A ‘Tonic’ That’s Fresh and Stimulating, But Hard to Swallow

Tonic Rating: 7/10 Written & Directed: Derek Presley Style: Crime Drama Time: 103 minutes Review by Mike Szymanski Initially, “Tonic” feels like a movie we’ve seen before: about a loser schlub who is down on his luck, owes a big debt, and faces deadly circumstances. But “Tonic” takes some surprising twists and turns as we find that he isn’t that much of a loser and … Continue reading A ‘Tonic’ That’s Fresh and Stimulating, But Hard to Swallow

‘Boonie Bears: Back to Earth’ is Out of This World

Boonie Bears: Back to Earth Rating: 8/10 Director: Huida Lin Writers: Lin Jiang, Qin Wan and Rachel Xu Style: Animation/ Family/ Sci-Fi Time: 97 minutes Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9HdOW8Og3c Review by Mike Szymanski How did I not know about the Boonie Bears? Of course, if you don’t have toddler-to-elementary school-aged children, you may not keep up with children’s shows, but the Boonie Bears are going to be an … Continue reading ‘Boonie Bears: Back to Earth’ is Out of This World

(Mostly) Romantic Plots, Explained Badly

A drunken ex-captain in Civil War-era US is sent to train a group of ragtag rice farmers with modern firearms. Ends up killing their leader, inadvertently falling for the widow and befriending her brother, joining the farmers’ cause, and giving a double-crossing ex-mentor a piece of his mind. A traveling artist orphan rescues a spoiled Edwardian brat, but she is unable to rescue him. A … Continue reading (Mostly) Romantic Plots, Explained Badly

Macho Lit: Taming Female Protagonists

Patriarchy is as old as dirt. Naturally, classic literature is teeming with themes that celebrate virility and the male entitlement to “tame” the “shrew”.  Shakespeare, Shaw, (Jane) Austen, and the Bronte sisters were prolific in their macho fiction. Whether played straight or as a satire of macho doctrines, these works often beguie the reader into thinking that the “damsel” needs rescuing, a makeover, or both. … Continue reading Macho Lit: Taming Female Protagonists

The Silliest Love Story Ever Told

The bard himself knew it, when he wrote it. His so-called big-screen debut, Romeo and Juliet, is a comedy of errors with a tragic twist. Why a comedy? Because of the masterful verbal sparring among the characters, especially whenever Mercutio speaks; he is the proverbial pungeon master. The bawdy imagery, the circumstances (e.g. dragooning Juliet’s nurse into sneaking Romeo through her chamber for some wedding-night … Continue reading The Silliest Love Story Ever Told

Lolicon in Western Fiction

Men, who fetishize preteen and teen sex appeal are complete and utter freaks. Thankfully, the Harvey Weinsteins and Warren Jeffs’ of the world are finally getting their comeuppance. Yep, for some of those sleaze-bags, religion becomes the supposed carte blanche for committing atrocities towards (usually) women and children. So, back to Lolicon: The ultra-short skirts in schoolgirl uniforms continue to have anime and manga fans … Continue reading Lolicon in Western Fiction

Leo DiCaprio and Cinematic BDSM

America, and soon the universe, fell head over heels for Leonardo DiCaprio in 1998. The baby-faced, debonair actor stole everyone’s hearts as Jack Dawson, Titanic‘s manic pixie dream guy. Leo was no stranger to critical acclaim even before his role as Jack: Audiences loved him as the titular Marvin in Marvin’s Room  and Johnny Depp’s younger brother, Arnie, in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? The tragic heartthrob role felt tailor-made … Continue reading Leo DiCaprio and Cinematic BDSM

La Vie d’Adele as a Study of Contrasts

A coming-of-age dramedy by Abdelatif Kechiche, the film examines the events in the life of a wistful teenager. The film is a loose adaptation of a manga Blue is the Warmest Color, from which the American title derives. We are focusing on the yin and yang moments within the film, in lieu of contrasting the book from the onscreen adaptation. Slobs vs. Snobs: Adele’s and … Continue reading La Vie d’Adele as a Study of Contrasts

Pazuzu or PTSD?

William Peter Blatty’s novel may be a thesis on the legitimacy of exorcism. William Friedkin’s timeless screen adaptation appears to dig deeper. Priests and pea-green vomit are at the center of an epic struggle between good and evil, but is that all there is? Friedkin’s film appears to address a mightier elephant in the room: sexual abuse and the BSOD (blue screen of death) trope … Continue reading Pazuzu or PTSD?

