The Amazing Spider-Man: Getting Lost Along the Road Already Traveled

Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man has the undeserved misfortune of coming second. Rebooted only 10 years after Sam Raimi first brought the web slinger to the big screen, The Amazing Spider-Man suffers from been there/done that fatigue. Not only have we seen three Spider-Man movies in the last decade, but  nearly every other A-list comic book superhero has…

Intellectual Art, Popular Media, and Getting Away from Aesthetic Subjectivity

In the May 2012 issue of the Atlantic, writer Taylor Clark has an excellent profile of videogame developer Jonathan Blow. He’s misanthropic, severely thoughtful, and somewhat abrasive. But he’s also a brilliant creator and a near perfect example of what Clark thinks the medium needs more of: developers willing to make smart videogames. Because for Clark the…

Nostalgia and film

As a brief follow up to my post on upper-middle-class families in modern television and film, I’d like to respond to this comment by Sam MacDonald: Yes. If we could only go back to my childhood, when there were accurate, realistic portrayals of the American middle class, such as the Jeffersons, Silver Spoons, Dallas, Dynasty,…

X-Men: First Class

I thought X-Men: First Class was loads of fun, largely because of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. Here’s Jonathan Last with a pretty interesting post on mutant assimilation. On a more serious note, I was a little uncomfortable with the film’s repeated invocations of the Holocaust (an exchange between Magneto and Professor Xavier towards the…

The Glorious Cause

Below, J. L. Wall suggests that Rooster Cogburn’s character arc in True Grit is basically redemptive. I’m interested in an alternative hypothesis: What if Cogburn’s heroism is entirely consistent with his history as a Confederate guerrilla? Rooster shows no sign of being ashamed of his past; indeed, it’s not much of a stretch to say…

Science in Sci-Fi film

John Holbo has a veryy good post up trying to classify the various types of science-fiction films by their approach and attitudes toward science. He lists quite a few – 1) pro-science/pro-rationality 2) anti-science 3) split the difference … and so on and so forth. It’s a very good piece, but I think Holbo is…

The King of Cool

The Sand Pebbles and The Great Escape are two of my favorite movies , so I’m not sure how I missed this collection of essays from The Cooler on Steve McQueen’s career. But you should go read the whole thing anyway, including this introduction to McQueen’s five essential performances from The House Next Door.

Avatar

I finally saw Avatar (in 3D) without anyone threatening to beat me up.  It was everything I thought it would be.  The 3D was cool.  The glowing plants in the jungle were really quite pretty.  The special effects were spectacular. But for all its spectacular spectacle, beneath the blue-skinned exterior there wasn’t really any meat.…

In Praise of Roger Ebert

Thinking more on his latest review, I’ve decided that more Americans need to be made aware of Roger Ebert’s undeniable awesomeness. Here, for example, is his memorable assessment of “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” (“Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.”) Commenter Ryan points us to his equally…