Reading what’s extraneous

Drive-Only-God-Fogives

Last week at Big Other, Paul Kincaid put up a brief but intriguing post in which he asks to what extent various factors surrounding a text influence the way we think about it or its author. He gives the following example:

The program I use for databasing my library pulls down information from a wide variety of sources ranging from the British Library and the Library of Congress to Amazon. More often than not, this can produce some very strange results. I have, for instance, seen novels by Iain Banks categorized as ‘Food and Health’, and novels by Ursula K. Le Guin categorized as ‘Business’. In all probability, these are just slips by somebody bored, though you do wonder what it was about the books per se that led to such curious mistakes.

Paul’s musings raise many interesting questions. For one thing, we might wonder whether the factors he’s describing are indeed extraneous or external to texts. Because I can imagine a good post-structuralist immediately objecting that texts more porous than that, and that it’s all just a sea of endless texts slipping fluidly into one another.

Me, I don’t have a problem with treating texts as discrete and coherent entities, but I admit the situation is complicated.

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25 Points: Only God Forgives

I’m wearing the same expression as Ryan Gosling there: I just saw Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn’s followup to Drive. (If you’re in Chicago, it’s playing through Thursday, 8 August at the Music Box; the film is also apparently streaming online.) Actually, I was so impressed I went and saw it twice.

Anyone out there want to chat about it? I’ll post some initial thoughts after the jump. (Beware of serious spoilers, though: these points cover the entire film, and give away key plot points.)

[My capsule review for those who don’t want to read the rest: Of the five new films I’ve seen so far this year, Only God Forgives is easily the most compelling and my favorite. In second place is probably Iron Man 3, which I mostly enjoyed, but found nowhere near as interesting as this. Securely in last place is Star Trek Into Darkness.]

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I recorded a commentary track for “Drive”

Hey, HTMLGiant. I recorded a commentary track for Drive; you can download it here. It’s an mp3, 42 MB, 104 minutes long.

Of course I made it so brilliant that you can just listen to it on its own. But if you watch it with Drive (recommended!), it’s all synced up, so cue it to start when the Universal logo starts.

Related posts:

Next, I’ll record commentary for Inception.

And Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

And The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

And Southland Tales.

Update: I forgot to include a link to Scorpio Rising. Here’s a clip:

And here’s the full film.

DRIVE

You’ve probably heard by now that Drive is very, very good. That’s because Drive is very, very good. Indeed, it’s about as good as a Hollywood film can be these days—it even bears comparison with the great B-movies of the late ’70s / early ’80s, which supposedly went extinct when Hollywood transformed itself into a industry of nothing but A-movies. (Box Office Mojo lists Drive’s production budget as $15 million, which is half as much as Woody Allen’s most recent film.)

After the jump is a spoiler-free list of ten things that I loved about the film.

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