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Showing posts from March, 2017

"Life" as political analogy, coming to you via Breitbart News

Immediately after seeing the film, I worked over whether or not the movie works as something the alt-right would produce to alienate us from the left. Mostly the film does work this way  -- as a sort of, de facto, Breitbart production -- I decided, though it's not entirely slam-dunk. There is no disparagement evident for the crew of the space station being a multicultural mix, for instance. Race is not invisible in the film; it feels conspicuous at times, like when the Japanese crew member is shown looking at his black wife on video conference; but the film maker, wherever he was actually raised, seems like someone who was a longtime habitat of a multicultural milieu, some place like London, and likes things that way. But the film cannot convince only as macabre relating to our current fascination with the possibility of life on Mars -- what it no doubt pretends to be doing -- because the idea of “threat” does not permeate this interest at all, whereas it absolutely saturates our …

The problem of Belle, in "Beauty and the Beast"

I think there are two key moments in the movie when Emma Watson offers us the pleasure in seeing what the latest, most self-empowered female Disney character, is capable of. Early in the film she is assisting her father, whose trade is as a clockmaker, and presents him, twice, with exactly the part he next requires... but ahead of him realizing that this is the exact piece he is searching for. She, at this point, is leading him... and could presumably just as well be doing what he is doing, if such was her foremost interest. Basically this is a doctor-nurse situation where the routine, "nurse -- scalpel!," is played out to invert the patriarchal paradigm and presume genuine authority to the "nurse," but without the labour strife or mean gotcha: here, the father couldn't care less is his daughter was one hundred years ahead of him in ability and he, mostly put in the position of assisting her. He knows she's got him beat in many, many ways, and is just delig…

The problem of Gaston, in "Beauty and the Beast"

The problem for a feminist, revisionist "Beauty and the Beast" is that no one character more causes us to shake our established preferences... to work toward a different finish than we were comfortably expecting, than the arrogant patriarch villain, Gaston. Belle reads as many books as she can get her hands on, but she represents the stage of moral perfection we liberals are all ostensibly at these days, so she's not about to throw any surprises our way, any new-fangled ideas on how to behave she got from reading some of her books: she'll only confirm what we know about ourselves. She'll school any number of characters on how properly to behave, implicitly school them to rise to her level, but (of course) she'll also embrace others' cultural preferences and eat and drink as they themselves would -- get dirty with them, in a sense, to help not only not shame but also bring equivalency to their relationship: "it's not only for you to learn to be li…

Passing Inspection, in Kong: Skull Island:

In Lord of the Rings -- the movie -- two young hobbits meet extremely powerful denizens of the ancient world -- the Ents -- and actually trick them into joining a fight they had decided against joining. It's easily their most self-activated moment in the series -- they weren't operating under anyone's instructions; there was no way to know whether Gandalf would have approved of their actions or not. They simply had a vision of their own world coming tumbling down as a result of the Ents' decision, and, infuriated, decided to further test the Ents on how resolved they would be in their detached independence if they saw with their own eyes the devastation Saruman the wizard had already incurred on Middle Earth. In the books, Tolkien tries to inscribe both hobbits at the finish of their adventures, as not really having changed all that much. But if such was declared at the end of the movie series, it would read false -- "no," we would say, "we saw something…

"Logan" challenges us with the lesson of Degas

Charles Xavier was perhaps most happy when he had a mansion full of engaged, happy students, moving every day a further stitch away from their often insanely troubling pasts. But of course, at least in the movies, it wasn't the like of the robust kid Cyclops that garnered his most intense interest (in John Byrne's comic version, it was), but rather the students that never lost the "viper" in them, those who might lash out at him and wound him emotionally, like Mystique and Wolverine. So perhaps there was a sense that the other students were mostly a joyous blur that could take his mind off things -- when he saw them they were a rush of Christmas gifts amply piled up under a Christmas tree -- while the ones who could get under his skin were the students who had his interest and respect because they couldn't be distracted or lead away from recognizing that not all was right with him. In this assessment of the Xavier-school-for-mutants reality, that Charles was most…