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...]

“Bicycle Thieves” and the Victory of Our Fragility


For a father, there are few moments filled with more deeply conflicting emotions than when he holds his newborn child for the first time. To that tiny little infant, mewing and squirming in his arms, he is the ultimate, a godlike power. In the coming years, this child will trust him absolutely, love him unreservedly, [Read More...]

Seeing All the Colors of Paradise


This review discusses a number of SPOILERS. Proceed with caution. “…out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.” – Isaiah 29:18 From time to time, a film will end in a way so unexpected and so significant that it profoundly influences its audience’s reaction to everything that has come before. In most [Read More...]

Paved-Over Grace Along “The Road to Perdition”


The artistic gulf between cinematic works and literary ones is so vast, I sometimes marvel that anyone is courageous enough to attempt to marry the two. Aside from the occasionally successful (if often bland) A&E or BBC miniseries, cinematic adaptations are forced by time constraints to simplify so drastically that there is little chance of [Read More...]

Searching Amidst the Bread and Circuses


There are few writers who have written so clearly or so well about the art of cinematic interpretation as has that charmingly blunt hillbilly Thomist, Flannery O’Connor. It might seem counter-intuitive to search for insights on understanding film among the essays and lectures of a fiction writer — and a short-story writer, at that. But [Read More...]