Overwrought Film Criticism

Robert Castle’s remarks about two favorite films, Being There and King of Comedy

It’s impossible to argue with Chauncey just as you can?t argue with television. One reason is that he sort of makes sense in the broadest fashion; secondly, if you suspect he doesn?t make sense, he still appears harmless if not a little funny, so why fight him. If you do confront or defy him, Chauncey will sap your will. For example, Ben’s doctor (Richard Dysart) reveals to Chauncey that he knows his real name, Chance, and has seemingly revealed the idiot for what he is. Chauncey remains oblivious to the doctor’s words and continues to speak about Ben, who is about to die. All the doctor can do is say: “I understand,” keywords signifying Chauncey’s own understanding without really understanding. The precise kind of un-understanding and ersatz apprehension of the world is the very thing that television perpetuates among most of its viewers. Television mesmerizes us into a feeling of understanding when very little is understood (knowledge without depth)–what we understand we have had little real stake in and thus aren?t bothered by the shallowness of this state of mind. The beauty of Being There’s satire lies in the strategy of depicting both television and its effects in a single man, whose personality absorbs friend and foe, combines idiocy and wisdom. All who meet him compromise their identities to accommodate themselves to him (not always done consciously). Likewise, the American public accommodates itself to the television/entertainment ethos; the process appears so innocuous that we have made the accommodation with few second thoughts.

A critic named Kirby about the ditzy Legally Blonde:

Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon, is a familiar avatar of the pop film industry itself. Elle’s sorority girl life in Los Angeles is literally a product of Hollywood’s excesses. Her Harvard-bound beau, played by Matthew Davis, gives this as his reason for dumping her: “I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn.” In order to win him back, this “Marilyn,” this physical embodiment of the industry where dreams are minted, must go to Harvard and be accepted by the world of academia. Legally Blonde is a love letter from a jilted Hollywood to the intellectual: You can’t escape from me, you can’t leave me stranded here in L.A., and above all, you have no right to judge me.Elle is ill received at Harvard. The establishment there sees her as self-aggrandizing, over-privileged, and frivolous, precisely the way many intellectuals view Hollywood. Through a series of admittedly silly twists, her frankness and frivolity develop a relationship with intelligence and inquiry that solve an important criminal case. It is, of course, a completely unbelievable plot, but that?s because, in reality, the movie is a primer for the academic mind, the left brain of culture, on how to actually like that which doesn?t make linear sense.

Hilarious Metaphilm article about sexuality in Star Wars. While there is something to this psychoanalytic interpretation, I get the impression that the writer is just having fun with us:

And just what are the instructions to our young fighter pilots? “The approach will not be easy. You are required to maneuver straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The target area is only two meters wide. It’s a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.” This is perhaps Star Wars dirtiest little secret: that shooting your wad to destroy her requires not taking the approach of the main vaginal port (which would impregnate her), but delivering your load anally, to the “small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port.” Luke’s latent homosexuality is unrecognized by him but clearly recognized by Vader, well-versed in the ways of black leather and masked identity, who senses the boy’s dark sexual ambition and comments, “The force is strong in this one.”

As said before, I find metaphilm to be one of the most delightful sources of film criticism I’ve seen in a long time.






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