DVD review at PM

Yesterday, my review of the DVD for 3 Backyards, Eric Mendelsohn’s (Judy Berlin) latest film, posted at PopMatters:

As much as I can admire what makes 3 Backyards different from more conventional suburban dramas, I’m also left with the feeling that there may be less to the film than the sum of its parts. There is an effective sense of simultaneity, of lives being led here and now, but the larger whole, the interconnections implied by the metaphoric mapping of the characters and images of a greater nature, never cohere in a meaningful way.

Read the full review.

New Blu-ray review

I have a review of the Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) Blu-ray at PopMatters:

In digital high definition, the picture reveals details, particularly in the weathered, ruddy, often grimy faces of the actors, that have likely not been seen with this kind of clarity before. This in no way detracts from the viewing of the film, if anything it highlights the care and craft that went into the production, but Once Upon a Time in the West is, literally and figuratively, a movie about the dirt under the fingernails of its characters, and how everyone has some of that dirt, no matter how they might appear on the outside or to those in society at large. Somehow that deliberate moral ambiguity, that greyness and imperfection, seems more at home in an analog context than in a digital one.

Read the review. (As an additional point of interest, I adapt Nicholas Rombes’ 10/40/70 experiment for the review. Details in the full article).

“Worlds in Panels”: motion comics

In my current “Worlds in Panels” column at PopMatters, I take a critical look at motion comics through the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight DVD.

Despite my interest in transmedia storytelling, I have largely sidestepped this new way to read, but with the release of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Motion Comic, I decided to take my first good look. In viewing the sixteen “issues” collected on the standard DVD – the set includes a Blu Ray disc as well – I kept asking myself, Who is this for?

Read the columnCheck out a discussion of the piece on Whedonesque


Yesterday, my review of the DVD for the film adaptation of Steven Levitt’s and Stephen Dubner’s Freakonomics posted at PopMatters. While entertaining enough, as social science, the film leaves something to be desired.

There is one sense in which it does not seem to matter much if one refers to the book or to the film. In both cases, freakonomics, however unconventional in other respects, shares at least one limitation with mainstream economics: a refusal to engage with the underlying values or politics of its claims about the world.

Read the review

DVD Review for SALT (2010)

Yesterday, my review of the Theatrical Edition DVD for Angelina Jolie’s spy-thriller, Salt, posted at PopMatters:

Evelyn Salt is the kind of character normally reserved for male actors and, in fact, was originally ‘Edwin Salt’, with Tom Cruise initially envisioned in the role. One of the few distinguishing characteristics of the movie is how little the role appears to have changed in the transposition from male to female. There are only one or two moments where it is difficult to imagine the action unfolding any differently with a man in the lead as opposed to a woman.

Read the full review

2010 contributions to PopMatters

PopMatters is on its annual publishing break, so here is a compilation of my contributions from the year:

DVD reviews:

Metropia (2009), 17 November, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/133436-metropia/

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect (2007), 22 September, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/131069-rem-koolhaas-a-kind-of-architect/

A Town Called Panic (2009), 19 July, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/128344-a-town-called-panic/

Uncertainty (2009), 1 June, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/126249-uncertainty

Arizona Dream (1993), 30 April, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/124507-arizona-dream-warner-archive-collection

Blood Ties: The Complete Series (2007), 23 April, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/124137-blood-ties-the-complete-series

Examined Life (2008), 26 February, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/120778-examined-life/

Sita Sings the Blues (2009), 11 January, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/118090-sita-sings-the-blues/

“Worlds in Panels”:

“A case for comics in College”, 3 February, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/119402-teaching-with-comics/

“Creator: various”, 10 March, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/120569-comics-authorship-reaching-the-limits-of-singular-genius/

“Egads! Comics! In the library!”, 7 April 2010, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/123371-my-ten-year-old-is-reading-what-the-meaning-of-the-comics-section-at/

“Comics: it’s such a big small world”, 6 May 2010, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/124633-between-big-and-small-what-conventions-tell-us-about-american-comics/

“Freeze frame: how best to capture film in a comic book?”, 8 June, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/126368-the-art-of-making-moving-images-still/

“Almost lifelike: drawing out reality in comics art”, 26 July, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/127397-comics-art-referencing-the-real-drawing-out-reality/

“The danger of ‘Girl Comics'”, 16 August, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/128969-thinking-beyond-this-years-women-of-marvel/

“‘Scott Pilgrim’ and what movies means to comics”, 30 August, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/130258-scott-pilgrim-and-what-movies-mean-to-comics/

“Strange tales and mainstreams: when all superheroes are uncanny”, 5 October 2010, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/131215-strange-tales-and-mainstreams/

“From pin-ups to ass-kickers: girls in comics go through transitions”, 16 November, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/132715-comics-gender-gap/

“The year in review: the best comics of 2010”, 14 December, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/134160-the-most-interesting-comics-i-read-in-2010-trade-paperback-edition/

DVD review: METROPIA (2009)

Yesterday, my review of the Tribeca Film DVD for Metropia, an animated, dystopian science fiction film, posted at PopMatters. I found the movie fascinating to look at, but incapable of sustaining its story.

The characters are weirdly fascinating to watch, and in a short film with little or no dialogue, could have been wondrous. Here, where they have to carry the weight of human emotion and dire situations, their uncanny resemblance to flesh and blood works against audience identification. While that may have been part of the intent, fostering critical distance for thought on the part of viewers, in a film that ends with love, it is an odd visual choice.

Read the Review