Posts Tagged ‘pulp fiction’

Simpsons Classics: 22 Short Films about Springfield

“The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. This antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence.”

–Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life”

“Everybody in town’s got their story to tell.”

“There’s just not enough time to hear them all.”

Milhouse Van Houten and Bart Simpson, “22 Short Films about Springfield”

Viewed in and of itself, “22 Short Films about Springfield” isn’t the funniest episode of The Simpsons, or its most character-driven, and it certainly isn’t the best. In fact, it doesn’t even earn these titles among the five episodes that accompany it on Disc 4 of the Season Seven DVD.* It isn’t as funny as “Much Apu about Nothing,” and it lacks the frequently poignant characterization of “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” or “Homerpalooza.” But within the entirety of The Simpsons canon, “22 Short Films” stands out as a unique, and, I’d like to argue, uniquely necessary episode of the series. This is because “22 Short Films” is nothing short of a thoroughly Modernist foundation and legitimation of Springfield as a metropolitan setting.

*If I could only keep one of my DVDs, it would be this disc. It has “22 Short Films,” “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish,’”  “Much Apu about Nothing,” “Homerpalooza,” and “Summer of 4 Ft. 2.” It is amazing.

By this, I mean that the 23 minutes of “22 Short Films about Springfield” help establish, develop, contextualize, and yes, animate the world around the series’ eponymous family. And the manner in which it does this is steeped in what appears to be a distinctly Modernist tradition. My texts for backing up this assertion will be the episode itself (obvs), the aforereferenced “Metropolis and the Mental Life” by Georg Simmel, and two landmark Modernist novels: Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and definitive Modernist tome of them all, James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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Mere Anachrony: Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs

WARNING: This post contains spoilers. You should only read it if you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, or if you have no interest in seeing the movie but for some reason want to read a review of it.

I was not a fan of Reservoir Dogs when I first saw it.

The first time I saw it was at summer camp when I was 14 years old. A friend of mine had sprained his ankle in the middle of the summer, which prevented him from doing pretty much anything the rest of us did. It’s hard to play basketball or soccer when you can’t really stand up (unless you’re Willis Reed, I guess). So he basically spent all of his time alone in his bunk watching movies on VHS.

Most of these films were generic comedies of the 1990s, like American Pie, Ace Ventura and Friday, but one day he head tossed in Reservoir Dogs, and I walked in about halfway through.

Now, it’s never ideal to start in the middle of a movie, and this is a perfect example why. I don’t remember exactly when I started watching the film attentively—I had gotten pretty used to tuning the movies out by that point, they were on all the time—but at some point it got my undivided attention. It is incredibly hard to ignore a Quentin Tarantio movie. They are so visually arresting and the dialogue is so sharp that they demand your attention.

But while I was engrossed in the film by it’s ending, I was ultimately disappointed by the conclusion. The final scene seemed abrupt and unsatisfying. It was a flashy, intense, bloody ending with little emotional value. Mr. Sprained Ankle agreed. Continue reading

Symposium: …and CUT.

First off, I am offended at your two’s vocabulary. If you were an experienced film writer such as myself, you’d know never to use the word “movie.”

I don’t mean to caricature John’s argument, but I’m sure it’s what he’ll claim afterward. It seems to me that John is arguing that a film’s quality is entirely dependent on the response it evokes not in its collective audience, but in the individual member of that audience. Hence, “Calling a movie ‘great’…is ALWAYS a subjective judgment. If you enjoy a movie, then you think it’s a good movie.”

John’s myopic take on film quality, in which each individual acts as the arbiter of overall quality, essentially makes any and all comments about film both conceivable and credible.

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