La La Land (2016)

La La Land (2016)
“More Than One La La Land” The responses to La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016) have been predictable. There is the immediate majority, those of us who are completely enamored of its loving recreation of classical Hollywood films, such as Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952), celebrations of the power of ...

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 ...

The Nice Guys (2016)

The Nice Guys (2016)
“Nice Guys Finish First” This is my 150th post since I started writing regularly about films in current release, and it’s time to revisit my statement of purpose, a defense of learnedness as a framework for discussing the cinema. In applying Walter Benjamin’s famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” ...

Sanjay’s Super Team (2015)

Sanjay's Super Team (2015)
“Pixar’s Super Themes” The pre-film content before The Good Dinosaur (2015) includes, not only the expected Pixar short, but a greeting by the film’s director, Peter Sohn. While a common occurrence now—filmmakers greet audiences in theaters to thank them for coming to see the movies on a big screen (and presumably for paying to do ...

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 ...

Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story (1995)
Pixar’s Philosophy of Toys When I present the idea for my new book manuscript, people are generally receptive to the content, an application of the children’s books of Dr. Seuss to the films of Pixar Animation Studios. However, when it comes to my central argument, that the Pixar films do not degrade but further the ...