Amoeblog

Worst Film Crud of 2011

Posted by Charles Reece, January 30, 2012 01:50am | Post a Comment

These are films that I either suffered through, or whose trailers assaulted me while waiting to see something else.


Not So Bad Once You Get to Know Them

j. edgar poster   iron lady poster

These are two individuals who made careers out of dehumanizing others. Yet, we're supposed to sympathize with them because one was a repressed gay man and the other a woman who faced off against men and is now suffering from Alzheimer's. Fuck them both. There are many legitimate ways to approach biopics about interestingly evil people (e.g. Downfall), but a liberalized understanding is not one of them. 
 

Monstrous Genetic Mutations

adventures of tintin poster   muppets poster 2011

I've previously expressed my horror at seeing simple 2D cartoonish figures rendered in photorealistic 3D detail. Who needs to count the black lines in Scooby's iris or see the snot dripping from his nose to get into the plot? But this grotesque disfiguration has really reached its aesthetic nadir with Spielberg's adaptation of the comic famous for its clear line style, Hergé's TinTin. Rather than believe Spielberg can't see how hideous these deformed monsters look, I suspect that this kind of adaptation is really a simulation of a live action adaptation. Ultimately, it's a portent of a later stage of the technological revolution in which actors and much of the old film crew will be out of a job. A perfectly realistic CG star can't join a union. Of course, that'll only happen if they can digitally create the voices, too, which brings me to why the Muppets are dead and should not be brought back as zombies. Maybe Gallagher and Sam Kinison can be safely simulated by a close relative, but there is no muppet without the original muppeteer. Kermit and Fozzie might look the same, but they're obviously defective clones, being revealed as recovering stroke victims upon opening their mouths. (Not that I've ever been much of a fan of the Muppet movies, which tend to identify more with the lame humans than the characters of interest.)
 

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Mighty White of You: Juxtaposing Cowboys & Aliens and Attack the Block

Posted by Charles Reece, September 12, 2011 09:06am | Post a Comment
What follows is a slightly altered version of a two-part series of posts I recently wrote, now combined as my entry for Pussy Goes Grrr's Juxtaposition Blogathon

juxtaposition blogathon

In the realm of categories, black is always marked as a color [...], and is always particularizing; whereas white is not anything really, not an identity, not a particularizing quality, because it is everything -- white is no color because it is all colors. This property of whiteness, to be everything and nothing, is the source of its representational power.
-- p. 127, Richard Dyer's "White" from The Matter of Images


Reading Dyer's above quoted essay reminded me of the classic Saturday Night Live skit where Eddie Murphy went undercover as a white man to discover what whiteness is really like. He receives a free newspaper, gets cash from a bank without any credit and, once the city bus is free of minorities, the whites have a party. Instead of whiteness being the default or normative position from which every other ethnicity is otherness, Murphy's blackness is the norm and whiteness is seen as excess.

A less ironic and more recent example of what Dyer's getting at is the colorizing of Marvel's superheroes: Nick Fury is black in the films and Ultimate line; the Ultimate version of Peter Parker was killed off and replaced by a half black, half latino kid named Miles Morales; Kingpin was played by a black man in the Daredevil film; and more controversial among the Aryan supremacists was the decision to make the Norse god Heimdall black in the Thor film. The difference here between whiteness and otherness is that Peter Parker isn't first marked as white, second as Spider-Man, but Miles Morales is foremost a mixed ethnicity and secondly a superpowered human. If he were to live with his aunt at a near poverty level, that would be part of his ethnic narrative, whereas it's not really a part of Peter's being white. For Peter, those are qualities which merely help the audience sympathize with his struggle as an individual (they aren't anything but dramatic attributes within a particular narrative). The white narrative, through its dominance, seen as normative, is hidden, only revealed by contrast with what falls outside, or underneath.

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Mighty White of You: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Posted by Charles Reece, August 29, 2011 02:49am | Post a Comment
In the realm of categories, black is always marked as a color [...], and is always particularizing; whereas white is not anything really, not an identity, not a particularizing quality, because it is everything -- white is no color because it is all colors. This property of whiteness, to be everything and nothing, is the source of its representational power.
-- p. 127, Richard Dyer's "White" from The Matter of Images


Reading Dyer's above quoted essay reminded me of the classic Saturday Night Live skit where Eddie Murphy went undercover as a white man to discover what whiteness is really like. He receives a free newspaper, gets cash from a bank without any credit and, once the city bus is free of minorities, the whites have a party. Instead of whiteness being the default or normative position from which every other ethnicity is otherness, Murphy's blackness is the norm and whiteness is seen as excess.

A less ironic and more recent example of what Dyer's getting at is the colorizing of Marvel's superheroes: Nick Fury is black in the films and Ultimate line; the Ultimate version of Peter Parker was killed off and replaced by a half black, half latino kid named Miles Morales; Kingpin was played by a black man in the Daredevil film; and more controversial among the Aryan supremacists was the decision to make the Norse god Heimdall black in the Thor film. The difference here between whiteness and otherness is that Peter Parker isn't first marked as white, second as Spider-Man, but Miles Morales is foremost a mixed ethnicity and secondly a superpowered human. If he were to live with his aunt at a near poverty level, that would be part of his ethnic narrative, whereas it's not really a part of Peter's being white. For Peter, those are qualities which merely help the audience sympathize with his struggle as an individual (they aren't anything but dramatic attributes within a particular narrative). The white narrative, through its dominance, seen as normative, is hidden, only revealed by contrast with what falls outside, or underneath.

Continue reading...