The Weekend Rant: ’12 Years a Slave,’ Arcade Fire, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

The Weekend Rant is back. This time, we look at overpriced Arcade Fire shows, strange logic on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the oddity that is “Hot Wheels: The Movie,” and the mystifying pushback against Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.” Be sure to let us know what has you ranting (or raving) this week in the comments section. 

Believe it or not, “Hot Wheels: The Movie” is racing to a theater near you
Dramatically inert as the “Transformers” movies may be, at the very least there was an existing mythology behind the toy line/Saturday morning cartoon series that left something to hang a plot on. But “Hot Wheels”? “Hot Wheels” are miniature hot rods made for children that lack even the anthropomorphic hook of Hasbro’s vehicles-turned-giant warring robots. So of course – of course – Legendary is moving ahead with a feature film based on the property, because the way to shore up eroding big-screen audiences is to demonstrate your creative bankruptcy by building a movie around a miniature die-cast toy car line. No matter the talents of those working behind the camera – “House” co-creator Paul Attanasio and director Simon Crane boarded the project just this week – the fact remains that these individuals are being paid to exert their time and creative energies on a cheap marketing ploy disguised as an actual movie.
-Chris Eggertsen

“Secret” Arcade Fire shows play ticketing games
Arcade Fire are performing “secret” shows in Brooklyn this weekend, and yet it’s a big-time headache for Arcade Fire fans who were shut-out of the ultra-small window to buy tickets for said shows. Why? Because they were made available through the tradition means, $54 via Ticketmaster, for a 3,000 cap during the CMJ Marathon. Immediately tickets went up on secondary market for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. AF doesn’t win, the fans don’t win, the venue doesn’t win and everybody feels crappy except for scalpers. Sure, new ticketing platforms aren’t easy to come by these days, and coming up with a different way to disseminate tickets requires a little creativity. But the band has been nothing but creative in its approach to promoting this new album, how about a little slack for the fans who can’t shell out that kind of dough?
-Katie Hasty

Does “S.H.I.E.L.D.” need a hand?
Call me kooky, but I spent oodles of time on Wednesday trying to not see my hands. What I learned from this foolish endeavor is that it’s exceptionally difficult to not see your hands, arms, legs, and (in some cases) stomachs. Give it a try — see if you can go 10 minutes without noticing your hands. You see them opening doors, lifting cups, using a fork, driving a car. Your hands are attached to you and, regularly, in front of you. They are always there. 

So why did I spend much of Wednesday trying to avoid them? Because for a plot point to work on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” this week, one of our agents would have had to not see his hands (he was wearing a camera in his glasses to simulate the camera in someone’s eye that the bad guy was watching everything on… just accept it, it’s easier that way). If, at any point during his daring mission he had seen his hands, the baddies would have known something wasn’t right. The agent didn’t see his hands, the bad guy didn’t realize something was up, and it all (mostly) worked. I can apparently suspend disbelief enough to accept that someone had a camera in their eye and that superpowers exist. What I can’t do is accept that you can go through a significant portion of your day without seeing your hands. 

These are the things that bother me when I watch television and things which, I believe, could be made right. Am I being ridiculous? Maybe, but consider this — I spent much of Wednesday trying to not see my hands.
-Josh Lasser

“12 Years a Slave” and the “Hollywood” pushback
Any film as broadly and breathlessly praised as “12 Years a Slave” on the festival circuit is going to receive some degree of pushback (“backlash” would be an exaggeration, as well as a pretty inappropriate choice of word with this movie) on the second round of reviews. That”s fine: unanimity is dull. But the criticism I can”t abide comes from fans of director Steve McQueen”s first two films – the despairing, austere “Hunger” and “Shame” – complaining that he”s “gone Hollywood” with his latest. What, because Solomon Northup”s harrowing story has a redemptive arc, and is therefore not to be trusted as high art? Because McQueen has a slightly bigger canvas for his distinctive vision? Because producer Brad Pitt shows up in a small role?

The independent British co-production isn”t a Hollywood film in origin, nor is it one in sensibility. (And even if it were, critics who use the word “Hollywood” as a shorthand dismissal for a whole bracket of mainstream cinema are pretty damn joyless.) Show me the Hollywood studio film that matches “Slave” for the vivid, unblinking detail with which it portrays the physical and psychological tortures of American slavery. You won”t find it. Turning on McQueen simply because the renegade artist-turned-filmmaker has made a film that speaks to a wider audience than his previous work, and is getting Oscar buzz because of it, is the equivalent of those tiresome music fans who decide their favorite band is no longer relevant once they make the charts. Can”t we just be glad more people have latched onto McQueen”s talent, and that he now has the wherewithal to make more expansive (and, yes, expensive) films?
-Guy Lodge