Moonlight (2016)

Moonlight (2016)
“Fluidity”

First Monday in October (1981)

First Monday in October (1981)
“Inherit the Rom-Com” I’m just finishing up teaching a delightful course with my colleague, Bill Freivogel, a lawyer who covered the Supreme Court for many years as a journalist for The St. Louis-Post Dispatch. Our course, entitled “Which Supremes?” studies the Supreme Court and its relationships to film and television. The most interesting discovery I ...

Loving (2016)

Loving (2016)
“Loving with a Vengeance” I’m just finishing up teaching a delightful course with my colleague, Bill Freivogel, a lawyer who covered the Supreme Court for many years as a journalist for The St. Louis-Post Dispatch. Our course, entitled “Which Supremes?” applies Supreme Court cases to film and television representations. We could not have asked for ...

Denial (2016)

Denial (2016)
“Canaries” Historian Deborah Lipstadt begins her 1994 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory with a methodological chapter she entitles, “Canaries in the Mine: Holocaust Denial and the Limited Power of Reason.” She worries about the 20% of Americans who, when surveyed about whether the Holocaust happened, answer in the negative. ...

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange (2016)
“The Laughter of the Gods” The third installment of The Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions (2003) features an astonishing moment of philosophical import. As Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) endlessly pummels Neo (Keanu Reeves), the computerized villain questions his rival at great length: “Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do you do it? Why, why get ...

“Clinton’s Daisy Chain”

“Clinton’s Daisy Chain” As Eric Barnouw taught us long ago, one astonishing thing about the 1964 Doyle Dane Bernbach ad campaign featuring “the daisy girl” is that it was produced at the moment Lyndon Johnson was planning the escalation of US fighting in Vietnam. In the one-minute spot, a young girl picks leaves off of ...

Sully (2016)

Sully (2016)
“Eastwood’s Flight” Despite his political orientation, Clint Eastwood makes films which do something far more complicated that jingoistic patriotism: his cinema interrogates the impact of war trauma on the lives of everyday Americans. In his first directorial efforts, Play Misty for Me (1971) and High Plains Drifter (1973), Eastwood foregrounded traumatized Americans on a home ...

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don't Breathe (2016)
“Detroit, Don’t Exhale” While replete with horror film genre conventions—a monstrous antagonist; teenagers caught in an old, dark scary house; a menacing pit bull; and the like—my interest in Don’t Breathe, Fede Alvarez’ new home invasion thriller lies in its representation of the collapsed modern American city. The plot concerns Rocky (Jane Levy), foolishly in ...

The Light Between Oceans (2016)

The Light Between Oceans (2016)
“The Light Between Filmmakers” In his exploration of the intertextual relationships between different generations of poets, literary critic Harold Bloom forwards an energistic theory—the anxiety of influence—to suggest how artists rebel against their forebears. Watching The Light Between Oceans, filmmaker Derek Cianfrance’s latest visual masterpiece, it struck me that a different emotion might characterize his ...

Cafe Society (2016)

Cafe Society (2016)
“Neither Café, Nor Society” After watching Woody Allen’s new film, I became obsessed with the title, Café Society (2016). At first, it was the opening word that bothered me. There’s nothing even close to a café in the film, at least in the sense that you’d imagine, a little French bistro where people sit around ...