Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Joe Queenan: Superhero tentpoles killing cinema?

Queenan argues women are used as mere ornamentation
Highly recommend Joe Queenan's writing - I don't necessarily agree with all of his arguments, but the opinioniated style of it is refreshing and enjoyable (try Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler - selling for 1p on Amazon!)

A subject he's given views on before, he returns here to the issue of the dominance of superhero tentpole franchises (+ other sundry fantasy/sci-fi epics):
As Steven Soderbergh recently complained, these films are sucking the life out of motion pictures, diverting virtually all of the industry's resources into insanely expensive "tentpole" films that supposedly prop up other projects.
In this article he's particularly focussed on nailing the questionable ideology that he sees as underpinning most of these films. Here's an excerpt - do you agree?
This thing is starting to get old. There are too many superhero films: their storylines are all beginning to run together. It is a genre dominated by the thoroughly unoriginal notion that you cannot trust the government. Even when you can trust the government, you cannot trust all of it. And even the branches you can trust aren't much help, because they are incompetent. To save humanity, one must rely on a bootstrap operation headed by a dedicated go-getter and self-starter. At heart, all superheroes are Republicans.
He also addresses the very much secondary, window-dressing or ornamental role of female characters:
In superhero movies, women are almost always accessories. This is true even if they themselves are superheroines. The men do the heavy lifting; the women serve an ornamental function. This is why we are all the way up to Iron Man 3 and Batman 7, but have not seen a Supergirl film since 1984, or a Wonder Woman film ever (supposedly, it is coming this year). The 12-year-old boys for whom superhero movies are made are not interested in women. They may not even be interested in girls. They are certainly not interested in girls with superpowers.
(read the full article)

N.Ireland Hollywood's new go-to location?

Spielberg seems to have really taken to NI, with Game of Thrones and his latest movie shot in NI. The tentpole flick Dracula is the latest. Its more expensive than Eastern Europe but cheaper than mainland Britain.
A report on Radio5 (12th June 2013, 4.50am) highlighted the similarities to New Zealand with its range of landscapes. An advantage over NZ is the compactness of this small nation: crews can be based in Belfast and quickly get to locations across the country, a considerable factor for producers.
The Republic of Ireland has long been a popular location, with aggressive tax breaks. The R5 feature also highlighted NI's skilled film technicians - the ability to locally source a crew is also a key factor.
All of this highlights the importance of government policy and support; NI Screen, the regional wing of the defunct UKFC, has played a key role.
More to follow...

Some links:
NI Screen;
Dec 2011: Gdn on Game of Thrones + new punk film shot in NI;
May 2013: Gdn on The Fall, major new drama on NI 'Troubles';

(Then again, '71 was mostly shot in Yorkshire!)