1

(63 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Let's assemble a jury to angrily decide his fate.

2

(1,401 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Apart from main Star Wars saga movies, I don't tend to get fanboy-level hyped about trailers most of the time anymore.

This is an exception. Good Lord, this looks stunning.

3

(174 replies, posted in Off Topic)

I refuse to believe it's been three years. Next you'll be saying Zarban's website shut down or some crazy shit.

4

(2,132 replies, posted in Off Topic)

https://cdn.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Hereditary-poster-600x889.jpg

Doesn't quite reach the heights of The Babadook or The Witch for contemporary horror, but there are several images from this thing that are gonna stay permanently burned into my retinas. Excruciating slow-burn dread punctuated by absolute bonkers nightmares.

5

(1,401 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Nifty little thing—Zoic released an anniversary reel of Firefly/Serenity that includes some new VFX work they did to show off what a modern-day ship would look like.

6

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

No kidding. The VFX work was largely impeccable, too, which means they must have been busting their asses to even more than the exorbitant degree the tight schedule was already causing.

7

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

Don't believe we will as long as Kathleen Kennedy is in charge–she's made it clear she has no interest in putting out the theatrical OT. I also wouldn't be surprised if George had somehow mandated in the terms of the sale that Disney couldn't release anything but the Special Editions. Sucks that that seems to be the situation, but we have the Despecialized Editions as well as the fan 4K restorations from original film prints that are in progress.

8

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

That was the weirdest thing about this whole rollout. They reshot the entire movie but refused to shift the release date back to December and then didn't start marketing until late February. It's such an obvious blunder for Disney to make when they're usually the marketing king.

9

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

Also, I feel like I should make it clear since I came off as pretty grouchy in my first post--I have absolutely no problem with people who did like the movie. I love TFA and TLJ and lord knows there are segments of the internet that hate both, so it's not like I think you're not a true fan or good movie critic if you like this one. We all have our facets of SW we enjoy. And hey, I liked Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. tongue

10

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

*shrugs* I mean, you're free to consider my approach unsound, but I really don't consider the OT holy. TLJ and TFA are both leagues better than ROTJ  (which I still adore, mind you). And I'm also forgetting the prequels are canon even though I ranked two of them over Solo? I'm honestly just confused by that remark.

I agree that direction and script are key; you'll notice I criticized both in my initial post. It's not that I think the direction and the dialogue of the PT are *good*; I don't like those films and think they're atrociously executed. But there is a mad vision there, one that I find far more compelling in its failure than I find Solo in its middling success. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the direction of Solo (though I'll contend there's a ton wrong with the script)--there's just also nothing breathtaking or ambitious about it either. And while I hate the prequels, they have those qualities in scads.

As to whether I was determined to hate the movie going in--yeah, I'll admit, I wasn't looking forward to it. But I also... don't think that renders my opinion invalid? I went into Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, for example, expecting it to suck and had a blast instead. Just because my initial feelings toward Solo were that it would be bad doesn't mean I twisted everything about it to fit my worldview. It's a workmanlike, uninspired, bloated film that I just have no interest in ever revisiting.

Star Wars was a massive part of my life and still is, but just because I love the OT doesn't mean I'm incapable of looking at its flaws or appreciating new Star Wars. Leia's role gets less vital with each installment of the trilogy. The dialogue in the first film is wooden. ROTJ has massive structural and tonal issues. I don't think they're some holy gospel. But that doesn't mean I can't still find them good and find Solo a nothing movie, or that my reasons for each can be completely dismissed because of "people of my kind."

11

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

Faldor wrote:

If you're really saying this is worse than The Phantom Menace, I think you'll need to hand in your pass to review movies.

sorry!

Hey, like I said, at least ROTS and TPM are memorable in their badness. The same goes for AOTC, but it's literally nauseating to sit through.

The friend I went with said "You can tell this was stapled together from 20 different drafts." He was wrong--this was apparently Kasdan's dream project--but the fact that he got that impression says a lot about the movie, I think. For better or worse, the prequels were clearly written and directed by George Lucas. If I hadn't known going in that Solo was written by Kasdan and his son I would have thought it was assembled by a committee of writers too. And when it comes to Star Wars, for the most part I'll take horrible but memorable over inoffensive but meaningless any day. (Except, again, where AOTC is concerned.)

