Friday, February 11, 2011

Books Read in 2011: "My Year of Flops" by Nathan Rabin



I suppose you could just click here and read most of the essays as they originally appeared at the A.V. Club, but what would be the fun in that?

Choice bits:

Perhaps the ultimate tragedy of W.’s life is that the humility of an alcoholic prostrating himself before God and conceding his powerlessness before his addiction morphed into the tragic arrogance of a leader behaving as if the Lord acted directly through him. (W, Oliver Stone, 2008)

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Incidents like these speak to the fundamental hypocrisy at the heart of our culture’s attitude toward sex and exhibitionism: We leer and ogle with impunity, then, once some vague, invisible line has been crossed, turn into disapproving prudes concerned only with protecting the innocence of children. (Glitter, Vondie Curtis-Hall, 2001)

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It seems perverse to make a musical about Gen Xers, the most cynical and sarcastic generation known to man, that’s wholly devoid of cynicism and sarcasm. (Rent, Chris Columbus, 2005)

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The term “America’s sweetheart,” for example, conveys our shared appreciation for women so glorious that a cultural consensus has been reached that they embody everything that is good and American about womanhood. Who doesn’t love Audrey Hepburn, in spite of her being, you know, not American? Only a goddamned Nazi, that’s who. And Nazis have no business pining for our Audrey. (The Rocketeer, Joe Johnston, 1991)

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So every year, a new group of freshmen establish their individuality, disdain for conformity, and rapacious intellectual curiosity—they’re seekers—by reading all the books they’re supposed to.

Such college students are rebels steeped in tradition, or at least the tradition of rebellion. (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Gus Van Sant, 1993)

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Ah, but Christmas isn’t really about religion, you say. It’s that most wonderful time of the year when people forget their troubles and join together to worship the Great God of Commerce and his little buddy Jesus. We pay tribute to the Great God of Commerce with maxed-out credit cards, personal checks, and plain old cash. But then, in a culture-wide fit of passive-aggression, we turn our backs on Him by bombarding children with movies, television shows, and songs where materialism is climactically renounced and everyone learns the True Meaning of Christmas. If these renunciations of greed succeed, then they make everyone involved lots and lots of money, year in and year out. (Santa Claus: The Movie, Jeannot Szwarc, 1985)

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Before, all a hit man needed was a gun and a menacing scowl. In a post-Tarantino realm, the price of entry rose to include novel ideas about popular culture and man’s place in a godless universe and a gift for machine-gun banter. (Gigli, Martin Brest, 2003)