Veronica Mars makes the case against fan-financed filmmaking

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I don’t know, guys. This movie seems kind of… bad?

I’ve been a big Veronica Mars fan since the first season. The series had many of the things that I prize in pop culture: a compelling female protagonist, a commitment to diversity, witty dialogue, and some clever race/gender/class analysis. The show, despite its weak third season, is way up there in quality. It demands to be experienced.

But the movie is a different beast altogether. While it retains a lot of the Veronica Mars charm, particularly in Rob Thomas’s tight, funny dialogue, it may ultimately be the perfect example for why shows shouldn’t try to make the jump to film. Even more surprisingly, it may make a compelling case against fan-financed filmmaking. Both of these faults are so densely intertwined that it’s difficult to separate them.

This is a movie that never feels like a movie. On a basic level, the direction and the cinematography are strikingly uninspired. This is a straight up ugly film — flat, boring, and horribly lit. You have to wonder where those millions of dollars went. I just rewatched You’re Next, a film that was made for under a million dollars, and it’s gorgeous in comparison. There’s just no cinematic vision here. If the look and feel of the film doesn’t make that clear enough, then the script really hammers it home.

I’m not sure what people wanted from their Veronica Mars film. If this movie is any indication, they wanted: a roll call of every major and minor character from the series, an overwhelming number of references to that series, and the rekindling of the Veronica/Logan romance. Those things are fine, I suppose. But as a movie, this really needed to separate itself from the series, and to move boldly forward in a more interesting direction. It needed a bigger scope.

One of the things I always loved about the show was its ability to lay out a twisty, compelling mystery. It’s a basic part of the show’s appeal. But the movie fails at even that. The mystery that “drives” the film (and I put drive in scare quotes because I really think it’s the Veronica/Logan romance that is the film’s center) feels like a sad after-thought. Logan is implicated in the murder, but ultimately comes out unscathed. The mystery revolves around relatively minor characters, and the murderer and victims themselves are entirely new characters. When the truth comes to the surface, it’s hard to avoid some questions, like: Who cares? What are the stakes here? How does this change anything? How does it further the characters at all, other than to return Veronica to a comfortable status quo? Is this just an excuse to get Veronica and Logan back together?

The movie is so close to that larger scope, too. There’s an interesting B-plot revolving around Veronica’s father, Keith, and the growing class tensions/corruption in Neptune. This is something that seems to have actual stakes, something that gets at a major theme that was developed in the show. But Veronica is on the periphery of it. Bizarrely, it’s mostly resolved by the end of the film by discrediting the Sheriff, and implying that Keith will return to the position. Again, it’s the restoration of the status quo. Colantoni’s performance is wonderful and subtle–his sadness, his disappointment with seeing Veronica return to Neptune and the mess it represents is one of the best parts of the film. But it’s all pretty much wasted.

Look, I’m not saying that I wanted Veronica to marry Piz and return to New York to be a corporate lawyer. God no. That would’ve been terrible. It would’ve been a betrayal of the series and of Veronica as a character. But the movie needed a little more self-awareness. The way Veronica casts off Piz is heartless, and the movie seems to miss that. It’s in such a rush to get Veronica and Logan back together that even Keith is rooting for them by the end, more or less. And it’s worth noting that throughout the film Veronica often questions herself. Why is she doing this? Why is she considering getting back with Logan? That introspection and conflict is compelling, and it’s real. It’s just too bad that the movie ultimately brushes it aside.

Again, I’m not sure what people wanted out of their Veronica Mars movie. Judging by many other fan responses, this is exactly what they wanted. And that’s fine. Thomas clearly felt a need to give those fans what they wanted, and he definitely succeeded. However, I think the outcome shows that this is no way to make a movie. And if it’s the case that this really is just a love-letter to fans, then I think it’s fair to say this isn’t a movie. At best, it’s an extended episode. A bad one, at that. It isn’t even as good as a minor-great episode of the show, like “Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough.” At worst, it’s a pandering mess. I wanted Veronica to move forward, but, like her fans, she seems stuck in the past.

The Best Films of 2013

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10. The Spectacular Now

This is a great little movie that cements Shailene Woodley’s star status. It’s like a less successful The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but that’s not a dig. It just lacks some of Perks’s emotional intensely while being fairly effective on its own. Part of what these films are able to do so well is to tackle the emotionally turbulent lives of teenagers without drowning them in sentimental schlock.

Favorite scene: Sutter’s boss confronts him about being drunk at work.

