Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 in Film: John Carter

So, in case you were worried these would all be long rambling screeds, I will today review a movie which left roughly no impression on me whatsoever: John Carter, of Mars, or so they say.

What I do remember: the movie was hella racist. But you know, its Disney, and they weren't natives, they were aliens, so it was totally okay. Also that it was really just remarkably shitty on gender. But see previous.

The only bit of the movie I remember at all, really, was the scene where Carter goes all White Rage and slaughters a ton of aliens who, if memory serves, were pretty civil to his annoying ass prior to that moment. But as spectacle it worked surprisingly well, quite nearly managing to obscure the fucking despicable politics of the moment beneath its visual strength. Except not quite, because unfortunately for us white people these histories don't actually tend to disappear.

There was also that weird bit at the end, where Carter goes all Bond or Odysseus or whatever, and out-cunnings the godlike race of aliens by like, only pretending to be dead and buried in the mausoleum or whatever? That was pretty terrible too I guess.

I suppose there is something to be said, too, about the sheer implacable wall of boredom that this movie was. Which was, in its way, and as Keishi pointed out to me, its strongest aspect. Every single aspect of the film, from its scale to its content to its production, screamed that it was going to bore the hell out of you, and I can happily report back that the mission was accomplished. Even the aforementioned fight wasn't good in the sense that it rose above the boredom -- boredom is not something to be risen above, but is worthy of exploring in its own right -- as that it brought the spectacle fully down to its own level in a successful interpolation of the action sequence not as immersive excitement but as alienating boredom. Without diminishing the degree to which this is based on a pervasive racist logic, the flattened affect of boredom, which is not only experienced in relation to the narrative and visuals and music -- that is, the diegetic aspects of the film -- but is always also a self-conscious, meta reaction to both the film as experience and even to itself, produces a kind of awesome disharmony in the face of a glut of generic signposts that demand to be read as kinetic, immanent, and intense.

Which then leads me to want to rant on a bit about irony and how things like "post-irony" fail to acknowledge that the way that irony works isn't hegemonizing or even multiplying but splitting & doubling, creating concurrent extremes, and that New Sincere bullshit is just a way of sacralizing immediacy in a way that is not so much honest as itself a homogenizing mode of discourse. But I intended to keep this one short. And anyway, that would be boring.

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