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Friday , September 22 2017

Category Archives: Film Essays

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Pride in the Name of Love: Like Father, Like Son (2014)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  5   In my 30s, I had two conversations with friends of a like age who were having problems conceiving and were seeking medical intervention.  After they suggested that my disinclination for having children was really born out of selfishness (you know, in that way only friends can), the next ... Read More »

My Favorite Film of 2013: Her

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  7   With his first two feature films (Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002)) inextricably tied to the irrepressible writer Charlie Kaufman and his last feature built upon a beloved literary property (Where the Wild Things Are (2009)), Her represents the first wholly original work by Spike Jonze as both ... Read More »

Revisiting Rashomon (1950): Deception and the Relativity of Truth

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  9  In November 2012, the Criterion Collection released the Blu-Ray edition of what is arguably director Akira Kurosawa’s most intriguing film, Rashōmon (1950), with a new digital restoration with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack, an audio commentary by Kurosawa scholar Donald Richie, a documentary with the cast and crew of Rashōmon, excerpts from a documentary on ... Read More »

When Horror Films Were Creepier: Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  3 This Halloween season, I submit for your consideration the following definitions of the word creepy: (a) “… producing a nervous shivery apprehension …”  (Merriam-Webster) (b)  “… sexually inappropriate or perverted …”  (Urban Dictionary) I may be wrong, but at least here in the United States, I imagine that the second ... Read More »

A Skeptic’s Guide to the West Memphis Three Documentaries

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  8   “I am going to influence the world.  People will remember m[e].” – Damien Echols, from Exhibit 500, page 50, in Echols v. State of Arkansas The setting was West Memphis, Arkansas – a town of roughly 30,000 that sits on the other side of the Mississippi ... Read More »

Blackfish (2013) and How SeaWorld Doth Protest Too Much

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  6   “We’re deeply transformed by them, the killer whale is an animal that does that.” – Dr. Christopher Dold, SeaWorld’s Vice President of Veterinary Services “Killer whales are 100 percent not suitable to captivity.” – Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of Blackfish (from “Sea World’s Unusual Retort to a Critical Documentary,” ... Read More »

Man of Steel (2013): The All-American Jesus, Now More Than Ever … Unfortunately

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  4 Make no mistake, Man of Steel, the superhero formerly – and in some circles, still – known as “Superman,” is still the ultimate American Jesus.  There is nothing particularly spoilery about this observation.  This fact should have been obvious, I suppose, from the Terrence-Malick-does-Hallmark teaser trailer.  What is surprising is the degree to which ... Read More »

Black Swan (2010): A Portrait of the Artist as Narcissist

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  9 (NOTE: The essay also includes discussions of the films, The Red Shoes (1948), All About Eve (1950), and The Tenant (1976).) Black Swan opens within a dream.  Nina (Natalie Portman) is dancing a sequence from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake (1876) where the evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart, casts his spell upon the ... Read More »

21st Century Love Stories: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  5   In recognition of the holiday, this article is the last installment of four published in February 2013 highlighting my favorite love stories put to celluloid in the 21st century. The title of director Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is derived from a line in the Alexander Pope poem ... Read More »

21st Century Love Stories: High Fidelity (2000)

Spoiler Scale (How spoilery is this article on a scale of 1 to 10?):  4   In recognition of the holiday, this article is the third installment of four published in February 2013 highlighting my favorite love stories put to celluloid in the 21st century. Top 5 Reasons I Love High Fidelity: 1. John Cusack’s Narration “One moment they weren’t there – not in any ... Read More »

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