I can’t imagine I’m alone in finding something suspect about Woody Allen’s return to critical and popular favor. The murmurings of decline that followed upon the director’s efforts a decade ago have given way over the last few years to …

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| Fall, 2013

Whenever I hear big political news I reflexively reach for my phone to check Twitter. I scroll down in the timeline to whenever the news—Thatcher is dead, an Excel error gave us austerity—first hit, and then scroll back up to …

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| Spring, 2011
Chicago Heights

Like many denizens of Winesburg, Ohio, the fictional town in which the American writer Sherwood Anderson set his eponymous 1919 masterwork, Alice Hindman feels she has missed out on life—or at least an important part of it. After her lover …

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| Spring, 2012

My parents kept three numbers on speed dial: my aunt’s house, my father’s office and the Video Room, the movie rental place on 80th Street and Third Avenue. The Video Room catalogue was thick as a phone book and it …

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As canonical controversies go, who wrote Shakespeare’s plays is the literary equivalent of who’s buried in Grant’s tomb—a question that answers itself and a bad joke that doesn’t improve with retelling. Thanks to Roland Emmerich, English professors can count on …

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Note: This is a modified version of an article originally posted on The Niles Files, on October 9, 2011. George Clooney’s The Ides of March is about Hollywood, just as much—if not more so—as it is about insider politics. Clooney …

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tree of life2

With the rumblings and portents of world’s end and apocalyptic speculation, The Tree of Life could not have arrived at a more opportune moment. Granted, it does not dwell on the End as much as it does the Beginning…

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| Fall, 2010

Like Hector, Will is at home with his beautiful wife and smiling young son. And like Hector, Will then chooses to return to war. But Will is not compelled to leave the city by fear for the safety of those he loves, or by the demands of honor. Rather he is drawn to the life he leads in conflict, allured by it.

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| Winter, 2010

The director of four films beginning with Badlands in 1973, Terrence Malick studied philosophy with Stanley Cavell at Harvard before abandoning a doctorate on Heidegger, Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein. A promising journalist and academic—as well as an outstanding high school football player—in …

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| Winter, 2010

The best word I’ve come across to describe David Cronenberg’s filmmaking style is “disembodied.” It was voiced as a criticism, but I think he’d own up to it. Whatever squelchy or peculiar or downright disgusting thing is going on in …

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