Lights Out (2016)

Lights Out (2016)
“Lights, Not Out, but Colored” It is a truism of cinematography that film is a medium in which one sculpts light. No film this year plays as effectively with the implications of illumination, not only for image, but also narrative construction than the current horror film, Lights Out (David F. Sandberg, 2016). The film concerns ...

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
“The Miserable Have No Other Medicine” One disagreement I have with Star Trek fans concerns the credit sequence of the TV series, Enterprise (UPN, 2001-2005), one of the best things bequeathed to us by that which Gene Rodenberry hath wrought. “It’s been a long road / To get from there to here,” sings Russell Watson ...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)
“Performance Trumped” Because they help sad people laugh, comedy films are often dismissed by critics. However, in a culture where entertainment has consumed our news and politics, it’s imperative we examine how such films function. In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), sociologist Erving Goffman employs dramaturgical analysis to study how people relate ...

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters (2016)
“And the Franchise is Still Standing!” The new Ghostbusters has garnered a stunningly negative reaction. Fans have taken the position that such films ruin their childhoods by replacing beloved male heroes with women. Among the infantile misogyny directed at the film: “Feminists ruin the world” and “Women are just incapable of being funny.” Meanwhile, a ...

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man (2016)
“His Man Saturday Through Friday” Swiss Army Man, the perplexing first feature film by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan seems designed to replicate Ambrose Bierce’s short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1890). Shipwrecked and alone, Hank (Paul Dano) is attempting to hang himself outside of a cave on a beach. Just as he ...

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows (2016)
“Where the Buoys Are” One way of understanding The Shallows, an excellent new thriller, is to place it in dialogue with 1975’s Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s quintessential shark attack movie. In Jaume Collet-Serra’s new film, a medical student, Nancy (Blake Lively) travels alone to the Pacific coast of Mexico to go surfing after the traumatic death ...