Author Topic: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.  (Read 103597 times)

Offline Ben J

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #120 on: October 17, 2010, 06:42:23 AM »
About the Big Daddy / Hit Girl relationship: There might be depth and/or thematic abiguity to it, but I still think the movie grossly mishandled it. What Big Daddy trained his daughter to be and what he taught her to do amounts to a form of child abuse. He is the second villain of the piece. Hit Girl had no say in the matter, and she is not in the capacity to decide if it's right or wrong. Yet the movie portrays the things Hit Girl does as "cool" and invites us to cheer her on.
If that's so cool, I guess being a child soldier in Africa is totally über-cool.
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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #121 on: October 17, 2010, 06:58:58 AM »
*MORE SPOILERS*
Even your negative comments, Olivier, indicate that Kick-@ss contains a thematic depth and complexity absent in most other superhero movies.  We judge most other superhero movies on fairly superficial elements, and how well, or poorly, those were done (sfx, fight scenes, etc.).  Kick-@ss, like Watchmen, and perhaps a lesser degree, the X-Men movies, demand discussions of character arcs, moral perspectives, and other more cerebral dramatic elements. 

Sure, I totally agree. I wouldn't have been disappointed if I had expected nothing of the movie. It managed to build up my hopes in that regard during its course but the ending didn't fulfill them; for me it didn't fit with the complexity I had begun to see in that movie.

Of course, I exaggerated a bit. For some reason Kick Ass apparantly has taken a liking to the little girl, feels sorry for her and wants to "protect" her. That's some kind of superhero thinking there. And Hit Girl doesn't carry out her revenge just for its own sake but in honor of her daddy. So their motivations are not purely personal and egoistic. And let Kick Ass be a jerk who loses himself in his addiction, fine. It's not so much the events shown at the ending that put me off but the way they were presented, as if the movie wanted me to believe and accept that's a good thing to be happy about. For me it kind of *is* pathetically sad. I could accept that Hit Girl needs closure and that Kick Ass wants to help her but I don't see them draw a line under the whole thing at the end. More likely this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship of psychopathic "superheroes" who have never shown any concern for human life during the whole movie (Kick Ass is more shocked at Hit Girl's superior fighting skills than at the massacre she commits...). I don't deny it's an interesting ending but the tone is too light and not even ironic. The movie makes it appear as funny now when Hit Girl gives the school bullies a beating and I begin to wonder: was I meant to laugh at Hit Girl crushing a human in the scrap press, too? It's as if the movie wants me to swallow the world needs psychopaths like her, if they're on the "right " side. What makes other superhero movies interesting is the conflict between democratic values and laws and vigilantism but that's not even a topic here. It's taken for granted that the whole system is corrupted, the good cop (who's friend with Big Daddy and lets him do his thing) just as well as the bad cops. And were it not for Kick Ass' girlfriend who doesn't play a very big role in the end there would be next to no real relativization to the extreme viewpoints of bloodthirsty Hit Girl and Big Daddy and don't-think-don't-ask Kick Ass.

Like I said, I've still found it to be one of the more interesting 'superhero' movies and despite all enjoyable to watch. I'm only suspicious of the light and inconsequencial tone of the ending which seems to suggest some kind of complicity with Hit Girl and Kick Ass, ignoring the hazardousness of their behaviour and way of thinking and downplaying the moral instance that the girlfriend seemed to represent.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 07:13:37 AM by Olivier Leroux »

Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #122 on: October 17, 2010, 04:09:52 PM »
*Lots more SPOILERS -- when will they ever stop?!*

I applaud you both for your moral objections, Ben & Olivier.   :D 

I do not condone, nor am I a fan of murder, torture, child abuse, revenge, vigilantism, unforgiveness, or cusswords.  (I am, in the real world, a licensed minister of the gospel of Christ, after all.)  The black guy good cop was specifically added to the movie to indict the actions of Big Daddy and the way he was raising Hit-Girl.  His scene comes right after Hit-Girl's first massacre, by conscious design.  The director, Matthew Vaughn, did not want the audience to feel that (he felt) what Big Daddy and Hit-Girl were doing was "okay."  (Of course, he didn't let the good cop stop it, either.)  The morals and relationship between Big Daddy and Hit-Girl were deliberately skewed and meant to shock (to a significant degree as a mocking satire of Batman and Robin). 

