Twin Peaks (1990)

Twin Peaks (1990)
The Turn and Return of Twin Peaks: A Prolegomenon Showtime’s publicity for Twin Peaks: The Return, the sequel to Mark Frost and David Lynch’s 1990 murder mystery soap opera, emphasizes the notion that the original was the show that changed television. This is largely true: Twin Peaks inexplicably aired on network television, ABC, a network ...

The Lost City of Z (2016)

The Lost City of Z (2016)
“An Image of Amazonia” In “An Image of Africa,” his scolding 1975 lecture to the Anglo-American literary establishment delivered at the University of Massachusetts, Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe laments the modernist celebration of Joseph Conrad’s purportedly anti-imperialist novel, Heart of Darkness (1899). Achebe argues that, despite the indictment of the lunacy of White imperialism in ...

Elle (2016)

Elle (2016)
“Autobiographies of Violence” For years, the films of Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven have been dogged in academic circles by their hyper-violence. In Hollywood films like Robocop (1987) and Starship Troopers (1997), the Fascist nature of the violence within the plot is so graphically drawn that it begins to seem as if the special effects and ...

Paterson (2016)

Paterson (2016)
“A Step Up and Away for Jim Jarmusch” In my 2013 essay, “A Step Away from the Cinema: Hollywood and the Poetry of Frank O’Hara,” I attempt to theorize the relationship between the acute attention to everyday materiality in the poetry of the 1950s New York School and the normal visual operations of the cinema. ...

Twentieth Century Women (2016)

Twentieth Century Women (2016)
“Jimmy Carter’s Warning” Twentieth Century Women is an ambitious character study that uses American history to explore the relationship between a Depression-era mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening) and her son, Jamie. Director Mike Mills’ film is set in 1979, but it uses the traditions of film, music, literature, and sociology to explore the nature of American ...

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
“An Adagio for Cinema” One of the most moving pieces in the classical repertoire, Tomaso Albinoni’s “Adagio in G minor” lies at the center of an historical mystery. Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto claimed to have found a fragment of a manuscript by the famous 18th century composer in Dresden soon after the end of World ...

Get Out (2017)

Get Out (2017)
“Racism, Get Out of My Head!” At Harvard University, Project Implicit is attempting to use social science testing to get people to confront the fact that their reactions to difference are not in their conscious control. For too long, the citizens of this country have ignored the obviousness of the privilege of certain identity positions ...

Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water (2016)
“Calvary, but not Cavalry” The first of many startling images in director David Mackenzie’s neo-Western, Hell or High Water (2016) is of three crosses embedded in tile into an adobe building. We see the Christian icons in the background of the image, through the drive-through lanes as a teller opens her branch of the West ...

Within Our Gates (1920)

Within Our Gates (1920)
“Getting Recognized More and More”: Donald Trump and Within Our Gates “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” These are the incredible words of the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. To compound the horror of it, President ...

Gold (2016)

Gold (2016)
“Way Out There in the Blue” At the ending “Requiem” of Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman (1949), Willy Loman’s neighbor, Charley delivers one of the most iconic statements on the American Dream in all of literature: “Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand: Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there ...