As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle IP’s #3 pick, HANNA (2011, Wright)
On the misty, snow covered tundra, a lump of white reveals itself as a swan. From the air, we see an inlet of deep blue water lazily circulating frozen shoals. An arctic fox pup peaks out over its belly before cutting to a young woman aiming her bow at a grazing deer. She quickly and quietly lets an arrow fly into the deer’s breast, which then hobbles off into an open plain. The young woman pursues the creature as it collapses from its mortal wound. “I just missed your heart,” she states before firing a pistol, mercifully killing her prey. As the loud blast rings out from the silence, it simultaneously cuts to a title card which imposes itself over the entire screen. The young woman and the film are called “Hanna”.
In the first two minutes of this movie, we’re introduced to a grand idea that helps carry the entire film, one that is so deftly illustrated by its execution that it’s hard not to accept as being truthful: the world is a wondrous place, the world is a violent place.Continue reading Movie Mondays #12: HANNA→
Wow. I didn’t think this book was coming. Not that I wasn’t expecting a Trinity #1, but a DC superhero book that connects on a human level was a welcome surprise. These characters in capes and armor are manifestations of our fantasies, symbolic of the struggle between good and evil. But when written with care, they become as stirring a curiosity as the real people we encounter. Yes, I do like seeing Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman fight monsters and villains, but what an awesome feeling it is to feel like these characters have real humanity behind them. If universes collapsed, and people that were thought dead turned up alive, I’d expect someone to have some sort of existential crisis, but instead there’s been a lot of business as usual. To see DC’s big three sit down at a dinner table, to watch Bruce speak one way in front of everyone, yet wax sentimental in a moment with Clark, or seeing Wonder Woman confide in Lois because her sisters in Themyscira are lost to her –those are the kind of nuances that take these superhero books out of childish distractions and into the realm of thoughtful entertainment.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle hltchk’s #1 pick, Inglourious Basterds (2009).
In our little collective there is something revered about Quentin Tarantino’s movies. When I first got into film, I remember listening to the HolyBee tell us how he and his friends dubbed the local Lyon’s restaurant they frequented “Jack Rabbit Slim’s” because of their love of Pulp Fiction. DJ Lazybear, too, was so deeply struck by Pulp Fiction that he went on (an extremely brief) hunger strike when it inevitably lost Best Picture to Forest Gump. I get wistful hearing these stories, a part of me romanticizes the 90’s when QT was just getting started, when the Old Guard of IT were young men watching the landscape of cinema get injected with buckets of fresh blood. I may have missed out on that, but I now have the privilege of living in Los Angeles, home of Tarantino’s New Beverly Theater, where every Friday is “Boss Night” and one of his films play at midnight, which is how MeanOldPig and I got to rewatch Inglourious Basterds.
The 2016 Olympics kick off today in Brazil, and in true Idle Time form, we’re commemorating this epic contest of nations with a list of some of our favorite sports movies.
Our collective is delighted to have long-time friend and impeccable lifestyle blogger, Christine Amorose, collaborate on this particular list, as she has the most genuine love of sports movies of anyone I know. Before settling down to watch the opening ceremonies tonight, get a dose of locker room inspiration reminiscing over these classic sport tales!
C’est Christine: Confession: I love sports movies. Just love them. Give me a story with an underdog who overcomes adversity and comes out on top (wins state, brings home the gold, total knockout in the 11th round!) and I am hooked. The thing about sports movies is that they’re always feel-good stories. They give you something to root for: a person,a team, a town, a country.
I grew up playing sports and watching sports. To me, sports are mostly about community: playing on a team binds you to your teammates and cheering for a team instantly turns strangers into friends. Sports movies manage to bottle up this feeling and turn you into a fan, to make you part of the community who’s behind the protagonist.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle holybeeofephesus’s #4 pick, The Big Short (2015).
Why would you watch a movie when you already know the ending? Could you get excited about the story when you actually don’t want the main characters to win? Can an educational film be transformed into entertainment? Do you mind if a movie calls you out on your ignorance?
