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Monthly Archives: November 2015

“Fruitvale Station” is the Perfect Complement to “Creed”

November 30, 2015, 11:52 am

With Ryan Coogler’s Creed the unexpected critical/audience sensation of the pre-Star Wars season, people want to know more about Fruitvale Station, the only other feature film directed by Coogler. As it happens, since the day Fruitvale Station debuted, I’ve been screening it for my students in multiple college classes; this semester, Fall 2015, I screened it for four different classes. I’ve received dozens of papers, scores of required blog posts on the film. Whatever you want to know, we should have […]

Trump, like the Hulk, uses liberal anger to become stronger

November 27, 2015, 5:48 pm

What if the 2016 Presidential election becomes a referendum on political correctness? You might think we’ve already had such an election, but google would prove you wrong. It’s easy enough to scan the statements of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from 2012; “political correctness,” phrased that way, never came up. Instead, when cultural hot-button issues did arise, they were contextualized in a manner that redounded to the benefit of Barack Obama: same-sex marriage, “legitimate rape,” “birthers,” a mindless, welfare-loving “47%,” […]

Thank You, 2015

November 25, 2015, 5:06 pm

Today I give thanks to life. I’m alive. I’ve squandered many chances in life that keep me up nights with regret, but who knows if one or two of them might have led to a fatal car crash or something. Thank you, whoever you are, for keeping me alive. Besides, had I followed another path in life, I almost certainly wouldn’t have met my wife, who is the best thing that could have ever happened to a schmuck like me. […]

“Bridge of Spies” is Best Understood as “Saving Private Ryan 2”

November 23, 2015, 11:20 am

The critics missed it – read the first ten or twenty reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for proof of that – but Bridge of Spies is best understood as Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’ sequel to Saving Private Ryan. It was made and set 17 years later, but that’s only the beginning of what separates it from Hanks’ and Spielberg’s other two actor-director collaborations, Catch Me If You Can (2002) and The Terminal (2004). We can usefully see Bridge as a […]

The House That Ruth Built

November 20, 2015, 12:11 pm

This is a paper I wrote for grad school years ago. Wow, looks amateurish to me now. Anyway, I want it to live online somewhere at some point, so that place is here and that time is now. THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT Understanding the Relationship Between Sports and Electronic Media as a Way of Glimpsing the Future of Hybrid Forms of Games, New Media, and Narrative     By Daniel Smith-Rowsey April 24, 2003     INTRODUCTION   Forward-looking […]

Dar de 5 à 7

November 18, 2015, 11:34 am

One of my favorite films, which I’ve shown to many classes and written about here, is Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), or Cléo de 5 à 7, directed by Agnes Varda. The plot is pure simplicity: a young woman, Cléo, walks through the streets of Paris while awaiting results of a cancer screening. The movie’s title refers to its real-time aesthetic: throughout the film, title cards remind us of the film’s carefully constructed verisimilitude – the film starts at exactly 5:00, clocks in […]

Comparing “You’re the Worst” to the Critics’ Best

November 16, 2015, 11:04 am

I love the encomiums that You’re the Worst, which airs on FXX, has been receiving lately from places like The Atlantic, Wired, and The Hollywood Reporter. Yet I’m here to tell you that it’s not enough to simply praise the show in general terms. To fully appreciate the cleverness and originality of You’re the Worst, you have to take these lovefests a step further, and compare YTW directly to other critical darlings that examine life and love amongst young urban […]

The Best Quote Coming in 2016: “My job is to worry about the 45 percent”

November 13, 2015, 11:30 am

It’s mid-November, and the permanent political class, the K Street lobbyists, and most of the mainstream media are waiting to exhale. Like a character toward the end of a Terry McMillan novel, they are just about ready to proclaim their joy at the storm abating and passing. You can hear it in their articles, see it in their smug faces on the Sunday morning news programs: they’re very much planning to get on with their lives very soon, status quo […]

Virtually Visiting The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

November 11, 2015, 1:01 pm

A year ago marked the opening of The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. I haven’t been able to make it to the East Coast in several years, but I’m planning my first visit to this important Memorial this March, when I hope to see it adorned by, among other things, falling cherry blossom leaves. Right now, though, the website has a zippy little virtual tour that I recommend you take. Disability is at once the most alienating and most […]

“The Other Side of the Story”: 1000-word Pitch

November 9, 2015, 11:06 am

The perfect confluence of state-of-the-art technology and the current cultural push for more diverse representation, “The Other Side of the Story” is an anthology show in which each episode presents the plot of a famous movie from the perspective of one of its supporting characters. Imagine pared-to-the-essentials versions of Casablanca starring Sam the piano player, Pulp Fiction starring Mia Wallace, Gone with the Wind starring Mammy, a Lord of the Rings story starring Galadriel, and even Star Wars starring Chewbacca. […]