About Stephen Petrany

Stephen Petrany graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in Economics. He is currently a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School.

Big Lies

 As Irving Rosenfeld, the consummate con-man of American Hustle explains, people want to be conned. That’s because, broadly speaking, there are two types of personal change. There is real change, involving an internal change of disposition, and there is superficial change, involving an external change of circumstances. The former is difficult— so, unsurprisingly, we tend to be attracted to the latter. It is this desire for quick and easy transformation that the con-man feeds on. We want … [Read more...]

Argo: The Year’s Best “Good Movie”

 If a big theme with this year’s Best Picture nominees was a lack of tension and challenge, Argo is the clear outlier. Like Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, Argo was saddled with a story where the ending was never in doubt. Yet Ben Affleck managed to take that story and develop an engrossing, all-purpose thriller with some meaningful commentaries on the stress of human existence. It would be poetic justice, and just plain just, for Argo to win Best Picture in a year when so many movies f … [Read more...]

Zero Dark Thirty: A Movie Without a Message

My thoughts on Zero Dark Thirty resemble my thoughts on Lincoln in many respects. Both are movies where the end is never in doubt. Both attempt, without success, to tell their story in a more or less historically accurate way. Both fail to conjure up the tension and interest that their stories could have had. Zero Dark Thirty, however, does have at least one saving grace: the last forty minutes are fantastic, showing that Kathryn Bigelow is an accomplished director of action sequences (See: Hurt … [Read more...]

Lincoln’s Sentimental Slip-Ups

Over the next three days, I’ll be blogging about a few of the Best Picture nominees leading up to this Sunday's Academy Awards. Here's the first of the series, on Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. I like writing positive reviews. They are much more challenging and rewarding than simply pointing out a film’s flaws. But I don’t think I can do that with the Best Picture nominees this year, save for one (which I’ll cover last in this series of posts). The rest of the Best Picture nominees suff … [Read more...]