Inside Llewyn Davis

Undefended: The Best Film Music of the Decade

As the decade comes to a close, FilmFisher’s writers will be spending the next few months looking back at the cinema of the 2010s and compiling “Best of the Decade” lists in various categories. This month, they highlighted the best film music of the decade…Read On


Beauty and Blood in the Films of Quentin Tarantino

My relationship with Quentin Tarantino is a complicated one. As I first ventured into his body of work over the last year or so, I found myself impressed by the obvious talent that saturates his films but overall underwhelmed by how little they stuck with me. I saw (and still see, for the most part) Tarantino as…Read On

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Undefended: The Best Trailers of the Decade

As the decade comes to a close, FilmFisher’s writers will be spending the next six months looking back at the cinema of the 2010s and compiling “Best of the Decade” lists in various categories. This month, they tried something new and picked the best trailers of the decade…Read On


A Toy’s Telos, Chapter 2: How the Vision Was Won, and Lost

Thesis and Antithesis In “A Toy’s Telos, Chapter 1,” I argued that the Toy Story trilogy presents a moral vision for what it means to be a toy, and I outlined the key tenets of this vision as they are embodied by Woody in his relationships with Andy and Buzz. Woody has a vertical telos:…Read On

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The Greatest Blockbuster of the Decade

I watch The Lone Ranger every 4th of July. I do this not only because the film is wildly enjoyable and exciting, and thus an apt complement to the mood of a hot summer afternoon with hot dogs on the barbeque, but also because it is an ideal encapsulation of (and commentary on) the national myth…Read On


Undefended: Summer Break Movies

FilmFisher’s own Joshua Gibbs recently published a list of ten summer movie recommendations at the CiRCE Institute, together with some thoughts on the nature of the season’s moviegoing habits. Along similar lines, though with a slightly different bent, FilmFisher’s writers compiled lists of films they’d specifically commend to young people on summer break – films that, as…Read On

Unbreakable - M Night Shyamalan - David Dunn - Bruce Willis

Undefended: Heroes

In Spider-Man 2, Aunt May says: “Kids like Henry need a hero. Courageous, self-sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the…Read On

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Stark vs. Rogers: The Central Conflict of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The central drama of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an incomparable cinematic epic now over a decade old, is the clash of worldviews between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. The MCU has always been about internal struggle, not external. This is an extension of the Marvel Comics worldview, because the Marvel funny books have never had strong…Read On

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Over the Garden Wall: A True Fairy-Tale

In film and television, the fairy-tale is a dying genre. The same stories are not only told over and over again, but also told in increasingly non-fairy-tale ways. For one, high budget adaptations of old folktales seem to consistently disregard the very essence of folklore: specificity to a certain time, place, and people group. Cinderella has…Read On

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Pirates of the Caribbean: An Explication

Solomon tells us not to ask why the former days were better than these, yet a film critic with a taste for well-crafted big-budget entertainment writing in the 2010s can hardly help looking back on the 2000s with a certain wistfulness. Among other things, instead of stories with beginnings, middles, and endings, studios now favor endless, formless strings of spin-offs and sequels. Trilogies are no longer fashionable in Hollywood…Read On

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Undefended: Double Features

This month, FilmFisher's writers were given the following prompt: Any great work of art, taken by itself, should offer enough to sustain a conversation. That said, many of the best works of art are talking to each other across time. Films are no different. For "Undefended" this month, let's pair films that make good conversation partners…Read On

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Seeking Transcendence in First Man and The Lost City of Z

Though I often mention the two in the same breath, at a glance, James Gray’s The Lost City of Z does not seem to share much in common with Damien Chazelle’s First Man. The former centers on a little known British cartographer and explorer from the early 20th century; the subject of the latter is…Read On

new year's eve

Undefended: Marriage

With Valentine's Day just behind us, this month, FilmFisher's writers were asked to pick their top five cinematic marriages. These could be either films about marriage, or striking examples – good or bad – of onscreen marriage. Credit for the idea behind this prompt goes to Robert Brown…Read On


How to Train Your Soul: Storytelling Alchemy in How to Train Your Dragon

I am a die hard fan of many large, respected fandoms. I’m usually the person with red yarn and thumbtacks who corners strangers on the street to talk with them about my theories. I’ve written my fair share of fanfiction and my tumblr account has been active since “before it was cool.” But the series that I have stuck with the longest is not one of the usual household names like Harry Potter or Star Trek. Rather, it is Cressida Cowell’s humble How to Train Your Dragon series that I’ve been a captive fan of for almost fourteen straight years. I’ve read every book, seen every film, and watched every special/episode of the television series. So, to say I had an investment in seeing the trilogy ended “properly” is a bit of an understatement…Read On

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On LEGO Movies

Had you told me a decade ago that LEGO (yes, the Danish interlocking brick system) would essentially corner the market on American animated films, I – having seen too many direct-to-video Bionicle movies in my time – would have laughed in your face. Yet, with the decline of Pixar, that is precisely what has happened…Read On

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Undefended: Best of 2018

With awards season upon us, FilmFisher's writers were asked to pick the best of what cinema had to offer in 2018. Instead of simply composing lists of the top 5 films, we wrote in our favorites from the top categories, with a few bonus rounds. Share your own selections in the comment section below…Read On

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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