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09. Spring Breakers

Proves that James Franco is both a joke and a genius. One of the boldest, weirdest films this year. With all of the talk of cultural appropriation in 2013, it’s strange that Spring Breakers’s sustained examination of that concept wasn’t at the center of more conversations.

Favorite scene: Any scene in which James Franco says, “Spring break…. Spring brrreaaakk.”

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08. Iron Man 3

They gave Tony Stark an anxiety disorder, you guys. An anxiety disorder. And it completely works. Pepper Potts gets to destroy the villain. There’s a really rad riff on the Mandarin. Stark’s attack on the Mandarin’s compound with makeshift gadgets is one of the year’s most thrilling action sequences. There’s so much to love here.

Favorite scene: Pepper Potts gets to be the most powerful woman in the Marvel universe for 30 seconds.

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07. Captain Phillips

I feel like Wesley Morris said it all over at Grantland.

Favorite scene: It has to be Tom Hanks’s career-best performance, culminating in an emotionally devastating breakdown after all of the action has ended.

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06. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Look, I don’t know how these people are doing it, but they’ve managed two perfect adaptations in a row. Suzanne Collins’s books are excellent, but seeing them realized on screen with such care and thoughtfulness has been a special experience. Catching Fire takes everything that made the first film great, and ratchets it up to 11. Every performance is wonderful, the action is well-shot and propulsive, and the movie really begins to dig into the themes that make the books hit so hard. If they nail Mockingjay, we’re going to be looking at one of the best sci-fi film series of all time.

Favorite scene: District 12’s three victors find out they can’t escape the cruelty of the Capital.

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05. The Wolf of Wall Street

It’s crazy that Martin Scorsese is still such a vital filmmaker at this late stage in his career. Even Spielberg hasn’t been able to keep up, really.

Favorite scene: Obviously it’s DiCaprio’s stunning physical comedy as he tries to get to his car while high as fuuuuuck.

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04. 12 Years a Slave

This is great, essential cinema. I might never watch it again. Absurd performances by white people. Get your shit together, white people.

Favorite scene: “I apologize for my appearance, but I have had a difficult time these past several years.”

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03. Before Midnight

There’s a stark and uncomfortable honesty in how this film interrogates its central relationship. Long-term relationships sometimes simmer with unavoidable issues and resentments. This film brings all of that to the fore, and then forces the characters to grapple with it through extended conversations. But really, Jesse is kind of an asshole. Delpy and Hawke are doing the kind of naturalistic work here that’s more or less unparalleled.

Favorite scene: The argument that starts in the hotel suite could be a scene from my life.

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02. Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón is simply one of the best filmmakers working today. Gravity is an intense thrill ride, a technical marvel that manages emotional resonance even though its script often falls on its face. Thank Sandra Bullock for that.

Favorite scene: Bullock struggles to her feet on the shore of a beach.

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01. Her

The reasons Her works for me are very similar to why I think Before Midnight is such an excellent film. It forces us to grapple with our own shortcomings as both friends and lovers. Painfully, it reminds us that the people in our lives change and grow in ways that we can’t possibly foresee. It challenges us to accept that the people in our lives, as much as we might love them, are ultimately beyond our ability to control. That’s beautiful, and it’s important. This movie reminds me of my favorite line from Life as a House: “Love is not enough.” Even at 14 I knew that was some profound shit.

Manuel Betancourt has a lovely description of why this film works so well.

Favorite scene: Theodore sets up his OS.

Honorable mentions: Inside Llewyn DavisThe Butler

True Detective and the Changing Same

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Like many of the internet’s most beloved shows, True Detective is about the straight white male’s fascination with himself.

This is an argument many consider simplistic and passé. Due to the proliferation of blogs that center their critiques on race, gender, and sexuality, white men have, over the last few years, been forced to contend with their dominance in almost every aspect of American life, particularly popular media. The response has been predictable and harsh. It has also been absolutely characteristic of a group of people who are frightened of losing the privilege of seeing themselves carefully and thoroughly depicted in the media that they consume. The reaction to Anita Sarkeesian’s video game analysis is practically defined by this fear.

Believe me: As tired as white men are of hearing this argument, everyone else is tired of having to make it. But it must be made, repeatedly. As simplistic as it might be (and we can argue about the varied readings of a word like “simplistic,” which seems to be used to brush aside cultural concerns to focus specifically on the formal qualities of the object at hand), it is incisive and accurate. To draw on Sarkeesian’s work again, there’s nothing particularly special or compelling about her analysis. It is ground floor, Feminism 101 stuff.

