The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
“The Stinging Cowboy” Filmmakers in the United States and Europe usually start their careers making short films, then “graduating” to features. More advanced in their careers, filmmakers should return to short-form narrative, if for no other reason than to help young filmmakers learn how to tell a story before becoming overwhelmed with the responsibilities of ...

The Romanoffs: “Panorama” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“Matt Weiner’s Decisive Moment” There’s a continuum of narrative duration which captures the breadth of storytelling. Huge novel cycles (Les Rougon-Macquart by Emile Zola [1871-1983)] or Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past [1871-1922]) in literature, and massive cinematic works (Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s fifteen-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) or Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour Holocaust documentary, Shoah [1985]) constitute ...

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 ...

The Romanoffs: “Expectation” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“I bet it’s all lies” Episode four of Matt Weiner’s The Romanoffs, “Expectation,” delivers another astonishing ending, evoking the single effect that Edgar Allan Poe finds so remarkable about the short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The exact intertextual connection between each episode of The Romanoffs and specific short stories is less important than the powerful ...

The Romanoffs: “House of Special Purpose” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“The Fall of the House of Romanov; or, Rasputin, a Real Mad Man” Episode three of Matt Weiner’s The Romanoffs continues to demand attention to the way great authors construct tightly-contained short stories. In “The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale (1842),” Edgar Allan Poe praises the skills Nathaniel Hawthorne displays in ...

The Romanoffs: “The Royal We” (2018)

The Romanoffs:
“Tell The Russians We’re Coming” Matthew Weiner’s anthology series, The Romanoffs is beginning to shape up as a collection of great short stories. In the second episode, “The Royal We,” Weiner tells the story of Michael and Shelly Romanoff, a couple whose marriage is collapsing. Figure #1: Michael and Shelly Romanoff at couples counseling One ...

Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man (2016)
“His Man Saturday Through Friday” Swiss Army Man, the perplexing first feature film by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan seems designed to replicate Ambrose Bierce’s short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1890). Shipwrecked and alone, Hank (Paul Dano) is attempting to hang himself outside of a cave on a beach. Just as he ...