AD ASTRA: God Is Dead

This contains spoilers for Ad Astra

Near the end of Ad Astra the camera pans over screens showing exoplanets, captured for the first time in some kind of detail. The images are the kind we’re familiar with when it comes to our own outer planets – fuzzy, distant, with indistinct geographical features that require the interpretation of scientists to look like anything other than squiggly lines and discoloration. And yet over this is a Brad Pitt narration – the continuation of a film’s worth of droning Brad Pitt narration – that informs us how beautiful and amazing these images are. 

This, I think, sums up a lot of what I don’t like about Ad Astra, a movie whose title is To the Stars, but which is pretty intent on telling us there’s no good reason to ever go there. It’s not that images of exoplanets are boring, it’s that the film’s imagination is limited to indistinct pictures of them on screens. Cinema can take us anywhere, and yet Ad Astra takes us to an underground Martian base that looks a lot like the service corridors beneath a football stadium. And movies can make us believe in anything, but Ad Astra asks us to believe there’s nothing. 

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I Watched The Greatest Movies Of All Time On Pan And Scan VHS

Alex Garland’s excellent Annihilation is hitting Netflix everywhere except the United States today. In these United States we got the pleasure of seeing this beautiful and challenging scifi film on the big screen… well, those of us who bothered to see it, anyway. In three weeks of release the movie has made about $26 million, less than what Black Panther is making this weekend.

This is sad, and there are a lot of reasons why the movie didn’t do well – not least among them being Paramount’s cold feet and unwillingness to spend more money to push the movie hard – but anyone who watched this film knew it was never going to click with mass audiences. And that’s okay.

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Humanize Your Enemy

What is your problem with Nazis: their beliefs or their tactics? It seems to me that the answer should be “both,” that they use reprehensible tactics in service of horrifying ideologies. As decent people we should reject not just their beliefs but also their behavior.

I look at the response to the New York Times article about “the Nazi next door” and I’m troubled. Not that the article is criticized – all things are open to critique – but that it’s being criticized from the point of view that it’s wrong to humanize Nazis.

See, dehumanization is a Nazi tactic.
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