It's Brutal Takedown Day!
The first is this seven-part, seventy minute video review of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace that's been making the rounds on the internets.
"Seventy minutes of some nerd bitching about Ep 1?" I hear you complain. "Screw that!"
To which I reply, at least check out the first one and get some idea of what this thing's like. It is, no kidding, a work of subversive genius. It isn't just that the critique is intelligent and insightful, though it is. It gives you a drunk, murderous, schizophrenic narrator and lets you realize this wack-job is considerably smarter than the movie he's talking about. It avoids the obvious jokes, taking only off-hand pot shots at Jar-Jar ("A cartoon rabbit who steps in the poopie") and splitting the bulk of its time jumping between the Big Problems (crappy characters, incoherent plot, sterile action sequences) and some delightfully nerdy subtleties you probably missed. And it implicitly hamstrings the tiresome "Well, the original movies weren't as great as you remember and were just as bad!" comeback by using the old movies as examples of how to do things right.
There's a bit with a kidnapped woman in a basement that goes on longer than it should, a surprising flaw given that the rest of the thing is very aggressively paced. That's really my only complaint. Go check it out.
Second, courtesy of Alyssa Rosenberg, I offer you this savagely hilarious deconstruction of Avatar. Now, I have to preface this by saying I actually kinda liked Avatar -- and based on the comments section, so did the author of the aforementioned hit piece. It's emotionally engaging and visually spectacular.
It's also bloody stupid and oozes White Liberal Guilt out of every pore. With viciously playful wit and insight, the piece dutifully shreds Avatar from those angles -- but, more damning, it's also littered with suggestions for how to make the movie better. It suggests simple stuff that could have been handled with a better script -- it wouldn't make all the problems go away, but the movie sure has hell could have had a lot more depth than it actually did without much more (if any) money being thrown at it. It's well worth a read. Click away.
(Oh, and something that occurred to me after I wrote my prior post: If Aliens had been directed by somebody other than James Cameron -- some dude named, say, Cameron James -- that guy could sue the crap out of Avatar's director for poaching so many characters and equipment. Remember, kids, it's not plagiarism if you're stealing from yourself; it's just laziness.)