For as long as I can remember being made fun of, the insult that hurt the most has always been, “What do you mean you haven’t seen that?!” Whether it was being left out of some passing inside joke that swept the playground, or a greater feeling of missing some chunk of the collective cultural consciousness, it hurt. It made me feel “other.”
I’ve done this to people myself; there are no clean hands here, but it sucks. To show such surprise at a missing piece of a person’s life, to attack them with the shock you feel at the idea that someone has somehow not had exactly the same life as you, and for what? A movie? Seems a little silly. But we all feel it, don’t we? And that fact, while pretty shitty in its judgement of another person, is also kinda cool. Because it proves just how important film is to our lives and our culture.
The point I’m getting to is that I finally watched Jaws. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that the thing that finally pushed me to do so was Neil Cicierega’s plot summarizing song of the same title. It’s a good song. Let’s go ahead and embed that here, yeah?
I’ve written about Interstellar on this blog before, but it just occurred to me that I never actually posted a review of the film! So, I figured, with Christopher Nolan’s latest work having been recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, this would be a good time to revisit it. Here, then, is the review I wrote immediately after the film’s initial release, which I have revised and updated for this post. MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
One of the main objectives of any film is to suspend the audience’s disbelief; to combine sound and visuals and story into such a cohesive and believable world that the viewer is completely engrossed and transported into the world of the film. From the very beginning of Interstellar, the viewer’s disbelief is subtly switched off, and they are invited to share in the characters’ firsthand experience of the events of the film.
One of the greatest triumphs of Interstellar is the level of believability it maintains throughout the length of the film. The inclusion of interviews from the 1930’s dust bowl ties the plight of this not- too-distant future to real events in American history and, more importantly, sells the idea early on that the events depicted in this film are plausible. Christopher Nolan knows that the audience needs to care about things on a deeply emotional level in order to have a connection to the film, as well as for character choices and the payoffs that occur later in the film to have more impact. He and his brother, Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the film with consultation from noted physicist Kip Thorne, also recognized that the film needed to lay a solid foundation of accepted science in order to gain the trust of the audience for some of the leaps in imagination later in the film. Everything the characters experience, right up to the point where the film enters theoretical territory, is spot on.
Most horror films today tend to rely on their own literality as the source of their horror. Slasher films like Halloween are good films in their own right, and they do have something to say beyond their main plot, but they always struck me as taking themselves too seriously when it came to the monster.
I didn’t know it, but I wanted something more; a monster that meant something. Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook gave me that something. What, at face value, seems like a simplistic storybook horror tale turns out to be an incredibly refreshing and elegant use of the horror genre to deal with deeply human issues.
Kingsman: The Secret Service kind of came out of nowhere for me. When I first saw trailers for it, it struck me as just another action movie where bros go to bro out over guns and babes.
However! Colin Firth is in it. And I cannot believe that Colin Firth would make that kind of movie.
On top of that, I also learned that it was based on a comic of the same name by Mark Millar, the dude who wrote Kickass and Marvel’s Civil War, the subject of the next Captain America movie. And then it was described to me as a satirical action film. Not just an action-comedy. All of these things stacked on top of my becoming more open to action films after watching The Man From Nowhere in my Intro to Film Studies course last semester (so so excellent). It deserved a chance.
Hey there! As I may or may not have let you know, I’m currently taking a class on horror film, aptly titled “The Horror Film.” Our midterm project in this class was to watch and critique a foreign horror film we had never seen before. I chose Battle Royale, a Japanese film by Kinji Fukasaku. I ended up really enjoying it, and I found that there was a lot to say about the film. So I figured this week, I’d do something a bit different and just present that critique to you. Enjoy!
It is a common theme of modern horror to depict the destruction of youth by older generations. Perhaps no film presents this theme as opaquely or as brutally as Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale. While it is true that the children in the film are the ones killing each other and themselves, it is only within the confines of the adult-controlled dystopia of the BR-act that they do this.
This past weekend, an academy of aged white men told us which movies they liked best, and for some reason we all cared.
Look, I like an award show as much as the next guy. Actually, no. I really hate award shows. And the Oscars are no exception. Forgive me, but boiling an art form down to a room full of celebrities patting themselves on the back for how awesome they are rubs me the wrong way. To me, the self-congratulatory nature of award shows like the Oscars feels a little too obnoxious and unnecessary. But people put weight on these things, and on the Oscars more than any other award show.
For some reason, film is the art that is most heavily geared toward the retrospective award show. When a new album is released, no one wonders, “Will it be Grammy-worthy?”
The Oscars carry a lot of weight in the film industry, and people in the industry care a lot about the recognition that an Oscar brings. And so it is in this context that I bring you: rage.
I know what you’re thinking. “Here we go, nerd man is going to spew more love all over Marvel.” Well, you’re damn right I am! I’ve been waiting years for this to happen, don’t you take this away from me! Excelsior!
Okay. So here’s the haps.
This past week, Sony and Marvel announced a deal that will allow Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In movies. Made by Marvel. And not made by Sony.
For years, Sony Pictures has owned the film rights to the character of Spider-Man. And they chose to remind us of this fact in the most painful way possible: by making movies. And they were pretty whatever. This was before Marvel Studios came and blew the superhero movie into this amazing, enjoyable, perfect little gem. But then they did that. And everything else started to look like garbage. Maybe it isn’t fair to hold everyone else to the same standard as Marvel Studios when it comes to superhero movies, but…actually yes. Yes it is. They’re good at this thing in a way that no one else has been.