Aug 5, 2017

Weekend Reads: iZombie, A Ghost Story, Shoegaze History, Battle Royale’s Legacy, Hayao Miyazaki’s Storytelling & more

Also: Your new favorite typeface to hate, revisiting David Lynch’s Dune, gritty modern reboots, whither Google Fiber, and the downside of constant communication.

iZombie
Brains, braaaaaaains…

We’ve recently become big fans of The CW’s iZombie here at Opus HQ; it’s far more fun, clever, and thought-provoking than the title or premise might suggest. Allison Barron considers the show’s treatment of dehumanization. “The entire show explores the dangers of dehumanization as Liz learns to humanize others by consuming their brains… Liv takes on odd, terrifying, addictive, amusing, annoying, or sometimes even dangerous personality traits that allow her to empathize with the minds of people she wouldn’t normally relate to.”

I haven’t seen A Ghost Story yet, but Kevin McLenithan’s beautiful review certainly piques my curiosity. “Of the many reasons to treasure David Lowery’s new film… one of the biggest is the way it outlines the shape not just of one human life, but of human life in general. With its round-cornered, boxy aspect ratio — familiar to anyone who’s ever used a slide projector or watched a home video on Super 8 film — A Ghost Story offers us a cosmic home video of sorts.”

Ride
Ride

An oral history of shoegazing, my favorite musical genre, that features members of Lush, Slowdive, Swervedriver, and Ride? Why yes, please. I love this quote from Ride’s Andy Bell: “I feel like we’ve been sort of loved into existence again. People loved our music to such an extent that we’ve been offered these gigs, and it’s rolling and rolling now, so I want to make sure that we’ve satisfied that love and [given] it back.”

Everyone hates on Comic Sans and Papyrus but Mistral is the typeface you should love to hate. “This is a font created to exemplify everything sophisticated and elegant about postwar France. Yet over the course of the 21st century, Mistral has become positively unmoored a font just as likely to be used on a cheap tube of lip gloss or the flickering neon sign of an Amsterdam porn shop as it is on the label of your sandals, or the side of your uncle’s yacht.”

Battle Royale
One of Battle Royale’s “lucky” survivors

Does Kinji Fukasaku’s controversial Battle Royale still pack a punch after 17 years? “Like a great tragedy, the players reveal themselves, and after a truly surreal and hilarious instructional class video, the roll call begins. We get an immediate understanding of the underlying characteristics of each student as they leave the classroom, grab their rations and random weapon bag. It is the little non-verbal cues that reflect how masterfully Fukusaku directs.” (My Battle Royale review.)

Is David Lynch’s much-criticized adaptation of Dune really as terrible as everyone thinks it is? “It’s somewhat difficult to critique Dune in 2017, when all of its flaws and shortcomings were already laid relentlessly bare by critics upon its release over 30 years ago… Most negative reviews of the era focused on the film’s incoherence, its tedious pacing and its general lack of intrigue. For Lynch devotees… the complaints tend to hinge on its directorial anonymity: its seeming lack of Lynchian DNA.”

My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki
A truly magical movie moment

This is a truly beautiful essay on the magical storytelling in Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. “My Neighbor Totoro is a genuine children’s film, attuned to child psychology. Satsuki and Mei move and speak like children: they run and romp, giggle and yell… But perhaps most uniquely, My Neighbor Totoro follows children’s goals and concerns. Its protagonists aren’t given a mission or a call to adventure — in the absence of a larger drama, they create their own, as children in stable environments do. They play.” (My My Neighbor Totoro review.)

From Riverdale to Power Rangers to Anne with an E, why are so many modern remakes darker and grittier than the source material? “What is it audiences are supposedly looking for? Is it truly nostalgia if the atmospheres of these reboots reflect our own times more than their original? Do we want Archie and Anne and the Rangers to take us back to their worlds, where everything is circumscribed by the lines of fiction and the promise of an eventual, often hard-earned happy ending, or do we want them to enter our own imperfect, confusing one?”

Google
Google

When Google announced that it’d be bringing ultra-high-speed Internet to the masses via Google Fiber, there was much rejoicing. So why did Google Fiber turn out to be such a failure? “The lesson Google is learning is one that the major ISPs already figured out: Providing traditional broadband internet isn’t a great way to make money in 2017, no matter how fast it is. Home broadband adoption has plateaued in the United States as some Americans opt to simply use their phone’s data plans to go online.”

Slack is often touted as an essential communication tool. And yet, it makes Owen Williams long for a return to email. “Humans aren’t wired for any sort of global, always-reachable communication… We haven’t collectively considered that we’re already collapsing under the weight of our own personal notification overload, and by adding another layer we have to stare at all day, it’s only making things worse.”

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