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DEAD END DRIVE-IN: Essays on genre and cult films, pretentious film theories, video essays and passionate defenses of otherwise unloved or critically crucified films. Capsule reviews on Night Visions, Cable 12.

IN DEFENSE OF: COSMOPOLIS

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Cosmo - relating to the world or universe. Greek root meaning a harmonious whole.

Polis - city-state in Greece, especially in its ideal form for philosophical purposes.

We can take Cosmopolis then to mean city as metaphor for the ordered world or universe and while that city is New York in Delillo's source novel and ostensibly so in Cronenberg's adaptation the film exists in what Cronenberg terms a "mythic New York." Certain streets are recognizable, street names as well, but the majority of the city is projected on a Toronto green screen; a kind of second-class reality to the bubble of hyperrealism within Eric Packard's limosuine—the true reality of the book and film. It is here that we breathe the rarified air of the one percent. Seen through Cronenberg's lense they…

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The Medusa Complex: Female Slashers in Genre Cinema

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The Horror genre has long been considered a ghetto by the average critic. Its best films often retconned as Thrillers by the mainstream, its characters lamented as shallow archetypes, and its violence as reprehensible and dangerous. Despite modern moviegoers cyclical embrace of the genre and the current horror vogue at the box office, critical thought remains largely unchanged. The rise of gender politics to the world stage may very well change that as it seems to have produced a renewed interest in the critical analysis of Horror by theorists such as Clover, Creed, Wood, and Ettinger.

    

The first to undergo this resurgence in interest was the Final Girl and currently, we are experiencing a reinvigoration of the Witch archetype not only in critical thought but in cinema itself where the Witch has been freed from the patriarchal shackles of history and recast as a Feminist icon. While long overdue in my opinion and a change that will likely see many more essays, blog posts, and master theses in the coming years, my interest still lies in that grimiest of ghettos; the Slasher film. It's the unsung Female Slasher, however, and not the Final Girl that interests me.   

 

Carol J. Clover's essay Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film seems to have cemented the idea of the Final Girl as a Feminist archetype in a subgenre traditionally considered by critics as teen-fare at best and misogynistic pornography at worst. The problem with this is that…

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WCUN DEEP CUTS: IT'S THE BIG GOODBYE, DUDE

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I'm certainly not the first to recognize the connections between the work of Raymond Chandler, specifically The Long Goodbye, and the Coen Brother's The Big Lebowski. The Coen's themselves have mentioned Raymond Chandler as an influence on their film, noting his narrative style allowed for an episodic interaction with various characters across various locations and social strata. Beyond that, the Coen's have been mum regarding other influences and like most Coen films the internet has its theories and analyses in abundance. The best of which is Christopher Shultz's article on LitReactor that posits critics draw parallels from The Big Lebowski to Chandler's The Big Sleep with the title and labyrinthine plots of both as chief indicators, but the real connection is to that of Chandler…

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CLASSICAL & MODERN ART IN CINEMA

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I have wanted to put together a compendium of images demonstrating the influence of Classical and Modern Art on Cinema for a long time and while a quick search shows that I am a little late to the game, there appears to be a dearth of opinion on the matter. In most posts sharing many of the same images I will share below the comparisons that exist are rote, simple statements of artists and dates with nothing more than the images themselves to establish a corollary. In some instances, this is enough, and in others it is not. My decision to go forward with this subject as an ongoing column is based on my desire to explore these connections a little more deeply, to argue for and against the comparisons and hopefully stumble across a little insight into the nature of homage, artistic influence and inspiration. In doing so I will also be broadening my scope to include not only the influence of Classical and Modern Artists but other forms of Modern Art including the influence of other film…

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ANALYSIS: HE's GOT A REAL PRETTY MOUTH

FAILED MASCULINITY IN BOORMAN'S 'DELIVERANCE'

'Let's just wait and see what comes out of the river.'

Nearly fifty years after it's release, John Boorman's Deliverance still stands as one of the key works of art on the subject of masculinity. In those five decades, we have witnessed what came out of the river and we are still no better off than Ed in the film's final moments; haunted by what we've become and it seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it. If there is anything to learn from Deliverance about the legacy of traditional masculinity, it is not to be found in the infamous rape scene— of which much has already been written, but in recognizing that what Ed represents, and not Lewis is the real problem facing masculinity in the 21st Century.

In 1970, James Dickey, 18th Poet Laureate of the United States pub…

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ANALYSIS: DAMN YOUR EYES

FEAR & SELF-LOATHING IN PECKINPAH'S 'BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA'

Alfredo Garcia’s head may very well be the perfect example of the MacGuffin in cinema history, the ultimate hook for character and viewer alike. This is after all not a stolen necklace, the great whatsit, Rosebud or Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase but a man’s decapitated head. At the very least it serves as one of the goriest examples of the technique while at the same time functioning as a Rosetta Stone of sorts. Al’s head perfectly embodies the castration anxiety that permeates the film while also illuminating with one grisly image Peckinpah’s allegiance with traditional masculinities will to self-destruct in the face of emasculation.

 

Watching this death trip for the first time, it’s easy to take it as a crude meditation on revenge and leave it at that. Howe…

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