Watching The Avengers
A group of us went to see The Avengers last night. The movie was fantastic, the night was fabulous, and hey, even if the plot was a little light on, I can happily sit and watch Robert Downey Jnr as Iron Man for hours. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the movies focusing on individual characters that led up to this one, even Captain America, which surprised me somewhat. If you’re after a good night out, I’d certainly recommend going to see it.
In spite of all this, I find it hard to put the media scholar in me to bed long enough to avoid analysing it.
Downfall Parodies Banned
It seems that the Downfall parody clips on Youtube don’t amuse everyone.
The 2004, Oscar-nominated film by Oliver Hirschbiegel about the final days of Adoph Hitler has provided the basis for a persistent internet meme in which a key bunker scene is re-subtitled to have Hitler ranting about everything from poor grammar to Twitter’s tendancy to crash.
One of the fans of the parodies is Hirschbiegel himself. An interview published in New York Magazine earlier this year has this:
“Someone sends me the links every time there’s a new one,” says the director, on the phone from Vienna. “I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Of course, I have to put the sound down when I watch. Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.” Some of Hirschbiegel’s favorites are the one where Hitler hears of Michael Jackson’s death, and one in which the Fuhrer can’t get Billy Elliot tickets.
Hirschbiegel’s view is not just that all publicity is good, although that must enter into it a bit, but that for people traumatised by the Second World War, laughing at Hitler is demystifying.
Video Game Criticism
Timothy Burke makes a case for more sophisticated reviewing of video and computer games, and, in doing so, says virtually every interesting thing I’ve ever wanted to say about Planescape: Torment, one of the most innovative and striking computer role-playing games ever devised.
As Timothy notes, games are hard to write about when the only readily available discourse is that of the mainstream film review, simply because film reviewing is heavily invested in a specific conception of narrative film-making. Witness Roger Ebert’s attempts to review films based on video games—I’m specifically thinking of his review of DOOM, where the beautifully shot ‘first-person shooter’ sequence—a lengthy segment of the film that emulates the experience of actually playing the game—is singled out:
Toward the end of the movie, there is a lengthy point-of-view shot looking forward over the barrel of a large weapon as it tracks the corridors of the research station. Monsters jump out from behind things and are blasted to death, in a sequence that abandons all attempts at character and dialogue and uncannily resembles a video game.
In other words, it’s the one moment when it stops being a conventional bug-hunt action movie, and instead becomes authentically experimental.