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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    Existentialism and Moral Relativity as an Artistic Crutch

    Judging by volume, it seems easier to write morally ambiguous screenplays. Such screenplays also seem to benefit from the default of events being meaningless or random in a meaningless or random existence (e.g., Tony Soprano’s series-ending "dirt nap"), while works regarding morality as objective, ala Breaking Bad, must convincingly explain actions and repercussions without the easy shrug of "stuff happens." If we set the Way Way Back Machine to say, a century ago, the bar of acceptance for atheistic works was high, but today, its bar for justification seems awfully low. Whaddya think about that, my friend?

    • I approve. Ambiguousness can be done well, but I have seen few authors and especially screenwriters pull it off. Moral relativity gives the appearance of freedom, but I think artistically, it actually boxes people in because they have to be careful not to make definitive statements about what's right and wrong, or why they think so. I'm not saying everything has to be squeaky clean--Lord knows that would be boring--but I'd definitely like to see less relativism.I think sometimes filmmakers, screenwriters, what have you, get caught in the trap of relativism vs. a *specific worldview*. That is, some people feel if a work does not appear to support a certain worldview, it has to be completely relative or it doesn't work. Judeo-Christian works, especially films, are particularly guilty. A happy medium is desperately needed. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
    Taken by JulieCMillay (PM) 2 months ago.

    Gene Wilder's Legacy

    On August 29, 2016, Gene Wilder passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Whether playing Dr. Frankenstein in "Young Frankenstein," or Willie Wonka in "Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," Wilder’s whimsical, gentle spirit drew smiles from people of all ages. Which performances are Wilder’s finest? What makes his contribution to film especially memorable? In general, what is Gene Wilder’s legacy?


      Aging in Cinema

      Which movie or movies show(s) the most realistic human aging? What makes the portrayal of the aging process especially realistic or effective? Besides physical changes, what psychological, mental, or spiritual changes are shown in the film(s)? What, if any, abilities lost with youth are most dearly missed?

      • The first film that came to mind after reading this topic was Mr. Holmes starring Ian McKellen. It does a fantastic job showing how someone like Sherlock Holmes, famous for his sharp intellect, also must eventually deal with the challenges of old age, specifically memory loss. – KennethC 8 months ago
      • Interesting topic. Some films that come to mind: Burn After Reading (the Coen brothers' ode to aging), Up (an all around perfect film, that forces its audience - comprised predominantly of children - to confront mortality in its first fifteen minutes), While We're Young (a heartwarming indie flick about middle age), and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (not exactly "realistic" per se, but examines the subject well and seriously drives home the point of "youth is wasted on the young"). – ProtoCanon 8 months ago
      • Kenneth, your comment makes me think of Flowers for Algernon where the intellectual drop-off for a genius is sharper than for an average person. I know that's a special case, but wonder if it's generally true.ProtoCanon, I saw that someone had written either an article or a topic regarding unusual aging (I think), and it included Benjamin Button, Eric Roth's Forrest Gump part two, in my opinion.I also love Up.If you like music, Bob Dylan's "Highlands" - an ode to longing for youth - will steal 16 minutes of your brief life in what seems like five. It'll also bring a whole new meaning to hard-boiled eggs and an artist's pencil. – Tigey 8 months ago
      • Perhaps I'm biased because I've been thinking of this film A LOT lately, but I'm fascinated with the representation of age and mental health portrayed in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Obviously, this film is quite dramatic given it's both a psychological thriller and from the 60's, however, its dedication to representing the damaging effects of untreated mental illness is inspired. Both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were in their 50's at the time, and neither was cinched, glamorized, or portrayed too empathetically; indeed, both of them were, through makeup and wardrobe, pushed to their frumpiest.Although I'm sure Simone de Beauvior would have something to say about the connection of age and madness or age and disgust (a la her book, "The Coming of Age"), the film pulls no stops examining how haggard these sisters have become after exceptionally rough lives, both due to the unfairness of their childhood and their choices as adults. – Kitty Davies 7 months ago
      • Kitty, that's a whole new angle on the topic: dysfunctional child is father to the dysfunctional man and how that accelerates aging. Our choices live past our deaths through our survivors. It's easy for me to blame ancestors for the poor choices I make today, but not easy to determine how much of my stuff is really their stuff, and how much is my own lack of character. It's important to choose the right parents. – Tigey 7 months ago

      Who's Your Daddy: Great Thespian Families

      This topic is about families of actors, and directors, not movies about fictional or real families. Besides the long line of Barrymores, who are drama’s greatest families? The Bridges? Kirk Douglass, his son, Michael Douglas, and his sons? Blythe Danner and daughter, Gwynneth Paltrow? John Carradine and sons, Richard and Keith?

