This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.
Shall we file this under “What’s wrong with Ricochet”? Seriously people? The Largest blockbuster movie to ever flicker across the movie screen and no one has yet posted about it. It made over a billion dollars in four days over the weekend, it will probably make another billion dollars by the end of this weekend, […]
I just noticed this last night. In this clip it’s 35 seconds in, and he’s talking with Dr. Strange, mentioning the death of Ebony Maw. I suppose we could write it off as just an insignificant twitch. But should we? More
Source, Rotten Tomatoes Audience Response: Captain Marvel – 62%The Incredible Hulk – 70%Iron Man 2 – 71%Captain America: The First Avenger – 74%Thor – 76%Thor: The Dark World – 76%Ant-Man and the Wasp – 77%Iron Man 3 – 78%Black Panther – 79%Avengers: Age of Ultron – 83%Doctor Strange – 86%Ant-Man – 86%Thor: Ragnarok – 87%Guardians […]
The guys tackle Captain Marvel. Does Sonny think Wonder Woman is better? Vic takes a movie bathroom break. JVL witnesses a dishwashing atrocity. Sonny and Vic explain drinking games to JVL. More
It might be the best crime/superhero drama since The Dark Knight. It’s standard practice in sequels and in second and third seasons to resort to gimmicks like extra blood or adding a bunch of F-words or more sex. Instead, the makers of Daredevil resorted to dialing back on the sex, slit throats, and S-words and instead telling […]
I will close this series with two brief explanations of how genre itself involves reflections on American society. I have recently been working on horror movies, so that is one of my examples. American horror comes down to two versions of an attack on progress. One is Christian — Hitchcock did it, his many imitators since John Carpenter do it, and endless others. These stories try to put together the universal and the particular in this way. They start with a social setting that is very broad and designed to show what’s happening with American freedom. They then move on to an individual story of the emergence of evil. How crazily implausible evil has become, and how maddening, therefore, is supposed to teach the audience that they didn’t see evil in the setting. The unwillingness of good respectable middle-class Americans to see the evil in their hearts, and therefore in their society, leads them to countenance or even provoke monstrous things.
The tragic poet in this case resorts to these shocking things rightly called horror on the assumption that nothing else will even get a hearing. This is also what David Lynch wants to teach Americans; or Neil LaBute. These are very sophisticated movie-makers, but they are basically Christian moralists. They mean to remind Americans that you can stop believing in God, but you can’t stop believing in evil. Instead of providence, you get God’s wrath.More
Let us now see how all this emerges from show business. The box office seems to be growing exclusively on the strength of pricier tickets, as fewer people go to the movies. Fewer movies are made every year, counting movies with any kind of broad release — not 4,000 theaters, but say more than 500. The number of studios and the number of sources for stories are also decreasing. In the business, the idea is called intellectual property. In that sense, a minuscule oligarchy sells what a massive democracy wants to buy. The view of America you get at the movies is concentrating, ignoring more and more of the country. So, let us look at what we buy or, rather, buy into, while only really renting.
Today, cinema is dominated by three genres:More
I will start with some eminently questionable remarks. Let us start from the place of cinema in American life. Americans are notorious for the great gap their society leaves open in-between personal, private experiences, particular to each one and interesting mostly to himself — and public debates or public discourse, which is dominated by abstractions.
Tocqueville famously said Americans are uniquely given to general ideas — whenever doubt should arise about anything, a principle will be stated with god-like certainty. What lies in-between the abstract or universal and the personal or particular is judgment. Judgment, in both common senses of the word, is frowned upon in America. Obviously, moral judgment is frowned upon because it is a form of discrimination and the ground and mode of discrimination — it also odors of inequality, as he who judges necessarily sets himself the superior of he whom he judges. But judgment offends not merely equality — it also offends independence, or individualism.More
A few days ago, I talked to my associate Prof. Harmon who raised a fundamental question by way of a preposition. This is not as rare an occurrence as you might think. He asked whether I meant to speak of American cinema as a reflection of American society or a reflection on it. As I said, the movies are our human way of seeing what we’re like, as humans. But what does that mean more clearly?
“Reflections of society” involves the obvious meaning of imitation. What you see on the screen is what the movie-makers saw looking around — America. But this could mean two different things, being that no movie can reflect America as a whole. American movie-makers might offer Americans the images they think will please them — they see what Americans approve, and are governed in their works by that experience. This would mean cinema is a kind of flattery; a barely concealed form of self-congratulation. Every theater-going experience is really an awards ceremony in disguise. There is more than a little truth to that. Do people leave the theaters of this great notion in a soul-searching mood, somewhat chastened by the experience, or rather smug, and even self-important?More
Hello, Ricochet! It is my pleasure to share my first public lecture on American cinema and society. I’ll start with thanks to my friends Tom Harmon and Matt Peterson, professors at John Paul the Great Catholic University–and, of course, to the university. And to the kids who did the audio-video work with precious little help from me. They’re too young I think for me to buy them a beer, but if they play their cards right… I’ll soon publish the written lecture, which is somewhat different, just in case not everyone wants to watch…More