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Stark Reviews: Robin Hood (1973)

Stark says: “Listen Friar, you’re mighty preachy, and you gonna preach your neck right into a hangman’s noose.”

Sounds like a Western, doesn’t it? What if I told you there was also a corrupt Sheriff, a ruthless Land Boss, a shooting contest, a root-tootin’ barn dance, a pair of outlaws and a stagecoach heist? No, it ain’t The Quick and the Dead. It’s Disney’s Robin Hood and for this month’s review I’m going to forgo my usual Good-Bad-and-Ugly rating and bust a gut trying to convince y’all that this film is actually a Western.

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The Hunger Games - Greatest Modern Movie Epic?

Lorde - "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (Catching Fire)

Finally saw Mockingjay, Part 1 last weekend. All three movies seem to be a slightly different style, but they all revolve around a really interesting anti-authoritarian, anti-media theme. What's interesting isn't just how the theme is handled (intelligently and provocatively), but how it has evolved over the three films, without losing the basic action/adventure/coming-of-age premise that makes the whole thing so fun. It is also, in a way that many of its peers is not, strikingly contemporary.

It'll be interesting to see how it dates, but given the world doesn't seem to be de-paranoia-ing, de-militarising or de-media-saturating any time soon, I suspect this might be something made for the long haul.

Anyway, after a day or so of pondering, here's my challenge - is there a better modern movie epic?

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Weirdness Rodeo

Star Wars

Pornokitsch is a producer of cat-related tweets that occasionally reviews

Scott Meslow on how Star Wars is a merchandise franchise that occasionally makes films:

In what might well be the single largest financial blunder in Hollywood history, 20th Century Fox allowed George Lucas to retain all the licensing and merchandising rights to Star Wars in exchange for a $500,000 directorial fee. In 2014, the overall value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at $37 billion, with Episodes VII, VIII, and IX on the way — along with a slew of spin-offs — it will soon be worth much more. One research firm estimates that sales of Star Wars merchandise could exceed $5 billion in 2016 alone. That's more than the combined global grosses of every single Star Wars movie that has ever hit theaters — including several rounds of re-releases.

I've written about transmedia storytelling in the past - predominantly in regards to the convergence of books and RPGs - but there's something wonderful about the way this forces us to shift our perceptions. We associate particular properties with a particular media channel, but that is very often a complicated blind. To some degree, this happens every time a film is made: as much as readers pretend to have a sort of droit du seigneur, more people see the movie (or TV show) than read the books. There are a few exceptions (I'd love to crunch the numbers for Harry Potter or Tolkien), but not many. (And others, say, James Bond, where the secondary media - film - has unabashedly become the primary media with the passage of time.)

Marvel is a film studio that makes comics. Hell, four million people (including me!) play the Marvel click-farming Avengers Alliance game on Facebook. Maybe Marvel is an app producer that occasionally captures cut scenes as comic books. He-Man, famously, is a toy company that makes cartoons. Batman is a logo that appears on t-shirts, backpacks, wallets, duvets, children's kitsch and... sometimes... a superhero. And, now, Star Wars is a line of merchandise - with high-profile, long form video content marketing. Makes the whole Extended Universe debate a bit moot, doesn't it? Is your lunchbox canon?!

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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014)


I wrote about the first two Hobbit movies and their major problem (they’re not about Bilbo) last year.

Last night I rewatched The Battle of Five Armies for the first time since it came out in the cinemas. And it’s hard to muster the energy to talk about it. Everything I said before is true: Bilbo is lost as a character, there’s too much about Thorin’s backstory, and there’s too much meaningless tertiary stuff.

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Friday Five: 5 Nifty Noir Films from Before 1955

Do you want to watch some film noir?

I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant. I suppose, to me, noir films are shadowy films about darkness seeping in and seeping out. If you like these films, you might want to look a little more into the filmographies of Jacques Tourneur, Ida Lupino, Edgar Ulmer, Nicholas Ray, and John Sturges.

Meanwhile, beware of spoilers. I tried to keep some secrets, but in the end, I'm a femme fatale. I've always got my own game going. 


Out Of The Past / Build My Gallows High (1947) (Jacques Tourneur)


Some people, most people even, think of Double Indemnity (1944) as the quintessential film noir, but my Double Indemnity is Out Of The Past. It stars Robert Mitchum as private detective Jeff Bailey. (90% of Mitchum's characters are named, “Jeff” no matter what IMDb says).

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Friday Five: 5 Weirdest Movies I've Seen Recently

World SF 4This week's guest is Kuzhali Manickavel. Kuzhali is the author of the excellent, brilliant and totally disconcerting collections Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some of Them Have Wings and Things We Found During the Autopsy.  Her short story, "Six Things We Found During The Autopsy", is also collected in the brand-new The Apex Book of World SF 4.

Without further ado...  


And by ‘weird’ I mean I didn’t understand why I was watching them or I was watching them by accident. Also I didn’t always pay attention or watch the whole thing.

Welcome to New York


Not gonna lie, for some reason I thought this was a Philip Seymour Hoffman movie about bees. But as this movie progressed and there was no Philip Seymour Hoffman and no bees and lots of Gérard Depardieu having the sexuals with lots of ladies (LOTS. Like, LOTS), I began to suspect that neither the bees nor Philip Seymour Hoffman were going to make an appearance except possibly to have sex with Gérard Depardieu which might have been interesting but maybe not also. As far as I could tell, the only instances that Sexual Time with Gérard Depardieu was not happening was when they all took a breather so Gerard D could be rapey and when Jacqueline Bisset and him were yelling at each other. In the end, I have to say that the Philip Seymour Hoffman movie about bees might not actually exist.

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Pygmalia: Pygmalion

This year I’m selecting twelve Pygmalion stories—or stories that contain echoes of the Pygmalion myth—and essaying on them. I already have a few in mind, but please feel free to suggest others in the comments or on Twitter @molly_the_tanz 

PygmalionIt’s Low Hanging Fruit month here at Pygmalia, hot on the heels of me totally flaking out of a July column, but don’t judge me too hard… I’d never seen Pymalion, and quite frankly I didn’t know it existed until April, as I was idly browsing the “English” section of my local video store. After noting the Criterion case, I rented it immediately. Um, by which I mean, I noted it starred Second Hottest Actor Of All Time Award-Winner Leslie Howard* as Professor Henry Higgins, I rented it immediately. What? I’m only human.

Pygmalion (1938)

I grew up on musicals, and as I first saw My Fair Lady during the pre-Internet age, I think I can be forgiven for not going down the Google-hole to discover that the dialogue and the staging were taken from the 1938, Bernard Shaw-scripted black and white film, Pygmalion. To be fair, I did run out and buy myself a copy of the play at a used bookstore, the same one I still have, and read it several times—but as to finding out about the Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller version, that took me until this year.

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Ant-Man (2015)


So we went to see Ant-Man. And you know what? It’s a good film! You should go see it. Here's why: (There are a few eeensy spoilers below; forewarned is forearmed. Six-armed. You know. Ants.)

Following the bloated, gaseous corpse that was Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man is a breath of fresh air, a delightfully uncomplicated (relatively speaking) superhero origin story about a guy looking for redemption, and finding it in an unlikely place (namely, some old dude’s basement). Also, there's shrinking down to the size of a small bug, and being able to communicate with small bugs. There’s action, there’s adventure, there are some cool effects, there’s a death that’s at once hilarious and poignant, and there’s Paul Rudd, who I think many people of a certain age have squishy feelings about for reasons that boil down to ‘Josh from Clueless’.

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