Articles

Samurai Jack and Nostalgia’s Double-Edged Sword

After twelve years off the air, Samurai Jack returned earlier this year to finally conclude its long-unresolved storyline. Airing in 2017, a year dominated by reboots and revivals of favorite properties – Twin Peaks: The Return, Blade Runner 2049, Alien: Covenant, and Logan, just to name a few – Tartakovsky’s show, like its hero, was entering a…Read On

In Appreciation Of: Samurai Jack

Earlier this year, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Cartoon Network animated series Samurai Jack concluded with a fifth and final season after a twelve-year hiatus. I never saw the series during its original run, although I was dimly aware of it by reputation, and experienced flickers of vague recognition whenever I saw the titular samurai or his demonic…Read On

Alien: A Conversation

Since the release of Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant at the beginning of this summer, FilmFisher editor Joshua Gibbs and contributing writer Timothy Lawrence have been trading thoughts on the science fiction horror franchise. What follows is their conversation…Read On

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On Film Snobs: Aren’t Some Movies Just Plain Fun?

As an amateur film critic, I have panned many blockbusters and watched rote responses roll in which offer no greater defense of the panned film than, “This film was just plain fun. Why don’t you snobby film critics get it?” Self-defense is usually ugly, even when it is necessary, though I often want to swing…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 6

In these essays, and even in other writings on the franchise, I have often made special note of Star Wars’ backward-looking quality. These are films that push the medium forward into an exciting new future with groundbreaking special effects, and yet both textually and meta-textually, they are always concerned with the past. With Episode I, over two months ago, we started at the beginning and looked ahead to the story’s ending. Episode VI – as the third film released, as the sixth film in the saga, and as the final installment in this series of essays – is profoundly concerned with looking backwards. Its title is apt; Return of the Jedi is, in so many ways, about the action of returning…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 5

It has become conventionally accepted wisdom that The Empire Strikes Back is the greatest blockbuster sequel of all time, and one of the best cinematic sequels generally speaking; the only competition that springs to mind is Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II. It should come as little surprise that I’m not inclined to disagree with this assessment. The original Star Wars is one of the greatest American films of all time and a milestone in blockbuster history, but I’ve long maintained that The Empire Strikes Back is even better, and without it, I suspect the saga’s cultural impact would not have been quite so profoundly enduring. The stakes are higher and the world is expanded, but this sequel does not simply go “bigger,” trying to top its predecessor in terms of spectacle. The key to its success is that it also goes deeper, doubling down on characters and relationships that continue to grow and develop…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 4

On May 25, 1977, those words marked the American public’s first entrance into George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. Much ink has been spilled trying to account for the film’s success – its innocence was a welcome alternative to the predominantly cynical cinema that surrounded it, American audiences were particularly hungry for escapism – but no single explanation can quite justify Star Wars’ staying power, or how exponentially Lucas’ saga has grown since that first film…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 3

Revenge of the Sith opens with one of the longest, most elaborate and ambitious shots George Lucas has ever attempted. The camera pans down from the opening crawl, past a blinding sun, to reveal a Star Destroyer flying over Coruscant, one last twist on the iconic opening image of the original 1977 film. There we saw an evil Star Destroyer from behind; here we see a good one from above. The scene is almost comforting in its familiarity and stillness, though the warlike drums of Williams’ score hint at a building energy…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 2

If Star Wars is about finding balance between the appetites and the intellect, and the best Star Wars films are those that find this ideal balance between spectacle and theme, allow me to open this review boldly, by suggesting that Attack of the Clones – the franchise’s most underrated entry – finds that balance nearly perfectly. While The Phantom Menace had perhaps too much of a tendency to convey concepts through dialogue, its sequel communicates ideas through images, sounds, and actions, fusing emotion with abstraction…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 1

I love Star Wars – perhaps too much. This is no secret, as my previous writings on the subject would attest, and I can make no pretensions to being an objective observer here. The Phantom Menace, George Lucas’ first prequel to his classic trilogy, was met with a decidedly mixed response when it premiered in 1999, but it is a source of fond memories for me…Read On

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

We live in a post-Star Wars world. No, we don’t spend our days scavenging through the debris of Star Destroyers and X-Wings like the protagonist of the seventh and newest installment, J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens. But is it really that different? If you were to try and visualize our cultural landscape, it might not look too different than Abrams’ vision of a crashed Star Destroyer looming over the desert of Jakku…Read On

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To Have A Crush On A Fictional Person

In an informal poll I conducted among my students late last year, every high school junior I teach claimed to have had a crush on a fictional person. The question both was and was not a trick. In truth, a crush is always a fictional person. While crush is a neologism and not a philosophically…Read On

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Talking Children’s Movies With Dr. Steve Turley

In speaking with many parents about the kind of movies their children watch, I’ve found that one of their chief concerns is “objectionable content.” For younger children, “objectionable content” means toilet humor, cursing, disrespect shown to parents. For older children, “objectionable content” means nudity, violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, drug use, casual sex and the…Read On

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Narration in Film

In his fascinating work of collected interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, french filmmaker Francois Truffaut discussed with Hitchcock the possibility of doing a film adaptation of Crime and Punishment. When explaining why he would not, Hitchcock said, “Well, in Dostoyevsky’s novel there are many, many words and all of them have a function…To really convey [the…Read On

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Beauty As Hermeneutic: The Best Of All Possible Endings?

Part I. A certain wistfulness attends God’s mercy. After Jonah preaches Nineveh will be overthrown in forty days, the people don sackcloth and fast. The king asks,” Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” Who can tell? When St. John the Theologian…Read On

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A Few Words About Spoiler Alerts

If I could see any film again for the first time, I would choose David Fincher’s The Game. Had someone told me the ending of the film prior to seeing it, I would have counted myself robbed of something irreplaceable. I am not without some sympathy for those who don’t want the endings of their…Read On

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The Christian And LGBT Films

“There is… an undeniable ethical offense in beauty: not only in its history as a preoccupation of privilege, the special concern of an economically and socially enfranchised elite, but in the very gratuity with which it offers itself. There is an unsettling prodigality about the beautiful, something wanton about the way it lavishes itself upon…Read On

Hannibal

When we first meet Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), the protagonist of Bryan Fuller’s television series Hannibal, he is looking at the grisly aftermath of a home invasion, surrounded by FBI agents. Graham, a special investigator, closes his eyes and, accompanied by the visual cue of a golden light sweeping the screen clean, reverses time, erasing bloodstains, removing agents, and bringing the victims back to life. He then proceeds to reenact the crime scene in his imagination, describing his intentions and actions to us in detail. Fuller then reveals that Graham is lecturing, describing the crime to a classroom full of students at Quantico…Read On