Check out the new weekly film blog, Fourth Wall, I’ve co-launched with fellow CHIRP Radio volunteer Clarence Ewing! Basically, the two of us will pick a topic each week and then trade thoughts via e-mail until we publish the discussion on Fridays. Here’s our take on the current state of Hollywood. Next up — the new film Get Out.
Hi folks — here’s the first in what will hopefully be a continuing series of thoughts on various new films. These won’t necessarily be reviews, but more an exploration of themes expressed in each story. To start: two of my favorite cinematic experiences of 2016: Alba and Moonlight.
Few films and television shows paint an authentic picture of childhood. Some of it assuredly smacks of lazy writing, but I imagine that once we pass a certain age, it’s simply tough to get inside the mind and perspective of a child. Can you remember when the world was a scary place? When you weren’t sure of how to behave in certain social situations? Or when you had to deal with malicious peers?
Here’s a trailer I cut last summer for the ReelAbilities film festival here in Chicago. The annual festival is “dedicated to sharing the human experience of disability through art and film.” As you can see, there were a slew of amazing independent films showcased… and on a related note, I was inspired to finally watch the 1989 Oscar-nominated picture My Left Foot, based on the real-life story of artist Christy Brown. An incredible story (and film) to say the least.
Some of you know that I’ve contributed a number of essays to Dr. Alan Gitelson’s American Government collegiate textbooks over the years — here are a few of my latest:
Greetings everyone! Hope your 2014 was a bit healthier than mine? After recovering from a frozen shoulder (relating to a 2013 ruptured appendix), I came down with an abscess in my liver (!) that had me back at the good ol’ hospital and then home for a lengthy convalescence. This makes two straight years where I’ve gone home with tubes sticking out of me. Charming, eh? But I am finally healthy — thanks to terrific doctors — and rarin’ to go in 2015.
As far as my documentary, Enemies of the State, I’m happy to announce that not only have I shot new interviews (with the folks at The Dissolve among others), but I’ve picked up a fantastic editor, Alaric Martin, who is not only a sharp storyteller but also a treasure trove of cinema knowledge. It’s been a while since my last podcast, but you can check out all my Split Reel shows here at CHIRP Radio. I’m also thinking of doing something different with the format this year — namely, getting back to prose! I definitely need an excuse to write more, and I want to focus on essays relating to some of the lesser-known films I’ve enjoyed recently. (Werner Herzog’s Into The Abyss has sent me down quite a Time Sink of Thought recently.) My favorite films of 2014? Boyhood, Boyhood, and Boyhood. But if I had to pick two others… Nightcrawler and Wild.
Hey folks — it’s been a while! The podcasts have been few but my doc project, Enemies of the State, is coming along — there are revised clips on its page here covering everything from our depiction of communists to our strange fascination (and even borderline-idolatry) of serial killers! And extended features on both the MegaCorp (did anyone catch The East earlier this year?) and urban dystopian themes are soon to come.
Questions? Comments? Drop me a line! kjfullam (at) gmail.com.
P.S. It’s been a great year for cinema-going in general — my top 3 thus far: Short Term 12, Before Midnight, and Sister (L’Enfant d’en haut).
Hello, folks! For those not in the know, I’ve been working on a documentary about the relationship between Hollywood villainy and societal fears (working title, Enemies of the State). It now has its own page on this website (see above), where you can catch various promos and whatnot — there’s a longer piece on Hollywood and war culture posted there if you’re so inclined. Below is the nuts-and-bolts two-minute pitch promo! And as far as Split Reel, stay tuned for a new show coming soon with author Katherine Rife about Quentin Tarantino films…
“Washington and Hollywood spring from the same DNA.” — Jack Valenti, former president & CEO, Motion Picture Association of America
What makes a convenient Hollywood villain? Via interviews with filmmakers and cultural critics, Enemies of the State will examine the fictional depictions of societal fears throughout the years — everything from the threat of Cold War-era communism to artificial intelligence and urban dystopia. How has Hollywood reflected the shifting political and social climates of the country throughout the last century? What is the nature of the symbiotic relationship between popular culture and public opinion?
We live in an age where we have nearly-limitless access to not only mass media, but also the critical dissection of said culture via the internet. What sort of impact has this had on our “sophistication” re: film, television, and music? And what does it mean to be “sophisticated” in the first place — has that definition shifted over time in response to various trends in art? Joining me is cultural critic Leonard Pierce, who has written about film and music for numerous publications, and is the author of If You Like The Sopranos… on crime cinema. Leonard’s writing can be found at leonardpierce.com.
Released in 1984, the unheralded The Terminator not only propelled director James Cameron and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to stardom, but would eventually become recognized as a landmark work that would influence cinema for decades to come. Sitting at the center of a hub of themes ranging from corrupt A.I.s to dystopian futures, The Terminator is the focus of a new book from Scott Von Doviak: If You Like The Terminator, Here Are Over 200 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Scott is a cultural critic whose writing has been featured in the A/V Club, Nerve, and numerous other publications.
George A. Romero. Wes Craven. John Carpenter. These three icons revolutionized the horror genre of cinema during the late 1960s and ’70s via films like Night of the Living Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, and Halloween — movies that were particularly attuned to the American zeitgeist at the time. Why do many credit this trio of directors with ushering in a second “golden age” of horror? In what ways do we still feel their influence today? Returning as my guest is Kendall Phillips, a professor of communications at Syracuse University and the author of the new book, Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film.
Much like the concept of time travel, the subject of dreams is a creative playground for filmmakers, both in terms of narrative as well as visuals — when you’re not bound by the laws of reality, you can go anywhere… and more importantly, be anyone. Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries broke new ground in presenting the world of dreams to mid-20th-century filmgoers, with the former enlisting the services of artist Salvador Dali for that very purpose. More recently, dreams have served as the stage for everything from the Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise to Richard Linklater’s thought-provoking Waking Life, a series of vignettes discussing the nature of existence. Returning as my guest is mental-health professional and dedicated cinephile Molly McAshan (who shared my befuddlement at Christopher Nolan’s dream-within-a-dream [and then some] 2010 blockbuster Inception).