Monthly Archives: September 2013

‘Movie 43’

Omnibus Mayhem

Look, some people like these movies where a bunch of directors get together and do short skits. Most people it seems hate them. I have a sot spot for ‘Amazon Women of the Moon’ to this day and ‘Monty Python’s Meaning of Life’ still gets me laughing. On the whole though, people are pretty hostile to this subgenre of comedy films and they hardly get made. If I think back, ‘Amazon Women on the Moon’ was from 1988 so it’s been like 25years between drinks.

People complain, they don’t get made. But I for one wouldn’t mind if they made more of these instead of those lame ‘Scary Movie’ type of parodies. The film business has changed greatly in the mean time, so it’s quite interesting to watch the shift in sensibility.

What’s Good About It

It’s got top talent in it, doing some seriously fucked up shit. Hugh Jackman and his scrotum on his chin skit essentially kicks off the aim-low, sinkerball-fest parade of shorts that really want to do away with good taste. This is great because Naomi Watts puts in a fantastic performance as the other half of an Oedipalised mother, while Richard Gere gets to do a pretty funny Tim Cook pay out. It’s crude, but crude is exactly where these actors need to be.

What’s Bad About It

Not every one of the shorts are good. Some are real stinkers, some are off, some leave you wondering about the people who wrote them. The Randy Quaid in Greg Kinnear’s office pitching bad movies framework doesn’t really go anywhere good.

I know it’s a weird to complain about sexism and racism when everything is up for laughs, but some of the sexist jokes really were naff, and Stephen-Marchant-As-Asian-Dude was not one bit better than Mr Yunioshi in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ – and that film is like 52years old now.

I also wonder about the sadness of skit featuring black American basketball players in 1959, about to take on a bunch of white kids. It’s pointed and funny but the fact that it’s pointed an funny indicates that maybe our society hasn’t come that far from 1959 except on the field of sport. It’s disappointing because it dovetails with the Stephen-Marchant/Mr. Yunioshi moment.

What’s Interesting About It

The overall effect of the movie is remarkably like ‘Amazon Women on the Moon’, which leaves you with a disjointed feeling. The Omnibus movie never works for critics and audiences  alike, pretty much for this reason. Still, I’d want to see more of these for the simple reason that this film has a silly joy of film-making pumping right through it. It’s fun to make movies, and the expense of making them and the effort it takes makes it so hard for film makers to just go out there and jam like musicians or do studies as artists would do.

So it’s good to watch something where you know they’re having a good time doing it.

These films offer scope for greater risk-taking than the feature films which are made under such stringent industrial supervision that they have no chance of surprising you. It’s really not a film for everybody but if you want to watch something very different from the controlled, smooth, media output of Hollywood machine, then this might be okay on a rainy afternoon. Then again, if your sensibility is too tightly wound around the narrative precision of the conventional Hollywood product, then probably not.

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‘Hammer of the Gods’ (2013)

Vikings Galore

…not to be confused with the movie of the same name from 2009.

It seems Vikings are the flavour of the year. There’s a TV series featuring Vikings, and there’s an exhibition coming out of Sweden to the National Maritime Museum. I tend to lap up anything about Vikings because I’m always hoping to see something like ‘Njal’s Saga’ or ‘Egil’s Saga’ on screen. It’s a hard genre to do and even when you do it well, it’s not like there’s a great audience out there of it; One of the best Viking movies I’ve seen is ‘The Thirteenth Warrior’ and that one didn’t exactly set the box office alight.

This one is a little different because it ambles in to the narrative with the sensibility of a Heavy Metal album cover (up to and including he title which is also the title of one of the most scandalous accounts of the career of Led Zeppelin).  As such, the milieu and sensibility are not exactly as one would expect arising from the old sagas. But then, we know how those attempts go and they’re never really exciting screen fodder.

Clive Standen who is in the TV series of ‘Vikings’ playing second banana Rollo to Ragnar in that series is also in this series playing second banana to Steinar in this film.

So, here’s the obligatory spoiler alert!