But it questions the paradigm in a field where it has gone unquestioned for so long. While it’s not the same case for film and television, for example, it remains valid and important. It’s more common that folks in film and television criticism will entertain this idea, but they will go on, weekly, to praise shows like Mad Men, Hannibal, Breaking Bad, and True Detective, with little to no thought to how they are watching and exalting the same stories with slight variances.

Accomodationist that I am, I’m totally ready to admit that True Detective is very well done. The performances are spectacular. Matthew McConaughey, in the middle of a career renaissance if ever there was such a thing, is probably the best bit about the show. Gaunt and sinewy, possessing an unwieldy yet striking intelligence, McConaughey’s Rust is the picture of a certain kind of idealized masculinity. On the other hand, Woody Harrelson gets to be a gross, falsely masculine blowhard — and absolutely revels in it. When she’s able to, Michelle Monaghan absolutely owns the screen. On top of the amazing performances, it’s generally well written and has a stunning aesthetic. It’s a strong show.

The fact that Monaghan is only sometimes able to act in the show is part of one of its major problems. True Detective is a show that fits neatly within the storied tradition of posing and graphically detailing women’s dead bodies. When women aren’t dead, they’re rarely shown or involved with the action of the show. Michelle Monaghan’s Maggie, the most fully-realized female character on the show, is still a thinly written archetype.

In the latest episode, Monaghan is finally allowed her moment. Pushed to the breaking point by Marty’s (Harrison) infidelity, Maggie seethes when she finds naked pictures on his phone; her anger and disdain practically leap out of the screen. Her final confrontation with Harrelson’s Marty is electrifying, but it’s the scene with little dialogue — blocked wonderfully by the director —that seals the deal. Maggie’s body language says it all: half-contemptuous and half-amused, Maggie silently observes Marty from the background, channeling a righteous anger and making Marty look like the smallest, saddest man imaginable. She gets to be the betrayed and vengeful wife, and she’s very good at it.

And yet it’s really not enough when the writers could be doing so much more with Maggie and with other characters. It’s not enough when, out of the three significant female characters on the show (and we’re really stretching the meaning of “significant” here), all three have to get their tits out and sleep with one of the main protagonists at some point. I want to make it clear that I’m not confusing the presentation of women as sexual objects or of sexism in general as approval. I think, at times, that True Detective is actually an interesting critique of sexism and patriarchy.

That said, there is simply no way to avoid the context in which True Detective has situated itself. Its reliance on women’s sexuality, its fetishization of their dead bodies, its rather listless presentation of them altogether, actually marks True Detective as being really unremarkable. It’s absolutely of-a-piece with other shows that can’t really conjure nuanced female characters. Often, when those shows do conjure female characters, they are put-upon wives who merely stand in the way of all of the cool things that our more interesting, more fully-realized male protagonists are doing. While Skylar White becomes a truly stunning character, this would be a totally accurate description of her. Same goes for Betty Draper.

It’s also difficult to avoid that the show, for the majority of its running time, is 100% invested in and in love with a lot of the masculinity that it presents. As Emily Nussbaum writes in The New Yorker:

 A sinewy weirdo with a tragic past, Rust delivers arias of philosophy, a mash-up of Nietzsche, Lovecraft, and the nihilist horror writer Thomas Ligotti. At first, this buddy pairing seems like a funky dialectic: when Rust rants, Marty rolls his eyes. But, six episodes in, I’ve come to suspect that the show is dead serious about this dude. Rust is a heretic with a heart of gold. He’s our fetish object—the cop who keeps digging when everyone ignores the truth, the action hero who rescues children in the midst of violent chaos, the outsider with painful secrets and harsh truths and nice arms. McConaughey gives an exciting performance (in Grantland, Andy Greenwald aptly called him “a rubber band wrapped tight around a razor blade”), but his rap is premium baloney.

The conclusions here are troubling. Rust is, as Nussbaum notes, a freakin’ weirdo, an intellectual macho fantasy, but it seems that the show hasn’t quite grasped that, and neither has the audience, for a large part. We have, in the mold of Don Draper, and Walter White before him, a self-insert straight white male power fantasy. It’s frustrating and utterly redundant.

And it’s that redundancy that is so striking at times. We have seen this over and over again. Part of the frustration here is the way in which these tropes, this fascination with white men, gets replayed over and over again, yet heralded as new and sophisticated each time. There’s nothing really new about Rust Cohle. He is the next in line in our obsession with charismatic white male anti-heroes, and that’s more or less it. Nussbaum’s frustration in her article is palpable, buoyed as it is by all of the other shows that do women well, but aren’t drowned in the same kind of praise.

