What Maisie Knew (2012)

What Maisie Knew (2012)
What Cinema Feels — There are few more moving experiences in American literature than reading Henry James’ 1897 novel, What Maisie Knew, an intense depiction of the disastrous effects of parents’ divorce on a young girl’s life. The novel is a tour-de-force of linguistic control, as James spins various permutations of what Maisie knew, didn’t ...

Begin Again (2013)

Begin Again (2013)
Seems Like Old Times, Redux — Begin Again, John Carney’s follow-up to his stunning independent film musical, Once (2006), opens with Rashomon precision. We see a down-on-his-luck musician, Steve (James Corden) coax his reluctant friend, Gretta (Keira Knightley) onto the stage at a small bar. She timidly plays acoustic guitar and sings an innocuous complaint ...

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)

Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)
Perchance to Dream — Young documentarian Frank Pavich makes a tragic mistake in his new film, Jodorowsky’s Dune, a loving portrait of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, who worked for two years in the mid-1970s to adapt Frank Herbert’s overrated science-fiction novel, Dune into a 14-hour film. Pavich swallows hook, line and sinker the Romantic myth ...

Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer (2013)
You’ve Done a Man’s Work — My father and I attended an opening night screening of Blade Runner in June 1982, at which a few scattered attendees left the theater disappointed that Harrison Ford’s new film was no Star Wars. Of course, Ridley Scott’s masterpiece is now rightfully regarded as one of the great achievements ...

Mad Men: “The Jet Set” (2008)

Mad Men:
Televisual Meditations on a Literary Emergency The study of the adaptation of literature into moving images has become mired in a pedantic fixation on how poorly film and television does in capturing the greatness of their written forebears. The fascinating AMC televisual drama, Mad Men provides an opportunity to theorize more complex relationships between the moving ...

Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)
What to the Cinema is the Fourth of July? In the first of his Independence Day speeches, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?,” delivered in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass expressed the sentiment that July 4 may be a reason for celebration for white Americans, but not for people ...