What’s Good About It

While this is a Viking movie, the best thing about it is the third act. The journey the young Viking prince Steinar takes into the heart of darkness of England leads him to a cave full of savages – every bit as savage as those in ‘The Thirteenth Warrior’, but then it turns out we’re actually in the last section of ‘Apocalypse Now’ re-imagined. The confrontation and fight that takes place between his brother is the fight Willard should’ve had with Kurtz at the climax of ‘Apocalypse Now’.

To backtrack to ‘Apocalypse Now’, Marlon Brando turned up to set in the Philippines overweight and underdone, neither having read the script nor the book ‘Heart of Darkness’. This account is recorded in ‘Hearts of Darkness’, the documentary about the making of ‘Apocalypse Now’, and in the end Francis Ford Coppola sort of fudged the climactic fight by doing some weird montage to explain what happens in a metaphorical way than actually have Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando do a proper fight scene. When you think about, it wouldn’t have been too good given the respective actors’ talents.

So what’s surprising about this film is that in the third act, you suddenly find yourself watching exactly that same scenario – of having traveled up the metaphorical river in to darkness, to arrive at the land of the savages run by the best man from your civilisation. this layering adds so much more meaning to the fight and denouement of the film. They even found an actor that looks a little like Marlon Brando c.1978 to play Hakan. It’s absolutely wild and riveting – but only if you’ve watched ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ever wondered what the hell the bull-slaughter-scene is all about.

What’s Bad About It

It’s an uneven film with fairly obtuse sort of presentation of the story. You’re never sure about which bits of exposition is important as the characters set across land in search of Hakan the Ferocious. Also, the film starts off with such a goofy mimesis with the Heavy Metal font, you sort of expect it to not be a terribly profound film, except of course you find yourself in ‘Heart of Darkness’ in the third act.

What’s Interesting About It

This is a hard one to sell. The film spends a lot of time in different sorts of mimesis that you never really settle in to the narrative flow. I’ve been thinking about this and I suspect it is because the film is trying to obscure its tracks as it takes you up the metaphorical river in to the heart of darkness. Consider that in the final chapter of  Joseph Conrad’s novel, Conrad discusses the likelihood of Britain as having been that savage land in Roman times,where a Roman contingent of adventurers would have traveled up the Thames. In one sense, this movie is about that, but without the Romans.

The motif has been big in cinema in the last few years. ‘King Arthur’ starring Clive Owen posited the original King Arthur as a Roman Briton in the dying days of the Roman Empire; Both ‘Centurion’ and ‘Eagle of the Ninth’ sent the Romans into the maws of the savage Picts with the same undertones of England being the land of darkness.

The England of ‘Hammer of the Gods’ is a strange place. It certainly goes out of its way to show an alienating landscape.

Taboos And Abjection

The dawning realisation in the cave for this film is particularly nauseating. The long lost brother and long lost mother turn out to be lovers. The incest at the core of the story is enough to make you mutter “motherfucker!” and you’d be right. Freud would have been so full of praise for this film for the way it essentially manages to not only go up the river into the heart of darkness, but thrust Oedipus into the mix and – *gasp* – it works! It’s like some mad genius wrote this thing.

It works because it takes you there gradually, dropping hints; so that when the realisation comes it comes with the full ferocity of a transgressed taboo. You have to say “well played!” Considering how goofy the film is at the beginning, by the time you’re in with the savages you feel like they got you completely.

I really can’t say whether this is a “good” film or not but if you’ve ever watched ‘Apocalypse Now’ and wondered what the hell that was about, or watched a performance of Oedipus and wondered what the hell the fuss was all about, then this film is sort of the de-polemicised regurgitation spelling out exactly what they’re about. In turn it’s a film that seems to come from the darkest recesses of our imagination, and for that it deserves a great deal of credit.

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Triumph Of Denial

No Surprises? You Could’a Fooled Me Phoney Rabid

Groan. First off, I wanted to write less about politics. This is partly because it’s not exactly my main focus here on this blog – even though the little word cloud on the bottom might fool you into thinking so – mainly because basically, blogging and politics are about as even a match as Bambi versus Godzilla. I can write as much of the facts as simply as I can, but Australia ends up voting in the dumber contender, the more unhinged, the more dissociated, the more fucked up of the candidates. I can proudly say I sure as hell didn’t donkey vote, and I sure as hell didn’t vote for the Coalition.

Pleiades has been on my case to write something simply because things are so awful already and it’s only been 10days since the election. Well… yes.

I know there’s been a lot of “he won’t be so radical” talk going on but let’s face it, the first things he’s done are so laden with his own ideology and petty personal vendettas, I think we can dispense with that talk entirely. Clearly it’s one of the stages of grief to try and negotiate with the problem so it’s understandable people have been proffering these narratives in an attempt to negotiate with the hard-ass bitch with a 12 inch strap-on dildo of a reality, but here’s the deal. Tony Abbot is PM, and Australia’s to blame.

What exactly has Tony Abbott done? So far he has sacked 3 public servants. This is causing a bit of reassessment as to what he meant by “no surprises”.

Mr Abbott has no actual power to terminate a secretary’s tenure; only the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, is authorised to sack a department head.

To do this, she would have needed a recommendation from the Prime Minister.

However, Mr Abbott had been in the role for barely an hour before announcing the secretaries’ departures.

And, under the Public Service Act, he would have required reports on the proposed terminations from the Public Service Commissioner, Stephen Sedgwick, and from his own department head, Ian Watt, before approaching Ms Bryce.

Ms Bryce’s office referred media inquiries to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The offices of Dr Watt and Mr Sedgwick said on Thursday that they had complied with the act, but refused to say when the reports were written.

The Federal Court has previously ruled that departmental secretaries must be given procedural fairness – including the opportunity to put their case – before any recommendation is made to dismiss them.

This followed a challenge by former Defence Department head Paul Barratt, whom the Howard government controversially sacked in 1999 after he had held the job for about a year.

The three departing secretaries will now be entitled to payouts worth a year’s pay.

There’s been a more detailed look at this here. The main point – is that the Coalition seems to want to go towards a more politicised public service, and preferably in their favour because they’re in power more often.

The second (non-)surprise today was that the Climate Commission headed up by Dr. Timothy Flannery has been shut down.

Speaking in Melbourne, Professor Flannery, who has been Australia’s chief climate commissioner since February 2011, said Mr Hunt had been very gracious in their conversation and had thanked him and the other climate commissioners for their work.

Professor Flannery said Mr Hunt did not indicate to him why the Coalition had abolished the commission. He said a formal letter from the government was on its way.

He said the commission in its work had stayed out of politics and stuck to the facts.

“As a result we have developed a reputation as a reliable, apolitical source of facts on all aspects on climate change,” Professor Flannery said.

“I believe Australians have a right to know, a right to authoritative, independent and accurate information on climate change.

“We have just seen one of the earliest ever starts to the bushfire season in Sydney following the hottest 12 months on record. Last summer was the hottest on record, breaking over 120 heat records across Australia.

“As global action on climate change deepens, propaganda aimed at misinforming the public about climate change, and so blunting any action, increases.”

Well of course they wouldn’t explain it because – to quote Tony Abbott on his election night speech – they’re not about announcing things, they want to be judged by what they do. What they do speaks loudly to the persistent climate-change denialism in the Coalition ranks. Obviously as a government coming in wanting to ‘repeal the carbon tax’ as their first order of business, you would expect them to just rub out the organ that is there to provide fair and unbiased facts about climate change and how it affects Australia.

At this point in history, its hard to claim being a climate change sceptic without essentially declaring yourself a nutjob, so Tony Abbott has silenced the organ that disagrees with his core beliefs about reality. Think about that for a moment. We technically have a delusional person running our nation as Prime Minister.

The Money Won’t Be There

Really, you’d think that Australia was going to implode under  the burden of government debt during the tenure of Tony Abbott as Opposition Leader. The moment he got voted in he’s snidely moved the goalposts so that he will return to surplus, but no earlier than the ALP had said they would return to surplus.

The indications are, revenues for government are going to dwindle and things are going to get tougher for the Australian economy. The admission from the US Fed that the US economy indeed isn’t strong enough to withdraw stimulus support has pushed the AUD back to US94-95cents. If this is anything to go by, then Australian exporters are going to continue to have a pretty tough time of it. The maths of the Coalition still doesn’t add up if they are still trying to get back to a surplus at the same rate and are still intending to do their parental leave scheme, cut company taxes by 1.5%, and repeal the ‘Carbon Tax’ without cutting Family Benefit B.

