Favorite SP Critics

Cinematically Thinking
   "The Archived Articles"
   by T.B. Meek

NOW AVAILABLE!! "Your Life Is A Movie -- The Best of SolPix 2002-2005" -- from Del Sol Press! [Click Here To Order]

   Provocative Brain-Spankers

Includes timeless matter such as:
• Post Punk Cinema
• This Machine Kills Fascists
• Your Life Is A Movie
• Humanism On The Ropes
• Is Big Media The Antichrist?
• Y Tu Existentialism Tambien?

The Torrent
   Drenching in the media flow
   by Todd Gitlin

The media saturates, drenches, overflows our lives: an endless torrent of words, images, sounds. This is not the "information age", a mere channel to life, says Gitlin, but life itself. How do people make sense of the onrush without being submerged by it?   [more]

I Have A Dream Sequence
   Revisiting a maligned technique
   by Timothy Dugdale

For years, decades even, screenwriting students have been warned off flashbacks and dream sequences. If you have to stick one of those in, intone the gurus, then your script has got problems. [more]

Inside Dick Cavett's Brain
   Reflections on the Interview Maestro
   by Timothy Dugdale

You could tell that Dick Cavett was nervous. And Ingmar Bergman, being Bergman, didn’t miss the opportunity to point out that The Seventh Veil was a bad movie, unlike his own, The Seventh Seal. [more]

What Is A Screenplay?
   Notes from the field
   by Timothy Dugdale

This is always the first question I ask the students in the screenwriting class I teach every fall.
“It’s a story,” says someone, rolling their eyes as if answering a dolt. [more]

Notes From Berlin
   ... Becoming Hitler's Opposite
   by Don Thompson

It was my first time in Berlin. One thing that struck me about the city is how modern and global it is; Berlin has an almost non-descript feel, with most of its historic buildings blown away by allied bombing during World War II.   [more]

Looking For Mr. Un-Real
   Nostalgia for our illusions
   by Nicholas Rombes

Most of my colleagues in the liberal arts at the University where I teach still believe that one of their primary missions is to help liberate students from a kind of false consciousness that blinds them to the injustices of The System.  [more]

A Film Called San Francisco
   San Francisco as cinema
   by Timothy Dugdale

When Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer double cross Kirk Douglas in Out of the Past, they take a steamer to San Francisco. Not Los Angeles. Not San Diego. San Francisco. Later, Douglas returns the favor by sending Mitchum on a wild goose chase back to the city to retrieve some dodgy accounting files from an equally dodgy lawyer.  [more]

On Death And Taxis
   The cab as sacred space
   by Timothy Dugdale

At long last, it seems The Apprentice is running out of gas. Lord knows it’s about time. An hour spent with people aspiring to be Donald Trump is an hour too long. The show takes you through many emotions, none of them pleasant. Relief comes only when the smug vulgarian dispatches his victim of the week.   [more]

Loving Paranoid Media
   ... and hating every minute of it
   by Don Thompson

One of the most interesting and pervasive trends in film and media has been an increasing sense of paranoia, both blatant and implied, in the messages communicated. The subtext of all this paranoia seems to rise from an overarching sense of apocalypse on some level, be that social, spiritual, environmental, or otherwise.   [more]

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
   Post-Punk Cinema
   by Nicholas Rombes

Like the band The Clash, who couldn't decide, the new breed of post-punk films just aren't sure. Films like Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, and julien donkey-boy are up to a kind of narrative and visual experimentation that there hasn't been a lot of in American film since the 1960s.   [more]

This Machine Kills Fascists
   Why sub-culture no longer exists
   by Nicholas Rombes

"Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies." -- Horkheimer and Adorno, "The Culture Industry" (1944)

"Where are our real bodies?" -- eXistenZ (1999)

THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS. So said the lettering on Woodie Guthrie's guitar. What links that statement with Herman Goerring's that "every time I hear the word culture I reach for my pistol" is their shared recognition of the raw power of culture: it can kill, and it can make you want to kill.   [more]

Y Tu Existentialism Tambien?
   Is an existential renaissance in the works?
   by Timothy Dugdale

"And your mother too" -- so comes the final salvo of macho brinksmanship between two Mexican teenagers tippling immodestly at a cantina on a Oaxacan beach. Each has confessed to shagging the other's girlfriend.   [more]

Too Much Reality
   Tracing new wave surrealism's roots
   by Nicholas Rombes

I have a friend who loves to hate the films of Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, and the screenplays of Charlie Kaufman. "Cold, postmodern parlor tricks," he calls them. And who can deny that films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Human Nature, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...  [more]

von Trier for Dummies
   Zen and the non-technique of Dogme
   by Don Thompson

Lars von Trier is arguably the greatest cinema auteur (or anti-auteur, if you prefer) of recent times, although many people in the U.S. (outside of Cinophiles) would be hard pressed to know who he is or what he stands for. Even among intellectuals he remains a mystery, confounding as many as he enlightens.   [more]

Chimes At Midnight
   Revisiting the Shakespearian Welles
   by Mike Shen

INTERVIEWER: What is your major vice?

ORSON WELLES: Accidia -- the medieval Latin word for melancholy, and sloth… I have most of the accepted sins -- envy, perhaps, the least of all. And pride…

INTERVIEWER: Do you consider gluttony a bad vice?