12

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

Welp, despite insisting I wasn't gonna see it I got dragged anyway. God, what a nothing of a movie.

SPOILER Show
The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi both engage with the iconography of the OT in really interesting ways, as a commentary on both the world of Star Wars and our relationship with the franchise. Solo uses it as cheap fanwank. In this movie, we learn the origins of

1. Han's last name
2. Chewie's nickname
3. Han's blaster
4. The Millennium Falcon's navicomputer
5. Han's familiarity with YT-1300 freighters
6. The helmet Lando wears in Jabba's palace
7. The fucking dice that hang over the windshield

among other things. Never once did it occur to the screenwriters (Kasdan and his son) that most if not all of these things are all just, y'know, textures of the universe that don't need any kind of fucking explanation whatsoever. Instead we get to see them explained at eyerolling length so fans can pat themselves on the back for spotting the obvious reference. It's kind of nauseating.

Not a single action sequence is filmed in a unique way. A maglev train that rotates round its track is something you could do so much with, and the movie basically abandons the concept after a single beat. Ehrenreich is fine as Han but has absolutely nothing to work with; Emilia Clarke is an utter void of charisma as his love interest; and Donald Glover is basically doing a very one-note impression of Billy Dee Williams.

The plot is a structureless mess that drags on longer than Revenge of the Sith for no real reason, and then decides it's a good idea to tie Han into the birth of the Rebellion because of fucking course it does. It can never let him be too cynical—rather than characterizing him as the heel he was before he met up with Luke, it has to play things safe by making him a generic, quippy hero with a heart of gold and it's just. So. Fucking boring.

Oh, and the idea of a suffragist droid who has sex with Lando was horribly executed from beginning to end. It's a terrible idea to open the whole can of worms that is droid rights in the first place, but couple that with obnoxious characterization and the sheer gall the writers have to call Lando "pansexual" in interviews while having him hook up with a robot for laughs rather than an actual human male and it's just appalling. What a joke.

This is making it sound like I hated this thing way more than I did, because it's already fading from my memory. It's just another generic, bloated, structureless action slog that no one will remember in a decade, like every other bad reboot or sequel made these days. And say what you will about the prequels, they're at least memorable in their badness.

I love the direction Disney has taken the main saga movies, and I'm so excited for IX. But if this is the direction they go with the spinoffs, I'm out.

Revised ranking:

ESB > SW > TLJ > TFA > ROTJ > RO > ROTS > TPM > Solo > AOTC

13

(5 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Don't have the time to copy/paste an excerpt because I'm on my phone waiting for a plane, but Matt Zoller Seitz just published an excellent piece on the stuff we were discussing above re: empathy and enjoyment of art made by predators, using Jeffrey Tambor as a jumping-off point. "The Cultural Vandalism of Jeffrey Tambor."

14

(2,132 replies, posted in Off Topic)

https://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BOTU4ODdjNDYtZjk0Zi00ZDBmLTllODEtMzQ5NmYzZGEzNjVlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc1NTYyMjg@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpg

Mamet and Sorkin found dead in Miami.

For starters, I've just been watching waaaaaaay more movies in general over the last few years. I used to devote the majority of my art consumption to books; that's still the case, but movies are catching up. Pretty straightforward reasons for that--access to streaming services, more disposable income for buying Blu-Rays, etc. I've also been seeing far more in the theatre than I used to, which can be laid squarely at the feet of Moviepass--I was able to see upward of 50 movies in the theatre last year thanks to that service.

In terms of the kinds of movies I watch, I've been drifting further and further away from trying to see all of the "nerd canon" of SF/F/action from the 80s onward that I haven't already seen (Predator, Donnie Darko, etc). Ready Player One and similar stuff is a big part of that for me--I'm so fucking sick of fan culture and reference-wank and all the joyless gatekeeping bullshit that goes along with them. When terrible people obsess myopically about certain pieces of art, it makes me less and less likely to want to experience them. So in the past few years my focus has shifted increasingly from big, popular genre movies to other stuff. Not to say I don't still love a lot of genre movies and watch plenty of them, but I don't define myself as a genre fan first and foremost anymore.

