Cyrus (June 18)
“Soccer Mom” might be a problematic term, but what it represents is certainly relevant and apparent in our present culture: excessive parenting in the forms of over-preparedness in terms of safety, building childhood expectations to unattainable levels, and rewarding participation rather than success. Cyrus is a demonstration of a worst-case scenario in the child-rearing patterns of baby boomer parents by showing the end product as an over-dependant, pseudo-incestuous, emotionally unsound man-child who prevents the parent from being able to create new normal relationships. Cyrus is about the generation gap and the ever-extending age of reaching adulthood with each passing generation. Studies have shown that Gen-X parents have eased up a bit compared to the baby boomers, but until those children grow up the adult space might have a few Cyruses in it for the time being.
See also: Dogtooth (June 25)
The Last Airbender (July 1)
Whitewashing. The Last Airbender is hegemonic Anglo-centric propaganda in the guise of multiculturalism. Should we really be letting our kids watch this shit?
See also: Marmaduke (June 4)
The Kids Are All Right (July 9)
The Kids Are All Right represents a landmark moment in LGBTQ filmmaking, but it isn’t one without certain qualifiers. Making itself distinct from overly political films featuring gay characters like Brokeback Mountain and Milk by attempting to be apolitical or invisibly political, The Kids Are All Right also says something by not saying something.
The film attempts to make the central same-sex relationship of the film apolitical by making it seem normal, except that notion here is loaded and exercised through the paradigm of straightness. Thus, The Kids Are All Right (while undoubtedly a very solid film) calls into question which direction LGBTQ films will go into the future to fit into the mainstream: advocacy or conformity.
Inception (July 16)
Being about dreams, dreams within dreams, dreams within those dreams, and “Holy fuck, where am I now,” Nolan’s late-mid-summer savior of smart entertainment is, obviously, a film about subjectivities: subjectivities of perception, time and space, and, ultimately, reality. In Inception, these subjectivities quite literally compete with one another (each level is a different person’s dream architecture, the elements of one person’s dream invades another). This narrative of competing subjectivities is quite analogous to our present situation as a discursive postmodern culture.
Living in a supposed information age would implicitly allow a continuously objective assessment of any given subject seeing as all the facts are presumably available, but instead the opposite is true: we have an overload of information, so we panic and relegate ourselves instead to that specific interpretation of reality which suits us best, the one that makes sense in the context of previous products of information that we’ve already accepted as truth (think, for example, of which news sources you choose).
We have to stick to an ongoing narrative; we’d rather live in cognitive dissonance than have our given interpretation of reality contradicted. And, like in the film’s end, we don’t care if what we see is real or not, just as long as it provides the most satisfying impression of truth.
The Other Guys (August 6)
Yes, the film had a distracting, didactic, and tonally misplaced end credit sequence, but this isn’t where The Other Guys contains its socio-cultural worth. Instead, the film – using farce to disguise satire, and using satire to disguise commentary – functions as a statement on the true criminal of the 21st century: the white-collar criminal. The film’s actual plot – which, in films like these, is unfortunately more often than not expendable – is a bit messy and confusing compared to the straightforward drug-busting cop movies it parodies, but in a way this itself is a comment on why white-collar crime is so rarely brought to justice: something so damn confusing is pretty difficult to enforce.
Yes, Bernie Madoff might rightfully be enduring a 100+ year jail sentence (as the aforementioned end credits remind us), but The Other Guys also reinforces that fact that he can’t be our source of catharsis, our emotional scapegoat for a structural problem that lets so many criminal billionaires run free.
Piranha 3-D (August 20)
Thought the sequel to James Cameron’s very best film was an intentionally campy exploitation-fest reveling in the spectacle of breasts and blood? Well, that might be true, but it’s also a story of vengeance and retribution on behalf of an entire ocean of life that we ravaged and massacred through industry-enabled global warming and massive oil spills. Humans really had it coming.
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