The Unimpeachable Testimony of Dr. John Watson


As someone who spent countless hours with his adolescent nose buried in the pages of The Complete Illustrated Strand Sherlock Holmes (Facsimile Edition), there are few activities that give me more pleasure than comparing, contrasting, and critiquing the many cinematic faces of The World’s Most Portrayed Literary Human. Interpreted by more than seventy-five separate actors, Conan Doyle’s legendary [Read More...]

“Seven Chances” and Answered Prayers Unrecognized


A quick scan of the Lens’ archives reveals my propensity for darker cinematic fare. Nervous friends regularly ask me how I can bear to watch so many sad films. The answer, I tell them, is that I am not sad. They maintain an understandable skepticism. Therefore, in stark contrast with my usual, I blithely pronounce this week’s [Read More...]

Embracing Martha While Pining for Mary: Win-Win?


Life in a household of six boys often feels relentlessly jumbled and overwhelming. The wall of sound that greets me on my return home each day; the coughing, congestion and continual runny noses; the endless cycle of feeding, cleaning, and caring for this beloved brood of mine—my wife and I find ourselves willing-yet-worn-thin on the [Read More...]

A Cinematic Refuge for the Valentine-Averse


Well, here we go again. After a year of relative safety, we have arrived once more at Valentine’s Day, that most awkward of holidays, straddling the line twixt Twitterpation and Crass Consumerism. The day crabby old-timers love to hate; the day unromantic types hate because they are expected to love it so much; and the one shining [Read More...]

Shadow-Warriors No More


Above all,” the self-help gurus say, “you must be comfortable in your own skin.” We all know what the confident folk look like; they’re the ones that draw your attention the moment they walk into a room; the self-assured, dynamic ones—the people that make me just a teensy, weensy bit envious; they have achieved a [Read More...]

Losing for the Sake of Winning


Sorry that you feel that way The only thing there is to say Every silver lining’s got a Touch of grey. There are few things in life that bring home the value of a good cliché as quickly as becoming a new parent. A few short months as a father were all it took for [Read More...]

Self-Sacrifice in Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”


Hayao Miyazaki is a rare and indispensible artist. In a creative industry that flits happily between the brutal demythification and saccharine sentimentalization of childhood, his ability to capture the innocence, exuberance, and boundless imagination of youth is unusual. Watching My Neighbor Totoro, Laputa, or Ponyo with an audience of youngsters is a marvelous experience; their rapt expressions and delighted laughter [Read More...]

Elmer Gantry and the Cult of Personality


“I have passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.” We Americans are obsessed with celebrity. We expend vast amounts of time, energy and money in the obsessive study of our heroes; we live vicariously through the paparazzi-plagued existences of those more “fortunate” than ourselves. So it comes as [Read More...]

No Sunrises Without Sunsets


I hate to see this evening sun go down. Lord, I hate to see this evening sun go down. ’cause it makes me think I’m on my last go ’round. Few things are more enjoyable than watching a legendary actor, nearing the end of a long and illustrious career, who finds the passion and the [Read More...]

The Illusion of Self-Sufficiency


Reinventing a cinematic icon is a daunting task. Ask George Lucas, who has been struggling to rehabilitate one of the silver screen’s greatest villains for over thirty years. Or ask Stan Lee, whose Marvel characters are subjected to ill-conceived “reboots” on a nearly annual basis. Just don’t ask Sylvain Chomet, the insane genius behind The Triplets [Read More...]