The climax of the Daniel Craig era, playing with expectations, and what could have been.
Let me begin with stating that the new James Bond film, Spectre, is not terrible. It’s a serviceable, fun, damn good-looking Bond film. But it brings with it a pervasive sense of disappointment – and the problem is of their own making. Those responsible for the franchise in the Daniel Craig era have consistently elevated it from its resilient (if archaic) roots, to a series of strong, mature dramas which stand as great films in their own right. Elevating the Bond pantheon, first with the brutal Casino Royale, then with the stunning Quantum of Solace (which I continue to defend as misunderstood), and to the cathartic heights of Skyfall, has raised expectations going into Spectre. Fans and critics alike expect a prestige picture with strong components across the board. Unfortunately, while it can’t live up to the heights of Skyfall, Spectre actually takes a big step backwards in almost every regard.
Continue reading The Spectre of Missed Opportunity.
Who will win, who should, and who weren’t even invited.
With the 2015 Emmy Awards, covering the best of the 2014-2015 television season, airing tomorrow night — I thought I’d to take a look through the categories and weigh in with some subjective, biased, and fanboy thoughts on those who deserve recognition for some of the truly excellent television to which audiences were treated this past year. Back when the nominees were announced earlier this summer, we found ourselves in the same internet-fuelled uproar that arises every single year — in which we absurdly expect the voters to miraculously start getting everything right. As the Academy is comprised of those who actually create television — an incredibly consuming endeavour — and with the proliferation of platforms and all the original content being produced, one can somewhat understand that the voting body as a whole lacks the in-depth knowledge of the entire marketplace that critics enjoy (as reviewing all that content is their primary function) and often defers to more popular, publicized series, regardless of the merits of such shows’ current offerings. And beyond that, the older, more established, and predominantly male demographics which constitute the majority of the voting block are (often like the Oscar voters) somewhat out-of-touch and at odds with what is fresh, original, and perhaps the most deserving. But at the very least, the yearly uproar around the Emmys gives amateur and professional critics alike the opportunity to focus the landscape, provide agreement or dissent, and create a kind of cultural sphere that defines what, by and large, really is considered the best. And it’s perhaps within this wider critical sphere, that the “most deserving” shows, writers, and performers should find the most valuable recognition. Adding to the endless articles with the same premise popping up this past week, you’ll find my thoughts on the major categories after the jump. I’ve picked my projected winners, my personal favourites, and what I consider to be the biggest omissions from the dance.
Continue reading The Emmys.
“Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”
— The Dark Knight.
Yesterday, the Make-A-Wish Foundation enlisted the help of San Francisco, its Police and Fire Departments, as well as thousands of its inspired citizens to make 5-year-old Miles Scott’s dream come true. For one day, the entire town worked together to turn itself into Gotham so that the young leukaemia patient could become Batman.
Continue reading Not Beyond Saving.
Post-9/11 Reactionism and the effect of comics going mainstream.
The trailers released yesterday for the next two major superhero films, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past, both strike a very similar tone — one that has been increasingly prevalent in comic book blockbusters and one that filmmakers apparently hope will encourage cultural reflection and meaningful social discourse.
Continue reading Superheroes v. the State.
American Horror Story, empowered feminism, and the sins of the South.
The latest iteration of Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk’s shocking, disturbing, yet wildly entertaining American Horror Story has arrived. The third self-contained season, premiering the other week with the subtitle Coven, focuses on a sisterhood of persecuted witches, their bloody feud with a Voodoo priestess, and the long-buried sins of New Orleans, Louisiana — a sweaty melting pot of racism, debauchery, and despair. What’s immediately striking about this installment is its clear focus on feminine identity, power, and agency.
Continue reading American History XX.
Jon Stewart, The Newsroom, and the failure of the Fourth Estate.
The well-documented descent of modern journalism into sound-bite driven, cable news sensationalism has finally demonstrated its very real, very scary impact on society with its integral role in the current shutdown of the U.S. government. The absurdity of the news has been slowly but surely infecting the functional systems of governance over the past decade, but with the Tea Party caucus forcing a government shutdown, the extent of its damage has become clear.
Continue reading Estate of Disrepair.
Damon Lindelof, Twitter Hate Culture, and the legacy of The Island.
Screenwriter Damon Lindelof wrote an op-ed in the Hollywood Reporter this week which set out to comment on the Breaking Bad finale. However, what ended up getting published was a much more personal piece focusing on how deeply affected he’s been by the public backlash to the finale of Lost and how it has all but consumed his self-image in the years since it aired.
Continue reading Live Together, Die Alone.