Assemblog: November 23, 2012

Published on November 23rd, 2012 in: Assemblog, Canadian Content, Critics/Criticism, Feminism, Film Festivals, Horror, Movies, Streaming, Trailers, TV |

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Broken, image from The CillianSite

New this week on Popshifter: I take a look at the excellent Jay Reatard documentary Better Than Something and the upcoming What The Brothers Sang album by Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie “Prince” Billy; Cait provides a beautiful review of Bert Jansch’s recently reissued Heartbreak and encourages music lovers to check out the latest single from the Explorers Club, “No Good To Cry.”

Last week, I talked about Cinemark theaters’ CineMode app, which aims to put the kibosh on cell phone use in theaters with positive reinforcement. The Mary Sue discussed the app this week and shares my viewpoint that this is a good thing. Someone in the comments reports that they used the app and got a free soda. I hope that more theater chains start doing this. If you have an experience using CineMode, let me know!

I haven’t talked about Community in a while, mostly because there’s not a whole lot to say. This, the show’s last season, was shortened to 13 episodes, pushed back to October, and then further delayed to February 7 (wonder how that Halloween episode going to play out, ratings-wise). Now there is something to report: Chevy Chase has left the show. Are we surprised? Are we sad? Almost all of the episodes for this paltry season have been shot already so his departure only means that he’ll be missing for the last two.

For everyone who loved last year’s Insidious (including me), the news of its (inevitable?) sequel might seem like a good thing.
Let me state for the record that I will go see this. The original cast of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Ty Simpkins are returning and reprising their roles, as are director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell. But Nathan Adams at Film School Rejects brings up a good point: “Can we take the returns [sic] of the original cast as an indication that any concerns over story were just empty words and this sequel will be a cash grab as cynical as any other?” Like I said, this may be true, but I’m still going to see it. It hits theaters on August 30, 2013.

I’ve been hearing about Cillian Murphy’s film Broken for a long time, but now I’ve finally seen a trailer (H/T to First Showing). If you haven’t yet heard about Broken, it was written by Mark O’Rowe, who penned both Intermission and Perrier’s Bounty (both great), and co-stars Tim Roth. It screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and later played in France. I like this trailer and I’m definitely looking forward to one day seeing this movie, hopefully on the big screen if it gets some decent North American distribution. So far, it’s only being released in the UK next spring.

Another film that was screened on the recent festival circuit was the Canadian documentary The Secret Disco Revolution, which played at this year’s TIFF. It’s about the disco era, but told from the point of view that disco, in fact, did not suck, but “helped liberate women, African-Americans and gay men.” I have never been shy about my love of disco music so I’m interested seeing this documentary. The US theatrical rights were picked up by Screen Media Films, which will screen the film in US theaters in June 2013. No Canadian schedule for screenings means I’ll likely have to wait to see this when it’s released on home video.

Flick Filosopher posed an excellent Question Of The Day: Is the *idea* of movies now more important than the movies themselves in entertainment media? Without even reading the article or the comments, my answer is YES. Commenter David N-T says something that I’d like to examine further:

. . . the way David Cronenberg was vilified by some people after his comments regarding Batman’s popularity is the work of a vociferous minority who somehow believe that they speak for everyone because they have this whole echo chamber / circle jerk dynamic going where they reinforce each other and a consensus comes out that must be defended, like a cult defends itself when its beliefs come under attack.

While I think this is definitely true, I would like to expand upon this argument and say that this is true of film critics in general. A lot of film criticism, including so-called-mainstream press and bloggers, is full of this self-congratulatory wanking. If you’ve ever gone to a press screening or stood in line at a festival, you’ve heard the film “critics” trying to impress each other and everyone within earshot through their “industry knowledge” and “insight” into the artistic and/or commercial merit of movies through name-dropping and attempts to out-film-geek everyone else. It’s completely nauseating.

This behavior definitely infects the quality of the criticism on many websites because it becomes a contest of who can be more nasty, snarky, snotty, or judgmental because the blogger is a FILM INDUSTRY INSIDER, DONTCHA KNOW, and the rest of us are just idiots. At this point, the cachet of blogging about movies seems to be the end game in as much as it’s used to prove that film bloggers are superior. The movies themselves become just the means to an end.

The Hollywood Reporter has posted an excellent article on the Hollywood Blacklist, specifically addressing THR founder Billy Wilkerson’s role in what is considered to be a particularly ugly chapter in American history (though you wouldn’t know it from the horrible, trolling comments on the piece). It’s definitely worth your time to read it, especially in light of the modern political climate when just being accused of something by a pundit is tantamount to a guilty verdict in the eyes of the American people.

Journalist Mary Pols has written a brief, but invigorating article for Women and Hollywood called “What Is Feminism?” The opening paragraph speaks volumes:

Women are not yet on equal footing with men politically, financially, or culturally. If you have a pulse and a sense of right and wrong, there is a moral imperative to do something about this, particularly if you actually have a vagina. I identify that imperative as feminism.

It’s as simple as that, though I think it should be amended to include transwomen, too. No need to align or distance yourself from any particular waves, although keeping the historic, problematic lack of intersectionality between feminism and racism in mind is an imperative. If you agree with her statements, congratulations! You’re a feminist.

Pols also makes a number of valid points that I think speak to my previous comments about the insularity of the film blogosphere:

Notwithstanding the late Pauline Kael and today’s exciting and inspiring female staff critics at EW (Lisa Schwarzbaum), The New York Times (Manohla Dargis), and Slate (Dana Stevens), film criticism is still a male-dominated profession. Within my decade-plus on the job, I’ve encountered sexism on every level, institutional and external. There are knee-jerk responses on all fronts as to what one’s interests are and what one’s capacity to relate to a film may be. There’s also the reality of the lesser role women play in Hollywood; fewer movies are made with women in mind, drastically fewer movies are made by women, and getting on screen still often means playing the girlfriend.

Until this changes, there is still work to be done.

Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor

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