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Showing posts from July, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I've been thinking for some time about how fandom reacts when its beloved auteurs fail.  When someone like Aaron Sorkin produces something as preachy, self-satisfied, and misogynistic as The Newsroom, fandom reacts with dismay, but is that surprise justified?  In Sorkin's case, all of these flaws were baked into his work going back as far as Sports Night, and they were ignored, excused, and forgiven because what he was producing was of such high quality.  Is it really surprising that a writer who has been showered with unconditional praise and adulation should feel free to indulge their worst impulses, and revel in bad habits they might previously have worked to curtail?  I mention this because going into The Dark Knight Rises, I was determined not to make this sort of mistake.  The previous volume in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight, was an excellent film--thrilling, sharply plotted, one of the best superhero films of the last decade.  It also ended on …

Brave

It may at first seem strange to say that Brave is a movie with a lot to prove.  After all, Pixar remains one of the few Hollywood studios whose name is a hallmark of quality, and it closed out the last decade with the one-two-three punch of Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, a trio of films so sublime and so perfectly formed that in their wake an aura of infallibility seemed to attach itself to the studio.  Even if that aura was tarnished by the misstep that was last year's Cars 2--the first Pixar film to be critically ignored and shut out of the Best Animated Film Oscar category since its creation--there's no denying that, going by the numbers, Pixar is the most consistently excellent studio in Hollywood.  Of course, another way of putting it is that after Toy Story 3, there was nowhere for Pixar to go but downhill, and there are signs of trouble besides Cars 2's tepid reception--the fact that a studio that once prided itself on the originality of its stories will, by next year…

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

It sometimes seems that Frances Hardinge is the best kept secret in YA. People who have read her seem unanimous in the view that Hardinge ought to be a major superstar, whose books are greeted with fanfare and exhilaration. But though she's always well reviewed, Hardinge remains under the radar, particularly among the adult readership of YA fiction who should be embracing the sophistication and complexity of her worlds. Part of the problem, of course, is that Hardinge doesn't write the kind of dystopias that have been the dominant and popular flavor in YA since at least The Hunger Games (and that her novels skew a bit younger than those books, with pre-adolescent protagonists who rarely have romance on their minds). Or at least not blatantly, since nearly all of Hardinge’s novels take place in restrictive societies and focus on the lone voice (usually that of a young girl) that dares to challenge them. It's just that Hardinge’s dystopias are more detailed and a great …