Please Baby Please

Please Baby Please

8

Dec

2017

I've been defending the films of Spike Lee for a long, long, long time.  I'm old enough to remember having very deep thoughts (well, as deep as could be expected for a 16-year-old suburban white kid) about the first incarnation of She's Gotta Have It, his very first full-length feature film, and being fascinated with t ...
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Indistinguished Opposition

Indistinguished Opposition

6

Dec

2017

In my last entry, about the massive betrayal of the American people to a handful of plutocrats via the passage of a license to loot posing as a tax reform bill, I caught a small amount of hell from Democrats, who wondered why I had harsh words for their party.  While I feel that I spared the majority of my wrath for the Re ...
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The Way It is Today

The Way It is Today

2

Dec

2017

The possibility of having to restate the profound and likely irreversible damage the new tax bill will inflict on this country exhausts me. There are only so many times you can say that America is involved in a one-sided class war and that the rich (all of the rich) are doing their best to reduce the poor (all of the poor) ...
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King of the Castle

King of the Castle

29

Nov

2017

How do you solve a problem like Maria?  Or, to put it in a less cryptic way, how do you say that the new Netflix Punisher series is probably the best Punisher adaptation, and arguably the best of the streaming service's Marvel series, while acknowledging that these are both extremely high bars to limbo under?  I'm sure I ...
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The Crime of the Century

The Crime of the Century

29

Nov

2017

The curious economic logic of streaming services has had a pretty devastating effect on the availability of classic cinema.  I've written before about how streaming media should have created a situation in which any movie of any kind from any era would be available for anyone to watch any time they wanted; and, in fact, it ...
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Giving As Well As You Get

Giving As Well As You Get

22

Nov

2017

I used to have a little tradition around these parts -- by which I mean this blog, which I've been maintaining in some form or another for a good fifteen years or more -- where every Thanksgiving, I'd talk about the things I was thankful for.  It's not an original idea, or even a particularly interesting one, but as someon ...
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Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray

21

Nov

2017

Noir means, of course, "black"; and it refers not only to the dark moods and bleak tone of American crime dramas of the '40s and '50s, but also to the impenetrable slabs of shadow that surround the violence and betrayal on screen.  Much of what made noir what it is had to do with these blocks of darkness, intersected by sh ...
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The Stars Are Ageless

The Stars Are Ageless

16

Nov

2017

If you'd never seen Sunset Blvd. before -- if you knew nothing about it, about its unique place in cinematic history, about the curious effect it had on both the public and the town it opened up like and old and ugly pornographic magazine -- you'd be forgiven for wondering why it's considered film noir at all.  While it ...
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Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert

14

Nov

2017

Noir is a hard thing to parody, because noir itself is so close to parody even in its purest form.  We like to talk about it as a gritty, realistic form of cinema -- and it is!  At least, sort of. But in other ways, it's so attenuated and abstracted, with its stylized visuals inherited from German expressionist cinema and ...
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A Bright Guilty World

A Bright Guilty World

8

Nov

2017

It's Noirvember again, and I'm once more looking forward to a month of immersing myself into my all-time favorite film genre, with all its grubby shadows and lines that are sharp but never clean.  When I was at the Chicago International Film Festival this year, I was intrigued by the offerings of their Film Noir program, b ...
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Show Me Forgiveness

Show Me Forgiveness

6

Nov

2017

It may be too soon to talk about forgiveness.  The sins of the world are still so great, after all; and we are only now developing the language and the means to articulate our objections to some of its greatest crimes.  Why should we now talk about forgiveness, when even now, the powerful are contriving ways to continue t ...
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It Had Been Made Bitter

It Had Been Made Bitter

23

Oct

2017

A lot of factors can contribute to a filmmaker delivering the best work of his career.  Circumstances from finding the right cast to discovering the right project to getting the ideal financing can combine to make all the difference in the world.  Other times, it's waiting until exactly the right medium comes along.  Err ...
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I Know What’s Real

I Know What’s Real

18

Oct

2017

Blade Runner -- the original, which is to say whichever of the seemingly endless number of versions that are available thanks to studio meddling and the obsessive recutting of director Ridley Scott -- is one of my favorite movies.  Ill-received at the time of its release and scorned by some as too ham-handed in its metapho ...
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The Costs

The Costs

10

Oct

2017

Harvey Weinstein is the latest.  But he isn't the last.The news that Weinstein, a prominent movie producer and one of Hollywood's biggest power players, is at the very least a serial sexual harasser of women and at worst a multiple rapist has been met with varied reactions.  It's not exactly shocking; Weinstein has long b ...
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Fucker

Fucker

9

Oct

2017

Darren Aronofsky wants there to be no confusion about the intent behind his new allegorical whatever-it-is, mother!.  (I use his preferred stylization of the title, even after everything he has done to me.)  Eschewing such aesthetic values as subtlety and ambiguity, Aronofsky has delivered a psychological horror film tha ...
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