Film Micrœview #385: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

11.17.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good and Evil.

Look, it’s okay to pay for some magically violent thrills and chills, and even to lose yourself a bit in the silly carnage. I don’t think that’s inherently, irrevocably mind-polluting, as long as you take the time afterwards to reflect on what you’ve just put yourself through and put some distance between it and you and question your identification with the expressed agency of said fantastical brutality.

I’ll admit that my hair stood on end when Mighty Thor whipped himself up into a battle frenzy at the climax. Honestly, I got several waves of tingly satisfaction as Led Zeppelin blasted and everything went slo-mo and I knew the bad guys were about to get their shit seriously fucked up. I felt it as the consummation of the last 2 hours of effective build up to just this confrontation.

But it’s got some issues.

The villain of Thor: Ragnarok is Hela, Thor’s older sister. Their dad Odin dies and it’s time for someone to assume the throne. Hela is the rightful heir. As Odin passes he warns them about her. He used her as a weapon of conquest, then she “got too powerful”, so he exiled her. Then he pretended none of it happened, never told his sons about her, and made like he was a peaceful guy.

So… Hela *was* the rightful heir. They don’t even give her a chance. It was basically like how in Dr. Strange they assume a guy’s a bad guy because “well, just look at you.” Except this time it’s not a joke, and it’s not funny.

This was all Odin’s shortcoming. But he does not apologize. There is no atonement for his evil. We just mystically honor the patriarch as he scatters magically to the wind.

No recognition is given to Hela’s suffering, or her agency. She’s portrayed as this unbridled avatar of malice only. To add insult to injury, plenty of fucking time is given to her painfully explicit surrogate, Scourge, as he grapples with his choice to be her executioner, and then come back around and die a martyr’s death in the end. Ugh.

Hela could have been a metaphor for men’s use of sexual violence against women as an instrument of war, but the film didn’t even flirt with that idea.

Loki, meanwhile, the other bad green-colored kid, who *caused* the King’s death, is excused I guess because he’s a man?

They try to gloss over all this by including a strong woman warrior character (made her black too just for good measure). This again would be just an insulting diversion, but it’s even worse, due to the babbling endorsement of diversity and inclusion by Thor which undercuts even this effort.

In the conclusion of the film, Thor understands not to worry about his homeland being completely destroyed, because Asgard is where its people stand, not a place. These people are clearly a hodgepodge of ethnicities (white, black, brown, yellow, etc.), clearly based on this conquest of the nine realms, but that fact is totally cast aside in this moment. An opportunity lost.

(Also, Black Widow appears briefly as nothing but a sexual device to cool Hulk down, not as a character).

(And as for Banner, the movie is not his friend. It completely neglects his expressed concern about getting stuck as Hulk forever, leaving him that way at the end. It never gives him any chance to shine using his PhDs which he thinks are his strength; it just used him to turn green and smash things for it; all he neutralized was this evil wolf which hadn’t demonstrated any malice up to that point.)

Okay well that was most of the stuff I took serious issue with. In the rest of this review I’m just going to rattle off the rest of my thoughts, in a general progression from gripe to applause.

No one really learns anything or changes. Sure Thor loses his hammer, his hair, his eye, and his home – but all he does is try to protect his shit and then basically succeeds.

Could have done without the Dr. Strange cameo: pretty random and weirdly indistinct from the cutting teleportations and illusions caused by the grandmaster and Loki.

The Ragnorak prophecy was about Hela? What?

The music is still shitty in Marvel movies, but at least they had Mothersbough add some cool retro flair to it. The usage of a classic rock song with lyrics actually specially related to the imagery wasn’t bad.

In terms of cinematic universe cultivation, I feel they did a really nice job with Loki’s arc. I believed that his coming around was actually driven by his needs as a person.

Laughs there were aplenty. I loved the snake story – good on so many levels. The moment when Banner tries to get out of a family affair. The moment when Thor tells Banner he was easily defeated as Hulk. Jeff Goldblum’s face.

I also thought the muted rainbow colors of the city where most of the film was set were a worthwhile vision. Also the moving lighting was pretty cool and trippy in the flashback to the Valkyrie battle with Hela.

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Film Micrœview #384: Sicario (2015)

11.17.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

I read another review that criticized Sicario for switching narrative paths in Act III. I detected this as well, but felt it was such a strong, bold shift that it was clearly by design. I respect it formally, but still am not too sure it fits politically.

I’ve done a bit of research about the real life situation the film is hooking into, and have some concerns that this film may have gestured toward seriously addressing serious issues, only to slip back into morally ambiguous / exploitative territory in its resolution.

Villeneuve is capable of a basic level of artistry that most Hollywood directors do not aspire towards. Occasionally he fits in a bit of cinematic excess, anything other than plot and character points – some mood here and there. It’s nice, but it’s not enough, and I unfairly hold it against Villeneuve for being what our popular film culture is settling with (along with Iñárritu, Chazelle, etc.). A Lynch, Carruth, or Anderson he is not.

Film Micrœview #383: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

11.17.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Bad.

Self reference…. I guess it’s like time travel for me: potentially I find it amazingly compelling, but if you do it in the slightest bit wrong I hate you.

This movie was just trite and tedious. Langenkamp’s performance was all that kept me watching.

Dream 524: Who’s Insecure, now?

11.17.2017 § Leave a comment

Derek is ruined; he’s lost 5/8ths of his code file due to the indifference of TechCrunch Disrupt.

I’m about to hop on a plane to Italy though it’s crazy since I haven’t even met or checked in with the man who is supposedly picking me up on the other end. Once I see a series of posts about how you shouldn’t get so upset about birds chirping in the forest (after you understand what they’ve been through!) I know it’s okay.

Dream 523: The Nouciki

11.17.2017 § Leave a comment

A breed of cloaked zombie skeleton ghosts are after us, sort of like a cross between Ringwraiths and Oathbreakers. They move slowly but kill you instantly with a touch and like Matrix Agents can emerge out of ordinary people at any moment so you can’t be in confined or crowded spaces. They can only be defeated with a particular rusty samurai sword which, fortunately, I possess.

One chases me onto a bus. I scream, a good way to force Nouciki to reveal themselves. One is on the bus and screams back, slogging my direction. Unfortunately I stupidly don’t catch the bus door from shutting behind me with my foot, so I have to waste plenty of time figuring out how to unlatch the door to get back out (before the first one makes it to the door, trapping me between two of them).

Dream 522: TET

11.03.2017 § Leave a comment

They’ve simulated conditions on the next TET (possibly habitable extra-solar planet) on Aruba. Not the island off the coast of South America, but the tiny one off the coast of Haiti.

Some guy interrupts Jonathan Davis on this TV show (as I try to duck around and get into place underneath the view of the cameras) but he’s really nice about it, waste of time aside.

Film Micrœview #382: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

11.02.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Shrug.

The music detracted.
The parents are freaking weird.
Lol at teenie bopper Depp in that 80’s male midriff exposure outfit though.
The idea is pretty horrifying but I expected them to delve a bit more into the visceral feeling of sleep deprivation. I didn’t really buy the emotions and psychological rendering of this particular dread (whereas in contrast I did experience that watching It Follows, for example).

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