Lincoln (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis Plays Obama The first sequence of Steven Spielberg’s new epic film, Lincoln (2012), finds the President, battle-weary, sitting on a wagon in the shadows, chatting with some soldiers. At first, an enthusiastic African-American soldier recites the beginning of the Gettysburg Address, interrupted by his more radical, angry African-American compatriot. Then, baby-faced white soldiers ...

Hugo (2011)

Happy Endings Only Happen in the Movies I’d like to consider two intertextual reworkings of the films of Georges Melies in American culture in order to position Martin Scorsese’s massive undertaking, Hugo, both an adaptation of a stunning graphic novel, Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and a startling biopic of the early French ...

Promised Land (2012)

This is Cinematic Water The opening image of Gus Van Sant’s new film, Promised Land (2012) consists of the distorted hands of Steve Butler (Matt Damon): the camera recording them is submerged in a bathroom sink basin as he washes. I begin with this image because of all things, a film with land in the ...

Flight (2012)

Three Acts of Denial Very rarely have I encountered a film that begins with such little promise, yet ends with a flourish of transcendent beauty. And yet, Flight (2012) is such a piece. At first, Robert Zemeckis’ new film seems built out of as simplistic an ethical system as can be imagined. Pilot Whip Whitaker ...

Cabin in the Woods (2011)

The Twilight of the Humans In her negative review of 2011’s The Cabin in the Woods, academic film critic Cynthia Fuchs invokes the feminist analysis of the modern American horror film. Building upon an epigram from Carol Clover’s foundational study of the slasher film, “Her Body, Himself,” Fuchs laments the smug superiority of self-reflexive horror ...