Thursday, January 29, 2004
Être et Avoir

Être et Avoir

Documentaries About Nothing

The documentary version of Seinfeld. With a small difference.

By Tommy Viola :::
Monday, January 26, 2004
Ghost World

Ghost World

Hungry Ghosts

Searching for something filling in a world of fabrication.

By Dan Hobart :::
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel on Letterman

Beyond Thumbs Up or Down

Thoughts on How to Decide if a Film is Any Good

Most of the time, writers for Metaphilm approach films to see what they
      mean or what they have to say—consciously or subconsciously, seriously
      or humorously. We typically avoid the subjective question of whether
      the film under discussion is any good. Here, one film professor offers
      his introductory guidelines for ways you can evaluate the films you watch.
      Think of it as a meta-level approach to film-watching, or perhaps a way
      to go meta with movie critics.

Monday, January 12, 2004
Big Fish

Big Fish

Tim Burton Trims the Tree of Meaning

A father and son struggle to reunify word and reality, signifier and signified.

Friday, January 09, 2004
Las Vegas strip

A Brief History of Las Vegas

Shortcut to the American Dream

They tried to destroy it, but in the end the only thing that can stop Vegas is Vegas.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004
The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai

Americans Anonymous

Tom Cruise follows the Twelve Step path to freedom from alcohol—and Western Civ.

Sunday, January 04, 2004
Mystic River

Mystic River

A Freudian Fable

Clint Eastwood directs a mythic narrative of a person who kills off his own id.

By Aaron Belz :::

Other Recent Long Stuff

A Serious Man
Sympathy for the Devil
The Maltese Falcon
Neo’s Passport
The Dark Knight
A Copy of a Copy of a Copy
The Dreamers
The Dreamers

Books to Phlog

Book cover of Walker Percy's the Moviegoer at FiftyWalker Percy’s The Moviegoer at Fifty: New Takes on an Iconic American Novel has just been released from LSU Press. This well-received collection of twelve new essays includes a contribution from Jonathan Potter and Read Mercer Schuchardt revisiting “The Moviegoer’s Cinematic References.”

This is the first critical work devoted solely to Percy’s debut novel. Coinciding with the centenary of his birth, this collection offers fresh perspectives that underscore the novel’s ongoing relevance.


Saturday, January 31, 2004

Disney’s PR Office Gloating…

Ever wonder about AP press releases like this one?  It’s heart-tugging, warm, heroic and oh yeah, has a subtle corporate plug inserted right at the very end.  Is this just really great luck for Disney, Pixar, and the Finding Nemo movie, or is something fishy going on?  If the fish in the story had died, would this have been news?  And just how does a fire alarm shatter a fish bowl in the first place?  And in case you need reassurance, remember that, “News bearing the AP logotype can be counted on to be accurate, balanced and informed.”  Then again, maybe this explains it.

phlagrant ::: from publisher ::: Link
Friday, January 30, 2004

Ikea-Phobia and Fight Club

Is Fight Club the root of all “corporations-are-the-root-of-all-evil” rhetoric, or are you just another Rebel Consumer?

phlagrant ::: from publisher ::: Link

The Word, According to John

S. T. Karnick has a review of the film The Gospel of John (“the film takes on the style of an A&E biographical documentary”) that includes a perceptive retrospective of other treatments of the Gospel in film as well as other movies with notably biblical themes. “It’s interesting that the most timeless and unchanging narratives of the Western world—the accounts of human history recorded in the Bible—have also been among those most thoroughly affected by social and cinematic fashions.” (National Review, 30 Jan 2004). Good stuff.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Metropolitan and Mansfield Park

