Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in Shit: Wrap-Up

Twenty three thousand words over twenty three total posts. Largely unread, but goals were met. Here's the rundown.

Fox Drum Bebop by Gene Oishi
[Fox Drum Bebop] is necessarily a political novel, of course. But there aren't, to my knowledge, many discussions of things like the radicalization of young, interned Japanese Americans.
The Midnight After by Fruit Chan
Fuck this movie.
Boss Fight Books Season One
Baumann's Earthbound was a perfect book; it set my expectations low, and the editors from then on did their best to never jostle them too strongly.
American Hustle
What a bad, bad movie.
Crows : Explode by Toshiyaki Toyoda
The first day is now host to a ritualized "first fight" type thing, a bit of an open call for the student closest to taking over the top to tangle with whoever (although it very much seems like a number one contender sort of deal). As the movie goes on, this is hinted at more broadly; there are official rankings maintained by what must be some sort of third party group, that sort of thing. Basically, in the month since Takiya vacated the throne, a sort of Vegas atmosphere has developed, or a boxing/MMA contendership structure, or something
For No Good Reason
For No Good Reason is a documentary about Ralph Steadman, who you better know as the illustrator affiliated with Hunter S. Thompson, or else this movie doesn't give a shit about you. Which, really, is fine, because it's an awful movie that you shouldn't give a shit about.
Birdman by Alexander González Iñárritu
Reading Birdman as a film that is not just an attempt at a technical feat of filmmaking as such, but one which is meant to evoke the experience of the theater which it portrays, would seem to only underscore its position on the thematic argument. But by embedding that argument in the structure of the film, the question of genre (Hollywood vs Broadway, again, which is a slightly different use of the term than I usually prefer but which I think is nevertheless apt) is less something declaimed upon and more constitutive. And I do like thinking about genre, especially as a constitutive factor.
Joe by David Gordon Green
Cage plays an alcoholic struggling with anger issues who becomes a sort of surrogate dad for Sheridan, whose real father, played (often incredibly) by Gary Poulter, is a drifter and a drunk. There's a scene where Poulter murders another homeless man for a bottle of liquor, but that's one of the only moments where Joe becomes the sort of movie that you might expect it would be.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata
[M]ore than anything else Princess Kaguya had to teach me how to watch it move. ... [I]t does this beautifully, letting the early scenes linger, giving the viewer ample time to learn to see the hinges and then to see past them well enough to forget they are there.
Hercules by Brett Ratner
Also I think The Rock back body dropped a horse? It might've been a belly to belly suplex. Good stuff. The whole movie wasn't The Rock fighting animals though. I promise.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami
(I hate writing about Murakami. Everything I've read about him has been garbage. Everything I write feels the same. I wish I could do some justice to his work. I cannot.)
Short Peace
Drone stuff maybe. I dunno. The whole anthology was kind of a let down.
I, Frankenstein
I feel like there's a genealogy to this movie that exists just outside of my knowledge and taste, and that using it would be the only way I could get a foothold into the movie. I suspect it is something like the Blade films and Blade Runner. Except that I've never seen the former and don't give the remotest shit about the latter. But maybe someone could use that.
Under the Skin
It's a particularly dull kind of criticism that sees its tools translated into its object and uses that translation as a means to valorize that object, though. Which is to say: I don't really care much for movies that do what I like claiming movies do.
Why Don't You Play in Hell? by Sion Sono
I kinda just want people to watch it. So maybe do! I think it's neat.
[T]here's kind of this weird thread of action films in the last few years whose whole premise is that the villains are right wing extremists.
Maleficent's central argument is that everyone in the Disney Animated (Princess) Universe relies on a very rigid set of narrative tropes in order to justify to themselves why they have ended up where they have.
The point is: Godzilla kind of suckered me.
Noah by Darren Aronofsky
I wrote about Noah and authorship and money and pedagogy back in May, and I don't have much of anything to add to that post.
The Babadook
I just like reading a lot I guess. It's neat and I think about it a lot and do it even more and I would like more things to think about it and work on that. Especially things like weird breakout horror films, which is a genre that is basically entirely predicated on cultivating and exploiting intelligent reading practices. It's a good movie though, you'll probably dig it.
Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-Ho
I suppose, had I had a different experience -- like, say, expecting Snowpiercer to be some brilliant Marxist polemic, rather than a film from a director I respected and was excited to see getting to work in a new environment -- I might have also been somewhat disappointed in it.
The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki
I had dreams of writing a big defense of The Wind Rises.