Thursday, August 25, 2022

Film Studies Resources: August 25, 2022

 An analysis of the metaphorical meanings of multiverse stories, and what they reflect about the burdens of modern existence.

Ethan Hawke has been talking to IndieWire’s Eric Kohn and Peter Rinaldi at Filmmaker about—among many other things—his six-part documentary series The Last Movie Stars. As David Fear writes in Rolling Stone, the careers of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward span “many eras and way stations of twentieth-century cultural history: the Actor’s Studio generation, the Method-mad 1950s, the rise of TV, the theatrical revolution happening on Broadway, the socially conscious Sixties, the anything-goes New Hollywood Seventies.” But Hawke’s series “also doubles as a portrait of the agony and ecstasy of matrimony—an affectionate yet psychologically fraught, zero-prisoners-taken look at a union that had been lionized as a fairy-tale come true and was anything but.” - David Hudson (July 22, 2022)


Eggert, Brian. "The Gray Man." Deep Focus Review (July 14, 2022) ["A good action movie is difficult to find. Although dozens are released every year, few have more to offer than some impressive stunts, fast-paced fight choreography, or eye-popping sequences of destruction. They supply the requisite thrills, but once the credits roll, they often fade from memory. The problem isn’t the action; it’s the banal characters. Rarely do action movies give us compelling heroes or villains who make a lasting impression. The Fast and Furious series may provide one over-the-top vehicular extravaganza after another, but its dopey family and one-note baddies couldn’t be less engaging. Sure, the John Wick movies started with a compelling revenge story, but the character’s unwavering composure doesn’t have many dimensions. Invulnerable heroes from the killing machine John Rambo to the infallible Dominic Toretto obliterate their opponents and come away barely dented. By contrast, consider characters such as John McClane in the original Die Hard (1988) or Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) that elevate all the trappings of an entertaining actioner, lending humanity and vulnerability to their heroes. Enduring action movies give their characters a sense of humor or depth of feeling beyond point and shoot. "]

Hudson, David. "Lessons From Bob Rafelson." Current (July 28, 2022) ["The first shot is to grab the audience and the last shot is to redeem yourself,” writer, director, and producer Bob Rafelson told the Los Angeles Times’s Kristine McKenna in 1986. Rafelson, who died last week at the age of eighty-nine, often didn’t know what that redemption would look like until a day or two before he shot the final scenes of his films. Two of his best, Five Easy Pieces (1970) and The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)—together, they “stand as a kind of bitter eulogy diptych said over the shallow grave of American Dreamism,” writes Michael Atkinson for Sight and Sound—were shot in sequence and strayed from the screenplay long before the final crack of the clapboard."]

Jones, Eileen. "Bodies Bodies Bodies Is a Bad Class Satire and a Boring Film." Jacobin (August 18, 2022) ["Like so many horror films attempting to be subversive, Bodies Bodies Bodies tries to satirize the upper class. But all it delivers are tired, lazy tropes about Gen Z."]

Loayza, Beatrice. "David Cronenberg’s Tableaux of Pain and Pleasure." The Nation (July 21, 2022) ["The body, that object of eternal obsession, perpetually surveilled and self-policed, is a site of great danger. Errant bodies, then, are as much a threat to the status quo, testing our willingness to embrace the monstrous. In Crimes of the Future, prior to a scene in which a live surgery is staged as a public performance, the phrase “Body is reality” flashes on a small television set: It is through the body, Cronenberg argues, that we experience and make sense of our lives; through the body that ideas, desires, and fears find palpable expression. If his films promiscuously stake out the possibilities of the future and the novel ways in which we might inhabit it, then the body is a testing ground where the ineffable and the unthinkable might be grasped for the first time."]

Mikulec, Sven. "Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers: A Force to Be Reckoned With." Cinephilia and Beyond (July 17, 2022) ["A squad of six British soldiers head into the Scottish Highlands to perform a routine training exercise against a Special Air Services unit, but upon reaching their destination, they find the mauled remains of their SAS colleagues. The single survivor is either unable or unwilling to clearly explain what the hell happened, so the group retreat to a lonely, seemingly abandoned house in the company of Megan, a zoologist who they happen to stumble across along the way. As the night quickly approaches, they realize nothing is like it seems and the danger they’re facing is much darker than they could have possibly anticipated. Repeatedly attacked by werewolves, killed off one by one by a horrifying force far more superior than anything they had encountered before, the unit tries to stand their ground and survive through the night. Morning might indeed bring salvation, but until the sun rises they are stranded in the middle of enemy territory, forced to fight on unequal terms."]

O., Kenny. "Breaking conventions? Political ideology of films with explicit sex." Open Screens 5.1 (2022) ["Explicit sex in films on general release remains rare, even if it has significantly increased since the late 1990s. Commentary on explicit arthouse films has tended to focus on those also containing sexual violence, and debates have often revolved around whether explicit imagery constitutes art or pornography. Relatively little attention has been paid to explicit romantic films, and to what leads some of them to gain notable international visibility, while others languish in obscurity. This article examines 9 Songs and Love, two of the most discussed and financially successful arthouse films with a romantic storyline that also devote significant screen time to explicit images of sex. It argues that their success can be attributed in part to their conservative sexual and gender politics, and their ideological proximity to conventional heterosexual pornography. They are contrasted with The Story of Richard O. and Daughters of Fire, two explicit films that struggled to gain critical attention or financial reward. These latter films are shown to have fundamentally different ideological foundations, including radical ideas about sex and gender, and an embrace of the artistic value of the pornographic. Such an ideological gap can be considered a contributory factor in the divergent destinies of these explicit romantic films."]

Subissati, Andrea and Alexandra West. "Class Act: Society (1989)." The Faculty of Horror #109 (Jule 30, 2022) ["The elite are literally a different breed in Brian Yuzna’s cult classic film about the perils of popularity and privilege. In this episode, Andrea and Alex dive into the mystique that surrounds the wealthy and explore why they need the rest of us to survive."]

Tafoya, Scout. "The Unloved, Part 104: Ambulance." Roger Ebert (August 1, 2022) ["Somehow, it happened. Michael Bay earned a place in the Unloved. He made his best movie and no one liked it and it made no money. Well sir, you're welcome around these parts anytime. Enjoy this look at our premiere vulgarian's attempt to go "straight," and shake your head with me in horror at the culture that said no to a film as electrifying as Ambulance."]

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