by Margaret Killjoy
Disclaimer: Margaret Killjoy is a dear friend of mine, and someone I care about very much. This may bias me in favor of her absolutely great fiction. She is also the founder of the AGR, the website that is hosting this review. She did not, however, write any part of this review, ask me to write any part of this review, or otherwise influence it in any way, besides having written a fucking great book that got me excited enough to write this.
Margaret Killjoy is an astounding writer, and her latest, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, is an astounding book. Her work is intriguing, thought provoking, and enjoyable as hell to read. Killjoy is absolutely amazing in her ability to combine realism, imagination, idealism, and storytelling. In that way, her stories are perfectly anarchist. She seamlessly combines an understanding of, frustration with, and love of the forms of anarchism expressed by academic theory essays, crust punks, black blocs, punk shows, endless meetings, and squatted homes to show a thoroughly realistic, thoroughly idealistic enactment of her politics, perfect primarily in that she refuses to portray perfection. What makes her stories work so well, narratively and politically, is that her anarchist societies are messy, and the people are fully human. This forms the basis for some beautifully creative, dark, and ultimately hopeful speculative fiction.
Continue reading The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion
Publisher: Infinite Fall
Writers: Bethany Hockenberry, Scott Benson
Review of Night in the Woods by Io
Capitalism: just one more greasy tendril of the eldritch horror at the center of reality
“It’s the most peaceful societies which are also the most haunted, in their imaginative constructions of the cosmos, by the constant specters of perennial war.” – David Graeber
I kept an eye on Night in the Woods over the last 3 years because I liked the artists involved and it was sold to me as a platformer where a cat parkours around a haunted town and sometimes says ACAB, which sounded pretty fresh. And once I got it I became a bottomless well of feelings. I’m what professionals call a “casual” or “fake gamer girl”. I don’t often get to play video games. The ones in my house’s living room are all simple power fantasy simulators, overthrowing this or that authority, going on crime sprees, crashing helicopters into the racist players on the online chat. Not often does a game speak to my reality as a neurodivergent, lower-class radical who despite occasional delusions of grandeur does little more than take petty pot shots at the causes of my misery. Night in the Woods, though populated by anthropomorphic animals, puts you in a somewhat familiar world defined mainly by the crisis that propels it. It does a remarkably good job of gamifying an eerie atmosphere of dissatisfaction that should not be totally unrecognizable to anyone living in poverty, dealing with depression or who sometimes feels as if life’s only moments of rapturous joy in the face of this cartoonish amount of alienation come in the form of breaking things for no reason with your friends. You may think this sounds like a bummer of a game, and I wouldn’t argue against that, but I cannot recommend it enough. Night in the Woods is so fun, funny, immersive, and accessible. I have talked it up to so many of my friends who don’t play video games but who love comic books and good fiction because it plays like an interactive novel with absolutely gorgeous art & sound direction, and you don’t need a very fancy laptop to run it. It just makes it rain emotional investments and it is hypnotically cool to run around jumping up/on/off buildings/telephone wires/cars in this deeply fleshed out world of a formally prosperous mining town in Pennsylvania named Possum Springs.
Continue reading Night In the Woods
Writer and Director: James Merendino
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “wait, they made a sequel to SLC Punk? Why would you watch that?” and believe me, that’s an understandable sentiment. I don’t entirely know how I stumbled upon the sequel, to be honest. But stumble upon it I did, and I even watched it, and more surprising of all: I even liked it.
Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2 not a better movie than SLC Punk. By most criteria, it’s objectively worse. It’s not as funny, it’s not as engaging. The plot is dangerously linear and the intentional stereotyping of the characters is more awkward (to put it lightly). The emotions are more subdued and some of the acting is worse. The copy I illegally downloaded had weird file errors that made it skip a couple seconds here and there and clearly that’s something I can blame the filmmakers for. But we all know “more punk” does not directly translate to “better.” So somehow, even though the main character isn’t a punk, the movie itself is leaps and bounds more punk.
