Art and Film: In the zone

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In 1959, at the height of the Cold War, Rod Serling trademarked the creeping alteration of reality as a feature of post-Golden Age television with the advent of The Twilight Zone. Introducing the series premier in his intense nasal baritone – unique yet perpetually mimicked – Serling located the zone … read more… “Art and Film: In the zone”

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Covid-19: A cultural draft notice

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The current of disgust, loathing, and anger in the liberal white consciousness has been pretty steady since Donald Trump was elected president, extinguishing a delicate consensus that the country was moving in more or less in the right direction. Of course, for people like me – white, male, late boomer/early … read more… “Covid-19: A cultural draft notice”

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Art and Film: Claustrophobia

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / People in lockdown on account of a pervasive but invisible biological enemy might be perversely drawn to movies broadly about pandemics, like Steven Soderbergh’s coolly wise Contagion (2011), Alfonso Cuarón’s elegantly melancholy Children of Men (2006), or the rather silly but occasionally unnerving Outbreak (1995). Some could also resort to … read more… “Art and Film: Claustrophobia”

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Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s eye for grace

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In the 1820s, not long after Lewis and Clark blazed the Oregon Trail, Otis “Cookie” Figowitz, a white orphan from Maryland who had been indentured to a Boston baker and is now a cook, and King-Lu, an itinerant Chinese dreamer on the run, are en route to Fort Tillicum, a … read more… “Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s eye for grace”

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Art and Film: Dimitri de Clercq’s dark idyll

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Not every filmmaker can emulate Alfred Hitchcock and cue Chet Baker in a feature debut shot on a shoestring budget and avoid appearing shamelessly trite or derivative, but Belgian director and co-writer Dimitri de Clercq pulls it off with his captivatingly twisted, noirish romance You Go To My Head. The … read more… “Art and Film: Dimitri de Clercq’s dark idyll”

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Art and Film: Surviving the Oscars

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Martin Scorsese directed what was probably the best American movie of the year – The Irishman – and it garnered not a single Academy Award despite ten nominations. The film’s Netflix backing and correspondingly enervated theater release annoyed key players in the Academy and appeared to doom its prospects. Despite those exogenous … read more… “Art and Film: Surviving the Oscars”

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The political power of art

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In a typically penetrating New York Times column earlier this month, David Leonhardt pointed out that one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s many insights was the need to showcase as well as merely extend government largesse in order to impress upon its beneficiaries the ongoing value of the federal government’s involvement in their … read more… “The political power of art”

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Art and Film: 2019 Top Ten

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It’s been a fine year for movies, their demise due to streaming having been greatly exaggerated notwithstanding awkward episodes like the theatrical release of Netflix-backed The Irishman. Here is my inexorably subjective and eminently debatable list of the Top Ten dramatic films of 2019. The Irishman. Still the king of the … read more… “Art and Film: 2019 Top Ten”

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Art and Film: Rogue plant

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The political ascent of Donald Trump and others like him has produced a glut of ominous allegories, and Austrian director Jessica Hausner’s mesmerizing film Little Joe may be the richest yet. With an unabashed nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (all three versions), the story’s contours are obvious, but … read more… “Art and Film: Rogue plant”

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Art and Film: Merchants of nostalgia

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / If bad times increase the demand for nostalgia, the current bull market is going to persist for at least another year. But Donald Trump, the ultimate stimulus for that demand, is himself a product of a certain toxic brand of nostalgia – one for a time of white male domination, … read more… “Art and Film: Merchants of nostalgia”

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