If you watch the movie again, during that first Hit-Girl massacre, you'll see that Kick-@ss is appalled, too, and at one point seems to be shaking his head "no" as if begging her to stop.  He decides to quit after that, perhaps, thematically, recognizing what his addiction might make of him (which, you might say, it later does). 

That the audience is allowed to cheer the bloodshed (and protagonists' bloodlust), or even that they are encouraged to do so, is a critique that surely extends beyond this single film, and maybe even the whole action movie genre...

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #123 on: October 17, 2010, 07:16:23 PM »
I do not condone, nor am I a fan of murder, torture, child abuse, revenge, vigilantism, unforgiveness, or cusswords.

I'd never dare say you were, hans. I was criticizing the movie not the people who like and defend it, least of all you, my friend.  ;)

Not to give you the wrong impression, it's not my intention to preach and I generally don't judge movies by the morality of the themes they treat. I even admitted to being a fan of revenge movies. And I'm a great fan of the TV series Dexter where you're meant to sympathize with a psychopathic serial killer and I admit it works for me. But it's a guilty pleasure, and as for the character of Dexter, while he's facing all the challenges and qualms usually present in the superhero genre, he knows perfectly well he is no superhero himself, rather a tragic anti-hero. And there are lots of other sympathetic in-depth characters who present diametrically opposed viewpoints and lifestyles and whose opposing viewpoints, lifestyles and problems are no less taken seriously which is what gives the series complexity and charm.


The director, Matthew Vaughn, did not want the audience to feel that (he felt) what Big Daddy and Hit-Girl were doing was "okay."  ... That the audience is allowed to cheer the bloodshed (and protagonists' bloodlust), or even that they are encouraged to do so, is a critique that surely extends beyond this single film, and maybe even the whole action movie genre...

It's a pretty harsh accusation to say that a director actually intended something like that and I'd never go that far. But just because a director wasn't going for a certain effect doesn't mean the tendency to evoke it can't be inherent in the movie.

I don't want to come across as another Frederic Wertham or Jack Thompson and what I applaude in you is that you try to defend art against such improper moral accusations.  :) But really, even though I keep talking about morals for me it's more a matter of taste. I'm against censorship, all I'm saying is for me this movie didn't fully work. I can understand all of your arguments but personally I still find the character-painting a bit lacking and some scenes including the ending a bit tasteless.

That doesn't make it a bad movie for me - it's actually a quite good movie. But personally I can't say it's turned out that well as I think it could have and even though I savored most of it, the strange U-turn at the ending left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. No offense intended, tastes differ.   ;)
« Last Edit: October 17, 2010, 07:24:32 PM by Olivier Leroux »

Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #124 on: October 17, 2010, 07:33:27 PM »
Hit-Girl is particularly interesting to examine. 

Her sailor talk can be seen as an attempt to act tough (as if she needed to), overcompensating for the fact that she's a little, 11 or is it 13-year-old girl.  Or is there something deeper prompting her verbal vulgarities?  Her dad never swears... 
 

Another explanation for her expletives could be that she (even if subconsciously) is demonstrating passive/aggressive antipathy to the life Big Daddy is grooming her for.  She is cursing the vigilante lifestyle even as she seems to revel in it.  Big Daddy, on the other hand, demonstrating his psychosis, has adopted the most affirmingly positive speech patterns in his costumed guise, mimicking that of Adam West's campy, 1960's Batman. 

One, last thought, for now:  Kick-@ss is realistic until Dave's initial stabbing/runoverring, after that, it becomes increasingly far-fetched.  Some cineastes might not see that as coincidence, but rather reflective of a point where the film begins to describe Dave's ensuing delusions.  So, in that viewpoint, Dave did not become Wolverine-like after the crash, but may be crippled for life and have to take powerful pain medications for as long as that life lasts...  (cue tra-la-la song)

Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #125 on: October 17, 2010, 08:51:00 PM »
I'd never dare say you were, hans.

And I didn't think you were, amigo, I just think it's sometimes wise to make such definitive statements during discussions like this, all things considered...   ;)

That doesn't make it a bad movie for me - it's actually a quite good movie. But personally I can't say it's turned out that well as I think it could have and even though I savored most of it, the strange U-turn at the ending left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. No offense intended, tastes differ.   ;)

Indeed. 

