Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One (2018)
“So shines a good deed in a weary world” By returning the industry to its mad quest for blockbuster-level profits, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) killed an academically beloved period of American cinema, the Hollywood Renaissance, a set of ambitious, modernist, politically critical films ranging from The Graduate and Easy ...

Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia (2016)
“Gulls Gone Wild” At the heart of my study of the films made at Pixar Animation Studios is the figure of the trickster, a mythological figure who fights corrupt power with thievery and cunning. I derive this tradition in American animation from the works of Dr. Seuss, who used an autobiographical lad to express his ...

The Witch (2016)

The Witch (2016)
“New Englanders, Out of Their Minds” Horror fans reacted to Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of The Shining with profound disappointment, arguing that the film’s artiness destroyed their visceral genre expectations, ones that were clearly and directly presented in Stephen King’s widely read 1977 novel. Robert Eggers’ new film, The Witch (2015) might be the ...

A Bear Story (2015)

A Bear Story (2015)
“Bear, My Ass” In my yearly struggle to avoid thinking about the idiocy of the Oscars, I invariably fail when I fall in love with one of the brilliant shorts that is doomed to not win due to the pedestrian tastes of the majority of the Academy. This year will be particularly traumatic in the ...

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 Blue Umbrella (2013)

The Blue Umbrella (2013)
“From Van Gogh’s Shoes to Pixar’s Umbrellas” For almost 20 years, Pixar Animation Studios has led the charge in pushing the American animated feature film beyond even the dreams of its great master, Walt Disney. As Pinocchio aspired to become a real boy, Wall-e learns to love like a human being long after people have ...