      Who are they? What makes them great? Is their dramatic influence expected to continue? By which younger family members? In acting or directing?

      Relatively speaking, this could be a mother of a topic.

      • Donald and Kiefer Sutherland are also father/son acting legends. The two recently starred in a father/son role together in a western called "Forsaken". – ZBetts 7 months ago

      Top Ten Beautiful Voices in Cinema

      AMC.com’s "The All-Time Top 100 Voices in the Movies" list begs for debate. It’s top ten is below. These are not the rubber-voiced talents of a Mel Blanc or Seth McFarlane whose faces don’t appear on screen. Nor are they the distinctive but (to many) annoying – pipes of a Melanie Griffith, Gilbert Gottfried, Rosie Perez, or Bobcat Goldthwaite. These are the actresses or actors whose dulcet voices are as memorable as any other part of their skill set.

      What is it about their voices that sets them apart? Which cinematic performance is their most interesting and distinctive? Who would you add – say Valeria Golino, Ossie Davis (my favorite male voice), Gene Hackman, Marion Cotillard, or Bryan Cranston? – to the list? Who would you drop, if anyone, from the list? And, finally, what makes the voice of someone such as Holly Hunter (my favorite female voice) so attractive, while another’s voice misses the mark?

      AMC.com’s "Top Ten Voices" list:

      10. Peter Sellers
      9. Holly Hunter
      8. John Wayne
      7. Al Pacino
      6. Marilyn Monroe
      5. Jack Nicholson
      4. James Earl Jones
      3. Christopher Walken
      2. Orson Welles
      1. Clint Eastwood

      • I think the Marilyn Monroe should have been the fourth instead of James Earl Jones just because I find her more passionating. – mmq2 8 months ago
      • What about Morgan Freeman -I adore his perfect tone and enunciation – ZBetts 7 months ago

      Labor Unions in the Movies

      In about 45 days (about the time it takes to write an article for this site), on October 15, it will be the 102nd anniversary of the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, which laborer leader Samuel Gompers called “labor’s charter of freedom,” exempting unions from anti-trust laws. It also legalized boycotts, pickets, and strikes. It also banned the monopolizing practice of price-setting.

      Below is Time Magazine’s list of Top Ten Labor Union Movies

      How Green Was My Valley, 1941
      Native Land, 1942
      On the Waterfront, 1954
      The Pajama Game, 1957
      I’m All Right Jack, 1959
      The Organizer, 1963
      Harlan County, U.S.A., 1976
      Norma Rae, 1979
      Matewan, 1987
      Waiting for ‘Superman,’ 2010

      Choose at least one film, either on the list or not on the list, and analyze whether the film portrayals of labor unions have been prophetic, inaccurate, or somewhere in between.


        That's the Spirit: Best Movies about Alcohol

        This just in from your House of Representatives via govtrack.us ((link) my fellow Americans:

        "Every time you drink a beer, you pay extra because federal law adds an excise tax. In fact, an estimated 40 percent of beer’s cost is due to taxes, higher than for many other consumer products. A bill currently pending in Congress would eliminate that tax for more than 90 percent of distributors. And even for the biggest distributors like Budweiser and Miller, it would still significantly cut the tax for them too. Which would mean lower prices for you."

        Congress’ conversations about alcohol taxation, of course, begs the question, What are the best movies about alcohol, be they legal booze, Prohibition and mafia-produced hooch, or films about alcoholism – such as Leaving Las Vegas, Lost Weekend, etc.? What makes the films especially valuable? Should movies about alcohol speak only of the dangers of booze or should they show just the fun side of alcohol, or can they show both the fun and dark sides of the stuff? Feel free to use as many or as few films to make your point(s).

        • A relevant article that was published a while back: https://the-artifice.com/11-movies-to-sober-you-up/ – Misagh 8 months ago
        • Thanks, misagh. I enjoyed the article. – Tigey 8 months ago

        Ugly Ducklings: Actors Whose Craft Has Improved

        I have never been a fan of Ben Affleck. His solo scene in Good Will Hunting in which his character (Chuckie Sullivan) realizes that Matt Damon’s character (Will Hunting) has indeed left for California is awful. However, in Argo, his acting was much better.

        This topic is not about the Jack Nicholsons, Robert Duvalls, and Michael Caines of the cinema world who started off as gifted actors who’ve achieved greatness. It’s more about the Paul Newmans who initially got by with looks (like Redford), but improved exponentially with experience (unlike Redford). Nor is it about the Harrison Fords who started out mediocre and never got much better.

