Saturday, April 28, 2018

the Directors: John Carpenter

I’ve been afraid to cover John Carpenter in this column. Years ago, as I made my way through Carpenter’s films, I realized I did not like many of the John Carpenter movies people seem to adore. But a few years passed and a change occurred. I was discussing Carpenter’s work with my best friend (himself a huge Carpenter admirer), and he explained that Carpenter, like many directors, has different facets to his career, and if you acknowledge each aspect, you can appreciate his films.

Basically, there is serious, masterful John Carpenter; B-movie John Carpenter; and phoned-in John Carpenter. In the past, I’ve had trouble with the B-movie John Carpenter. I thought many of his intentional B-movies took themselves too seriously, and that blinded my appreciation for them. And while I certainly don’t love every John Carpenter film, I have turned a corner, and I’m eager to share my thoughts on his work.

Monday, April 16, 2018

You Were Never Really Here

In my experience, when you go through something horrific, it stays with you in flashes. We all carry trauma differently, of course, but horror has always followed me around in glimpses.

Most movies and television shows do not depict trauma this way. In mainstream fiction, trauma stays with you for every second of every day. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You can’t work. There is no room for life, no room for adjustment. In my reality, after some time has passed on pain, the effects of it sneak up on you when you least expect it. It’s a song playing in a grocery store, a person with a similar face, a stranger with a familiar smell. You experience these random things, and a flash of grief consumes you. But it does subside, if ever so slightly. You breathe, you calm down. And then you do the dishes, you go back to work; you adjust, you live.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Breaking Down Steven Soderbergh’s Three-Shot Rule

I began my review for Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, the genre thriller, Unsane, by describing the three-shot rule Soderbergh holds himself (and all filmmakers) accountable for. “After the first three shots, I know whether this person knows what they’re doing or they don’t,” Soderbergh has explained. That’s an interesting idea. In a film’s three opening shots, can the filmmaker use composition, blocking, music, font and other elements to establish the story we’re about to see? That’s what I want to find out in this post.