A Bear Story (2015)

A Bear Story (2015)
“Bear, My Ass” In my yearly struggle to avoid thinking about the idiocy of the Oscars, I invariably fail when I fall in love with one of the brilliant shorts that is doomed to not win due to the pedestrian tastes of the majority of the Academy. This year will be particularly traumatic in the ...

Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa (2015)
“Thigh Line (Liar) Triangular” There’s a remarkable moment early in Anomalisa, Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman’s new animated feature, which resonates with a lecture I give at the start of my course on the history of drama. In “Why Hamlet Doesn’t Go to the Bathroom,” I ponder the deflection of lived human experience entailed by ...

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur (2015)
“That’ll Be The Day, 65 Million Years Ago” Like most Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur consists of a web of intertextual references. The most surprising of the film’s sources is the film Western. The genre about the 19th century American Southwest is most forcefully engaged in the middle of the new film, when the dinosaur ...

What’s Opera, Doc? (1957)

What's Opera, Doc? (1957)
“It’s Wagner” The massive lengths of the operas of Richard Wagner have resulted in a narrow range of films capable of adapting them, and this in a medium, like opera, devoted to the elegant combination of sound and image. Hans-Jurgen Syberberg’s 1982 film of Parsifal runs well over four hours, limiting its commercial distribution to ...

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 ...