[Film: The Night They Raided Minsky’s, William Friedkin, 1968]
Raiders of the Lost Art:

How The Night They Raided Minsky’s Uses a Disjointed Tone as an Asset Rather Than a Detriment

 

Introduction:

The Night They Raided Minsky's poster - William Friedkin, Ralph Rosenblum - burlesque, editing, toneSurely, most folks who are aware of William Friedkin know him only as the director of The Exorcist and The French Connection. Some may also know him for the controversies surrounding his movie Cruising, but virtually no one still knows him as the director of the subject of this article. The Night They Raided Minsky’s is a comedic (fictionalized) account of the unintentional invention of striptease dancing by a young Amish dancer at a burlesque theater in New York City in 1925—a film apparently saved from mediocrity in the editing room by Ralph Rosenblum.

People vaguely aware of the terms ‘vaudeville’ and ‘burlesque’ might be tempted to think of the former as old-fashioned comedy and the latter as old-fashioned pornography, but neither category is that narrow and there’s lot more overlap than one might think. Both are forms of live variety entertainment (meaning they freely incorporate musical numbers, comedy acts, and dancing in a non-narrative format), but you would only hear strings of lewd jokes and see women removing articles of clothing in burlesque. To put things in the terms of the modern American cinematic-moral paradigm, when it came to theatrical variety shows on late-19th-century and early-20th-century American stages (adapted from French theatrical concepts), vaudeville was like PG or PG-13 entertainment, whereas burlesque was R.

The Night They Raided Minsky’s is a touching tribute to the often-misunderstood practice of American burlesque, including all of its textures: its whimsical joys, its seedy inauthenticities, and its relationships to the morals and economics of its time. And that unique blend of dirt and glamor, lust and love, greed and sincerity—admirably spreads out of the substance of the film and into its style.

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[Film: The Night They Raided Minsky’s, William Friedkin, 1968]
Raiders of the Lost Art:

How The Night They Raided Minsky’s Uses a Disjointed Tone as an Asset Rather Than a Detriment

was last modified: November 21st, 2019 by Daniel Podgorski

{Guest Post} [Film: Who Killed Captain Alex?, Nabwana I.G.G., 2010]

Film-as-Theatre and the Cult Film Phenomenon:

A Study of Amateur-Film-Turned-Viral-Video Who Killed Captain Alex?

 

Who Killed Captain Alex? movie poster - Nabwana IGG - Uganda, theatre, action movie, cult film

Introduction:

I recently watched the film Who Killed Captain Alex?, a viral success on YouTube which claims to be “Uganda’s first action-packed movie.” It is a hilarious watch for most audiences due to its extremely low budget and the resulting creative special effects, not to mention the “video joker” VJ Emmie (the voice of a Ugandan, English-language commentary track which comments over the only existing version of the movie for the entire hour).

I have seen plenty of hilariously low-budget films, but what struck me about this one is one of the pre-show slides, which says, “He [producer/writer/director/cinematographer/editor Nabwana I.G.G.] never imagined anyone outside his own village would see this film.”

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{Guest Post} [Film: Who Killed Captain Alex?, Nabwana I.G.G., 2010]

Film-as-Theatre and the Cult Film Phenomenon:

A Study of Amateur-Film-Turned-Viral-Video Who Killed Captain Alex?

was last modified: August 23rd, 2018 by Nabra Nelson

{Guest Post} [Film: Ghost in the Shell, Rupert Sanders, 2017]

Mostly Shell:

Explaining the Real Problems of the Live-action Ghost in the Shell

Introduction:

Ghost in the Shell movie poster - Rupert Sanders, Scarlett Johansson - white-washing, analysis, anime comparisonIt would be more apt for the new Scarlett Johansson movie, Ghost in the Shell, to go by another name or even another franchise; if so, it would be considered at least a decent sci-fi romp. Unfortunately, the writers of the film fundamentally failed to capture or even understand the spirit of the source material.

This is disappointing because the director and the art department has definitely captured the look and feel of the series even while taking their own interesting visual deviations as well. Nor is it any white-washing that dooms this film, as explained below. It is instead the stilted dialogue, safe plot choices, and horribly forced interpretations which hold this adaptation from being a true Ghost in the Shell adaptation.

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{Guest Post} [Film: Ghost in the Shell, Rupert Sanders, 2017]

Mostly Shell:

Explaining the Real Problems of the Live-action Ghost in the Shell

was last modified: January 9th, 2018 by Alec Brouillette

[Film: Arrival, Denis Villeneuve, 2016]
Life Willed at Every Second:

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Eternal Return of the Same

 

Arrival movie poster - analysis - Denis Villeneuve - Friedrich Nietzsche - eternal recurrence

Introduction:

The 2016 film Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life,” shares much with the tone of the cerebral and philosophically adventurous science-fiction from twentieth-century speculative-fiction masters like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Rod Serling. Helmed by Villeneuve, Arrival’s simultaneous full command of modern moviemaking practices as well as fidelity to that earlier era’s penchant for respecting the intellect of its audience make it an excellent film.

But as much as Arrival’s modern touches and classic style make for profuse praiseworthy and analytical fare—and have featured in reviews, essays, and explanations aplenty—it’s another relationship that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere that interests me more: the overlap between the premise of Arrival and a philosophical concept known as ‘eternal recurrence’ or ‘eternal return of the same’ that was most famously championed and explored in western philosophy by Friedrich Nietzsche. Both ultimately come around to raising the same notion: what would it mean to actively, enthusiastically, and fully will every moment of one’s life?

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[Film: Arrival, Denis Villeneuve, 2016]
Life Willed at Every Second:

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Eternal Return of the Same

was last modified: September 21st, 2019 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Pontypool, Bruce McDonald, 2008]
Pontyficating:

Pontypool and its Rapid, Disappointing Ruining of an Excellent Horror Story

Introduction:

Pontypool movie poster - movie review analysis - Dr. John MendezThe low-budget Canadian horror film Pontypool is well worth watching. Its several characters are well-drawn and fully fleshed out through minimal tactics, while the premise’s in-built limitations contain new and unique elements, even to my seasoned movie-watching cynicism. But still, despite its heavy success at an early establishment of an unnerving, creepy tone in a genuinely novel context, Pontypool‘s second half tanks its tone and changed my initial opinion of the film from ‘excellent’ to merely ‘good.’

So what is Pontypool about? What makes its premise so unique? And what goes wrong for it? It is about a freshly-employed-yet-seasoned disk jockey and his finnicky, neurotic new manager at a local radio station in a small town in Ontario which gets caught in the middle of a violent and mysterious apocalyptic-style nightmare (as well as a snowstorm). And how does the film go so wrong? By transitioning from this unique and wonderful set-up into a mess of tired tropes, tone-destroying filmmaking and acting decisions, and nonsensical as well as unnecessary pseudo-scientific explanations of—and later attempted cures for—the nightmare in question.

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[Film: Pontypool, Bruce McDonald, 2008]
Pontyficating:

Pontypool and its Rapid, Disappointing Ruining of an Excellent Horror Story

was last modified: January 6th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski