Throughout my childhood…. oh who am I kidding, throughout my LIFE Star Wars and Jurassic Park have stood tall as some of my all-time favorite stories. They not only completely captured my imagination as a kid (along with the likes of Batman and James Bond) but continue to excite and entertain me to this day. As a result, this weekend is something of a geek overload for me, as we have finally received our first glances at Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They couldn’t arrive a moment sooner too, as both of these films have been shrouded in secrecy and obfuscation throughout their respective productions. Now the trailers are here, and the films are visible on the horizon. And this article originally started as a more heady piece about whether or not my nostalgia was influencing my interest and whether these films seem to be taking the franchises in the right direction, but then I saw the Force Awakens trailer and I’m too fucking excited to care much anymore.
This has nothing to do with film, I know. But when something this impactful is happening and you have any sort of platform, even one as insignificant as mine, it should be addressed. Long story short: the lack of indictment for Darren Wilson is only overshadowed by the death of Michael Brown as the worst thing to come out of this whole shitstorm. It doesn’t matter whether Brown had committed a crime, or whether he instigated the confrontation or provoked Wilson. Brown was an unarmed man who was shot 6 times, with his body ending up 150 feet away from the cop whose life he was supposedly threatening. There is absolutely no excuse for this, especially considering- for example- that James Eagan Holmes, the (white) psychopath behind the 2012 Aurora shootings, was apprehended alive by police despite carrying several firearms. No matter what Brown may have done to Wilson, I doubt Wilson was in more danger than the Aurora cops. Some additional thoughts:
- There is absolutely no reason why police should not be required to all have body cameras mounted on them. They should be constantly monitored and reviewed to ensure that they are performing their duties properly, as anyone doing a job should be. And any dismissal of this better not be coming from the nutjobs that think there was something corrupt about the Benghazi situation by the by because what makes beat cops less capable of error than the State Department?
- There is absolutely no reason why an indictment shouldn’t have been handed down. An indictment is not the same as declaring someone guilty, and the fact that only 1 in about 15,000 grand jury panels do not hand down indictments suggests that there is something off about nothing being done here. Situations like this, more than almost any other, demand some sort of judicial review to determine if the cop acted appropriately.
- There is absolutely no reason why Ferguson police should have spent the last four months running around in tactical (not riot, TACTICAL, ie their We’re-Gonna-Headshot-Some-Tangos clothes) gear and automatic weapons and armored personnel carriers, clearly presuming that any large gathering of black people is going to result in violence.
- There is absolutely no reason to bemoan the destruction of property over the loss of Michael Brown’s life, because no one seems to give a shit when sports fans make a mess over their team WINNING a championship. And while we’re at it, there is a good chance that at least as many people will die during Black Friday stampedes than have died in the last four months during the Ferguson unrest.
So yeah, the Michael Brown/Ferguson situation is fucking terrible, and it highlights a lot of terrible things about the race and police situation in America that the average person might not realize or want to face. And I’m certainly not criticizing police as a whole: many cops do their jobs well, without violent mistakes, and most of them have the right reasons for doing what they do in the line of duty. But there are clearly some huge flaws in our justice system that Ferguson is a textbook example of, and that we need to fix sooner rather than never. In the meantime, we should all sit down over this Thanksgiving holiday and watch Do The Right Thing which is (sadly) still as resonant today as it was in the year of my birth.
I’ve made no secret of my love for genre films on this blog. To me, there is no greater excitement in finding a genre film that seamlessly merges the archetypes and hallmarks of its type with more grounded, character-based concerns that could just as easily have been accomplished as a straight comedy or drama. Starry Eyes is just such a film, one that could’ve just been a straight drama about chasing stardom but then excitingly veers into Cronenberg-meets-Carpenter horror chills to create a distinctive and engaging narrative experience. Aided greatly by a stunning performance from Alex Essoe, writer/directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer have crafted a great piece of genre film that also taps effectively (if predictably) into the angst and anger of aspiring actors everywhere.
Through the Alan Moore comic From Hell (which in turn borrowed from a Douglas Adams book that I should probably read myself), I was introduced to the concept of what we can call holistic forensics. The idea is that to properly solve a crime, one must actually “solve” the society (or culture) in which the crime occurred. This is the first concept that came to mind as I tried to corral my thoughts about Foxcatcher. Bennett Miller’s latest film is a clinical procedural that, rather than directly address the circumstances of the climactic crime, explores the sad and desperate world around these people to demonstrate what could lead to such a seemingly random tragedy. Clinical in its perspective but heartbreaking in its content, Foxcatcher is an unsettling and impactful movie, not to mention a great one.
This has been a really good year for (Marvel-inspired) superhero films. Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-men: Days of Future Past were all good-to-fantastic, and each brought something new to the superhero genre. Big Hero 6 continues that trend nicely, by merging the whiz-bang fun of superhero films with the strong emotionality and beautiful animation that has marked Disney Animation’s recent rebirth. Short of being a musical (which I would’ve loved, btw) it combines these two sides wonderfully, and provides a film that should be an introductory superhero story for kids for a long time to come.
I saw Interstellar all the way back on Tuesday night, at what was probably one of the first public showings in the country. In the interim, I’ve seen two other films, one of which I’ve already reviewed, and two standup comedy shows. Suffice it to say that I’ve had some trouble organizing my thoughts on Christopher Nolan’s latest, which has never been a major problem for me. Nolan has always consistently entertained me with each of his films, and I’ve never come out of a Nolan movie without being thoroughly entertained and engaged. When it comes to Interstellar, it’s not that the film failed to excite me or move me or provide gorgeous imagery or compelling performances; indeed it accomplished all of those things. But even so, I felt a little detached from the experience in the end, which makes me wonder: was Interstellar just a less-than-perfect effort from Christopher Nolan, or have I begun to drift away from a filmmaker who has been among my favorites in the medium for the past decade?
(Spoilers after the jump!)
I think there are plenty of people who think that the modern generation is listless, apathetic and/or entitled, and on some level they’re probably right. I also think that you could say the same thing of every generation since the Vietnam War, as subsequently depicted in movies such as Taxi Driver, American Psycho and Fight Club. Of course, those movies really demonstrate that there’s a simmering anger and frustration underneath whatever self-absorption seems to dominate a given generation. I humbly submit that Nightcrawler could easily be considered my generation’s entry into this little tradition of cinema, one that mines that same convergence of anger and self-absorption while wrapping it in the media-driven, exploitative nature of our times.