Black Mirror: “Bandersnatch” (2018)

Black Mirror:
“You Can Have Any Narrative You Want, As Long As It Is Netflix’s” There is a consensus developing among critics of Netflix’s new Black Mirror episode, “Bandersnatch” (Netflix, 12/28/18) that it is a show built on a mere “gimmick.” The story concerns a young computer programmer, Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), who in 1984 is developing ...

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: ...

The Romanoffs: “Bright and High Circle” (2018)

The Romanoffs: “Bright and High Circle” (2018)
“The Music Teacher, or ‘Unhappy in its own way’” “Bright and High Circle,” the fifth episode of The Romanoffs confirms the feminist critique of the show that has dogged it from the release of the pilot a month ago. A grotesque misstep, Matt Weiner’s story of purported mob rule, trying those accused of social transgressions ...

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 6: Don’t Die] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 6: Don't Die] (2017)
“The Fort/Da of Twin Peaks” For a show that has deliberately subverted its audience’s expectations of compelling emotional drama, episode six of Twin Peaks: The Return finally delivers the goods. A little boy is run over by a truck driven by a crazed drug mule. For emotional impact, the sequence rivals only Agent Cooper shepherding ...

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals (2016)
“Depraved Highway” Imagine Apple’s creative design team, the artists who created the sleek metallic elegance of the Mac Book Pro on which I am composing these words, suddenly being asked to build an electric chair. No matter how beautiful the outcome, we’d still be inclined to foreground the fact that the object is built to ...

The Light Between Oceans (2016)

The Light Between Oceans (2016)
“The Light Between Filmmakers” In his exploration of the intertextual relationships between different generations of poets, literary critic Harold Bloom forwards an energistic theory—the anxiety of influence—to suggest how artists rebel against their forebears. Watching The Light Between Oceans, filmmaker Derek Cianfrance’s latest visual masterpiece, it struck me that a different emotion might characterize his ...