Friday, August 29, 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Hindsight is an attribute that can diminish the value of films that once walked the fine line of visceral envelope-pushing, but to possess it also allows for deeper observations. Consider John Boorman’s “Deliverance” as a noteworthy example; released in 1972 well before the full disclosure mentality of filmmakers drove the underlying current of popular cinema, it was once considered the most explicit mainstream drama of its kind. Just as audiences were taken aback by the implication of simple characters stumbling into frightening realities, a good portion of viewers were greatly unnerved by another key suggestion: that the back corners of the American south could also be hotbeds for cruel and disturbing behaviors. These ideas informed an entire way of thinking that would become the running joke of southerners throughout popular culture, ultimately inspiring the likes of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” – that is, movies where the underbelly of horror was often localized in wooded areas populated by inbred villains. Four decades have passed since that approach left an imprint, and nowadays the ideas are commonplace and tired, and often without artistic foundation. To see them at the source, in a movie far removed from the desensitized nature of modern violence, is like staring back at a relic. And yet despite such facts Boorman’s film still speaks to us in profound ways, as if to indicate hidden wisdom has long rested in frames glossed up by a once-shocking philosophy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
“It is a masterful exploration of the rich and fascinating world of Elizabethan England; the story of the Virgin Queen, the court’s rude luxury, and the atmospheric tones of life behind the castle walls scramble off the screen like deep hidden secrets of the past just waiting to be revealed.” – taken from the original Cinemaphile review of “Elizabeth”
In a key moment of dreamy perfection, a scarred monarch stares back at her reflection in the mirror and announces, unequivocally, that she has “become a virgin.” What is she suggesting? To understand the implication, one must comprehend the veracity of her journey up to that one moment. In 16th century England, political unrest has paved the way for violent religious persecution, and a Catholic rule is threatened when its current queen, Mary Tudor, becomes terminally ill before producing an heir. All thoughts of the crown falling to her sister Elizabeth, a Protestant, inspire proclamations of damnation, and her almost childlike naivety serves to create an emotional current that amplifies the exploits of her devout enemies. But scrawled across this face of intense consideration is the soul of a woman bound to unwavering endurance, and as her command over the country is tested by quiet betrayals occurring all around her, she comes to see this moment – this one revelation – as the only means of rising above a difficult world of violence and suffering. That she has to discover the necessity of this impulse out of terrible heartbreak (and murderous plots) is as sobering as it is tragic.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Reminders of our mortality usually arrive in cruel increments. Today, a collective sweep of grief underscores that notion as we are hearing news of Robin Williams, who at age 63 was found dead this morning in his California home of mysterious causes. Specifics regarding his untimely demise are ongoing, but there is one thing that will persevere as a certainty in the wake of this reality: Williams was more than just a good actor and comedian, he was also a man whose endeavors were delivered with such consistent zeal that it garnered him millions of enthusiastic fans. While most applauded his comedic ability – namely, his penchant for embodying characters of endless quirk, and his knack for skillful improv – it is his endeavors in a slew of thoughtful dramas that resonate in this moment, and seem to emerge as the first thing on our minds as we reflect on his remarkable career.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Sixteen years later, I sit at a desk in contemplation of milestones. What are the odds that the first proof copy of my first volume of articles would show up in the mail on the very anniversary date that my first review went live on the Internet? Who could have guessed that it would reach my hands in the same week that I finished writing my 700th full length film review, which has already broken a long list of traffic records? Fate and coincidence seem to be interchangeable words when projected into windows of perspective, but in these travels there exists an urgency to reflect. Because the world is barreling past us in a sweep of maddening velocity, moments to pause are a rarity. But they must be done, especially if we are to understand anything about ourselves beyond surface intrigue.