The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: “Meal Ticket” (2018)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs:
“Cold, Hard Facts, But No Newspaper Nor Legend” One of the most cited moments in John Ford’s revisionist Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962) occurs near the end: Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) completes his confession to the town’s newspaper editor. A lawyer turned U.S. Senator, Ranse has risen to power through a lie: ...

Passengers (2016)

Passengers (2016)
“Morton Tyldum: Science-Fiction as Misdirection” Morten Tyldum’s new film, Passengers is the best sort of science-fiction, one where it turns out the genre is irrelevant to the film’s theme. At its core, Passengers is a down-to-Earth melodrama, about the love two people find under the worst, most Existentially bleak circumstances. Passengers positions Tyldum as one ...

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange (2016)
“The Laughter of the Gods” The third installment of The Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions (2003) features an astonishing moment of philosophical import. As Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) endlessly pummels Neo (Keanu Reeves), the computerized villain questions his rival at great length: “Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do you do it? Why, why get ...

45 Years (2015)

45 Years (2015)
“The Ghost in the Attic” One of my favorite college memories is sitting in a small seminar room watching a VHS copy of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) on a small television screen as part of a class, “Philosophy and Film,” taught by Irving Singer, an expert on the nature of love, and a ...

The Hateful Eight (2015)

The Hateful Eight (2015)
“The Cabin in the Snow” In The Hateful Eight (2015), Quentin Tarantino uses the cinema’s ability to manipulate space in ways that harken back to the great baroque Westerns made during the late classical Hollywood period. The film’s opening sequence, a grandiose exploration of the snowy landscape of the American northwest, with a mountain looming ...