There must have been good feelings, and good wine, flowing in the hotel room where that interview took place, for Welles took no offense at the question.   [more]

Faulkner On Film
   Obliquely translating a master
   by Mike Shen

It's said that once, during his unhappy years as a screenwriter in Hollywood, William Faulkner accompanied Howard Hawks and Clark Gable on a hunting trip. After a few hours of characteristic silence, Faulkner was heard to mumble something about literature, and Gable asked him who he thought were the best living writers.   [more]

The Culture of Bambi Meets Godzilla
   Killing the enemy as self
   by Don Thompson

I don't remember exactly when it was. Maybe 20 years ago. It was the first time I saw the brief animated film called BAMBI MEETS GODZILLA in a theater. There was 30 seconds or so of peace, watching Bambi as he peacefully grazed in a meadow. Then WHAM!   [more]

The Author and the Film Editor: Ondaatje interviews Murch
   by Mike Shen

Review of "The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film" -- by Michael Ondaatje

The most interesting thing about Walter Murch is not his resume as a film editor and sound designer -- which is saying something, since his credits include classics like The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, and The Conversation.   [more]

Palm Springs Film Noir Film Festival
   In search of the true noir dame
   by Kimberly Nichols

A pack of dime store dames and pin-striped players descended upon the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, California in June to celebrate the danger and despair of noir at the 2002 Palm Springs Film Noir Festival.   [more]

Is Big Media The Anti-Christ?
   The slow death of awareness
   by Don Thompson

If you haven't been following the evolution of Internet activism, then you're missing probably one of the most significant trends of the last few years. Case in point is the campaign to stop media consolidation as reflected in a new set of FCC rule changes allowing for a new round of media mergers.   [more]

Your Life Is A Movie
   The surveillance culture as entertainment
   by Nicholas Rombes

Today, a second-order reality threatens not to replace the Real, but to expose it as a threat. The final threat. We have been prepared for this by movies like eXinstenZ and The Matrix and Minority Report, which have helped to transform fear into desire.   [more]

Humanism On The Ropes
   Media in the age of terror
   by Don Thompson

Humanism has been getting a bad rap lately. After relentless hammering by the religious right, who determined sometime after World War II that "secular humanism" and the United Nations were forming a unholy alliance to undermine the moral fabric of the globe, humanist values are definitely on the wane.   [more]

Walking Through History: Russian Ark and The Rings of Saturn
   by Mike Shen

While movie adaptations often barely resemble the books they're based on, sometimes a film and a book with no affiliation end up having a great deal in common. Two such works I've come across in the past year are Alexander Sokurov's groundbreaking film Russian Ark and W.G. Sebald's hypnotic novel The Rings of Saturn.   [more]

The Razor's Edge of American Cinema
   The new sincerity of post-ironic films
   by Nicholas Rombes

In 1967, Bonnie and Clyde could cause a stir because it seemed to throw audiences' sympathies on the side of the "wrong" characters, glorifying, or at least glamorizing, their bloody actions.   [more]

What Liberal Media?
  The elusive middle ground in U.S. media
   by Eric Alterman

This excerpt is from Eric Alterman's book, What Liberal Media? (Basic Books, 2003)

Given the success of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, New York Post, American Spectator, Weekly Standard, New York Sun, National Review, Commentary and so on, no sensible person can dispute the existence of a "conservative media."   [more]

The Non-Rules of Post-Modern Film
   The paradox of rules in a world without them
   by Nicholas Rombes

One of the unexpected consequences of postmodernism has been the embracing of rules by the very people who were supposed to have inherited the liberation from rules that postmodernism promised.   [more]

The Yin Yang of Kill Bill
The cultural dialog between Tarantino and Eastwood

   by Don Thompson

The omen was clear: I opened the newspaper, and saw two film advertisements facing each other on opposite pages. One for Kill Bill and the other for Mystic River.   [more]

The Truth About Hawaii Five-O
   The wave from Jack Lord to Kurtz
   by Timothy Dugdale

How better to begin an essay on surf movies than with the image of a wave without a surfer. Every week, as Steve McGarrett intoned “Aloha”, a big blue curl would freeze on screen. Within the conventions of television, we knew the suspense was bogus.   [more]

Peace As Style
   How films talk peace in style and theme
   by Don Thompson

With the current war in Iraq, the time is ripe to talk about peace movies. Films about peace, with peace as their central theme, speak to us in times of war, reminding us of alternatives.   [more]

Kill Bill Unplugged
   How reshaping reality may haunt us yet
   by Nicholas Rombes

The Kill Bill films, with their relentless sampling of international movie traditions—ranging from French New Wave to Hong Kong kung fu, to Japanese samurai, to Italian spaghetti western—showcase in an extreme form of filmmaking that openly acknowledges that art is a mix of other texts and styles.  [more]

Cartoon Nation
   Wanted: Adults In America
   by Don Thompson

I ventured into a video store the other evening and rented Under The Tuscan Sun (dir. Audrey Wells). This bold act was prompted by my significant other, who had a hankering for a little Italian landscape. I told her that I heard the movie was supposed to be bad; I wasn't quite sure where I had heard that, but I had read it somewhere.   [more]

Notes From Cannes
   Art and Commerce on the Riviera
   by Don Thompson

I went to Cannes with films to sell and projects to pitch. I was there with Rick, my friend and filmmaking partner, and a solid director-producer in his own right. Rick and I (another hyphenated professional) walked up and down the Croissette with our portfolio of completed films and projects in development.   [more]

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