was that the obscure final track on Weezer’s Blue Album was being played randomly on the radio some 16 years after its release, and focus on the fact that in high school, I had assigned this song to one of my many ‘dream girls,’ Carolyn Ross.
Carolyn was smokin’ hot and a year older than me. We went to the movies once, she came to one of my band’s gigs and she even went to the Christmas Dance with me. Around the time I was obsessed with Carolyn I was also obsessed with the Blue Album and “Only in Dreams” was her song.
Carolyn would pick me up in the morning in her giant Buick, which she would drive at breakneck speeds through the windy, Northern Jersey back roads leading to our school. One morning, a cop car pulled up in front of my house right behind her with its lights flashing as my dad and I looked out the window. “Well,” I said awkwardly, “that’s my ride.”
“It’s okay,” Carolyn assured me as I got in the passenger seat. “I can’t get a ticket in this town.”
Sure enough, the cop took one look at her license and said, “Ross, huh? Your father’s done me a lot of favors. So I’ll do you one and let you go.”
So that was sketchy. Other sketch-factors included the fact that she had a boyfriend who was in college and spent most of the evening of my band’s show flirting with the bouncer after he confiscated her fake I.D. Oh, and I almost forgot how her cousin threatened to beat me up after he saw us leaving the movie theater together.
How did I dedicate such a great song to this person? Looking back on it this past Friday night, I felt ashamed of myself.
You have a hunch Scott Pilgrim will feel the same way years from now when he looks back on the time he fought seven evil exes to win the heart of Ramona Flowers, the new girl in town with hot style (snow melts when she rollerblades through it), a cool demeanor and a questionable past…
Writing a review is a very subtle art form. You never know how difficult it is until you try and write one. It is not simply a statement of this is what I think about this thing. There is a structure and a flow to it, a progression of thought and form that is difficult to do well (and indeed I know I’m still trying to figure it out). The typical movie review, as I’ve seemed to notice, follows the following pattern: the writer’s main thesis and overarching summary judgment on the film, a summary of the plot, what works in the film, what doesn’t, and finally whether or not to recommend the film to others. Why do I bring this up?
In the past week, I’ve seen Inception three times.
That much should imply my “summary judgment” on the matter (more on that later). I suppose now is the place for me to restate the plot. But I won’t. If you must know it before seeing the film, plenty of adequate summaries exist online for your consumption. I will tell you, though, that it’s one of the most complicated plots I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture, and to summarize it would be both unnecessary and potentially harmful to your enjoyment of the film. But don’t worry, as reviewer Kenneth Turan of NPR writes:
Some things are indeed sacred – set apart. Only with the greatest degree of penitence and reverence shall such objects or artifacts be approached. And even then one ought to question their motives and intentions for approaching.
In spite of this universal reality, we again see the brazen arrogance of our society, its gatekeepers and the public manifested in the heretical handling of a pillar of contemporary American culture. And I will not apologize for standing my ground. I will draw a line in the sand – a line which you do not cross. A line that places those icons on the pedestal they deserve. You don’t draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa. You don’t defecate in Duchamp’s Fountain (unless you’re using the one at his house when he invites you over for BBQ). And you don’t adapt, adjust or alter the A-Team.
In great anticipation of Iron Man 2′s opening scene, I sat, snarfing snacks shortly after I savored supple steak and scintillating conversation with several associates. I sat, a mouthful of corn in both popped and syrup form. I sat, my captain’s chair slightly reclined, feet perched atop empty seat in front of me, and seasoned my obese tub of popcorn with the salt of my own tears as I watched the last of my childhood heroes die a humiliating death before my eyes (and by this point already greasy pores).
Most of the time, the experience of watching a terrible movie is just plain terrible. But every so often, a terrible movie has the rare ability to bring people together, offering its viewers the opportunity to bond through their mutual suffering.
