What’s next?

You might have noticed this blog basically doesn’t exist anymore. When I started it five years ago, I was posting two or three times a week. Then I started getting published elsewhere, and my original posts here began to dwindle. These days, it is a repository for reviews no one has paid me to write…

Kindly Stop for “A Quiet Passion”

A Quiet Passion is a chilly, detached affair, just as Emily Dickinson would have preferred it. The first biopic of Dickinson, one of the greatest American artists, is not particularly interested in her playfully haunting poetry. We get snippets of it here and there, but this isn’t one of those biopics in which the subject’s wretched…

“Logan” is a Spaghetti Western for our Time

In the 1960s and 1970s, Americans flocked to spaghetti westerns like The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly and The Outlaw Josey Wales . These films subverted the morality of classical westerns by depicting vicious worlds that went without heroes. Compared to their predecessors in the genre, they were far more violent, with an amorality…

More Intelligence Needed in “Snowden”

Edward Snowden is director Oliver Stone’s kind of hero: a zealous patriot who becomes disillusioned about his beloved country, publicly criticizes it, is labeled a traitor, and eventually learns a more complex definition of what it means to be patriotic. Stone has been down this road before – with the young Vietnam-era soldiers of Platoon and Born…

The Subversive Optimism of “The BFG”

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains a discussion of the plot and ending of “The BFG.” Consider yourself warned. For ninety minutes, The BFG is one of the most intimate, apolitical movies Steven Spielberg has ever made. Despite his reputation as a popcorn auteur, Spielberg’s work has always carried at least a hint of politics, even…

A Dark Story Brought to Light in “The Innocents”

In the early decades of cinema, Catholics called the shots in Hollywood. All films were submitted to the Catholic Legion of Decency for approval, and, if they didn’t meet the agency’s standards of morality, there would be a boycott, and 20 million American Catholics would stay home. We’ve come a long way since then. In…