And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Inception (2010)
"For everything, turn, turn turn, there is a season, turn, turn..."

“For everything, turn, turn turn, there is a season, turn, turn…”

In the lead up to Inception a lot of the advance press wondered if the movie would prove too complicated for modern audiences, something we should’ve all dismissed as “bullshit.” Then the advance critics started crowing about it being the BEST MOVIE EVAHR, which I dismissed out of hand because advance critics are bullshit artists. Then the print critics who actually matter found out it was something other than the BEST MOVIE EVAHR. So it became “[t]he emperor’s new bed-clothes.”

Such is what this film’s had to deal with, over and above all the ten years of Hell its creator supposedly endured just to get it written in the first place. Either Christopher Nolan wrote the thing right after Momento and needed the Dark Knight‘s billion dollar profit to get a green light or it just took him ten years to write. Either way, I’ll believe it. Paradox, right?

Modern movies are caught in a terrible paradox of their own. Either they’re the BEST MOVIE EVARH or they’re the latest grand scam of Hollywood hacks. It’s a terrible state of affairs, particularly for just-straight-up-good movies that deserve to be appreciated for more than one weekend in July. Just because so many directors are artless assholes who only know how to make commercials doesn’t mean Christopher Nolan is too. It just means he has to compete with them all. So his films are inevitably less than the masterworks they probably should be. Continue reading

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Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

"Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent 'neith his heel..."World War II films and I have an understanding: I don’t watch them and they can go on propping up whatever brand of historical whitewashing is popular at moment. Rare is the film that consciously sets out to subvert the usual tropes of their perpetually John Wayne genre, or the deification of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest” Generation. Whenever such a film emerges from the vacuous, exploitative, corporatist, Hollywood hive it is duly acknowledged by critics, nodded at by the Academy Awards…and promptly forgotten about. Case in point:

Begun as a companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers, Letters hopes to turn the American War Film upside down by dramatizing the Japanese side of the Battle of Iwo Jima, just in time for its sixty-first anniversary, with all the historical histrionics that entailed (on both sides of the Pacific). Opening sometime in 1945, the film attempts to (and largely succeeds at) do(ing) for the Honorable Imperial Army of Japan what Das Boot did for German submariners: portraying them as actual human beings trapped in a horrific situation. And since I can’t think up a proper joke to end this paragraph, I’ll go for the long hanging fruit and ask how many Bella Swan’s does it take to screw in a lightbulb? {More}



Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins initially disappointed me. All cinematic legends of the Dark Knight inevitably do, save those told by Paul Dini and Co.. I can remember leaving the theater in late 2005 with my Ambassador on my arm. She turned to me and said, “Somebody forgot to tell them they weren’t making Spider-man.”

Our Hero, in jail

Looking back now (after the abysmal failure of Spider-man 3, the X-men and Hulk sequels, and the endless parade of second rate cartoons Marvel’s churned out over the years) I realize how unfair this was to director Christopher (Memento) Noland, writer David S. (Blade) Goyer, and even Our Hero, Christian Bale. All did the best they could, and a much better job than anyone had any right to expect given the Bat’s long, largely-depressing, on-screen history. This movie went through all eight levels of Development Hell, its makers fighting wars and rumors of wars that no doubt weighted on my mind as I stepped into the the theater, clouding judgment already hustled by my twenty years of comic-reading. I would’ve found fault with the best Bat-picture in the world and Batman Begins is far from that. It is, however, the best Batman film in thirty years, easily surpassing Tim Burton’s opening salvo, no matter how much that film did for Bats as a character, or for his genre as a whole. {More}