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Sordid Cinema TV / Film Spotlight

2017: Looking Back at Some of Goomba Stomp’s Best TV/Film Articles

2017 brought many changes to Goomba Stomp, but perhaps the biggest was the addition of Sordid Cinema, our film and TV section. Many of this site’s founders have a history with the movies, and we were itching to once again get back to covering the medium we love. We added some truly great writers to flesh things out, and the result has been a steady stream of fantastic content, from evergreen opinion pieces to festival reviews. It’s been a wonderful year for both the big screen and small, and to that end we want to share some of the best articles Sordid Cinema has seen in 2017. Enjoy!


Are Spinoffs Like ‘Rogue One’ Better For the Future of Star Wars?

Despite relying somewhat on the greater context of the franchise, within Rogue One lies a fully-formed tale, one that doesn’t wait for the second sequel (or longer) to resolve character arcs or plot threads. By freeing audiences from the “commitment” of continuation, the film itself is also free to uphold the promise that “anything can happen,” and for the first time in a long time, the stakes in a Star Wars story actually matter…(read full article)

‘The Last Jedi’ Blasts Star Wars Reverence into Meaningless, Fun Space Bits

As if trying to make some sort of point to die-hard fans who cling to the high standards set by their beloved original trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi rarely misses an opportunity to hammer home that priorities in this belabored universe should and will focus around those with a future, those with the opportunity to establish themselves beyond the deep shadow cast by old legends now turned old fogies. Never mind that this latest trilogy has so far relied heavily on the past; it’s all in good Disney fun, a chance to playfully subvert expectations and bring the franchise more in line with their other cash cows. Star Wars as many of us remember it is dead, folks; the Force didn’t awaken as its old self, and it probably never will again. However, while what has taken the place of George Lucas’ fairy tale vision might not provide the cinematic nourishment of yore, The Last Jedi shows that this Marvel-like product can still entertain with a steady dose of humor and a skilled hand piloting the ship… (read the full review)

‘mother!’ Doesn’t Love You; Can You Love It?

There’s expressing a thought, and there’s bludgeoning audiences over the head with it, over and over until they’re either prone to resist or completely numb. Darren Aronofsky’s mother! is a mad, screaming version of the latter, seeking to slap a dozing audience across the face with an artistic rant seemingly dressed up as some kind of haunted house-style horror film. It will confuse, annoy, and possibly repulse — unless you’re cool with just sitting back and enjoying the kind of skillful passion seldom seen these days in wide release. And what a passion! (read the full review)

‘Dunkirk’ Turns Tense Survival Into a Resounding Cinematic Victory

Eschewing the traditional beats of the modern war film, writer-director Christopher Nolan has created a cinematic vision depicting the terror of combat unlike any other – Dunkirk is pure movie bliss, a mesmerizing thriller so lean and focused, so void of bloated philosophy and overwrought action, that it quickens the pulse from start to finish, a massive feat of technical skill and filmmaking craft that demands the audience’s full attention, and reminds of just how powerful the theater-going experience can be when it is stripped to the essentials by a confident hand at the helm… (read the full review)

twin-peaks‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ Set The Stage For The Series’ Rebirth

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) has always been the wayward stepchild of both the Twin Peaks series and David Lynch’s filmography. It’s an essential part of the show, but also something separate, existing at an inflection point between Lynch’s early films — best exemplified by Blue Velvet (1986) — and his increasingly experimental and dreamlike later works. It’s a great example of the film maudit, a “cursed film,” one with the misfortune to be released at the moment that most allowed for critical misinterpretation. Twenty-five years after its release and eleven years after Lynch’s self-imposed exile, we can finally see the power of Fire walk With Me and its relation to his revitalized series… (read the full article)

Lonely Souls: ‘Twin Peaks’ and the Most Chilling Moment in Television History

In the early 90s the same question was on everyone’s lips: Who killed Laura Palmer? When David Lynch and Mark Frost’s seminal television murder mystery was first unveiled to the public, it seemed as though it could have been anyone in the titular town of Twin Peaks… (read the full article)

Has ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Entered the Mirror Universe?

