Category Archives: Film Philosophy / Editorials

In-depth articles analyzing films based on their thematic ties to philosophy or psychology. Also editorials about films and film criticism.

2020 — The Year without a Blockbuster

[Update, 6.12.20: A day after this piece posted, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Wonder Woman 1984 had moved its release date to October 2, and that Tenet had pushed back two weeks to a July 31 release date. This alters some of the context of this article—namely, that now (at least for the time being) Disney’s Mulan has the earliest release date of any major studio release, not Tenet. But these changes also reflect the main argument raised in this article: It is becoming increasingly uncertain whether any major release will see substantial theatrical exhibition for the remainder of 2020]

 

Marvel’s Black Widow was scheduled to release on May 1.

That was over a month ago. Now in mid-June, we have watched many high profile film releases slip away like sand between fingers. The decision in March to hold off on the release of the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, was the first domino to fall. Since then, theaters have shuttered, and although cities across the United States have begun to re-open, most theaters’ doors remain closed.

The largest of these theater chains, AMC (which is owned by Dalian Wanda Group), have plans to reopen all of its U.S. theaters in Continue reading 2020 — The Year without a Blockbuster

Film Criticism: On Grading Movies

Criticism of art, as reviled and looked-down upon as it is, is a necessary and inextirpable facet of art itself. It is the checks and balances of the creative industry. As it relates to film, it is a mediated industry within what is perhaps arts most mediated field.

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In many ways, the work of a critic is easy

Let us not, however, get caught up in the semantic confusion that is the claim that Continue reading Film Criticism: On Grading Movies

The Blair Witch Effect, Reboot Culture, and the Question of Quality Horror

A few months back I wrote an article pertaining to the cliches of the horror genre and how these cliches could possibly be subverted in order to make a refreshingly unique horror film. It was something I wrote on a whim while thinking about screenwriting, and it is more light in an attempt to be humorous than it is indicting or inquisitive.

With the upcoming release of The Blair Witch Project reboot, I find it pertinent to revisit the classic horror film and how its innovation was at the same time historic and sadly prophetic.

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1999’s The Blair Witch Project has, since its inception, been the origin of a deeply passionate debate. The question is simple: Is the film Continue reading The Blair Witch Effect, Reboot Culture, and the Question of Quality Horror

Horror Cliches and How to Fix Them

The cell phones don’t work. Maybe the service is out in these abandoned backwoods, or swamp, or desert, or rural town. If they do, the police sure are incompetent. Or get murdered feet from their car, in front of everyone inside the cabin in the woods, or placid lake with one lone raft in the center that will surely come back later, or house at the end of the street, or the last house on the left, or the isolated graveyard. Also, they always insist on coming alone. Screaming people on the other line doesn’t prompt at least one car of backup. Never. It’s a sin.

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And how about them character archetypes. The Whore. An incessant one-track mind locked on to phallic obsession and Continue reading Horror Cliches and How to Fix Them

The Cabin in the Woods: Cliches Manipulated or Perpetuated?

Note: This is an in-depth analysis of the film The Cabin in the Woods. As such, it is heavily-laden with spoilers. Proceed with caution. If you want to watch The Cabin in the Woods, you can find it on Amazon Video to rent and buy here.

 

The 2012 film from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods, presents an original take on an old favorite. The film on its face, and by its title, is just another teen horror romp, but this “cabin in the woods” narrative is more than meets the eye, as the film quickly progresses down the path of a strange mythology.

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In approaching the conventional horror movie narrative with a unique take, Goddard and Whedon use their pen to turn Continue reading The Cabin in the Woods: Cliches Manipulated or Perpetuated?

Adult Swim, Anti-Comedy, and Cringe Humor: What’s the Appeal?

Note: This in an in-depth article on Anti-Comedy and Adult Swim programming. If I mention a given show, short film, or feature film, there is a strong chance that I will be giving spoilers for that video, so be cautious. Also, this is a multi-page article; the links to subsequent pages sometimes get lost at the bottom of the page.

