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Undefended: Time

This December, FilmFisher’s writers were given the following prompt: In his autobiography, Sculpting in Time, Andrei Tarkovsky writes, “No other art can compare with cinema in the force, precision, and starkness with which it conveys awareness of facts and aesthetic structures existing and changing within time.” This month, as we reflect on the end of…Read On

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Inside A Scene: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The third and bleakest segment of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, “Meal Ticket,” is a tough sell – a slow moving, visually muted tragedy featuring two nameless characters who hardly speak to one another. One is almost mute, uttering no more than a dozen lines; the other speaks only in quotations…Read On

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – A Dissenting Opinion

Around the time of The Crimes of Grindelwald’s release, J.K. Rowling was snidely accused in various corners of the internet of “going full George Lucas.” This was intended as a criticism, undoubtedly, but to my ears, such a claim sounds like the highest of compliments. Hollywood would be better off if more filmmakers were “going full George Lucas” today, and when I say that The Crimes of Grindelwald is almost the Attack of the Clones of the Harry Potter franchise, I mean it as a good thing…Read On


Undefended: America

This month, with Election Day and Thanksgiving just behind us, FilmFisher writers were asked to pick their favorite films about America – films that depict some part of our history, capture some aspect of our culture, or express some truth about our nation with uncommon excellence or insight…Read On


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

As a high school teacher, Harry Potter has never seemed like much of a fantasy story. Every school has a Ron Weasley. Every school has a Dumbledore. Every school has a Hermione (or three or four). Every school has a Malfoy — and a student body who wonders why he was not expelled years ago…Read On


Inside a Scene: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the best of the eight Harry Potter adaptations by a great margin, and part of that stems from director Alfonso Cuarón’s handling of the material. Rather than going for a straightforward adaptation, the director and writer Steve Kloves opted to dig deeper, utilizing several key themes around the coming-of-age in some…Read On

Prisoner of Azkaban Live Orchestra

John Williams and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Smells and songs are some of those instruments of nostalgia that hit you like waves of dizziness when you’re not expecting them. That wooden, dusty aroma I can only associate with an old hobby shop from my childhood — an indescribable whiff of a memory that dissipates before I can grasp it. Pictures and objects…Read On


On Adaptations

Much of my life has been spent – especially early on – in the company of people who manifestly prefer books to films. I attended film school for four years and am now the editor of a website dedicated to film reviews, so I hope it is implicitly clear that I reject the notion that films…Read On


Undefended: Scares

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, for this month's lists, FilmFisher's writers were asked to pick five of their favorite cinematic scares. Share your own selections in the comments below…Read On

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The Humility of Joe Pera Talks With You

Some part of me wants to become smaller and smaller. Maybe it’s a desire for greater humility – to not think of myself so highly, to not get so angry the moment I encounter a viewpoint I don’t agree with – but that isn’t all it is. There is something protective about it too. After…Read On

Painting from Alan Lee to put after that discussion

Context Matters More Than You Think

A common refrain amongst those who write on fiction, in whatever medium, is that the art is a product of its time and place. What is curious about this idea is that what the speaker intends is a disclaimer toward the piece’s ethics or technical refinement, rather than a notation of something that makes a book or…Read On

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Like many, I blithely dismissed Star Wars: The Clone Wars soon after it aired its first episode on Cartoon Network ten years ago. I was not without grounds: the film heralding the show’s release is a dismal affair, a few television episodes too obviously strung together into a feature-length movie, and the early seasons only…Read On

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Undefended: Teachers

School is back in session. FilmFisher is a site for educators and students, and though few of our writers currently fit into either of these categories, this month we went for an academic theme and picked our favorite cinematic teachers…Read On


Inside a Scene: Mad Men (Season 7.2 – Lost Horizon)

This is how college went for me: I thought I knew everything my first year, then one of my professors got fed up with my fat mouth and told me to stop talking in front of the whole class. I hardly said anything in my classes for the next two years because I was nervous people would judge me. In my senior year, another professor told me, “You aren’t your ideas,” which was an exhortation to be less afraid of what people thought of my contributions. Some of my ideas are indeed terrible, but that doesn’t mean I’m terrible…Read On


Inside a Scene: Mad Men (Season 7.1 – Waterloo)

If something is on television, chances are it’s been done before. This is no less true of Mad Men. TV might not be the last or latest medium for human expression, but its ideas and artistry have filtered down from so many sources that hardly anything can be called “new.” For a show set in the 1960s, this is especially unavoidable. Creator Matthew Weiner’s encyclopedic knowledge of the decade extended well past the usual associations conjured up by popular historical fiction…Read On


An Ode to Po: Celebrating Goodness in the Kung Fu Panda Trilogy

How’s this for a youth group or team meeting icebreaker: If you could bring one action hero to life, in the belief that their existence in the real world would make it a better place, who would you choose? Actually, let’s make the question more challenging: If you could bring one action hero to life…Read On


Inside A Scene: Mad Men (Season 6 – The Flood)

Like “Meditations In An Emergency,” which I previously wrote about for this series, Mad Men’s sixth season episode “The Flood” revolves around the way its characters struggle to react to events that carry great import but seem distant from the reality of their lives. Here, the tragedy in question is the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the responses range from callous selfishness to outraged hysteria…Read On


Undefended: Truths and Lies

FilmFisher is currently running a series of essays on the television series Mad Men, one of the core themes of which is the complex relationship between fictions and realities. According to Jean-Luc Godard, “The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second,” but according to Michael Haneke, it is “twenty-four lies per second at the service of the truth.” For this month’s Undefended, FilmFisher’s writers were asked to list five favorite cinematic truths and lies…Read On

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Inside A Scene: Mad Men (Season 5 – Signal 30)

Of the 92 episodes produced over the course of Mad Men’s seven seasons, it is nearly impossible to select a single favorite – but if I had to, there is a good chance I would select the fifth season’s “Signal 30.” Directed by series regular John Slattery and co-written by Frank Pierson, who wrote Cool Hand Luke and Dog Day Afternoon, the entire episode is an inspection of flawed ideals of masculinity, and the self-loathing felt by men who cannot measure up to them…Read On