BLFJ

By BLFJ | Pop reviews and in-depth analyses of current and classic films from around the world.

The Machine and Beyond: Male Hysteria in The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Others

William Shatner in the <i>Star Trek</i> episode "The Enemy Within"<p>“I have said that the sole effect of my somewhat childish experiment – that of looking down …

Star Trek

Eighty Years of A Star Is Born: An Actress Evaluates a Classic

Today, Cukor’s musical version is regarded as a classic, and, due to Garland’s spectacular comeback performance, it has even eclipsed the original. …

La La Land

The Enigma of Arrival: Time-Traveling from Lovecraft to La Jetée

In the same way that the heptapod language permits Louise to grasp the warp and weft of her world, the form of the heptapods taps into the once …

The Problem of Access: Weiner (2016) and the Limitations of the Fly-on-the-Wall Documentary

<i>The response to</i> Weiner <i>shows us (yet again) that the greater the access to a subject, the more likely a documentary is to be lavishly praised . . . no</i> …

Documentaries

“Narrative is dead. We’re mourning it.” Intertextuality and Authorship in Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini (2014)

Rather than trying to frame the narrative as a means of truly understanding the mind of its subject, the film emphasizes that the central figure …

Get Real: How Much Reality Do We Want in Acting?

Jeffrey Tambor in <i>Transparent</i><p>Isn’t it the job of an actor to play what he or she is not?<p>It was Jeffrey Tambor who got me thinking about authenticity …

Simon & Schuster

All the Small Things: Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson

Almost as if stolen from the time of the usual commitments of any working person engaged with the world, these images breathe a second, more …

Poetry

The Not-So-Straight Story: David Lynch's Mulholland Drive

Today – January 20 – is David Lynch’s birthday (he’s 71). To honor one of the true originals of le cinema moderne – and to remind ourselves of the …

“You’ve Gotta Do Something”: Cosmic Mobility and the Future of Mankind in Rebel Without a Cause

<i>“Through the infinite reaches of space, the problems of man seem trivial and naïve indeed, and man existing alone seems himself an episode of little</i> …

La La Land and Dreams of a Musical Renaissance

There is some originality in this orgy of borrowing, with easy references to touch screens, cell phones, and an interracial marriage, but all with a …

Jerry Lewis and the Gender of Work

<i>The Disorderly Orderly</i><p>The gender of work in the work films is a spectrum that includes both the neutered worker of <i>The Bellboy</i> and <i>The Errand Boy</i> and …

The Elephant in the Graveyard: The Testament of John Derek

<i>Everywhere she was, there was Eden</i>. – Mark Twain<p>So this is what it’s like on the other side. Not exactly how I pictured it. Nothing like they told …

“What a Fine Ruin It’ll Make!”: John Ford’s The Long Gray Line (1954)

Repeatedly, the tragedies in Marty’s life lead him to question the worth of life, and repeatedly the order and stability of the parade re-enters to …

In Search of Lost Time: A Review of Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women

Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig<p>The whole film can be viewed as a consciousness-raising of sorts. While even new-wave French auteurs …

The Cowboy’s Final Act: On Clint Eastwood, Trump, American Sniper, and Sully

Eastwood's famous "empty chair" speech at the RNC, before a backdrop of his iconic "Man with No Name" image. Source: YouTube<p>These films aren’t merely …

The Hole in Moana’s Heart

What the movie gets wrong is at the story’s heart: not the goddess Te Fiti’s, but the human heart. People, not gods, were the cause of environmental …

Extinguishing Features: The Last Years of Richard Pryor

<i>Editor’s Note: Richard Pryor died on this date, December 10, 2005, nine days shy of his sixty-fifth birthday. We salute this comic genius and</i> …

What Makes Them So Successful? A Look into the Philosophy Behind the Coens’ Filmography

Ethan and Joel Coen on the set of <i>No Country for Old Men:</i> © Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage<p>The truth is that they tend toward philosophical …

Challenging the Censor: An Interview with Indian Political Documentarian Rakesh Sharma

Kanizben, who saw a man burnt alive during the Naroda Patiya massacre in the 2002 riots, in a still from Rakesh Sharma’s <i>Final Solution.</i><p>“India has …

Book Review: Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity

Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï star in Pascal Laugier’s <i>Martyrs,</i> one of the most relentless and influential films of the New French Extremity.</i> …

Lords of Nothing: Hell or High Water (2016)

“Hey, buddy. We’re exactly the same. What’s happening to these people happened to my ancestors, and it happened to your ancestors.” – Alberto to …

The Lone Ranger

George Lucas’s Wildest Vision: Retrofuturist Auteurism in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

The very foundation of Lucas’s cinematic philosophy is newness – this comes through in his obsession with technological possibilities, and through …

Star Wars

The Crazy World of His Girl Friday (1940)

His Girl Friday’s headlong pace feels like that of modern life, and its rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue calls to mind our modern media babble, with …

Journalism

Waiting for Cinema: Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Naked Reality (2016)

Bekolo’s cinema is not just “African,” or postcolonial, or experimental, or narrative. It is also a cinema that constantly searches for itself, for …

Filmmaking

Making Waves: Wavelengths at the Toronto International Film Festival (September 8-18, 2016)

With so many films being made – many of which will never receive wide distribution – how do you navigate the glut of movies at a whopper like …

Toronto Film Festival

You Say You Want a Revolution? Regan’s Head and The Exorcist

If the evil spirit is “seen,” that is, reflected . . . he is overcome. – Marie-Louise von Franz Unmask Satan, and you vanquish him. – St. Augustine * …

Mapping the (Cinematic) Genome: Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959); Peppermint Candy (1999); Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

Our cinematic genome, meanwhile, is becoming – if not always more clearly defined – certainly more rich and diverse and, at the same time, more …

Literature

The Propagation of Empathy, the Absence of Bathos: On Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004)

Regret is perhaps Payne’s greatest theme. The continual human dramedy, the elegiac comedy, a country full of people with limited potential raised to …

Mia of the Spirits: Woody Allen’s Alice (1990)

Alice isn’t all high-concept reverie and mystical melancholy. After a series of self-consciously arthouse films and sombre homages – and bookended …

Manhattan