Naturally, we can therefore expect cuts. We just don’t know what they are, but you can count on the fact that they’ll be tinged with the austerity thing that’s been so popular (and such a dismal failure) with conservatives in other countries elsewhere. Now that they’re in government you have to wonder which of these idiotic promises will soon turn out to be non-core promises. What really worries me is that Tony Abbott seems totally determined to push on with his folly come hell or high water; and that being the case, when it’s going to be time for Julie Bishop to march into his office and tell him he’s done.

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The Zero Year Of Your Coordinates

Your Mother Should Know

I recently did a bunch of covers of side 3 of the Beatles’ ‘White Album’. What prompted it was a combination of coming off a 12 song set of fairly difficult and challenging tracks which exhausted me and the desire to just play a bunch of stuff I liked as a teen. After I posted them up, it occurred to me that the ‘White Album’ was recorded in 1968, placing it 45 years ago.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that is actually an interminably long time in the timescale of pop music. Paul McCartney is about to come out with a new album (called ‘New’) so he’s still going strong after the morbidly death-obsessed ‘Memory Almost Full’ album, but I sat and tried to figure out how music that old – 45years! – must look like to say, an 18year old today.

If I subtract 45 from the year I was 18, it goes firmly into the late 1930s. Now, I had no shot of owning any music from the late 1930s, let alone being more than passingly familiar with it. Quite frankly I – or my other music listening, record-buying friends- would have been extremely unlikely to be familiar with anything that old.

And yet, Walk-Off HBP went to see Ringo Starr earlier this year because his daughter wanted to see Ringo, so clearly the charms of music that’s 45-50 years old is not entirely lost on kids of today. Obviously it’s going to vary from person to person, household to household, family to family. Even so, you wonder about the distance of this time that separates one from the moment of recording.

Bono was saying in some interview someplace that each time U2 go into a studio there’s a challenge of doing better than before but also an equally large battle to be relevant. So it can’t be easy for anybody to be doing any recording 10years, 20years and 30years in. You sure don’t see Led Zeppelin heading for the studio with Jason Bonham, you don’t see a new album from the Rolling Stone every 2years, it just doesn’t happen.

That being said recorded music has one advantage over literature and movies and it is the ability music has to be consumed over and over again. Even your most favourite movie can only be sat through a handful f times unless you want to make a total study of it. Your favourite albums will be by our side in decades to come, surviving multiple listens upon listens. I think the reason why music drags me back is that in the end I can control my output in a ay that is closed off to me in the cinema. I’m doing more and more recordings because I am able to complete thoughts, ideas, concepts; then execute and finish; and in finishing, I am able to move on to the next thing.

This is in stark contrast to the horrors of being a screenwriter and waiting for people to get back to you about your script; and in most instances, nothing gets made even if people tell you how much they like your writing. Frank Zappa certainly wasn’t wrong when he said “music is best”.  There’s certainly a lot of wisdom in that observation.

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A Terrible Year

And It’s Only September

What can I say, Tony Abbott and the Coalition won. This is a terrible thing, but hey I’m with the guy that started this meme:

Don't Blame MeTalk about the mother of all disappointments. It reminds one of the joke about the little kid who is asked by a Latin American Generalissimo if he knows the difference between a disaster and a catastrophe.

The little kid responds, “Yes Generalissimo. A Disaster is when you and your cabinet are in a plane crash. A Catastrophe is when you survive that crash.”

Well, this election is that crash and the winning survivor is… Phoney Abbott. That’s it. I’ve decided to call him that because basically he never told his crackpot climate-change-denyin’ loonie mob to take down the ‘Ju-liar’ tag, so here’s serving up the same cold soup. From now on he is Phoney Abbott to me until he is ousted from office.

