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VIDEO ESSAY: Total Cinema: SNOWPIERCER

It's a slumgullion stew, this movie, but it's all held together by the clear, simple movement of the plot, the quest of the characters to get to the front of the train. It's a focused quest, a narrow one, and it structures the characters' actions and the viewers' hopes and fears.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • July 18, 2014 5:28 AM
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  • 2 Comments

H.R. Giger: Against the Gigeresque

What we should celebrate and recover is the Giger beyond the gigeresque. The gigeresque is too familiar now, too rote, too replicated. Whatever meanings it still possesses are meanings comfortably assimilated into the status quo, easily packaged and transmitted, emptied of all but the least interesting, least challenging values.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • May 16, 2014 1:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments

A Video Essay On Jim Jarmusch: Dead Men & Ghosts, Limited

Among Jim Jarmusch's films, "Dead Man," "Ghost Dog," and "The Limits of Control" share concerns and motifs: questions of wisdom and wandering, art and death, repetition and revision. They let genres become ghosts. They propose that white men are the scourge of reality.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • April 17, 2014 1:52 PM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Dragons in Movies

In confronting dragons, humans confront an ancient, alien Nature. Unlike the other popular fantasy figures these days—vampires and zombies—dragons are not transmuted humans, but rather something beyond us, other than us. Often, they are represented as deeply greedy, and this is their fatal flaw (e.g. Smaug in "The Hobbit").
  • By Leigh SInger and Matthew Cheney
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  • December 13, 2013 12:36 PM
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  • 0 Comments

12 YEARS A SLAVE: Glory Without Redemption

It is exceedingly rare to find a story about slavery that doesn't emphasize how good-hearted white people can be and how inherently just, good, and equal America is. In American movies, black suffering redeems white characters and affirms white nobility.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • November 13, 2013 1:38 PM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Rob Zombie and the Cinema of Cruelty

The feature films that Rob Zombie has made between 2000 and 2013 create new styles of emotional and perceptual disturbance from the corpses of cultural products past. True to his name, Zombie reanimates dead tropes, turns, and troubles into powerful attacks on our expectations and desires.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • October 25, 2013 12:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: First Fassbinder

The German actor and filmmaker Frank Ripploh interviewed Rainer Werner Fassbinder in March 1982, only a few months before Fassbinder's death at age 37. Ripploh's last question was: "How do you describe yourself?" "I'm a romantic anarchist," Fassbinder said.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • September 11, 2013 9:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments

They Know Not What They Do: BURN AFTER READING

"Burn After Reading" is a film about containment and knowledge, or, to put it another way, a tale of wars against chaos. Necessarily, it is a farce.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • March 26, 2013 12:03 PM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: The End of Violence: The Conclusions of Clint Eastwood

It took me years to learn how to watch a Clint Eastwood movie. For one thing, I tended to watch them far apart and to rely on memory of earlier films to prepare myself for current ones. But given the gaps in time between viewings, I should have been more suspicious of how I remembered them.
  • By Matthew Cheney
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  • March 8, 2013 9:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments

The Mystery of Werner Herzog: Two Video Essays and One Text Essay

One of the most revealing statements in the book "Herzog on Herzog" appears early on, when Werner Herzog tells interviewer Paul Cronin that from the time he was a young child he has suffered a particular "communication defect": he has no sense of irony.
  • By Nelson Carvajal and Matthew Cheney
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  • September 28, 2012 8:55 AM
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  • 15 Comments

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