My normal routine with these blogs is to perform something of a formal and thematic analysis of a work of art that has grabbed my attention and discussing it in relation to its aesthetic or historic context, with film being the primary interest. Within that broad venture, I’ve found that the work I tend to be most compelled to write about is of a more lowbrow nature, horror and genre films and things of that nature, as many of the highbrow works I gravitate towards have usually been fairly comprehensively discussed in a manner that satisfies me, and I try…

Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe

Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, based off of the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name, is a work representative of a particular place and time within both American and film history. Released in 1973, it came in the aftermath of the most turbulent years of the 1960’s, and in many ways stands as a denouement on the California that was synonymous with that time, a period chronicled by the likes of Joan Didion and Thomas Pynchon. …

POV: you’re horny

On January 1st, I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with my family, maybe a questionable family viewing selection but it’s a classic so it gets a pass. On January 31st, I closed the loop began by Psycho in unplanned fashion, watching Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, a clear riff on Hitchcock’s film twenty years after the original. The two films are mirror images of each other, a result that was not entirely intentional if De Palma is to be believed (color me skeptical), and the doubling continues beyond the surface level similarities of plot and structure. …

A Nightmare on Elm Street, the 1984 horror classic from Wes Craven, has grown from humble beginnings to become a staple of the genre and a near-ubiquitous franchise, with six main entries, a spin-off film also directed by Craven (New Nightmare fascinates me to no end and will more than likely end up in these digital pages before long), a terrible remake, and an endless stream of merchandise and branding built off of its potent iconography, namely in the form of its dream-stalking villain, Freddy Kreuger. It stands now as one of the pillars of the 1980’s slasher cycle that…

Not exactly a subtle movie

It should be no secret that I’m embedded deeply within the David Cronenberg cult, the title of these criticism articles being a reference to Videodrome should be a dead enough giveaway. For a man whose career has honed in on all the goopy, gory, erotic multitudes of human psychology and physiology, Crash (1996) might still be his most extreme effort, which is a feat to consider. Based on J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel of the same name, Cronenberg’s Crash strips away everything that we think defines movies — plot, character, genre, etc. …

L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) wielding his observation tool of choice

Goes without saying, but spoilers follow.

The films of Alfred Hitchcock need no introduction. One of the greatest directors of all time, his legendary career spanned from the silent era until the 1970’s, and many of the films he helmed are now regarded as some of the finest work the medium has to offer. From 1950 to 1960, though, is what many consider to be his peak, a decade including some of his most iconic films including Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, North by Northwest, and ending with Psycho. Within that decade a trilogy of films develops…

The world around us, the reality that we take part in, is a system created through perceptions and through unconscious collective agreements. We as humans, as Americans, as some smaller local collective, agree to certain immaterial concepts in order to maintain a coherent impression of reality. The legal system is what first comes to my mind in illustrating this point. Laws are entirely made up, they are tools that are intended to control behavior and punish aberrant actors. While some behavioral control is certainly necessary in a society, laws are often arbitrary and self-contradictory and, in a capitalist society, function…

(Spoilers obviously for part 7)

Gyro doing regular things with his hands

I’ve written here before about how fascinating I find Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure as a continuously evolving media franchise, especially for one with as wide an impact as it has. Hirohiko Araki has hit on not one but two successful shonen formulas, and the hallmark of the series is based in its discontinuity from one part to the next in terms of characters, plot, setting, and time period. Change is fundamental to Jojo, and integral to its appeal.

Steel Ball Run, the seventh part of the series, is certainly the biggest change in the life of…

(Spoilers for parts 1–6)

Jotaro and some legends

So, I wrote about part 5, Vento Aureo a few days ago, and expressed some thoughts I had about the part individually and what it represented in the larger JJBA story. After finishing Stone Ocean, I feel more confident than ever in thinking of VA as a point of inflection for the series, when Araki’s abilities as an artist and as a storyteller began to really solidify. Stone Ocean is another leap forward for the series, not necessarily in structural or conceptual terms (the story still follows a “stand user of the week” type of formula…

Blue Velvet stands in my mind as one of the most distinctly American works of art ever crafted, and I think that much of the terror it invokes is tied directly to this sense of cultural identity. Written and directed by David Lynch, Blue Velvet released in 1986, the middle of the Reagan years, when we as a country were committed to looking back to the culture and politics of the past to try and recapture a mythical time when things were better, in spite of the existential threats looming out of frame.

Jake Dihel

recreationally writing about movies and other media

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