Tag Archives: authority

Comics Are for Everyone: 2012 Edition – Occupying Jokers, Transgender Aliens and the Web of Life [2012 Week]

As I mentioned before, 2012 had a lot of comics in it and I read many of those. So I thought today I spent some time flipping through more than 1,000 issues to see what is noticeable in those comic books. What, you say that’s crazy? Too much? You’re right, actually. I’ll try to focus on which current events were portrayed in some of those comics and also look at some interesting messages regarding humanity. So, the usual.

It’s fascinating to see how 2011 creeps into the comics of 2012, which is the fastest comics can deal with current events.

Batgirl #5 (Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf)

Batgirl #5 (Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf)

Detective Comics #5 (Tony S. Daniel)

Detective Comics #5 (Tony S. Daniel)

You can read the full post here.

 

Battleship [2012 Week]

 

(spoilers ahead! – yes, you don’t want to know if the aliens win, do you?)

Battleship. Well, how to start? This is probably one of the most ridiculed movies before it came out and it is basically impossible to take it seriously. It’s a movie version of Battleship, so what could you possibly expect? The story is absurd, the filmmaking is almost irrelevant, there are some moments that could be seen as entertaining, but, come on, no one needed this movie. It’s not the worst; it’s just dumb and unnecessary. Oh, the plot? Aliens attack, battleships fight them back. Liam Neeson is just there for the paycheck, but not for the actual movie. What else do you need to know?

You can read the full post here.

The Grey Zone (2001)

grey_zoneThe Grey Zone is the Holocaust movie that every other Holocaust movie isn’t. As Roger Ebert points out in his review, The Grey Zone denies us any kind of hope, which most other Holocaust movies do. Things may be bleak, but not all is forsaken. Here it is. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people who try to do good things, but the strength of the movie (or more specifically the script), is that it doesn’t allow you to find easy answers. Often the questions seem so difficult, that an answer seems impossible. I came to this movie after watching The Pianist (which I really liked, more than The Grey Zone), because the idea of an even tougher Holocaust movie intrigued me, if that word can even fit in that context. It is a good and uncomfortable movie, with some flaws that keep it from being great, but it definitely is a movie that stays with you. Which flaws? Some of the conversations just go on to long, reminding us that the movie’s origins are in a play (and all of it is done by Tim Blake Nelson, play, screenplay, direction), but the worst part is definitely Harvey Keitel’s accent. Everyone talks in normal English, but Keitel applies the heaviest German accent you can imagine and it’s unnecessary and completely ridiculous. Some of the other actors also evoke that feeling that they really wanted to play the part of a poor, conflicted Jew, starved and desperate, but this is not a movie that should boast itself with semi-big names (sorry, Natasha Lyonne, Mira Sorvino and Steve Buscemi, even David Arquette is more convincing). It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen about the Holocaust and despite its missteps that counts for something. And the fact that you’ll probably never forget some of its images.

 You can read the full post here.

 

The Three Flawed Pillars

After over 5 years of teaching critical thinking, some ideas seem to repeat themselves, so last year I turned it around for my English course and first introduced what I think are the cornerstones for most problems in our society, before moving on specific topics where you can find those ideas. It worked insofar as that everyone is more aware of these things, but it also makes a good running joke whenever I mention them again. And the students now try to use them for an answer when I ask something. They learned fast that in most cases, they’ll be right with one of the three words I introduced. And I use those words often enough in my posts to warrant some explanation. Which words am I talking about and why are they so important? Good thing you ask, that’s what we’re here for today, kids!

You can read the full post here.

 

Our Life Is a Movie: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Unknownempire strikes back(spoilers, I guess, but either you’ve seen it already or you probably won’t ever want to anyway)

The Empire Strikes Back is not a movie I thought would ever end up here, though it’s always a challenge to find something worth discussing in popular movies like this. My motivation was in picking my favorite movie from 1980 and I realize that it’s Empire. It’s probably the best Star Wars movie because it’s so entertaining and dark at the same time, it’s never boring and the ending still breaks my heart. The music is some of the best film music ever composed and the cliffhanger at the end laughs at all those movies nowadays that call themselves Part 1 and Part 2 (except Kill Bill, maybe). It’s really a good movie and it surpasses all the other movies from 1980 for me (although, Ordinary People came in close just a few days ago, surprisingly).