I worry that the way we talk about these shows elides other issues that are equally worth our attention. I worry that the breathless praise for True Detective, deserving though it may sometimes be, ultimately masks the more insidious traditions to which it contributes. People might be tired of hearing about women and people of color, but a lot of us are tired of seeing these recycled masculine stereotypes. Nussbaum, quoting Neitzsche, asks: “Is life not a hundred times too short for us—to bore ourselves?” But I want to ask: when will enough finally be enough?

Some short, additional thoughts about Gone Home

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Even as a person of color and an intersectional* thinker, I still find that sometimes I can have a very one-track mind, particularly when it comes to gender. This is my way of saying that I kind of fumbled by not bringing up race at all in my initial thoughts on Gone Home.

And that’s hard to admit, right? It points to a kind of privilege. Though I think of myself as a Black person, I’m also very light-skinned. I could pass the Brown Paper Bag Test, easily.  While I might be still identifiably other in a lot of senses, what’s clear is that I’m not obviously white or obviously black. With all of this in mind, sometimes my responses to things like Gone Home can trouble me upon later reflection. Why did I feel like I could get away with not bringing up race at all? Was part of it the content and the focus of the blog post itself? Surely. It’s an unqualified rave and I was trying very hard to communicate certain feelings and ideas, particularly my enthusiasm about what the game had done so well.

But in my darker, more private thoughts, I think: Was I just being really opportunistic? While I’ve spent my life around Black people, I’ve always been a sort of in-between person. Partly, I’m sure this is just the predicament of mixed-race people in America. Even now, I have some friends who are people of color, but it feels like those I’m closest to are white. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk about race because it’s too difficult or depressing, or because it seems so fucking obvious. Well of course this game is about white people. Every game is. This is all to say that, sometimes, there’s this subconscious part of me that feels as if I can discard race as a primary concern. Oh, I don’t have to talk about that right now. It’s not really that important here.

But it is really, really important. And the thought, subconscious or not, that I don’t have to think about race is a privileged one. An extremely privileged and misguided one. Could the people of color that can’t pass, that live their lives every day in skin that gets them harassed, , stalked and murdered – could they play Gone Home and not immediately come away thinking about race, about how this game is white as hell?

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and reactions to Gone Home, but this one has stuck with me: http://kukkurovaca.tumblr.com/post/58452502084/gone-home-finally-a-story-about-an 

You know what? I agree with this. Absolutely. This game does cater to an overserved audience. Though sexuality is present and important, it’s decidedly white, and that’s sad but expected because LGBT people of color always seem to disappear in popular media. And yes, there is definitely something problematic and wrong about the way reviewers have reacted to this game. As this writer points out, all of the claims of universality and of seeing yourself in the game are a little troubling. I tried to stay away from those claims, because the stuff depicted in this game is resolutely not a part of my experience. I didn’t have a teenage romance. I haven’t been persecuted or scared because of my sexuality. My family is poor. I responded to the game the way I did based on basic empathy, and on the sheer strength of the game’s accomplishments. I can’t help but wonder, though: would these writers extend the same courtesy to a game where some of these variables (class, race, sexuality, etc.) were different? Would that game have even been made? This game has triggered a kind of nostalgia and reflexivity that is deeply informed by race and class, at the very least.

Gone Home is a wonderful game. You should play it. I don’t take back any of the things I said about it; I just wish I had said more.

*Ugh, I both love and loathe this word.

Is Gone Home our first feminist game?

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But, like, what does that even mean, man? You know? What does it mean to call a piece of media “feminist”?

Gone Home is a first-person exploration game. You play Katie Greenbriar. It is June 6th, 1995, and you’ve returned home from a trip around Europe only to find your family gone. There’s also a note stuck to the door from your younger sister, Sam, informing you that she’s gone, as well as imploring you not to try to figure out where she’s gone. Of course, you immediately ignore this.  Your goal now is to explore the house, picking up and examining everything you can to attempt to piece together what has happened here. There are no enemies. There’s no fighting. There’s just you, and a vast gap between the family you left, and the family you’ve found upon returning.

