“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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Classic Review – Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

INTRODUCTION

In 1991, dozens of happy accidents converged into one of the greatest thrillers of all time:  The Silence of the Lambs.  It is the most recent film to win Academy Awards in all five of the major categories (both leading actors, screenplay, director, and best picture).  As that distinction may suggest, practically every aspect of the film boasts superlatives.  The performances are exceptional.  Ted Tally’s adaption of the screenplay structures the film with the familiar beats of the hero’s journey, but provides enough twists to keep us on edge.  Jonathan Demme’s direction shows restraint and courage, and produces moments rife with tension, many of which do not exist on the page.  The characters, technical work, and writing all cooperate towards a single goal:  championing a theme of female strength and intellect in a world dominated by men, and the courage that it takes to confront true evil.

Continue reading “Classic Review – Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)”

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is a Romantic and Hyper-Stylized Ode to Artistry and Dream-Seeking

In La La Land, the musical genre is simultaneously presented with a vibrant contemporaneity and a celebratory nostalgia for classic Hollywood.  Around this structure, the film espouses timeless themes of self-doubt, settling and compromise, and the drive to follow one’s dreams – especially in the context of artistry.  There are two great performances at the core of the film, Emma Stone as Mia and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, multiple spectacular song-and-dance numbers, and a hyper-stylized aesthetic that blends reality and fantasy to perfection.  Together, these elements make La La Land a wonderful marriage of plot, style, and theme, and one of the best films of the year (and best film musicals of recent memory).

Continue reading “Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is a Romantic and Hyper-Stylized Ode to Artistry and Dream-Seeking”

Classic Review Friday – John Dahl’s “Rounders” (1998)

Widely touted as “The Best Poker Movie Ever Made”, Rounders barks the lingo of the degenerate gambler with a practiced fluency. The scenes spent at a poker table exemplify the emotional roller coaster that every lover of the game has experienced. But amid the bad beats, 3-outers, and pot splashing, the film offers something more meaningful than a fly-on-the-wall perspective of a high-stakes poker bout. Nestled between the turn and river cards, Rounders challenges the viewer with a pointed question: are you doing what you love to do, or are you doing what others think is best for you? Continue reading “Classic Review Friday – John Dahl’s “Rounders” (1998)”

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