• movie reviews

    “Oppenheimer” shouldn’t exist.

    So here is the reason that I am an incredible killjoy about Oppenheimer and think it should never have been made, no matter how good the movie is, and that everyone involved is kinda total bullshit.

    My stance is that there is zero reason to humanize the few people behind producing and benefiting from the bomb. In fact, it perpetuates white American attitudes about noble sacrifice, makes one of the greatest crimes against humanity ever committed sexy with sexy actors and sexy cinematography, and generally gives ample room for reinforcing the lies of imperialism among a populace with low literacy for even identifying that kind of propaganda.

    I believe there is no artistry good enough to make up for centering people like Oppenheimer instead of the communities actually impacted.

    Congolese miners were exploited to get the uranium to build the atom bomb.

    New Mexico Hispanics were bodily removed from their lands to make a testing site for the atom bomb.

    More than 200,000 innocent Japanese were killed when the atom bombs were dropped. Cancers and related illnesses have continued en masse in the decades since.

    Cutesy bomb advertising became common, particularly in conjunction with Barbie. You cannot have a movie of this scale and budget without marketing that is wholly inappropriate for the crimes committed.

    The movie and its creators had zero interest in engaging with the above, or seeking ways to remedy the crimes committed against those communities. They considered themselves to have no real responsibility to make real gestures of healing toward the communities, but without that responsibility, I argue they then have no right to any story surrounding it.

    I am aware the story “grapples with the ethics” in its centralized white imperialist characters, but they frankly just aren’t members of the impacted community. Whatever they felt about the crimes they committed doesn’t deserve to be aired (to the profit of few) when moviemakers were so disinterested in all of the above.

    Oppenheimer was made because a white guy who thinks he’s a genius wanted to dwell on a white guy tortured genius who he related to. That’s the only reason. We don’t need more such vanity projects. And I don’t think it’s historically significant to keep telling stories about war crimes from the perspective of the criminal.

    “Oppenheimer” shouldn’t exist.

  • movie reviews,  reviews

    “The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.”

    I made the mistake of watching Lynch’s Dune two days before Villeneuve’s Dune was released. Months later, I still find myself unable to decide which is the “better” movie. I suspect it’s Villeneuve’s. Certainly, Villeneuve’s is much more successful in the box office. Yet I can only think of Villeneuve’s Dune in terms of how it lacks compared to Lynch’s Dune.

    Dune is largely considered impossible to adapt, which is silly, because Lynch did fine adapting the whole book. Turning half of the book into a montage may not be what certain fans prefer, but if you watch the movie for itself in Watsonian fashion, it makes sense: Paul Muad’Dib is created by the events in the beginning of the movie, and we see his creation being the downfall of his enemies when he fights Sting And Friends at the end. It is a story at mythic scale that does a “one two, skip a few, ninety-nine, one hundred” approach to the plot. You can try to argue with Lynch’s approach, but there’s no point, because this is David Lynch we’re talking about.

    Villeneuve’s Dune isn’t a complete story in itself. It ends halfway through the book, in a fashion both anticlimactic and abrupt, and does not attempt to construct a standalone story out of that material.

    In the meantime, the movie drags us through many long, slow scenes that amount to little more than concept art while establishing world and mood. I genuinely believe that the amount people enjoy this movie is dependent on how likely they are to repeatedly peruse an Art of Dune coffee table book. Although I love concept art, this isn’t in a style which appeals to me. It’s minimalist, geometric, and nearly monochromatic to almost a comical degree – as though Villeneuve was making a deliberate move away from the lush Baroque world Lynch built.

    What do you think the future will look like after humans have spent a couple thousand years trucking around the galaxy? Will we have ancient structures that glory in the accumulated wealth of our empire, or will we be utilitarian?

    What do you *want* the future to look like? If you think, “I hope the future has a lot of sheer sandstone faces,” then I bet you will love to stare at Villeneuve’s Dune.

    Similarly, I found the actors’ performances less compelling than in Lynch’s adaptation – probably because many of them were flown in for a partial movie shoot, whipping out a few scenes under the promise they will have a lot more scenes in the second half of the movie that has yet to be made. But Villeneuve’s vision for this movie also involves making Paul Atreides a “normal boy” who is moody and irritating, completely unlike Lynch’s Paul Atreides, who feels like he was born a legend and will die a legend and belongs to the mythic forces surrounding his life. The sense of drama is so different.

    I could continue enumerating the elements of this adaptation which I found to be inferior, simply because they are so much less *interesting*, but I think I’ve said enough to make it clear I’m more of a Weird Movies Person than a Whatever Villeneuve Was Trying To Do Here person. I can’t evaluate this version of Dune on its own merits, and I don’t want to. The fact I sat through it for so many hours isn’t just because Oscar Isaac is one of the hottest people on the planet. I was clearly some kind of entertained. But it will never be anything but the Lynch’s Dune turned down from 11 to a 4.