Whenever I watch a movie, I always think one thing at the end: Can I write about it here? When I had finished The Conjuring, the answer was a clear “No”. It’s a good horror film, less special than I had expected after hearing so much about it. It is scary at times and relentless at trying to scare you (and more effective than the incredibly similar Insidious), but there is not much that hasn’t been seen before. The camera work is creative (or inspired), using many techniques to surprise the viewer from long takes to Vertigo shots. There just aren’t many surprises in the script as the plot goes mostly where you’d expect it to be. That were my thoughts at the end and that was it. Then I read some reviews and stumbled upon Andrew O’Hehir’s review on Salon.com which calls the movie the “most effective right-wing Christian films of recent years” and parts of it “reprehensible and inexcusable bullshit.” What’s going on here?
So, here we go through the charts again. This time I’ll look at the Billboard Hot 100, which are the singles charts for the U.S. Since I almost know no current music, I know as many songs here as in the German charts, so the surprise factor should about be the same. Be ready to be offended! Here we go!
Vanishing Point feels like the quintessential 70s movie. “Wait, isn’t that Easy Rider?” Sure, you could argue that (even if it’s from 1969) and there are similarities, but viewed without competitors this movie screams and shouts, “I’m from the 70s!” I picked it randomly for a 70s movie and it fits my parameters perfectly. It shows a lot about its time and has some interesting if extremely strange ideas. It’s not necessarily a good movie unless you like a basically non-story about a driver who wants to bring a car to San Francisco, is chased by the police and makes many police cars crash, while also meeting all kinds of 70s tropes. I can see how it has the potential for a cult movie (which it seemingly is), but that doesn’t make it good. Unless you like to see cars drive off the road or crash into something.
Is it possible to follow the Michael Brown case and not be amazed how things don’t change in our society? The incident itself is reminding us of Rodney King and Trayvon Martin, but also of the countless others who did not get the big media response. But even the “big” cases always ended in an unsatisfying way because as much as we celebrate justice and freedom in our society, it always boils down to injustice. The protests following the shooting are remindful of the 60s and 70s, showing that people’s frustrations can increase and eventually explode. Politicians’ responses are as always embarrassing in their lack of anger and Barack Obama certainly has foregone any chances to react accordingly in such cases, just playing the “calm down and forget what happened” game with fake sentiments and empty phrases, that politicians have played since politics exist. The imbalance that exists between black and white, poor and rich, authorities and citizens that make our culture so inherently flawed is very visible right now and won’t change through ignorance (because ignorance caused it in the first place). We learn that certain ethnicities are worth less and policemen learn that they have power over other people. We also learn that we’re in constant danger of our possessions and life and need to defend ourselves, no matter what, ask questions later. These are all central memes of our culture and they lead to such incidents.
Jack Reacher is an odd movie. It’s a Tom Cruise vehicle in every sense of the term but it also wants to be an intelligent thriller with distinctive action scenes. It wants to be very clever and while its twists are not bad and there are some good moments, the movie is weighed down by trying too hard to make Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher look like an irresistible superhero. Women find him irresistible, he is topless for no reason, he punches himself out of every dangerous situation, he has a super brain memory, is more clever than anyone else and he devotes his life to fighting for the good. It’s asking its audience a bit too much, even for Cruise fans. The movie has some fun with showing a crucial event from different angles and by trying something new with its action scenes (which doesn’t always work) and Werner Herzog has fun as a really cold-blooded villain (who doesn’t seem to be really necessary for anything). But in the end it tries too hard to be the beginning of a franchise and wears its novelized origins too clearly on its sleeves. There are however three things that caught my attention, that serve as a reminder how supposedly good intentions can go very wrong.
Today we’re going to look at another “real” gangsta rap album, the eponymous and debut Cypress Hill by Cypress Hill, released in 1991. While they are now mostly known for their weed music, their first album was of a different caliber.
Cabin in the Woods is a very clever movie that seems innocent and surely will fly by many people. But it’s so many things at once. It’s a decent horror movie, a comedy, a great work of metafiction and, most importantly, an amazingly intriguing comment on our society. It’s extremely well made and acted, and all in all a really bold movie. Since it appears in this series, I obviously love it.
Fear Itself is a Marvel event comic. Every year one of the Big Two (Marvel and DC) publish a series of comic books that ties into every major character they have and tells of some big world-changing event after which nothing is the same. Which normally means a big character dies (and comes back 1-2 years later). As you probably can see, event comics are a mixed bag. They are mostly event- or hype-driven and rarely story-driven. Some are good, most are okay, some are bad. Fear Itself is, in my opinion, one of the worst Marvel events, despite being written by the mostly good Matt Fraction and illustrated by the always good Stuart Immonen. It looks great, but the story is not really interesting and gets caught up in too many details that don’t necessarily make sense.
Slut’s Alienation (released in 2013 on Cargo Records) is one of the most persistently favorite albums I’ve ever known. You know those albums that you listen to and you realize you like them and whenever you want to listen to music, it’s the first thing that comes to your mind? And how that, depending on the album, stays this way for some days, weeks, maybe months, but then the really big thrill has gone? I’ve got Alienation in September 2013 (as an especially pleasant birthday present, because I didn’t even know there was a new Slut album) and it’s still the first thing I think of when I want to listen to music. I don’t think that happened before over such a long period of time. The album is a variety of styles, reminding the listener of Radiohead and The Beatles at the same time. But to me, that obviously works, mainly because it’s the music Slut does best but in those different, often electronic, styles. I really loved their previous album StillNo.1, but four years later Alienation hits all the right notes for me. Continue reading
Look at them. No one here under their free will, even we sometimes want them to believe that. But they’re not. No one would like to do this voluntarily. But now they’re here and I’m here, so we have to make the best out of it. No, I have to make it the best for them, because that’s my job.