Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mistress America

Mistress America marks the second collaborative effort of director Noah Baumbach and actress Greta Gerwig, and the second Baumbach film this year.  It’s a bright, watchable comedy about insufferable people and ways we all seem to desperately seek some sense of connection. The title is taken from the short story being penned over the course of the film by _Tracy (Lola Kirke), a Nick Carraway-like observer to Brooke (Greta Gerwig) unique ownership of a 21st century American Dream.  Brooke is a type of social autodidact (a word she’s quick to tell you is one of the things she taught herself), a manic vagabond who lives like the self-aware inverse of Gerwig’s Frances Ha.  She’s shooting to make it big, open a restaurant that feels like home, but along the way live large at the center of Manhattan: flitting between concerts, parties, events, and meeting with investors and leaving admirers in her wake.  Tracy is one such admirer. She’s a first-year undergrad student, struggling to make friends and in awe of the slanted glamour she sees in her soon to be stepsister.  It’s a few short steps between seeing Brooke’s bohemian living space in the middle of Times Square and reimagining her as a self-created, self-destructive, ego-driven Gatsby; enigmatic, eccentric, desirable, and constructed entirely from lies.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Paper Towns

A boy pines for the girl next door. He's loved her for years, since a time when they had been co-conspirators. As they grew apart he held on to the world she'd evoked for him.  Now, at the end of their high school lives, he believes that she is somehow magical, the only girl of her kind. He is so in love with her that he believes that they are bound to be together, and he reads her every move as a sign.  She's prone to disappearing, to running away, and when she takes off yet again she leaves him clues.  Though he knows that this is a pattern of hers - her way of reassuring everyone that she is safe-  he interprets every moment, every word, every nuance of their last evening spent together to mean that she wants him to come and find her.

This is Paper Towns - a kind of sentimental teenage Gone Girl in which the parents are impossibly absent, the kids wander untracked, and no one bothers to hunt for a teenage runaway but the crushed-out kid she used to hang with.  It's another in a seemingly endless line of John Green properties appearing at a theater near you, and while it begs a suspension of disbelief unique to teen flicks, we can at least be thankful it is stripped of the gross sentimentality of last year's The Fault in Our Stars. Instead of tearjerking tragedy the focus is twofold: building a mystery and then using it to dismantle the myth of the manic pixie dream girl.    

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mixtape:You Were Supposed to Love Me, Weren't You?

It's been a minute, but we return with the filmcentric "fanmix" in a very long time. Hopefully there will be more to come (and I'm open to suggestions for future themed entries), and I'm in the midst of adding a bit of image cohesion to the whole of my 8tracks back catalog.  For now, though, I present you with this: a moody, restless 20 song mixtape to soundtrack the the rise of India Stoker.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Another few months, another Marvel Studios outing, another opportunity to talk about all the same thinkpiece topics: if it comes from a studio, can it still be called auteurism? Have we outgrown the origin story? How does this play into the larger Avengers timeline?  Do we like this actor? What can we say about the way female characters are used here?  As much as I tend to enjoy the films, I have to admit that I've grown seriously weary of writing about them. Case in point: Ant-Man has been blocking up my blog posting for at least a month now, not because I didn't like it or don't have any opinions on its success as a piece of entertainment, but because it's a movie that exists almost on its own rubric.  Writing about the comic book actioner has become kinda like grading variations of an assignment around the same prompt: there may be stellar examples or mediocre ones, but the language used becomes repetitive. 

This is my own fault, partially. I've thought about responding less with a formatted evaluation and more with an analysis or essay.  Why not reposition my vantage point? Why not actually tackle one of those questions full on instead of doing a scattershot rundown of pros and cons?  Or, why not just make an actual flat list of the things that work and the things that don't.  For example:
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