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“Blue Ruin” is a Thrilling Comment on Movie Violence

Whenever movie mayhem comes under attack from concerned citizens – as it did after the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 – filmmakers often justify their work by claiming that their depictions of violence are not endorsements. It’s hard to take that seriously, especially because they usually make gun play look so cool and leave out…

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How “Divergent” Co-opts the Revolution

The floodgates have now officially opened. The success of Divergent, a Hunger Games knock-off that grossed $54 million in its opening weekend, ensures that we’ll see many more of its kind in the coming years. In fact, we won’t have to wait that long. Later in 2014, The Maze Runner and The Giver will follow…

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“Veronica Mars” Plays to its Base

Well, the inevitable has finally occurred: Television and cinema have merged. For years, the line between the two was blurred mostly by the onscreen talent. TV stars have always been trying to make the jump to film; it’s only recently that the talent has begun to flow in the other direction (see True Detective for…

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When Spike Lee Talks, We Should Listen

Remember Spike Lee? The acclaimed filmmaker was once considered the preeminent film chronicler of the American black experience, but his career has taken a bizarre turn for the worse in recent years. I addressed this issue in depth in my 2012 post, How Obama Killed Spike Lee’s Career, but since then, things have only gotten…

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“12 Years a Slave” Will Be Taught in Schools

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably don’t need to be convinced that the movies are important. That’s the idea underlying all of our discussions here: that films and other forms of pop culture play a vital role in our society by both reflecting and affecting political, cultural, and social change.…