November 2015 Media Round-up (Movies, Pt. 2)

november2015movies_3

Office Space (1999)

Well, in the time between seeing the movie and writing this, I did in fact start working my first 9-to-5 cubicle-and-spreadsheets job, so perhaps I should have waited on watching Office Space. It’s, like, an okay comedy, I guess, but I imagine its cult classic status is derived from the fact that anyone who had ever worked in that sort of office deeply related to some aspect of the movie. For the particular brand of comedy in Office Space, how strongly you feel about the movie as a whole probably depends on the difference between having a visceral “Oh god, this situation is so true to my life” reaction and a more detached “On an intellectual level, I understand why this joke works” reaction to the humor. So it didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but at the same time, I would like more comedies of this type to exist—movies that mine specific comedy from specific situations rather than ones that try to achieve universal appeal through, like, pratfalls and fart jokes and characters having a Crazy Night Out.

I did think all of the Milton stuff was a little too cartoonish1, but apparently the studio initially wanted him to be the main character, so, uh, glad that did not happen.


Spectre (2015)

This was what one would expect from a Daniel Craig James Bond movie and not really any more or less than that. Having at this point seen From Russia with Love, GoldenEye, Casino RoyaleSkyfall, and Spectre, I’m still not sure how I feel about the Bond franchise as a whole—largely unimpressed, I guess, and yet still willing to keep watching? So, I don’t know, here are my main takeaways from Spectre:

  • The opening Dia de los Muertos chase scene was fucking awesome.
  • Lame theme song, but admirable commitment to the tentacle rape aesthetic.
  • All of the press on Monica Bellucci’s casting, making a huge deal about her being the first age appropriate love interest for Bond, was pretty misleading. Lea Seydoux (30, to Craig’s 47) plays the main love interest, whereas Bellucci is just a one-off near the beginning of the movie.
  • This genre of movie is really interesting from a historical perspective, as the specific villainous plots tend to offer an insight into (Western) society’s big fears at the time the movie was made. It’s certainly weird to look back on Cold War action movies and think that the general population would have been that worried about the Soviets. Between Spectre and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and, I’m sure, others), future generations will be able to look back on this time period and say, “Man, people were really freaked out about surveillance/drones/big data, huh? Weird.”
  • Some solid banter—I particularly loved the exchange where Bond is trying to get Q to do him a favor that could cost Q his job:

Q: I have a mortgage to pay and two cats to feed.
BOND: So you’d better trust me. For the sake of the cats.

  • Also, one gets the sense that every single character wants to fuck James Bond. We’re going to use that observation to segue into our James Bond shipwatching2 discussion:
James Bond Shipwatching Discussion

Okay, so at the outset, let it be known that we’re looking at works on Archive of Our Own (AO3) tagged “James Bond (Craig movies).” Does this encapsulate the entire James Bond fandom over time? I mean, no, obviously. The Bond movies have been around forever, and there isn’t one universal fanfiction publishing platform—people have been writing in zines, on Usenet groups, on LiveJournal, on fanfiction.net, etc. The advantage of AO3, for me, is that 1) it’s the only fanfiction platform that I ever see links to on tumblr and 2) its UI makes it very easy to search works by fandom, pairing, date published, etc. If I were actually trying to make a larger point rather than a semi-interesting observation, I would probably try to look into that more to justify my choice of data source or find a better one.

Anyway, that said, have some graphs:

bond-fandom

bond-q-ratio

So, at the moment, slightly more than 2/3 of the James Bond fanfiction on AO3 is James Bond/Q (00Q is, in fact, the portmanteau for that ship) slashfic. From about 8 months or so after Skyfall came out until the release of Spectre, both the total number of James Bond works and the number of 00Q works have been growing pretty linearly; that means that, if this is what you were into, for an almost two year period between the movies you could more or less count on 3 new fics per day, 2 of which would be shipping Bond and Q.

It looks like Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace just didn’t inspire that much fanfic on AO3, which makes sense—I think the type of people who write fanfiction on this site probably wouldn’t latch onto that genre unless there is something highly shippable, whether that’s a homoerotic friendship or a more developed will-they won’t-they dynamic (i.e. Mulder/Scully), rather than just “He’s Bond. She’s a hot woman. Of course they will.” Maybe there was some Bond/Vesper Lynd stuff, but I imagine3 Casino Royale fanfic got a bigger boost from people’s Hannibal-influenced interest in Mads Mikkelsen than anything else.

Anyway, I think it’s interesting that you can trace this particular segment of the fanbase to Skyfall and more specifically the introduction of Ben Whishaw’s Q and, you know, what does that say about what the AO3 type of nerd wants from their media. Spectre has certainly given the fandom a boost, which makes sense, since it had a number of new, shippable moments for writers to use as jumping off points. I’ll be interested in seeing how that affects the shape of the fandom over time; it looks like the ratio of 00Q works to total works is actually increasing, but it’s a bit too soon to tell how much of a thing that’s going to be.


Ant-Man (2015)

The actual movie was okay, I guess, and I’m curious what someone without any knowledge of the movie’s production history would think of it, judging it purely on its own merits. But since I’ve been following that from the “Fuck yeah! An Edgar Wright movie in the MCU!” stage to the “What the fuck? ‘Differences in vision?'” stage to the “Okay, so…the director of Bring It On and a (to some unknown extent) rewritten Edgar Wright script” stage, so it’s hard to judge the actual Ant-Man without thinking of the hypothetical Edgar Wright-helmed Ant-Man.

The press throughout the production has made it pretty unclear how much of Edgar Wright’s original vision and script was retained in the final movie, which is actually a great move for Wright’s reputation, even if he had no part in it. If the movie was completely awful, then Wright’s fans could feel vindicated that the hypothetical Wright!Ant-Man would have been awesome and all of the changes are what ruined it; we would have loved to see the Wright movie, but if we can’t, at least we can rub the fact that the studio fucked up in everyone’s faces4. It’s the ending we love to see to the classic story of the Man vs. the Creative Visionary. On the other hand, if anything in the movie was good, then we can posit that it was because it was left in from Wright’s original plan, since, again, we just don’t know. Although, apparently, the funniest recurring bits—the lip-synced tip montages—were due to Peyton Reed, not Edgar Wright, so man, who knows.

Anyway, the movie itself—not amazing, not terrible. Not especially memorable other than the aforementioned recurring bit, but Paul Rudd is always charming and I do have a soft spot for origin stories.


1. Why yes, I am aware that Mike Judge had a cartoon series about Milton before he created Office Space. ^
2. I’ve somehow gotten into tracking the growth rate of fandoms that I don’t even follow on Archive of Our Own, because, god, who knows. It combines calming data entry tasks with embarrassing fandom shit to become the lamest fucking hobby, which I have dubbed shipwatching—like an even dweebier form of trainspotting.^
3. No numbers to back up that conjecture. Yet. ^
4. See also: Firefly fans. Jesus Christ, guys, get over it. ^

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