Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Oct 24, 2014
As long as it avoids anything closely resembling the real world, Ouija works. Not as horror, but as a cautionary example as to why "gotchas" don't necessarily equal scares.

Welcome to the world of stupid horror, terror where the failed fear comes out of the character’s single digit IQ actions, not anything remotely realistic or relatable. It’s a place where no one ever turns on a lamp, where already scared individuals walk blindly into pitch black areas carrying only notoriously unreliable flashlights, where the police are never called or investigate very mysterious deaths, and where information is parsed out it narratively beneficial drips and drabs.


It’s a place where a house someone has lived in for years contains an easily discoverable secret room that no one has come across before (wouldn’t a home inspection and a title/blueprint search for tax/insurance purposes cover that?), and where clueless characters walk right into supernatural traps, clearly never learning their lesson the first 15 times around.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Oct 24, 2014
That's some view... of modern marriage.

So… a man runs away from an impending avalanche, leaving his wife and two young children behind.


That’s it. That’s the basis for this talky, incomprehensibly narrow minded “view of modern marriage” being touted as some brilliantly enlightened masterpiece. Indeed, Force Majeure (Latin for “superior force”, though typically translated as “unavoidable accident”) is making the arthouse rounds in preparation for an end of the year run at the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar next February and what an over-praised pile of yellow snow it is.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
These two films by Robert Z. Leonard are showcases for June Allyson, who uses her youthful visage to her strategic advantage.

Now available on demand from Warner Archive are two minor entertainments directed by the old and reliable Robert Z. Leonard, both of which showcase June Allyson. A short, pert, perky blonde with a smoky voice, Allyson accents her ability to pass as a teenager.


The Secret Heart follows Hollywood’s postwar vogue for pat Freudian psychology. In a carefully worked out script with a flashback for the complicated backstory, we learn that Lee Adams (Claudette Colbert) is a hardworking real estate agent in New York because she’s paying off debts incurred by her late husband (Richard Derr), a frustrated pianist who embezzled bank funds and killed himself while she was having a good time with his friend Chris (Walter Pidgeon). If that’s not enough, the real focus of the drama is Lee’s moody, 17-year-old stepdaughter Penny (Allyson, almost 30 in real life), who keeps her father’s spirit alive by playing piano and falling for Chris as a substitute daddy, without realizing he’s got his eye on her stepmama.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
This will intrigue those who value the creative freedom of the genre, alienate those with conservative views of the genre, and confuse anyone expecting the typical Hollywood affair.

Johnny Yuma (1966) begins with three Spaghetti Western goons riding out of a desert and approaching a colorless Mexican farmhouse where our hero, the shiny faced Johnny Yuma (Mark Damon), is holed up. The goons have the grimy mugs of Sergio Leone’s classic villains, but they aren’t frightening. Their grimaces are kind of funny and the eye patch of the leader seems rather like a clown’s prop. Next to the candy-corn eyed Yuma, however, they are believable enough. 


When they try to bully Yuma into giving them his horse, he invites them in to talk business. They enter the house to a series of slow drum-rolls, and Yuma uses his reflection in a mirror to bait their bullets before shooting them down with his own. He then hooks-up, in a broom closet, with the easily impressed Mexican mistress of the house, before riding off in his flamboyant red shirt into the beautiful desert setting while the memorable title song, composed by Nora Orlandi, tells us of his greatness.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
With the recent surge in popularity of sci-fi/action hybrid films in mind, it's clear that sci-fi needs to get back to its roots.

It would be difficult to argue that sci-fi is an unpopular movie genre at the moment: the Marvel Universe is dominating the box office, and most of the other highest grossing films from this year have had heavy sci-fi elements. Transformers, X-Men, Captain America, Spider-Man, Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Godzilla are all included on the list of the ten films of 2014 with the highest worldwide grosses, and we can only imagine how well the upcoming Star Wars movie will do at the box office next year.


So, what’s a lifelong geek like myself doing complaining about the current state of sci-fi cinema? Take another look at that list of top grossers; every one of them is as much an action film as it is sci-fi, as are most of the sci-fi blockbusters we’ve seen in recent years (think Avatar, Pacific Rim, and Inception). Now there’s nothing wrong with action, plenty of the titles I’ve listed are great films, and I have nothing but praise for the Marvel franchise. Still, it seems that nowadays works of “pure” sci-fi are few and far between, and I’d love to see more films that return to the roots of sci-fi as a gene distinct from action movies.


Tagged as: moon, sci-fi
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.