The industry of memory

On The Sympathizer: Charlie Rose: You talk about the industry of memory. What’s that? Viet Thanh Nguyen: Well, we like to think that our memories are all equal, sort of a democratic notion, but in actuality, I think certain groups’ memories dominate over other groups, and those are the groups that have control over the […]

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Characters Matter

If you’re a young Hispanic interested in a career in acting, seeing a Hispanic actor on the screen could validate your professional interest. If you’re a young Hispanic, seeing a Hispanic character on the screen could validate your very existence. Hispanics represent 19 nations as well as dozens upon dozens of cultures. The only way […]

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Bursts out into star-sprinkled space.

From Alien by Walter Hill, David Giler and Dan O’Bannon: Outside the windows, clouds, clouds, clouds. Another tremor runs through the ship. The crews eyes riveted to their instruments. The ship clears the top of the cloud layer. Bursts out into star-sprinkled space. Trailing a wake of clouds. later… Kane lies slumped in his chair. […]

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how much show, how much tell

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language, screenwriting

We are advised to not include Spanish language dialogue in an English language script. Rather, every character should, at first, speak English and then their words can be translated before production. If only language and character could be so easily cleft. If a character speaks English, she is thinking in English. If she speaks in Spanish […]

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bathrooms, blades

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epidemics, as seen in zombie movies

the victim becomes the victimizer. human contact – the very thing that makes us human – kills us. it’s a total and absolute threat to the human condition. without each other, we are no longer human. that’s what the threat of infection is about. it’s not the infected – they’re the signifier. the signified is […]

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a monologue from 28 Days Later

A lyrical, precise monologue by Alex Garland, excerpted: It started as rioting, and right from the beginning you knew this was different. Because it was happening in small villages, market towns. And then it wasn’t on the TV any more. It was in the street outside. It was coming through your windows. It was a […]

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movies are magic tricks

magic tricks work when the audience is not fully aware of what they are seeing. movies are the same. when it works, the audience says: “i didn’t see that coming” when it doesn’t, the audience says: “that came out of nowhere” what you don’t see is as important (or more important) as what you do. […]

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visionary leadership

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the science of bad movies

Nora Caplan-Bricker: The ideal bedtime story, according to Nitun Verma, a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is one that “doesn’t build upon itself,” like a movie “with a lot of parallel stories that don’t connect at the end.” From The Podcast That Tells Ingeniously Boring Bedtime Stories To Help You Fall […]

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A very popular movie on how the terrorists win

A group of terrorists attempts to steal a weapon of mass destruction by driving a truck through the gates of a government compound in the capital city of an African nation. The terrorists are stopped by a special forces team led by a legendary American soldier. The leader of the terrorists vows revenge against the […]

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Ghost in the Shell

Emily Yoshida makes a subtle argument for the changing political context of art: Japanese audiences, unlike American audiences, don’t understand Motoko to be a Japanese character, just because she speaks Japanese and has a Japanese name. This speaks to the racial mystery zone that so much anime exists in… Of course, it’s a different issue […]

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the nadir in “midnight run”

In the first image, the protagonist is defeated. He faces away from us, towards the past. The road ahead of him is indirect and would take him away from us. He is pushed up against an enormous wall. There is no exit. The scene is clear as day. And then, in the very next shot, […]

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Werk

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Dry direction

Jason Guerrasio: “We’re all standing there and Malick hands out these pieces of paper to all of us,” Lennon said. “And the one he gave me said, ‘There’s no such thing as a fireproof wall.’ And I ask, ‘Is this something I’m supposed to say in the scene?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know.’” Lennon […]

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Hollywood

From West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein, excerpted by Andrew O’Hagan: I was very young in 1955, when Warner Brothers did Rebel without a Cause – 18 or 19 years old. We’d started shooting in black and white, and two weeks into it Jack clearly saw that something was going on with […]

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love on the line

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A movie about the “war on drugs”

At the end of the excellent movie Sicario, Benicio del Toro puts a gun to Emily Blunt’s face and tells her that she should move to a small town where the rule of law still exists because the place where they are – the U.S.-Mexico border – has become a land of wolves and she, unlike […]

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one hero’s journey

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The heroes we get (summer of 2014, continued)

Guardians of the Galaxy is full of clever jokes and features a disarmingly charming actor as its protagonist. It was made by extremely talented people but its greatest achievement is to leaven the emotional impact of a plot that hinges on a nonstop parade of death and destruction. (Update below.) Guardians presents as its hero […]

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Apeface

Many film critics, including some of the most astute, have written praises for the 2014 movie “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”. I greatly enjoyed a few scenes and marveled at many shots that are visually stunning. I also found it an offensively lazy and shallow commercialization of its predecessors. This is why. In […]

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Chestbursters vs. Engineers

Like many, I found the sequence in which the new Ripley “hacks” a sexist computer to give herself an abortion to be the best and truest to form. The magic of the original Alien movie was largely the alien in all its unsubtle sexuality. That is, the species will or drive for self-preservation programmed into […]

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Mad Men 2013

About 15 years ago I saw Tyler Brule, then just two years into Wallpaper, give a presentation that would forever change my understanding of art and commerce. He explained how Wallpaper was cajoling its clients into letting the magazine’s art team redo their ads so that these would play better as facing pages to the […]

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actor and spectator

in the actor-spectator relationship, both participants experience self-knowledge by “trading places” with another person. for the actor, self-knowledge is gained by looking inward, as if into a mirror. the actor is trained to master her own mind and body so that she may produce the gestures and voice that convey another person. the better the […]

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