a possibly too long explanation of why this isn’t a review of inside out

In the Star Wars: The Force Awakens reel released for Comic-Con a couple of weeks ago, Mark Hamill narrates on the significance of this new Star Wars chapter:

You’ve been here, but you don’t know this story. Nothing’s changed, really. I means everything’s changed, but nothing’s changed.

It’s reminiscent — maybe on purpose — of the common notion that a good movie just reformulates an already-familiar truth, kind of like a song that feels like a classic even on first hearing. (I feel like I’ve heard this idea floated before, but I can’t find a web reference for it. Take me at my word? )

This is not at all unexpected, but it does remind me of an ongoing reservation I have about even the best of popular entertainment: I feel like movies shouldn’t be so comforting that they could double as a warm blanket. The best of film is too fresh, too hard to process to ever let you feel like “nothing’s changed.” I suppose what I’m saying is that even when perfectly executed, a movie whose purpose is to refeed you what you’ve already been fed before is a movie that needs a different reason for being. A movie whose goal is not to put on the screen a new vision of art, but to return us to somewhere we think we already know, well that’s art that is aiming too low.
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godzilla: do not see this junk

Pyrotechnic-filled mega-hit popcorn flicks are not all the same, by the way. Some have redeeming qualities with others just alternate overlarge things breaking with people reciting wooden dialogue.

Godzilla is the latter, and it sucks.

Monsters, the first movie by director Gareth Edwards, used its CGI beasts as a kind of metaphor for nature and even dipped into a bit of sociology. In Godzilla, the monsters are just metaphors for monsters, and the only lesson that we might draw from it is that if a giant praying mantis and a giant dino-sized lizard emerge from the depths, we should trust the lizard.

So, in lieu of being entertained while watching this, I spent a lot of the movie working on a theory that I know to be completely untrue. The theory is that Godzilla, 2014 edition, is actually an arch meta-commentary on blockbusters and their slavish devotion to formulae. Warning: This movie is dull and clearly not smart enough to substantiate this theory. But thinking about this notion is the only fun I had watching this paint-by-numbers bore-fest.

Herewith, I offer my evidence for the plainly false idea that Godzilla is a covert attempt to comment on the nature of the modern blockbuster.

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a superheroic interlude

Howdy gentle reader,

Taking a break this week for no good reason, though partly because I took a night to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier and another to see the second half of The Wolf of Wall Street.

All the Marvel movies have a kind of similar feel, and Winter Soldier reminded me of the first movie I reviewed for this blog, Iron Man 2.

Happy spring, and back next week.

photo by roy so via cc

photo by roy so via cc

true grit is truly worth it

I had a grand old time rewatching True Grit recently and writing about it for the Brattle Theatre’s Film Notes blog. In lieu of posting this coming Tuesday, I offer my essay on the Coen Bros.’ western posted over there.

2013-12-17 true grit

I’ll be back on the Tuesday before Christmas with an essay posted here, though, and hopefully one not suffering from my absorption in economics right now. (If you see the phrase “aggregate expenditure” dropped in there somewhere, I give you license to stop reading immediately.)

in lieu of a manifesto, a rain check

I’m tempted to fill this space with an elaborate discussion of how much time it takes to put together something I’d actually like to post, but the truth is, I’m just not doing it this week and that’s that. The intention is there — I’ve watched Skyfall again and took a bunch of feverish notes on it — but I’m still in the middle of hammering it out and I don’t want to post something half-baked, which it inevitably would be, so I’m just putting off a post until next Tuesday.

In the meantime, maybe read some of the fine and knowledgeable Glenn Kenny.

sequelitis is real, and it won’t stop until you give it your first born

kinenfographilia, n.
/’kɪn ɛn fəʊ gra ‘fi li ə/
1. The love of infographics having to do with film, cinema, or video, often to an excessive degree. [From the Oxford English Dictionary, 4th Ed.]


To borrow a didactic tone from educators of yore, the purpose of this post will be to examine the excellence that is this infographic from boxofficequant.com. To begin with, consider that the author has thoughtfully provided a simple key in the upper right corner (“Above the Line is Better than the Original; Below the line is Worse than the Original”) that renders the whole graphic a simple visual proof of the theory that sequels suck.

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