Blog Archives

Films vs. Movies #110: Moving Day

It’s moving day for Jim and James, as well as for columnist Don J. Morgan. “It was a childhood dream of mine to do a strip such as this one, and fulfilling that dream has been a blast. James, Jim, Cool Hand Luke and all the other characters have really become a part of me. That’s why I do not want this ride to end. I’m continuing their adventures on a new website…”

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Bombast #130

Through the run of the column, you can trace my slow-dawning realization that the life of a workaday critic that I’d been preparing myself for was no longer an option, at least not in the form that I’d envisioned it, and that I was not a special exception immune to the insidious forces far larger than myself that were at work, spoiling far more than my own petty ambitions. Revisiting my inaugural column, I was already referring to the question … Read More

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Docutopia: What I Learned From Covering Docs

After writing 89 of these doc-focused articles, I’ve grown to appreciate the form even more, and remain dedicated to exploring its many facets, shapes and styles. It’s an exciting time for docs and I consider myself fortunate to have taken part in the critical dialogue surrounding them. Here, for me, are the top takeaways from my time on the documentary film beat.

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Docutopia: The Ambiguous Realities of Actress and Approaching the Elephant

While Actress is a self-conscious hybrid doc that blurs the line between staginess and spontaneity (pushing it far afield from the direct cinema tradition), Approaching the Elephant is a more traditional observational film that, except for one visual element, straightforwardly represents the reality it encounters. While the former grants us extreme access to its central character’s subjectivity, the latter gives us none.

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Films vs. Movies #109: It’s the Oscars!

James and Jim celebrate all that is dependable and familiar (and really, really long) about Oscar night.

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Bombast #129

Neeson is 61 now, and viable as an action star in a way that eludes his tanned leather, HGH-augmented, Expendable contemporaries, who have tended to embrace the self-parody ever implicit in their personae. He lends even the most preposterous material a certain gravity and veracity, for he has the grimly tenacious air of a working-class dad who hasn’t made much time for the gym because he’s been punching the clock for forty-five years at some shit job, and as … Read More

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Viva Mabuse! #75: Past Imperfect

For one tiny thing, you can see an entire 1973 America in The Horror at 37,000 Feet, in all of its suppositions and stereotypes and styles. But more to the point, I’d rather watch it than any of the last dozen 21st-century superhero sequels or alien-robot blockbusters or CGI disaster epics, because these feel to me to be movies made by robots. Within this purview, the crude short cuts and sense of chintzy, rambunctious tumult spilling out of something like … Read More

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Docutopia: The Special Effectiveness of Particle Fever

Today, documentary filmmakers have access to an ever-expanding toolkit of digital gadgets, which fosters further developments of the nonfiction form. While computer-based animation and graphics have become ubiquitous, even to the point of cliché, new technologies can still produce eye-opening results. Fittingly, Particle Fever, a documentary about a groundbreaking new technology, benefits from technological innovations in its overall audio-visual design.

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Films vs. Movies #108: Cinderella Story

Harold Ramis, 1944 – 2014

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