Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New and Noteworthy (Most Absurd SF Film of All Time, Kevin Smith's Last Film?, Genre Fiction for 2011)

In today's edition:

* A panel of NASA experts named the 2009 blockbuster 2012 the most absurd science fiction film of all time--quite an achievement given what we've come to take for granted on screen, though hardly a surprise given the film's catering to the hysteria surrounding a misunderstood piece of Mayan religion. (Those looking for NASA's position can find a Q & A about the subject here at the agency's site.)

After similar hype about the turn of the millennium waned and the mystical doomsayers fastened on the 2012 date next, I was deeply irked by the fact that they chose one still so far off because it meant we would have to hear about it again and again and again and again and again for a full twelve years. I can't remember not finding the subject nauseating and exhausting (indeed, while I've enjoyed previous Roland Emmerich's films as light entertainment, I've steered clear of this one), and it seems we have another two more years of this nonsense to go. In the meantime, fellow sufferers may want to check out 2012hoax, a wiki devoted to debunking the phenomenon.

* Following the debut of his new movie Red State at the Sundance Film Festival, Kevin Smith has announced that he will distribute the film himself, taking it on the road--and that his next film will be his last.

From the start I've looked at Kevin Smith's movies and wondered what the fuss was about. They were neither great moneymakers (none grossing over $30 million in the North American market), not impressive critical successes, Clerks (1994) and Chasing Amy (1998) only partial exceptions to the latter pattern. Nor did they deserve to be. Smith had some knack for writing geek talk, slacker angst and gross-out humor brutal enough to scar its butts for life (like Dante Hicks's ex-girlfriend Caitlin Bree in that first film), and admittedly for bringing the three together (indeed, he's had his influence), but it's hardly proven to be a basis for a two-decade career, or adequate grounds for the reputation he enjoyed, his range of interests and his repertoire of skills both far too narrow for that. (He was out of his depth in 1999's Dogma, wallowed in his own mediocrity in 2001's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and failed to impress in commercial films like 2003's Jersey Girl.) These last few years, clearly, others have felt the same way (resulting in the hysterical war of words Smith has waged against his critics, which got particularly nasty after Cop-Out flopped).

I'm not gloating over the fact, but I'm not broken up over it either.

* Locus has posted its list of forthcoming books for 2011, complete through the month of September.

New and Noteworthy (On Mark Stern, Ship Breaker Review, Reappraising Spiderman 3)

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