I'm actively trying to watch way more older movies lately. I'd seen my fair share prior to the last couple of years, but there were and still are massive gaps in my experience with movies prior to 1980 (just saw Casablanca for the first time last week, whassup). That, again, has something to do with me reacting to contemporary culture and "content consumption" in a lot of ways. I have a co-worker who prides himself on having read less than ten books published prior to 2000, and that just viscerally bugs me. I feel like that attitude pops up all over the place as regards moviewatching, especially on the internet--where you get "cinephiles" who think Nolan is the height of the artform (and I love a lot of Nolan movies, don't get me wrong) and who've seen maaaaybe ten movies from before Star Wars. That kind of willful blindness to the history of the medium, as if movies didn't exist before the last forty years, just bugs the shit out of me. So in the last couple of years I've been slowly embarking on a project to cover all my obvious old-movie gaps both out of appreciation for the artform and loathing for stupid people. Just got a Filmstruck subscription, which should help with that.

One big thing happening as of this week is that I'm not going to a new Star Wars movie for the first time, which would have been unfathomable to me a few years ago. It's not because I hate the Disney films--I loooooove TFA and TLJ--but because, in addition to Solo just being monumentally uninteresting to me, I want to try to keep the experience special. Teenage me would just swallow any and all Star Wars content regardless of quality, and even me of a few years ago probably would have gone to see this one just because he felt obligated. It's honestly refreshing to know that I'll be sitting this one out.

EDIT a couple of weeks later: Disregard the last paragraph, my friends overcame my good judgment. tongue

16

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

BigDamnArtist wrote:

SPOILER Show
But yeah, true to their word, Disney is going off the beaten trail for the SW Stories, so good on them I guess. Definitely would not have called it, but I'm down for it.

SPOILER Show
If they were being crazy in a good way, sure, but this is just utter nonsense that shrinks the universe even further. It might even be worse than Darth Vader building Threepio. EVERYONE knows EVERYONE in this damn universe.

17

(160 replies, posted in Episodes)

Just got hit by possibly the two dumbest Star Wars spoilers of all time for Solo:

SPOILER Show
1. Han gets his last name because he's an orphan so someone assigning him somewhere says "Your last name is Solo now" or something to that effect.

2. Han goes on a heist and it turns out his boss is FUCKING DARTH MAUL WITH ROBOT LEGS. I don't mean that as "the same species as Maul," it's literally Darth fucking Maul.

Jesus fucking Christ. Didn't want to wait for the movie discussion thread to post these because I'm just flabbergasted. Was already planning on skipping this one but now you couldn't pay me to see it.

18

(63 replies, posted in Episodes)

I'm not sure–it can't be Rinzler's Making of Return of the Jedi as it looks to be a normal paperback. Maaaybe How Star Wars Conquered the Universe? This was just a shot someone posted on Reddit so I can't say for sure.

EDIT: Looks like according to the comments in the Reddit thread it's George Lucas: A Life.

19

(63 replies, posted in Episodes)

Remember Dorkman's joke that George decided to give Boba Fett as undignified a death as possible because he hated the character? Well . . .

https://i.imgur.com/IuSECw6.jpg

20

(170 replies, posted in Off Topic)

In the middle of another Bloodborne run, and just felt compelled to sings its praises again because this boss fight is a work of fucking art. (The design, not my gameplay. tongue )

It sucks that the Soulsborne community has helped perpetuate the myth that these games punish you for playing, because the exact opposite is the case. They're tough as shit, but they're completely fair—it's all pattern recognition and incremental progress, making the same mistakes over and over until you see the right way to move forward and everything falls into place. This duel is the exact opposite of a boss fight that's made artificially hard just to frustrate the player. You and your opponent are on a roughly equal playing field (her hits are way more powerful and she has a much bigger health bar, but you can use all manner of extra items and have the ability to heal up to 24 times). The terrain is completely level. The only thing standing between you and victory is the need to read Maria's patterns and dance with her accordingly.

Not to make it sound like this fight is easy—I died enough against her on this playthrough that I ended up using nearly my entire 600-healing-item stock before I finally took her down. But despite the hours it took to whittle her down, it never stopped being insanely fun, because the game doesn't cheat. It's given you all the tools you need to beat her, all you need to do is apply them.