This is compelling material for a game. It’s also remarkably simple. To put it another way, Gone Home is so simple that in the process of playing it you might be struck by how thoroughly unremarkable it is. I mean that as a compliment. Though the experience of playing the game is undoubtedly special, this is ultimately a simple, personal story that is told extremely well. It’s grand in the sense that what has happened in this family is momentous and emotional, but on a decidedly small scale. Many, I’m sure, will argue that it’s fairly predictable. I would agree. You can put the broad strokes of the story together in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the experience of the whole is not to be missed. More important, though, is the fact that this just isn’t a game about sudden revelations or story twists.

Let’s back up slightly to the question that we began with: Is Gone Home a feminist game, and what does that mean? My answer to both questions is that I’m not really sure. I’ve written about this before; I’ve even given some criteria. Ultimately, I guess my ideas about what constitutes feminist art are multitudinous and fluid. That said, here are some things that Gone Home brings to mind: a focus on women’s experiences, playable and/or fully realized women characters, and relationships between women, among other things.

It’s not that there aren’t games that have had some or all of these qualities, but I’ve always felt like those games needed to be qualified. Well, you know, you can choose to be a woman in Mass Effect, but Shepard as a character is sort of dull and non-descript. Despite the tremendous voice work by Jennifer Hale, I always felt like I put so much more into Shepard than I necessarily got back. Or, yeah, sure, Ellie from The Last of Us and Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite are certainly compelling, and in Ellie’s case, she probably exceeds the idea of “fully realized.” However, they’re not exactly playable (or always playable), and their primary relationships are with the older men who have been tasked with protecting and/or escorting them. These games are also really violent.

I think it’s the lack of violence in Gone Home, combined with some of these other details, that makes me want to stand up and yell, “Yes! Feminist! Videogames!!” My feminism isn’t anti-violence, per se. Though I do think it’s important to acknowledge that games, even the great ones, are overwhelmingly violent. That violence is often tied explicitly to masculinity and power. So when I think of “feminism” in the context of videogames, I often think of something that is set in opposition to this dominant dynamic. And that’s Gone Home. Which is not to say that Gone Home isn’t tense, scary, or engaging. It is all of these things. What’s more, it’s very clever in how it is these things. Though there’s no danger (to you) in the house, the game perfectly evokes the feeling of being alone at home at night, that sometimes-unavoidable sense of dread that creeps into the corners of your consciousness, even though you’re perfectly safe.

It does this through masterful manipulation of the environment, and through the careful setting of tone and atmosphere.  There might be a voice coming from a room down the hall. The thunderstorm constantly going on outside seems synced to your actions. You’ll walk through dark corridors and rooms in search of light sources. All of this combines to produce a feeling that is sort of like fear, a kind of unease, but it’s really just in your head, as it (usually) is in real life.

But there’s another feeling at work in Gone Home, something that is nearly ineffable. I think I touched on it earlier when I briefly mentioned the family you thought you knew vs. the family as it exists now, in reality. There’s a kind of hurt, a longing for something that has just moved quietly out of reach; there’s an understanding that things aren’t always quite as they seem, that underneath the surface people contain so much. So much.

Suffice to say, if you have the time and money to play Gone Home, you probably should. At the very least, if you’re interested in games as an interactive narrative medium, you should check out the walkthroughs that are soon to be piling up on YouTube. I finished the game in under two hours, but that’s not exactly an accomplishment. It’s a short, but dense, experience.

So, is Gone Home a feminist game? I’m not sure. It probably is, by a lot of metrics. I don’t think it particularly matters other than to people like myself who think too much about these things. It is important, though. That may ultimately be a heavier label than “feminist.” It is important because we need games like Gone Home to show us that this medium has more to offer than extreme violence and grizzled male heroes, more than choose your own adventure tales where you click red for the evil choice.  Gone Home isn’t going to change the world, or the industry, but it makes you feel something, and it lights a way forward.  And sometimes, in its quietness and its beauty and its simplicity, it’s absolutely transcendent.

The Conjuring is really scary and really regressive

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For the first half of its running time, The Conjuring is a smart and impressively crafted haunted house film. There seems to be little room at this point to deny that James Wan is an exceptional horror filmmaker, at least in this particular area of expertise. It’s not hard to understand why audiences have responded so enthusiastically to Insidious and The Conjuring. In contrast to garbage like Saw and the now-laughable Paranormal Activity(1), which feel like empty Halloween-time cash-ins, Wan’s most recent films seem to be legit. There’s a real artistry in these pop culture experiences.