Continue reading Our Life Is a Movie: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Our Life Is a Movie: Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

       Good Morning, Vietnam - Poster 2Oh, yes, two in a row. After Dead Poets Society (and a lack of new movies to talk about), I decided to look at the other Robin Williams movie from the late 80s that had a huge impact on me: Good Morning, Vietnam. I saw it around the same time as Dead Poets Society and it cemented Robin Williams as one of my personal heroes of my late childhood. It is also a strange movie to watch at 12 when the Vietnam War is only something abstract I had no relation to. But around the same time I must have watched Apocalypse Now on repeat, so something must have been set into place there for my interest in this war and the dark sides of U.S. history. But this movie is mainly a comedy and primarily because it’s Robin Williams’ show. And in many ways this movie resembles Dead Poets Society in its structure: Williams plays the offbeat character that overthrows conventions, he has to fight against authority and has to pay for it in the end, nevertheless teaching everyone willing to listen something about being different. One more reason for doing this double feature.

You can read the full post here.

 

Comics Are For Everyone: Mara #6

mara coverMara, a six-issue limited mini-series written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Ming Doyle and published by Image Comics in 2013, is the story of a woman who is the best and most famous sports star in a slightly futuristic world. The comic mostly shows how stardom and the media are connected and the consequences this has, thereby directly reflecting upon our society’s treatment of stars and sports (as Brian Wood rarely writes a comic without reflecting upon our society). It’s a great if slightly weird comic because it does never go where we expect it to go and the ending can’t do anything but leave you astonished in its boldness. It’s a really great comic and I can only recommend it, but since I don’t want to spoil it, I’ll just focus on one aspect today.

You can read the full post here.

Sucker Punch (2011)

sucker_punch_poster(spoilers ahead)

Sucker Punch is probably one of the weirdest movie I’ve seen in a long time both for its content but also for its awfully conflicted message. It’s a Zack Snyder movie, so you know you’re up for something but even with this knowledge you should be in for a surprise. He does weird stuff with all his comic adaptations, which can be okay (Watchmen), pretentiously stupid (300) or infuriating (Man of Steel). And yes, Dawn of the Dead was pretty good, I’ll grant him that. But working without source material, Sucker Punch is just insanely crazy and not necessarily in a good way. It’s almost impossible to judge it simply as a movie because it has no real plot and no characters that go beyond cardboards (or sex dolls or action figures, depending on your point of view). It’s all visuals with some weird themes woven into it. It’s a mess, to be sure, and the more you think about it, the less it has any redeeming qualities.

Continue reading Sucker Punch (2011)

Our Life Is a Movie: Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) (1998)

lolaposter(spoilers ahead)

The movies I have written about here up to now have all been movies I had just seen for the first time. Today I wanted to start writing about movies that I already know and also love and the first one has to be Tom Tykwer’s Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), mostly because I really, really love it, it changed my way of looking at movies and I just recently discussed it with one of my courses and noticed some new things. So, with other movies I’d just talk about the one thing that makes the movie interesting to me, but Lola rennt is stuffed with things to talk about. Again, I could write a long book about this movie and obviously people have written about it already, but that’s not my intention here. I want to focus on some aspects that fit on this blog the most and that are by coincidence the things I only recently discovered (or realized) on my 20th+ viewing. But just so you know how much there potentially is to discuss, all the things I’m not talking about here now:

You can read the full post here.

 

Book Report: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005)

Never_Let_Me_Go(spoilers ahead)

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is a tricky novel. It seems almost innocent in describing the lives of its three main characters which live an uneventful life in a boarding school and how they grow up. But beneath that unexciting surface lurks a dark story about rearing children in ignorance, teaching them to pretend and making them believe in authority at all times. Yes, the book also deals with cloning and what makes us human, but this has been dealt with in enough other books and movies. What fascinates me about that book is the way it portrays education and society but also the way it incorporates the three things I tell my students too often about: ignorance, authority and pretense. I just finished reading the book in my main class and was happy to see it was received (mostly) well, because I wasn’t sure students would find it appealing. But now I know that I would read it again and while working on it, I was surprised how much the novel has to offer and how thought-provoking it is. It has a lot of aspects to discuss and I want to try to get at most of what I deem important, which will still be a lot. For structure’s sake, I will follow the three-part division of the book. Continue reading Book Report: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005)