Author: Josh Rosenfield

A Funeral For Citizen Kane: Trying To Remember The Greatest Film Of All Time

In high school, my journalism teacher screened a few of the more significant films about the profession. I recall that All the President’s Men and Shattered Glass were my favorites. She told me that she would screen Citizen Kane, but at three hours it was far too long to reasonably fit into our class periods. Actually, Citizen Kane runs a tight two hours, but I can’t blame her for the misunderstanding. This film has grown so titanic in our cultural imagination that even its runtime balloons. Ask someone what Citizen Kane is about. No, seriously, go and ask. I’m...

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season Two Stumbles, Breaks, Stays Strong as Hell

In early 2015, for the first time in a long time, I felt good. I had just come out as bisexual to my family and friends, resolving some years-long tension. I looked good, I dressed well; I cared about myself. Season one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hit me at my highest high. It hit all the harder for how much I related to the eponymous protagonist. Here is a woman without a cynical bone in her body. She devotes all of her energy to helping the people around her, because they deserve it, and because she really, truly, deeply...

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The People v. O.J. Simpson Recites And Refutes American History

I was born on July 15, 1994, just under a month after O.J. Simpson led the LAPD on a low-speed chase in Al Cowling’s white Ford Bronco. Because of this, there’s an extent to which American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson is not meant for me. The show often relies on the viewer’s knowledge of the trial to provoke reactions; while I recognized a lot of these moments, I didn’t understand all of them. I cringed when Chris Darden (Sterling K. Brown) suggests to Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) that they should have Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.) try...

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We Need To Talk About Batman: On Snyder’s Superhero & Good Guys With Guns

“What a wonder is a gun/ What a versatile invention/ First of all, when you’ve a gun/ Everybody pays attention” – Stephen Sondheim, Assassins I was sitting in my tiny dorm room when I saw the news about a mass shooting at a school in my home state. It was near the end of my first semester of college, and my too-frequent weekend visits didn’t quell the homesickness. I no longer went to school in Connecticut, but two of my sisters did. When I found out the name of the town where the shooting took place – Newtown, CT...

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The Boss Of My Own Body: 35 Years Of Thief

“‘My money is still in your pocket, which is from the yield of my labor.’ ‘Why don’t you join a labor union?’ ‘I’m wearing it.'” It’s tempting to look at a director’s first film as a translation for the cipher of their career. There we can often see a director’s style in its rawest form, unrefined by time and experience. But like Athena, Michael Mann’s style emerged fully-grown from its creator’s forehead with Thief, his theatrical debut. Here’s a potential corollary: Can we look at movies from early in a decade as blueprints for that time-frame’s cultural obsessions? Thief...

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10 Cloverfield Lane Is A Thrilling Assessment Of American Anxiety

Overview: A young woman wakes up after a car crash in an underground bunker, with a man who tells her that a chemical attack has poisoned the atmosphere. Paramount Pictures; 2016; Rated PG-13; 105 minutes. Big Brother: I think JJ Abrams is making his Before trilogy. Every nine years, Richard Linklater graces us with a new entry in that series, checking up on the lives of his lovebird protagonists. 10 Cloverfield Lane comes eight years after Cloverfield. Both films were released at the beginning of a president’s final term in office, and both films take the nation’s pulse. They...

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A Truth In Light: Fargo On Its 20th Anniversary

Why don’t people talk about Fargo more? For starters, a filmography as diverse as that of Joel and Ethan Coen sometimes presents the dilemma of hipness. There’s an unspoken pressure not to name their most popular films as your favorites. The perception of popularity as base and vulgar tends to taint critical consensus, leading films that were once considered someone’s best work to be ignored in favor of something under-seen. Then there’s the added layer of obviousness; people don’t talk about these movies because, well, why bother? Everyone already knows they’re great, right? This all has the weird side-effect...

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The X-Files Goes Out With A Whimper With “My Struggle II”

Recap: Six weeks after the events of the season premiere, Scully arrives in the X-Files office to find her computer open to Tad O’Malley’s (Joel McHale) webseries. O’Malley claims that he was taken off the air to prevent him revealing that everyone in the country has been secretly infected with alien DNA. Scully then gets a call from O’Malley, who is calling from Mulder’s house. The place is trashed and Mulder is nowhere to be found. Scully reunites with Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) for help in solving the case, though she is skeptical of O’Malley’s claim. They head to...

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The X-Files Tanks Its Hot Streak With “Babylon”

Recap: Two young Muslim men blow up an art gallery in a suicide attack. The two FBI agents working the case, Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) and Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) visit Mulder and Scully soon after. One of the bombers is still alive and comatose, but Miller wants to question him. Miller, a passionate true believer, wants to ask Mulder if he knows of any psychics or mediums who may be able to help him communicate with the bomber. Einstein, a medical doctor with little patience for the paranormal, rolls her eyes at the notion. Mulder says he can’t...

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The X-Files Probes Scully’s Emotional Scars In “Home Again”

Recap: A federal official enacts a rather brutal plan to clear homeless people from a street, and informs another camp that the same thing will happen to them the next night, before returning to his office for the night. A garbage truck passes by, which causes all the homeless people to hide in their tents. A mysterious individual gets out of the truck and enters the office. He rips the officer’s arms off and climbs into the back of the truck, which drives away. The next morning, Mulder and Scully investigate the crime scene. As soon as they arrive,...

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Hail, Caesar! Is The Ultimate Coen Brothers Film

Overview: A Hollywood fixer spends a day putting out various fires on the studio lot where he works, the most pressing being the disappearance of a major star. Universal Pictures; 2016; Rated PG-13; 100 minutes. Pretend-politik: You’ve got realpolitik, and you’ve got pretend-politik. The second one is what they do in Hollywood. The popular negative take on show-business is rooted in its fabrication. The movies are fake, the people are fake, and their problems are fake; all of it is manufactured for our entertainment, and it is not under any circumstances to be taken seriously. Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin)...

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The X-Files Ponders Humanity In “Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster”

Recap: While huffing spray paint in the woods, a couple come across two people – one dead, one knocked out. An anthropomorphic lizard man appears and runs away from them. Mulder and Scully get the case, but Mulder is feeling downtrodden. Many of the X-Files that once excited him have since been debunked as pranks or marketing stunts, and he’s starting to wonder if he’s dedicated his life to a fruitless pursuit. He adopts Scully’s skeptical point of view as they examine the crime scene and find more dead bodies, speculating on all the natural elements that could have...

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The X-Files Reopen with “My Struggle” and “Founder’s Mutation”

“My Struggle” Recap: In the time since we last saw them – in the 2008 feature film The X-Files: I Want To Believe – Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) have amicably gone their separate ways. Scully has left the paranormal behind, and is working as a surgeon for children with genetic deformities. Mulder keeps to himself, still hunting for the truth but increasingly despondent over a lack of new discoveries. They’re brought back together by conservative talk show host Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale), who puts them in contact with a young woman named Sveta (Annet...

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The 5th Wave Is A Lazy Young Adult Knockoff

Overview: An apocalyptic event forces attractive but relatable teens to fight for their lives against sinister adult forces, and the female lead is torn between a ruggedly mysterious boy and a cute but haunted boy. Columbia Pictures; 2016; Rated PG-13; 112 Minutes. Femin-isn’t: The 5th Wave gets off to a surprisingly promising start. In the opening scene, protagonist Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace-Moretz) raids an abandoned convenience store for supplies. She’s shown grabbing a box of tampons off of a shelf. In the age of the so-called “Strong Female Protagonist,” which often just amounts to a female character with superior...

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