21

(219 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Just finished Annie Jacobsen's Operation Paperclip based on Teague's recommendation. Gonna punch a wall, rewatch Dr. Strangelove, and buy a copy of Jacobsen's Area 51 in that order.

Going back to the MCU discussion we had early on in this thread: I've been finding FCH hit-or-miss lately but this essay of his on Infinity War and the problems with growth/meaning that lie at the heart of the MCU nails it. Spoilers, obvs. Excerpt below:

SPOILER Show
The most frustrating moment in the entire MCU comes during a late, pivotal moment of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Right until that point, the film is telling a clear story about Tony Stark’s hubris: how he was acting out of fear to invent a super protective A.I. robot entity thingy that went rogue and started wreaking havoc on all their lives. It’s a clear lesson about how fear begets more violence. But then the problem becomes two-fold. 1) Tony does ultimately not actually lose anything or suffer a great cost, especially given that Jarvis is not actually dead but about to be revived in a moment of cheating death. And more problematically, 2) Tony’s way of ultimately “learning” to solve this hubris is to literally do the same exact thing and put A.I. into another robot. His fellow Avengers literally scream at him, pointing out this exact flaw, and Tony can only yell back, “trust me this time!” because this is literally the only argument he has. There is no other grander point to highlight. He’s just stubbornly doing it again…and it works. Vision comes into the picture, Jarvis is restored, he proves he’s a good dude, and no matter what beautiful a gloss they put on learning to trust him (and him casual picking up Thor’s Hammer is the best moment of the film), it’s all just a distraction. One that comes back to that inescapable problem of these films: Tony didn’t learn anything. More importantly, he really just doubled down on his hubris and it paid off. And if you haven’t noticed, this behavior has started happening all the damn time in the MCU, which brings us to the devastating realization underneath all the charm, tension, and gloss:

Nobody changes and the lessons don’t matter.

Last year, people thought I was surprisingly tough on Spider-man: Homecoming, but I got to the crux of the issue when I wrote “When did [Peter] psychologically learn this lesson in terms of the dramatic action? Even Peter’s moment of looking at the reflection in the water and him being “nothing without the suit” was originally a comment about his character and his reckless philosophy. But instead of tapping into that, it’s instead used as a rote unphilosophical mantra that allows him to be able to push the rocks up now just because he pushes real hard. It certainly feels triumphant, particularly because we just saw him be weak, but it doesn’t actually make sense to the overall lesson, theme, or philosophy.”

Again, even on the character arc level, this just speaks to the MCU’s affinity for “the texture of change” as opposed to the scariness of actual change. It’s all making something seem like a big deal in the moment, but it really has no effect on anything, especially the endings. For instance, this film makes a huge deal of Peter wanting to remain a “friendly neighborhood Spider-man,” before Infinity Wars thrusts him to an alien planet to fight a guy who can literally beat up the Hulk. Sure, Peter Parker tries to make some kind of defense about there being “no neighborhood,” but then the film hangs its hat on the fact that it literally doesn’t make sense. There’s no actual lesson learned here by either of them (worse, at literally any point, Dr. Strange could portal him home to safety). Things simply have to move forward because it’s time for them to move forward within the MCU machine, rendering these themes mere impasses in pursuit of the obligatory. So Tony “knights” him as an Avenger. It’s a funny moment, but it only exists because the alternative is that Spider-Man is not in the movie, which is as cynical a narrative choice as I can think of.

But it’s utterly par for the course in these films. Again, nobody really changes and the lessons don’t matter. People railed on me when I pointed out that Captain America: Civil War basically ends with a half-hearted “undo” gesture and they argued, “don’t worry, this will have a huge consequence in Infinity War!” I knew it wouldn’t because I know these movies. And yeah, the only consequence amounted to a slight moment of awkwardness where Tony didn’t want to make a phone call so someone else did. That’s literally it. Even Rhody’s injury means nothing because he still gets to walk around on magic robot legs and still be War Machine. And what were the dramatic personal consequences of Hulk leaving Black Widow at the end of Ultron? Well, they stare at each other awkwardly for five seconds in this film and then it’s never referenced again.

