The Tempest (2010)

Miranda’s Mamma: Hollywood Cinema and The Tempest At the opening of her aggressively postmodern 1999 film version of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (1594), Julie Taymor presents a 20th century boy playing war with his action figures. When a bomb explodes in the kitchen, all hell breaks loose until he is rescued from the chaos by ...

Life of Pi (2012)

“And so it goes with cinema.” The elderly narrator of Life of Pi argues in the opening author’s note: “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” (x). Reading Pi’s story, I was consistently struck by the unlikelihood of this proposition. Indeed, I cared very little for the novel until almost the ...

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Echoes of Our Cinematic Fathers In his book, Allegories of Cinema, David James argues that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 (1968) draws mainstream Hollywood filmmaking into the orbit of experimental cinema. In his astonishingly ambitious new film about fathers and sons, The Place Beyond the Pines, Derek Cianfrance follows in Kubrick’s footsteps. The structure of the film ...

Oblivion (2013)

Cruise’s World In his 1995 study of philosophy and religion, French philosopher Jacques Derrida studies how human beings archive past experience. Translated into English as Archive Fever, the original title, Mal d’archive—“archive sickness”—diagnoses our culture’s obsession with failing memory, finding the cure not in pointing back into the past, but instead by conceiving of a ...

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

The Composer’s Flood and the Filmmaker’s Storm There’s a scene in the middle of Wes Anderson’s terrific new film, Moonrise Kingdom (2012), in which a slovenly father, Walt Bishop (played with typical drollery by Bill Murray) talks with his wife Laura (played by Frances McDormand) about their odd daughter, Suzy (Kara Hayward) who has run ...

Room 237 (2012)

Where Not to Hold Your Movie Class The first innovative essay about film I ever wrote concerned The Shining. Reading
 Sigmund Freud for the first time as a graduate student, I became convinced that the
 film’s horror masked a more conventional story about the failure of the American 
family. Contrasting Stanley Kubrick’s film to Nicholas ...