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“Strange Lands: International Sci-Fi” — Max Nelson at Film Comment opens a multi-part series on futuristic wonderment without borders.
“In America, questions surrounding the moral, political, and spiritual consequences of technological progress ended up being posed most often, and arguably most successfully, in the language of mass spectacle. In countries struck closer and deeper by the atrocities of the war, the same questions likewise found their fullest expression in the sci-fi film. But it was a changed sort of expression: more agonized, more private, and more willing to run up against philosophical dead ends. The nightmare of the American sci-fi moviegoer is that science has delved too deep into nature, awoken something in nature, and that nature is now preparing to take its revenge. The nightmare of the Polish or Czech moviegoer in the wake of the Second World War is that science has simplydone away with nature, that moral laws, human lives, and natural ecosystems have been reduced to putty in the hands of technological progress—in other words, placed under the dominion of a distinctly fascist kind of rationality.”
“Frank Miller’s Dark Night” — Alex Pappademas at Grantland gets his hands dirty with a complicated career.
“Zip, zero, zeitgeist” — David Bordwell reflects on reflectionism by attacking the too-easy idea that movies somehow offer us a glimpse at a national psyche (which probably doesn’t even exist).
“Reflectionist criticism throws out loose and intuitive connections between film and society without offering concrete explanations that can be argued explicitly. It relies on spurious and far-fetched correlations between films and social or political events. It neglects damaging counterexamples. It assumes that popular culture is the audience talking to itself, without interference or distortion from the makers and the social institutions they inhabit. And the causal forces invoked–a spirit of the time, a national mood, collective anxieties–may exist only as abstractions that the commentator, pressed to fill column inches, invokes in the manner of calling spirits from the deep.”
“If I Stay, Sin City 2 and the Trouble with Tracking” — Brent Lang at Variety checks in on the flawed math of a system that studios refuse to give up.
“Is Neo-Noir the Worst Genre?” — Brad Avery at Smug Film crosses his fingers for a legitimate comeback while lamenting the bad quality. A counter: like westerns, not all noir needs to be anything beyond an entertaining recitation of established tropes. Watching smoke-bathed people speak in one-liners while bullets fly has its own appeal.