The year was 2267, and the USS Enterprise, captained by James T. Kirk, had entered a parallel universe where people and places had opposing characteristics from their prime universe version. No longer was Earth demonstrating the best in humanity but much rather, the malignant side we see all too frequently throughout the world today. The Mirror Universe has been a meager part of the Star Trek franchise, a place with endless possibilities to the adventurous spirit of the origins of the show, but one that never truly got fleshed out fully… (read the full article)

‘Mindhunter’ is Downright Incredible and the Next Great Netflix Drama

For over two decades, David Fincher has been analyzing America’s obsession with serial killers, often focusing on why the crime was committed and not necessarily who committed the crime. From Se7en to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher’s psychological thrillers aren’t just about psychopaths, but equally about the people who hunt them down. Mindhunter is no different, although of all his work it bears a closer resemblance to Zodiacmore than anything else. And like Zodiac, Mindhunter is about obsessive people on both sides of the law, and why they do what they do… (read the full article)

‘Black Mirror’: Hooked on a Title

Black Mirror‘s title beautifully condenses what the show is about. Two words are enough to conjure up a mood and inspire visions of what may happen if our digital dreams go awry: implants that store memories for later undiluted recollection, videogames played inside our minds, societies ruled by social media popularity, or people’s consciousnesses turned into smart-building apps… (read the full article)

TheWireThe Best of ‘The Wire’: A Superlative List

To The Wire’s evangelical fan base, the show’s debut date – June 2nd, 2002 – feels momentous fifteen years later, but at the time it was unremarkable. In its earliest days, the series was a curiosity; a dry, inaccessible, and confusing alternative to polished HBO flagship programming and ostensibly similar cops-and-robbers fare like FX’s The Shield.Read our own Shane Ramirez’ exploration of The Wire’s genre ambitions, and it’s easy to forget that many of the show’s considerable stylistic and thematic achievements only revealed themselves once the entire text had been written… (read the full article)

15 Years Later, ‘The Wire’s’ Genre Filmmaking is Still Unmatched (Part 1)

Since The Wire ended in 2008, much has been written and extolled upon the HBO series, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this summer. It’s a Greek tragedy. It’s a sprawling Dickensian novel. It’s a mirror to our institutional failures. A treatise on toxic capitalism. On the racial and tribal impact of socioeconomics. It’s the ultimate cop show. It’s the anti-cop show. It’s the greatest show of all time… (read the full article)

The Psychological Appeals of ‘March Comes in Like a Lion’ and ‘Scum’s Wish’

With the Fall 2017 anime season upon us comes the much anticipated second season of March Comes in Like a Lion. The oppressively hopeful series aired fall through winter of last year and follows a young man on the slow road to recovery from major depression as he uses the Japanese chess game, shogi, as his unstable pillar of support. The iconic visuals of Studio SHAFT combined with the show’s courage to tackle delicate topics have earned it high praise over time… (read the full article)

20 Years Later, ‘South Park’ is Still TV’s Freshest Satire

Do you remember the first time you snuck out of bed to watch something you absolutely weren’t supposed to be watching? Well if you’re around the age of this writer, that something was probably South Park, and the days when you had to watch it in secret are long behind you… (read the full article)

No-Country-For-Old-Men10 Years Later: ‘No Country for Old Men’ is the Coens at Their Darkest and Most Political

When Joel and Ethan Coen released No Country for Old Men ten years ago, the film was instantly recognized as one of the high-water marks of their filmography. With the exception of Fargo, none of their other films (many of them great) had managed to distill their directorial genius quite as potently… (read the full article)

40 Years Later: ‘Sorcerer’ Still Casts a Spell

When William Friedkin decided to make his own version of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear (1953), it should have boded well. Friedkin was at the top of his game after directing The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), and his remake (a term he steadfastly refuses to use), which would come to be known as Sorcerer, is an inspired film, one that astounds and frightens in equal measures. Yet it was an enormous failure at the box office, and one of the first signs that the New Hollywood was coming to an end, to be replaced by the age of the blockbuster… (read the full review)

