Category Archives: Reflections

Blasts from the past in any way shape or form.

Steve Carell and co. all yell at Ryan Gosling in The Big Short.

A look at ‘The Big Short’ and its use of pop culture imagery

With Adam McKay’s (director of Anchorman and Step BrothersThe Big Short landing on DVD, Blu-Ray, and online streaming services last week, I decided to take a second look at it, my mind having warmed up to it in the months that followed my initial viewing. This is not to say I disliked it first or that I dislike it now. But I do find it to be a cluttered clash of tones, moods, and imagery that lacks strong character arcs, though it does offer an informed perspective on the housing crash of 2008 that is accessible to the layman.  Continue reading A look at ‘The Big Short’ and its use of pop culture imagery

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Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass and Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed.

‘Black Mass’ and ‘The Departed’ bring Whitey Bulger to the big screen

Following an unusual train of thought off my post from earlier this week about Trumbo and Hail Caesar and how they took the story of communism in Hollywood to the big screen in decidedly different ways, I’ve decided to look at a different pair of films that take on the same subject matter: The Departed and Black Mass. That just about ends the similarities between this post and the previous one though, as the esteemed mob leader Whitey Bulger has very little to do with either Hollywood or communists. Continue reading ‘Black Mass’ and ‘The Departed’ bring Whitey Bulger to the big screen

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The real Donald Trumbo sits in his bathtub as he writes.

A look at communism in ‘Trumbo’ and ‘Hail Caesar’

Though it was a national controversy in the 1950s, it has now become a part of every high school’s history curriculum that senator McCarthy went apeshit over members of the communist party infiltrating Hollywood. This is something of an absurd notion. But the fact that it made it all the way to the supreme court says a little something about how serious the fear of the Red Menace was back then. It also says a little something that we’ve had two comedies address the “Hollywood Ten” in the span of a few short months. Those films are Trumbo and the Coen brother’s recent Hail Caesar!
Continue reading A look at communism in ‘Trumbo’ and ‘Hail Caesar’

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Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe stand in the white house in the West Wing.

Judge Scalia and the Apple letter recall an early ‘West Wing’ episode

Shortly after the announcement that Judge Antonin Scalia had passed away, the media began flooding with reports of controversy in Washington as the Republican dominated Congress asserted that Obama should not name a successor and the Obama administration as good as guaranteed they would do just that. Then a couple of days later Apple released their open letter to customers regarding the U. S. government’s demand that they break into the iPhone of a former terrorist. Continue reading Judge Scalia and the Apple letter recall an early ‘West Wing’ episode

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Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche go for a hike in the Alps in the film Clouds of Sils Maria, one of my favorite films of the year, Clouds of Sils Maria.

My 11 Favorite Films of 2015

I know it’s a little late to be writing an article like this. But seeing as I haven’t written an article at all in nearly five months, I’m content to deliver this overdue piece now. So how did 2015 fare at the end of the day? Not so hot. In fact, it may have been the single weakest year since I started following film in a journalistic capacity almost a decade ago. It’s so bad, in fact, that my favorite film of the year technically came out in 2014. So what happened? Is this a sign that the feature length film is really failing in favor of television? I don’t think so. Or at least I hope not because even with the surge of television from Netflix, Aamzon, and Hulu, I still favor both the process of producing feature length films and the end results, most of the time. Continue reading My 11 Favorite Films of 2015

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David Oyelowo in Selma pitted against Bradley Cooper in American Sniper.

‘Selma’ and ‘American Sniper’ faced off last year and the better film lost

There were actually four films in total last year that came out in the fall and were nominated for several academy awards (including best picture) that were biopics. There was The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Selma, and American Sniper. That’s a whopping fifty percent of the nominees! Sadly, this is actually a pretty standard number. People aren’t really all that into original concepts. And other biographies such as Mr. Turner and Foxcatcher earned major nominations as well, emphasizing this point on both the academy’s and the public’s narrow-mindedness when it comes to “prestige” pictures. Continue reading ‘Selma’ and ‘American Sniper’ faced off last year and the better film lost

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Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, each with their pretty leading ladies, each with their dark, dirty secrets.

The mythology of birds and dreams in ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Blue Velvet’

It’s been a good long while since I sat all the way through David Lynch’s seminal 1986 film Blue Velvet. Possibly five or six years stand between now and the last time I absorbed everything the film has to offer. In the span of that time, I’ve studied film very thoroughly both with a formal education and on my own, and I’ve taken in the rest of David Lynch’s work, most notably Twin Peaks. In re-watching Blue Velvet with that particular series added to my repertoire, I was shocked to discover just how much they have in common. And not just because they are both David Lynch noir stories starring Kyle MacLachlan. The fan site WelcometoTwinPeaks.com claims that “nobody can deny that Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks take place in the same universe.” Continue reading The mythology of birds and dreams in ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Blue Velvet’

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Frances McDormand answers the phone as concerned mother Elaine Miller in Almost Famous.

A great movie mom in ‘Almost Famous’ for Mother’s Day

Due to it being Mother’s Day, I feel obligated to indulge the topic in relation to cinema. In digging into the recesses of my cinematic repertoire, I found myself struggling to think of many memorable movie mothers. I could think of dozens of fathers. Not to  beat the dead feminism horse, but honestly what great moms are there in film? It took me a while to think of any, but eventually the Frances McDormand character in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous came to mind. Continue reading A great movie mom in ‘Almost Famous’ for Mother’s Day

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Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche go for a hike in the Alps in the film Clouds of Sils Maria, one of my favorite films of the year, Clouds of Sils Maria.

‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ ingeniously uses theater in a meta-narrative about age and art

Just as my last post exposed that the all too-common comparison between The Red Shoes and Black Swan, here I argue skeptically against the perception that Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria  is a modern day All About Eve. I’ll admit that this one really is a great deal like its 1950 predecessor from Joseph L. Mankiewicz; both films are about actresses approaching the age of 40 who are still dying to be 20. Continue reading ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ ingeniously uses theater in a meta-narrative about age and art

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Scorsese gives DeNiro direction on the set of Raging Bull.

Watching Mayweather and Pacquiao got me thinking about ‘Raging Bull’

I, like half the world it seems, spent part of Saturday evening in front of a television screen waiting impatiently for a couple hours to eventually watch two men try to knock each other out for about thirty six minutes. I am not a huge boxing fan. But I do enjoy watching two guys hit each other. And I find the set up of fights intriguingly different than a traditional sports season. It becomes an entirely different pop culture beast that at peak moments such as the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight can draw more attention than even the Superbowl. It’s a fascinating aspect of the gambling world that has always found roles in film, as far back as the medium goes. My favorite is an admittedly cliche choice. Still, after the fight I couldn’t help but let my mind wander back to 1980 and Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece about Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull. Continue reading Watching Mayweather and Pacquiao got me thinking about ‘Raging Bull’

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