I asked myself these questions after watching The Big Short. Even though it was one of the films nominated for Best Picture at the 2015 Oscars, I hadn’t gotten around to watching it until its release through Netflix. It’s one of the most interestingly crafted movies of the last few years; it’s built on exposition that pushes the conventions of dramatic narratives to the periphery. Where are all the characters that lose all their money and homes to the financial crisis? We see them, but barely. This movie doesn’t blatantly manipulate our heartstrings, it entertains us with a cast of fascinating characters while it educates the audience on the key details of how the housing market imploded in 2007, creating one of the biggest economic collapses in history. The movie navigates history through four sets of characters, but it’s never implicit that we should care about any of them. All of the characters are people that benefitted off the ignorance and suffering of fellow countrymen, and this story is more about seeing what lead these characters to be in the position to profit off the collapse. We’re allowed to understand these characters, we can sympathize with their actions, but we’re more invited to judge them than truly empathize with them.
In case we haven’t told you, the Institute of Idle Time turns 15 years old this year, and we’re all coming up with different ways to commemorate the occasion. Our most recent celebration of pop trivia and frivolity yielded our Ultimate Mixtape, featuring 150 of our faculty’s favorite tracks since our inception in 2001. Music has always been the centerpiece for our organization, the entree to our banquet of culture, and though it remains the biggest motivating factor in bringing the Idlers together, there are a lot of other things we’re interested in.
While music and comics are no doubt essential to the pop culture pyramid, movies, films, or cinema, if you will, has long been the neglected middle child of Idle Time, and after fifteen years, and the infusion of some young, cinepheliac blood, the Institute is finally throwing its voice into the arena of talking pictures.
Though we’ve taken time to honor films during the Oscar season, we don’t regularly talk about one of our most beloved pass times: watching movies. To rectify over a decade of movie conversations never had (and some just not committed to text), Idle Time is hitting the ground running with a project that nearly matches the scope of the Ultimate Mixtape: The 2016 Ultimate Playbill.
A group of nine Idlers have each drafted five of their favorite films in the last 15 years, making a solid list of 50 films, that are more than watchable, we’d say they’re downright lovable. We’ve organized them in a spreadsheet and we’re currently working out ways for all of us to watch and review these films before the end of November. At that time, we will hold a bonfire, similar to the one used for the Ultimate Mixtape, to eliminate the top 40 until only our collective “favorite” remains.
From this point on, each week we will be previewing one film from the list, with the hope of encouraging members of the institute and movie fans alike to revisit some of the cinematic gems we’ve enjoyed, but never talked about since starting the Institute. As is IT tradition, each post will be a blurb positing our most recent thoughts, feelings, and insights into our favorite movies, which we will share with you (whether you want us to or not).
This first week, one of LDG’s picks had the honor of being reviewed, thanks in part to my free trial of Shudder via Amazon.com. LDG brought a lot of horror titles to the list, and her 3rd pick was none other than the haunting gothic romance, Let the Right One In, courtesy of our friends in Sweden. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s one of the most original love stories of recent memory and has the added bonus of having vampires. If you’re trying to watch it right away, you can always sign up to try Shudder, but this is a film worth owning and it wouldn’t hurt to visit your local Amoeba or other video outlet to pick up a used copy.
Whether you agree with us or don’t feel free to let us know how you feel in the comments or on the social web, but most of all, grab your friends, grab a movie, sit down and have a great time.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle LDG’s #3 pick, Let the Right One In.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about tribes. How we form bonds with people who share similar beliefs, customs and ideas. It’s interesting to me that in a population of billions, one of the ways we establish our individual identity is through the people we surround ourselves with. Perhaps one of the most meaningful things we do with our lives is open ourselves to others, build trusting relationships, and love one another. At its heart, Let the Right One In is a film about a young boy finding his tribe and forming his first truly intimate bond.
