Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)
“Performance Trumped” Because they help sad people laugh, comedy films are often dismissed by critics. However, in a culture where entertainment has consumed our news and politics, it’s imperative we examine how such films function. In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), sociologist Erving Goffman employs dramaturgical analysis to study how people relate ...

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows (2016)
“Where the Buoys Are” One way of understanding The Shallows, an excellent new thriller, is to place it in dialogue with 1975’s Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s quintessential shark attack movie. In Jaume Collet-Serra’s new film, a medical student, Nancy (Blake Lively) travels alone to the Pacific coast of Mexico to go surfing after the traumatic death ...

Midnight Special (2016)

Midnight Special (2016)
“Not All That Close of an Encounter” Most reviews of Jeff Nichols’ latest film, Midnight Special (2016) suggest he is trying to make a blockbuster science-fiction film in the tradition of Steven Spielberg. In his positive review for The A.V. Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky finds the film to be “a unique blend of chase flick and ...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
“At what point is it no longer Star Wars?” The six Star Wars films produced and/or directed by George Lucas developed into one of the most beloved mythological expressions of human civilization of the modern era. I thought about this quite a bit as I sat relatively indifferent to J.J. Abrams very good new film, ...

Creed (2015)

Creed (2015)
“Bicentennial Man, Revisited” I went to Creed reluctantly, not believing the hype about how good the film was, and certainly not wanting my working class family’s love of the original Rocky (John G. Avildsen, 1976) to be trampled into the dirt. I am delighted to report that the movie is indeed as good as people ...

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Bridge of Spies (2015)
“More Than One Accident” For a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring that irksomely earnest Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies is a shockingly subtle film. Unlike the anti-intellectual bludgeons that are Schindler’s List (1993) and Saving Private Ryan (1998), the new film, perhaps owing to a script re-written by the quirky Coen Brothers, repeatedly ...

Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)
What to the Cinema is the Fourth of July? In the first of his Independence Day speeches, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?,” delivered in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass expressed the sentiment that July 4 may be a reason for celebration for white Americans, but not for people ...