Screening Room

October 20, 2014

One Long Country Song: What Friday Night Lights Taught Me About Storytelling 3

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I watched Friday Night Lights in real time, as it aired. I wonder if it would have been as much of an influence if I had “binged-watched” all five seasons back-to-back in one or two months’ time. Instead, the show stretched out over the course of five years, 2006-2011, which for me were years when I had to throw out most of the fiction I wrote.

October 3, 2014

Please, Oh Please: On Madam Secretary and the Ladies of TV     6

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I want my Secretary of State to be clear that, for as long as her job description includes tending to ISIS, then tending to ISIS is more important than the PTA.

September 25, 2014

A Comic Feast: Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Italy 0

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Beneath the laughs, of which there are many, The Trip to Italy is an anxious comedy supremely anxious about comedy itself.

July 22, 2014

John Waters’s America 1

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In the back of his mind, Mark Twain probably imagined a dogshit-eating transvestite, but couldn’t find a place for him in Huckleberry Finn.

May 29, 2014

If No One Sees It, Is it Still Art? On Finding Vivian Maier 9

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The documentary Finding Vivian Maier recently joined the burgeoning conversation about its titular subject, a reclusive Chicago nanny whose collection of street photography was discovered at a storage auction shortly before her death in the form of thousands of undeveloped rolls of film.

April 25, 2014

Darren’s Ark: On Noah 0

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On the second day, I attended a Seder, with 14 pounds of beef brisket. On the fifth day, I saw Noah, with Russell Crowe looking like 14 pounds of brisket in a distressed denim bag.

March 31, 2014

Digging Beneath the Cliché of Ruin Porn in Detroit 1

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Only a true Pollyanna would try to minimize Detroit’s staggering problems. But buying into the dreary old ruin-porn narrative is, in its way, as myopic as rosy optimism.

March 17, 2014

We Cast The Goldfinch Movie so Hollywood Doesn’t Have To 48

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We hereby submit our ideas for the Goldfinch cast. The process reveals the bizarre extent to which I think I understand the Hollywood casting processes, which starlets we think play trashy the best, and how it might be worth it to turn the cast on its head to let Michael B. Jordan play Theo.

February 20, 2014

America Always Gets the RoboCop It Deserves 6

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Even as the RoboCop movies have declined in quality, they have served as ever-sharper reflections of what’s going on in the culture at large.

February 19, 2014

Bound and (Un)gagged: Why Orange Is the New Black Appeals to Us Outside 2

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Like much current prison literature, Orange is the New Black seeks strenuously – and tellingly – to reaffirm the triumph of the human spirit. Rather than dwell on her misfortune or become too accustomed to prison life, Piper Kerman stages a protest, Oprah-style: no one can keep her down.