Any time I point this stuff out, people exclaim, “they’ll deal with that in the next one! The next one!” And if I have to hear that one more time about any of these damn movies, I’m going to lose my mind. Because I’m not arguing for “answers” or anything so insipid. I’m arguing that the movies still absolutely need to create meaning and change within a single narrative. A narrative that needs to be dramatized. Because what happens when you defer that? You’re just playing a rigged game, one that will go on forever if you keep assuming the next one will address it. And I’m sorry, but the only way to win a rigged game is to realize you’re being had and stop playing. The characters (save a few) have become completely static. And that’s where you realize one of the uglier hypocrisies about these movies…

For films that are so insanely great at crafting likable characterization, they’ve become so bad at the most important element of writing characters: meaningful arcs and psychology.

Which brings us to one of the central problems of Infinity War: it’s portrayal of Thanos. It’s worth noting that he is effectively the driving force of the story…which is cool! There’s nothing wrong with the villain being in the pilot seat and this is actually the case with most films, here it’s just a little more clear. Moreover, I actually like what Brolin’s doing with it a great deal. He brings weight, gravitas and surprising emotion to his performance. And because the character is genuinely allowed to be dangerous, this automatically shoots Thanos up the ladder into becoming one of the handful of solid villains in this series. But the not-so-little problem underneath it is that his character makes no sense whatsoever.

“But how could that be? He explains exactly what he believes!” 

Ah yes, the whole “villain explains their philosophy,” trope. Thanos tells us all about his belief in balance and how it’s the only way to save the universe from depleting resources and extinguishing itself. It is, of course, a hooey philosophy that doesn’t actually mean anything and which nobody really relates to on a psychological level. Heck, Kingsmen already blew the lid off that psychology to show it’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled belief to justify naked self-preservation. Which highlights the exact truth of characterization: it’s never about the philosophy, it’s the psychology behind it. To wit, Marvel’s phase one was so successful because it understood how much psychology mattered with the main characters. It tackled Tony Stark’s hubris and belief that his actions could have impact on other people and how consequences would change him. It showed where Cap’s utter willingness to put others before himself came from. It explored Banner’s depressive fear that his actions could have an effect on others. And no one underwent more of a psychological change than good ole’ Thor (just as no one’s evolved more since). These were real people going through real things that human beings can relate to. And now, with Thanos, we get the idea that’s he’s emotionally affected by things…but there’s no expressed psychology underneath it.

Nowhere is this more evident than in his relationship with Gamora. I know that Thanos loves his daughter because he tells us so. I just genuinely have no idea why he does. And neither does Gamora. It comes as a complete surprise to her. But of course it’s a surprise. There’s no dramatically expressed reason for it. We’ve see them interact, but there are no real specifics to their relationship. No psychology between them. No story. Just expressed feelings about how he hoped for better from her and that she always hated him. Even in their flashback scene, he picks her presumably because she “stands up and asks him a question,” but it’s not actually playing at anything within psychology. The scene, along with everything else, is an example of the writers trying to engineer an affectation, but not a story. And as a result, it doesn’t matter how good Brolin and Saldana are acting, it can only evoke our sympathy, not empathy.

So we may understand how Thanos makes us feel: scared and threatened, but we truly don’t understand what makes him him. I know we get a quick flashback to the glory of Titan and how it’s all gone now, but it can’t help but feel so damn perfunctory. And as a stark counterpoint, compare him to what made Erik Killmonger the most compelling villain in the MCU. We not only understand exactly who this person is, but why he is, and how he directly relates to the experiences of so many who have been left outside the fortunate glory of super-heroism. It was all psychology and impact. Heck, it’s a movie that literally portrays his “inner child” and how that affects his behavior. And it all cascades into thematically-rich, deeply-meaningful stuff, which ends up being completely dramatized. It’s the kind of character work that is coherently worked right into the story and conflicts, which is absolutely critical for a movie like this.

Think back to most maligned villain of the MCU, probably Malekith in Thor: The Dark World. Now, there’s the obvious reasons for this in that he’s sort of just a static bore with no real human expression within the story, but it’s worth noting he is actually given a baseline psychology that makes sense. His people lived in the world before “light” was born, then they were displaced, banished into a prison world, and now they are back to take what is theirs. This makes “sense” because we are literally told all this. But we don’t care because we never see it dramatized. We never see his sense of loss, or emotion, or much of anything. We never get the specifics that haunt him or how it all comes to tie into the overall story. There is no “psychology as story” here.