Tastes are as varied as there are individuals, yet most folks spare little attention to try to understand their own tastes, --why their tastes are what they are...  (Yet that is exactly why I enjoy discussions like the one we've had.) 

Adults have the habit of judging their own emotional responses to art along the lines of confirmation biases (not allowing anything to conflict with their established ideas about themselves and their values).  They reject art that they can't easily justify liking (such as art which produces cognitive dissonance -- conflicted or embarassing feelings). 

I find it far more rewarding to be honest with one's-self.  If something inside me has a positive reaction to a work of art, which my conscious mind may find no easy reason for, rather than deny that feeling, I like to try to unravel that puzzle.  What was it I liked?  Why is it speaking to my soul?  What need is it feeding, or what emotion, or belief, is it validating? 

For everything there is a reason.   

Offline Ben J

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #126 on: October 18, 2010, 03:05:11 PM »
In general, I have no qualms about violence in movies (heck, The Sect is also pretty violent at times, if only in text).

But it depends on who is doing what to who and why.

I have no problem watching Oldboy plowing through a hallway of bad guys with a hammer, or The Bride slicing up the Crazy 88. But I get an allergic reaction to children being put into violent situations in an inappropriate or irresponsible way for laughs and/or cheap thrills.

I still think that Kick-Ass portrays the actions of Hit Girl and - to a degree - Big Daddy, as primarily cool and awesome. Through the way the scenes are directed, and especially by changing the most disturbing aspects of the story from the original comic book, to give Big Daddy a more "heroic" motivation and a more touching death scene.

Consider this (from the imdb trivia page for "Kick-Ass"):

Quote
3.) Probably the biggest character motivation change is the origin of Big Daddy. While in the movie, Big Daddy really is an ex-cop out for revenge against D'Amico, in the graphic novel, it is revealed in the torture scene that he was only pretending to be an ex-cop turned vigilante, and that in reality, he was an accountant, and that the reason for being a vigilante superhero was, just like Dave, he was a huge superhero comic book fanatic, and that he funded everything for him and Mindy (Hit-Girl, his daughter) by selling a bunch of his old vintage comics he kept locked in a chest from Mindy so Mindy wouldn't know that her father wasn't a cop. He then reveals his motivation for going after the gang and making up the story of his wife's death (who is, in fact, still alive and divorced from him) and his excuse is simply, "We needed a villain." Also, in said torture scene, Big-Daddy's death is a tad bit more gruesome and he dies before Hit-Girl even comes back to the rescue, not being able to say goodbye to him. In the graphic novel, he gets shot in the head with most of his brains coming out, while in the movie he gets burned to death but has time to tell his daughter goodbye. This was probably changed for the movie to give Big Daddy and Hit-Girl real motivation for going after the bad guys and to make the bad guys more, well, bad. Also, because Big Daddy's now ex-wife is revealed to be alive in the graphic novel, it is her (Mindy's/Hit-Girl's mother) that Mindy stays with at the end, not Sgt. Williams like in the movie.

That sounds a tad more like a despicable psychopath than his portrayal in the movie.

Yet they changed most of this, and added much weaker indictions (if you want to call it that) of Big Daddy's behavior. The "good cop" in particular was the weakest character in the movie. He knew what Big Daddy was up to, and he pretended to care for Mindy, yet he didn't lift a finger to help her.

Because of his inaction, we can later watch a gangster beat a little girl to within an inch of her life.

It would probably take a better director to handle the moral ambivalence of the material. Matthew Vaughn seemed more interested in the fun of it all, hence the elimination of the most disturbing aspects of the Big Daddy/Hit Girl backstory.


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Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #127 on: October 18, 2010, 07:50:26 PM »
Did I mention that I love analyzing movies? :D
 

Me, too (obviously).   :P

Kick-@ss & Watchmen have provided much for me to meditate on and explore, in that regard.  I fear, tho, that upcoming movies, like Thor & Captain America, will fail to incorporate some of the most important central themes of their characters.   :-\

(Back to Kick-@ss) Something folks look for when interpreting meaning are repeating motifs or sets.  Kick-@ss revolves around three disfunctional families --or, more specifically, three father/child relationships.  Dave & Hit-Girl have lost mothers, while Red Mist has a mother that is, essentially, a non-entity.  Each father is passing along a harmful philosophy. 

