Monthly Archives: October 2011

39 posts

Courageous: A Closer Look

Is Courageous great art? By almost any accepted measure, no. Is it meant to be great art? Presumably not. Will it speak to your heart? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Does it achieve its goals truthfully and without pretense? Positively. Does it promote goodness, responsibility, honesty, and truth? Absolutely. Is it then a successful work? I think an “Amen” is in order.

Art Review: Charles Dickens at 200, The Morgan Library and Museum

Dickens’ novels probed the social ills of Victorian England in order to create unforgettable images of human misery and redemption in the minds of the literary public. Conscious of how the accompanying illustrations to his text would help in this respect, Dickens worked very closely with the artists who provided these memorable pictures.

The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere: Suffer the Little Children

Officers Friendly and Crazy to the rescue. (Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC) Despite the fact that AMC’s “The Walking Dead” drew larger numbers of viewers in its first season than the channel’s frontrunner “Mad Men,” the channel allegedly fired creator Frank Darabont and drastically slashed the show’s budget, even while stretching […]

Music Review: New York Philharmonic, “Alan Gilbert Conducts Bach, Berg, and Brahms”

Taking the second violin part, Gilbert, who has previously played in the Philharmonic’s chamber music concerts, proved himself to be as much an accomplished instrumentalist as a conductor, though he quipped, in a video interview published on the Philharmonic’s Website, “I certainly don’t intend to try to take the city by storm as a violinist.”

Movie Review: The Thing

Detractors of Rob Zombie’s Halloween know that the cardinal rule of a classic monster is this: don’t reveal too much. In the same way Michael Myers was a far spookier fiend when he hid behind the impassive mask, tilting his head in fascination at his kills, the alien in The Thing was wholly horrifying when it was an unknown life form. When Zombie strove to tell us the story of how Michael Myers became a monster, we quit listening. Unfortunately, van Heijningen falls into the same trap with his prequel.

The Weekly Listicle: Some Movies Are About Things

At last, the long-rumored prequel/remake of John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece The Thing infects theaters across the country. And I mean that in a good way, because I still hope it will be entertaining, despite persistent pangs of common sense. The trailer, at least, sold it as a pretty faithful re-shooting […]

Movie Review: The Big Year

There are no surprises. The payoff of each plot arc is completely predictable. The fun of this particular chase comes from the stunning landscapes, the majesty of the birds themselves, and the easy banter among three seasoned comedians in low gear. This is very much a movie about the journey, not the destination, and this particular journey is no more or less thrilling than a pleasant drive with a favorite aunt and uncle.

Book Review: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

In this profound and spirited work, Pinker champions the civilizing process that, according to his detailed research, has enhanced the cause of peace, decreased the scale of violence and enabled peoples of widely separated nations and ethnic groups to realize their common humanity. Using a mass of scientific data and an intensive reading of history and current events, Pinker makes the case that Planet Earth is becoming a more Peaceable Kingdom.

Movie Review: The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Instead of jumping right into centipeding, Six spends the majority of the sequel allowing us to experience Martin’s life. It’s a very surreal and uncomfortable place, and this portion seems more like an experimental film than a horror movie. Filming Centipede II in black-and-white rather than color definitely adds to this ambiance. Martin sleeps on a soiled mattress, walks around in stained underwear, and lives with his comparably disturbed mother.

Movie Review: Take Shelter

Jessica Chastain, also terrific in The Tree of Life, turns in another remarkable performance here. As lost and as frightened as her husband but without the “solace” of the visions, Samantha sees how much he believes and is similarly desperate to preserve her family. Though she doesn’t wholly discount what he is dealing with, she doesn’t treat him with kid gloves either. Chastain shows how someone can hit various breaking points, but without any of them being the proverbial “straw.”

The Weekly Listicle: Method In Our Movie Madness

The practice of blessing mass entertainment with the bard’s prose confers a kind of loftiness upon it, or at least that must be the idea. A quick glance indicates that Shakespeare has provided titles for an alarming number of Star Trek episodes, just for starters. This week, lend your ears to Brett Harrison Davinger and me (Dan Fields) as we look at some of our favorite films to borrow a title from the works of Shakespeare.