And it can’t help make me think of Thanos’s story from the actual comics, which is far more compelling from a character perspective. “Cursed” by a disease that makes him look different, he suffers great abuse from his mother, to the point that she wants to kill him on sight. But rather than this having an immediate effect, Thanos spends his childhood running from his pain, wanting love, trying to please as most children do. He essentially becomes a love-craving pacifist child who thinks this will bring him what his heart wants. But by the time he grows up, the consciousness of this pain of abuse and neglect come to fruition. And so he turns to nihilism to cope. And to cope further, he falls in love with “death.” But Death is not a mere concept in this world, you see. It is actually a cosmic entity personified by a god. And he tries so desperately to please her by killing more and more and more, all in her name.

Yeah, this is big time resonant psychology stuff. And you wouldn’t have to look far into the news to see the way this could play into a commentary on misogyny and the creepy and possessive stuff men do “in the name of” women and love, all to get what they feel they are “owed.” It could be deeply powerful and resonant to today’s world. But why not go with it? Too hokey to be in love with a god? In a story that’s already full of gods? The grim truth is it’s just “safer” to go with a blind commitment to a vague philosophy (that no one actually believes in real life) and put in some nice textural scenes that make it seem like there’s something deeper going on, even though there actually isn’t. And thus, the fulcrum of Infinity War and all the pain in the universe ends up resting in the fact that some nonsensical dude likes balanced daggers…you’re just not supposed to think about it.

Perhaps it would matter less if something was actually going on with literally anyone else. Yes, I understand that characters are made sad and angry within the events of the film, specifically Starlord. But the closest we come to story is one scene of Thor expressing his feelings of loss, but there’s no time for that, he’s gotta go build a god weapon! Meanwhile, Banner can’t Hulk-out for reasons we do not yet understand. Tony issues some lip service about a wedding before rushing off to trouble and it’s barely referenced again. And Cap, the heart and soul of the franchise, is literally doing nothing but showing up. But I get it: everyone’s too busy running around trying to die. And after all this build-up, it’s a genuinely scary and visceral experience to have. And I even fully understand that if you squint, you can make out a little lip-service about how the film is really about not trading lives and giving into despair (which is exactly what Thanos does). But I can’t help but care about how little of the story is brought to forefront of the dramatized text, to the point that it feels like it’s “about nothing.” Within that realization, we come to a deeply irrevocable problem of semiotics…

Something always means something.

[. . .]

What are all these movies really about?

Which brings us to the one true sin of the MCU, which is that the meaning of the movie comes from the combination of all the points I have been making and how they have to operate in interlocking, faux-change perpetuity. No, it’s not as lazy as some anti-capitalist screed about how they keep wanting to make billions and billions of dollars (though it’s worth mentioning). It’s how all those things come together to create a certain a dire thematic statement within the story about the heroic and human condition.

When you look back at Greek myth and its treatment of “superheroes,” all with their own gods, half-gods and titans, you realize how many of the stories are just fables; morality tales with lessons of hubris and pain and suffering. They’re parables meant to inform us about our own human shortcomings. You know the stories, Icarus flying too close to the sun; Achilles and that pesky heel. But the one I always think about is the Prometheus myth, in which the protagonist steals fire from the gods to give power to man. There’s no other myth that so captures the story of what “superheroes” are about. To be given power far beyond measure and to put us on par with gods? Greek myths are always metaphors for power. And the point is that Prometheus is, of course, punished for this action and in a pretty grizzly way. But note that in Greek myth, the gods aren’t so much about challenging authority, but challenging fate itself. Particularly in the notion of what happens when you try to cheat death. This is precisely why The Wire got so much mileage out of using the structure of greek drama. It was comparing the lumbering bureaucratic nature of our modern institutions to “challenging the fates,” the consequences of which show our powerlessness and how we learn to cope in human ways. Like all stories, it was about our faults and failures.

