The Shape of Water (2017)

The Shape of Water (2017)
“On Water’s Shape” At first glance, Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, The Shape of Water (2017) appears to be a straightforward intertextual reworking of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954). In the earlier film, a group of American scientists discover an aquatic monster in the Amazon. After his lair is disturbed by the ...

Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One (2018)
“So shines a good deed in a weary world” By returning the industry to its mad quest for blockbuster-level profits, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) killed an academically beloved period of American cinema, the Hollywood Renaissance, a set of ambitious, modernist, politically critical films ranging from The Graduate and Easy ...

The Post (2017)

The Post (2017)
“The Specter of the Shark” In his seminal film studies essay, “Jaws, Ideology, and Film Theory,” Stephen Heath analyzes Jaws using three ideological filters: the Watergate scandal, the women’s liberation movement, and the Vietnam War. Through only one filter does the 1975 Steven Spielberg film emerge as liberal. Early in the film, the Mayor of ...

Genesis (1999)

“Adapting Genesis” Introduction The phenomenal success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) spurred a much-needed revitalization of interest in the relationship between the cinema and religion. However, from the point-of-view of those of us desiring a re-invention of adaptation studies, the impact of this film is quite regrettable. The Passion of the ...

Treme (2010-2013)

Katrina on My Mind: Pedagogy, Kate Chopin’s New Orleans, and HBO’s Treme John Goodman plays Creighton Bernette, a Tulane University English professor (based on real-life political blogger Ashley Morris) on Treme (HBO, 2010-2013), Eric Overmyer’s and David Simon’s beautifully novelistic television show. Bernette, who has become a national figure for railing against the Bush Administration’s ...

“Unfriending” Hawthorne

“Unfriending” Hawthorne
“Unfriending Hawthorne” Near the top of the list of film adaptations that drive literature professors to angry distraction is surely The Scarlet Letter (Ronald Joffé, 1995), a big budget Hollywood version of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel. Beautifully shot and interestingly performed by a diverse range of actors—as Hester Prynne, Demi Moore, a young movie starlet; ...

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 10: Laura is the One] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 10: Laura is the One] (2017)
“An Essay of Images” In his quirky little book, Catching the Big Fish, David Lynch describes how he uses Transcendental Meditation to aid in his creative process. In some of the episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, such as “Gotta Light,” he is surely casting bait in search of Moby-Dick. However, in the more tranquil ...

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 9: This is the Chair] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 9: This is the Chair] (2017)
“A Vision of Parents and Children”

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 8: Gotta Light] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 8: Gotta Light] (2017)
“Allegories of Television”

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 7: There’s a Body Alright] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 7: There's a Body Alright] (2017)
“Warhol/Snow/Lynch” The end of episode seven of Twin Peaks: The Return, cheekily entitled (by my Dish Network DVR), “There’s a Body All Right,” is caught between two experimental film traditions of the 1960s: that of Pop artist, Andy Warhol, and the structural cinema of Michael Snow. In my favorite shot of the entire series thus ...