From Movies

Some real machinery inside our guts

I had a day where I saw two movies. It was a Sunday in August, and a life-change sort of thing was happening, or continuing to happen, that made me want to get out of the house. My priority was “Hitman: Agent 47,” which unfortunately proved quite negligible. But first I went to a 10:25 AM showing of “The End of the Tour.” This two-hander about David Foster Wallace was so moving to me, I started to cry about fifteen minutes in. Read more

I went to the movies

My dear friend Rockclimber being in self-imposed exile in Georgia making knives, like someone in a Quentin Tarantino movie, I went to see “Ex Machina” by myself. It was pretty neat except that all the female androids had landing strips. Ha ha, seriously, it was deeply sexist in a way that can’t be defused by lampshading. But I still enjoyed it. Oscar Isaac’s upsetting beard reminded me of Bryan Cranston’s observation that “hair on the face and no hair on the head is the most intimidating look there can be.” As a weight-lifting, vodka-swilling Zuckerbergian Mephistopheles, Isaac was easily the scariest thing in the movie. Spoiler: the robots win. Read more

Kissing in the rain while white

I recently gave a talk at Community Change called “On Being a White Novelist” (the writing of which took up some brain I otherwise might have used to blog). One thing I discussed was how I feel about novels with only white people in them. (Hint: They make me nuts.) On that topic, Pia Glenn observes:

Not unlike Iggy Azalea or Bethenny Frankel, Nicholas Sparks’ work has every right to be as annoying and mediocre and white yet popular as it wants to be. But when it is rewarded with contracts and six-figure deals, that becomes what success looks like. The erasure of anyone but the same white archetypes within the work itself is compounded by our resulting erasure in the industry itself and they perpetuate each other in a vicious cycle.

Read more of her incisive essay, “Is Nicholas Sparks Racist?” at Valid.

The exoskeleton of whiteness

(Spoilers.) My friend Rockclimber and I splashed out on the IMAX showing of “Elysium” yesterday. RC doesn’t mind when I scribble notes during a film, fortunately. There was plenty to scribble about in this one. Bloggers younger and more energetic than I have already taken on the obvious white-savior theme of the movie; read Ari Laurel here at Be Young and Shut Up, and Theresa Johnson of The Horn here. Read more

“Django”: the hate that hate produced

I went to see “Django Unchained” yesterday with a good friend of mine, nom de guerre Rockclimber. We agreed it was a kick-ass movie. “Jamie Foxx was so sexy,” I said. “Everything about that movie was sexy,” Rockclimber said. “Yes,” says I, “pure cinematic pleasure.” I do love Quentin Tarantino, and every time I see one of his movies I feel as though I’ve attended a cultural event.

Before I go on, some alternate points of view. Read more

At the movies

On Sunday I went to see “Hugo,” which is getting hugely favorable reviews. It’s also hugely sexist. None of the female characters in the movie have any agency or creative power of their own. To a girl or woman, their role is to support the male protagonists. I was already angry when Kyle turned around at the credits (he was sitting in front of me, because the theater was packed) and informed me that several details had been changed from the original book to make Isabelle a much weaker character. Hey, I looked for a link but couldn’t find anything, because nobody seems to have noticed this.

Then this morning I was reading “Facing the Fear” (scroll down to click on the pdf), an article by Patti DeRosa about how white people respond to charges of racism, and I came across a list of knee-jerk reactions that seemed weirdly familiar. Read more

On acting

My baby and I just finished watching “District 9” for the second and third time respectively. Then we watched all the special features. Did you know Sharlto Copley, who plays the movie’s hero, had almost no previous acting experience? The making-of documentary captures him getting his makeup done and giving a dazed assessment of the craft:

No . . . no, acting is not at all what I thought, you know . . . Damages you physically, mentally, emotionally . . . spiritually . . . It’s damaging. It’s a damaging job.

He looks absolutely haggard.

Elegance will out

I was reading the Phoenix yesterday and came across this observation in a movie review:

The image of [Helen] Mirren, impeccable in a white evening gown and wielding an M-60 machine gun, alone elevates the proceedings.

Possibly the best sentence Peter Keough has ever written.