Why You Must Read Shakespeare to Understand OITNB’s Second Season

Orange

 In its first season, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) was a show about a motley crew of women prisoners premised on the fact that these women were much more than criminals. They were mothers, wisecracks, lovers, entrepreneurs, dreamers and, most of all, friends (albeit among racial lines). It was also, on the other hand, a show about how there are “criminal” desires in all of us, even in bourgeois, educated people like Piper, the protagonist in the first season, who finds herself mal … [Read more...]

Moral Experimentation and the Tree of Life

Director Terrence Malick’s fifth feature film, The Tree of Life, is a film universal in scope; it covers the period from the beginning of time to the termination of planet Earth, and beyond.  But it is also a film about the particular: a particular boy in a particular family in a particular place.  Taken together, then, Malick’s project is to place our particularity in the context of the universal—and to try to make us understand that we can only make sense of ourselves in this context.An ess … [Read more...]

The Doomsday Machine

My wife and I did not see—and have no plans to see—R.I.P.D., The Lone Ranger, Olympus Has Fallen, and various other big budget movie offerings from 2013. However, not long ago, we sat in the comfort of our basement, which is like a home theater, and watched Noah Baumbach’s latest film, Frances Ha—a buzzed-about 2013 black-and-white American comedy-drama that had a semi-wide theatrical release beginning in May. No cars, skyscrapers, or people were destroyed in Frances Ha, but the scene in which Fr … [Read more...]

Aronofsky’s Noah

NOAH

 In the latest issue of Fare Forward, Andy Quinn argues that “meta-analysis,” our way of obsessing about the terms of a debate rather than the issues at stake, is ruining intellectual discourse (Issue 7, “Everyone’s a Critic”). I think the initial reactions to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah are a prime example. On one side, there is the predictable outrage from fundamentalists over the artistic license taken with the Bible story. On the other side, there is the equally predictable preening from … [Read more...]

Son of God

images

 There is something of a vicious cycle in the world of Christian films. Pious people want to make a movie, but lack the necessary funds and skills. Undeterred, they make a movie anyway and rely on their message to make up for the lack of polish in other areas. So, most Christian films wind up cheaply produced, amateurish, and preachy. This in turn scares off others who might have the necessary technical know-how from even considering taking part in such productions. Son of God, the … [Read more...]

Religious Experience as an Assault on Autonomy

 There's a fascinating discussion going on right now about the nature of religious experience, which was kicked off by Ross Douthat and has come to involve such diverse writers as Noah Millman and David Sessions. Douthat's initial post was about an aspect of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. One way to read Taylor is to say that people in a secular age have the same fundamental experiences as people in our religious past and simply interpret them differently. We experience the same realit … [Read more...]

Her

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 The remarkable thing about Spike Jonze’s recent movie Her are the many questions it manages to raise and then completely ignore. Perhaps it would be incorrect to call these plot holes. It’s more like Jonze and the characters he has created are simply oblivious to the intellectual and ethical challenges the plot poses but fails to address.For those who haven’t seen it, the movie is set in the relatively near future and follows the story of Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a recently divor … [Read more...]


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