Book Club (2018)

Book Club (2018)
“Club Sandwich” On the surface, Bill Holderman’s Book Club (2018) is a delightful romantic comedy. The film concerns four middle-aged women with various lifestyles who meet periodically to discuss books they’ve chosen to read together. The engaging star power of the central cast provides the movie with plenty of comic energy: Diane (Diane Keaton) is ...

Sorry To Bother You (2018)

Sorry To Bother You (2018)
“Forestalling the Extinction of the Black Rhino” Critics are rightfully singing the praises of Sorry to Bother You, the astonishing debut film of Boots Riley. Yet what is drawing people’s attention—the film’s plot about a young African-American man, Cassius (Lakeith Stanfield) joining a telemarketing company and being told to find his inner “white voice”—withholds the ...

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
“A Tale of Two Cyborgs, Or Do Androids Dream of Reading Books?” Upon watching Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017), my son Alex asked why on Earth the replicant cop, K (Ryan Gosling) would be reading Vladimir Nabokov’s experimental novel, Pale Fire (1962). The scene occurs early in the film. After K has retired (in ...

Wonderstruck (2017)

Wonderstruck (2017)
The Sounds of Silence: Todd Haynes’ Film Adaptation of Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck Director Todd Haynes’ new film, Wonderstruck (2017), is a revelation. Haynes’ loving reconstructions of popular American film culture have earned him a reputation as an exquisite art filmmaker. For media scholars, his most compelling work has been 2002’s Far From Heaven, a film ...

The Shape of Water (2017)

The Shape of Water (2017)
“On Water’s Shape” At first glance, Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, The Shape of Water (2017) appears to be a straightforward intertextual reworking of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954). In the earlier film, a group of American scientists discover an aquatic monster in the Amazon. After his lair is disturbed by the ...

Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One (2018)
“So shines a good deed in a weary world” By returning the industry to its mad quest for blockbuster-level profits, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) killed an academically beloved period of American cinema, the Hollywood Renaissance, a set of ambitious, modernist, politically critical films ranging from The Graduate and Easy ...

The Post (2017)

The Post (2017)
“The Specter of the Shark” In his seminal film studies essay, “Jaws, Ideology, and Film Theory,” Stephen Heath analyzes Jaws using three ideological filters: the Watergate scandal, the women’s liberation movement, and the Vietnam War. Through only one filter does the 1975 Steven Spielberg film emerge as liberal. Early in the film, the Mayor of ...

Genesis (1999)

“Adapting Genesis” Introduction The phenomenal success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) spurred a much-needed revitalization of interest in the relationship between the cinema and religion. However, from the point-of-view of those of us desiring a re-invention of adaptation studies, the impact of this film is quite regrettable. The Passion of the ...

Treme (2010-2013)

Katrina on My Mind: Pedagogy, Kate Chopin’s New Orleans, and HBO’s Treme John Goodman plays Creighton Bernette, a Tulane University English professor (based on real-life political blogger Ashley Morris) on Treme (HBO, 2010-2013), Eric Overmyer’s and David Simon’s beautifully novelistic television show. Bernette, who has become a national figure for railing against the Bush Administration’s ...

“Unfriending” Hawthorne

“Unfriending” Hawthorne
“Unfriending Hawthorne” Near the top of the list of film adaptations that drive literature professors to angry distraction is surely The Scarlet Letter (Ronald Joffé, 1995), a big budget Hollywood version of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel. Beautifully shot and interestingly performed by a diverse range of actors—as Hester Prynne, Demi Moore, a young movie starlet; ...