Film & TV

Given the long tradition of montage between major national and local sites of cine-production, is there any contemporary film not inflected by global and indeed planetary flows, trends, emergences, and catastrophes? Can the televisual role in mediating contemporary culture be overestimated?


Illusions perdues, 2019: “Dolce Fine Giornata” by Jacek Borcuch

No sooner does “Dolce Fine Giornata” plant you in an utterly rich, tawny Tuscan landscape than you realize that you’ve been here before—many times. Throughout its duration, the film’s landscape remains the […]

Feb, 04

Imaginary Resilience: Christian Petzold’s “Transit”

Christian Petzold’s current “Transit” is a stunning recreation of what the World War II refugee scene must have been like, particularly as, one by one, the “lines of flight” out of precarious […]

Mar, 27

Lee Chang Dong’s “Barn Burning” (2018): Adaptation in Full Torque

Lee Chang Dong’s masterpiece, “Burning” (2018), currently winding its way along the screens of art cinema, is a guided tour through the contemporary Korean economy and its cultural surround. All the more […]

Dec, 03

How We Look: #MeToo at the Movies, 2

The premise of Claire Denis’s recent “Let the Sunshine In” (Un beau soleil intérieur) may be a bit unconventional; but then in 2018, it is not the least bit difficult to entertain […]

Oct, 16

#Me Too at the Movies: Précis

And no more turn aside and brood Upon love’s bitter mystery William Butler Yeats One of the surprising, but in the end most consequential casualties of the #MeToo movement may well be […]

Sep, 25

Remembrance of Things Past

The Jewish writer Edmond Amran El Maleh, also known in some academic circles in America as the James Joyce of Morocco, once wrote a novel with the symbolic title: Mille ans, un […]

Aug, 28

Norbert’s Nightmares: On Zombie Wars, with a Nod to Cybernetics

There is no homeostasis whatsoever. We are in the business of cycles of booms and failure, in the successions of dictatorship and revolution, in wars which everyone loses, which are so real […]

Aug, 15

The Veil and the Jasmine Revolution

On a visit to New Orleans in 2012, I was amused to see on the restaurant menu of the hotel where I was staying, the name of a famous pastry called “Millefeuille.” […]

Apr, 15

Algeria’s New Normal

Rare are Algerian filmmakers who have made it to the world stage without the issue of anti-colonial struggle as a background to their movie. Among this clique the names of novelist Assia […]

Feb, 18

News from Home: Remembering Chantal Akerman

As a recent but devoted convert to her work, the news that filmmaker Chantal Akerman had died by her own hand hit me with an unexpected force, triggering a recognition that I […]

Jan, 25

“Son of Saul”: Holocaust 2015

With the inconceivable role played by the German concentration camp Sonderkommando as its premise, this current feature, winner of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’or, leads us squarely into the contemporary […]

Jan, 19

“Much Loved”: Souk of Pornography

Nabil Ayouch’s latest film, Much Loved (Zine Liffik 2015), is like no other movie the Arab world has ever seen. A semi-pornographic account of the lives of three prostitutes in the city […]

Jan, 08

Jafar Panahi’s “Taxi”: Journey to the End of a Regime

Jafar Panahi’s current “Taxi” begins and ends with exquisitely composed still-shots. The first is a street-scene in contemporary Teheran. This is a thoroughly up-to-date, bustling city. We face a busy intersection. There […]

Dec, 01

Precarity, Bulgarian Style: Grozeva & Valchanov’s “The Lesson” (“Urok”–2014)

It’s completely in keeping with her character that Nadezhde Daskalova (Margita Gosheva) responds to a wanton act of petty thievery in her middle-school English class with repugnance and moral outrage. She is […]

Nov, 17

The Fragility of Celebrity: “The Muppets” (ABC, 2015-)

The Muppets, ABC’s recent attempt to bring Jim Henson’s beloved puppets back to prime time, has been greeted by a surprising amount of critical hostility. Atlantic Magazine asks whether “audiences really want […]

Oct, 09

Unpacking my Kindle™

The packaging is unassuming—a low black box with a single beveled facet. But the promise encoded in the tablet inside is prodigious! Up to 1100 books stored and on demand in the […]

Jul, 30

Aleksei Balabanov, “The Castle” (1994): MacKay/Sussman Double-Feature

The Castle (Zamok, 1994) Cast Nikolai Stotsky – K., the surveyor Svetlana Pismichenko – Frieda (dubbed by Anzhelika Nevolina) Viktor Sukhorukov – Surveyor’s assistant Anvar Libabov – Surveyor’s assistant Igor Shibanov – […]

Apr, 15

The Televisionary Absolute: Thirteen Theses on “American Horror Story” (FX Network, 2011-)

The horror genre tends to the generic: whereas tragic fear depends on, and ultimately reaffirms, a developed sense of self (of status and social position, autonomy, humanity), horror is generic through and […]

Feb, 25

On American Sniper: Some Preliminary Notes

  As everyone knows, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper (2015) is, as of this writing (January 24, 2015: just over three years since the Iraq War officially ended, about two years since the shooting […]

Jan, 28

The Cinema of Deliberation: Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep”

Like all great works of cinema, the current feature, “Winter Sleep,” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (screenplay with Ebru Ceylan), is both an open sesame to a very local ecology, Cappadocio, that through […]

Jan, 18

Antigone in Post-War Poland

“Ida” is an odd amalgam. Set in 1962, it brings together two female characters who could not be more incongruous as they negotiate a somber Polish landscape in their common effort to […]

Jul, 01

“La Grande Bellezza”: “. . . a tattered life”

“La Grande Bellezza,” a current first-run Roman extravaganza by Paolo Sorrentino, is beautifully filmed, assembled, paced and choreographed. A loose narrative and rhizome of characters centering on journalist and high-society icon Jep […]

Jan, 01


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