Half bracingly ugly Ballardian opera of metal objects** psychosexually crashing into each other at high velocity, half understated indie about trust, nakama, and The Meaning Of Life (ultimately rather feelgood). Main plot twist massively improbable as it seems to rely on Washington DC types being able to coordinate a secret plan worth a damn, not to mention the completely!trustworthy!! Big Data algorithm and the hole under the Potomac; character moments consistently excellent. As VA PTSD counselor, Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson is probably the most employable person in the Marvel Movieverse.
Went twice with different friends: Friday audience toted plushies and got exactly what they expected out of the experience, Sunday audience proved that you can put a spoiler in multiple trailers let alone the title of the film and still catch folks off guard. Both crowds had hysterics at George St. Pierre, the most Quebecois of purportedly Algerian mercenaries.
** Captain America and the Winter Soldier belong to this category in a behavioural sense. Henry “dubstep Magneto” Jackman saw his chance and went full-on Richard D. James, like “Come to Daddy” level not the tinkly Satie stuff.
Tail end of rogue cop movie week (which was like two weeks ago?). I didn’t think it was at all believable, but it was funny in context, since the director clearly had “make a Michael Mann movie” on his bucket list. The entire thing was shot in blue filter.
Myths, misfits, and masks: Sana Amanat at TEDxTeen 2014
It’s good to finally put a face to a name from the letter pages. <3
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are probably the most famous Soviet-era science-fiction writers, but only recently have any of their numerous books come back into print in the US: Chicago Review Press published a new translation of Roadside Picnic (the basis for Tarkovsky’s Stalker) in 2012 and Melville House just published Definitely Maybe (translated by Antonina Bouis). CRP will also publish Hard to Be a God in June.
These scans come from the 50 Watts hoard except for the top 1979 Penguin (art by Adrian Chesterman) courtesy of David/qualityapeman. Richard M. Powers illustrated the bottom Roadside Picnic and the four other covers in that style.
i’ve read enough of them (exploiting the used-bookstore market to satisfy my insatiable curiosity) to know they’re way more influential (especially on the science fictional approaches that developed outside the united states’ mainstream) than their current obscurity would allow most casual observers - and many who wouldn’t think of themselves as “casual” at all - to ever recognize.
i really support the effort of everyone working to get them back in print. it’s a funny thing how you don’t realize how much of a gaping hole in your heart/head a lack of history can create until, suddenly, what ought to have been there all along gets handed back to you.
bolding mine; I’ve never seen this put so succinctly.
Wow, Theodore Sturgeon was on a one-man mission, there.
I find nothing ominous in the decency of particular storytelling approaches now being on the table. For decades, it has been almost impossible to bring up a movie’s morality without it serving as a preemptive announcement that you’re probably on the wrong side of history. The track record of moralists as cultural critics is abysmal. Lack of morality in art has historically been what prigs, bluenoses, and simpletons use to bash Hollywood and dismiss the value of challenging creative work by demanding that popular entertainment reward the virtuous, punish the guilty, and reinforce the certainties of a complacent audience rather than inspire them to reexamine their precepts from fresh vantage points. That is still the caricature to which the anti-moralists want to reduce their opposition: The counteroffensive they mount is that if you find The Wolf of Wall Street objectionable, you must be either incapable of discerning its implicit condemnation of greed or uncomfortable with any movie that doesn’t spell out its lessons. But the old stereotypes — conservatives object to sex, liberals object to violence, and indignation about immorality comes from people who are already primarily disposed to hate pop culture — no longer apply. And, as last year’s warm-up brawls over Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty suggested, it’s often coupled with a heightened and progressive political consciousness. (For instance, the people who complain that Dallas Buyers Club elides gay history or that Captain Phillips celebrates American military triumphalism and ignores its culpability in worldwide economic inequity are generally coming from a pretty hard-left perspective.)
The old battle lines were easier to identify: artistic freedom versus “decency,” conservative versus liberal, young versus old, open-minded versus prudish. But the fights over the current crop of awards movies suggest a blurrier and more fungible divide: In some ways, it’s a split between advocates of directors and advocates of writers. If you come out of the high-auteurist tradition of the early 1960s, you are more likely to be interested in what the director chooses to include, how he decides to tell a story, and how his latest film is in dialogue with his previous work. If, on the other hand, your understanding of how movies are made is less overdetermined and more freewheeling, you may get heated up about issues of content and cultural context that auteurists tend to dismiss or ignore.
Personally, I find the new wave of insistence that a movie’s morality and worldview should count at least partially toward its final grade to be heartening, and I’m not willing to dismiss this way of looking at a movie just because it can be dangerous when misapplied. Yes, the new moralists can become humorless scolds about accusing movies of “trivializing” issues they care about. They can be tone-deaf to nuance and ambiguity, and tediously prosecutorial about ideology. But to oppose them by insisting on a purely aestheticized or sensation-driven take on movies — one that artificially walls off political, cultural, and moral perspective — is to use the all-purpose shield of artistic freedom to defend a dully limited view of movies and of the world. “What do you want, censorship?” is no longer a legitimate parry. We’re all good with artistic freedom. Artistic responsibility makes for a much more interesting conversation."
Mark Harris, “Oscar Season Turns Ugly" (Grantland)
THIS BETTER GET REBLOGGED THE FUCK UP BECAUSE IT APPLIES TO DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.
Definitely cosigning “Personally, I find the new wave of insistence that [art’s] morality and worldview should count at least partially toward its final grade to be heartening, and I’m not willing to dismiss this way of looking at [art] just because it can be dangerous when misapplied.”
Truth is sought for its own sake … Finding the truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough. For the truths are plunged in obscurity … God, however, has not preserved the scientist from error and has not safeguarded science from shortcomings and faults. If this had been the case, scientists would not have disagreed upon any point of science…
Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency.
Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency."
Ibn al-Haytham, Father of the Scientific Method - 'Doubts on Ptolemy'
Ibn al-Haytham was a devout Muslim, and his theology influenced his outlook on science. He believed that God made the world difficult to understand and that skepticism and critical analysis were the only way to illuminate God’s creation. He is thus an excellent counterexample to the idea that religious belief necessarily stifles scientific thought.
How I Would Paint Happiness
Something sudden, a windfall,
a meteor shower. No—
a flowering tree releasing
all its blossoms at once,
and the one standing beneath it
unexpectedly robed in bloom,
transformed into a stranger
too beautiful to touch.