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Television

'Quantum Leap' and the Denial of Meaning

Grand "explanations" are simple, it's actions and decisions that are complex. Quantum Leap treated ordinary people's problems as the real matters of cosmic importance.

Television

Why Does TV Betray Us So, Every Christmas?

Some TV shows just aren’t willing to launch themselves into Christmas joy without also considering the validity of the Grinch's perspective.

Television

Back Away Slowly, Walter White, Sgt. Suzanne 'Pepper' Anderson's Got Her Own Big Gun

Unassuming high school chemistry teacher faced with insurmountable medical expenses turns to manufacturing illegal drugs to make ends meet? Sorry Bryan Cranston, Angie Dickinson and William Shatner got there first.

Television

Total Divas on E!: Just Switch it Off

Total Divas is WWE's ode to its own misogyny, its glorification of its belief that women are peripheral to real narratives and that women don't deserve the same opportunities as men.

Film

Forget the Brooding 'Man of Steel', Here Are Five Ways to Have Fun with a Lighter, Brighter Superman

Man of Steel was more concerned with surly brooding than Superman's more endearing traits. I think we (and Superman) should lighten up.

Film

Superman and the War Against Anachronism

The impulse is to "update" Superman, to make him "relevant". But what could be more deadening than making an enduring cultural icon "relevant" to passing trends?

Television

Retro Future: Reviving 'Have Gun -- Will Travel' and 'The Rifleman'

It looks like classic TV Westerns "Have Gun -- Will Travel" and "The Rifleman" might be on their way back to screens. Any chance the 30-minute drama might make a return, too?

Film

A Blackly Sardonic Telling of Abe Lincoln: 'Crime Classics, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln'

You think Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is compelling? Try upping the ante with Crime Classics: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Television

Love-Drenched Gunfighters in 'The Guns of Will Sonnett'

For a couple of rough 'n tough gunfighters, these guys sure do talk about love a lot.

Film

The Three Stooges' Chaotic Neutrality in 'I Can Hardly Wait'

I Can Hardly Wait stretches the Three Stooges' "chaotic neutral" alignment into an uncomfortable fever dream of pointless violence with an undertone of sadistic cruelty. A failed Stoogesperiment in literary naturalism? or just a bad day?

Television

No Contract for Old Men: 5 'Old Folks' in Pop Culture That Are 5Xs Tougher Than You

It'd be a shame if the endless emphasis on youth results in a lack of "grown-up" concerns in pop culture. Here are five examples of the old kicking ass and refusing to give way to the young in mainstream pop culture.

Film

Joss Whedon's 'Avengers' Reaches Apex of Averageness, True Believers

The Avengers may be awesome, but that doesn't mean it's any good. The new standard for superhero films seems to be that they don't suck as opposed to actually containing any ideas of interest.

Film

Go Play in Traffic: 5 Movies About Kids That Are Better Than 'Hugo' and 'True Grit'

Precocious cherubs and wise-beyond-their-years savants are a Hollywood staple, but they don't really reflect the state of actually being a kid. Here are a five good, great, or interesting films that are far more effective in portraying that being a kid is a really weird thing to be.

Film

Kafka Noir: 'The Sickroom' and 'A Country Doctor'

Serge Marcotte's The Sickroom compresses Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor into a nightmarish rush of hard-boiled film noir cynicism that, like all the best literary adaptations, is simultaneously faithful and unique.

Television

Tough Guys Recite: The 5 Best Poetry Spittin' TV Characters

Every generic hero on TV can finish a poetic quotation or identify a poignant quatrain (down to the line numbers). But few can spit Tennyson or Yeats with such venom as these guys.

Film

The Thing (2011): Bringing Quiet Tones and Space Vaginas Back from the '80s

Matthijs van Heinjningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing summons the chilly vibe and the cinema-sexual psychoanalytic undertone of the best of '80s genre cinema. It's only the generic modern "female empowerment" story that seems dated.

Film

Jean-Teddy Filippe's 'Forbidden Files': Found Footage Lost (and Found Again)

Oddly missing in histories of the "found footage" genre, Jean-Teddy Filippe's "Forbidden Files" offers intriguing glimpses at horror and fantasy flickering into an uneasy camcorder reality, ten years before The Blair Witch Project made it fashionable (and lame).

Television

WWE's Heels -- the Jerks, Cowards and Miscreants -- vs. Corporate Hedonism

Mainstream culture's failure to examine professional wrestling seriously -- in this case, workplace safety issues -- lets the WWE get away with all kinds of ridiculous villainy that no other media organisation could. And pocket a tidy profit while doing it.

Film

Robot Dreams: 'Transformers' and 'Sex Kittens Go to College'

Retro Remote nominates Sex Kittens Go to College as Transformers' true precursor. The problem with Tranformers-type franchises is that the criticisms can only annoy people by reminding them of what they have chosen to ignore.

Politics

Killing Osama bin Laden and David Mamet's Special Ops Drama, 'The Unit'

Viewing the world through a haze of vaguely remembered TV shows, tough-guy dialogue and TV jingles, the news about Osama bin Laden’s death quickly turned thoughts to The Unit, the TV series created by once-great writer David Mamet.

Film

Betty Boop and Bimbo Get Into a Sexual Tangle in 'Barnacle Bill'

The Fleischer Studios' Betty Boop cartoon Barnacle Bill embraces the pleasures of the perpetrator far more than the fate of the victim, where a cute cartoon pup gets to be a sexual predator and stoke our prurient interest in the 'joy of punishment'.

Television

Homophobia Is Alive and Well on TV at the WWE

With the WWE's biggest event of the year on the horizon, fans and sponsors might want to take a closer look at its blatant homophobia and reconsider the wisdom of handing over their money to a bigoted and retrograde institution.

Politics

What 'La Femme Nikita' Has to Say about Egypt and Former President Hosni Mubarek

La Femme Nikita's miserable and corrupted world of moral dead zones and US-sanctioned torture forces its hero to make a real-world choice between pragmatic collusion or principled, perhaps doomed, resistance.

Games

Frankie Goes to Hollywood & Gets There Behind the 'Wheel' of a Classic Commodore 64

'Frankie Goes to Hollywood' on the Commodore 64 is a surrealist nightmare in 16 colours, where GTA-style freeform roaming rules, and the band's sexual imagery forms a hedonistic scavenger hunt for aponia, the Epicurean absence of pain.

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