potc 20 - good man

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

best of 2018 - other side of the wind

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

crimes of grindelwald - leta

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

Joe Pera Fall

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

teachers - dan dunne

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