Robert Kenner vs. the Merchants of Doubt

Posted by Charles Reece, March 9, 2015 08:06am | Post a Comment

Q&A with Robert Kenner about his film Merchants of Doubt, a documentary about
professional climate warming denial. Recorded with my phone on March 7th, 2015 at
Arclight Hollywood (so, it ain't beautiful).

The Late, Great Leonard Nimoy

Posted by Charles Reece, February 27, 2015 09:33am | Post a Comment

From the second greatest adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Leonard Nimoy, he lived, prospered and is now dead at 83.

My Own Personal Oscar: 11 Best Films of 2014

Posted by Charles Reece, February 23, 2015 02:18am | Post a Comment
Hohum, the Academy Awards are over for the mostly lackluster year of 2014. Here are a few gems, very few of which were celebrated or probably even noticed by those deciding on nominees. In no particular order ...

wild tales poster jesus sotes
Wild Tales - Damián Szifrón

Six short short stories of vegeance that evince a Coen brothers level of comedic tension (recall the classic bag drop off scene from The Big Lebowski, for example). Pure cinematic bliss.

dawn of the planet of the apes che
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Matt Reeves

Aside from getting to see apes double-fisting arms on horseback, I loved the atypically depressing political message of this film. No matter how much a few individual apes and humans might strive to get over interpersonal problems, that doesn't mean shit in the overall scheme of things. For once, a Hollywood film portrays the problem of structural difference (the unbridgeable otherness of ape culture to what's left of humanity) instead of pasting some subjectivized problem over the gap that allows for a pat narrative resolution (more often than not in the form of a loving relation or the superhero's coup de grâce to the face).

goodnight mommy poster
Goodnight Mommy - Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz

This film has the most agonized scream I've encountered since the beginning of Cries & Whispers. A parable for contemporary times that asks how much plastic surgery can a person have before she becomes someone else. Twin sons spend the duration of the film brutally experimenting on their mother to answer that question. Obviously, this one cuts too deep for the aging Academy. Skip the overhyped Babadook, Goodnight Mommy is the only dyadic familial horror film that matters.

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Is Survival Always the Best Option? Pessimism, Anti-Natalism and Bloodchildren

Posted by Charles Reece, September 14, 2014 09:35am | Post a Comment
true detective rust cohle jay shaw

If we count not only the unusually severe harms that anybody could endure, but also the quite routine ones of ordinary human life, then we find that matters are still worse for cheery procreators. It shows that they play Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun -- aimed, of course, not at their own heads, but at those of their future offspring. – David Benatar, Better Never to Have Been, p. 92

Benatar’s anti-natalism is not likely to capture the popular imagination any time, soon; probably never, I’d wager. What kind of person accepts that it would be for the best should humanity stop reproducing? But a few metaphysical defeatists do indeed take some solace in it, at least by discovering a comrade in bleakness who attempts rational arguments for our shared existential plight – justifications that aren’t reducible to some mere psychological fracture.

The psychologistic dismissals of pessimism are widespread, most recently and disappointingly exemplified by writer Nic Pizzolatto in his TV series, True Detective. Disappointing, because Pizzolatto clearly shares my love for the most ontologically downtrodden horror author working today, Thomas Ligotti. Nevertheless, after 7 hours of episodes that dismantle straight guy Marty Hart’s ideas of family, hard work and law as delusional distractions which keep him from confronting the abyssal punchlines consistently delivered by pessimistic funny man Rust Cohle, and despite having the latter nearly quote Ligotti verbatim at times [1], Pizzolatto betrays all of this with a denouement that makes the show into little more than religious propaganda hidden in a blighted form. Rust has a metaphysical conversion in the finale after a near death visitation by his dead daughter and father: he begins to see little rays of hope peeking out of the darkness of the nighttime sky. Turns out it was the trauma of losing a child and of not having reconciled with his father – genetically, a future deadend and an unresolved past – that lead to those previously expressed dark thoughts, and not, say, facing the objective ramifications of the eternal perspective, or
sub specie aeternitatis
, which can only reveal an end to humanity, its concerns and all its artifacts. Rust and the audience need no longer worry about such ramifications with the hope of continuing as an immortal soul. Ligotti refers to such pessimistic flimflam as a “façade of ruins, a trompe l'oeil of bleakness.” (Ligotti, p. 147)

The Late, Great Eli Wallach

Posted by Charles Reece, June 25, 2014 08:15am | Post a Comment

The most likable of unlikable character actors, Eli Wallach. Here he is sleazing it up in one of my favorite Elia Kazan flicks, Baby Doll. The actor died of really old age yesterday.

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