Processing Trauma in ‘Gerald’s Game’

In order to spice up their sex life, Jessie (Carla Gugino) agrees to be handcuffed to a bed by her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood), during a weekend getaway in a secluded cabin. But when Gerald begins enacting a rape fantasy, Jessie resists. Before he can un-cuff her, he has a heart attack and dies, and Jessie, shackled to the bed, spends the rest of Gerald’s Game figuring out her escape as she begins to hallucinate under stress and dehydration. A tense thriller based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, director Mike Flanagan’s latest film is as much about the process of trauma as it is about escape, as survival for Jessie concerns working through crises as well as freeing herself from Gerald’s handcuffs. But the film’s now notorious ending is at odds with what it takes such pains to construct in terms of its discussion of gendered violence… (read the full article)

Facing the Music in ‘Baby Driver’

Accountability is such a huge component of action films that sometimes we forget how important it is. Sure, the Avengers can save the day, but as we saw with Captain America: Civil War, there has to be accountability. Bad guys can take Liam Neeson’s family all they want, but they will face the consequences of their actions. Hell, bad guys often evade prosecution, and then you get movies where the hero is someone who has to circumvent the law in order to bring accountability to wrongdoers. Edgar Wright recognized this with Hot Fuzz, and he does an excellent job of handling it again with his latest film, Baby Driver… (read the full article)

Which Stephen King Novels Would Make Great Games?

There’s no denying that Stephen King is one of the mostly influential novelists of the twentieth century. His prolific novel output is matched only by the works his stories have inspired, from Netflix’s Stranger Things to games such as Alan Wake and Resident Evil VII: Biohazard. However, that raises the question; what Stephen King stories would make good video games? I’m going to avoid the obvious answer of ‘turn all of the terrifying horror novels into horror games’, and see what else we can do with some of King’s fiction… (read the full article)

Turkish Star WarsThese Aren’t The Films You’re Looking For – ‘Turkish Star Wars’

Any discussion of Star Wars ripoffs can only really end in one place. Oh sure, there’s Battle Beyond the Stars and Starchaser to talk about, but those are spiritual ripoffs, borrowing ideas, visual cues, character archetypes and maybe a sound effect or two. These types are simply “inspired” by Star Wars, making sure that any accusations of theft a bit of persuasion to justify in a court of law. Except….for one… (read the full article)

Tom Watches Movies: The King Kong Retrospective

There are few movies that have become as integral to the history of cinema, as iconic and legendary, as King Kong. Images like Kong’s ascent of the Empire State Building at the film’s climax have become indelible icons of American cinema, up there with the final scene of Casablanca. It’s no surprise then , given the film’s massive influence, that Kong has been a semi-regular fixture at cinemas ever since, appearing in remakes of the original movie as well as spin-offs and sequels. That small pantheon is about to gain a new member in Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Skull Island, a new take on the Kong mythos that transplants cinema’s favorite ape to the 1970s. With Skull Island‘s release approaching, what better time is there to revisit the entire Kong franchise? And that’s just what we’ll be doing, in a four part series that explores the history of King Kong’s live-action appearances. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, given that the franchise spans seven (soon to be eight) movies, so let’s get started… (read the full article)

30 Years Later: ‘RoboCop’ Is A Social Satire That Gets More Relevant With Age

In a world where an actual CEO has become the leader of the free world, 1987’s Robocopis even more relevant now than it was in the Rubik’s Cube decade. Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven held up a Magic 8-ball in front of moviegoers across America and showed them a dystopian future where corporations — fueled by apathy for the human condition, and a lust for profit — had run amok. Unfortunately, audiences glommed onto the wrong parts of RoboCop (namely the cool robot part), and over the years Verhoeven’s words of warning have become less like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come, and more like the Ghost of Christmas Present. Watching RoboCop today is like staring into a fun house mirror: the image might be warped and stretched, but you can still make out the reflection – and it looks a lot like our current society… (read the full article)

‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ Is Still The Best Video Game Movie That Isn’t About Video Games

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World turns seven this year, and while normally that would seem like an odd anniversary to celebrate, for Scott Pilgrim it’s perfect: one year for each member in the League of Evil Exes. That, coupled with the upcoming release of Edgar Wright’s newest movie Baby Driver, make it the perfect time to look back at one of the most underrated films of the last decade…(read the full article)

Stephen King Taught Me To Think

From the tender ages of twelve to eighteen, I swam through enough Stephen King to significantly alter the shape of my mind. There was little common ground between myself and the rest of my family growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but the bulk of it existed in the teetering stacks of Stephen King books that stood stationed next to our first-floor toilet. My big brothers were bad kids, and I was the arty little weirdo in their wake, content to keep my head down until it was time to get out, though quietly convinced that they were as cool-as-cool-could-be even while enduring their abuse (and snatching their discarded books). King united us as more than the drowning children of a shattering divorce; we were all Constant Readers. The words he wrote made me feel part of something in ways that extended beyond the borders of our crumbling suburban walls… (read the full article)

Beyond ‘Blade Runner’: Transcending The Legacy Of A Cult Classic

All art is derivative, and Blade Runner is no exception. Art inspires and is inspired, linking the past and present. The human essence is a collective, cumulative, ongoing rite of passage. We define ourselves by our experiences; who we are today is the result of who we’ve been. But humans don’t exist in a vacuum. Our lives overlap and intersect, causing us to challenge the reality we’ve developed. Blade Runner asked the question “What does it mean to be human?” Here we are, thirty-five years later — we haven’t found the answer, but the world of Blade Runner is still looking… (read the full article)

Goomba Stomp’s Guide to J-Splatter Films

Absurdity and extremity are often interlinked, especially in modern Japanese cinema. This leads to the creation of a Western-aimed genre films – referred to as “J-Splatter” – that rely on spectacle for humor and impact, their “typical” Japanese weirdness directed at Western audiences rather than Japanese ones. Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and The Machine Girl are key examples of J-Splatter films, as both released in the United States before they were released to Japanese audiences, and contain over-the-top violence, often with cheap special effects that lead to a certain janky charm… (read the full article)

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is a Sublime Exhaustion of Repugnant Digital Decadence

A Dionysian billow from the wellspring of studio cinema’s genre ether, Transformers: The Last Knight is a coup on the level of the works of John Boorman, a Bay inspiration that’s here made obvious, whose studio-funded genre journeys beyond meatspace show their influence in his deepening dives into AbstrAction. Bay has hit his stride, a pace towards beauty, pain, and negative meaning. One of the most influential figures in late capitalist cinema has unleashed a vision of the mode that teeters closer to the edge than ever, distilling it into a smelling salt cocktail of theatrical fascism and chaotic anti-art. This achieves a perverse zen, one that requires a lack of focus so schizophrenic that an entirely lucid viewing experience becomes impossible, or at least madness-inducing, and all via that most familiar of metagenres. This induced a modernist daze in me… (read the full article)

‘Spider-Man 2’ Remains A Peerless Spider-Man Film

Tobey Maguire portrays a thunderstruck Peter Parker Spider-Man 2; he staggers through the film perpetually on the edge of tears, a hero in crisis, never more so than when he sulks in his squalid apartment, pining for Mary Jane (Kirstin Dunst) and resenting the heroic obligation obstructing his happiness: why shouldn’t he be happy? He didn’t ask for any of this. That question is essentially the crux of the film, and it interestingly wrinkles a classic childhood hypothetical – “what superpower would you choose” becomes “would you choose one at all?”… (read the full article)