You see this most clearly in Wan’s wonderful shot composition. He has an ability to put things just out of frame, or out of sight, so that they seem to suddenly appear, though they’ve been there all along. There’s also a boldness to how these scenes are often set. The best example would probably be the daytime scenes in Insidious, but The Conjuring has its moments as well. You also see Wan’s artistry in his clear joy at the setup and the pay off. In this sense, his films can sometimes feel like screenwriting marvels. The Conjuring in particular spends quite a bit of time establishing geography, introducing objects and story details, only to make those things scarier later. Together, these components make Wan’s films feel like they have a level of consideration and attention to detail that are currently absent from the genre.

So it’s surprising that one of Wan’s greatest strengths, his love of setups and payoffs, is also what appears to tear his films apart in their second halves. While I think Insidious remains considerably scary throughout, there’s no avoiding the oh brother-inducing introduction of The Further. The Conjuring has a similar problem in its conception: though it’s fairly scary for a while, the eventual “payoff,” the “why” of everything, feels tragically dull and underdeveloped. The film opens with a somewhat silly but ultimately creepy digression about a possessed doll (2). Our main characters, played by Vera Farmiga (wonderful, as always) and Patrick Wilson (definitely Patrick Wilson, as always), keep the cursed doll in a room in their home with all of the other cursed objects they’ve collected over the years (3). So you spend the rest of the film wondering when this doll is going to show up, but it only briefly appears to sort-of-but-not-really terrorize their daughter. And then, when the details of the film’s major haunting come together, you’re left thinking: Did I really just watch a film in 2013 that says the women burned in the Salem Witch Trials were actually witches, so, uh, good going?

Look, I realize we can’t all be ~social justice warriors~ and not all of us can be invested in American culture wars. That’s fine. But this film clearly demonstrates the problems one runs into when you divorce an event or an idea from its social and historical context so it can serve as the backdrop for your kewl film. I understand why the Salem Witch Trials would be attractive to a storyteller, but I think it behooves us to stop and think about the fact that, aside from it being an interesting historical event, it also comprised serious acts of sexist oppression and religious hysteria.

All of this becomes even more distressing when you consider the implications of the film’s villain and its insistence on God and religion. The villain is literally a woman (a witch) who is a bad mother and influences other women to be bad mothers. In effect, the movie becomes not just about punishing or otherwise saving these bad women who don’t fit into their prescribed roles, but also becomes unavoidably invested in restoring normative family structures. It’s absolutely bizarre. It follows and substantiates the logic behind a lot of woman-hatred: it’s not just that some women are bad; it’s that they are also bad for the community because of their effects on other women and on the family as a unit. The film’s insistence on religion, on God, as the cure for all of this feels outrageously, fantastically tone deaf. I think even Christians would agree that this is a part of history that doesn’t need to be celebrated or substantiated.

The Conjuring is half of a really wonderful haunted house film, but the cracks that were evident in Insidious have only gotten wider and deeper here. I think Wan would do well to spend more time fully conceiving the narratives at the center of these tales. For all my complaints about Insidious, its ending is still way more interestingly realized than the latter bits of The Conjuring. Hopefully he still has some tricks up his sleeve, as well, because the “it’s not a ghost, it’s a demon” thing has gotten a bit old.

(1) Wan has his hands in the Saw series, and surely his superior films come directly out of the PA mold

(2) I’ve seen a lot of people criticize this scene for being silly, but I think that’s part of its charm. More importantly, though, it absolutely nails the creeping dread of something that was previously normal becoming slowly and subtly dangerous.

(3) Why would you keep this stuff in your home? I can’t even.

The Top 10 Films of 2012

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10. Pitch Perfect

Beats Glee at its own game.

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9. Take This Waltz

This is a movie that took me a while to digest, but Michelle Williams on the carnival ride set to “Video Killed the Radio Star” is an immediately indelible image.

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8. The Hunger Games

A confident and nearly perfect adaptation.

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7. The Avengers

Rarely are movies as fun (while being empty-headed) as The Avengers.

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6. The Cabin in the Woods

It’s the year of Joss; we all knew he’d get his “big break” some day, but who knew it would happen like this.

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5. Silver Linings Playbook

I don’t really care for the film’s treatment of mental illness, but this was delightful.

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4. Moonrise Kingdom

I don’t really care for Wes Anderson, but this was delightful.

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3. The Master

Alternate title: “Homoeroticism: The Motion Picture.”

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2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The best and most heartbreakingly sincere Pretty White People With Problems movie in a good while.

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1. Amour

oh my god these old-ass french people are so old and their bodies don’t work and they have to watch the ones they love the most die and one day i will be old, broken, and sad too