Not long ago Kyle Buchanan published on The Vulture website an insightful look at the age discrepancies between various movie leading men (Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, and others) and actresses who get cast opposite them to play their love interests. He noted, rightfully, that no matter how old these matinee idols seem to get (their 50s, 60s, 70s!), the ages of their leading ladies, in film after film, always remains at least 10 to even 20-plus years younger. In Oblivion, 50 year-old Tom Cruise is paired with the 33-year-old Olga Kurylenko. In Up in the Air, the 48-year-old George Clooney hooks up with the 36-year-old Vera Farmiga. And in the forthcoming World War Z, the 49-year-old Brat Pitt plays opposite the 37-year-old Mireille Emos. And, etc., etc.
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It seems so silly. It’s the lowest form of criticism… and yet, all throughout the 19 April 2013 weekend, critics have been having a field day with Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi epic, the oddly named Oblivion (was that title ever explained in the film or did it just sound really cool?). While it easily claimed the weekend box office ($38 million, and counting, on top of the near $112 million it’s already earned overseas), it’s also earned some scathing notices, most pointing out how heavily the movie lifts from previous cinematic staples. Everything from Planet of the Apes (?) to The Matrix has been name checked, with every other bit of celluloid speculative fiction thrown into the mix to maximize the message. Indeed, the consensus appears to be that Oblivion may be great to look at, but it’s also clearly unoriginal and derivative.
With the recent announcement that Pixar, those purveyors of flawless (?) animated family films, was once again going back to the base for a sequel to the fan favorite Finding Nemo, a question has arisen among cartoon connoisseurs. To paraphrase said sentiment—are the masters of mainstream computer animation looking to be more creative, or more commercial? Posited another way, the issue becomes one of corporate interference, business model meddling, and a true lack of pundit perspective. Granted, John Lasseter and the gang stumbled a bit with Cars 2 (seen by many as made for merchandising reasons only) and Brave (which may have won the Oscar but few true converts), but for the most part, their reputation has remained unsullied…
Racism is an ugly, ugly thing. There is no excuse for it, no way to argue out of its sickening sensibility. Time and temperament can change. So can people and perspective. But to make rash, ridiculous decisions based on skin tone, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any other superficial stricture is the most mindless of judgment calls, and to attempt to defend such dumbness is the height of hopelessness. People should be based on who they are as human beings, not predetermined misread stereotypes. And yet we are currently embroiled in a clash over same sex marriage, only fifty years removed from a time when “colored” folk had to use segregated social facilities - if they were allowed in at all.
A debate has been raging on the Internet over the past two weeks, a war of words between a certain select group of critics and their equally astute peers. It all centers around a recent poll by Indiewire (as part of their Criticwire brand) dealing with, and we quote, “Overrated Masterpieces.” Now, if that tag isn’t confusing enough (if something is considered a “masterpiece,” can it really be “overrated?”), many of the answers were. As pointed out by Calum Marsh in his Film.com response “The Movie Isn’t ‘Overrated,’ You’re Just Lazy” several of the opinions offered were nothing more than dismissals and assertions. While the framework of the piece may have allowed for such shortcuts, Marsh argues that many of the conclusions can be summed up in the following way: I’m right, everyone else is wrong.
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