I remember renting Open Range one Saturday night back when it was a new release. About a dozen of us sat around a friend’s living room with pizza and beers, ready to enjoy an action-packed Western. We suffered silently through the first 50 or 60 of the 139 excruciating minutes. Finally, as the aging duo of Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall stared out over the titular open range in presumably deep contemplation for about the hundredth time, my friend Brad called out, “Line!?” We all burst into laughter and the collective tension released at that moment provided a catharsis that eclipsed the climax of the film. We spent the rest of the evening injecting our own dialogue into the numerous gaps ala Mystery Science Theater 3000. We still talk about it as one of the best movie nights ever.
There seems to be a similar reaction from any audience that manages to sit through Birdemic: Shock and Terror, an independent film that has recently given Plan 9 From Outer Space a run for its money as the “worst movie ever made.” Here is the synopsis, which manages to switch tenses five times in just four sentences: “A platoon of eagle & vultures attack the residence of a small town. Many people died. It’s not known what caused the flying menace to attack. Two people managed to fight back, but will they survive Birdemic?”
I was really happy when the family behind me got up and left about 15 minutes into ‘Kick-Ass.’ I noticed them just as I took my seat and I was distracted by their presence the whole time they were there. Didn’t they know what was going to happen in this movie? Hadn’t they at least read a review before they decided to bring their 10-year-old to an R-rated movie?
I did know, and for this reason I decided to go see ‘Kick-Ass’ alone on Saturday afternoon. Have you ever wanted to see a movie really bad but didn’t want to be held responsible for what your friends or family thought of it afterward? That was the situation I found myself in with ‘Kick-Ass.’
Most critics found themselves conflicted over ‘Kick-Ass’ too. That’s because ‘Kick-Ass’ is ultimately a movie of paradoxes. It’s about kids, but it’s not for kids. It’s funny, but it’s not really a comedy. It’s cartoonish, and yet its very premise asks what would happen if someone decided to be a superhero in real life.
About a month ago Mark Driscoll made a bit of stir when he called Avatar the most “demonic, satanic film I have ever seen.” I dismissed this allegation as just another paranoid condemnation of pop culture by a religious reactionary, but it did remind me that I probably ought to go see it before it left the theaters.
Having finally sat through the over-hyped spectacle last weekend, I have to admit that Driscoll is not completely wrong in his allegations of heavy-handed, politically loaded filmmaking. To call Avatar’s message “thinly veiled” would be generous. To call it a preachy, new–age-hippie-turned-huge-Hollywood-sell-out pet project seems more accurate.
Where I disagree with Driscoll is when he claims, “The visuals are amazing because Satan wants you to connect with the lie.” Well, as a writer I may be biased, but I think people throughout the ages have connected more with great stories than great visuals (case in point: the smoke monster from Lost looks lame, yet we somehow take it seriously because we are so wrapped up in the story).
I have this to say to Mark Driscoll: if the Devil made a movie, it would be a whole lot better than Avatar.
The chorus of “military criticism”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hurt_Locker#Response_among_veterans of _The Hurt Locker_ keeps getting louder. A slew of Iraq veterans have dissected the its accuracy without, in my opinion, making a serious argument against it as a film. Now, a former infantryman has “taken to the _Atlantic_”:http://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2010/03/whats-wrong-with-the-hurt-locker/36888/ to say it shouldn’t win Best Picture because its license with reality is essentially the same as soldiers who lie about their military exploits to appear heroic. (Really.)
I understand the urge for people with firsthand experience to nit-pick the movie’s accuracy, particularly as critics rave about how “realistic” it is. But that’s different from imposing an arbitrary moralism on a movie—insisting _The Hurt Locker_ shouldn’t win an award because it did the things the medium is known for, namely making things more exciting and or condensing the timelines.
“Click here”:http://theamericanscene.com/2010/03/03/iraq-veterans-keep-sniping-at-the-hurt-locker-missing-the-point read the rest of this post and comment at The American Scene.
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