Page 3 of 32

Ace Of Spades Does “The Other Side of The Wind”

ie9ybrhceuuozazbrohuAs part of a retrospective on Welles for its weekly movie post.

His opinion matches my own. It’s an odd little movie, ambitious and self-referential, with an element of satire, both of Hollywood culture in the 70’s and of the art-house trends of that decade. The film within the film, which has the same title, is colorful and stunning to look at but also incredibly basic, to the point of being plotless. That’s a pretty strong critique of what avant-garde cinema tends to do, which is to say, spin its wheels fast enough to dispense with such pedestrian things as narrative, and then to expect plaudits for it. Which it usually gets, because, as the main movie demonstrates, everone wants to act like they’re in, even when nothing they’re looking at makes any sense at all.

Is it as good as Citizen Kane? I don’t think so, but what is? Not that I accept the notion that Kane is the Greatest Movie Ever Made, (because what does that even mean?) but it is a good movie. Kane tells a man’s story, beginning to end, and in the process of doing that leaves open the notion that for everything we know about him, there was more, a core of him that he alone will take to the grave. It’s watchable and provocative.

This doesn’t rise to that height. It lacks the Everyman subject. Movies about Hollywood are inevitably more interesting to people who are in Hollywood than the rest of us, and while it’s certainly fun to see Welles pronounce a plague on all their houses (if in fact that’s what he’s doing, but I think that’s there), there’s a kind of been-there-done-that to such a message. The provincialism of the elite is a well-mined subject.

But that’s just my opinion. There’s a larger value to the work that makes it worth checking out:

This is like discovering that Emily Dickenson had a complete collection of poetry hidden under her mattress since her death, or da Vinci had created another masterpiece but no one had laid eyes on it since the 16th century. This is akin to finding a trove of Greek drama previously unknown to exist, or a lost Shakespeare play.

I’d advise looking at the accompanying documentary, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, as well.

Why Vice is Writing About Astrology

Apparently it’s 1971 or something, because Vice UK has a whole subsection of Astrological blather. It’s tongue-in-cheek, but also not:

But that’s not what brought me in. What brought me in was this exercise in Making Astrology Woke: Why Straight Men Hate Astrology So Much.

Astrology give Teh Marginalized a means of control and order in the cishetcarnophallocentricpatriarchy, you see.

To understand your and others’ personalities, to try to predict the future: ultimately, it’s grasping for control, when we have none. Women and queer people are drawn to astrology because it offers community and refuge, something to lean on during a time in which religion has taken a backseat. In a heterosexual patriarchy, cis-het men arguably have less to seek refuge from.

Do you ever notice how paragraphs of this kind can be, and regularly are, written about almost anything? Today it’s Astrology, yestrday it was Yoga, tomorrow it will be the new Woke edition of the I Ching. Always with the same rhetorical point: this new thing is better because the Right Sort of People are doing it, and the Wrong Sort are the ones who disparage it, because that feeds their Wrongness. We’ve gotten to the point where the derpy advice columns that have been sitting in the back of your newspaper for a century and more are being turned into a badge of #thestruggle by trowelling a pile of Frankfort School Crit-Theory manure all over it. Welcome to 2018.

What does my horrible self think of astrology? Not much, by which I mean, I don’t think about it a lot. Astrology is a means of organizing random data to create a map of your persona with concomitant suggestions as to when you should do stuff.

Is it valid? Shrug

Is it harmful? I can see if you took it way too seriously, it could be. I don’t know how many people do.

To me it’s like Jungian archetypes or Freud’s id, ego and superego: a heuristic of human impulses and needs. If you find it useful, go nuts. Just don’t expect anyone else to go for it in the same way.

And if you insist on making a shibboleth out of it, don’t be surprised at how those in the out-group react.

Someone Hold Dan Akroyd Down and Make Him Stop Babbling About Ghostbusters 3

Let. It. Go.

For over two decades there was talk of a third Ghostbusters movie, but that particular phantasm never materialized. Instead we got 2016’s Ghostbusters, a reboot of the property with an all-new cast that suffered all kinds of controversy and ultimately failed to be a hit at the box office. That seemingly killed another Ghostbusters in that continuity, but perhaps it opened the door for a true Ghostbusters 3. In fact, Ghostbusters 3 is currently in the works according to Dan Aykroyd, who said:

The same nonsense he always says, it’s being written, he’s hopeful, he thinks Bill Murray will want to, blah blah blah.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

Ghostbusters was a good movie. A classic, even. Ghostbusters 2 was… enh. The cartoon was a cartoon. The reboot bombed. We don’t need another Ghostbusters movie. We don’t need to “save” the “franchise”. It’s not a fucking fast food chain, it’s a movie. Just one movie that was entertaining in 1984. The rest of the dreck that’s been built around it is forgettable and unimportant. Another movie is unnecessary and would accomplish nothing but spark unending debates and wearisome attempts at drollery by idiots on social media. 

