Screening Room

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 46

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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.

January 23, 2014

Based on a True Story: The Fiction-Free Finalists for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar 0

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This year’s five nominees spring from material that varies widely in tone and quality. This source material is not all bad, by any stretch. But there isn’t the handiwork of an untethered imagination in the pack.

January 22, 2014

One Fixed Point: “Sherlock,” Sherlock Holmes, and the British Imagination 4

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We are not revisiting these characters and conceits because we are out of new ideas. A very old idea resonates; it comforts and entertains. In the case of Sherlock, even after all these retellings, it still manages to surprise.

October 21, 2013

Pop Lit: Literary Magazines in Film and Television 15

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What is the wider cultural influence of literary magazines? I am not sure there needs to be one.