Some might object that Dave's father doesn't do this, but he does.  That philosophy is expressed by Dave as "With no powers comes no responsibility."  Dave's father demonstrates this philosophy by not being more involved in Dave's life, even when he's seeing Dave repeatedly come home with a beaten-up body.  (That this detached parenting philosophy may be just as harmful as the other two is easily arguable from such statistics as may be found on this page http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/familylife/a/statistics.htm.) 

So, a clear theme in the movie is that of "the sins of the fathers." 

Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #128 on: October 18, 2010, 08:20:42 PM »
*You might as well just expect SPOILERS everytime, folks*

I still think that Kick-Ass portrays the actions of Hit Girl and - to a degree - Big Daddy, as primarily cool and awesome. Through the way the scenes are directed, and especially by changing the most disturbing aspects of the story from the original comic book, to give Big Daddy a more "heroic" motivation and a more touching death scene.
 

I approve of those changes.  Really, I approve of all the changes made from the comicbook for the movie Kick-@ss, just as I did for Watchmen.  The comic version of Big Daddy is a repeat, in many respects, of Dave's motivation & thematic functions, only darker.  Essentially, tho, it's the same device.  The movie Big Daddy adds a new, complementary dynamic, and one that explores a darker viewpoint of both Batman & Robin and the cliche comicbook-vengence-origin mocked by Dave earlier in the film. 

The comicbook version also is difficult to justify in many respects, like how does an accountant/comicbook-geek know so much about the workings of a specific underworld gang? --and how did he get so good with weapons and combat tactics?  The movie version has logical answers to those types of questions.

Offline Ben J

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #129 on: October 19, 2010, 09:03:01 AM »
I approve of those changes.  Really, I approve of all the changes made from the comicbook for the movie Kick-@ss, just as I
The comicbook version also is difficult to justify in many respects, like how does an accountant/comicbook-geek know so much about the workings of a specific underworld gang? --and how did he get so good with weapons and combat tactics?  The movie version has logical answers to those types of questions.

I agree that the motivations and "logistics" of Big Daddy make more sense in the movie version, but that could also have been achieved by a different explanation that wouldn't downplay the psychopath angle as much. But I think the filmmakers did that intentionally, to make the actions of Hit Girl more "heroic" and easier to stomach for the audience.

Imagine the same showdown as in the movie, but instead of mowing down "bad guys", the audience knew that Hit Girl is killing random people and the revenge story was just a fantasy of her dad.

That's the route they could have gone if the filmmakers were really interested in a "Taxi Driver"-type ending, but they were not, instead they opted for a somewhat standardized "hero saves the heroine in the nick of time"-finale and an then ending on a note that most of the viewers would classify as "happy", despite the disturbing aspects noted by Olivier.

I think that's why "Kick-Ass" doesn't work as a convincing satire for me. The movie thinks it's ballsy for showing a little girl killing dozens of people, but in the end it shys away from delivering anything that the audience members can't simply laugh off as "cool" or "awesome".

I imagine if Matthew Vaughn directed a remake of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", it would end with the knights discovering the grail and living happily ever after. Or if he directed "The Life of Brian", then Brian would escape from the cross at the end and fight Pontius Pilate, accompanied by "cool" rock music. Or if he directed "Dr. Strangelove", then Slim Pickens would be blasted out of the sky at the last minute by a hero on a jetpack equipped with gatling guns.


Quote
Kick-@ss & Watchmen have provided much for me to meditate on and explore, in that regard. 

Yes. I think it's great that the Superhero genre has matured to a point where it's sparking these kinds of discussions. :)


And as I said, I didn't hate "Kick-Ass". Any movie that makes you think that much at least deserves some recognition.


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Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #130 on: October 19, 2010, 12:16:31 PM »
*Forever with the SPOILERS*

There was one concession to a happy ending that I was somewhat more ambivalent about, which were the changes with Dave's girlfriend.  In the comic, he loses her when he turns honest (in fact, she has him beat up in a fit of revenge). 

Still, for the movie, she may be needed as one of the few normally noble characters in the film (see Olivier's comments).  Also, her love for Dave is used to add suspense and tension during the televised torture sequence. 

Kick-@ss has been referred to as the Spider-man for today's generation of teens (meaning mixing of superhero with teenage angst).  Dave is clearly much less powerful than Peter Parker as Spider-man, perhaps reflective of how impotent today's teens feel in their society.  60's teens generally believed that they could change the world.  Today's generation seems much more jaded and even fatalistic. 

