Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The "Eye of the Beholder" is Just the Beginning

(Yes, this post is about Modern Family ... sort of.  Just go with me here for a minute first.)

I'm an addict for cultural criticism. When I walk out of a movie -- particularly one that I felt strongly about (whether positively or negatively so) -- the first thing I do is pull up Rotten Tomatoes to scan through the reviews, particularly by critics who had an opposite reaction to the film than I did.  In the case of any TV show I watch regularly, I'll almost immediately look at A.V. Club's TV Club recaps to see their reaction.  When I stumble upon a new critic who captures my attention, I find myself obsessing over digging through their back catalog to see how they felt about my most (or least) favorite movies, or albums, or whatever.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Someday my Prince will come ..." - A Cockamamie Theory About Zero Dark Thirty

Since writing my last post about talking about Zero Dark Thirty, I finally saw the film in question and found myself agreeing with a lot that I'd read before about what the movie has to say about torture -- even the comments that contradicted each other.  But I'm not going to delve into that here, given that others have said better and with more authority anything that I could add to the discussion.  (Those looking for more on the torture debate can go here, here, here, here, here, or here.)

I also found myself agreeing with those who found the main character, Maya, too oblique a character to establish any strong connection with the audience.  That is, until I had a thought about two-thirds of the way through the film that led me to put together one crazy, cockamamie theory about this movie, which I will explain below ....


Monday, January 21, 2013

"We're going to need a script" - Politiczing Film, Filming Politics

"This is an historical presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period, and is not meant to reflect on any race or people of today."

"The former enemies of North and South are united again in common defence of their Aryan birthright." - Birth of a Nation (1915)
"We're going to need a script." - Argo (2012)
For the spoiler-averse, this week I'm discussing the intersection of art and politics, citing in this discussion Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, as well as a number of tangentially related films that are probably "spoiler"-proof (like Triumph of the Will and Battleship Potemkin).  That said, with the exception of Argo, the article does not delve much into "spoiler" territory.  (In fact, Argo is the only film discussed at length here that I've seen as of this writing.  UPDATE -- I caught Zero Dark Thirty yesterday, and I wrote a little more about my thoughts on that movie here.)

I like to think that it's entirely possible for us as the audience to separate our personal politics from how we engage art.  That's not to say that I think we can (or should) put on political blinders when we pick up a book, sit down at a theater or enter a gallery.  Art invariably expresses some point of view, and that point of view almost always has a political dimension - particularly, in any event, when it comes to art worth discussing.  Yet, it should not prevent us from praising good art to recognize simultaneously that we may disagree with that point of view or even find ourselves disgusted by the message that the art conveys.

Or at least that's what I like to think.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Golden Age of Deconstruction

"Must we not then renounce the object altogether, throw it to the winds and instead lay bear the purely abstract?" - Vasily Kandinsky (1911)
"All electronic music is sampled. The synthesizers are all coming from some source." - Gregg Gillis (2012)
This week, I'll be discussing the following (none of which really lend themselves to "spoilers" by their nature, but be forewarned all the same):
As always here, what follows is less a review than a ramble, in this case inspired by what I think is a Golden Age of contemporary culture that is catching up with the deep and wide potential of the Remix.  This may be the Golden Age of Deconstruction, by which I mean that we are seeing the first generation that grew up with unlimited access to recorded video and music learn to take apart and reassemble those clips with abandon until their core essence has risen to the surface.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Well, what Batman were YOU watching?

Follow me on Twitter -- @BreakThe5thWall

This is a post I've been meaning to write since I first walked out of Dark Knight Rises for the first time.  Work obligations mostly got in the way, but I hope the finished product has benefited from the passage of time, from repeat viewings of the movies, and from watching some of the "making of" materials on the blu-ray release.  This is not a "review" per se, something I generally don't do here (at least not for my longer posts), but it is in large part a critique of and response to many of the reviews I've read since the film's release.  Needless to say, my perspective of and appreciation for this film (and the "Dark Knight Trilogy" as a whole) will come through in this post.  But beyond the fact that I greatly enjoyed each one of these films, I'm inspired to write about what these films say and how they say it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Inside the Wall, Vol. 4 (2012 Wrap-Up)

I'm writing one last post to wrap up 2012, as well as to announce my intention to post at least once a week going forward  -- including, to kick things off, an epic rant on Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy" next Monday.

This isn't a "best [blank] of the year" list, really, though I am a big fan of those if only to help me discover the gems out there that I missed.  Here are some of my favorites and what they turned me onto (call it my "Best of the 'Best [blank] of the Year Lists' List"):
The rest of my thoughts on 2012's highs and lows after the jump ...