Must be one of them “meme” things. Two articles in one season comparing Jane Austen to director Whit Stillman. First is a focal piece on Stillman in City Journal: “In fact, the spirit of Jane Austen, Audrey’s favorite novelist, animates Metropolitan. Austen understands profoundly that manners are a kind of morals. She extols conventions that make civilized society possible. Stillman adopts not just her estimation of society but also her novelistic conventions, even down to the plot device of handwritten letters. His characters speak with a wit and articulateness that echo Austen’s seamless irony” (Julia Magnet, “A Great Conservative Filmmaker,” City Journal, Winter 2004). Then comes a great piece on the seriously misunderstood Mansfield Park: “In Whit Stillman’s intriguingly Austenesque film, Metropolitan, Tom Townsend . . . is astonished when Audrey Rouget . . . reveals that she enjoys Mansfield Park. Everyone knows, Tom says, that Mansfield Park is the worst novel Jane Austen wrote, and nobody likes the book’s heroine, Fanny Price. Audrey, the moral center of the film and very much a Fanny Price character herself, protests simply, ‘I like Fanny Price.’” (Peter J. Leithart, “Jane Austen, Public Theologian,” First Things, January 2004). That probably explains why there’s a mixed reaction to Stillman. Too countercultural.

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Celluloid Presidency

Paul Hodgins does a taxonomy of the alternate-universe denizens of the White House. “We all want our chief executive to be heroic, decent and supremely capable. But when it comes to the dictates of genre and story line—and the sometimes quirky predilections of Hollywood’s creative community—the leader of our country, when fictionalized, can assume many forms: Stalloneish action figure, romantic demigod, frumpy Everyman, wise elder statesman” (Orange County Register, Jan 25 2004). Where does your presidential candidate fall?

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link

Did Big Fish Kill Spalding Gray?

Spalding Gray has gone missing, and according to this story, the last film he saw was Big Fish, which his wife speculates “gave him permission” to do that which he’d been contemplating and attempting for many months prior.

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link
Monday, January 26, 2004

Loving the Hulk

I just ran across an interview with the late novelist Walker Percy (author of The Moviegoer) where he affirms that his favorite television program was The Incredible Hulk: “It united two great literary traditions: rotation (hitting the road, dropping out, adventures) and the good monster (Beauty’s beast), who is also Lancelot.” (Doubletake Magazine)

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Saturday, January 24, 2004

Special Effects Become Mannerist

What happens when special effects go from looking real to looking cool? 

phlog ::: from publisher ::: Link
Friday, January 23, 2004

A List of Philosophical Films

The University of Tennessee at Martin has a list of 150 films with religious or philosophical themes (and short blurbs with their takes on the themes). Elsewhere on that site are discussion questions for assorted films. Helpful list? Did they miss anything?

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Shawshank Redemption

Andre Mouchard notes the transition of The Shawshank Redemption from flop to cult favorite. “The film version of the Stephen King story about a banker who maintains his humanity during an unjust and very long stint in prison is, 10 years after its release, rentable, buyable, channel-surfable proof of the existence of a new category of art—the ubiquitous cult movie. . . . Just as toddlers might fall in love with a movie like Monsters, Inc. and watch it dozens of times, grown-ups find comfort in seeing and reseeing movies like Shawshank.” (“Shawshank Redeemed,” Orange County Register, 19 Jan 2004, free registration required)

phlog ::: from editor ::: Link

Other Recent Phlogs

The Despecialized Star Wars
Summary Bug Creates Unintended Cinematic Beauties
See it live
Sizzling Bacon is HERE at Long Last
24 Things You Might Not Know About Fight Club
Tree of Life and the Lamb of God
Filming In Tongues
Martin Scorsese’s parents were aliterate
This Again—At A Theater Near You
Bollywood Directors and the “Cut To Switzerland”
The Constant Traveler
Save the Movies from Save The Cat!
Propaganda, A Primer
It may actually be long After Midnight
Dirty Wars playing, then disappearing, at a theater near you
Luke’s Change:  An Inside Job
What Does Hollywood Have to Do with Jerusalem?
There are only fourteen books worth reading each year
Why Are Foreign Films So… Foreign?
Tree of Life Shooting Locations in Smithville, Texas