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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. 7 years ago
    • I think the impact of 9-11 is acutely felt here. Up until that point, people were happy to be moral relativists but once those planes hit those towers the world turned around and said 'this is definitively evil'. So we live in a world where there are both unknowns and knowns. – jackanapes 7 years ago
    • jackanapes, no atheists in foxholes? – Tigey 7 years 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 years 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 years 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 years 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 8 years 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 8 years ago
      • What do you mean by "realistic aging"? Every person ages differently. – T. Palomino 2 years 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 8 years 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 years ago
      • What about Morgan Freeman -I adore his perfect tone and enunciation – ZBetts 8 years 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 years ago
        • Thanks, misagh. I enjoyed the article. – Tigey 8 years 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 years 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 years 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 years 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 years ago
        • I meant to say, "I agree, Tigey." I apologize for mixing up usernames. – aprosaicpintofpisces 8 years 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 years ago
        • Multiple articles could be spun from this topic to include more diverse nationalities and industries. Can new kids who get breaks into movies solely on the basis of nepotism learn quickly on the job and become versatile actors crafting special niches for themselves? Illustrate for and against the thesis statement with comprehensive examples. – Dr. Vishnu Unnithan 4 years ago

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        Latest Comments


        Good eye. I’m on S1 E3 of my latest rewatch and now have another thing to watch for.

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk

        Excellent point.

        Vague Horror: The Scariest Kind of Horror
        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk

        Thank you.

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk

        Thanks, Paige.

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk

        No tengo idea.

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk

        As I said, (1) studies (not anecdotal “evidence”) show that babies respond positively to some faces than others – facial symmetry is supposed to be a big part of this attractiveness; (2) attraction to what you refer to as “ugly” might have more to do with the subjective experiences of the admirer than objective beauty (e.g. I may like big, pickle-like noses not because they are objectively attractive, but because the nose reminds me of a kind friend or relative); (3) I said “if” because I’m not as sure as you are of all of this, which is interesting since your, ahem, “evidence” is anecdotal; and (4) I disagree that art is more complex than the human face – if God made the face, we are pikers in comparison; if millions of years of evolution created the face, then hours on canvas do not compare.

        That's Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man: An Argument that Art is Objective


        Chuck said of his brother, Saul (Jimmy): “He does the worst things for the best reasons.” I think Chuck is the converse, doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Both men are what writer Sherwood Anderson called grotesques: people focusing on one truth to the exclusion of all other truths. I’m a season behind on Saul, though…

        Objects in Breaking Bad: If Things Could Talk