Renoir’s Rules Affirm Our Lenten Need for Sacrificial Love


Jean Renoir, son of the famous impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, must have been a remarkable child. Growing up in a world overshadowed by such fame and artistic ability as that wielded by his beloved father, one wonders if he ever felt driven to pursue a career outside of the arts, where he’d have a better [Read More...]

Film Noir Loves a Tell-Tale Heart


He didn’t get away with it, did he? He’ll go to the chair, as he should. A few dates are all it takes to realize that Miss Film Noir, despite her reputation as one of the most beloved and oft-studied genres in cinematic history, is one strange, frighteningly bipolar dame. The deadly molls, hard-bitten gumshoes, and rain-drenched streets popularized [Read More...]

Divorce, Granted


C. K. Dexter Haven: Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should’ve stuck to me longer. Tracy Lord: I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a full pardon. It is difficult to watch Cary Grant’s effortless cinematic grace without envy mixing with that admiration. The former acrobat, christened Archibald [Read More...]

The Road Less Traveled: Reconsidering the Easy Life


Americans love a good con man. Perhaps it is our implicit endorsement of P. T. Barnum’s well-known axiom: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Perhaps it is our begrudging appreciation for cleverness and intellectual ingenuity, no matter its object. Or perhaps it is our deep-seated respect for the chronic overachiever that has led to our [Read More...]

Trust and Doubt: Our Endless Dichotomy


A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing; Our shelter He, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing. The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke’s chilling tale of mystery and violence engulfing a small German town prior to the start of the First World War, is a drama that bears as much relevance to our modern [Read More...]

To Be Pickering in a Henry Higgins World


When George Bernard Shaw first learned of the creative licenses taken in an effort to make the ending of his play Pygmalion more marketable, he was outraged. Confronted by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s claim that “My ending makes money, you ought to be grateful,” he responded (with his trademark sharpness of wit and tongue): “Your ending is [Read More...]

Jumpstarting Grown-Up Wonder in Tarsem Singh’s “The Fall”


The Fall, a genre-defying film from the Indian-born director Tarsem Singh, perfectly encapsulates the occasionally awkward marriage between Hollywood’s independent filmmakers and their commercial counterparts. Tarsem, probably best known for his visually arresting music video to R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” has produced a mind-bending, one-of-a-kind work one could accurately describe as both a vanity project and a labor [Read More...]

Capes, Masks, and Ordinary Heroes


Few popular art forms have so perfectly encapsulated the peculiarly dual nature of the Heroic American Spirit as that of the superhero comic. On one hand stands Superman, Captain America, Thor, Wonder Woman and the like—idealized, anatomically-unlikely characters motivated by such universal principles as Truth, Justice, and The American Way. These heroes, whose perfection and [Read More...]

Death, Where Is Thy Sting?


To say that death has become an unimportant part of our cinematic vocabulary would seem like the height of absurdity. The body count from Sly Stallone’s two latest features alone could easily populate a small country, and there are few plot points so frequently used as: “unexpected death of parent/sibling/lover throws protagonist into deep, expressive [Read More...]

Bedford Falls: The Post-Clarence Years


The arrival of the holiday season can mean only one thing for classic film buffs everywhere: it is time to once again turn our attention to that most definitive and dualistic of Christmas films, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Released in 1946 amidst charges of unrealistic and excessive sentimentality, the film has become a Yuletide [Read More...]