“Dr. Strangelove” and the Paradox of Absurd Logic

A Year of Masterpieces: The Filmography of Stanley Kubrick

Introduction

Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a satirical masterpiece.  In this piece, we will discuss the germination of the great film and then detail how the director combines a serious camera (Part I), genuine but exaggerated characters (Part II), and a farcical tone (Part III) into one of the greatest condemnations of the military state of all time.  Kubrick’s aim is simple:  to subvert the grim seriousness of the Cold War by showcasing the absurdities that arise from taking concepts like “mutually assured destruction” and “nuclear deterrence” to their logical conclusions.

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Inside Out 2017: A Date for Mad Mary

This movie is fantastic! One of my favorite things about getting screeners is being blind-sided by something awesome, and “A Date for Mad Mary” definitely counts!

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Darren Thornton’s A Date for Mad Mary is a charming coming-of-age romance featuring incredible performances, unpredictable plot turns, and immense directorial skill. Thornton co-wrote the film with his brother Colin, based off of a play written by Yamine Akram that Darren also directed.

A Date for Mad Mary appears to be your standard young adult melodrama on the surface. Mary (Seána Kerslake) is coming home from a six-month stint in the local jail, and it feels like everyone in her life has changed while she was absent, especially her best mate Charlene (Charleigh Bailey). Still, Mary is the maid of honor at Charlene’s wedding, and she wants to prove that she can get a date in time.

See what I mean? This is rom-com 101. Except it isn’t. For a serious stretch of the film it isn’t clear at all where the plot is going. Many meet-cutes are aborted. One…

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Inside Out 2017: Mansfield 66/67

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The documentary Mansfield 66/67 trades in the same camp as its iconic subject: “Blonde Bombshell” Jayne Mansfield. The film focuses on the last two years of the starlet’s life, reveling in the rumors that swirled and the legends that the papers saw fit to print.

The film is built from celebrity interviews, discussions with cultural academics, archival footage, and kitschy sketches. The film does best when it is analyzing the peculiarities of Mansfield’s singular persona and having fun with whatever explanations are dreamt up. When it indulges in notions of Satanism, curses, and other such nonsense, it quickly exceeds its artistic license and becomes hard to take seriously.

Perhaps that’s the point.

Mansfield 66/67 certainly has an irreverence about it. Events of Mansfield’s life are expressed through interpretive dance. Car crashes are play-acted with Hot Wheels. John Waters is interviewed extensively. This is a film that dares the viewer to…

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Inside Out 2017: Handsome Devil

Here’s a wonderful little Irish flick I got to review as part of TIRFF. Now, it’s showing at Inside Out!

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Writer-director John Butler’s Handsome Devil favorably compares to other boarding school coming-of-age dramas like School Ties and Dead Poet’s Society. Butler’s film packs more irreverence than those films, and has a kind of tongue-in-cheek sensibility, but a lot of the elements are the same. Much of the drama is focuses on a pair of roommates, the main protagonist Ned (Fionn O’Shea), and his closeted gay roommate Conor (Nicholas Galitzine). Ned is quite sarcastic, delivers voice-over throughout the film, and is a constant target for bullying and homophobic taunts. By contrast, Conor is an amazing rugby player, and quickly wins over the rest of the campus. Despite their differences, the two roommates develop a friendship.

The School Ties tie-ins are numerous. Conor is a ringer in an incredibly popular sport, but he is also hiding a secret that could destroy him if it gets out, and there are plenty of…

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“Alien: Covenant” – a Muted Echo of a Once-Great Franchise

The Alien franchise has been limping along since the early ‘90s, and a covenant with God herself can’t save it from the paucity of original thought on display in Ridley Scott’s latest shade of a film.  Alien: Covenant builds a great starting point, but squanders everything near the end of the first act, and it simply isn’t cohesive or confident enough to recover.  Faint echoes suggest that the terrifying magic of the xenomorph may still be alive, but they never stand out above the background noise.

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Yay for Giant Hippo-Pig Trailers: Bong Joon-Ho’s “Okja”

Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho is not subtle when it comes to the themes of his films, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Snowpiercer isn’t so much an allegory for class warfare – it is class warfare, just set on the science fiction environment of an ever-moving train.  The Host is the venerable monster-movie warning that our careless destruction of the planet will come back to bite us – literally in this case.  And so, Okja continues in that same vein.  This Netflix exclusive will compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and then will be available for streaming on June 28th.

Check out the trailer below:

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