New this week on Popshifter: I provide a Krampus primer and talk about what works and what doesn’t in V/H/S; Paul puts together a playlist for “Music To Make You Human”; Chelsea recommends the reissued A Charlie Brown Christmas for listening and gift-giving; Danny is stoked for Dave Grohl’s upcoming documentary Sound City; and Lisa recommends 666 Park Avenue if you’re not already watching it.
Popshifter writer Paul Casey has penned a righteous article for the New Statesman‘s Voices column about beleaguered gaming filmmaker Anita Sarkeesian. He’s titled the piece with a question posed to those who’ve tried to shut her down with mockery, hateful invective, and threats: Why should Anita Sarkeesian have to work for free in return for misogynistic abuse? If you’ve been following this story over the last few months, this is a must read. If you haven’t, you can catch up here.
One thing Paul mentions in his article is worth exploring further in relation to something else I read this week, courtesy of a link from Flick Filosopher. Paul mentions the idea of paid work and hobby activities and how the latter relates to (although he doesn’t specifically use this term) leisure time:
Historically it has rarely been the case that a hobbyist—even a talented one—is able to produce the same quality of work as a professional. Relieving a person of the pressures of an unrelated job (or two), and freeing up time to focus solely on creation unsurprisingly results in better work.
Blogger Karen Coyle examines a recent publication on leisure time and how it shockingly eliminates gender differences in its analysis. Of Clay Shirky’s 2010 Cognitive Surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age, she asks:
[H]ow could a smart, well-read professor write an entire book about what people do with their leisure time and not address the well-known and well-documented gender inequality in time available?
It’s an excellent question, and one Coyle notes The Economist has addressed bluntly in its article “It’s a man’s world: Where men have more leisure time than women,” which covers the results of a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. As Coyle ponders, “What does this tell us about the nature of the things being created with this cognitive surplus?” In light of Anita Sarkeesian, this speaks to the idea that not only was her Kickstarter project necessary due to the quantifiable dearth of leisure time among women but also that the negative response is a result of the male privilege inherent in the very concept of leisure time itself.
Now for some science fiction. There is a new trailer for Joseph Kosinki’s (Tron: Legacy) upcoming Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. I’ll be honest: for the last few years Cruise’s couch-jumping and railing against psychiatry had turned me off from him completely. I’d begun to feel like paying to see his films was, in essence, giving money to Scientology. However, he was genuinely great in both Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol and Tropic Thunder, so I’m more likely to watch Oblivion at some point. (H/T to /Film.)
Not to get too precious about trailers, which has been a sore spot among more than one film critic on Twitter this past week, but I like it. It does look like it’s more action movie than what Paul Casey might call “pure science fiction,” but I’ll take it anyway.
Speaking of Kosinski and Tron: Legacy, the writer for the much-discussed sequel to that film has been announced. (His name is Jesse Wigutow, by the way.) The Mary Sue notes that even though the film only made $2 million in the US, it grossed $400 million worldwide. There’s a lot of unnecessary nastiness in the comments section along with some insightful wishful thinking, but the first comment from Jessica Dwyer sums up almost everything I feel about this sequel:
I would love for Tron 3 to actually deal with Tron for a change. Also the fact that Cillian Murphy told me he did Tron2 uncredited because he’s a massive Tron geek and loves it and that he’d be happy to come back as the bad guy makes this something that needs to happen. Cillian Murphy as the son of the MCP in black leather and glowing red is enough reason to make this movie.
I’ll add that I actually enjoyed Tron: Legacy, even though the 3D was not nearly as breathtaking as that of Prometheus and the plot didn’t blow me away. The soundtrack and acting helped pushed things over into “better than average” for me.
You’ve possibly already seen the trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s long-awaited Pacific Rim, but if not, here it is.
Like Oblivion, this looks heavy on action and light on hard sci fi, but it definitely looks exciting. Plus it has Idris Elba in it.
As for the more esoteric side of science fiction, there’s a trailer for Upstream Color, the new film from Shane Carruth, who directed Primer. I will fully admit to not having seen Primer because I’d only heard about it until recently. This trailer looks incredible, though. It is fairly obtuse and mildly creepy, both of which make me anticipate Upstream Color quite a bit. (H/T to /Film.)
There are two more films I’d like to discuss, neither of which are science fiction, but both of which deal with issues of extreme masculinity. The first is Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, with The Rock and Mark Wahlberg. I can scarcely believe I’m talking about a Michael Bay movie, but the plot—”based on the true story of Miami bodybuilders who kidnapped a guy in order to make some easy money, and ended up enmeshed in a cycle of torture and murder,” according to /Film—is so bizarre that I can’t help but be the slightest bit intrigued.
On the other end of the spectrum is James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar, which I first talked about in August. It’s his attempt, along with co-director Travis Matthews, to recreate the “lost” 40 minutes of Al Pacino’s Cruising. These stills, provided by Twitch, are pretty enticing.
Finally, Daniel Walber from Film School Rejects voices what we’ve all been thinking: It’s awards season, but can we please stop saying the word “snub’? As an example, the recent Hollywood Reporter article on SAG award nominations and how they relate to Oscar contenders used the word “snub” in the title, six times in the article itself (including the laughable phrase, “overcame SAG snubs”), and the word “shut out” (which means basically the same thing). I seriously considered going through all THR’s recent articles on awards season and tallying up the number of times “snub” appeared, but the idea made me exhausted.
—Less Lee Moore, Managing Editor