I still mourn the loss of Roger Ebert from our world. Oh sure, it had to happen sooner or later, and the last invasion of cancer in his body likely had him believing it would be rather soon. But there are deaths in the world where even people who only know the deceased through their work feel it for years after the fact. Roger Ebert‘s ability to impart facts about the workings of the film industry and inform the audience in poetic terms about what they can expect from a film were second to none.
Roger Ebert is one of the great pundits of the twentieth century. His work spans a number of different subjects, but I am sure that if he and I were engaged in conversation about it, he would not dispute my statement that for him, the bread and butter has always been in film criticism. Continue Reading
First of all, please be warned. This dissection in text will contain a lot of revealing plot information concerning both versions, 1975 and 2002, of Rollerball. In the 2002 case, I might be saving you a lot of agony in the process of trying to watch it without a few friends and a lot of chemical stimulants. In the 1975 case, it might actually ruin something worth a watch or two. Your discretion is advised, although even knowing everything that happens in the 1975 production in advance cannot make it any less compelling.
As I intimated in my previous post, there is a reason why Hollywood recycles its old ideas at a rate that seems to increase as time goes on and the oligopoly of the media continues to worsen. It is not to improve upon or even ignite nostalgia for the original film, but rather to remake the money that the original film made. Whilst there are genuinely good remakes out there, the majority are so stupendous in their mediocrity that they prompt genuine puzzlement at Hollywood’s surprise that returns on investment are declining sharply. And then there are the ones that are so incredibly, utterly bad that they prompt questions about whether the executive who green-lit the production was subsequently buried out in the Nevada desert somewhere. The 2002 production of Rollerball as directed by John McTiernan goes well beyond that. It achieves a level of outright imbecility that even trying to describe why it sucks so much to the proverbial Man From Mars is a fruitless exercise. In order to understand how bad it is and why, you just have to see it for yourself. It really is that awesomely terrible.
In my previous entry, I made reference to how the videogame industry, as well as the entertainment industry in general, has evolved. I also said that the use of the word was subject to certain understandings, if only in different language. I promised that I would explain this, and then seriously forgot to do so for the rest of the entry in question. Well, unlike certain people that I will not mention this time around, I like to keep my promises. I make them with the intent of keeping them, no matter how much it ends up putting me out. So now is a good time to explain what I mean when I say that the videogame industry has evolved over the past thirty or so years.
This means that I need to explain a few things about evolution as I understand them. If you are a scientist, particularly one that deals frequently in evolutionary theory, I beg your indulgence. It is for a good reason.
Every artist, whether they are a writer, a musician, a painter, or photographer, has influences. Some broadcast their influences more than others. But we all have them, and different influences work upon us to different degrees. As an aspiring author and storyteller, I do not mind telling you that one influence in particular overrides all others where I am concerned. That influence is the work of the Dutch director named Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven frequently alludes to things in audio commentaries that have to do with his childhood in The Netherlands during the second World War. One thing he mentions at least once is how the Germans would put the corpses of his countrymen on display in public. Both as a method of controlling local resistance, and to signal to the Allies that the Germans could and would kill Dutchmen if they encountered sufficient trouble. So if one wants to search for an influence upon Paul Verhoeven‘s methodology in terms of storytelling and depicting violence, World War II is the first, last, and possibly only place to look.
A common, and sorely mistaken, theme in reviews of Verhoeven‘s films is that he directed it, ergo it will not be subtle. No offense to the reviewers concerned, but fukk you. The difference between Paul Verhoeven and what Hollywood feels to be acceptable is not subtlety, but rather that Paul knows when to be subtle. Continue Reading
Last year, a few days before the holiday I love to refer to as MoneyMas, I finally had the chance to partake in a film that I had been wanting to see for pretty much the entirety of the year. Unlike a lot of slick, A-grade productions, Hobo With A Shotgun makes no promises, false or otherwise, about what it contains. It is about a hobo who, upon finding himself in a town so corrupt that the National Guard should be there en masse, buys a shotgun and goes about killing every example of corruption and injustice he can find.
Let me put it this way. You know a film is a keeper when, less than ten minutes in, a man’s head is severed and creates a geyser of blood in which a woman wearing a bikini and a fur coat decides to start writhing around. Yes, it is that kind of film. Continue Reading
Ever since we began to build houses out of mud and stone, we Homo Sapiens have been concerned with questions about property. Property comes in many forms. Physical objects, animals, ideas, and even people can be property, although the last of those four is something nobody really wants to talk about or acknowledge in modern times. But what is important here is the manner in which property is exchanged. There are a few ways in which property is exchanged, and in order to understand the issue at hand, we need to go through them to some degree. Continue Reading