RUSSIAN DOLL: The Epic of A Sweet Birthday Baby

RUSSIAN DOLL: The Epic of A Sweet Birthday Baby

Stories about journeys made by men in which women play supporting roles as inspirations, antagonists, and helpers have been the foundation of Western Civilization. The old Bards stuck to narratives in which the old heroes explained the patriarchal cosmos through their exploits as they conquered death in one way or another. Options are now more various. The new, gloriously audacious Netflix series, Russian Doll), gives the ancient male quest a modern, feminist twist as Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne), whose name emphasizes her femininity, finds herself on a woman’s voyage for more modern purposes in a female inflected universe.

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INSPECTOR LEWIS: Crime, Art, Imagination, and Fantasy

INSPECTOR LEWIS:  Crime, Art, Imagination, and Fantasy

Dialogue between imagination and fantasy happens. It happens both in the mass media and in high culture, and, as might be expected, the home team has the advantage. When great works of the imagination explore fantasy, they express a high culture perspective on fantasy as intense and dangerous, likely to run amok, as for example in Blake’s epics, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the works of David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock, and Orson Welles. When fantasy looks at art, it serves an opposing impulse, a low culture, leveling urge to cast itself as more genuine and delicious than what it points to as dry, high-fallutin’ art.

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Movie Review: ROMA, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

Movie Review: ROMA, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

The very ephemeral nature of moments in which life and death come to a head unweaves the old neo-realist assurances of the powerful weightiness of the least of us. Rather, Cuaron distances us from any pretensions to human importance as he opens the door to his vision of how fleeting, brief, and weightless human life is. This is a realism that is harsh medicine to the individualist American and to all cultures that are Americanized.

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Media Review: ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA, The World as Prison

Media Review: ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA, The World as Prison

Ultimately, this show about brief, ambiguous escapes is reminiscent of the fatalism of the early 20th century American naturalist novels in which the plight of trapped characters becomes a microcosm of the American macrocosm, a culture depicted gloomily as the habitation of beings with no real place either in nature or culture, no core identity, no coherence outside of the deadening rules and conventions society has invented. This is a vision that is too bleak for my taste, but I respect it because it goes well beyond being the same old familiar jailbreak story. It has a perspective.

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Movie Review: VICE: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, but there’s nothin’ aplenty

Movie Review: VICE: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, but there’s nothin’ aplenty

Vice is a film about Dick Cheney and his partner in crime Lynne, to be sure, but it’s also about the way we talk about history, how we know what we know, how we fill in the gaps in our partial knowledge with our own fictions, and who has a voice in creating historical narratives.

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Movie Review – BLACKkKLANSMAN

Movie Review – BLACKkKLANSMAN

In Blackkklansman, a movie with a title that makes it sound like it’s a Mel Brooks high concept farce from the 1970’s, Spike Lee Has dipped back into historical events that began in 1978 to hold the mirror up to the dangerous racial chaos of America in 2018. And it’s no farce. At the same time, both Lee’s film and the book of the same name on which it is based, a memoir by a black undercover police detective, Ron Stallworth, working in Colorado Springs, do create cognitive dissonance. A black man in the Klan? How?

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Movie Review — BEING JULIA: Madame Has a Beer

Movie Review — BEING JULIA: Madame Has a Beer

Being Julia ( 2004) is a dazzling, fourteen year old romantic comedy whose time has come for a closer look. Based on a Somerset Maugham novella, Theatre, and set in 1938 London, at first glance it seems to be the essence of what has become offensive to progressive people. Successful British actress, Julia Lambert lives in a bubble of class privilege and audience adulation, to the exclusion of all else in society. But, don’t turn away. Being Julia offers an opportunity for feminists to mine unexpected gold and to examine our own prejudices and myopia.

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Movie Review: THE DEATH OF STALIN

Movie Review: THE DEATH OF STALIN

In a perfect farcical fusion of pain and laughter, The Death Of Stalin presents us with images of the men who held the highest positions in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin as they absurdly perform all kinds of physical and verbal contortions not only to curry favor with the dictator, but also, once he is dead, to curry favor with anyone because the habit of mindless kowtowing is so deeply ingrained.

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New York Film Festival Review: THE FAVOURITE

New York Film Festival Review: THE FAVOURITE

Have you ever wondered what sexual politics would be like in a matriarchy? In their rompin’ stompin’ film, The Favourite, shown as the opening night feature for this year’s New York Film Festival, director Yorgos Lanthimos and writers Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, give you space to imaginatively explore that possibility.

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KEEPING UP WITH HUGH GRANT

KEEPING UP WITH HUGH GRANT

On IMDb.com, a biographical note by Steve Shelokhonov, who has made his mark, such as it is, as the author of IMDb mini-biographies, describes Hugh Grant as an actor known for “playing characters projecting warmth and sincere happiness.” It’s not an important piece of scholarship, but it is widely read, due to its venue, and it is, unfortunately, typical of the kind of entertainment journalism that promotes reductive stereotypes of star reputations.

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