Category: Online

‘Cine-diagnostics’: Mental illness on the Big Screen

“Silver Linings Playbook,” one of nine pictures nominated for the 2012 Oscars, featured a bipolar hero. (The last nominee with an Axis I protagonist was “A Beautiful Mind,” a lamentably inaccurate portrayal of paranoid schizophrenia, which nevertheless became a beautiful gold mine for Universal Studios.) My research shows that “Playbook” is one of a half […]

Film’s side effects not worth the risks

Glen and Krin Gabbard’s “Psychiatry and the Cinema” describes our discipline’s considerable value for screenwriters. The Gabbards cite the term “ficelle,” first used by Henry James in discussing narrative devices. A ficelle is the system of strings used to control a marionette. According to the Gabbards, the celluloid practitioner often serves as an admirable ficelle […]

Seth MacFarlane’s off night

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual award ceremony debuted at a modest dinner in the Blossom Room of Los Angeles’s Hollywood Roosevelt hotel in 1929. Two hundred and seventy people attended at $5 a head. Who could have predicted that by 2013, the Oscars would have evolved – or devolved, depending upon […]

Video games, violence, and a false premise

Politicos and media experts of various stripes and credibility have predictably implicated violent video games in the Sandy Hook tragedy. In fact, it’s far from clear what, if indeed any role violent games, TV, or movies have played in the wave of public massacres besetting America – including the Sandy Hook slaughter. A complex cybernetic […]

‘Bernie’ explores masculine identity formation

“Slacker,” director Richard Linklater’s 1991 debut feature,unfolded a daisy-chain of Austin bohemian mavericks, and otherwise gonzo 20-somethings, weaving in and out of one another’s lives in a surreal roundelay. Their means of support were uncertain and minimal. Many were former University of Texas students and expressed vague anarchistic or new-age metaphysical beliefs. But they were […]

Of Job Titles and Mind Games

One old guy says to the other: “Max, you’ve been my best friend for 30 years. You’re a fine human being. But you have always had one very big fault.” “And what, pray tell, would that be?” “You are very pretentious!” “Pretentious? PRETENTIOUS? MOI?”   My sermon today, brothers and sisters, is pretentious job titles […]

Pretty Woman Rescrewed:

                   In A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1950, film scholar Robert B. Ray argued that mainstream American film often addresses one or another social ill by reducing it to a personal problem. The impact of  racism, anti-semitism, et cetera on one or a few individuals is portrayed, then a […]

‘Mike’ Taps Into a Complex Subculture

Taking it off, taking it all off, whether for eros, profit, art, or any combination thereof might just be the world’s fourth oldest profession. Throughout history in song and story, it’s usually an infernal female who works her wiles upon some hapless male, by shedding her duds. To the West, Salome is arguably the most famous belly […]

‘Compliance’: First, Do No Harm

Film scholars have commented upon the native power of the documentary medium to convey the impression of unmanipulated reality. The intimation of “truthiness”– Stephen Colbert’s delectable mot– becomes especially pernicious in what I’ll call the “ill-intentioned” documentary. In this thankfully rare subgenre, the maker’s attitude toward some painful psychosocial problem is subverted by the very images […]