Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
🎵 The song for this post is Table's Clear, by Paul Lansky. 🎵
Here's some movies I've seen recently:
Eminently forgettable. There's exactly one friend of mine who takes every opportunity to defend it whenever it's slandered and this fascinates me.
This article summarizes it very well: Star Wars isn't a universe conducive to strip-mining of content like the Marvel movies have been. The fun of Star Wars, for me, was about imagining my own adventures with action figures or reading books like this one and this one. Releasing a movie every 6 months to get a bland Hollywood-ized versions of extremely simple stories won't succeed. The first few grafs of this articulate this well.
Won't You Be My Neighbor
I wrote about my idea of Fred Rogers, and the movie delivers. It's heartwarming, entertaining, and presents a portrait you're grateful to receive. Beyond the obvious elements that tell his story, I found a lot to chew on regarding aging, measuring the impact of one's life, childhood and trauma, and able to choose the person you want to be.
Avengers: Infinity War
I'm mostly impressed at the logistics of this movie: Age of Ultron demonstrated that asking 20 doctors to stick their hands in a body under surgery isn't necessarily a good thing. This movie got made with all those people, and it's largely coherent.
It's impossible to talk meaningfully about it without talking about the MCU generally; this article is probably my favorite.
Re: superhero fatigue, I wrote something on Facebook when a friend asked "Why doesn't Hollywood make other movies" and figure this is a relevant place to share it too:
Hollywood is, first and foremost, in it for the money. They do whatever will net them the most cash, so the art they make isn't optimized for anything but that.
You will likely get more cash if you can viably target the bigger markets; e.g. 30 Rock was absolutely loved by left-liberal city-dwellers but never reached Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory audience sizes (by, like, an order of magnitude) because a ton of demographics who watch a lot of TV just didn't really get it.
The general public can't really agree on pretty much anything. "Police shouldn't shoot unarmed people," "the President shouldn't base policy on how they can personally profit from it," or "fascism is bad" are, apparently, divisive statements? The present is weird.
In that environment, successfully targeting giant demographics means building stories in extremely flat worlds where Good and Evil are stated unambiguously. Also, those worlds can't look anything like ours but superficially: Star Wars, superhero movies against Mean Aliens, to a lesser extent Harry Potter, &c.
Like AAA games or fast food, every detail in the production process of these movies are extensively focus-group tested to minimize the number of people who object to it. It's consistent, has a high floor, but this also lowers the ceiling. I'd love to see more but while the above is all true I don't think we're going to see it from Hollywood.
I really, really enjoyed this, cried a few times during. People just want to be seen.
This was good! Entertaining, and worth it alone for Cate Blanchett's wardrobe. On balance it's not the best thing I saw on this list, which I mostly blame on structural problems that are inescapable in these reboots, well-articulated here. Given those constraints though, I was very impressed.
(spoiler alert) When I heard they fridged one of my favorites characters in Deadpool I got pretty mad; alas, boredom got the better of me and we went and saw it. Like the first Deadpool, it was way funnier than I thought. If you're not turned off by violence, I think you'll like it. Especially in the wave of Disney superhero movies, I like what this offers.
(I would have liked Ron Perlman as Cable)
A Quiet Place
Every time I see John Krasinski I think "he is such a Brown grad!" I mean, leave it to a Brown grad to write the screenplay for a David Foster Wallace adaptation and star as the lead. Fun fact! He was in the running to be Captain America before they gave it to the Human Torch.
Anyway, this movie is cute. Didn't blow me away, but well-acted and designed. As a former sound designer, this was catnip.
A Wrinkle In Time
This was delightful! I think it had a hard time, coming so soon after Black Panther, and folks forgetting it's a movie for all ages. I wish my kid's movies were this good. John Scalzi wrote something great about it.
I'll watch Michael Peña in anything, and look forward to seeing him again in Ant-Man and The Wasp.
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