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Showing posts from April, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

#AvengersInfinityWar is the DC superhero movie of the MCU. — Abigail Nussbaum (@NussbaumAbigail) April 28, 2018For the last ten years, Marvel Studios has been doing the impossible.  Just look at the list of decisions they've made on the road to total dominance of the movie box office, Hollywood's action-adventure machine, and sizable chunks of the cultural conversation.  Every one of them, at the time it was made, elicited loud cries of "why?", and more importantly, "how?"  How can Marvel create a movie universe without the rights to tentpole heroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men?  How can they launch their new franchise with C-list weirdos like Iron Man and Thor?  How can they create a successful team-up movie combining the heroes of five previous films?  How can they incorporate genuinely out-there concepts like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man into their burgeoning cinematic universe?  How can they re-incorporate Spider-Man into th…

Recent Movie Roundup 29

Avengers: Infinity War is just around the corner, which in some way feels like the true beginning of 2018's movie year.  We've mostly wrapped up last year's Oscar hopefuls, and the more experimental action-adventure fare of the year's early months, and now it's time to get down to business.  I'm not feeling terribly hopeful about Marvel's fourth attempt to wring a coherent dramatic work out of mashing all of their characters together (on twitter, I did the traditional thing and ranked all the MCU movies, and the team-up movies all ended up in the bottom half of the list) but I do think it offers a useful opportunity to sum up the last few weeks' movie-watching.  This is probably the last batch of "grown-up" movies to reach my part of the world for several months, so this is also an opportunity to look fondly back before world-destroying mayhem takes over our screens.
I, Tonya - A semi-mockumentary about the rise and fall of competitive figure s…

A Political History of the Future: The Expanse, at Lawyers, Guns & Money

Just in time for its third season premiere on Wednesday, I dedicate my latest Political History of the Future column to The Expanse, a show with tremendous potential as a piece of political storytelling that is mostly being squandered.

I haven't written about The Expanse since I reviewed the first few episodes, and the impressions I formed then have mostly persisted--the worldbuilding is still great, the production values are still amazing, and the story is still pretty dull.  And, as I observed back then, the show's tendency to downplay the importance of popular organization has led to some frustrating blind spots.  The Expanse has a premise that should naturally lend itself to depictions of labor unions, political parties, and liberation struggles, but like a lot of Hollywood products it is reflexively suspicious of all such bodies.  It thus falls into the traps of dividing the underclass into those who suffer passively, and are to be pitied, and those who act, and are to b…

Recent Reading Roundup 46

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The first reading roundup of 2018 covers an eclectic bunch of books, some of which I really liked and others I found pretty meh.  It veers back and forth between rather experimental fare and stuff that sits squarely in the mainstream of literary fiction.  It's not the best possible start to the year, but it's a solid one, and one that reminds me that being adventurous in my reading usually pays off.

Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin - Part literary fantasy, part historical fiction, Irwin's novel takes as its subject Anthony Woodville, a 15th century knight, courtier, and scholar whose sister Elizabeth's marriage to king Edward IV destabilized the tentative peace achieved after the initial York victory in the Wars of the Roses, and set in motion a chain of events that left both sides in the dispute decimated.  I've written in the past about the different approaches that historical novelists have taken to this period, and more generally, about the way that the …