Welcome back, Mr. Moffat. My, how I've missed you.
I've made no secret of the fact that I've been disappointed with Series 7 of Doctor Who. By my count, it's given us a couple of very good episodes ("The Snowmen" and "Hide"), far too many fairly terrible ones ("Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," "The Power of Three," "The Bells of Saint John," "Cold War," and "The Crimson Horror"), with the rest falling comfortably in the middle. Opinions vary, of course, but by my arbitrary reckoning this makes this arguably the weakest season since the show returned in 2005. Continue reading
Spoiler Level: Low: I've not spoiled any surprises, but this post can't completely avoid hinting at the general nature of certain surprises. If you want to go in completely free of expectations, best to see the film first.
J. J. Abram's Star Trek Into Darkness presents me with a critical dilemma, because I both thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a terrible misfire. In contemplating the root of this conundrum, a famous line of criticism kept running through my mind. Widely (though perhaps apocryphally) attributed to Samuel Johnson, and loosely adapted for my own purposes, it goes something like this: This movie is both good and original. Unfortunately, the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good. Continue reading
Clearly, the theme of this week's Game of Thrones, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair," is the Kierkegaardian paradox of faith: the notion that absolute belief in the divine requires an inexplicable renunciation of duty in the rational, objective, ethical sense—which is to say, a denial of Kant's categorical imperative—and an elevation of the individual above the realm of the universal. As we see in the confounding, divine purity of Hodor's infinite resignation to constant repetition of the single phrase Hodor, this teleological suspension cannot be mediated in ethical terms, but must be recognized—
Nah, I'm just yankin' your chain. Actually, this week's episode is all about fucking. Continue reading
Spoiler Level: I'm going to assume you've read The Great Gatsby. If you haven't, I suppose there's an outside chance you might enjoy this movie, so you should go watch it without bothering with my review.
I'm on record stating that, when it comes to adapting great novels to the screen, faithfulness to the text is an overrated quality. Greatness in any medium is, almost by definition, impossible to translate to any other medium, and so a slavish film adaptation of a classic novel is likely to be a dull and dire thing. One of my favorite movies of 2012 was Joe Wright's Anna Karenina, which took considerable creative liberties with Leo Tolstoy's epic and delivered a lush, sensual feast with visual delight, whimsy, and real emotional power. No doubt there were people who said that Wright not only failed to tell the story of Anna Karenina, but also completely missed the point of it—and perhaps he did. (I don't think so, but the argument could be made.) The thing is, I didn't care: if I wanted to read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, I was free to do that at my leisure. This was Joe Wright's Anna Karenina, and I loved it.
So why do I hate Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby so very, very much? Continue reading
I began my first review of the season with the observation that—for all its kings and queens, princes and princesses, witches and warlocks, dragons and giants and magic—Game of Thrones is no fairy tale. I was mostly being a wise-ass, but I also intended it as a mild, spoiler-free warning to those of you who haven't read all of George R. R. Martin's novels: the further into we get into this epic tale, the more you'll figure out that your romantic, storybook notions will not serve you here. Continue reading
Okay, let me say at the start: this isn't going to be pleasant for any of us. I really don't enjoy being this guy: just as there's nothing I love more than analyzing and raving about (at obscene length) an episode of Doctor Who that rises to the considerable heights of which this show is capable, there is nothing I hate more than trying to squeeze out even a few hundred words about the infrequent and unfortunate lows. Continue reading