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    media commentary round-up

    Those of you interested in more critique of Knocked Up might do well to check out this post, from the Reverse Shot blog, which argues the trenchant point that "Knocked Up is a fairy tale for the benefit of lovable geeks in need of a little maturation ... the film proves that there's truly no limit, no reality unbendable, no prostration not taken for the filmic sake of a boy's redemption." My own read (below) is a little different, but that's still nicely put...

    Second bit for today is Chris "Exploding Kinetoscope" Stangl's long rant on Spider-Man III, also very nicely written, even (especially?) when saying things that I disagree with almost completely. For instance, when he writes that "Ghost Rider is the best Marvel Comics movie":

    "It's the only recent comics movie that embraced its premise, accepted that it is a movie about a flaming skull-head motorcyclist with supernatural powers ... Every other attempt has been self-important, confused by the reputation that these stories are 'classic', or that superheroes are a modern mythology. The perceived naiveté that studios and filmmakers attempt to filter out is the greatest asset of superhero books, birth to Bronze, and it doesn't do to replace it with a gimpy pseudo-sophistication. Steve Ditko drew like a drunk person. His preposterous anatomy and woozy, teetering bad perspective is more key to Spider-Man than making sure than making sure light reflects photorealistically off of costume fabric."

    From the same piece:

    "[Comics'] breezy craziness, real-life problems filtered through the wildest spur-of-the-moment giganticized fantasias, they don't lend themselves to streamlining and encapsulation for movies. These worlds don't adhere to the strictures of any other fantasy storytelling logic; they are overfilled with illogic, incompatible rules, the sense that anything goes because only the target audience is reading. The time may have come to accept that the fancy of 12-cent smilin', jolly adventure is necessarily crushed under the pressure of hundreds of millions of dollars."

    Hmm. And while we're on the topic of "the business," another review I read lately is this one in Variety, reviewing the new Hostel sequel. Not too interesting a review, in and of itself, but it includes this very interesting tidbit: "[I]t's the ladies who drive horror-movie ticket sales, dragging their male dates along, not the other way around."

    Double hmm. No citation, which leads me to want to pull the old Wikipedian protestor on this one. Can it possibly be true? Other critics, say, this one, in the process of panning Hostel Part II, seem quite content to refer to the audience as "straight males" getting off on "the visual correlation between torture and sex," which seems more likely to me (and more likely twice-over than Roth's own claim that Hostel Part II is "more of a feminist film than anything," which pushes my Dubious-Meter way into the red). But if anyone knows about box-office numbers, it should be Variety, and when I look at my circle of friends, the only people I know who are really into horror are women.


    OK, one woman (hi, Lindsay), thus making this like the most unscientific approach to the question imaginable. But there's been a lot of ink spilled over this whole "torture porn" thing, and only one other piece of writing I've seen that remarks on the genre's appeal to women: specifically this piece, in which the author (Chris Stangl again) follows up the observation with the words "I do not know or particularly care what that means, one way or the other." (Interestingly, he also rejects "torture porn" as a label for these types of films entirely, pointing out that "pornography" has traditionally been the designator for "the spectacle of real bodies in unsimulated physical acts.")

    And finally, there's this piece by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, taking the stance that these films are an extension of the more global view that women are weak, "morally unfinished," and "expendable." Whedon sums up his bafflement memorably:

    "All my life I've looked at this faulty equation, trying to understand, and I've shorted out ... I just think there is the staggering imbalance in the world that we all just take for granted. If we were all told the sky was evil, or at best a little embarrassing, and we ought not look at it, wouldn't that tradition eventually fall apart?"

    OK, that's enough round-up for one day...

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    Thursday, July 12, 2007
    9:29 AM


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