But modern superhero movies have a completely different notion on their mind, largely because they’re about the empowerment fantasy. You’ve stolen fire from the gods and now you can do things beyond your wildest imagination! Isn’t it so cool!?! This is all part and parcel of why the messaging of “with great power comes great responsibility” has to matter the more than ever. Just as consequences and growth really have to matter. Which just makes me cringe when it comes to how insanely irresponsible some of the MCU movies have gotten when it comes to these fronts. It’s not the lack of death and “stakes,” but the lack of consequence and depth they represent. For if you can always stubbornly press forward and just yell “trust me this time!” If you can always hit “undo.” If you can never, ever truly suffer, nor spend time examining it, then you are lying about the consequences of stolen fire. And it’s the reason the best superhero stories are always about cost. They’re about how truly difficult it is to do the right thing; not how hard it is to defeat someone.

And so when I look at Thanos, the MCU’s own mythical mad Titan, I can’t help but realize that Marvel’s got it backwards. For it is Thanos who is the god that the Avengers will need to come to grips with. But instead they’ll press forward in pursuit of resurrecting the dead. And how many times have we had a feint of death before resurrection already in these films? Cap. Thor. Bucky, Loki, Jarvis, Pepper, T’Challa. The list is endless. And right at the biggest moment, right where the snap of consequence has to matter more than ever…

The MCU is once again going to be about cheating death.

Because damn the gods! Damn suffering! Damn cost! I’m a superhero, dammit! I’m charming and people like me and they don’t want to see me go! And I can’t help but think about how much this attitude has a lack of permanence—has not only cost comics and the MCU, but us. I think about how many people can’t handle the basic dramatic stress of Infinity War and seeing our heroes in danger. I worry about how all the old lessons of Walt Disney’s original ethos, and the emphasis on understanding loss and consequence, could help prepare us to face the pain that we experience. For so many stories are designed to teach us the incredible healing and human power of sadness. But instead, we have a story of denial. About the “heroes” who have fought tooth and nail against it at every step. It is like re-writing the story of Bambi so that the character will go into fires of hell to undo death itself. And if we let ourselves go past “the feeling” of loss in Infinity War, a movie that is ostensibly very much about cost and consequence, we will see the larger metaphor for what it is…

What if Prometheus stole fire and instead of being punished, fought back and killed the gods themselves? What if the lessons learned along the way didn’t matter? What if hubris was rewarded? What if we could snap our fingers back when god snapped their fingers against us? What if we could make it so that we were great at beating fate and could be much more awesome forever without much cost along the way? I imagine you’ll tell me that “they will address it in the next one!” But they won’t. We know they won’t. Not just because of what’s been announced in some trade, but simply because there’s too much at “stake” for those who are ordained to seek perpetuity. And with this film, they have the gall to look you in the eye and pretend they’re really finally doing it different. But it’s the worst kind of lie.

And I can think of nothing less heroic.

Seems to me the DiF guys hit the central point of this all the way back on their Thor commentary. Nice work, guys.

23

(2,132 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Eh, when it comes to any memoir there's some degree of fabulism. Comes with the territory. And I imagine that someone as distinctly weird as Tommy Wiseau has a tendency to stick to one's memory more than most.

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(2,132 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Yeah, I was pretty enamored with Disaster Artist  (the movie) the first time I saw it, but the more I think about it the more I sour. I have serious problems with how the world has basically decided to treat Tommy Wiseau as this lovable clown who achieved his dream when he's in fact an abusive asshole--basically stalking Greg Sestero, refusing to let cast members leave the set to be treated for heatstroke and concussion, etc. I *love* the original Disaster Artist book because it reckons with that darker side, but the movie is basically 90 minutes of surface-level laughing at Tommy's antics that all gets wrapped up with a bow at the end. It worked for me that first watch because I was in an audience who loved it, but the more Tommy Wiseau rides its coattails the more I think it was a terrible idea.

I'm also just kind of over The Room itself. I think its fandom and notoriety coupled wth Wiseau's rise as a public figure have killed a lot of the so-bad-it's-good magic. The first time I attended one of the midnight showings I had a blast, but after a couple more it just started to feel so . . . hollow.

25

(631 replies, posted in Creations)

Another custom Blu-Ray art thing: I thought the official Phantom Thread cover art was a bit meh, so I made a replacement using a gorgeous alternate poster by Dave O'Flanagan. It'd be way more impressive if I'd made the art myself, but I'm still pleased with how the result came out.

https://i.redditmedia.com/sRKlP0akkiy3ycgJLtKFJ8mQz2WXRC24jvB_DztyWXw.png?w=1024&s=1025a61e1b30e5768cd58ab00b478eb4