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The Heretic

Member Since 24 Dec 2004
Offline Last Active Today, 02:06 AM

Topics I've Started

Birdman: A Critique of the Superhero Genre?

05 February 2015 - 07:13 AM

Last night as I sat down to ink a page of Pantheon, I watched the latest and greatest from wunderkind director, Innaritu, Birdman. Suffice to say, I had to hit pause every now and then – between dipping the nibs in the fountain inkwell – to reflect on the just-witnessed intense scenes. At the end of the film, it all clicked – it was, indeed, a critique of the superhero genre – but at a cost.

The film works on several levels: the satirical level, the meta level, the tragic, and best of all, the self-referential absurdist level. The naked misanthropy was delicious – each character kept creating fresh delusions in the process of shattering their older delusions. Riggan (Michael Keaton) is your classic failed narcissist – shallow, self-centered, but self-hating and caustic – while being constantly plagued by the Birdman, a hilariously macho superhero he used to play in the distant past. Casting Keaton as a former superhero reinforced the ironic metatextual sentiment – and no doubt this also applied to Ed Norton as the deadly serious veteran of method acting.

Several times, some character condemns the superhero genre as some pathetic wish-fulfillment, but the film successfully drew us into the exact same trappings of the genre with spectacular magic realism. The dichotomy between entertainment and art – between the comic book superhero Birdman and the hard-boiled truth of theater - is mere artifice, a house of cards that eventually exposes theater as just another escapist fantasy.

Inarritu's attempt at the critique of the superhero genre reveals a level of maturity he did not achieve in his earlier films (21 Grams, Babel, or Biutiful) because he managed to sublimate his moral vision (which is prone to fatalism) with cinematic and narrative devices. The cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki unleashes his full talent with long takes of unbearably intense scenes. As the film barreled to a hyperrealistic climax, I'm left wondering whether this paralleled Inarritu's own sense of directing, whether Birdman is the confession that Inarritu was always already the superhero director he wanted to be.

NFL 2015 Super Bowl Picks

28 January 2015 - 05:32 PM

Going 7-3 in the playoffs is nice, but it means zippo if you get the biggest game of the year wrong. :finger:

New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks (+1)

This might be the closest Super Bowl game of all time – even Las Vegas casinos are clueless. The line opened at -2.5 for the Seahawks, and as of this writing, it swung to Patriots, -1.

Patriots' strongest suit is their adaptability – they can run smash-mouth with RB Blount or dissect defenses with Brady's superior passing acumen. Moreover, the Patriots will be twice as fired up after all that deflation accusations from last week. The biggest Patriots weapon, TE Gronkowski is nearly unstoppable – after he gets the ball. The Seahawks secondary is built for that – ball denial. They have the players to challenge him on the release and play him straight up prior to the pass. Safeties Chancellor & Thomas will at least minimize the Gronk, and force Brady to look elsewhere at times. After all the Seahawks are working on a historic defense (finished first in three straight seasons). They must pressure Brady at the line, force him into coverage sacks. DE Avril and Bennett are capable of destroying the Patriots' OL, while the Legion of Boom will erase the Patriots' WR corps out of existence.

The Seahawks will not survive an old-fashioned shootout with the Patriots, meaning they'll have to rely heavily on Beast Mode to control the game. The Patriots will be forced to bring their safeties closer into the box to stop RB Lynch. Although the Seahawks' WR corps are bland and nondescript, and will be completely blanketed by the superior Patriots secondary, QB Wilson will buy time scrambling until they get open or gallop for the first down, and force the Patriots' defense to sacrifice a linebacker as a spy. Best of all - Russell Wilson is equally as clutch as Brady has been.

Adding all these up spells a Seahawks victory, first back to back Super Bowl titles in a decade.

Seattle over New England, 21-20

Black Mirror

16 January 2015 - 05:55 PM

God Bless Charlie Brooker. :cheers:

Last year I started watching this wicked satire Black Mirror and immediately fell in love.

Dystopian stories where technological advances haven't the slightest impact on immutable human nature, except reveal deeper and darker layers.

This thread is meant to discuss the larger issues contained in the anthology.

If you haven't had the pleasure, go see it ASAP and let the Johnathan Swift of the 21st century work his magic. :thumb:

NFL 2015 Playoffs Conference Championship Round picks

15 January 2015 - 11:24 PM

2-2, WTF? Let that be a lesson for you all gamblers -- don't play it safe and pick favorites. But then again what do I know? :whatever:

Packers @ Seahawks (-7.5)

The number one offense vs. the number one defense. History tells us that defense beats offense but then again -- history teaches us that we never learn from history. :doh:

QB Rodgers is hobbled, but he managed to pull the fat out of the fire last week vs a nearly unstoppable Dallas team. Then again, the Seahawks are working on a historic defense, and at the most inhospitable home field in the NFL.

Seattle by 4

Colts @ Patriots (-6.5)

The upstart vs. the veteran champion.

The Colts did beat the Broncos in a classic "passing the Torch" game. Do they have another upset in the making? Smart money says no, because the Patriots are superior to the Broncos -- stronger defense, genius coach and playoff tested veterans.

New England by 6

NFL 2015 Playoffs Divisional Round

07 January 2015 - 07:43 AM

A solid opening weekend, but the only thing we will remember is that picked up penalty flag. If the referee blew it, we all would just be disappointed, but this gave conspiracy wonks free license to bang their drums 24/7. Cue the joke: “I went to an NFL game and suddenly an NBA game broke out!”

Ah well, I will settle for 3-1. :cheers:

Ravens @ Patriots (-6.5)
Patriots fans must be getting tired of getting the Ravens in the playoffs by now. This is the fourth time in the last six years, and the Ravens beat them twice at Foxboro. Should've been three if Cundiff hit that gimmie in 2011. The Pats are quite solid on defense, but the Ravens are actually versatile on offense – Flacco is the best deep ball QB in the league. WR Smith will fire up the Ravens just like Ray Lewis of old did. However, the Patriots' TE Gronkowski is nearly unstoppable, and CB Revis can shut down any WR. Right now I'm leaning towards the Patriots, but take the points.
Baltimore +6.5

Panthers @ Seahawks (-10.5)
The Panthers totally stoned the Cards cold – on both offense and defense. It's just too bad that they're headed to the most overwhelming homefield in the NFL at the Century Link. Locals are setting up seismographs to record potential Beast Quakes. But that Vegas line is just way too high – take the points.
Seattle by 6

Cowboys @ Packers (-6.5)
Yes, the Packers haven't lost at home, but neither have the Cowboys on the road this season. Moreover, they have the right antidote to the best QB in the NFL: a powerful running game that can bleed the clock dry and limit Rodgers' opportunities. He will shred the Cowboys' defense, but the Packers aren't as dominant as the Lions were at the line of scrimmage last week. QB Romo will pull out a clutch win – the Cowboys have been this lucky all year.
Dallas by 3

Colts @ Broncos (-7)
Plenty of people are picking this as the upset game, but Broncos are even more invincible at home than either the Patriots or the Packers. The Colts are the proverbial good bad team – they can beat anyone worse than them, but they struggle against the true contenders. QB Luck is probably by now the superior QB to Manning, but he still needs seasoning. Moreover, that Broncos defense is superior to last year's version.
Denver by 9