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Posts tagged: movies

At The Gutter: Stale Candy, Punk Rock, Failure, Assimilation and Punisher: War Zone

This week, Carol watches Punisher: War Zone and thinks about what it means to be “good,” what it means to fail, and what it means when your community succeeds.

I’m not arguing for a kind of absolute relativism here, in which if I like or enjoyed Punisher: War Zone it’s good. I’m not arguing that for a lot of reasons, the most important being that the converse is sketchy as hell: dislike = bad. That’s a corrosive line of thinking. At the most basic level, I know that “dislike” “bad” because there is art I dislike even while knowing it’s good. But I can appreciate and even learn from it. The greater geek/nerd/fan community tends to smooth over differences by saying that we respect each other’s likes, that if you like something there must be something good about it, while at the same time organizing around liking the same things, creating canons and having a lot of received wisdom about what is good or bad–like my repairmans’s assertion, “Wonder Woman is a bad character.”
But people can like the same thing, superheroes in general or the Punisher in particular, for instance, without liking it the same way, in the same form or the same thing about it. A huge chunk of the whole fake geek girl thing is as much about “You’re liking it wrong” or “You like the wrong thing about it” as it is just plain sexism**. And when your tacit understanding about what makes something good or bad generally comes down to labeling things good and bad, it’s hard to notice when you are tacitly arguing against diversity–like my repairman, who has felt so deprived for so long that he doesn’t recognize he’s not losing something by not getting everything. There can be grim and dark movies like Nolan’s Batman, shiny colorful movies like The Avengers and crazy-ass odes to campy, comic book violence like Punisher: War Zone–even scruffy action like Machete Kills, The Raid and the Fast & Furious movies.
Stale Candy, Punk Rock, Failure, Assimilation and Punisher: War Zone

Stale Candy, Punk Rock, Failure, Assimilation and Punisher: War Zone

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 5.51.38 PMLast summer, the repairman who came to patch my kitchen ceiling, discovered I read comics and then kept asking me about different blockbuster superhero movies and shows. And I’d keep saying I wasn’t very interested. He stood on the ladder, shaking his head in a reverie, saying the superhero movies were like candy to him and “I can’t get enough.” Then je explained that Superman was boring and…

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Apologizing for “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

Apologizing for “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

At Salon, Nathan Rabin apologizes for coining the phrase, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.”“I remember thinking, even back then, that a whole list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls might be stretching the conceit too far. The archetype of the free-spirited life-lover who cheers up a male sad-sack had existed in the culture for ages. But by giving an idea a name and a fuzzy definition, you apparently also give…

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At The Gutter: Einstein and the Bearded Lady

SF/F Editor Keith watches the 1970 Czech science fiction comedy, I Have Killed Einstein, Gentlemen.

I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is a lovely reminder not just of how multi-dimensional, playful, and thought-provoking Czech cinema can be, but what it was like not so long ago when science fiction was more than just CGI explosions and action films in futuristic cargo pants. The bulk of the film takes place in the Prague of 1911, though the glimpses we get of the future are as gorgeously pop-art as you would want. There are no big action set-pieces outside of a falling chandelier. It’s ridiculous and spirited fun with a serious core should you care to look for it. I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is from the days when science fiction as a genre was broadly defined, not risk-averse, not afraid to be about something (even if it’s wrapped in a bunch of silliness), and didn’t feel the need to scream at you.

"Character and the Audience: The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow"

“Character and the Audience: The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow”

Debbie Moon ponders the “Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow” and Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “The Hyper-Capable Wounded Sparrow is always male, and he’s that guy who can kill a roomful of people without breaking a sweat – but who is massively emotionally vulnerable, has no social support system, and is incapable of interacting with civilized society. Frequently he’s physically or temporally…

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Mithun Chakraborty Returns!

On a Special Beth Loves Bollywood Audio Edition, Beth and the Gutter’s own Carol discuss Mithun Chakraborty’s Gunmaster G9/secret agent films: Surakksha (1979); Wardaat (1981); and Guru (1989). Fights, mad scientists, zombie robots, radio-controlled locusts, the Green Revolution, amazing clubs that look like Nintendo games or that have plaster animals and villain lairs are discussed. Wonder is…

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On Being a Colossal Prick on the Internet

On Being a Colossal Prick on the Internet

“For quite some time I thought that being a colossal prick on the Internet was great sport. I thought that everybody else was doing it, and that I could do it better than most. I also had some idea that it was my duty to call bullshit on everyone who I thought was propagating bullshit. I thought this was a form of criticism that was just as valid as anything I would do in long form. It was…

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Twilight of the Transformers

Twilight of the Transformers

“It was the nightmarish, Nietzschean fulfillment of the summer-movie aesthetic, a movie that seemingly had eaten all of pop culture and vomited it back up again as shards of metal. One example: It featured the real Leonard Nimoy as a robot god and also a clip from a Star Trek episode and hidden snippets of sampled Nimoy dialogue from a Star Trekmovie. It was an exercise in ultimate sensual…

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RIP, Bobby Womack

Singer, songwriter and composer Bobby Womack has died. The stand-alone importance of his music aside, Womack’s songs were used in innumerable film soundtracks and Womack composed the soundtrack for Across 110th Street (1972). The Los Angeles Times, Time and The Telegraph have obituaries. At Ebony, Gary Harris remembers Womack. The New Yorker considers “The Unimpeachable Songs of Bobby Womack.” …

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