Author: BC Wallin

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets & Storytelling Through Framing

  As storytellers, we tend to tell different stories from those perceived by others, even for the same event. We pick and choose facts. We have a specific perspective, and maybe even an agenda. As we tell our stories and frame them in our own ways, we become unreliable narrators. This is the theme of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, a film about the tales told through shifting perspectives and imperfect narrators. It is about the lies and mistruths, manipulations and identity shifts that connect the opening of the Chamber of Secrets in the past and its...

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The Creature Featured: Monster Movies and the Human Capacity for Evil

When I was a child, there were two things in film that definitively scared me. No matter how many times I watched The Wizard of Oz, the scene of Margaret Hamilton (not even as the Wicked Witch!) riding a bike to the most chilling musical cue I knew to date would send my hands over my eyes in a heartbeat. My other filmic fear would have me covering my ears every time a DVD played the THX deep-note; always unnaturally loud, forever unskippable. I didn’t like getting scared. I’ve started watching monster movies. They’re fascinating, aren’t they? This look...

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Running from Nightmares: The Terrifying Nature of Power in Stephen King’s IT (1990)

One of the more impactful forms of storytelling is in the tales of the hopeless. When a viewer can feel, empathizing with the protagonist(s), that there is no way to escape, to win, or to evade defeat, that is when a story becomes all the more engrossing. It’s what gives The Dark Knight, the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, and the entirety of the FX show, Fargo, such narrative power. Everywhere the leads turn, there is somebody under the thumb of Wilson Fisk or the Joker, or else the leads are being followed by the likes of Lorne Malvo....

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Hello Stranger: Love and Murder in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train

In Dial M for Murder, a man attempts to strangle a woman with a scarf, which is replaced with her scarf. In Psycho, the most famous murder takes place while a woman is showering. In Rope, the very sexuality of the protagonists ties into the act of killing. Alfred Hitchcock is no stranger to sex and its connection to acts of violence. These visceral, base instincts are undercurrents throughout the Master’s oeuvre, and are powerfully at play in one of his best, Strangers on a Train. The weakest and strongest parts of the film are in acting. Farley Granger...

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard Shoots Its Own Foot

Overview: A fallen-from-grace bodyguard protects a hitman on his way to testify against the dictator of Belarus in an international court. Lionsgate Films; 2017; Rated R; 118 Minutes. The Good: Likely, the main reason(s) anybody is going to see The Hitman’s Bodyguard is for Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Each plays a role that he has been playing for years, shoehorned into a story about international intrigue and a theme of planning vs. rolling with the punches. The story is a McGuffin of sorts, only there to explain away why formerly AAA rated bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Reynolds), is...

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Filmstruck Hidden Gem: Germany Year Zero

Germany Year Zero Director: Roberto Rossellini Genre: Drama G.D.B. Films Synopsis: A young boy in post-WWII Germany struggles to help his family survive food shortage and illness. The third film in Roberto Rossellini’s “War Trilogy” (connected by themes and time, not by characters or plot, cf. Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy,” Luhrmann’s “Red Curtain Trilogy,” Renoir’s “Trilogy of Spectacle,” etc.), Germany Year Zero is the first to consider the side of the Germans themselves. While the earlier films, Rome Open City and Paisan, dealt with victims and fighters of Nazi oppression, this concluding chapter focuses on the devastation that German citizens...

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