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: ...

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 10: Laura is the One] (2017)

Twin Peaks: The Return [episode 10: Laura is the One] (2017)
“An Essay of Images” In his quirky little book, Catching the Big Fish, David Lynch describes how he uses Transcendental Meditation to aid in his creative process. In some of the episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, such as “Gotta Light,” he is surely casting bait in search of Moby-Dick. However, in the more tranquil ...

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
“The Miserable Have No Other Medicine” One disagreement I have with Star Trek fans concerns the credit sequence of the TV series, Enterprise (UPN, 2001-2005), one of the best things bequeathed to us by that which Gene Rodenberry hath wrought. “It’s been a long road / To get from there to here,” sings Russell Watson ...

Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa (2015)
“Thigh Line (Liar) Triangular” There’s a remarkable moment early in Anomalisa, Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman’s new animated feature, which resonates with a lecture I give at the start of my course on the history of drama. In “Why Hamlet Doesn’t Go to the Bathroom,” I ponder the deflection of lived human experience entailed by ...