Screening Room: Summer Movies, the Oscars, and ‘Wonder Woman’

My article “Wonder Woman was Fine but It Shouldn’t Win an Oscar” is now available at Eyes Wide Open:

The summer movie season is undergoing the usual August agita. That’s when industry watchers and studio execs wring their hands over what’s going wrong with the business. Traditionally, the swelter of summer was when people turned off their brains, went to the multiplex, bought tubs of popcorn, and luxuriated in the air conditioning while watching Michael Bay blow things up with subwoofer-shredding thunderousness. That’s less and less the case, and the empty-seat summer of 2017 is an object lesson in what has gone wrong. There are a few reasons for this…

Writer’s Desk: Take the Train

Among the books listed for the Man Booker Prize 2017 were familiar names like Arundhati Roy, George Saunders, Colson Whitehead, and Zadie Smith.

New to the list was Fiona Mozley, a 29-year-old bookseller from York whose debut novel, Elmet, hasn’t even been published yet. According to her editor, Mozley wrote the story while commuting on the train.

To be longlisted is an impressive achievement for anyone but for a debut author who wrote Elmet while travelling up and down to London from York on the train is just amazing.

This might be tricky if you take the New York subway to work (fewer seats, after all), unless you’re one of those dictating writers.

Notes: Not All Alternate Histories are Equal

Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why, in quite simple terms, any comparisons between The Man in the High Castle and the upcoming HBO series Confederate don’t hold water:

It is illegal to fly the Nazi flag in Germany. The Confederate flag is enmeshed in the state flag of Mississippi.

In one conflict, the defeated acknowledged their loss and paid a price. In the other, the defeated quickly got back to their old tricks. 

In other words, imagining a world where the white Southern racist establishment won may not be far different enough from reality to warrant the term “alternate history.” 

Screening Room: ‘The Dark Tower’

A mash-up of elements from the novels in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower fantasy series, the movie of the same name is hitting screens tomorrow after a long and convoluted production history. Theoretically, it’s the kickoff for a TV series to follow next year.

My review is at Film Journal International:

According to what little mythology the script provides, the title’s looming structure isn’t just a tower, it’s a linchpin holding the entire fabric of reality together. If anything happens to the Tower, then the hosts of ravening Lovecraftian beasties lurking beyond the Tower-guarded boundaries of the universe will destroy everything. At least, that’s how Roland the Gunslinger (Idris Elba), a stoic warrior tasked with protecting the Tower, explains it to Jake (Tom Taylor), a New York kid whose parents thought he was insane because of all his visions he was having of Roland, the Tower and a frightening Man in Black…

Here’s the trailer: