If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise (2010)

A Monument to American Amnesia

Man, Spike Lee just can’t win.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: he’s a successful, independent filmmaker, three words you don’t see strung together very often. So long as he’s making Serious (Fictional) Drama’s about Serious (Fictional) Black People suffering from Seriously Fictional Problems your average movie critic’s content to churn out a gutless, wishy-washy write-up. “Oh,” they’ll say, “it’s alight, I guess…but its so serious and ambivalent and there’s all these black people in it…I don’t know. The man’s no Oliver Stone.” {More}

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

"Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent 'neith his heel..."World War II films and I have an understanding: I don’t watch them and they can go on propping up whatever brand of historical whitewashing is popular at moment. Rare is the film that consciously sets out to subvert the usual tropes of their perpetually John Wayne genre, or the deification of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest” Generation. Whenever such a film emerges from the vacuous, exploitative, corporatist, Hollywood hive it is duly acknowledged by critics, nodded at by the Academy Awards…and promptly forgotten about. Case in point:

Begun as a companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers, Letters hopes to turn the American War Film upside down by dramatizing the Japanese side of the Battle of Iwo Jima, just in time for its sixty-first anniversary, with all the historical histrionics that entailed (on both sides of the Pacific). Opening sometime in 1945, the film attempts to (and largely succeeds at) do(ing) for the Honorable Imperial Army of Japan what Das Boot did for German submariners: portraying them as actual human beings trapped in a horrific situation. And since I can’t think up a proper joke to end this paragraph, I’ll go for the long hanging fruit and ask how many Bella Swan’s does it take to screw in a lightbulb? {More}

Twilight (2008)

Clark Kent's emo period was thankfully brief and unremembered.What’s that you say? A blatantly-cliched, Designated Romance has achieved undeserved popularity through canny advertising and a near-religious fandom of desperate, everyday Americans who don’t know Romance from their own house cats? And you’re actually surprised by this? Am I the only one who’s wondered how large a structure one could build from all the VHS copies of Titanic everyone bought in 1998, watched once…and never bothered with again? The only one who’s noticed that to read Twilight is to read your girlfriend’s old high school diary with all the proper names replaced by “Edward” and all the sex expunged?

Turgid, repetitive, and ill-paced, the Twilight saga is a series of books designed to be picked up and put down between the soul-deadening chores of “normal” everyday American life…which fits, considering that’s exactly how it was written. (You try crafting a piece of literature with a house full of teenage boys.) Author Stephanie Meyer insists she’d never read a vampire story or seen a horror film before beginning her magnum opus, and you know what? I believe her. Twilight is exactly what someone who’s never allowed themselves to experience a vampire story would dream up, given half a chance and a boring life in the suburbs of Phoenix…surely the most forsaken place on Planet America…outside of Southwest Missouri. {More}

Kick-Ass (2010)

The Real-Life Superhero "Movement" Exposed.Of all the U.K. comic book writers ‘ported over during the 1980s, Mark Millar stands as an all-time champion of sorts, never missing a chance to destroy the goodwill he’s managed to build up with his audience. Kick-Ass, the book, is a perfect example of this, as well as everything wrong with modern comics in general and Millar’s comics in particular. A cynical, revisionist nightmare disguised as a superhero story, starring yet another morosely-unsympathetic protagonist who sublimates his own misanthropy, misogyny, and angst by dressing up in a silly costume and beating others bloody.

The twist? In the case, Our Hero is himself repeatedly beaten bloody, sent through physical, emotional, and psychological tortures most comic book writers reserve for their female supporting characters (before dutifully stuffing them into refrigerators). {More}

Shameless Self-promotion

Have I mentioned I wrote a short story, published in the sixth issue of the online “weird” fiction magazine Arkham Tales which is now available for download from Leucrota Press for less than a cup of coffee?

Well, I wrote a short story, published in the sixth issue of the online “weird” fiction magazine Arkham Tales, now available for download from Leucrota Press for less than a cup of coffee. And while you’re there, you should download the seventh issue as well. Not only will it painlessly whiten your teeth, studies from completely imaginary scientists have indicated it will also make you more attractive to your desired gender and potentially grant you immortal life. So the question becomes, “Who wants to live forever?”

And swing by here tomorrow, when we shall…*ahem*… kick-ass.

Adventures In Spamalot

Stop the spam or we'll shoot this dog.

Spam: it’s an old complaint that comes up now again. And since I don’t trust any of the semi-autonomous programs charged with keeping my stuff up on this castle of sand I’ve taken to perusing the long, long, long list of fake messages I get every day from Akismet. In the course of deleting the damn things, the old riff  bug bit down hard, and since blogging is really little more than one big scramble for that evil, corporate euphemism for writing, “content,” I thought I’d share my favorite fake comments with you, the people. {More}

Heaven’s Gate (1980)

Actual audience reaction to Heaven's Gate...You know what annoys me? Westerns. Because they’re all – in some way, shape, or form – based on The Virginian, an overwrought “novel” about a horrible dick protagonist who drawls and lynches his way across a version of the American West about as historically accurate as Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels. The dragon, in this case, being a white-hatted cowboy who can rope a steer, woo a woman, civilize the wilderness at the point of a gun, and do it all from the back of a horse before breakfast. While drunk.

But I am nothing if not a masochist, so I’m going to admit publicly that my mother recommended Heaven’s Gate to me. Her love of Westerns is equaled only by my contempt, but I trust her judgment in most things. Besides, she uttered those seven magic words: “Everyone hated it when it came out.” {More}