Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One (2016)
“Physical Media from Long, Long Ago” The development of digital media from its analog forebears is one of the most important stories of the development of our current, high technology world. My students look at me funny when I pull out a DVD instead of looking up a clip on YouTube. However, in the world ...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
“Harry Potter and the Historical Anachronisms” One of the most startling things about J.K. Rowling’s world of wizards and witches is the importance placed on material objects, both by the author and her characters. When the basilisk is terrorizing the school after being released from the Chamber of Secrets, Colin Creevey survives only because he ...

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals (2016)
“Depraved Highway” Imagine Apple’s creative design team, the artists who created the sleek metallic elegance of the Mac Book Pro on which I am composing these words, suddenly being asked to build an electric chair. No matter how beautiful the outcome, we’d still be inclined to foreground the fact that the object is built to ...

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 ...

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 ...