Showing posts from March, 2022

Recent Reading: The Unraveling by Benjamin Rosenbaum

The long-awaited—nearly twenty years!—first novel by Rosenbaum is part teenage coming of age novel, part posthuman, far-future extravaganza, a combination that is often delightful but occasionally leaves you wanting more. Set hundreds of thousands of years in the future, on a planet so far distant from Earth that it (and the history of human colonization of the stars) are but a distant memory, The Unraveling appears, at first, to be positing a society of Banks-ian liberty and freedom of expression. The humans on the unnamed planet can change their appearance at will, up to and including their genitals and secondary sexual characteristics (which come in a much wider variety than we're used to). Their society is, if not quite post-scarcity, then aimed at avoiding the accumulation of wealth and property—there is, in fact, no ownership of property, only use-right, which is allocated according to social approval metrics, which also determine access to most goods and services. There doe

Do Ya Wanna Taste It? Thoughts on Peacemaker

I had no intention of watching HBO Max's Peacemaker . The whole concept seemed to me indicative of the cynicism and blatant manipulation that characterize this most recent chapter in the lifecycle of the superhero-industrial complex. Superheroes are now the leading product of the increasingly consolidated entertainment empires vying for our money, and each of those empires is now promoting its own streaming platform. Ergo, each superhero property has to function as a launching platform for a spin-off show, be it ever so esoteric and hard to justify artistically. Did you think that The Batman 's take on the Penguin was weird and over-emphasized, a waste of Colin Farrell under a distracting fat suit in a role that could have been played by any character actor in Hollywood? Well, just sit tight for The Penguin , coming to HBO Max in 2023! It would be one thing if these shows were bad and easily ignorable. But the same self-correcting mechanism that allows Marvel to keep chugging a

Recent Movie: The Batman

My overall reaction to this movie is: "fine, I guess". And perhaps that's less a function of the film itself as of the state of the character, who has received five different cinematic takes in thirty years, the last two of which have converged on a sort of a Batman orthodoxy that mandates gloom, brooding, and violence. But even allowing for the tiredness of the material, Matt Reeves's version feels uninspired, stitched together from the pieces of previous attempts, lightly rehashing ideas that have already been thoroughly chewed over, and adding nothing new to the concept or the character. The guiding principle was clearly " The Dark Knight , but more so". The film is structured more as a crime story than a superhero story, with a strong presence for the Gotham police department, an emphasis on organized crime and institutional corruption, and a deranged villain—Paul Dano as the Riddler—who is obsessed with exposing the seedy underbelly of the supposedly re