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All Spectacle and No Story Makes “Jack” a Dull Film

From the studio that last year brought you Dark Shadows, Snow White and the Huntsman and other monstrosities comes Jack the Giant Slayer, another effects-driven behemoth that buries its human elements beneath the shiny stuff that kids like. The film was marketed as an “adult” take at the Jack and the Beanstalk legend. If that’s…

Ang Lee Oscars

What Congress Could Learn from “Life of Pi”

At various points in the run-up to the 85th Oscars on Sunday night, nearly every nominee for Best Picture found cause to associate itself with President Obama or Congress. For some films, like Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln, it was a natural fit. Others had to try a little harder. Beasts of the Southern…

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Did Obama Rig the Oscars?

Conspiracy theorists, start your engines. When early front-runner Zero Dark Thirty won but one Oscar on Sunday night, it marked quite a fall from grace. For most of awards season, it was the prohibitive favorite for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and most of the technical awards. Of course, we all know what happened.…

Beasts

What Liberal Critics of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Get Wrong

Earlier this week, The New Republic published a scathing and moralistic piece by Thomas Hackett about the Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild. While he begrudgingly praises the film’s “excitement for the surprising places artful imagery and editing can take us,” he ends up making the rather inflammatory claim that the film is “patronizing and…

Val Kilmer

Why the Homoeroticism in “Top Gun” Matters

When I told my friends I was going to see Top Gun during its brief 3D theatrical re-release (which ends this week), nobody was particularly impressed. When I mentioned that I had never seen it before, their eyes widened, and each put forth some variation of the same question: “How is that possible?” The film…