On Talented Hackery

A few minor edits to this paragraph from John Scalzi’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Review and it very nicely sums up my attitude towards all of Zack Snyder’s films:

…that’s the real problem with [Zack Snyder’s] films. They look great [but] I find it hard to give a shit about any of them. I don’t hate them, but I don’t especially like them either…. They exist, and that’s about it. The problem with [Zack Snyder’s] films is not that they’re dour but that they’re empty. They’re not compellingly written, either in the larger plot sense or the smaller character sense, and when you’re done watching them, most of what you’re left with is a sense that you sure looked at something expensive.

I find Snyder to be a very talented hack. What he does, he does very well. Unfortunately, what he does holds very little appeal for me. And with his vision as the guiding force between most of the DC movie universe, it’s never been a particular surprise to me that I’ve not really enjoyed any of the ones I’ve seen, and haven’t been terribly motivated to watch those I’ve missed.

In Search of Tomorrow Watchlist

This is a list of films planned (as of May 2020) to be referenced in the upcoming documentary In Search of Tomorrow. I got curious as to how many I’d seen.


☑️ = I’ve seen it at some point, though it’s been a while and impressions may be colored by time.
✅ = I’ve seen it recently or often enough to have a reasonably current impression of it.
📀 = I have a copy in my personal collection.

Read more

The Brother Always Dies First

The Brother Always Dies First: on sex, death, and cinematic depictions of race is an excellent essay by author Steven Barnes, exploring two propositions regarding race in American cinema:

Proposed: Black men cannot have sex in movies without it hurting the box office.

Evidence: No non-white male is able to have sex in a movie and have that film cross $100 million at the domestic box office.

Exception: After thirty years of observation, there are now actually THREE movies that contradict this! Huzzah! (Do you know what they are? Answers at the end.)

Proposition #2: It is NOT true that “the black guy always dies first.” This is easily proven as far back as Night of the Living Dead. The reality is rather more difficult to wrap minds around. It is this: there are countless films in which ALL the black characters die, or all the black males die. And there are NO American films in which all the white characters die, if anyone else at all survives. Not one.

I have compiled a list of over ONE HUNDRED such films, which appears at the end of this article.

Explanation: A “character” is someone with at least one line of dialogue.

Exception: On January 17, 2020, I finally saw a movie that contradicts this, the very first American film I’ve ever seen or heard of where black people survive while all the white people die. Not a bad movie, either. The name is in the footnotes.

Some of this I was semi-conscious of, at least in the “the black guy always dies first” sense. But I certainly hadn’t taken as deep a dive into it as Steven has (and, gee, I wonder why, as I look at my nearly-translucent white skin…).

Baby Yoda and ‘The Dark Crystal’ Prove We Still Need Puppetry in the Age of CGI: “Frankly, I don’t always want my entertainment to look effortless. Instead, I want to stand in awe of these feats of creation: painstakingly crafted miniature worlds, marionettes that fire arrows, extraterrestrial tots that beg you to scoop them up and kiss them on the forehead. I want to shout, ‘How the hell did they do that?!’”

Plex Offers Over a Thousand Ad-Supported Movies on Demand: The films are “free” as in “ad supported”, but it’s still an interesting move. While I’m a long-time Plex user, I’m not sure if I’ll take advantage of this (I have an extensive personal movie and TV collection as it is, plus some of the big-name streaming services), but it may well be worthwhile for plenty of other people.