Eat Your Vegetables: Lola rennt and Dramatic Irony as Love's Performance

"After the game is before the game."  Sepp HerbergerLola is a woman who knows what she wants.  We see twenty or so minutes of her life.  But it happens to be the same twenty minutes three different times, so we think we know her, or can at least make a reasonable guess about what makes her tick.She wants love.  She wants fidelity.  And, of course, she wants money.This movie is conflicted.  On the one hand, the movie tells us, "Don't think.  Act."  On the other hand, it shows us that when we … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: Where are the Wild Things?

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Acclaimed children’s author Maurice Sendak died two weeks ago. While considering Sendak’s legacy, the hosts of Slate Culture Gabfest made a point of panning Spike Jonze’s 2009 film adaptation of Sendak’s most famous book, Where the Wild Things Are, claiming that it made Sendak’s essential book into more of a trifle than a vegetable. I complete my th … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: Adaptation (2002)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Change happens.  In nature.  In people.  In art.  Adaptation (Spike Jonze's 2002 film now available to stream via Netflix) is about one man trying to figure out how and why it works.The movie tries to make its titular process more manageable by whittling it down to one man (Charlie Kaufman, played by Nicholas Cage) trying to write one script (os … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Being John Malkovich," Being Puppets Without Strings

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze; 1999) deserves a second look (or a first look, for that matter), especially after the Criterion Collection released a deluxe edition of the film on Tuesday (you can also stream it via Netflix).  The film is notable for three reasons: it introduced indie-darlings Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman to a larger aud … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: A Critique of Criticism

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Metropolitan is a funny movie (you can watch it on Netflix) that gets most of its laughs from irony. Only occasionally are the characters in on the joke. But more than the film’s source for comedy, irony is at the heart of everything the film does. For example:The characters of Metropolitan would never go see the movie Metropolitan. When they tal … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: The First Rule of Fighting Yourself…

"You are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."  Tyler DurdenStylistically, Fight Club is a textbook on how to do mise-en-scene. Corporate vs. Club. Penthouse vs. Outhouse. White-collar vs. Popped-collar. The film plays out its tensions in elaborately detailed sets and costumes, especially in the dueling performances of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. The film even goes so far as to literalize that competition in their bloody fist-fights.So this film is packed.Blood? Lots of it. … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Annie Hall," Romance, and Real Love

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977) Nutritional Value: Watching fake love implode like a cigar in Woody Allen's faceThis film is funny. Let’s get that out of the way. Yes, it’s a dramedy that effectively ended the “early funny ones” period of Woody Allen’s career, so the laughs don’t come as frequently or as easily as th … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Badlands" (Malick, 1973)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Badlands (1973; Terrence Malick) Nutritional Value: The danger of overrating introspectionBadlands (1973) begins by starkly contrasting Holly (Sissy Spacek) and Kit (Martin Sheen), whose love affair occupies the center of the film. When we first meet Holly, she’s petting a large dog on her bed. The first time we see … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Doubt" (Shanley, 2008)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Doubt (John Patrick Shanley; 2008)Doubt is provocative, but its ideas are rather sloppy. And this is first and foremost a movie about ideas, not people.The film focuses on a small parochial school in the early '60s, some time after Kennedy’s death but before Nixon’s election. Our attention is directed toward two s … [Read more...]

Eat Your Vegetables: "Roger & Me" (Moore, 1989)

Each week in Eat Your Vegetables, Jonathan Sircy shares the benefit and appeal of some of the culture’s more inaccessible or intimidating artifacts.Cultural Vegetable of the Week: Roger & Me (Michael Moore; 1989) Nutritional Value: Your daily required dose of class-war polemic“It was truly the dawn of a new era.” Michael Moore’s last words of narration for the film.This film gives us a first glimpse of a young raconteur in action. Michael Moore bumbles and stumbles his way into a hornet … [Read more...]


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