It’s well and truly winter now. The clocks have turned back, meaning the black of night comes as soon as half past five. And coupled with the kind of gloom that steals what little available sunlight we have, I’ve been in a shitty mood too much of the time. I need one of those SAD lamps or something.
Not every day has been so shitty, mind you. I can see blue through the skylight as I write this. The Mets made it to the World Series (I know!). I watched a half-decent live WWE show (twice!). And I dragged myself out of the house to see the Deathcrusher tour in Dublin on the bank holiday (Voivod? Great, set too short. Napalm Death? Also great, poor sound. Obituary? Tight as fuck but no stage presence. Carcass? Second time round, a bit too slick for me; the light show was like something from Vegas).
"Don’t ask 'is this feminist?' as a means of giving yourself permission to like something. Media is designed to elicit an emotional response. You are not a bad person for having an emotional response to problematic media; you are not being attacked if someone examines the racial politics of your favorite movie. Media criticism is not about you." Lindsay Ellis gets it, of course. #link
But you know what? That's okay. I think people are really looking for too much from this movie, seeing things that aren't really there and feeling let down that it doesn't actually conform to their lofty standards. Anita Sarkeesian, who is someone I don't normally agree with (because she often does that commonly academic thing of cherry-picking her criticisms out of context), makes a lot of agreeable points about it along the same lines -- even if she defaults to academic shibboleths like the idea of violence being inherently 'male', and seems to miss that one can simultaneously hold the notions that action movie violence is awesome and real-life violence is tragic. #link
Is the so-called ‘Divas Revolution’ finally paying dividends? Maybe so, going by the impressive clash between new champ Charlotte and the dethroned Nikki Bella at last weekend’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view (or special event, as they’ve now been branded in the WWE Network era). That came two months after the amazing Sasha Banks and new NXT Women’s Champion Bayley tore down the house in Brooklyn the night before SummerSlam, and again more recently in a superb 30-minute iron man — or rather, iron woman — match in the main event of NXT TakeOver: Respect.
But it also came after a middling few weeks for the Divas division on the main roster — the wrestlers that populate the weekly flagship Raw and the more lowly but still high-profile SmackDown — where the ‘Revolution’ has manifested in an awkward triangle of trios in lieu of any real character development.
It's depressing that this is even a thing. No one thinking about the real consequences of their actions. Also, it's deeply insulting to people who actually have serious allergies or intolerances. [c/o Kottke] #link
The Last Witch Hunter is the kind of film with lots of flaws if you look too close but c’mon, it’s Vin Diesel, chill!
Sure, the story makes up its mythology on the fly and it’s too self-serious for its own good and it’s about 15 minutes too long and Michael Caine is basically Alfred with a dog collar, etc etc – most everything else you’d be right to point out. But you have to realise: this film is literally Vin Diesel LARPing his own Dungeons & Dragons character from his youth.
Director Breck Eisner (son of the Disney guy, and helm of 2010’s decent remake of The Crazies) serves as a competent DM for the world’s least likely mega-nerd to live out his adolescent fantasies, with fellow Hollywood geek Elijah Wood and an uncanny Rose Leslie along for the ride, and the results are fairly entertaining if you’re attuned to its silliness.
I’m not quite sure what Eli Roth was trying to achieve with The Green Inferno. Is it a faithful tribute to the cannibal flicks of the late 1970s, with their colonial-tinged exploitation crossed with the mixed emotions and morality of their protagonists? Or simply a crowdpleaser for gorehounds, with a deliberately hate-able cast for whom we’re just counting down the minutes till they’re slaughtered by the film’s ‘real’ heroes?
Inept sub-student-movie nonsense, with a ridiculous twist and a payoff that hardly makes up for its extremely tasteless misogyny. It’s not transgressive, it’s just fucking awful. What the fuck happened to you, Lucky McKee?
Time to write something about the last fortnight, so. Not much pause for self-reflection: subbing, layouts, writing, wrestling, gardening and housekeeping, in no particular order. I’ve got some things I want to say about recent grappling happenings but those will have to wait till the end of the week, after I finish this album review I’m still working on.
The reason why 'migrant' and not 'refugee' so often is that the latter is usually conflated with UNHCR-identified programme refugees; it's then assumed to be a specific term, and ergo 'migrant' is preferable (coming from a standpoint of acute awareness of media law, at any rate). But of course, 'migrant' implies agency (in most people's ears, what they hear is 'economic migrant') whereas 'refugee' implies no choice but to GTFO. And you don't need to know the specifics to understand that the people fleeing conflict in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere are doing so out of absolute necessity. Refugees they are. #link
I was on one of those trains. Missed an important bus connection because of it. Seriously, fuck that guy. But also, fuck the toothless system that allowed him to basically hijack the whole Maynooth line. Where the hell were the guards? Cabra Garda Station is a five-minute drive from Ashtown, where this prick held up his train; you're telling me they couldn't spare a single car? #link
You know that bit Stewart Lee does about 'political correctness gone mad'? I think even he would turn green in the face of this sheer self-righteous ignorance, this kind of selective outrage that priorities certain people's feelings over others in situations where there is no incitement to hatred and, perhaps worse, equates mild discomfort on the part of otherwise well-meaning people expressing solidarity with (but ultimately condescending to and patronising) vulnerable others with long-lasting psychological or physical injury. So there! On a related note, the same issue of The Atlantic has a piece on how stand-up comics in the US have to censor their humour for college campuses, but weirdly I think the situation provides some pause for self-reflection: American stand-up is mostly unfunny shit, because it takes stereotypes as an end in themselves without unpicking them and playing with them in the same way observational comics do on this side of the pond. (Though even at that, I guarantee that Stewart Lee bit above would be enough to earn him a ban from many 'forward thinking' campuses.) #link
Robert Zemeckis’ cornball cheese-fest mostly makes a mockery of the true-life story that also inspired the superlative 2008 documentary Man On Wire.
In essence, he Forrest Gumps the tale of Philippe Petit’s illegal wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and his godawful ‘wee wee’ French accent) narrating the story as a series of flashbacks (and even flashbacks within flashbacks) laden with oversaturated colours, vaselined lenses and a score so sickly sweet my ears got a toothache.
Some have hailed the climactic wire walk scene as worth the effort, and admittedly it’s the most effective use of 3D in some time (both in that section and throughout). But over-reliance on CGI, much of it poorly done (I’ve seen video games with more convincingly human character models), leaves an indelible trace of artificiality that broke my suspension of disbelief.
Moreover, despite the title, it’s not even a celebration of Petit’s daring stunt as much as it is a florid tribute to the Twin Towers, just shy of flashing ‘9/11’ on the screen every few minutes to make sure you’ve got it. Ripping from a real tragedy to imbue your sentimental schlock with emotional resonance? That’s some cheap huckster bullshit right there.