Continue reading SLC Punk 2 is more punk than SLC Punk 1
The Anarchist Cookbook
Directed and written by: Jordan Susman
Recommended? hahaha no
It’s a good thing most of the movies about us are absolute crap and no one watches them.
What if someone took everything awful about Fight Club (the machismo and misogyny, the too-easy political nihilism, the cliche masochistic bromance) and mixed it with everything awful about SLC Punk (the oversimplification of anarchism, the obvious fact that youth doesn’t last, the yay-for-selling-out ending), amplified it, and turned it into a movie?
You’d have The Anarchist Cookbook.
The Anarchist Cookbook is the worst movie about anarchists that has ever been made. Some movies misunderstand us (SLC Punk). Some movies vilify us (El Bosc). Some movies condescend to us (The East, No God, No Master). This movie intentionally warps our words and practices, alternately mocking us and reviling us.
Continue reading The Anarchist Cookbook (2002)
Directed and written by: Richard Linklater
Kevin Smith says that Slacker was the inspiration for his film Clerks. It shows. And more than that, it shows what happens time and time again in art and media: first, political radicals and engaged philosophers create new styles and genres; then, derivative work picks up the aesthetics and surface-level ephemera and leaves the core behind.
Continue reading Slacker (1991)
The Anarchist’s Wife
Directed by: Peter Sehr, Marie Noëlle
Screenplay by: Marie Noëlle, Ray Loriga
Spanish title: La mujer del anarquista
“Sing softly for love, sing loudly for freedom.”
Some of the best films use war and politics as backdrop to tell a story that isn’t about war. The Anarchist’s Wife is one such film.
I heard about this movie when it came out, but with a title like The Anarchist’s Wife, I wasn’t hopping up and down to go see it. Why is the film about the wife but she’s only known in relation to her husband? Why is he the anarchist and her just a wife?
Continue reading The Anarchist’s Wife (2008)
by Stacy Wakefield
2014, Akashic Books
In The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, author Stacy Wakefield sets out to capture the spirit and energy of the squatters community in New York City in the mid-1990s by way of a novel. Over the course of the novel, readers get a good snapshot of what squatting was like, with tales of punk shows, squats, battles with the cops, evictions, and the joy of living rent free. It does an excellent job of portraying the experience of squatting and the surrounding scene.
Continue reading The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Writers: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij
Among anarchists, my informal poll shows three responses to The East. Most people hate it. They feel it grossly, and perhaps dangerously, misrepresents us. Other people would prefer to ignore it—it’s a minor film, after all, and seems to have had no lasting effect on the broader culture, so lets just ignore it and hope it goes away. And then there’s the minority who, well, kind of love it, for all its flaws.
I’m in the latter camp.
Continue reading The East (2013)
Director: Óscar Aibar
Writer: Albert Sánchez Piñol
Recommended? Well, we’re the bad guys in it, so… no.
Another fantasy movie set during the Spanish Civil War! I loved Pan’s Labyrinth! What can go wrong?
A lot, apparently.
El Bosc (translation from Catalan: The Forest) follows a small landowning family outside a tiny town in Spain during the war. The lead male is petit-bourgeois and a sexist ass and runs away from the fight into a portal into another world. His wife is, presumably, our protagonist, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lead character with so little agency: she just waits around while men are shitty to her. That’s basically all she does the whole movie.
Continue reading El Bosc (2012)
Recommended? Both films, but Lady L is better.
I’m a ho and an anarchist and I feel a special connection to art portraying anarchists and sex workers. So, I started on a quest to find and watch as many films about anarchists and sex workers ad possible. My current partner being very supportive and patient; (also they might have a personal interest in the topic as well considering they’re an anarchist dating an anarchist whore) I give you my two favorites so far: Lady L and The Front Page.
Continue reading Some of My Favorite Things: Films With Anarchists and Sex Workers