The Avett Brothers are an emotional band – but they are neither saccharine nor maudlin. They do not write songs to feign sentimentality or play at the role of troubadour. They are emotional in the sense of confession, in the sense of honesty, in the sense of moral duty – if not for the ones they love then at least for themselves. They are deeply personal without being obscure or confessional while remaining ever universal. In directors Michael Bonfiglio and… Read more

You know you’ve got a problem, if you’re a university, when people lose track of the sports scandals plaguing your institution. The new documentary, Disgraced (directed by Pat Kondelis) traces the 2003 death of Baylor basketball player Pat Dennehey and the ensuing attempts by head coach Dave Bliss and members of the University to cover it up. In the process, it sheds light on the corruption of much of college athletics, the hypocrisy of Christian institutions like Baylor, and the ways… Read more

Ovidie is a French feminist filmmaker icon, who began her career in the world of adult film. Like so many other industries in our global capitalist world, it has been overtaken by one multinational corporation, created by a computer programmer that now controls a great majority of all videos (nearly all of which stream online for free). (more…) Read more

Walk With Me, the documentary with unprecedented access to Thich Nhat Hanh and his Zen Buddhist community in France, premiered at SXSW yesterday. It recalls another great religious documentary, Into Great Silence, about Carthusian monks in France. Both are quiet and meditative and give credence to the concept of film-watching as spiritual practice. (more…) Read more

One of the ideas I’ve been exploring recently in my teaching and scholarship is “canonicity”—what it is about a particular set of books, stories, films, or other works of art that makes them holy or set apart from others. Included in the holy writ for the LGBTQ community is Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. A nine-book story arc of multiple characters in San Francisco from the mid-1970’s to 2014, the books have become history, prophecy, and right of… Read more

Premiering at SXSW, G-Funk is a documentary chronicling the creation of the West Coast hip-hop style known for its smooth melodies, heavy bass, and party vibes. Told from the perspective of the genre’s innovators, including film co-writer and rap legend Warren G, it is an intimate look into the creation of a style that captivated the whole country and defined a decade. I got the chance to meet with Warren G and director Karam Gill to talk about the film… Read more

Docudrama in the most pure and challenging sense of the word, Mark Webber’s Flesh and Blood is one of the standout films at SXSW this year. Blending family members with actors and real experiences with scripted events, Webber turns his attention to broken families and communities, made especially more vulnerable with events of the last few months. (more…) Read more

Atomic Blonde has all the action and brilliant fight choreography of the John Wick series but with a stronger story and more compelling heroine. It’ll likely be one of the biggest hits of the summer. Not since Kill Bill has a female lead kicked so much ass, and Charlize Theron is completely believable in the lead role. (more…) Read more

Lucy (Olivia Applegate) and her best friend Annie (Katie Folger) are set for the…best…night…ever. It’s prom night, they look great, and, Lucy at least, has a hot date. Prom quickly falls apart. Lucy’s date gets hammered and Annie’s keeps trying to hook her up with random guys. They leave prom alone and frustrated. This is where the familiarity of writer/director Karen Sloss’ thriller, The Honor Farm, wears off and the craziness begins. (more…) Read more

Lucky’s titular character is the perfect vehicle for Harry Dean Stanton, giving him ample opportunity to gruffly philosophize through the proceedings. The film boasts a great supporting cast, which includes David Lynch, Ed Begley Jr., Beth Grant, and Tom Skerritt. (more…) Read more

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