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Thursday, January 21 2010

Designing Consent

Industrial design aspires to the commanding heights of consumer society, building its policy prescriptions and dogmatic assumptions about what makes us happy directly into the objects available to us.


Tuesday, January 19 2010

Silent Revelations

Kino and Flicker Alley are the labels duking it out for silent supremacy, and the spectator is the winner.


Monday, January 18 2010

Unfulfilled Desires, Fulfilled Nightmares

As the new millennium accelerates we witness our world consumed by an international economic crisis fueled by unrestricted consumption and greed. Hence, the relevance of Stephen King's 'Needful Things'.


Wednesday, January 6 2010

The Matrix: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

If the first act of The Matrix calls to mind eXistenZ, with Pikel licking Allegra’s bio-port and sucking gristle and skin from a gun, its third act is as antiseptic as a bad Star Trek rerun.


Sunday, December 6 2009

Philip K. Dick’s Defense of Video Games

Philip K. Dick’s fiction is a defense of the validity of video games because despite the fact that they are not real, his stories argue that there is still something valid in the artificial.


Wednesday, December 2 2009

Little Women: Brilliant Book, Flawed Film

A scene shows Ryder blissfully tying up the manuscript and putting a rose under the string. That's rather like what Armstrong and the screenwriters did to the film: tied it up neatly with a pretty flower.


Tuesday, December 1 2009

Looking Back at the Avant Garde

These two new DVDs help us take a look back at forward thinkers, and although no one will like all these films equally, the whole is an experience not only edifying but, at its most radical, even pleasurable.


Monday, November 23 2009

Squanto: The Ultimate Guide

Even anglers like myself yearn for guides with fishing IQs as rich as Squanto's, a Patuxet Native American who taught the Pilgrims how to fish.


Sunday, November 8 2009

PopShots: The Lighter Side of Swine Flu

Researchers have largely ignored the pop cultural value of the H1N1 virus: hours on the couch catching up on DVD.


Monday, November 2 2009

The Ghostbusters Twinkie Defense

More surprising than the still-impressive special effects and the jokes that hold up to modern scrutiny is the fact that there are moments throughout Ghostbusters that are legitimately scary.


Tuesday, October 27 2009

A Ghost Story of Dubious Origins

No matter the vercity of the tale, The Haunting in Connecticut has just enough creep quotient to keep me engaged, especially since I grew up a few miles from the house.


Wednesday, October 7 2009

New Kids on the Block: Hangin’ Tough, Refusing to Let Go

In 1989, I loathed the New Kids on the Block with a passion and intensity that only junior high-aged children can bring to their study of popular culture, yet when Hangin’ Tough Live hit DVD, I had to see it.


Thursday, September 24 2009

Hal Ashby: Hollywood Rebel

Films and books strive toward a common goal: telling a story. And very few modern filmmakers are as good at spinning a yarn as the late Hal Ashby was.


Wednesday, September 23 2009

The Handmaid’s Tale: Not So Sci-fi

The terrifying, 'it could happen today' message of this story is best told in the Atwood's book, rather than the film version.


Wednesday, September 2 2009

Buster Keaton: The Sound of His Obsession

Bill Frisell's ambient, fuzzy, meandering guitar doodles sound like they're trying to approximate the sad stillness blowing through the corridors of Keaton's mind.


Tuesday, September 1 2009

Not to be Silenced: To Kill a Mockingbird

'To Kill a Mockingbird' is more than an enlightening tale of the racial inadequacies in the South during the Depression -- it inspired people to study law.


Thursday, August 13 2009

Oceans of Fear

Brace yourself: this is a fish tale that can silence – like the great white shark itself – all of its competitors.


Thursday, July 30 2009

Rudy Wurlitzer, Bob Dylan, Bloody Sam, and the Jornado del Muerto

Dylan’s beautifully simple ballad captures the paradoxical fear of and longing for death that is the hallmark of Wurlitzer’s narratives and what lurks at the heart of the human experience.


Wednesday, July 29 2009

International d’Horreur

The country that is producing high quality fear flicks these days is not in North America nor anywhere in Asia, but in Western Europe.


We All End Up in Diapers: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Comparing the book to the film, it’s as if Fitzgerald laid just the foundation, and from that Roth built a multi-storied house.


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