Bright Wall/Dark Room

Bright Wall/Dark Room

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A different lens on film. No hot takes, lots of long reads. (And now a podcast, too.)

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Recent reviews

"Videodrome is a film that begins as it ends, or ends as it begins. It is a strange, cathode-tubed ouroboros—the ancient symbol for the cycle of destruction and rebirth—in which the film’s ending repeats and then destroys and then possibly rebirths its beginning, a phosphorescent loop of UHF philosophizing, pixelated eroticism, and goregasmed genre Grand Guignolitry.

It begins with a flush of beams exploding across a television screen in a dark living room, cohering into the image of a woman…

"The weight of nonstop surveillance was no mere paranoia: as the film establishes in its opening scenes, the climate of fear, suspicion, and mistrust was deeply embedded in the fabric of what the film’s characters call the “System.” In that way, The Lives of Others resembles a filmic version of the panopticon, a social experiment initially introduced by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century to be used principally as a strategy of surveillance in prisons, schools, and factories.…

"For all the times throughout the film when Margot expresses, clearly and directly—to a husband, a doctor, or a lover—how scared she is, not one person, instance, or image gets close to unearthing what it is she’s scared of. The people around her perceive her fright as another manifestation of her derangement, a symptom to be treated. I kept waiting for a doctor to send her out for a seaside cure, to get some fresh air—and indeed, at one point,…

"If quick world-building is usually key to audience buy-in, rapid-fire world-building like this may actually have the opposite effect. Lynch piles on his signature moves relentlessly: the angled shot of the ceiling, canted just enough to destabilize the viewer; the close-ups on distorted facial expressions; the caricature of the possibly insane mother; the over-the-top violence executed with glee; the actors who have clearly been made to understand that their roles are simultaneously serious and farcical—commedia dell’arte-adjacent. You’d be forgiven for…

"I am not clever but I do love Pirates of the Caribbean. I know these splaying, heaving films won’t rescue us from this most current apocalypse, but I do think they indicate something aching and almost unsayable about the way we live and move and die in this world. I think take what you can/give nothing back is a necessary rephrasing of all for one/one for all. I think it’s how we get out beyond the end."

-Frank Falisi, Over The Edge, Over Again

"In Todd Haynes’ idiosyncratic Bob Dylan biopic, I’m Not There, six different actors—Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Marcus Carl Franklin—portray the folk legend under various aliases through divergent phases of his career and persona. While the film features several inspired leaps, few other than Blanchett are as audacious as reimagining Dylan as a young African American kid.

Dylan bought into the artistic temptation for rock artists to create new identities—an alter ego guided by…

"There might not be any identity in modern pop culture more disdained or pitied than the one-hit wonder. A paradox, the one-hit wonder is talented enough to produce a hit song that shoots to prominence, but doomed enough never to reproduce that initial success. Often, this is because the initial, successful song totally overshadows everything else they do. In other words, a monkey’s paw—the curse of a song being too good.

The designation of a one-hit wonder doesn’t fall upon…

"And yet, in spite of the Total Request Live and low-cut bootleg pants of it all, Josie and the Pussycats captures—and then eviscerates—the bizarre contours of early-2020s culture with more clarity than any piece of contemporary media to date."

- Kellie Herson, Josie and the Pussycats is the Most Prescient Movie Ever