The Price Of Purpose, The Necessity Of Love, The Films of Brad Bird

Brad_Bird-1_2-1As people we all want to have a defined purpose, a reason to be on this Earth, a life goal to strive towards. Some of us are lucky enough to know exactly what that purpose of ours is, and some of them are lucky enough to actually pursue and maybe even fulfill that purpose. But what does it take to pursue your calling? What does it cost you, what sacrifices must be made? Is your supposed calling something you even want for yourself? And how do your family and friends fit into that ambition, that hunger for meaning and purpose? Brad Bird has explored these questions through his entire filmography, in ways that are both insightful and emotional, exciting and funny. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers, and one whose movies have the capability to touch my heart like few others I’ve seen.

SPOILERS follow…

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Simon Pegg’s Wake-Up Call To Geek Culture

simon-pegg-to-play-an-assassin-in-kill-me-three-times-headerThere is a chance that you heard about Simon Pegg’s recent discussion about the state of geek culture. If not, here is his blog post about it, where he makes his point more clearly than in his original comments. Despite initial appearances, Pegg is not attacking sci-fi blockbusters or superhero movies as being immature or shallow per se. As Pegg himself acknowledges, the release of Mad Max: Fury Road alone proves that geek-friendly tentpoles are as capable of thematic depth as any other kind of movie. What Pegg does argue is that much of modern geekdom tends to get too caught up in the surface-level branding and aesthetics and loses sight of the context that makes such movies truly impactful in the first place. That, he says, is what is infantilizing geek audiences: not what they like, but how they interact with it. While some geek patrons might be insulted or offended by this suggestion, I think that Pegg is absolutely right and his point is one worth listening to.

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The Brutal Symphony Of Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury-Road-Guitar-680x388When I consider the art of opera, I think of a very broad and elemental story being told in a very beautiful, stylized fashion, something that stirs the heart because despite being aesthetically unmoored from reality it is ultimately about something very human. Now, imagine Mad Max: Fury Road as an opera. It’s an opera where the orchestra plays death metal and the costumes are all made of leather and chrome and grease. It’s an opera that takes place on giant cars made of scrap metal, hurtling along at 100 mph and the audience is required to take meth before the performance. It’s an opera for punks and gearheads that’s really about the power of women. Mad Max: Fury Road is a brilliant, absurd, visceral opera, one where the arias and musical movements are replaced with explosions and guitar solos, but where the human core remains to guide it all.
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Monsters And Murderbots: More Thoughts On Age Of Ultron

avengers-age-of-ultron-3I really liked Age of Ultron right out of the gate, and the more I think about it the more I like it. I think that Joss Whedon truly accomplished something impressive here, upping the ante for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in many ways, and not just with bigger action scenes. Unfortunately, many people seem much less enthusiastic about the film overall, and that’s a damn shame. Much like Iron Man 3, a subversion of expectations has led to a negative/disappointed/nitpicky response amongst a good portion of the fanbase, obscuring some amazing narrative accomplishments in the process. I wasn’t fully satisfied with my initial review, because I felt like I was only scratching the surface of what makes Age of Ultron tick. In light of all that,  I’ve decided (for the first time ever) to write a review part 2 so I can hopefully explore the themes and arcs of the film in greater detail and maybe illuminate for others what makes this movie so awesome.

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Can We Be Sincere At The Movies, Please?

Ya know how it is, dudes. Ya roll up on the movies with your bros (or brahs or bruhs if you prefer) to check out this awesome Avengers movie, right? And Iron Man’s blasting some shit, and Hulk’s all badass, and ScarJo is looking foine, and you’re thinking this is the shit! But then what the fuck!? Why’s the Hulk talking about his feelings with ScarJo? Who the fuck wants to hear Hulk talk, I wanna see some ass-kicking! Fuck that gay noise! So what else you gonna do? You crack some jokes to your friends, cuz fuck it! Nothing’s blowing up, so why pay attention? It’s not like THERE’S A STORY BEING TOLD THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT AND YOU SHOULD SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH AND RESPECT THE DAMN ART.

Ahem. This little melodrama is brought to you by the douchebros that sat behind me at Age of Ultron the other night, and who were the perfect distillation of the entitled snark culture that I can’t stand.

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The Age of Ultron’s Weird And Wounded Heart

avengers_age_of_ultron_2015_movie-wideThe main reason for the consistent quality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the emphasis on character. While there are many thematic, genre-based and worldbuilding factors in every story, they are all built on what is necessary for the growth of the heroes. This is as apparent as ever with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which serves its characters above all else as all good stories should. While that focus on character results in what can sometimes feel like an unfocused narrative, the resulting emotional heft more than makes up for it. Not to mention a level of thematic depth that I’m still trying to decipher after two viewings, that will continue to tease my brain for the next few days at least. Age of Ultron may not be definitively better than the first Avengers, but it is a terrific (and surprisingly strange) movie in its own right. SPOILERS, RIGHT THIS WAY… Read the rest of this entry »

Monthly Preview: May 2015

calendar2Aaaaaand here we go, this year’s Geekpocalypse is officially in full swing. With the summer blockbuster season getting started, we’re getting some great big-ticket items at the theaters, from some A-list filmmakers no less. While we’ve gotten some really nice movies so far this year, I’m very excited to see some big, epic adventure films on the docket, movies that take full advantage of the expansive canvas of the medium while (hopefully) retaining a focus on character and emotion. Though even with all of the tentpoles on the schedule there’s still some room for smaller indie films as well, so those of you that are mainstream-adverse will not be left out in the cold either. Let’s take a look!

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