You'll stand proud, face upheld
And I'll follow you, into Heaven or Hell
And I'll become, as a girl
In the desperate kingdom of love.
The more I watch Mad Men, the more I’m convinced that the endgame is Joan pushing Don off his balcony in a fit of rage, providing the audience with a sense of satisfaction after watching those credits for seven years. And who could blame her?
To an extent it’s a problem with fandom: the fact is that you’ve got thousands of intelligent people thinking about a problem, and statistically speaking some of them are likely to come up with something more clever than the creators. […] There comes a point at which, frankly, fandom IS better than the creators. We have more minds, more cumulative talent, more voices arguing for different kinds of representation, more backstory… The thing is that I rarely get involved with a show without a fandom anymore, because I actually enjoy the analysis and fic and fun more than I enjoy the show itself. Similarly, I get drawn into shows I otherwise wouldn’t really consider by the strength of their fandom. And I want the shows to live up to their fandom, but it’s an almost impossibly high bar, because the parts of fandom I choose to engage with are often parts that wouldn’t be considered sufficiently accessible or relevant to a majority of viewers. So… basically, for me, fandom is primary, and canon is secondary. The latter is really only there to facilitate the former.
She must find a boat and sail in it. No guarantee of shore. Only a conviction that what she wanted could exist, if she dared to find it.
movies of the week
12 Years A Slave
I’m very impressed by how McQueen took something utterly horrifying and made it even more nightmarish through such stark mise-en-scene. I have no idea why I expected something more Spielbergian, but this was a thoroughly McQueen film. If you’ve seen Hunger, you’re pretty much prepared for this one. (Unexpectedly, this one is a little more subtle.) I’ve seen his previous two films and this one by far was the best. I’m especially impressed by the attention to hierarchies. Paul Dano and Sarah Paulson effectively communicated the seething resentment of “disempowered” whites. The two of them were probably the most interesting white characters in that regard. BC and Fassbender functioned more or less as representatives of two different styles of ownership. Linked explicitly by particular interpretations in Scripture of how masters expect obedience. The scene that introduces Fassbender is especially disturbing in that regard not to mention Fassbender’s best scene as Epps. The characterization of the slave owners is hardly the point, though. McQueen spends most of his time on the overall psychological effect of terror. This is where Chiwetel Ejiofor excels as the lead when the film goes from wrong man suspense mode to horror film victim mode. There are two devastating scenes of physical violence - not counting the hanging - which function as levers to break Solomon’s psychological as well as physical endurance. However, the majority of the film is interested in the psychological warfare visited on every slave in the film and this is where Ejiofor proves the most effective actor as he has to walk the two roads between resolve and dissolution. This isn’t a spectacle of horror in the most vulgar sense as Solomon refuses to sacrifice himself as an object. (This is also where the film invests secondary characters with their own gravity as many of the slaves that Solomon meets have given up and just try to exist somehow - the film never lets out of sight that Solomon may be trying to escape but others have just given up because they’re trapped.) The power of the film is that towards the end the psychological toll is increasingly the most devastating impact of his ordeal and he very well almost loses himself. It’s here that the second scene of physical violence is truly the most devastating. I’m quite astounded by how perfectly Ejiofor uses various emotional registers to avoid shortcuts for a character the audience is already invested in. McQueen here is interested in how far Solomon can sustain himself and this might be the best summary of McQueen’s interests. Just an excellent achievement and an essential film to have now.
The Broken Circle Breakdown
This is what you watch if you want to be depressed and angry for no reason. It just goes overboard despite an interesting premise. The musical performances are interesting however for what they show as lacking in the central couple’s life. The metaphor of music isn’t overplayed there, at least. The protracted downward spiral of the central drama is what makes the film’s handling of itself too excessive, though.
Game of Thrones (season three)
My complaints remain - there’s too much standing around with naught to do but scheming - yet it’s still a decent season. I hope the new season decides to actually use more of the plot of the book. One thing that I noticed on this viewing was the ending: conquering Dany and her adoring masses in contrast to season two’s ending of invading White Walkers. A deliberate parallel, of course, and one that I’m glad the show has tossed out there to us. I’ve read the books so considering what might happen next is sometimes more fun than watching the actual show.