Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Notable film and media links--June 23, 2009

---For this week's zombie fix, you can read Tom Kuntz's theory about "Zombie Films as Liberal Parables," watch the fun new Zombieland trailer, or perhaps simply groove to the poem "Zombie -Eyed Zombies and How They Walk" (with thanks to Geof Huth).

---Do you ever just get tired of narratives? Writing for The Guardian, scriptwriter Paul Schrader explains the glut:

"Does the proliferation of media mean that it is harder to be original today than it was 50 years ago? Well, yes. Today's viewers live in a biosphere of narrative. Twenty-four-seven, multimedia, all the time. When a storyteller competes for a viewer's attention, he not only competes with simultaneously occurring narratives, he competes with the variations of his own narrative. That's real competition. The bar of originality has been raised. The media marketplace puts a premium on anything "new" or "fresh" and, at the same time, inundates its viewers with continual and competing narratives."

---As a major Pauline Kael fan, I was struck by two recent posts that looked at problems with her influence. Perhaps the Kael backlash has begun? New Yorker blogger Richard Brody notes some of her underlying prejudices:

"When I read Kael, I felt condescended to, relegated to the children’s table. As I read farther into her work, I came to believe that generational arrogance is just one of the many fixed categories on which her criticism depends; another is the absolute distinction, as suggested in the title of that essay, between “trash” and “art.” Kael, I sensed, wasn’t inviting me to think and discover along with her, but was setting up the terms for membership in her club. Of course, I did come to find much of value in her writing, and ChuckNYC123’s experience is not unique—many young people have been inspired by Kael’s reviews and essays in The New Yorker—but it’s still hard to resist the impulse to break through the glittering surfaces of her prose to get to the core of prejudices that it’s built around, and that it passes along."

Secondly, Jerry Kutner of Bright Lights After Dark has issues with her work:

"It's not difficult to understand Kael's appeal. She was a lively writer, and some of her insights were on the mark. (Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.) In opposition to gender stereotypes, she liked films that were sexual or violent or some combination thereof. She made it OK for New Yorker-reading intellectual wannabes to like `popcorn movies' so long as they didn't take such `trash' seriously."

---I just saw Revolutionary Road and found myself surprised by how much I liked it (especially given my longstanding loathing for Mendes' American Beauty). Landon Palmer of Film School Rejects explores Mendes' major theme: "the changing concept of home." Also, Edward Copeland compares the classic novel by Richard Yates with the movie version.

---Given recent developments in Iran, critics are taking a more measured view of how social networking sites can make a difference. For Dissent, Feisel Mohamed asks "Will the Revolution be Tweeted?"

"The lesson of Foucault’s mistake is to be careful about the narratives by which one describes emerging events. There is a too casual narrative among us on the ability of the Internet to form grassroots movements. It was embraced by Howard Dean and David Plouffe, who of course are not leaders of a movement, but successful canvassers for an established political party. Their use of the term ‘movement’ might make us feel sexier as we part with a few dollars, but that is precisely what good advertising does. One senses that the bold statements now made for the influence in Iran of sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are driven first and foremost by our attitudes toward our media environment, which claims to be more inclusive and democratic than ever before. The advent of the camera phone might assure that we receive more images of the event, and receive them more quickly, but has yet to demonstrate an ability to affect the event’s outcome. The Web might make it easier to organize a demonstration, but Iran proved itself capable of producing demonstrations long ago."

---In the same vein, for NYT, Noam Cohen considers "Six Lessons Learned" about "Twitter on the Barricades." Still, when it comes to Iran, The New York Times, CNN, Time, and so many other major media outlets often play catch-up ball with Andrew Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish.

---Check out Flickhead's 10 day Claude Chabrol blogathon, going on NOW--June 21-30.

---Lastly, have you ever gotten annoyed with the yoyo who can't stop himself from blurting out the spoiler? College Humor has the answer.

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