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Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

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Film

Kamala Harris' 2020 VP Run Evokes Rod Lurie's 2000 'The Contender'

Like The Contender's Laine Hanson 20 years prior, US Democratic Party Vice-President choice, Kamala Harris, cuts the oxygen feeding the US political climate's raging sexism.

Film

The Poetry of Murder in Jean Renoir's 'Toni'

Renoir's Toni is a grim piece of work saturated in summer sunshine and tree-speckled shadows.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Film

Paul Leni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Leni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Film

Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.

Film

Tears in Rain: 'Blade Runner' and Philip K. Dick's Legacy in Film

Blade Runner, and the work of Philip K. Dick, continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Film

Mapuche Filmmaker Claudia Huaiquimilla on Indigenous Identity and Filming from the Trenches

After her prized 2017 film, Mala Junta (Bad Influence) displayed the oppression of the indigenous Mapuche people in Chile, filmmaker Claudia Huaiquimilla's work continues to dig into her country's deeply entrenched inequalities.

Film

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Makes the Most of Meta Commentary

Spider-Man: Far From Home ties up the themes of deception and Trump-era media manipulation and it ensures that the next Spider-Man film will be completely different from anything that came before.

Film

Buster Keaton's Last Silent Masterpieces: 'The Cameraman' and 'Spite Marriage'

Buster Keaton was aware that the camera can be a catalyst of violence, especially stereotypical violence, for audience consumption -- and that it could also evoke the shared joy of cathartic laughter.

Film

Decode the Pre-Code: Four Hot Early Talkies Hit Blu-Ray

Sinuous camera moves and stylish direction, endings that surely wouldn't have flown after the Code crackdown: four pre-code talkies from Cecil B. DeMille, Phil Goldstone, Victor Halperin, and Stuart Walker.

Film

Investing in Surfaces in Renoir's 'Toni'

Discovery of what lies beyond the surface—or better, the profound meaning invested in surfaces—is the central motif of Renoir's Toni.

Film

Addicted to Drug Dramas "She Shoulda Said NO!" and "The Devil's Sleep"

Films by Sam Newfield and W. Merle Connell in Kino Lorber's Forbidden Fruit series show how exploitation films are blueprints for mainstream cinema.

Film

Serene Ambiguities in Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry

So much of Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry feels relevant to the 2020 experience, in which small distances have never felt greater.

Film

Honest Deception in Preston Sturges' 'The Lady Eve'

Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve demonstrates that somewhere within the convolution of deception (self-deception included) lies a truth that persists all the same.

Film

Douglas Sirk's Oppressive and Beautiful Worlds

That today's viewers can't easily fall into the fantasy of Rock Hudson as an "Indian" in Taza Son of Cochise -- one of three films discussed here -- provides its own distancing and underlining of the themes that make it Sirkian, the rampant phoniness used as a vehicle for something true.

Film

Activist Documentary 'Church and State' Shows a New Mythos for Change

The fight to legalize gay marriage is a story the Left must cherish, a tale of systemic justice in an era of burgeoning oppression, a refreshed vision for a time that needs a refreshed "public dream" for change.

Film

Beautiful Lies and False Gods in 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice'

Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice interrogates two primal drives in American culture through the top characters of the DC pantheon: fear and its trauma (Batman) and naked power and its ambiguities (Superman).

Film

'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' Will Never Rise from the Ashes

X-Men: Dark Phoenix, a weak, disappointing film, ends two decades of the groundbreaking X-Men series with a barely audible whimper.

Film

Choosing Experience in Abbas Kiarostami's 'Taste of Cherry'

Critic Roger Ebert was frustrated with Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry because the film subverts our desire to understand another -- the very core of cinema's intent.

Film

"Just Don't Believe Truth" in John Cassavetes' 'Husbands'

The pugnacious characters in Cassavetes' Husbands couch their inauthenticity in bullying. For them, anger is more authentic than placidity, rage more authentic than sadness, cruelty more authentic than kindness.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Teaching Miyazaki's Films in the Time of Pandemic

Miyazaki's powerful worldview speaks to our times in striking ways: the hidden terror of the natural world; the need for truth and compassion; the humanism in the face of adversity.

Film

'The Lady Eve' Indulges Preston Sturges' Humor, Both Literate and Broad

Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve is layered with texture and substance draped in the gleeful prurience of a master of slapstick and romance who could write foolish millionaires with the same deft ear as cultured hooligans.

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.


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