Category: 2017 Film Essays

Jack Ascending: Nicholson’s 1980s

“There has always been a conflict at play in Nicholson’s screen presence: between ‘Nicholson’ and ‘Jack.’ The desire to be taken seriously and the lure of the riotous Jack persona have always done battle across his decades of stardom.”

Vague Visages Is FilmStruck: Jeremy Carr on Costa-Gavras’ ‘Z’

“‘Z’ is thoughtful, provocative, impassioned entertainment, stylish and teeming with conviction.”

The Birds and the Beats: How ‘Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai’ Achieved Ultimate Serenity

“Ghost Dog glides through the story with the swiftness of an avian being in a film that never fails to be cathartic.”

The Bees Won’t Sting: On Celebrity Adoration, Hollywood Misdirection and Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Boogie Nights’

“At some point, you’ve got to take down the celebrity posters, or at least reassess what they represent.”

Real, All Too Real: Rakhee Sandilya’s ‘Ribbon’

“Within the context of a cinema that is high-strung and often defined by its over-the-top, spectacle-driven family dramas, ‘Ribbon’ and its smallness (and everydayness) is not just a refreshing break but an extremely well-timed breaking of the mold.”

The Story of the Girl Named Blue: Danish Renzu’s ‘Half Widow’

“Renzu’s film gives a face to the thousands of women featured in the papers, disturbingly called ‘half widows’ — not just defined by the lack of a husband, but also by this ‘half,’ not full, not a complete status of being.”

Grief in Life and Death: A Comparison of ‘A Ghost Story’ and ‘Manchester by the Sea’

“Although individual grief may be colored by guilt or loneliness, jealousy or the passage of time, ultimately everyone who knows love will know a ghost story, and suffer the same grief or become a ghost in the end.”

Murphy’s Law and the Man Who Murdered Himself: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s ‘Long Live Brij Mohan!’

“If Murphy’s Law were to be made into a film, it’d look a lot like Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s ‘Long Live Brij Mohan!’ His production, in more ways than one, is also a metaphor for the city of Delhi.”

Despite Needing Tune-Ups, Pixar’s ‘Coco’ Is a Color-Saturated Celebration of Family

“A dance of layered visuals and eye-popping patterns, ‘Coco’ is well balanced with the understated”

Framing the Breakdown: Visual Psychosis in Lucrecia Martel’s ‘The Headless Woman’

“Martel’s film is an absolute masterpiece in visual symbolism and deserves to be seen on that basis alone.”

On Ruben Östlund’s Dystopian Realities: ‘Force Majeure’ and ‘The Square’

“Painfully ironic, aggressive and humorously on point, Östlund’s films are timely cinematic pieces that put their characters’ moral compasses at stake.”

David Cronenberg Movie Essay - Videodrome

Long Live the New Flesh: Bodies, Horrors and Desires in David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash’ and ‘Videodrome’

“In ‘Crash,’ sex feels like a traffic accident. In ‘Videodrome,’ it becomes the subject of a warped, projected fantasy.”

Vincent Price and the Art of Darkness

“He always took the horror genre seriously, and that often meant daring to laugh in the face of the darkest horrors, toeing the line between irony and total seriousness.”

Pop Culture as Emotional Self-Defense in ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’

“Observing the dangerous consequences of retreating too far into escapist entertainment, these two films suggest that beneath all this cultural noise is the unacknowledged truth that the most fervent of music nerds and fanboys may indeed be ‘scared as shit.’”

Human Desire Movie Essay - 1954 Fritz Lang Film

War and Domestic Violence in Fritz Lang’s ‘Human Desire’

“In ‘Human Desire,’ the train tracks carry its hero into the sunny paradise of the American Dream, not the depths of noir’s endless night.”

Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’ Saves the Earth but Not the DC Extended Universe

“The DC Extended Universe is not doomed, but it needs its own clear identity and purpose. Rebranding ‘The Avengers’ is not the answer.”

Murray Lerner’s ‘Festival’: A Prototype for the Music Documentary

“‘Festival’ challenges our preconceptions about the past – in this case, that of folk music and of music documentaries themselves.”

Vague Visages Is FilmStruck: Jeremy Carr on Erich von Stroheim’s ‘Greed’

“‘Greed’ is like the gold within the soil, a gem that must be mined from its sullied context.”

The Song of the Cloud-Capped Mountain: Anushka Meenakshi and Iswar Srikumar’s ‘Kho ki pa lü’

“‘Kho ki pa lü’ is about a lot of things, but it’s mostly about music. It is about Li, the songs that people sing when they cultivate rice in small müles.”

The Tattoos Tell the Story: Viggo Mortensen’s Painted Body

“Mortensen uses his body to display his characters’ essential tensions, as they ride the line between truth and lies, loyalty and betrayal, chaos and control.”