Actually, looking at how the ALP did this time, it seems like they did save the furniture so Phoney can’t claim that he has some great mandate. The ALP are with a fighting chance to come back if they can just get their house in order. Still I imagine there’s going to be quite a bit of recriminations and bickering in the days to come. Greg Combet was already winding up with a few spitballs on the ABC tonight.

I’m still stunned that the middle shifted ground back to these lousy conservatives. What idiots. I guess it’s just a case of “they know not what they do”. That’s the problem with willful ignorance – it delivers conservative governments. I guess this horrible day had to come; but did this have to be such a terrible year?

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Fear Of The Unknown Unknowns

Sometimes ‘The People’ Are Idiots

The unthinkable is about to happen. No, not World War III, but an Abbott government is about to get in if the polls are to believed. This is about as swift a turn to the right as you can get and show what ingrates and opportunists the political middle ground of this country can be. But the bit that gets me the most is that the swinging middle of the electorate is about to vote into office a decidedly sorry lot who have refused to have their costings looked at until 3 minutes to midnight in the election. If their intellectual dishonesty doesn’t stink to high heaven, their efforts in government surely will because these people are banking on doing some pretty stupid things.

A couple of days I ago, I pointed out that their policy on the internet and broadband alone should disqualify them from taking office, but close behind their idiotic NBN policy is their climate policy – their so-called Direct Action plan. I know it’s late in the game and we’re all past reading stuff, but here’s a link from Pleiades that’s worth reading: Part I & Part II. In Malcolm Turnbull’s own words:

Because most capital equipment, especially in the energy sector, has lives running into many decades, the business is going to require assurance that the government subsidy will match the life of the asset – so running well beyond 2020.

Which is why a subsidy scheme which terminates in 2020 will achieve very little….

Having the government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and there will always be a temptation for projects to be selected for their political appeal.

In short, having the government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope which can only result in higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions.

Which is to say, Malcolm Turnbull is saying Direct Action can’t work. Certainly not in the way the Coalition have gone about selling it; and of course all of it suffers from the great credibility gap of Tony Abbott being an un-reformed climate sceptic global-warming denier.  There’s just no knowing how any of this Direct Action policy is going to work or if it’s even viable.

Pleiades also wanted me to point out to you that the Coalition do not have an Arts Policy. At all. Not a sausage. This is probably not surprising in that the arts community of this country is entirely, reflexively hostile to the Liberal and National parties, so if anything they probably just want to abolish all arts funding. (And I admit there’s an evil side to me that wouldn’t mind seeing that because I find the reflexive progressivism of Australia’s arts community to be pretty obnoxious. But that’s a different issue altogether!)

Even the alleged strong suit of the Liberals looks pretty crappy today. Here’s Michael Pascoe lambasting Joe Hockey yesterday after the Liberals gingerly released their costings.

After all the huffing and puffing, Hockeynomics is only proposing a $6 billion improvement in the budget’s cash bottom line over four years. In light of the past four years of hyperbolic fiscal posturing, this is genuinely astounding.

Even if you take year three and four budget projections seriously (and you really can’t, as everyone should now know), that works out to be an average improvement of $1.5 billion a year on a $400 billion budget – all of 0.375 per cent. It’s not even a rounding error. A half-decent Queensland storm can blow that away in half an hour.

By way of comparison, Tony Abbott is blowing $1.8 billion on reviving the novated lease/FBT tax lurk enjoyed by a minority of new car buyers, let alone an even smaller minority of voters. Consider the massive percentage increase in the Coalition’s budget improvement goal that could be obtained by implementing just this one tax policy based on principle and equity instead of subsidising a few salary packaging firms. Hey Joe, do the math.

After all the histrionic fuss and slanderous accusations about waste, the Coalition proposes to save a relatively speaking marginal 6billion. The way Abbott carried on for 3 years, you’d think that Australia was about to turn in to Greece (uhh, …no) or go into a Great Depression Mk. II (uh… no again); but of course it’s not like he’s got any real savings on offer and is instead proposing a largely skewered-to-the-wealthy paid maternity leave programme.

And frankly, you’d have to be pretty dense to be voting for any of these claptrap policies thought up in the isolation chamber of entitled sectionalists hoping to scare the electorate into voting for them. But that’s what really gets me. Middle Australia is saying to the pollsters that’s exactly what they’re going to do. Vote in the eminently unsafe, unhinged, reactionary monarchist, sectarian nutjob that is Tony Abbott as their Prime Minister.

