Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Recommended? I dunno.
Blade Runner 2049 is a movie about women, and it’s a shame that the people who made it didn’t realize that. Almost every interesting idea that lies untended in the fallow thematic field of the movie is about women. Almost all of the interesting characters in the movie are women. Hell, most of the characters with power and authority in the film are women. Which, it’s curious to realize, doesn’t make the film passably feminist in any regard.
Continue reading Just Like A Real Girl: Blade Runner 2049
Under the Dome
Created by: Brian K. Vaughan and Stephen King
Based on: Under the Dome by Stephen King
Recommended? Not even remotely.
It was such an intriguing premise. A small town, and its surrounding farmland, is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable dome. My mind reeled with possibilities and questions. Can they learn to live sustainably? Will they do away with conventional government and currency systems? Will they form collectives? Will they organize by consensus? I have a crapload of laundry to do — will I at least have an entertaining binge watch while sorting and folding? The answer to all these questions was a painful no.
Should you wish to share my pain, or judge for yourself, Under the Dome is a CBS series readily available on CBS.com, Amazon Prime, and DVD. Be warned though, this show is just good enough in its early episodes to make you keep watching for a long, life-sucking ride.
Continue reading Under the Dome, Seasons 1-3
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Screenplay by: Danny Strong and Peter Craig
Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I’ve only read the first Hunger Games book. That either makes me the perfect reviewer for the movies, or maybe a woefully incompetent one. It does mean, however, that I’m taking the movies one at a time, because I don’t know what happens.
I know it makes me a bad anarchist to say this, but the worst thing about the third part of the Hunger Games is that there aren’t any hunger games. It’s just a movie about revolution instead. Considering that the hunger games are an awful thing and revolutions are something us anarchists are known for encouraging, this is a strange statement. But frankly, the battle royale under the omniscient gaze of an evil dictator made for good fiction.
Revolution can too, it turns out. I liked the movie, but it was decidedly less fun, and in so many ways less spectacular, than the first two. It was just, well, a completely different thing. Which is better than just making the same movie three times, I suppose, from a storytelling point of view. So I’ll forgive it.
Continue reading The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
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)
Creator: Jason Rothenberg
Based on books by: Kass Morgan
2014-2015, The CW
You don’t come home from war.
You don’t get to kill people and stay the same person.
There’s this idea about war and brutality and struggle as a kind of thing the bourgeoisie can keep their hands clean of — or at least just dip into for short moments, like tourists on a war safari.
Maybe the clearest articulation of this problem I’ve ever seen is in “The Epic Pooh,” Michael Moorcock’s ruthless dismantling of The Lord of the Rings. In that essay, presents us the idea that the hobbits represent the middle- and upper-class of England, off to go have an adventure — in which they largely don’t have to do anything unpleasant like kill people since there are other people who can do that — and then return home safe and sound to the Shire. Despite being rather a fan of Middle Earth, I think this is pretty defensible as an interpretation of the text.
Continue reading The 100 (seasons 1 – 2)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Director: Leonard Nimoy
Writer: Leonard Nimoy
I was reticent to re-watch The Voyage Home simply because it looms so large in my memory of childhood. But with Nimoy’s death, the house decided to marathon Star Trek II-IV, and The Voyage Home did not disappoint.
Star Trek IV is the only Star Trek movie both written and directed by Leonard Nimoy, and stands as the most on point (in my opinion) movie in the franchise.
In case you watched all the Star Trek movies decades ago and can’t remember which one I’m talking about: this is the one where the crew of the Enterprise goes back in time to the 1980s to save the whales. It makes explicit the concept that if we don’t save the whales, the entire earth will eventually die.
Continue reading Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
“The Last of the Masters”
by Philip K. Dick
1954, Orbit Science Fiction #5
I like Philip K. Dick. I appreciate how earnestly weird he is. Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep meant almost as much to teenaged me as Blade Runner did. Dick was a pioneer of science fiction that explores the mental and spiritual landscape instead of just outer space.
“The Last of the Masters” is one of his first stories (technically a novellete, I suppose) and was published when he was 25. It’s also, in my research thus far, the only story he’s written that explicitly deals with anarchism.
Continue reading The Last of the Masters by Philip K Dick
by Robert Heinlein
1959, G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Recommended? Know thy enemy
I can’t talk about a Heinlein book, let alone Starship Troopers, without talking about my dad.
My dad’s a lot like I am. We look alike. We both have wanderlust. We both instinctively refuse authority and we both give to people flying signs by the side of the road. We’re both writers, and he raised me to read science fiction. In particular, he raised me to read Heinlein.
My father’s also a marine. He never saw combat—he was honorably discharged for medical reasons not too long after bootcamp. But, you know, once a marine, always a marine.
It’s hard not to imagine that, had I joined the military, my experience would have been similar to my father’s. And his experiences (as I understand them) entirely belie Heinlein’s glorious presentation of the armed forces.
Continue reading Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
Director: Joon-Ho Bong
Writer: Joon-Ho Bong
Bechdel test: fail.
Trigger Warnings (for the film, not the review): cannibalism, violence, child abduction/labor.
Premise: In the near future, governments across the world decide to dump chemicals into the atmosphere to stop global warming, inadvertently freezing and killing everything and everyone on earth, except for an (un)lucky few who manage to board a train that travels around the entire world once a year. The film takes place about 18 years later.
When I went to see this movie, I had no idea what it was, but when it quickly became clear it was about class war in a dystopian future, it had my attention until the final scene. The poor masses, huddled in the back few carts of the train, led by a man named Curtis, have to travel and fight their way up to the front to confront Wilford, the owner and conductor of the train and the rest of humanity. I would chalk this one up next to V for Vendetta and The Hunger Games in terms of theme.
Continue reading Snowpiercer (2013)
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by: Simon Kinberg
Recommended? As a movie, but not for its lessons
Wolverine goes back in time to stop Mystique from killing a scientist who tortures and kills and studies mutants. The scientist is doing these things so that he can build giant machines to kill all the mutants.
I dunno, maybe instead of going back in time to get Mystique not to kill the guy, Wolverine should have gone back in time even further and just killed the guy as soon as he became a violent bigot. Why is it right to go back in time to tell Mystique what she can and cannot do, but not to go back in time and tell Peter Dinklage what he can and cannot do?
I know it’s like, a really big part of the whole X-Men universe, but I just don’t understand why killing is presented as always wrong.
Continue reading X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)