        Which actors, in your opinion, have shown tremendous growth after a less than auspicious start? How does this happen? Which early performance(s) left you underwhelmed? Why? Which later performance(s) convinced you of their improvement? Why?

        One challenge of this topic is communicating the actor’s progression beyond, "Pauline Kael says…" But hey, that’s a start.

        • Is this topic just concerning actors who got parts based on attractiveness (rather than talent), but improved with more acting experience (hence the irony of the "ugly ducklings" title)? If so, then it sounds like an interesting topic since it narrows down the scope from the many actors one can think of. Since it can be such a subjective response, what criteria should one give for how well certain actors performed? – aprosaicpintofpisces 8 months ago
        • It's about any actor, attractive or not, whose craft has improved.The last paragraph alludes to the difficulty of the topic. – Tigey 8 months ago
        • aprosaiintofpisces, how would we know whether if someone were hired for looks alone? Also, what other criteria are you alluding to? If you have something specific, please let me know. – Tigey 8 months ago
        • I agree, TKing. I don’t think we’d ever know that for sure, but there are definitely people whose careers have begun and continued despite an obvious lack of talent. There have been models, singers, or individuals who were simply related to already-established actors. For example, there was that controversy at the Golden Globes about Lady Gaga winning for “Best Actress.” I’ve never watched American Horror Story so I can’t give my own opinion about her performance, but the incident did stir up controversy about whether she won simply because she’s Lady Gaga. Some have succeeded despite a rough start while others haven’t gained much talent despite continued acting careers. I was just talking about actors’ attractiveness as a suggestion since you happened to mention it offhandedly. It could focus on just about anything else that led them into having continued acting careers despite evidence to the contrary. I was only asking for more specificity regarding the types of actors we’re examining. – aprosaicpintofpisces 8 months ago
        • I meant to say, "I agree, Tigey." I apologize for mixing up usernames. – aprosaicpintofpisces 8 months ago
        • Paulie Shore's mom owns (or owned) a Comedy Store, so he got as much stage time as he wanted. My dad's funeral was funnier than Paulie Shore on his best day. Then there are the awards that are do-overs. Christopher Paul Curtis wrote a beautiful adolescent book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, the Newberry Award panel goofs, gives the award to a lesser work, then realizes its mistake and "makes up" for it by awarding him the Newberry for Bud, Not Buddy, a good book, but not as good as The Watsons. Likewise, Bob Dylan got a Grammy for Serve Somebody, but nothing for Blood on the Tracks, Like a Rolling Stone or (cue up the angelic choir) Blonde on Blonde. Surely we see through a glass darkly.Don't worry about the name thing. A rosy Tigey burning brightly by another name is just as Swede. – Tigey 8 months ago

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        Latest Comments


        Where would one find such evidence?

        Tarantino Speaks Out: Police Brutality vs. Cinematic Violence

        Sounds like a poorly conceived film.

        Not exactly horror, but I just rewatched Jaws and while it is dated as far as scary special effects, it benefits from the vagueness of the ocean: we see nothing of its underlying life. Love the male-bonding, comparing scars scene, though.

        Horror and politicians both benefit from vagueness.

        Vague Horror: The Scariest Kind of Horror

        “what constitutes (high) literature”

        “Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped a bedroll…”

        Bob Dylan and The Nobel: Greatest Living American Writer?

        A great article about a great artist and great person.

        Bob Dylan and The Nobel: Greatest Living American Writer?

        Not appreciative? You’re putting words in Dylan’s mouth. The following are words from Dylan’s mouth.

        “Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the other distinguished guests in attendance tonight.

        I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.

        I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.

        If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.

        I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”

        When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffee houses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.

        Well, I’ve been doing what I set out to do for a long time, now. I’ve made dozens of records and played thousands of concerts all around the world. But it’s my songs that are at the vital center of almost everything I do. They seemed to have found a place in the lives of many people throughout many different cultures and I’m grateful for that.

        But there’s one thing I must say. As a performer I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.

        But, like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. “Who are the best musicians for these songs?” “Am I recording in the right studio?” “Is this song in the right key?” Some things never change, even in 400 years.

        Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, “Are my songs literature?”

        So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.

        My best wishes to you all,

        Bob Dylan”

        Bob Dylan and The Nobel: Greatest Living American Writer?

        Whose parade is next on your docket, Mrs. Rain?

        Bob Dylan and The Nobel: Greatest Living American Writer?

        Jonas, my pleasure. I believe I’ve seen only the tip of the iceberg, that Gilligan has buried a lot more meaning in his work. He is a genius.

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk

        JacksonAP, please enlighten me. I have no idea what the pizza means.

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk