Category: 2016 Film Essays

Arrival Movie Essay - 2016 Denis Villeneuve Film

‘Arrival’ and the Perils of Science Fiction

“What is awkward about these ‘Arrival’ reviews is how they oppose the film’s best qualities to its generic roots.”

In Vanda's Room Movie Essay - 2000 Pedro Costa Film

Vague Visages Is FilmStruck: Pedro Costa’s ‘In Vanda’s Room’

“Whatever its genus, ‘In Vanda’s Room’ is one harrowing motion picture… It is also one of the best films from the past 20 years.”

Weak Story Beats Muddle ‘Frank & Lola’

“There’s plenty to appreciate in ‘Frank & Lola,’ and it’s far from a bad film. However, the story beats feel awkward and random.”

Streamless – Off the Subscription Grid: ‘Film’ Starring 1965 Buster Keaton

“How are we doing here, folks? Does any of this make a lick of sense?”

Baby Doll Movie Essay - 1956 Elia Kazan Film

Of Love and Other Demons: ‘Baby Doll’ Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

A Column on Love and Erotica in Cinema by Justine A. Smith

James Benning’s ‘Stemple Pass’: Minimalist Horror for Trump’s America

“Played in 2016, it’s eerily prophetic.”

Fear and Desire Movie Essay - 1953 Stanley Kubrick Film

Vague Visages Is FilmStruck: Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Fear and Desire’

“‘Fear and Desire’ is more than just a curio for the Kubrick completist. It is indeed a genuinely revealing work.”

The Subversive Power of ‘Elle’

“‘Elle’ is a demented Rorschach test of the highest degree.”

A Portraiture of Grief in ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and ‘Personal Shopper’

“Whereas Lonergan interrogates the realities of grief with sober restraint, ‘Personal Shopper’ director Olivier Assayas plunges viewers right into his protagonist’s bereaved headspace.”

Streamless – Off the Subscription Grid: ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’

Mike Postalakis on the 1978 Fiasco ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’

Genre Sampling: On Iranian Vampires, Adolescent Demons, Long Nights and Shards of Kryptonite

“Tropes and archetypes are global, fitting into different national contexts while carrying with them the memory of their international itineraries.”

James Bond and Artifice

“No longer tasked with putting the missing pieces of action, intrigue and effects together in our heads, the artifice of Bond is gone forever — and with it, any room for playful interpretation.”

No Exit: Access and Isolation in Babak Anvari’s ‘Under the Shadow’

“‘Under the Shadow’ is an admirable film, albeit not wholly original.”

Why Criticism: Understanding Film Restoration

A Column on Film Criticism by Justine A. Smith

Le Samourai Movie Movie Essay - 1967 Jean-Pierre Melville Film

Vague Visages Is FilmStruck: Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Samouraï’

“Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Samourai’ is the definition of cinematic precision. Each shot, each cut, each movement is a slice of redolent, provocative and sometimes even banal accuracy.”

As American as Apple Pie: The Contemporary Applicability of Jacques Tourneur’s ‘Cat People’

“In regards to modern day politics, ‘Cat People’ captures the anti-immigration fervor of the 2016 American presidential campaign and election.”

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ and the Need for Humane Media

“Love can be what survives if we show up to do the work.”

A Mother’s Twisted Love: Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s ‘Evolution’

“Elliptical and predominantly visual, ‘Evolution’ will frustrate any viewer unwilling to let go of common sense.”

Streamless – Off the Subscription Grid: ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’

“This is L-I-V-I-N in the moment at its best.”

‘RoboCop’ in the Age of Trump

“It only took three decades for ‘RoboCop’ to go from a sci-fi thought experiment to prescient documentary. What do the next few hold?”