Memento (2000)

Memento (2000)
“Detecting Himself” Critic Bernard Knox writes: “The hero… is thus his own destroyer; he is the detective who tracks down and identifies the criminal—who turns out to be himself.” While this analysis could have been penned about Memento, an astonishing neo-noir directed by Christopher Nolan, it is in fact an analysis of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, ...

Mad Men: “Maidenform” (2008)

Mad Men:
“Can There Be Two Don Drapers?” In the 19th century, the theatrical melodrama built its structure around moments of emotional tension which would end scenes, acts, and sometimes the play itself, allowing people to contemplate the high stakes of morality on display. Characters would freeze into a stage picture, and the curtain would go down ...

Mad Men: “Waterloo” (2014)

Mad Men:
Mad Men’s Season Seven, First Half: A Tale of Two Intertexts The first half of season seven of Mad Men ranks as one of the most sophisticated intertextual webs ever developed by an American television program. Don Draper frequently watches French art cinema in order to escape Madison Avenue commerce, allowing his creative mind free ...

The Blue Umbrella (2013)

The Blue Umbrella (2013)
“From Van Gogh’s Shoes to Pixar’s Umbrellas” For almost 20 years, Pixar Animation Studios has led the charge in pushing the American animated feature film beyond even the dreams of its great master, Walt Disney. As Pinocchio aspired to become a real boy, Wall-e learns to love like a human being long after people have ...

Prisoners (2013)

Prisoners (2013)
“The Real Dilemma: Prisoners of Our Own Device” Influenced by the overly libidinal 1960s, film scholars spend a lot of time and energy tilting at the windmills of conventional cultures, such as the Hollywood film industry. Take, for example, Gene Youngblood’s assessment in his 1970 book, Expanded Cinema: “Profit-motivated commercial entertainment, by its very nature, ...

The Big Bang Theory: “The Helium Insufficiency” (2015)

The Big Bang Theory:
“Not Just a Lot of Hot Air” While on sabbatical this semester, I have been drafting a book, tentatively entitled, Molecular Cinema. I am interested in pointing my field of media studies in a different direction, one as concerned with materiality as it is with ideology. My most basic question is, What are images made ...

The Green Inferno (2015)

The Green Inferno (2015)
“After the Movie, Let’s Go Eat” Outside the AMC in a mall in Carbondale, IL, an angry looking Amazonian stares back at me from his poster advertising The Green Inferno, Eli Roth’s latest horror film, adapted from the most revered of the “Italian cannibal” films of the early 1980s. Recently restored and released on BluRay, ...

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies (2015)
“More Than One Accident” For a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring that irksomely earnest Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies is a shockingly subtle film. Unlike the anti-intellectual bludgeons that are Schindler’s List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), the new film, perhaps owing to a script re-written by the quirky Coen Brothers, repeatedly ...

Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak (2015)
“The Red Keys” Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, Crimson Peak offers as stimulating a post-modern reconstruction of the 19th century gothic novel as has ever appeared on a movie screen. Some of the intertexts out of which it is built are obvious, and expected. The old dark house setting combines the barren manors of the ...

The Cobbler (2014)

The Cobbler (2014)
“Lost Soles, Found” Because classical cinema was built upon close-ups of faces, the least likely facet of people to show up in the image is their feet. However, during the opening sequence of Strangers on a Train (1950), Alfred Hitchcock’s camera follows the footsteps of two men about to meet on the train and swap ...