ELSEWHERE: Tragic Texts, Tragic Art

Corporate sponsorship.  Public service announcement.  These are terms that would not seem to go hand-in-hand with great art.  Yet consider this half-hour documentary on the dangers of text-messaging while driving, which AT&T commissioned legendary Oscar-nominated filmmaker Werner Herzog to direct.  “From One Second to the Next” is a well-made, heartbreaking piece that allows some glimmers of the power of forgiveness. … [Read more...]

10 Reasons Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” is Probably Going to be Terrible

I love Cormac McCarthy, a lot. Ever since I read Blood Meridian for a Freshman Composition class (no, really) I've been in love with the man's prose. I read all his novels, wrote my Master's thesis on him, visited his archives at TSU San Marcos and read his original manuscripts, taught The Road in several courses, published two papers on him in literary journals, wrote about his works for CaPC (here, and here, and here), and was even quoted in Wikipedia on No Country for Old Men (no, real … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: The Musical Stylings of the Film Mud

Earlier this month, my wife and I got the chance to see Mud, a film by one of my favorite directors, Jeff Nichols. Mud is a Huckleberry Finn-like narrative set on the banks of the Mississippi in small town Arkansas. Told through the lens of fourteen-year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan), who, along with his buddy ‘Neckbone’, finds a boat in a tree on an island in the middle of the Mississippi. Living in that boat is a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) with crosses in his boots to ward off evil spirits … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: The First Cat Video Ever Made Dates Back to the Dawn of Film

Grumpy Cat. The Stalking Cat. Maru. Each one is a cat that has achieved celebrity status around the world for a quirk their owners were able to capture on film. Have you ever wondered when this trend began? Well, it turns out that the originator of the cat video worked for Thomas Edison. Here is his short film, entitled "The Boxing Cats." Timestamp: 1894—a year when nothing much happened because everyone was too busy watching and rewatching "The Boxing Cats." … [Read more...]

Canceling the Apocalypse? Cosmic Monsters and Tiny Humans in ‘Pacific Rim’

This summer saw the release of Pacific Rim, the latest movie from Mexican-born director Guillermo del Toro, who won widespread acclaim for several of his earlier films, especially Pan’s Labyrinth. Though performing strong overseas, Pacific Rim has fared relatively poorly in America despite generally favorable critical reviews (a solid 72% at Rotten Tomatoes). This failure may be due in part to poor marketing; while the movie was heavily promoted by Warner Bros., previews focused almost ex … [Read more...]

Finding Super-Blessings Among Cinematic Bombs

 Superhero films result in many small blessings, perhaps including the amusing fact that some critics seem determined to coax themselves into disillusionment with the genre.After the last Comic-Con, I’ve heard more such views from secular and Christian critics.Secular critics seem to say: The superhero genre is tired; Hollywood is stretching to make a super-mint. Recently DrudgeReport.com gave its own headline to the Man of Steel sequel story: “Studio tries SUP … [Read more...]

“Silver Linings” and Other Stories We Tell About Mental Illness

 By Ryan MastersThere's a scene in David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook that perfectly encapsulates the movie's tension. Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) are sitting in a diner on Halloween, surrounded by people in costumes. Pat orders Raisin Bran so that Tiffany will understand that this is not a date, a gesture that obviously bothers Tiffany. The purple, single-serve box of Raisin Bran becomes the arbitrary boundary between the two mentally ill … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: “Dear Mr. Watterson” Explores The Ongoing Legacy Of “Calvin & Hobbes”

I think that for people of a certain generation, the comic pages have been forever ruined because of Calvin & Hobbes. Bill Watterson's clever, whimsical, imaginative comic strip won millions of fans during its 1o-year-run, and its legacy hasn't dimmed one bit since it ended in 1995. An upcoming documentary titled Dear Mr. Watterson explores this legacy from the perspective of fans and other comic artists. The film premiered at the Wisconsin Film Festival to solid acclaim, and opens in more c … [Read more...]

ELSEWHERE: Soar with New ‘Dragons’ Teaser

With its first promo for How to Train Your Dragon’s forthcoming 2014 sequel, Dreamworks Animation seems to have finally learned a few lessons on what makes a better story. It’s not just celebrity voice actors, overdone self-awareness of irony and archetypes, emphasis on angst, trendy pop-culture humor attempts that may expire in months, or millions spent on toy tie-ins and advertising. Instead, Dragon succeeded in 2010 because its story joyously explored family, fantasy, and the wonders of a bro … [Read more...]

Before Midnight Hits Home: A Married Couple Discusses The Film

In the spirit of Richard Linklater's "Before" films, each of which follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) through a few hours of intense discussions about work, love, and the meaning of life, my husband and I decided to review the newest film, Before Midnight, via e-mail.  Spoilers ahead!Are Jesse and Celine that German Couple Now? Dear Jack, Do you remember that very first scene in Before Sunrise? Jesse and Celine haven't met yet, but they're on the same train heading to … [Read more...]