January 24, 2023

Like many of the films we discuss here, Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, Minority Report, makes some overt references to religion and spirituality. There’s an early conversation where John’s coworkers speculate on the deific nature of the precognitives, whose prophetic abilities allow them to stop murders before they happen: “The way we work, changing destiny and all, we’re more like clergy than cops.” This makes our protagonist, John Anderton, uncomfortable, and he shuts the conversation down. What happens when technology effectively... Read more

January 17, 2023

I enjoy a wide variety of films, but there are a select few that genuinely altered the way I interact with the medium. After my first viewing of Fred Zinneman’s 1953 Best Picture winning film, From Here to Eternity, I remembered having the unique experience of feeling deep emotion but recognizing that I lacked the vocabulary to accurately describe why. This was no doubt one of the many compounding factors that compelled me to begin my formal academic study of... Read more

January 10, 2023

As a film enthusiast, there’s a little game I like to play called “which movies really hit different after spending a year in quarantine?” Among the frequent contenders is a relatively forgotten star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt called Passengers from 2016. The story is set on an interstellar cruise ship–the Starship Avalon–carrying 5,000 passengers from Earth to a new planet. The voyage takes 120 years, and so everyone on board is kept in suspended hibernation for the... Read more

January 3, 2023

There are a lot of things about Martin Brest’s 1992 film, Scent of a Woman, that fascinate me. For one thing, it clocks in at over 2 and a half hours. Where most movies that reach that runtime are some kind of action-adventure epic, this movie is carried almost exclusively by a single relationship, that of mild-mannered 17 year-old Charlie Simms and Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, the cantankerous, blind war veteran Charlie is tasked with watching over Thanksgiving weekend. Charlie... Read more

December 27, 2022

The prospect of immortality, eternal life, or some kind of existence beyond mortal life can be found in most religions. Some variation of the concept is generally promised as a reward for faithful adherents. Everyone wants to live forever, but none of us can really comprehend what that means in practice. And yet, it’s useful to examine the concept from a metaphorical perspective. And I want to do so through the lens of Pixar’s Toy Story 2. All of the... Read more

December 20, 2022

I try to avoid controversial matters when I can on this site, including the question of when it is appropriate to start listening to Christmas music. But I will say that on my calendar, Christmas starts whenever I finally give Michael Curtiz’ 1954 musical, White Christmas, its seasonal viewing. I classify this as my favorite Christmas movie (I refuse to peg It’s a Wonderful Life down as such) and as one of my favorite classical musicals. The drama is rich... Read more

November 29, 2022

  I’m not really a winter person, which makes the coming months something of an ordeal for me. I tend to cope by immersing myself in summer-themed films, and the film that probably best embodies this is (well, probably Jaws, but a close second would be) Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s The Way, Way Back. The story sees Duncan, an insecure teenager, vacationing with his mom for the summer with her boyfriend, Trent, at his beach house. Even though he’s the... Read more

November 15, 2022

A few weeks back when I talked about Scream, I mentioned that self-aware movies are generally a harder sell for me. I acknowledged Scream was a rare exception, but I also casually mentioned Disney’s 2007 pastiche fairy-tale, Enchanted, without clarifying that said film definitely falls into the category of “meta” done responsibly. And as the long-awaited sequel hits streaming this week, I guess now is as good a time as any to reflect on why Enchanted is so aptly named.... Read more

October 29, 2022

It’s a miracle that a movie like Scream ever landed on my list of favorite movies. It’s not only a horror film (I’m more of a musical guy myself), it’s also a self-aware horror film. Scream belongs to a special class of film that overtly comments on the genre to which it belongs. (Scream is to slasher films what Enchanted is to Disney fairy tales.) These movies aren’t impossible to do well, but more often than not, their incessant winking at... Read more

October 6, 2022

I remember an experience I had in 9th grade P.E. This was the rare class I had with my best friend since kindergarten. But as fate would have it, this was also a class I shared with a longtime tormentor, the kind of person who’s always there when you drop your books in the hall and never misses the chance to announce it to the world, or the kind that always has special nicknames for you and the life-sustaining but... Read more

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