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June 25, 2012

Joss Whedon's Dollhouse and writing to your weaknesses

A very nice write-up from Sean Witzke. Mutilation Fantasies for Fun & Profit | supervillain.
What I like about Dollhouse, at least until the last episode where all the bleak, James Cameron/JG Ballard/Masamune Shirow influenced tone of inevitability of death and dissolution that the show had built up over the course of the series gets upended so they could have a heroic payoff for these characters. The intractable downer tone of the thing gives way to an unsatisfying semi-happy ending, where the Dollhouse cast redeems itself and saves humanity. But until that point, it had won me over something serious. What I really loved about the show beyond it playing to what I love (the evil corporation is named after the play that invented the word “robot”), and the tone it set of no matter what these characters did, there was an axe hanging over their head that the technologies they are messing with will almost certainly destroy humanity in their lifetime, and their souls are damned the second they use it on an individual who signs up for it, let alone the masses. Beyond that – it seemed like a writer/showrunner who was very actively exploring what his crutches were, what his weirdness as a writer is. So the heavily referential fast-talking nerd is shown to be impossibly damaged, the hero who wants to save the damsel in distress is shown to be a guy who’d rather play hero than actually help her when he gets the chance. The “strong female characters” are generally just as fucked-up and compromised as the weak-ass male characters. Alan Tudyk and Amy Acker do some of their best work on the show, playing against the types they got saddled with by being on earlier Whedon shows. There’s a lot of turning into the skid, which is always admirable coming from someone successful. You wish that more people in Whedon’s position had any sort of self-awareness to do something like that while on top. And then there’s how the show deals with how Whedon has portrayed women in his writing.

Community--The Smooth Sounds of Daybreak

June 22, 2012

Trailer: Judge Dredd 2012

Karl Urban is doing a pretty great Clint Eastwood here, and seriously, how underappreciated is this guy? He was fantastic in Star Trek and charismatic as hell in the Lord of the Rings films. Why is he not a huge deal? 'Dredd's Tough Cops and Lena Heady's Slum Queen | ThinkProgress

June 21, 2012

John Carter of Mars is Civil War revisionism at its worst

John Carter gets the Overthinking It treatment, to great effect. Sic Semper Zodanga: John Carter and the War of Martian Aggression | Overthinking It
John Carter is from Virginia. He fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. It was Union soldiers that slaughtered his family; Union soldiers are presented as the first villains in the narrative as they try to force Carter to join them in some old-fashioned, Yankee-style Indian killing. The real story of John Carter is an alternate history of the Civil War from the Confederate point of view. John Carter is transported into the midst of another conflict between cultures. Defeat means forced union, a loss of tradition, the eventual death of civilization. But this time, with John Carter’s help, the ‘South’ wins. . . . The Civil War allegory on Mars is fairly straightforward. Helium represents the Confederacy and Zodanga the Union. This is evident before we even get to the plot, just through what we learn about their cultures. Helium is a shining city on a hill (on a pillar over the edge of a cliff, to be exact), led by an aristocracy of honourable, gods-fearing warrior-poets who live, literally, in an ivory tower. Even the name of the city evokes a light-hearted buoyancy, an ability to rise above everyday troubles. Appropriately, we never see the common people of Helium, the ones that toil in the red Martian dirt to feed, clothe, and arm the Helium elite. Zodanga, by contrast, is a gritty, crowded, industrialized place. It is literally impossible for anyone in Zodanga to ever put down roots, as the city is always on the move, creeping across the land. Helium is firmly bound to the land yet rises above it; Zodanga has no land but what it destroys in passing, yet can’t escape wallowing in the dust. This reflects how the Confederate plantation owners and other aristocracy viewed themselves and their urbanized Northern opponents in the run-up to the war. . . .

Trailer: Keira Knightley is Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is a beautifully written book that is still essentially "slut shaming, the novel" mixed with a healthy dose of idealizing the backbreaking labor of serfs from a wealthy distance.

Cronenberg and Tim ROth teaming up for TV show about grave-robbing for science

Sounds fun. Tim Roth Cast in David Cronenberg’s TV Show -- Vulture
David Cronenberg has found his Knifeman: Tim Roth has been cast as the old-timey surgeon who turns to grave-robbing to expand the bounds of his profession, Deadline reports. The straight-to-series show doesn't have a home just yet, but surely someone will be into historical body horror from the weird mind of David Cronenberg.