 

Anti-Humor. Anti-Comedy. Meta-Humor. Non-Comedy. Whatever hyphenate you want to use to describe the brand of comedy that is purposefully not funny or otherwise lacking in traditional comic structure.

Anti-Comedy, as I will refer to it throughout the rest of this article, is a highly divisive form of comedy (my fascination with the divisive is well founded). Some dismiss it as destructive to quality comedy or simply lazy. Others can’t digest it as something humorous or necessary.

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Late-night television programming block Adult Swim, launched in 2001 as a complement to Cartoon Network’s children’s programming, has harnessed these alternative forms of comedy to seeming success. With shows like Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!The Eric Andre Show, and the short film series of Infomercials, Adult Swim has Continue reading Adult Swim, Anti-Comedy, and Cringe Humor: What’s the Appeal?

The Philosophy of Antichrist: Expulsion from Eden

Note: This is an in-depth analysis of the 2009 film Antichrist, and, as such, there will be plenty of spoilers for the film. Additionally, the film being discussed here is extremely graphic in nature, and some of these graphic moments are explored in this article. As such, reader discretion is advised.

Note: This is a multi-page article. The links to the subsequent pages often get hidden near the bottom of the page, so just know that the article does not end at the bottom of this page. It is a four-page article.

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Lars von Trier’s 2009 film Antichrist might be the single most divisive movie I’ve come across, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given Continue reading The Philosophy of Antichrist: Expulsion from Eden

The Psychology of The Apple (1998): Abusive Paternalism

Note: This article goes in-depth into an analysis of The Apple‘s various plot points and subtexts. As a result, it is littered with spoilers. You have been warned.

Additional Note: This is a multi-page article. The links to the succeeding pages can sometimes get buried at the bottom of the page.

 

The Apple is the feature film debut from then 18-year-old Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf. An influential cog in the machine of Iranian New Wave, as well as part of a family of filmmakers (her father is equally influential director Mohsen Makhmalbaf), Samira Makhmalbaf’s first film delves into the nuanced world of children raised in isolation in a docudrama style. Using a real-life family as both actor and subject, Makhmalbaf captures on film a fictional reality of two children first entering society at the age of 12 at the same time that the real-life children were first engaging with the world outside their home.

 

I. Fiction as a Means of Conveying Reality

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A BFI review of The Apple by John Mount correctly comments that the film focuses “firmly on its subject rather than on its making,” in an industry climate when Continue reading The Psychology of The Apple (1998): Abusive Paternalism

The Philosophy of Birdman: The Icarus Complex

Caution: This is an in-depth analysis article. As such, spoilers for Birdman ahead. If you want to purchase Birdman, you can find it on Amazon Video here.

Note: The page links are a bit hidden at the bottom of this page. Just to be clear, there are five pages to this article, you might just have to scroll a bit to find the correct buttons.

 

Icarus, son of Daedalus, is the famed tragic figure of myth who wore wax wings and flew too close to the sun, failing to heed his father’s warning in his aerial jubilation.

 

I. “Birdman is Like Icarus”

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In Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 2014 film Birdman, we just so happen to have a similar icon as Icarus in the eponymous winged superhero. In an early scene of the film we hear Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) mention briefly that Continue reading The Philosophy of Birdman: The Icarus Complex

The Philosophy of Battle Royale: The Moral Suicide

Note: This article contains an in-depth analysis of one scene of the film Battle Royale. As such, spoiler alert. If you want to watch Battle Royale, you can find it on Amazon Video to rent and buy here.

 

Battle Royale is an intriguing film about a class of Japanese students who are sent to an island and forced by the government to murder each other until only one remains. Many extend comparisons between this film and the popular Western Hunger Games franchise. I guess, wherever you are in the world, you can find movies about kids killing each other entertaining.

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The most fascinating part of Battle Royale for me is the Continue reading The Philosophy of Battle Royale: The Moral Suicide