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: ...

Maniac (2018)

Maniac (2018)
“Perchance to Dream, Televisually” One of the last major trends in American television, before it ceased to exist, was the rise of quality programming on Home Box Office. Started in the early 1970s as a way of delivering television to rural areas, by the late 1990s, HBO was creating the most sophisticated television in both ...

“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; ...

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia (2011)
“The Latitudes of Home” Southern Illinois is abuzz with anticipation of two total solar eclipses, the first to take place on August 21, 2017. Indeed, the greatest duration of this eclipse will pass almost directly above my house in Makanda. I am just as excited as anyone else, but perhaps for very different reasons. Southern ...