On Watching Out of Cultural Obligation


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?

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Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar: An Intense Quiet


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.

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Review of “The Babadook”


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.


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Kingsman – Parodic Royalty or Missing the Mark?


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.

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An Analysis of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale

Battle Royale

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.

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Oscars Snub “Interstellar” In Sound Categories And It’s Not Okay


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.

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Spider-Man Comes Home


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.

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Dear Hollywood, Please Don’t “Cumberbatch” Chris Pratt

Everyone loves Chris Pratt. How could you not? You have to. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Constitution. He has brought a lovable energy to the character of Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation, and he blew away all expectations with his performance as Peter “Star Lord” Quill in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Dude’s riding high, and he deserves it.

However. Now he’s ramping up his operation. He’s in the new Jurassic Park, which I found surprising. I mean, I was surprised at first. It took a whole 3 seconds before the cynical part of me thought, “well sure, Guardians just did really well.” He’s also signed on to a movie adaptation of Cowboy Ninja Viking. There is talk of him joining the cast of a new Magnificent Seven film. And now, and this is the kicker, Disney is eyeing Mr. Pratt for the lead role in an Indiana Jones reboot.

Chris Pratt Jurassic Park Reboot

Did you forget that Disney owns Lucasfilm now? We all did. We all want to forget.

Point is: as awesome as Chris Pratt is, he is now in danger of slowly becoming our Benedict Cumberbatch. (By the way, yeah, that’s a name you know. Think about that the next time you can’t remember why we fought the American Revolution.) You know, he’s the guy you were really impressed by three and a half years ago. It all started with Sherlock. And don’t get me started on Sherlock. Now he’s everywhere. Peter Jackson just paid him a jillion dollars to roll around on the floor in spandex pretending he was a dragon. Twice.

I don’t mean to decry Mr. Cumberbatch’s talents or abilities. I merely wish to use him as an example of an actor I used to like quite a bit, but have since grown tired of. Seeing his face and hearing his name now produce a repulsive effect in my brain. I don’t want that for Chris Pratt. I love Chris Pratt.

So please, Hollywood, take your eyes off of easy cash grabs for a moment…wait. That’s a lost cause.

Mr. Pratt! Chris! If you’re reading this, please PLEASE open your eyes. Don’t let them Cumberbatch you. Be picky with your projects. Don’t constantly stick with us like the gum we swallowed in high school. Grow with us over time. Age your talent and time in the spotlight well. Like a fine cheese. Or Meryl Streep.

That said, if anyone offered me the chance to be Indy, I’d take it in a heartbeat. So, what the hell! If you want it, go for it!

(Why am I still speaking to Chris Pratt? He’s not reading.)

(Also welcome back, readers! First post of the semester! If I seem rusty, it’s because I am.)

— Mike Egan, Film Blogger

Birdman Rising, or The Unfortunate Occurrence of Differing Perceptions

Photo from wired.com

Alejandro Iñárritu’s new film, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), has been getting a lot of positive press lately, so I figured I would jump on the bandwagon and talk about my experience of the film.

A few weeks ago, my whole family (sister + parents + myself) went out to the movies together. This is a fairly rare occurrence nowadays due to lack of free time, lack of similar interests, and lack of living in the same building or town. But my parents and my sister and I had each independently heard things about Birdman, and we each became interested in seeing it. I mention this for no other reason than the fact that this was miraculous – a statistical anomaly that shall never again be witnessed by gods or men.

So we grabbed our coats and our preconceptions and headed to the theater.

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Festen and Dogme 95

Photo from http://ecx.images-amazon.com/
Photo from http://ecx.images-amazon.com/

Okay, so normally I would write about whatever Wes Anderson film my sister and I watched over the weekend (this time it was Bottle Rocket). But last Wednesday, in my Film Studies class, we watched a film that, upon completing the assigned analysis, kind of blew my mind. Here’s that.

I had never heard of Festen before last Wednesday, or of the style in which it was filmed, Dogme 95. Which was great, because my understanding of school is that it is meant to teach you things. So I sat and I learned and I sat and I watched. And I was bored. And I was tired. But I needed time.

This happens fairly often with the films we watch in Film Studies. I get excited to watch something new, something I will learn from, and I leave class thinking, “That was super boring,” or “that took forever.” But later, when I’m thinking through my Blackboard response for the week’s film, something clicks, and “that was super boring” becomes “SWEET. JESUS.”

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