Someone - I think it was Nick Mamatas - recently made a sarcastic Facebook or Twitter post, expressing mock-surprise that a “multi-million dollar Hollywood movie isn’t the Communist Manifesto” (or words to that effect). The thing being mocked there is the way in which it seems that some on the Left will criticise an expensive (and, the studios hope, profitable) product of the mass-market corporate capitalist culture industries for not being something it was obviously never going to be, and never could be.
As it turned out - for a host of complex and contingent historical reasons - cinema and television became almost-overwhelmingly comforting and placating instantiations of the spectacle. Every now and again a big movie will come along, like Mad Max Fury Road or (I’d argue) Prometheus, which contains aspects of radical critique within its aesthetic and/or thematics. But firstly, this happens rarely, and only when a host of other factors constellate. Based on the cited examples, I’d be tempted to suggest that franchises and auteurs have something to do with it, which is interesting, as is the way those two things are clearly related in the mentioned cases. In any event, both films are akin to aberrations which can ...
“There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit-love.”-Morihei Ueshiba
Looper is a flawed film in ways that neither Brick nor The Brothers Bloom were. This is not to say that it’s a bad film; it’s not at all. But after two films that were notable in part for their impressively taut discipline the fundamental sloppiness of Looper stands out. There’s not a lot that follows from this - everybody who’s made more than one film has a worst film, after all, and most directors have one that’s far worse than this. There’s still a number of things it does well, and well in ways that confirm where Johnson’s talents lie. There’s just also whacking big problems, most of which have a reasonably obvious source.
The biggest and most fundamental problem is that the join between two halves of a script completed at very different times. The first hour - basically everything up through the diner scene - was written in 2008 during the shooting of The Brothers Bloom. The second half, starting with Sara’s introduction, came in 2009. And it shows. The first half is a well constructed film about a man in gripping contact with his older self. The second half, on the other hand, is a well constructed film about ...
Those who listened to our Doctor Who podcast series will have noticed that I had new theme music this year. Some also noticed that I never actually said what it was. My stock answer was that it was a secret transmission from the future.
The future is here.
Seeming's new album, Sol, is out on August 4th. You can pre-order it here. It's absolutely incredible, and like nothing else you've ever heard. I'll be talking more about it and how it's the secret soundtrack to Neoreaction a Basilisk closer to when it's out, but for now let's all just enthusiastically watch that video again and again.
(Oh, and if you don't know Sammus, the guest vocalist on "Stranger," she's absolutely phenomenal as well and you should check her music out. Her new one, Pieces in Space, is brilliant, but her older more nerdcore stuff is solid as well.)
OK. First off, announcements. The Patreon very did not hit $320, so no Game of Thrones reviews. It's currently at $295; if it gets back to $300, I'll do a season wrap-up post. You can contribute here.
This week's post will be on Tuesday, as there's a small but very fun thing to announce tomorrow. I'm going with the teaser "the future arrives" for that one.
Which brings us to the news of the day, which is that Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor and the Chibnall era might be worth getting excited for after all. Discuss amongst yourselves in comments. I'll be moderating the fuck out of sexist trolls, including deleting all replies to them. So go ahead and enjoy a comment section free of that shit.
Also, here's a recent edition of Watching Robocop with Kit Power, in which I join Kit and Daniel to watch and talk about... um, Superman III.
At first glance, there are relatively few similarities between Brick and The Brothers Bloom. Brick is a self-consciously dour noir film about ruined masculinity. The Brothers Bloom is an ostentatiously colorful heist film about the power of stories. There seems very little that one can conclude about things like Rian Johnson’s style based on them. This is, of course, pretty much all a director can hope for after their second film. Make two similar films or, worse, more or less the same film twice and you’re pigeonholed. Make a surprisingly dark high school noir and then turn around and make a quasi-Wes Anderson heist film, on the other hand, and you’re well on your way towards seriousness.
Brick was a good film. The Brothers Bloom, on the other hand, is a great one - one I instantly fell in love with when it finally came through Gainesville on its meandering limited release tour. Looking back at it, I realize it must have been a small and quiet influence on TARDIS Eruditorum, with “there’s no such thing as an unwritten life, only a badly written one” getting to the point a solid year before “we’re all stories in the end; just make ...