Why *Turandot* Doesn’t Turan-Work

Sorry to burst your bubble, O lovers of the opera. I especially apologize to die-hard fans of Signore Giacomo Puccini. However timeless the composition is, Turandot is not the paragon of eternal love that people think it is. Rather, Puccini’s extravagant production is a hotbed of stereotypes, cultural backlash, and misogyny. Puccini has not set foot in China, yet he bravely sought to capture the intriguing world … Continue reading Why *Turandot* Doesn’t Turan-Work

The Intimate Anatomy of Metallica’s “Orion”

An instrumental composition has equally as compelling a story as any song would. Often, a musical piece conveys a meaning that is significantly more profound than stanzas, couplets, and refrains. Such compositions are many, but one stands out in particular. “Orion”, the melodic metal epic by (who else?) Metallica feels like an intimate snapshot of courtship. Let’s embark on an eargasmic journey by looking at … Continue reading The Intimate Anatomy of Metallica’s “Orion”

Carrie Bradshaw’s Broken Pedestal

Sex and the City (aka SATC) remains etched in culture as a perpetually relevant social commentary and satire on relationships and attitudes, in general. Every plot line comes with a grain of salt and a dash of hope (up until the dreadful movie and its sequel came along). Almost every girl aspired to be Carrie Bradshaw, the swanky protagonist. Rightfully so: She has an unfettered lust … Continue reading Carrie Bradshaw’s Broken Pedestal

The Prince You Love to Hate

Lady Murasaki Shikibu has bestowed upon readers a true masterpiece: the world’s first novel. She painted a florid yet sardonic picture of courtly life in Heian-Era Japan, particularly among the concubines of one Genji Hikaru. The son of Emperor Kiritsubo and his favorite consort, Genji is your typical spoiled brat with mommy issues. Symbolically, he manages to outdo Oedipus, himself. Why symbolically? By sheer fate, … Continue reading The Prince You Love to Hate

The Biblical Allegory of Mishima’s *Runaway Horses*

 Mishima Yukio’s final body of work is his most famous and arguably, the most controversial. The Sea of Fertility meticulously outlines the author’s intentions to restore the order and glory of Japan. Mishima took upon himself the task of what he believed to be saving the nation from corruption and decay. The second book, Runaway Horses, reads like a manifesto, especially through the eyes of Isao … Continue reading The Biblical Allegory of Mishima’s *Runaway Horses*

Allusions to Greek Mythology in Zhang Yimou’s *Hero*

Zhang Yimou’s wuxia epic, Hero, draws parallels between a fictionalized conflict in Zhou-dynasty China and the Orion myth.  Nameless: The orphaned wuxia master, who attempts, then thwarts, the assassination of Qin Shihuangdi.  Emperor Qin is a composite expy of  Zeus and of Onopion: Merope’s father and Orion’s father-in-law. Flying Snow and Broken Sword: wuxia champions, former classmates, trained assassins, lovers pitted against each other. Emperor Qin … Continue reading Allusions to Greek Mythology in Zhang Yimou’s *Hero*

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Sundance Institute Award Recipients for Science in Film Initiative

Feature Film Prize Goes to The Pod Generation, Grantees Honored at Reception during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute Science-in-Film initiative with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation celebrated this year’s Feature Film Prize winner The Pod Generation directed by Sophie Barthes and the recipients of three artist grants for three projects in development at a reception following the Appetite for Construction panel at Filmmaker Lodge. The … Continue reading Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Sundance Institute Award Recipients for Science in Film Initiative

The Met Announces Co-Chairs for the Spring 2023 Costume Institute Benefit

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the co-chairs for The Costume Institute Benefit on May 1, 2023, in New York. Michaela Coel, Penélope Cruz, Roger Federer, Dua Lipa, and Anna Wintour will serve as the evening’s co-chairs. The dress code for the event will be “In honor of Karl.” The Benefit (also known as The Met Gala®) takes place annually on the first Monday … Continue reading The Met Announces Co-Chairs for the Spring 2023 Costume Institute Benefit

2023 Sundance Film Festival To Go “Beyond Film”Lineup of Conversations Announced

Additional Institute and Partner Programming to Round Out Public Offerings at Festival The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced the lineup for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival Beyond Film conversations, all of which are open to the public. Made up of three series called Power of Story, Cinema Café, and The Big Conversation, Beyond Film rounds out the Festival experience, providing a place for the community to engage through artist … Continue reading 2023 Sundance Film Festival To Go “Beyond Film”Lineup of Conversations Announced