I’ve been racking my brains as to who but those with expensive Private School educations, would be voting for this mob? The western suburbs of Sydney they say. But for the life of me I can’t imagine why the people in most need of support would vote in the people who are going to kick them in the hip pocket.

Anyway…

…the scuttlebutt has been that the polls seem to indicate 53-47 to the Coalition. Even this has been disputed by some. It turns out the polls are collected by landline, so they  skew heavily towards the retired elderly, who are in general more conservative-leaning than the young who do not bother with landlines and get about on their mobile phones. Pleiades tells me when pollsters conducted a poll that included mobile phones, it started to look more like 50-50, which is to say, a hung Parliament is once again on the cards.

Now that, would be cool because then Tony Abbott will chuck a hissy fit again and not deal, and that would leave us with another minority ALP government, just to stick it up the noses of all these idiot munchkin editors who claim stability is more important. (Only the editor of the Age had the good sense to argue in favour of the ALP based on policies; and based on policies, he had the NBN as the leading item followed by Gonski. I call that doing his job. What the hell are the other papers doing but playing cult of personality and personality politics?)

The most terrifying of them might have been the editorial on the SMH. Yes, the Sydney Morning Herald no less supports Tony Abbott. Now, I’d normally quote the most coherent part but amazingly the editorial presents very little coherence of argument about policy and mostly has knocks on how history has unfolded. Well Mr. Editor we’ve all been reading your paper and we can tell you your characterisation of the last 3years in this sorry editorial is mostly impressionistic nonsense not worthy of consideration, that somehow illogically ends up supporting Tony Abbott with a plea for stability.

Heck, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt was ‘stable’ for 28years.  Saddam Hussein’s reign was equally stable. Muammar Gaddafi too. I don’t think stability in of itself is any good, and this is exactly the point where armchair political scientists go wrong. Niccolo Machiavelli argued in favour of a stable government, but the second condition a government had to fulfill beyond stability according to Machiavelli, was delivering the maximum benefits to the maximum number of people in the constituency. Somehow I don’t think the Liberals and Nationals are capable of the latter. So, I don’t know how we’ve come to this, but this election campaign period has exposed the editor in chief of the Sydney Morning Herald as an idiot munchkin – something I did not know until today. You sure can put that down to “you learn something new everyday”.

This election is going to be a litmus test to see how stupid people are. In future people will be able to look back and ask which way you voted. If you say you voted for the Liberals and Nationals in 2013, you will be laughed at for your stupidity.

Just don’t vote for the Coalition what ever you do.

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‘Iron Man 3’

Marvel At The Sight

It’s now been a good decade since I found myself being asked which movies I was looking forward to that year and counted up a bunch of movies with numbers after them and a good bunch of them were based on comic book content. The rise of Marvel as a movie studio has been spectacular as the decline in story-developing prowess of the traditional studios has been precipitous. Each year it gets harder to see cool movie with original content. The big winners are increasingly adaptations, and even the uncool ones that seem to win big at the box office seem to be increased on nothing more than a ride (‘Pirates of the Carribbean’) or a toy (‘Transformers’).

These movies of comic book and toy adaptations have eaten Hollywood alive like. Proper careers and talent has been consumed to turn out this furious Sturm und Drang of chaotic adrenaline-charged entertainment. It’s driven Steven Soderbergh into retirement. So here we have Robert Downey Jr. in what is becoming his signature role of his career, well into the fourth movie of playing Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. It’s worth considering if this is worthy of his talents.

What’s Good About It

They hired Shane Black to co-write and then direct this film. it’s turned out to be an excellent choice as he brings a great sensibility to the Tony Stark banter. The action is crisp, the irony sharp, the dialogue is snappy, and the pace doesn’t flag. Black also manages to engineer a way to keep Stark out of his suit, and thus more physically vulnerable. Black has also kept the Military Industrial Complex subtext of Stark’s family business out of sight inmost part, which has freed up the narrative space for the movie to look to explore different aspects of the character.