The time and money spent on whether determining whether another Ghostbusters movie could be better spent on creating a genuine and new piece of entertainment that could itself become memorable and rewatchable over and over again. 

One of the obstacles preventing Ghostbusters 3 from happening over the years has actually been Bill Murray, who never seemed particularly interested– feeling that there was no way to live up to the original.

If this is true, then the world owes Bill Murray a debt of thanks. I’ve seen some people – like the Red Letter Media guys – blame Bill Murray’s intransigence for the existence of the reboot. That’s nonsense on stilts. Ghostbusters, but With Girls was fated to happen the day some idiot at Sony figured out he could shill some Pepsi and Papa Johns Pizza that way. They ran with it because reboots generate their own press, and controversies generate more. Because existing IP’s are the golden ticket for getting movie audiences in the door, right?

Right?

Bill Murray is right. No more Ghostbusters. No more dumb sequels, unnecessary reboots, and nostalgia pieces. Make something that doesn’t suck. Make art, you monkeys.

maxresdefault

Quick Review: The Outlaw King

outlaw-king

What the wags have called Braveheart 2 came out this week on Netflix, and being a medievalist nerd, I was all about it.

It is a more accurate film that Braveheart in several respects. For one, it gives us the real struggle Robert the Bruce had in claiming the throne of Scotland. None of this sudden Hollywood climax decision with a full army at his back for the Bruce: he had to claw his way to power, bearing a crown no one respected, hiding in the heather from his own countrymen for a number of years. For another, it’s depiction of Edward I of England is probably truer than the cartoon villain Braveheart gave us. If you loved Patrick McGoohan’s moustache-pulling (and who doesn’t? “The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots!” that’s A+ movie-villainry right there), you might not like the merely iron-fisted politician this film gives us. But Edward I of England wasn’t a cartoon, he was a real man, a puissant ruler and crusader, a man who struggled to restore royal authority after the turbulent reigns of his grandfather John and his father Henry III, and largely succeeded. Call out his excess in this if you like. Say that his cruelty to the Scots crosses the line into wickedness – I can’t refute it.  But he was a man, and not a devil, and this movie does him the courtesy of making that real. You may not recognize Stephen Dillane – Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones – in the part, but you will appreciate him.

However, when it comes to Edward II, I think the earlier film got it right:  the second of the Three Edwards (for a century, from 1277 to 1377, the King of England had the same name) seems to really have been a dilettante who had neither capacity nor wish to charge into battle at the head of an army. We see the younger Edward’s weakness in Braveheart, his terror of his father, and silent yearning to be utterly unlike him (a yearning that made him a poor ruler indeed). In this film, the younger Edward is just a bad chip off the old block.

The film doesn’t run the length of Braveheart, so it can’t spend the time building and enriching the emotional life of the characters. We don’t quite see Robert’s emotional motivation to rebel in the same way we saw William Wallace’s. Chris Pine holds more back than Gibson does, preferring to act with his eyes in something of a slow burn. How well he pulls that off is for the viewer to decide.

Bottom Line: it’s both less thrilling and less fanciful than Braveheart. It runs close to the truth, and is never boring. Worth a watch.

Why I Don’t Go To the Movies Anymore

Every now and again I catch myself with a free evening to catch a movie. Usually the little ones are off somewhere, or I’m off somewhere, and I have some hours to spare. Inevitably I have the same conversation with myself or others:

“What’s playing?”

“Anything I want to see?”

“Anything possibly entertaining?”

“Hell with it. To the local food eatery/dispenser of spirits!”

But the plural of anecdote is not data (or is it?), so let’s consider what’s in theaters this very weekend. Mayhaps I will be surprised:

First Man: I’ve already blogged about this. I don’t care at all. Spoilers: he lands on the moon.

