Abraham Lincoln, “a natural born piggy-backer”: Why “It Happened One Night” is a classic.

I recently learned that a pun I came up with was already well established in the puniverse. You see, my pun went something like Frank Capricorn; it was going to involve a film director, someone born between December 21st and January 20th, a hot dog, and candy corn. But to my chagrin, the term capricorn has been around quite a while, and it refers to … Continue reading Abraham Lincoln, “a natural born piggy-backer”: Why “It Happened One Night” is a classic.

Election: Ambition, it’s a blessing . . . and a curse

Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!!! Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!!! Warning: Spoilers!!!!!!!! Tracy Flick is one of those characters whose notoriety exceeds the boundaries of the story they are a part of. There are so many characters who fit this description, including The Artful Dodger, Scarlett O’Hara, Big Bird, Archie Bunker, The Fonze, and The Dude. These are figures who seem to break free of their narrative landscapes. We remember them, … Continue reading Election: Ambition, it’s a blessing . . . and a curse

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

Rocketman: Elton John, Superman, and the Costumes we wear

Warning: Spoilers!!! Warning: Spoilers!!! Warning: Spoilers!!! One of my favorite scenes from Tarantino’s films is towards the end of Kill Bill vol. 2 (2004), not long before our avenger Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) and Bill (David Carradine) square off in a final death match. Beatrix has a theory about herself, that she’s not really a killer and that she needed to get their child away from … Continue reading Rocketman: Elton John, Superman, and the Costumes we wear

Hamlet: Metadrama, Hamlet’s Mid-Terms, and SP’s Final

Writing a blog post about Hamlet (1990) reminds me of a story a professor of mine told me quite some time ago. The story was in service of helping us–his students–to prepare for an essay portion of an exam. Apparently, my professor as an undergraduate took several classes with the same professor. (We’ll call my professor SP, for student professor, to keep things clear.] The professor … Continue reading Hamlet: Metadrama, Hamlet’s Mid-Terms, and SP’s Final

Zombieland, Double Tap: It’s basically Oceans 12, but actually good this time.

Warning: Spoilers!!!!!! I remember watching the film, Oceans 12 (2004). I don’t mean to say I remember the plot, because I don’t except for the laser dance guy scene. (Btw, the laser dance guy scene is just as cool as it ever was. It’s basically the one redeeming part of the film.) But what I do remember is being disappointed after watching the film. I … Continue reading Zombieland, Double Tap: It’s basically Oceans 12, but actually good this time.