Friday, January 11, 2013

A Belated Movie List

 In the days since I last proclaimed my love of lists, they’ve well and truly metastasized. They have long been a reliable space filler on the internets, but the past few years have seen them adapted into something that feels unseemly. Lists are by their nature, pretty trite, which makes them easy to write, easy to read, the perfect junk food. Quick little chunks, they are far from a weighty critical tool, but lists are increasingly used like they are—“15 Problems with Movie X,” “9 Reasons Film Y Makes No Sense,” these are the new archetype, because unlike the classic New Year’s form, they can be posted year-round. These sorts of lists bug the shit out of me, not just for their laziness, but because their laziness unintentionally or not recasts the alchemy of story as pure, cold mechanics. Someone compiling their 10 Favorite Musical Stings of the Year, that’s fun, but 7 Plot Holes That Ruined Series Z, invoked as valid criticism? That bugs me. Maybe I don’t love lists so much anymore.
            That doesn’t necessarily mean I shouldn’t have Five Resonant Films of 2012, though, right? I didn’t get to see every movie I wanted to this year, not every great movie came through my town this year, and I’m even still waiting for a few to arrive, but of what I saw, these struck nerves.

First Thought: “If there were more movies like this, the world would be a better place.”

A More Thought Out Thought: “Looper is 7 or 8 different types of movies I love, constantly plays with assumptions about all of them, and still manages to tell a thematically resonant story about the cycle of violence and the fates we build for ourselves, that has sadly become more relevant these past few weeks. ‘Guess I put the gun in that kid’s hand’ indeed.”
Possible Future Column: “’Oh Yeah, an Action Sequence Happened’”

Django Unchained
 First thought: “Hey, I don’t remember any big foot scenes.”

A More Thought Out Thought: “While I thought Inglorious Basterds was a more challenging exploration of the theme, Django deals with it in a much more contentious way that has sparked some great discussions, helped in no small part by knowing when and how to be funny, and when and how to be appalling.”

Possible Future Column: “Full-Circle Revisionism”

The Dark Knight Rises
 First thought: “I think I’m done with superheroes now.”

A More Thought Out Thought: “Closing out what is, for me, the ideal take on a much-beloved character, The Dark Knight Rises delighted me by thundering the right ways, providing summer carnage, setting up villains who are about more than their villainy, and being just the right level of grown up for a movie where the Batman punches dudes in the face.”

Possible Future Column: “On What Fun Is”

 First thought: “It’s amazing how much I’d want to explore even an ugly planet.”

A More Thought Out Thought: “Prometheus is the increasingly rare sci-fi film that seeks to engage our sense of wonder and awe (a deeply depressing statement to have to make), which is more than enough to make me find its detractors trite and silly, and attempts to ‘explain’ it misguided. Perfect? Of course not. I loved it anyway.”

Possible Future Column: “One Set of Blueprints”

Raiders of the Lost Ark
 First thought: “Fuck yeah!”

A More Thought Out Thought: “A bit of a cheat, but I did see Raiders during it’s one-week IMAX run, and it held me rapt even after countless viewings, so I’m counting it. Blow me.”

Possible Future Column: “Desert Island Media”

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