Attack of the Robots

Is it just me, or have there been a lot of robot-themed movies lately?  I suppose it’s not really that surprising, as science fiction is one of the best barometers of cultural zeitgeists.

Frozen vs. Watchmen

It seemed obvious to me that the character of Queen Elsa from Disney’s excellent Frozen had glimpses of similarity to Dr. Manhattan from Snyder’s excellent The Watchmen. Both had nearly infinite power, which detached them from their humanity and fellow humans. Each secluded themselves far away in a self-made palace as a way of both escaping and saving the people close to them. Both had trouble containing their power.

That said, I don’t think I remember Dr. Manhattan ever breaking out into song.

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The Cabin In The Woods

Major Spoilers

Before I begin, note that every word following this is considered a major spoiler for the film.

So, what would happen if you threw Men In Black, Cube, Hellraiser, and most every scary-secluded-cabin-for-teenagers movie in a blender?  The Cabin In The Woods would happen.

This is the film from 2012 from Avengers wonder-boy Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.  I loved this movie.  It turns the genre (if you can pick just one) on its head. I loved that — despite it not taking itself too seriously, despite it having a good sense of humor — it painted a deep mythology.  I loved that it dared to explain not only why we love monster, ghost, and zombie movies, but also where these creatures all come from and what their purpose is.

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Prometheus vs. Avatar

The planet Pandora has nothing — and I mean nothing — on the little moon SC-223. This place scared the (R-rated expletives) out of me; it was unnerving, frightening, dreadful, in all the ways that Pandora was not.

I’m referring to the hostile alien environments from the movies Avatar and Prometheus.  Both have certain distinct built-in audiences. The former requires that one be a fan of action-packed, light-on-originality, effects-heavy, exhilarating sci-fi.  The latter requires that one prefer their sci-fi with a cold, clinical, and nightmarish pessimism.  I happen to be a member of both audiences; I can see the value of each, but I don’t blame you for not appreciating one or the other.  Avatar asks that you just have fun with your 3D goggles and not worry too much about borrowed storylines from a dozen other sources.  Prometheus asks you to witness something you’ve truly never seen before, while borrowing a lot from the horror end of the genre spectrum.

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Aurora Mass Shootings

There’s an article at The Good Men Project worth reading called “Not a Joke: Why Do Our Boys Keep Up the Mass Shootings?” in light of the mass murder this morning in Colorado.  I left a comment there that I wanted to explore some more here.

This is a risky comment, because it is perhaps too early to theorize.  For starters, I live in Colorado and I’m stunned.  I also love the Batman movies for the same reasons lots of other boys and men love them.  I get a rise out of violence in my entertainment, gun-related or otherwise, and I’m not sure yet what that says about me or my conception of masculinity.

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The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

I just caught this highly entertaining geek culture documentary short film by Jay Cheel, host of the Documentary Blog podcast, which is one of my favorite podcasts. It’s called “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends.”

The short doc has a really cool use of ironic slow motion. All the interviews are looking straight into the camera — very Errol Morris.

If you love board games, like Settlers of Catan, you’ll appreciate this film. You can see the whole thing here:

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Vicarious entertainment

Pretty much right when we first found out we were pregnant with Iris, I got excited for the future of vicarious entertainment.  I’m speaking of sharing great cinematic moments with my kid, allowing me to feel that same wonderment again through her eyes.

Documentaries have ruined me

About 15 years ago, I distinctly remember hearing a radio broadcast that was unlike anything I’d heard before.  It wasn’t the usual talk show, news, sports, call-in, top 40 type show.  It was engaging.  It was a well-crafted story, yet non-fictional.  It was refreshing in a landscape of RF wasteland.  It was my “driveway moment”.  It was This American Life.

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The Road

My bro-in-law (he pronounces it “bra”, as per young and colloquially hip) recommended I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I finally picked up the novel a few weeks ago was glad I did.  It was beautiful in its desolation.