Archive | November, 2013

Short Review: Clockers (1995)

10 Nov
Watched Clockers last night. The inspiration for The Wire (season 1 in particular) is easy to see, but since the novel had the misfortune of being adapted by Spike Lee (with his nigh-pathological aversion to subtlety in full force), the film is pretty well ruined by random bouts of soapbox editorializing, distracting skin-deep stylistic flourishes, campy overacting galore, and a fucking awful score that undermines nearly every scene. (Like, imagine if 80% of The Wire‘s scenes were accompanied by either a terrible soap opera soundtrack that didn’t even match what was happening onscreen, or licensed R&B music played during violent scenes for an in-your-face “ironic” contrast that wears out its welcome about 15 seconds into the opening credits. Yeah.)
Should’ve just read the book.

Short Review: 12 Years A Slave (2013)

5 Nov

12 Years A Slave is, for better or worse, pretty much what you’d expect: a Slavery Movie about how Slavery Was Bad (Really Bad). It’s not a character study of Solomon Northup, a quasi-documentarian reenactment of history, a political allegory for some contemporary phenomenon, a sociological examination of the institution of slavery, a philosophical rumination on the nature of human freedom/enslavement/control/suffering/etc., or even a sentimental memorial a la Schindler’s List. It’s just… the Slavery Movie.

I suppose that’s not the worst thing to be, and I’m glad it exists (and mildly disgusted that it took until the year 2013 for it to get made), and I’m sure it’ll soon join Last of the Mohicans and Hotel Rwanda as a high-school history class standard. It’s certainly not easy to fault on any formal level. But artistically, it’s hard not to feel that something’s lacking.