From the moment we first see Oskar (Kåre Hederbrant), as a hollow reflection in the window reaching into the night, he exudes a sense isolation. His mother, though loving, is preoccupied with finding romantic love with another man, while his rarely seen father has a boyfriend. Whether his parents were ever married is unclear, but Oskar walks through life with ambivalence, knowing that he is not the most important thing in either of their lives. Continue reading Movie Mondays #1: Let the Right One In→
Playlist By Committee is a subdivision of the Institute of Idle Time dedicated to the preservation of the mixtape format. Each month, four governing members and one guest contributor choose a theme and each pick five songs that best correspond to that theme. The songs are then reviewed and ranked by the committee, with the the top songs being added until an 80 minute blank CD is filled. The list is then published via Mixcloud for the listening pleasure of all who seek it. This is our 3rd playlist.
Whether you love him or hate him, Kanye West is one of the most influential figures in music today. In the last fifteen years, he’s released seven solo-albums, all received with acclaim. In addition to his own catalog, Kanye has had his hands all over the music landscape, producing songs for other big artists, contributing verses alongside the likes of Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross, as well as producing for his own independent label (music he later releases for free). Continue reading PBC #3: Yeezy Taught Me→
This weekend, thousands of moviegoers who watched Captain America: Civil War got their first look at one of Marvel’s most historic characters, the Black Panther. A warrior-king from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, the Black Panther is surprisingly similar to Batman. Though he has strength, speed, and senses that are remarkably enhanced by a magical herb, the Panther relies on his intellect, and a slew of futuristic gadgets to overcome issues of super-villainy, as well as diplomacy. Created by the seminal creative duo of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and The Black Panther is the first Black super hero with meaningful characterization.
Even though he climb walls, swings from buildings and has the proportional strength of a genetically modified spider, Miles Morales has had the burden of proving to the world that he’s Spider-Man. Since being brought to life in 2011 by legendary scribe Brian Michael Bendis and legend-in-the-making artist Sara Pichelli, people both in the fictional and real world have struggled with someone else taking up Peter Parker’s mantle. With an awareness of the public’s reaction to Peter Parker dying (in the Ultimate Universe) and the expectations placed on his replacement, the two artists built Miles’s story around the idea of inheriting the legacy, rising to become not just a hero, but a symbol.
Like Peter Parker, Miles Morales is a reluctant hero. Both were victims of super science, though the original Parker was more from carelessness. In the Ultimate Universe, both the Parker and Morales spider-bite are directly related to Norman Osborn, who was trying to use genetically engineered spiders to recreate the effects of the Captain America super soldier serum. Parker’s motivations to be Spider-Man stem from the death of his Uncle Ben, his beloved father-figure, who could have been saved had Parker only used his powers responsibly. Miles decides to become Spider-Man after the death of Ultimate Peter Parker, who gave his life stopping the monstrous, Ultimate Green Goblin. Destined for greatness, the only other person to get a radioactive spider-bite, Miles accepts the call to be Spider-Man, but not without hesitation. The responsibility of power is the legacy of Spider-Man, and dealing with the pressure to do what’s right at the sake of yourself is a persistent challenge faced by both characters. Peter Parker has sacrificed a lot to be Spider-Man, and Miles has suffered, too. As Spider-Man, he fought to the death with his Uncle Aaron, the Ultimate-thief, Prowler, and his mother died after his father was crippled during a confrontation with the Venom symbiote. The new Spider-Man underwent a gauntlet of classic Spidey scenarios, and he emerged from the separate but equal world of the Ultimates, then survived the Secret Wars, and now plays a significant role as an Avenger. So, I feel good saying Miles Morales is Spider-Man.
This point doesn’t need to be revisited so often, except that the skin color of Spider-Man matters a lot to some people. Reading the letters to the editor in the first Ultimate Spider-Man issues is a disappointing exploration of the intolerance of some fans. But as the issues go on, more people write in recognizing the good work that Bendis and Pichelli were doing, and showing support for the ideals that came with Miles Morales. Still, I think the creative team has been very sensitive to transitioning Miles into Spider-Man, and they’ve detoured many stories so that recognizable characters can give their blessing to Miles.