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 ...

Spectre (2015)

Spectre (2015)
“Narrative Bonds” I suspect Spectre will disappoint fans of James Bond. The film is slow and quiet, and all the better for it. Despite this languor, which produces the film’s excessive duration, just short of 2 ½ hours, the film’s action set pieces happen lightning quick. In the opening, Bond (Daniel Craig) knocks down an ...

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum of Solace (2008)
“Fire and Ice” The 22nd James Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008) takes a sharp narrative turn when 007 (Daniel Craig) and fellow avenger Camille (Olga Kurylenko) drive into the Bolivian desert. Camille is trying to assassinate General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), who murdered her family in front of her when she was just a child. ...

Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter (2011)
“Gimme (No) Shelter” I went to Catholic High School, got the highest grades in my religion classes, but find the abrogation of materialism in any religion beyond comprehensible. I’ve been thinking about this a lot while writing an article about the recent spate of Noah stories, the weirdest of which is Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah ...

The Gift (2015)

The Gift (2015)