Venom: Venom is not a hero. I’m going to retype that bold and in all caps: VENOM IS NOT A HERO. Venom is a villain (and I don’t care how many nerds want to argue and say that on their character dimension chart, he’s Chaotic Neutral or some nonsense. Venom fights Spiderman. That makes him a villain. Also, Chaotic Neutral is the laziest kind of character creation, because it just means you can do whatever you happen to need to do. It’s not edgy, nerds). Villains should not be protagonists, because they are villains. I’m looking at you, DC with your insistence on making The Joker the soul of the Batman world. Stop that now.

Bad Times at the El Royale: Looks like a script for Smokin’ Aces 3 got manhandled by someone on Tarantino’s editing staff. I like Jon Hamm doing noir stuff so I’ll probably check this out at some point. But not in the theaters.

A Star is Born: They are now so far down the remake well that they’ve hit this muck. And don’t tell me it’s not a remake. They didn’t have Bradley Cooper grow a Jesus beard to not look like Kris Kirstofferson. People struggle towards fame and sing songs and become famous and Lady Gaga’s voice is like Buttah! Pleh.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. This might be fun if you made a drinking game out of it. And you brought booze into the theater. And went by mistake.

Smallfoot. The Yetis don’t believe humans exist, until a misfit Yeti teaches the community that what they think is wrong. IT’S LIKE A METAPHOR YOU GUYS.

Night School. Kevin Hart is wacky – in school. It’s probably funnier than whatever Adam Sandler poops out next. But not much funnier.

Halloween. Am I the only one that thinks its weird that they haven’t remade Nightmare on Elm Street yet? I hope so, because if I’m not they’re eventually going to remake it. And it will suck. Just like this will.

The House With a Clock in It’s Walls. The Kids Doing Magic genre is getting thicker…..

….and Jack Black is getting laaaaaaarger.

The Hate U Give. The Social Justice flick of the season. Sleeper Oscar favorite. The star will be lauded, give speeches, and then never have a career.

Have I always been this cynical?

A Simple Favor. There’s a reason Paul Feig keeps getting work, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is. That said, this might be worth a Netflixing.

Hell Fest. In which horror tropes go meta. I really do tire of horror’s self-awareness sometimes. Just splatter the blood and stop acting like you’re Fellini.

The Nun. Like The Name of the Rose, but stupider.

The Predator. Does anyone else think it’s weird that they haven’t done a Commando remake…

And the final result?

spideylol

Rian Johnson Blames Critical Reception of The Last Jedi on Russian Trolls

Yep. That’s a thing that happened.

homer-facepalm

You know, I didn’t walk out of the theater disliking The Last Jedi. Quite the contrary. I enjoyed it. My whole family – all SW fans in general, none quite as obsessive as me – liked it, too. When the Vice Admiral Hole-Card jumped to light speed right into the First Order Fleet, I whispered under my breath “that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen” and my six-year-old said “Me, too.” That was a cool moment I got to have.

But this kind of idiocy is going to put me right into the camp of the haters. It’s just a gussied-up version of the wearisome defenses of The Phantom Menace that got slung around in the summer of ’99. Back then, “Bashers” were told that they needed to get in touch with their “inner child” and then they’d see that the new movie was really great and entertaining, not tedious and disjointed. Now, critics are told the reverse, that they’re hapless stooges of Rooskie Mind Control. Both of which are ways to Dismiss and Disqualify, which are pernicious, weedlike versions of the Argumentum ad Hominem.

On top of that, it reminds us that Lucasfilm has no intention of breaking its 20-year habit of treating Star Wars like a rented mule to carry money. They have no interest in finding out what the problem is. They have no interest in meeting fans halfway. Anyone not singing the Oceania anthem for every piece of product is a filthy miscreant who is guilty of all manner of thoughtcrime.

If Episode IX tanks, they will have richly deserved it.

Addendum: Want to watch something way more subversive than The Last Jedi? Here’s a 7-minute short by some Japanese-style animators that will have you rooting for the Empire. Subversive, and awesome.

 

You Done Poked the Hive: Larry Corriea, provoked by this paranoid buck-passing, de-lurks (as far as The Last Jedi goes) to poop all over it from a great height.

Characters it’s all about rooting for someone. When your characters do nothing but stupid shit, it’s hard to root for them. Your antagonists need to be menacing, not clowns, or worse, just thrown away! (hey, Snoke is interesting… and never mind…).  Or Phasma. Hey, wow, she must be super bad ass to have the silver armor and…. Garbage chute… Maybe some menace this time and…. Oh fuck it.

The Ewoks had more character than this. AND THEY COULDN’T BLINK.

It’s official. Disney has managed to make a SW move that the fans hate as much as The Phantom Menace. Heckuva job, guys.