No amount of Terminator scholarship is too much if you’re me. So just as the new Terminator: Dark Fate (which bombed over the weekend, but you people keep buying tickets for those The Fast & The Furious movies, so there’s no accounting for taste) is a follow-up to 2015’s Terminator: Genisys (sic) that’s really a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day,…
As in every Terminator movie, the new Dark Fate offers no explanation for why the A.I.—SkyWho? It’s called LEGION now—dispatched only a single cyborg assassin to this time period, or why the human resistance sent only one bodyguard. The answer, of course, is that the one-on-one conceit is just more compelling and dramatic than a platoon representing each faction would be.
My NPR review of Terminator: Dark Fate, a these-were-canon-those-were-not half-reboot in the tradition of Superman Returns and Halloween (2018) is here.
I am always grateful for an invitation to rub elbows with the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew. All your favorites are there around the table this week: Intrepid host Linda Holmes! Indefatigable regular panelist Stephen Thompson! Inexhaustible other regular panelist and Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon! And then there’s me. The four of us merrily dissect the paranoid charms of Mr. Robot, showrunner Sam Esmail‘s much-discussed USA Network series about a brilliant but also probably off-his-rocker sometime-vigilante computer hacker involved in an anarchistic conspiracy.
I think I got to say more or less everything I meant to about the show, though none of us had seen the season finale when we recorded the episode, as it had not yet aired. Wait, no: I didn’t mention how clever I think it is that we, the audience, are cast as Elliot-the-hacker’s paranoid delusion. In voiceover, he addresses us as “you” while acknowledging that we’re imaginary. Smart. I also like that he disguises his data archives of the people he’s hacked as home-burned audio CDs. The fake labels he Sharpies onto them often suggest a connection between the album and the person: His psychiatrist’s archive is labeled as the Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues, for example.
You may recognize the Coney Island Wonder Wheel, featured prominently in Mr. Robot‘s pilot episode, from this very website. Continue reading →
I just got home from attending a two-week criticism institute, wherein I was one of 14 working arts journalists, aged twentysomething to fiftysomething, to benefit from the instruction of critics for The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other influential publications. That’s where I was on Wednesday morning when I got a mass e-mail from Scott Tobias indicating that The Dissolve was shutting down, effective immediately. In its two years of life, that site had firmly established itself as the best place on the web to find smart, enthusiastic, formally inventive writing about movies new and old, famous and obscure. I’d declined a review assignment from Scott only days before, citing my wall-to-wall schedule during the institute.
Scott’s e-mail came just as I was heading into a session on restaurant reviewing conducted by Sam Sifton, the Times’ food editor. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder about food coverage. I don’t usually read it, and I often find it precious and/or pretentious when I do. To me at least, it’s obvious that food is not art. Yes, it’s an important component of culture. Yes, cooking is an admirable skill. But a meal cannot express emotion. An entree cannot communicate an idea. There are sad songs and sad paintings, but there are no sad foods, unless you’re buying your dinner at a 7-Eleven. Continue reading →
I Skyped in from the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in beautiful New London, CT to dissect Terminator: Genisys (sic) — the underwhelming reboot of/fourth sequel to one of my favorite movies — with Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. While I was taking in this movie in the “Luxury Seating” equipped Waterford 9 Cinemas, several of my fellow Critic Fellows, all ladies, were next door enjoying Magic Mike XXL. My proposal for a double feature was summarily rejected.
I haven’t seen the by-all-accounts underwhelming Terminator: Genisys yet, because since I’ve been busy being a “Critic Fellow” at the one-of-a-kind Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in the wilds of Connecticut. But I did indulge in some quippy dramaturgy on the wandering-ronin Terminator franchise, for NPR.
The Future, 1992. It wasn’t the “Alien 3” we wanted, but maybe it was the “Alien” 3 we needed?
In 2012’s “Skyfall,” Sam Mendes undid the reboot 007 had gotten in “Casino Royale.” Sort of.
“Batman: The Movie!” ’66! (Emphasis! Mine!) Canon, or Not Canon?
“Superman III,” 1983. Never happened, per Bryan Singer, which is a shame.
“Well, everyone knows Ripley died on Fiornia-161. What this ALIEN movie presupposes is… maybe she didn’t?”
I have a long, long “Exposition” essay up at The Dissolve today inspired by (uncertain) reports that District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Alien movie may be a ret-con scenario that undoes the events of 1992’s Alien-little-three, or Alien Cubed – anyway, the one where Ripley died. The piece is about retconning in fiction in general, and why it doesn’t much impair my ability or inclination to suspend my disbelief at all.
If you’re quite comfortable in your chair, and you’re stout of heart and nerdy of temperament… Onward!