‘Bojack Horseman’ Season Four: Among the Best That Television Has to Offer

One of last year’s promotional posters for BoJack Horseman’s third season featured four surnames: Soprano, Draper, Underwood and Horseman. BoJack, more than any other popular TV series currently running, is a TV-lover’s show. Its creator, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, is one of the sharpest creative minds in the business he seems to equally love and criticize (which is, of course, just another form of love), and each episode is full of visual and textual references that only TV-lovers can fully appreciate. In worse circumstances, the allusive nature of BoJack would alienate a portion of its audience, but its cleverness and industry humor are never barriers for anyone not in the know. So, if you aren’t familiar with Tony Soprano from The Sopranos, Don Draper from Mad Men or Frank Underwood from House of Cards, your initial enjoyment of BoJack Horseman isn’t that different from someone who knows those other series like scripture… (read the full article)

Top 5 Dumbest Things About ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

As a life-long Star Wars fan I thoroughly enjoyed Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. I was sat mouth agape as the story continued to take unexpected turns, I loved the marriage of nostalgia and new ideas when it came to handling an iconic character like Luke Skywalker, and I even managed to avoid eating my entire bag of Peanut M&Ms during the trailers like I normally do, meaning I had some to enjoy during the movie. It was a home run. But even while I was enraptured in what was essentially a two-and-a-half-hour chase movie in space, there were moments that left me thinking, “Hang on a minute…” There are questionable narrative choices, bizarre character moments, and plot holes in this movie big enough to fly a First Order dreadnought through… (read the full article)

‘Good Time’ Presents Beautiful Depravity

Good Time is a gritty New York crime story reminiscent of The WarriorsTaxi Driver, and Dog Day Afternoon. The plot focuses on two hapless brothers and a bank robbery gone awry, a botched heist that results in police chases, stolen cars, and a hilarious case of mistaken identity. Co-directors Josh and Benny Safdie have crafted a nerve-wracking crime adventure loaded with thrills, sleazy characters, and a distinctly New York flavour… (read the full review)

‘Lowlife’ Is the Surprise Hit of 2017, this Generation’s ‘Pulp Fiction’

There are few movies making the rounds at genre film festivals this year that have received as much praise from the festival organizers as Lowlife. When it made its World Premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival back in August, it was on nobody’s radar. In fact, Fantasia received Lowlife through their general Inbox, and prior to that not even the festival programmers knew it existed. But once they saw the film, they did everything in their power to convince people to see it — most recently it screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Fest, where festival programmer Adam Lopez also sung high praise, and if you ask those of us who have seen the movie, most of us will agree that Ryan Prows’ debut feature is one of the year’s best… (read the full article)

AMC’s ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ proves you don’t have to innovate to compel

Mad Men was supposed to be a gamechanger. AMC’s landmark drama launched the careers of at least a half-dozen great actors, redefined the deployment of a period setting, and generally seemed to set up a template for future series to follow: find an interesting millieu, populate it with great actors, and watch them go. No need for high-octane plotting, elaborate season arcs, or an abundance of soapy relationships (though a dab helps) – just combine a sense of setting with great actors and a significant helping of cinematic flair and see what you can build over time… (read the full article)

‘The Americans’ vs. Russia-phobia

FX Networks isn’t above capitalizing on Russia fever to The Americans’ benefit. In the week prior to the series’ fifth-season premiere, they took out ads in the digital edition of the New York Times that briefly translated the front page to Russian. Indeed, the timing of the show’s return would, on the surface, appear to be incredibly serendipitous; just as headlines and social-media chatter are abuzz with ominous proclamations of insidious Ruskie influence over American democracy, the acclaimed series about KGB agents disguised as ordinary American citizens would seem to be more timely than ever. That turns out to be true – but not only for the reasons one might reasonably expect… (read the full article)

Wait… Was 2017 the Best Year For Superhero Movies of All Time?

2017 was a banner year for superhero movies, despite the absence of The Avengers and the lingering presence of the inert Justice League franchise. In fact, as we look back now, its hard to remember a year with the same balance of quantity and quality of 2017. Was this actually the best year for superheroes of all time? Inspired by the possibility, we tackled the question (not unlike Wonder Woman rushing head first into chaos), attempting to statistically figure out beyond a doubt if 2017 was actually as successful as it seems…(read the full article)

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