Film

Announcing Short Ends and Leader: The PopMatters Film Blog

Ever since the Lumiere Brothers mystified audiences with their amazing “moving images”, film has been a confounding, creative force in modern entertainment. The visuals contained inside that bright light emanating from the little window in the back of the theater have frightened and freed us, saddened and saved us. They provide the comedy and choreography that help us escape in times of trouble, while dramatizing issues and events that keep reality and its innumerable variables in proper perspective. Cinema has been so influential, defining our sense of fashion and romance, our concept of thrills and pageantry that it’s no longer a diversion, but a deciding factor in everyday life. And it’s not just a Western conceit -- movies literally make the world go round, from the fascinating frenzy of India’s Bollywood to Asia’s current cultural focus on horror, crime, and violence.

PopMatters wants its new blog, Short Ends and Leader, to act as a daily dialogue on the role film plays in our personal and pragmatic existence. Relying on our staff of astute contributors, we hope to offer unique perspectives on the industry -- in our Front Page news and Hollywood Babylon gossip sections -- movies as art -- via the Depth of Field think piece section and our take on classic films, Past Perfect -- as well as a glimpse into elements outside the mainstream featured in The Other. In addition, our regular Short Cuts section will highlight theatrical films that you may have missed, forgotten gems that deserve another look, and those horribly addictive guilty pleasures that satisfy something primordial in our otherwise ‘astute’ approach to amusement. Add in weekly guides to what’s new on DVD (Who’s Minding the Store), and films worth catching on the small screen (Viewer Discretion Advised) and you have a comprehensive forum for the discussion, and dissection, of movies and their meaning.

This conversation is not exclusive however, and strives to include as many divergent voices and opinions as possible. The Short Ends and Leader blog will always be open to input -- from sources inside the magazine, the business of show and amongst our readership as well. Let us know what you think, what interests or bothers you, what aspects of film are over considered and/or under appreciated. After all, a dialogue is only effective when both sides are communicating. Short Ends and Leader will always be more than happy to start things off. The rest will be up to you.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

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Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

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10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

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7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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