Trashy, goofy, and surprisingly sincere, this superhero fantasy is better than you expect but not as good as it should be.
Scott Jordan Harris is a film critic from Great Britain. Formerly editor of The Spectator's arts blog and The Big Picture magazine, he is now a culture blogger for The Daily Telegraph; a contributor to BBC Radio 4's The Film Programme and Front Row and Roger Ebert's UK correspondent.
He is the author of the book Rosebud Sleds and Horses' Heads: 50 of Film's Most Evocative Objects and the editor of the New York, New
Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco volumes of the World Film Locations
His writing has been published by, among others, Sight & Sound, The Spectator, BBC online, The Guardian, Fangoria, The Huffington Post, The Australian Film Institute, movieScope and RogerEbert.com.
He first went to a cinema to see Disney’s Pinocchio and the loud music, combined with the scary whale, made him cry. He was 22.
Britain is overrun with film festivals. I wouldn't be shocked to learn we have more per hundred miles per year than any nation on Earth. But there is room for more, provided they are carefully conceived, intelligently programmed and don't overreach themselves in their early years. ID Fest, which ran this year between May 24 and 27, is a fine example.
Beginning in 2010, with a year off in 2011, ID Fest is "a boutique festival", with each instalment programmed around a specific theme branching from the larger theme of identity - hence "ID" Fest. As such, it separates itself from Britain's large international festivals; small, un-themed local festivals; and genre fests, of which there seem to be more each month. The first ID Fest investigated what it means to be English (as opposed to British) but the second had a far broader focus, befitting its ambitions to become a truly international festival. In 2012, its theme was heroism.
The saying in boxing is that "styles make fights". It means that two elegant matadors like Muhammad Ali, or two rampaging bulls like Joe Frazier, wouldn't have contested the classics fought by one Muhammad Ali and one Joe Frazier. The saying is true, and its truth extends beyond boxing to all sporting rivalries.
And, just as "fights" is not limited to boxing matches, "style" is not limited to physical methods of competition. "Style" includes styles of speaking, styles of thinking, styles of living. And, of course, "style" also includes skin color.
Why in the world couldn't we use this thing called television for the broadcasting of grace through the land? - Mr Rogers
There aren't many films that have made me cry. "Brokeback Mountain" prickled my eyes. "Toy Story 2" caused a lone tear to escape my eyelids and creep across my cheek. "Dear Zachary" made me discreetly weep with silent despair. And two PBS documentaries about a children's TV presenter left me red-eyed and runny-nosed, my face swollen and my chest shaking, as I sat clutching Kleenex and trying not to dehydrate.
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There is a shot in "Voices from the Shadows" that shows a man in his twenties lying forlornly in bed.
Like the rest of the documentary, it exists to illustrate the miserable effects of the illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME, which is often unhelpfully called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
There is a detail in the shot that haunts me. The man has a beard, of a length and thickness unusual, and unsuitable, for someone his age. He has the beard because he is unable to stand up long enough to shave and because having his parents, or a nurse, sit and shave him as he lays in bed is messy, uncomfortable and undignified. Every morning he thinks about shaving but his reserves of energy are so limited that he has to choose between being able to go to the bathroom because he wants to shave or, later in the day, being able to go to the bathroom because he needs to go to the bathroom.