Ten Films about the Media that Will Make You Think

There are all kinds of First Amendment films, freedom of the press films, media films, broadcasting films, and so forth. You’ve probably seen many of them yourself. One common characteristic amongst these films is the hagiographic treatment they give of journalists, reporters, and anchors. If you watch too many of these films, you’ll get the sense that your average reporter is a modern day errant … Continue reading Ten Films about the Media that Will Make You Think

Parasite: Aristotle and Arthur Miller, Tartuffe and Montgomery Cliff, and the Genre of the Ingénue Climber

Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!!! Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!! Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!! The 2019 film Parasite, directed by South Korean filmmaker, Bong Joon Ho, has provoked awe in audiences, both for it’s aesthetic construction and for its treatments of the themes of social inequality, fate, and chance. These two layers of the film–it’s artful construction and it’s provocative meaning–work in tandem to tell the story of the nearly destitute Kim family, … Continue reading Parasite: Aristotle and Arthur Miller, Tartuffe and Montgomery Cliff, and the Genre of the Ingénue Climber

Fighting with My Family: Self-Portrayals, Body Slams and Rudy Goes to the Ball

Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!! Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!! Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!! In the mid-twentieth century, Gloria Swanson, an aging out-of-the-limelight former silent film star, played the part of Norma Desmond, a character who might be described as an aging out-of-the limelight former silent film star. This performance, in the film Sunset Blvd. (1950), demonstrated that the legendary Swanson, unlike Desmond, possessed self-awareness and an ability to poke fun at herself. … Continue reading Fighting with My Family: Self-Portrayals, Body Slams and Rudy Goes to the Ball

Bees, Knees, Pilgrimages, and Substitutiary Locomotion: A Review of Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Merovingian Bees: Recasting Identity through Heritage A few years ago, I watched a 93-part episode series on the History of the Christian Church, taught by Professor Ryan Reeves of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. The video series is, by the way, immensely educational and creatively put together. One of the most effective techniques Reeves uses is to start each video lecture a bit off kilter, a … Continue reading Bees, Knees, Pilgrimages, and Substitutiary Locomotion: A Review of Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Get Out: Head Fakes, Zombies, and Big Macs in Paris

“And these kinds of head fake learning are absolutely important. And you should keep your eye out for them because they’re everywhere.” Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture“ I’m not a big zombie movie fan. In fact, to be honest, and I don’t really care for the genre. It might have to do with the fact that they are a subset, or, at least, a close … Continue reading Get Out: Head Fakes, Zombies, and Big Macs in Paris

The Big Short: Edmund Burke and the Sublime in our Stars, our Stripes, and Our Stocks

Some time ago, I heard a quotation from Marshall McLuhan that I instantly recognized as true–and quite insightful: “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.” As an educator, I know what he’s getting at. We’re more likely to learn, when we’re having fun, either in the formal setting of a school, ambling through nature, … Continue reading The Big Short: Edmund Burke and the Sublime in our Stars, our Stripes, and Our Stocks

Vertigo: Symmetries, Synchronicity, and an Appointment in Samarra

Warning: Spoilers!!! Warning: Spoilers!!! Warning: Spoilers!!! Warning: Spoilers!!! Warning: Spoilers!!! I first watched Vertigo (1958) probably about fourteen years ago. The film is one of the more unusual Alfred Hitchcock films of his oeuvre (alongside The Trouble with Harry (1955) and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941). Upon re-watching it, all of my original impressions–the clever symmetrical plot line, the ominous mood, the off-brand character played … Continue reading Vertigo: Symmetries, Synchronicity, and an Appointment in Samarra

The Genre of Calvinball: American Hustle and the Art of Improvisation

In this sense, one of the key skills of Calvinball–perhaps, the central skill–is persuasion. Can you get others to accept your form of reality, and if so, for how long? Finally, there’s what you might call the Kipling rule, “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” This sentiment is most clearly expressed in … Continue reading The Genre of Calvinball: American Hustle and the Art of Improvisation

Shrek: It’s like a Coen brothers film but without the ruthlessly dark depiction of life and humanity–also Smash Mouth

The films of Joel and Ethan Coen are always a treat to watch. One reason I love them so much is that they are simultaneously an homage to a genre, a parody, and a rightful addition to that genre, as well. Take, for instance, Miller’s Crossing (1991), one of their early films, which portrays a prohibition era fight between two crime bosses, Leo (Albert Finney) … Continue reading Shrek: It’s like a Coen brothers film but without the ruthlessly dark depiction of life and humanity–also Smash Mouth