Eric Plaag and Matt Smith

True Detective Revisited: Matt and Eric Have a Facebook Kerfuffle

In Film Theory, Television on April 15, 2015 at 11:06 am

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by Eric Plaag and Matt Smith

[WARNING: Spoilers ahead, NSFW, and definitely not for the squeamish.]

Yesterday, Matt was trying very hard to get Eric’s attention (perhaps because Eric has been so busy with historical work that he has been neglecting TheSplitScreen for months), which may explain these two tweets that showed up in Eric’s Facebook feed:

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As a devout and hardcore fan of all that Season 1 of True Detective does, Eric could not resist this bait. In short, Eric considers that season in its entirety to be the finest single season of television ever aired, hands down, no contest. Plus, it was late in the afternoon, and Eric was tired of thinking about his current project at hand, so he jumped in the fray. What follows is a (mostly) unedited transcript of the exchange between Matt and Eric. We invite you to join this conversation and give us your impressions in the comments section.

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Biting My Lip: a review of Fifty Shades of Grey

In Film, Reviews on February 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm


by Matt Boyd Smith

The first thing you should know about me and Fifty Shades of Grey is that I haven’t read the books. I don’t care if you have or haven’t. I don’t even care if you like them. This is not a review of the books or even a judgement about how absurd they may or may not be. I’m much more interested in the film version anyhow, because it will no doubt be a major event film for 2015, with box office tracking as of today (the film’s first day in theaters) pointing toward a probably $85 million haul over the weekend. But beyond the numbers, I’m interested in whether or not it’s any good (it’s okay) and whether or not it fulfills on any of the promises non-readers of the books would expect given the media attention (it doesn’t).

By now the story is well-recounted in the media. Mousy college graduate Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) meets incredibly wealthy Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) whilst interviewing him for her roommate’s article in the college newspaper, a college of which he is an alumnus. During the interview and over the course of the next week, Ana and Christian become enamored with one another. Eventually, Christian proposes a relationship, bound by a contract, which makes Ana his submissive, he the dominant. Then things get kinky. Or so we’ve been led to believe.
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C. Tate’s Amazing Space Skates: a review of Jupiter Ascending

In Film, Reviews on February 7, 2015 at 9:47 am


by Matt Boyd Smith

When a movie opens with a line like “Technically I’m an alien” delivered in voice-over you should probably expect that what you’re about to see is either going to be a lot of fun or monstrously tedious. Know going into Jupiter Ascending that it’s mostly the latter. This movie’s a mess, has a godawful performance from the amazingly pale walking old-man-corpse Eddie Redmayne, and somehow manages to derail the Channing Tatum love train we’ve all been on the past couple of years. It’s that bad, really and truly. Even the special effects—SFX we’ve been told the movie had to be delayed (twice) so as they could be adequately completed—look like utter garbage. There’s not a lot here to like, though there is one really brilliant moment about a third of the way into it. More on that later. First let’s focus on where this thing goes wrong.

Really, the story is this movie’s biggest problem. There’s too much of it, and most of it is a poor knock-off of obvious source material like Star Wars as well as more cult texts like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. The Wachowski Starship are obviously attempting to build a sci-fi epic in the vein of those films (along with the many callbacks to the sword-and-sorcery genre albeit via genetics), but the attempt doesn’t quite come together as a cohesive whole. A lot happens very quickly, and there are some really nice attempts to build a universe without being too obvious about all of its intricacies, but whereas the Star Wars films built its mythology around three films developed and made over six years (and with the benefit of hindsight and fandom completing that world building process), Jupiter Ascending attempts to do it all in a single film, and to cram it all into just over two hours. Granted this is a blessing when compared to recent bloated blockbusters which push the three hour mark, there are still far too many plot threads which develop too quickly and don’t seem at all logical.
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