The Frontline documentary “Policing the Police,” released in late June, arrives at what feels like a critical moment in the conversation concerning police brutality in the United States. Then again, it is difficult to locate any period in this country’s history in which this documentary, co-written and reported by Jelani Cobb, wouldn’t be timely. Cobb investigated some of the reform efforts made by the police department and the city of Newark, NJ to highlight the difficulties facing police reform in both theory and practice. The resulting broadcast touches on logistical problems, budget constraints, institutional resistance, a community demanding greater accountability for its officers and respect for its people, and police culture.
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What-if scenarios involving Hitler and World War II are pretty common in fiction, often involving the creation of alternate histories to account for potential plotholes or timeline problems. In Look Who’s Back, Timur Vermes keeps it simple: everything is exactly as we know it in real life, except that Hitler somehow wakes up in present-day Germany (or 2011, the year of the book’s publication in that country) having inexplicably and unintentionally traveled 66 years through time.
Continue reading “Stranger Than Satire”
At some point, I sort of stopped watching most movie trailers. I didn’t do this intentionally. It developed out of habit: I’m always running like 15 minutes late, even when going to see a movie in theaters, so I miss previews almost entirely, and I don’t spend much time looking for new trailers online. And as a personal preference, I don’t read much about a film before I see it. Afterward, I’ll try to read as many different perspectives as I can find, but before going into a movie, I’m usually aware of its title, maybe some cast and crew, and a few headlines’ worth of story and general critical reception. Blockbuster releases are the exceptions to this practice, as I like to read everything I can find about them in advance so that I might complain better later.
Continue reading “Millennium Actress (2001)”
1. As the inevitable outcome of the superhero franchise frenzy that has overtaken mainstream filmmaking.
2. As an indicator of what the next ten years of our filmgoing lives will look like.
3. As Zack Snyder’s attempt at making the superhero Apocalypse Now, an attempt at capital-A Art that demands stern consideration, a film that purports to outdo everything that came before it. This is sort of the only way to understand some of the choices he makes, like opening the film with a maudlin montage of the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents that leads immediately into a scene evoking 9/11, or the odd fever dream sequences, or the allusions to contemporary international and domestic politics, or the repeated use of slowmo, or the exaggerated efforts to stage iconic frames. These things exist, at least in my reckoning, to guide the viewer into believing they are watching something that is More Than Superheroes. It might be that, but it also isn’t very good.
Continue reading “13 Ways of Looking at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
Blogging independently, without a guaranteed audience, has always been either a gamble or an outright waste of time, depending on your idea of value. In 2016, though, the activity can seem particularly more ridiculous with each passing month, as the entire rest of the internet conspires to become one giant Platform. Now, with the announcement of Medium for Publishers and with sites like The Awl migrating to the service, the future of writing and publishing online is coming into sharper focus, if it wasn’t already apparent. Trying to answer the question “why not just post this on Medium?” is a joke without a punch line. This is an ecosystem defined by engagement potential, click-thru rates, virality, likes, shares, favs, RTs, and whatever other metrics are currently relevant. Within those parameters, it’s tough to answer the question “why not Medium” if you’re starting to write on your own today. Medium is designed to maximize those numbers – or, to convince you that it has the greatest potential to maximize those numbers.
Continue reading “Places to Put Words Down”