What’s Bad About It

Remarkably, the film being directed at kids, still can’t shake the simplistic view of politics of the state or the monopoly of science by corporations. The concern is there in there somewhere, but you only see flashes of it before it goes back into a bit more of the biffo. As such, the notions raised so interestingly in the first film hardly get any development; and it’s a shame because I think kids would be able to handle it – right up to and including the ambivalence about war, patriotism and violence.

Of course this being an American film, they douse the whole thing with comic book morality as Americans douse their hotdogs and hamburgers with ketchup. And it’s a real shame because it just lets a golden opportunity go by.

What’s Interesting About It

Once upon a time Shane Black was the young tyro writer director who penned such marvels as ‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Predator’ and and ‘The Last Boy Scout’. It took him a long time but his directorial debut was with ‘Kiss Kiss bang Bang’. It’s hard to figure out what happened, but between the time of ‘The Long Kiss Good Night’ and ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ there’s nearly a decade of blank time. Still, his imprimatur is unmistakable in the wise-ass banter and dare I say a whole lot wittier than the banter that went around in ‘Iron Man 2’. Here’s hoping he gets to do more things. The world is a better place with Shane Black movies, especially now that Tony Scott is gone.

Four Movies Of Stark And Potts

Without a doubt Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow are the acting limelights, the premier talent of our day. Downey Jr. has multiple awards and Paltrow already has an Oscar for her efforts in ‘Shakespeare in Love’, a film that probably wouldn’t have worked as well without her amazing control and insight. 50years from now, they are in danger of being remembered for their roles in the Iron Man movies and in Paltrow’s case, the bit part she had in ‘The Avengers’.

This is kind of disturbing. It’s a wonderful thing that Marvel Studios has the nous and wherewithal to pull together these lavish productions where the villains are played by such acting luminaries as Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley. It’s an amazing feat, a bit like a Las Vegas circus landing The Rolling Stones as their guests. I guess it’s all about the money but it is interesting if you consider Ben Kingsley is hardly likely to be remembered as the Mandarin when he is likely to be remembered as the guy who played Gandhi, while Robert Downey Jr just might end up Iron Man forever.

The ‘Big Now’ In Fiction

I know I keep saying disparaging things about comic book content but what really  is the problem? To tell you the truth, I don’t know. It’s just my own snobbery that prefers literariness; but I’m also contrarian enough to prefer comic book content to say, ‘Australian Cinema’. You know you’re going to have a much better time watching a bit of special effects spectacular with a bit of biffo.

I’ve been thinking that as we find ourselves deeper in the post-post Modern, we should accept the deep validity of anything that garners great crowd support. Cinema and film and movies are culturally significant. They might be even more important than other media such as photography or literature in that it can capture movement and present it as an aspect of the art itself. Marvel might have started with Comic Books, but they are now firmly in with the big boys doing cinema, and judging by the success, there’s a case to be made that in fact Marvel speaks to our deepest needs in our civilisation. Take that scholars of Shakespeare – but that’s what we have here. So I really shouldn’t poo-poo these films as much as I do. There’s something in them that speaks to us about the condition of our civilisation. You might be surprised at how morally needy and yet fickle with our affections we are in the eyes of our superheroes.

The fact that these comic book movies keep getting better suggest there’s a long way to run yet on this genre of movies.

The Joy Of Repetition

Spoiler alert for this bit…

One of the things we discover about Iron Man in this film is that he is possibly suffering from PTSD from his near-death experience in ‘The Avengers’. In fact the whole Iron man persona seems to have something to do with PTSD and manic responses to stress.  I am beginning to wonder after 4 of these movies whether Tony Stark really ought to get some serious help rather than lying on a couch talking at Dr. Banner. a.k.a. The Hulk.

Anyway, one of the things that comes out of this is Tony Stark’s insomnia and his need to keep building Iron Man suits of varying designs and it struck me as very insightful that his obsessive compulsive routines actually comes out of a combination of his insomnia and PTSD.

I mentioned in the crit for ’42’ that the number 42 keeps coming up in fiction for some reason and well, the main suit in this movie is suit Mk. 42.

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