Humankind cannot bear very much reality, but it can bear a lot of reality TV.
July 11, 2017
Trump has grafted his head onto our collective body, with his horror-movie hairdo always in our face.
Earlier in his career, in 1989, when he was merely a rich gasbag and an annoyance, Trump bought a big ad in the New York Times so he could publicly call for the executions of the Central Park Five, young black men accused and convicted of assault and rape. The men were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2002 and released from prison. They sued the City of New York and won. Trump went out of his way last year to let voters know he still believed they were guilty. This is how he thrives. Now he has grafted his head onto our collective body, with his horror-movie hairdo always in our face. Trump’s head is struggling to control our actions and responses the same way Milland’s head struggled to control Grier’s body in this cheap movie. The devil finds work where he can. The Thing with Two Heads was too dumb to be noticed by James Baldwin in his book-length essay on race and the movies, and I had to go to Canada to run into it. Now it’s the kind of stupid we live with every day.
He raises the question of why people love crap, then answers it by making the kind of crap people love.
February 24, 2017
The post-classic French musicals that do away with singers and dancers (A Woman Is a Woman) or emphasize melancholy and failed romance against a backdrop of societal drabness (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) serve as models for La La Land. Their use seems academic, befitting a director running for Student Council President of the Movies.
Some people will do anything to avoid writing.
August 3, 2016
All the things Kiarostami could not show in his films became the only things Hollywood filmmakers chose to show in theirs.
All of a sudden The Purge: Election Year became a stand-in for America’s violent, cynical, stupid cinema—the exact opposite of everything Kiarostami stood for and everything he achieved over four and a half decades of filmmaking in Iran and elsewhere.
Formerly assigned parts as villainous Romans and Nazis, British actors now populate American films as the worst America has to offer, and sometimes as exemplars of the white working class.
Dirty Pretty Things, Never Let Me Go, Under the Skin, and now The Lobster—British art-house cinema is obsessed with organ harvesting. Forcing people into strange rooms to rob them of their organs or, in the case of The Lobster, to recalibrate their organs and thereby change them into animals . . . I don’t think this is something preying on the minds of Americans. Our worries are more immediate. We’re more likely to be mowed down by an assault rifle in public than we are to have our organs harvested for use by the upper class or space aliens.
The movies can put a positive spin on anything.
February 25, 2016
Oscar Movies, 2016
The movies can put a positive spin on anything. Seeing the world anew, or for the first time, becomes an allegory of motherhood and childhood in Room, which puts its protagonist (Brie Larson) in a situation not unlike Matt Damon’s in The Martian, but Earthbound, and worse.
October 9, 2015
The “suspended, unproductive time” (in Crary’s phrase) of ordinary people was Chantal’s subject. She has ended up a Simone Weil of the cinema, as her film je, tu, il, elle seems in retrospect to predict she would, an artist hyperaware and sensitive to the world around her, one she apparently couldn’t take anymore.
August 16, 2013
It’s not aspirational; it’s “pay less.” I mean, the aspiration is that you save money. But that’s a negative now, for them.
The new CIA-rehab thriller, as a genre, is anticonspiracy.
February 24, 2012
Film producers in America, from the highest to the lowest, constantly tell us how much film critics don’t matter.
February 25, 2011
Bardem deserves his Oscar nomination, and if you have ever wanted to see him in an adult diaper, now’s your chance.
February 24, 2011
Why does it often seem as though there is no film criticism on the left in North America, even in leftist publications?
August 23, 2010
Stills and trailers made Dogtooth look like an art film starring white people posing for emptied-out art photos.
August 10, 2009
In this movie, comedians beg for something new and different: “Love me because I’m not that funny,” they plead.
February 25, 2009
Interview with Astra Taylor, Director of Examined Life
Examined Life ignores and therefore refutes television techniques. It is serene yet exciting, allowing us to understand and experience the mind-states evoked by the thinkers in the movie: “anxiety is the mood par excellence of ethicity” (Ronell); philosophy emerges from “personal catastrophe lyrically expressed” (West); “we should develop a much more terrifying abstract materialism” (Zizek).
February 18, 2009
Are you an adult? Adopt my program! If the urge to see an animated feature creeps up on you, have a drink instead.
February 12, 2009
Certainly his arrest adds to his credibility as a street artist engaged in a radical art practice.
December 5, 2008
Adult men lounge in leather club chairs as their sons and daughters shop. They look inward, trying to be inconspicuous.
Fairness has nothing to do with it.
May 7, 2008
The cinema has become such an unsophisticated medium that now even four-year-olds can make a Rambo movie.
April 7, 2008
Thinking about Grease reminds me that I’ve been watching new films set in the 1950s my whole life.
February 13, 2008
If only I were paralyzed from head to toe and could only move one eye, then finally I’d be able to finish that book.