Happy endings, of course, work against angst, but then, in the movie, Red Mist's final words suggest that there remains a Sword of Damocles above Dave's head.  Conventional wisdom also says that non-happy endings don't sell in the U.S., but I think, more than for dollars & cents sense, that completing the arcs for Dave & Hit-Girl as the movie did it was thematically required (for reasons I've already mentioned).

Speaking of Spider-man, he has long since (in the comics) lost his teen-image and most of his angst.  Marrying a super model was pretty much the last nail in that coffin.  He's also lost all of his outsider vibe in joining the Avengers (yet one more mis-step, but then, there was little left intact of Spidey's core themes, anyways, by that point). 

BTW, RED is a very good comicbook movie, tho non-superhero, of course.     

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #131 on: October 19, 2010, 03:10:21 PM »
There was one concession to a happy ending that I was somewhat more ambivalent about, which were the changes with Dave's girlfriend.  In the comic, he loses her when he turns honest (in fact, she has him beat up in a fit of revenge). 

Still, for the movie, she may be needed as one of the few normally noble characters in the film (see Olivier's comments).  Also, her love for Dave is used to add suspense and tension during the televised torture sequence. 


Hm, I don't know. If he had lost her due to being honest and additionally get beat up, I would have understood the relapse into his 'addiction' a lot better. And she's only a moral instance until his relapse anyway. Afterwards, her role is quite insignificant (except as a means to add suspense, as you said). The ending would have been a lot better, I think, if additionally to Kick Ass' triumph as a superhero, his girlfriend would have left him. Instead, we have a backward development in the main character that is rewarded on all accounts and has no negative consequences whatsoever. And that's what's making me - and apparantly also Ben J - feel like the movie is biased toward that 'cool' superhero show at the end instead of making the story more ambigous by also offering a more rational and realistic outlook on life. The whole conflict is simplified and made light of just for a feel-good-ending.  :-\

Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #132 on: October 19, 2010, 04:40:56 PM »
I think Dave's girlfriend may be the only good measuring stick (or point of perspective) of what selfless compassion is, in the movie (even if in simplified terms for the screen).  As presented, she wants to help people for the sole reason of helping people.  She doesn't want to do (good) for revenge (Big Daddy & Hit-Girl), and she doesn't want to do it to pump herself up (Dave).  Unlike the buddy cop, she's not conflicted in how to do so, either.  (The buddy cop, to give his character a little more slack, may believe that if he turns his old partner in, he'd be signing his death warrant.) 

Of course, the movie also kind of casts her motivation as a psychological quirk (as spoken by one of Dave's pals)... 

[Addendum]  Dave's role in the final carnage is actually the first time he's doing something superhero-ish without a selfish reason.  Thus, it is possible to see that, in the addiction theme scheme, as the point where he actually breaks his addiction (and he breaks a lot of other stuff, too).
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 05:09:50 PM by hans »

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #133 on: October 19, 2010, 06:20:47 PM »
[Addendum]  Dave's role in the final carnage is actually the first time he's doing something superhero-ish without a selfish reason.  Thus, it is possible to see that, in the addiction theme scheme, as the point where he actually breaks his addiction (and he breaks a lot of other stuff, too).

I think it's very likely that Kick Ass' development is meant to be seen in such a positive light but that's exactly what I don't find very convincing and rather controversial.

Offline hans

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Re: Inspirations: Movies, Music, Websites etc.
« Reply #134 on: October 20, 2010, 12:03:05 AM »
I think it's very likely that Kick Ass' development is meant to be seen in such a positive light but that's exactly what I don't find very convincing and rather controversial.
 

*I should add to the addendum that the final massacre is the same climatic point where Dave rejects his father's philosophy of non-responsibility, thus achieving thematic victory within the "sins of the father" scenario. 

I understand the points that you and Ben have made, Olivier.  Perhaps I take a less literal approach to appreciating fiction than most other folks.  If, say, this were based on a true story, I'd absolutely have tons of problems with it!!!  As it is, I found the ending quite satisfying on many levels. 

I wonder, however, how much of the thematic beauty I see in the movie was intentional and how much may have been a happy accident (just because an artist doesn't deliberately put something into his art doesn't mean it isn't there, despite what the lads in South Park believe).  I have more than a little apprehension that the sequel might turn out to be a major mess.   

 

anything