Harsh Texture

  • In perhaps the purest distillation of a Miramax picture, a group of C-List actors will themselves into bigger careers in a film that highlights the mid 90's neo lounge culture.
  • With Ant-Man, Marvel plays it safe. Journeyman Peyton Reed replaced Edgar Wright as director and any hope of edginess or hope of a new style went with him. The finished picture wound up being an especially direct representation of Marvel's favorite hobby horse: daddy issues.
  • In 1982 you didn’t have to go to dystopian Australia to find a square jawed hero who learned to live again while pursuing a suicidal mission for greedy victims. Instead of mutant scavengers The Verdict gives the Catholic Church. Instead of the weak greedy hoarders, its the working class family of a woman left brain dead after negligence while delivering her baby. The Verdict certainly hasn’t remained in pop culture like the Road Warrior. It’s remembered primarily as one of the few films in the courtroom genre who try to present a realistic view of the
  • Two scenes best personify Johnny Mak’s “Long Arm of the Law”. In one the “O Gang” perform a hit in a crowded Hong Kong mall. They execute their mark and throw him off a skybridge. The body lands hard onto a skating rink below, and then springs into motion, darting through the crowd of skaters and ricocheting off the rink walls, a blood trail traces the trajectory of the body. Mak takes incredible glee in this sequence, using POV shots of the body separating the screaming crowd of skaters and multiple establishing shots just emphasize the full extent of
  • The Imitation Game serves many purposes, a biography of Alan Turing, a commentary on the cruel treatment of homosexuals in Britain throughout the twentieth century, the birthings of computing, and finally as a prestige picture for stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. It can’t be everything at once, unfortunately, and some of the conclusions reached in the closing credits seem a bit forced or unexplored. For instance some of the most dramatic actions taken by Turing’s squad, planning for the D-Day invasion for instance, are totally relegated to the credits. The assertion that cracking Enigma ended the European conflict
  • Every era had its superhumans. If we’re currently in the arc of the superheros, the 80’s had its impervious action heros, the mid twentieth century had its sharp shooting cowboys, and the dawning decades of the twentieth century had their master criminals and vigilantes. The Germans had Dr. Mabuse. The Americans had the Shadow. The French had their Fantomas, Lupin, and Judex. The particulars are often similar. The resourceful detective every bit the foil of the protagonist, the masked figure attacking the elite whether seeking justice or just their wealth. Judex is pure vigilante, operating in an
  • Bill Duke directed Deep Cover as if he thought he’d never get to make another film. He adopts a number of stylish techniques; fancy wipes; and camera tricks. Every scene is an excuse to try out a new cinematic toy. Most of these fall flat, distracting rather than enhancing. At its heart Deep Cover wants to be a neo noir. Film Noir often dealt with normal people communing with the underworld. Deep Cover’s plot of a DEA undercover officer becoming seduced by the allure of drug culture isn’t too far a stretch. Duke throws in
  • Part of bargain in abandoning society in favor of the arts is supposed to be the widening of the self. Art is supposed to deepen thoughts about the human condition, to expose the partaker to greater threads of consciousness. The unstated flipside to this of course is that exposure to art will allow you to become inured to life without actually having to live it. This seems to be Greg’s bargain. He’s deeply immersed in cinema, and lets his counterparts in great film act out his greatest fears. Certainly none of his masturbation humor could ever be worse than
  • Elvis and John Lennon loom over Hail Hail Rock and Roll like spectres. Chuck Berry may be the only other rock star of their pedigree and stature. The two pop up constantly when the interviewees search for a suitable comparison for Berry. Via archival footage John Lennon proclaims that if Rock ‘n Roll had another name it might be called “Chuck Berry”. Among the talking heads Hail Hail marshalls, there’s Berry’s contemporaries Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. They all seem to shrink in Berry’s presence. All their dalliances as chart toppers on the forefront
  • There’s no shortage of families that pull themselves out of American society. In media accounts they are often cast in a positive light: keeping their children out of public schooling that’s fundamentally flawed either due to its secular nature, or to save their children from mixing with undesirables. When these families pop up on TV they tend look similar: mid-western, protestant, white, well-spoken. At this point “home schooled children” don’t draw images of urban environments, public housing, child abuse, or near-total societal isolation. Fearful of the outside world, and eager to build his own family into an ideal society,