Screening Room

February 24, 2012

Source Material: Breaking Down the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay 14


If the publishing industry really does collapse, as some predict it will, it won’t be the big houses or the independent bookstores that will be most affected, it will be Hollywood. This year’s crop of Oscar contenders begs the question “Can there be a cinema without books?”

January 20, 2012

The Literary Pedigree of Downton Abbey 9


The current PBS Masterpiece series mashes the “class” buttons hard, in both the literary and the economic senses. But its relationship with the English novel is more complicated than it might appear.

November 16, 2011

Monster Mashups: The Recurring Horror of Mary Poppins 3


The monsters are always among us, because no matter how tightly we shore up the windows and nail shut the doors, we always create some new cracks through which they can come.

September 30, 2011

The Joys and Compromises of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball 2


Take whatever it is that’s important to you – knitting, perhaps, or mountain biking – and then imagine waiting for a feature film about it. Would you be excited or nervous? Or would you simply be dreading how Hollywood would manage to fuck up your passion?

September 21, 2011

A Documentary for Our Times: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 8


As the divisions of class and race continue to harden and widen in this country, I say we could use more leaders like Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis, with their beautiful, hard-earned fury.

September 8, 2011

Star Wars, Apatow, and the Death of Classic Comedy 2


Judd Apatow and friends, with their hyper-familiar brand of hairy-assed humor, have issued a crushing blow to the suspension of disbelief — and made the gap between old comedy and new unbridgeable.

August 16, 2011

Films You Haven’t Seen Yet…The Sequel! 7


You might think that Real Steel 2 is an exception. You might think that, even by the standards of Hollywood conservatism gone mad, work on Real Steel 2 is a damning, individual act of hubris. But it’s far from the only example.

August 3, 2011

Ecstatic Truth: Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams 6


You don’t have to question Herzog’s honesty in watching his films, though you might start to question his sanity.

July 26, 2011

Friday Night Fumble: When Mediocre TV Masquerades as High Art 44


Friday Night Lights is bad television. And if it is art, then it is art that is purposefully misleading, which is art of the worst kind. Something is truly rotten in the state of Texas.

July 8, 2011

Eye of the Beholder: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life 23


Critical reaction to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life has been decidedly garrulous.  A vast majority of reviewers have invoked some kind of “higher” culture to signify the elusive mood or feeling it evokes.