Recently discovered The Dissolve, which has a lot of good writing on film, as well as links to interesting stuff. Some of the links will be from there.
I really like their movie of the week series, which recently resulted in a lot of interesting commentary about Brazil.
They Live By Night talks about one of my favorite movies: The Empire Strikes Back.
It’s one of the few action movies where the bad guys basically win, and we should never discount the way that our standard hero narratives have primed us for the release, the satisfaction, of seeing the good guys vindicated, avenged, saved, ennobled at the end of these stories. Obviously the popularity of Empire has since led to other filmmakers indulging in this sort of rug-pulling, but it’s hard to overstate the extent to which this film’s almost nihilistic finale feels at times like a rip in the space-time continuum of the hero narrative.
Secondly, with his initial emotional and professional investment in the first film richly rewarded, creator George Lucas was able to let his imagination truly run wild this time around. (Later on, he’d simply try to one-up himself, which often resulted in a lot of cool creatures and ships but fewer “wow” moments.) So, Empire is a film that has the speed, invention, and scale of Star Wars, but the richer inner life of a real movie — and it ends on one of the great cliffhangers of all time. Remember, this was before the notion of a sequel became synonymous with a mere regurgitating of the original narrative. Back then, sequels – unless they featured James Bond, or Jason Voorhees – were new stories, not copies of the old stories. The idea of the franchise template hadn’t quite taken hold yet. To put it another way: Empire was made back when you could imagine someone saying the words, “Let’s not do that again. We already did that in the first movie.” Nowadays, you’re more likely to hear, “Let’s do that again. Because it worked so well in the first movie.”
Please don’t use your cellphones in movie theaters. That’s all. Because one activity is passive and unobtrusive — sitting quietly and watching what everyone’s there to watch — and the other is active, aggressive even. Dash wants us to feel ashamed for demanding that everyone behave exactly like us, when the real crux of the matter is that everyone mutually agreeing to do nothing but watch the movie is a more reasonable request, in a logical and even factual way, than expecting everyone to just put up with whatever the person next to them wants to do. Dash says the shushers are trying to block out the world, when I think it’s the opposite. Being considerate of those around you — recognizing that they might want to watch a movie in the quiet dark — is an act of communion. Whereas the alternative is basking obliviously in the self-important glow of your telephone.