#artisticinputs: alpha


new movies i’ve seen recently

Brooklyn’s Finest [no Training Day]

Four Lions [fine tragi-comedy]

Kick Ass [genuinely quite troubling]

Cemetery Junction [sweet; good music]

Shutter Island [so so-so]


tv shows i’m following (& where i’m up to)

+ Treme [Season 1 Episode 10] (#telosvision post coming soon)

+ Mad Men [Season 3 Episode 4] (i’m pacing myself to hit season 4 flush)

+ Californication [Episode 16]


books beside the bed (in various states of completion)

§ The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

§ The Corner by David Simon

§ Figures of Dissent by Terry Eagleton


albums i’m loving right now

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

KPM 1044 (The Big Beat) feat. Keith Mansfield & Alan Hawkshaw

4 by The Bamboos


dvds i’ve peeped of late

A Room For Romeo Brass

A Scanner Darkly

Big Train (Season 1)

Dark City

The Day Today

Original Spider-Man ( Season 1)

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada


(n.b. right now i’m owned by my thesis, which refuses to finish itself)

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  • Comments (7)
    • Al
    • June 16th, 2010

    What did you find troubling about Kick-Ass, mate?

    Can’t wait to see Four Lions, though.

    • It’s a weird film.

      The recent trend for superhero movies and comic book adaptations has been to adultise them and try to make them overtly political or whatever. This, by contrast, is a deliberately and obviously teenage film.

      Superhero tropes are essentially about mythology, but Kick Ass deconstructs that in a really boring way and makes the teenage nerd becoming a superhero a literal vehicle. So, presumably, we’re supposed to assume that 15 year olds can relate to a world where their peers need to beat the hell out of people or cut them up with swords to get by.

      However, it’s really hit girl that comes across in a troubling way. she is clearly supposed to be a ‘powerful’ character: she’s a girl, but she shows the boys hows it’s done. She’s young, but she kills people and says “cunt” (oooohh). The realist arc of the narrative really leaves us with nowhere to go with these things other than to locate them in the ‘real world’ (of the film) – i.e. her killing is as real as Kick Ass’s high school crush – we can’t both suspend disbelief and care about the story.

      More specifically, the film seems to promote what I would say is virtually an abusive relationship between a father and daughter. She doesn’t go to school, instead he keep her at home and trains her to kill people. Not only do we see lots of pretty graphic violence, but it’s shown in a way that pretty much normalises it. I thought the scene towards the end where Nick Cage is tied up and on fire and she has to kill her way towards him was really pretty twisted.

      I think there is also an underlying sexualising of her violence and the relationship with her father, which takes us into some complex issues. It’s basically a cross between the style and feel of Superbad on the one hand and content of Leon and Sin City on the other. It was a cocktail that did not sit well with me.

    • Al
    • June 16th, 2010

    I didn’t like the film, either. I thought the story was as predictable as the gags were unfunny. It was a vehicle for CGI violence and cheap gags, which is of no interest to me at all unless it is bundled along with a tight story that require uncomfortable violent scenes. However, I can’t say it troubled me. Well, at least not in the same areas that it troubled you.

    Wanton violence is pretty much everywhere, from video games to film and television, and under the 18 certificate I’m more than happy with it to be available for those wanting to watch it. We’ve seen worse in Kill Bill: sex with a coma patient, gratuitous violence, violence children, etc.

    The real crime with this film, in my opinion, isn’t the burning of Nick Cage (surely a good thing for modern cinema, non?) or the glamourisation of violence by a young girl, but the sloppy screenwriting that is rife in these sort of films. And I do think that it is more glamour than sexualisation, especially in the case of her paternal relationship. That would certainly have been more troubling, and totally out of place in the film.

    I accept, and agree with your point about the realism angle of the diegesis being an obstacle in this film, and it falls bassackwards over that obstacle, but we need to remember that this is just a fictional milieu. The depiction of crime fighters being hurt by bad guys isn’t something I’d easily be troubled by, nor ridiculousness of the young girl’s situation.

    Just the way I see it.

  1. Fair dos boss.

    I’d agree with you about the 18 certificate, for good or for ill I’m fairly happy with adults going to watch anything they want. I’m annoyed by all the throw away violence that Hollywood pumps out, especially given the conservatism with regard to sex and in particular homosexuality that persists, particularly in in the American mainstream, but I’m not in favour of too much censorship, so I have to be able to take the rough with the smooth.

    The weakness of the understanding of genre, script or plot on show were no real surprise to me, and although I weary of bad films, there are so many I find it too depressing to focus on too much. The thing that made me uneasy about this film was the 15 certificate in the UK (R is the US, or PG in France) and how obviously it had been aimed at the teen demographic.

    • Al
    • June 16th, 2010

    ”I’m annoyed by all the throw away violence that Hollywood pumps out, especially given the conservatism with regard to sex and in particular homosexuality that persists, particularly in in the American mainstream”

    America is like two countries. The coastal areas where people are forward thinking, progressive liberals, and those that are small town folk and encapsulate everything you say about them. Homophobic, undereducated and reactionary.

    PG in France is ridiculous, but I trust the BBFC, even if I don’t think parts of it are all that suitable for 15 year olds. Still, in the end, I agree with your view on censorship. It’s like rite bad, innit.

  2. What you say about the two Americas is true to a certain extent, although obviously we’re talking in generalities. Even so, there is plenty of small town mentality floating around the two coasts – it didn’t feel that progressive at times when we travelled through Maine and New Hampshire and the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia would be certainly have more than their fair share of conservatism – and there are progressive enclaves in the middle too.

    However, I wasn’t actually referring to the American people, but the media, in particular the movie industry, which is ever-increasingly dominated by massive companies that are generally far more conservative than the average citizen.

    I also like the BBFC, even if I don’t always agree with them, but as far as I’m concerned the MPAA are a throughly retrogressive organisation.

    • Al
    • June 16th, 2010

    Yeah, I’d agree with that, though it’s tough to be accurate with such sweeping generalisations that we’re guilty of above. In comparison to middle America and the bible belt, it’s pretty liberal, by American standards at least, around Cali, New York and the Northeastern Ivy league areas, wouldn’t you agree?

    The other world, the reactionary world, and the current brand of Neoconservatism (although, these labels are quite meaningless to Americans, having bastardised and flipped these tags on their heads. Libertarianism, for example) is quite a worrying trend. The solution to losing out to the progressive centre right (or extreme liberal left wing nutjobs, as they’re known by the right!) is that many Republicans want to go even more to the right, rather than back towards the centre. Madness, I say to ye.

    Sorry, when you said American mainstream, I misunderstood. I couldn’t agree more about the American media – an area of interest for me – with a few notable exceptions, the political spectrum is totally skewed, isn’t it. Though, we know who that’s down to. The serial patriot, Rupert Murdoch. Actually, he’s responsible for a lot of things spanning back generations. His son will be even worse, so I can’t even look forward to his demise.

    I fear we may have a slight digression on our hands. Sorry about that.

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