The Fault in Our Logic

 When I was young, I heard many a sermon that was based on math. Pastors would make simple calculations like this: “The time you spend in heaven and hell will be far longer than the time you spend on earth. You should do things that contribute to your ‘eternal bank account’ (i.e. reading Bible, praying) rather than your ‘spiritual bank account’ (i.e. getting good grades, being cool). Live for something greater. For something eternal.” The logic was that whatever is longer is generally mo … [Read more...]

Bridging Time: Days of Future Past

 The scattered and even feeble attempts to build a storyline for Marvel’s beloved mutants have led bewildered audiences down dead-end streets that have refused to resolve.  These movies have seemed relatively pointless events in a universe too full of heroes and villains to be personal.  But, somehow, Bryan Singer’s masterpiece in X-Men: Days of Future Past has managed to join the disjointed and finish the unfinished.Playing with modernity’s fetish for dystopian films, the movie star … [Read more...]

Grace at the Movies

 In their first co-directed film, The Way Way Back (2013), Nat Faxon and Jim Rash feature fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who goes on summer vacation with his newly-divorced mom (Toni Collette), her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), and Trent’s daughter from a previous relationship, Steph (Zoe Levin). The movie begins as the four of them are on the way to Trent’s beach house, with Trent asking Duncan to rate himself—his personality, looks, everything—on a scale of one to ten whi … [Read more...]

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...]

The Grand Budapest Hotel

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" begins with a telescoping narrative device: a young girl—a poor, but kind man’s Lena Dunham—walks through a cemetery to pay tribute to the memory of an author who is buried there.  She is dressed in a pink Girl Scout uniform of sorts and carrying a copy of a book entitled The Grand Budapest Hotel which has a stencil drawing of the hotel façade on the cover, also in pink.  Think about the color pink.  Think of all the words it evokes: girlish, pretty, innocent, naïve, sw … [Read more...]

The Lego Movie

 Editor’s Warning: BEWARE – MASSIVE SPOILERSThe Lego Movie has already been acclaimed as the greatest toy commercial ever crafted, but the reason for its success is that it is so much more than the mere money grab that we expected: it is actually a good movie. The film deals with challenging, topical issues and manages to take a more nuanced approach than the usual vapid platitudes one would expect in an animated children's movie.  Within its hundred-minute duration, we deal with big … [Read more...]

A Flaw in the Light: Thoughts on ‘The Counselor’

 Sometimes—maybe even most of the time—truly great works of art seem flawed at first.  They are creations forged in a particularly intense imaginative fire, liable to leave them charred around the edges, or even a bit warped.  Hamlet is the prime example: the greatest play of all time is nothing like you would expect, containing a play-within-a-play, strange existential soliloquies, and a plot that is driven more by the verbal and intellectual energy of its characters’ speeches than by t … [Read more...]