Joaquin Phoenix

Paul Thomas Anderson is a “Master” of History

“The Master” opens on a shot of the marbled blue-white wake of a battleship, and director Paul Thomas Anderson returns to that image several times throughout the film. Soon, it becomes clear why; the image embodies the film’s subject, the muddled and mysterious history that we leave behind us, specifically the history of one sailor…

Leslie Knope city council

Did “Parks and Recreation” Peak in Season Two?

One of my favorite movies about American democracy in action is “Election,” Alexander Payne’s 1999 dark comedy on the making of a high school president. Tom Perrotta, the author of the novel on which the movie is based, has cited the 1992 presidential election as inspiration, and it makes sense. The movie follows the same…

Parks and Rec

Why “Parks and Recreation” Matters

This is an introduction to the politics of “Parks and Recreation,” and it marks the first post of “Parks and Rec” Week here at Reel Change. Check back later this week for more analysis of the show, the fifth season of which premieres this Thursday at 9:30 on NBC. My wife and I celebrated our…

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“Arbitrage” is Out of Step with the Times

Richard Gere has built a long career out of playing a very specific type of role: men who are successful and corrupted by power but with enough latent virtue to be worth rooting for (see “Pretty Woman,” “Chicago,” “Primal Fear” for examples). “Arbitrage,” the muddled new thriller from first-time writer/director Nicholas Jarecki, gets the first…

branded-trailer-ed-stoppard

“Branded” is a Terrible, Terrible Movie

I hate to criticize movies. That may seem like an odd statement coming from someone who writes a blog built on film criticism, but it stems from personal experience. I spent a few years in my mid-twenties making independent films. On one of them, I was the writer, director, editor, producer, and lead actor. In…

Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"

Fall Political Movie Preview, Part Two: Democrat

Instead of a traditional fall movie preview, I have identified four movies that will appeal to Republicans and five that will appeal to Democrats. Here are those five movies: Branded (September 7) With echoes of “The Matrix,” “Branded” paints a portrait of a dystopian society (we’ve seen a lot of those this year) in which…