Author: Tyler Heberle

Cinema Saint: Sofia Coppola And The Search For Substance Through Style

“Style over substance!” It’s one of the most frequent accusations in film discourse, and it’s been used to deride visually-driven filmmakers for years. From big-budget genre connoisseurs like Gore Verbinski and Zack Snyder to former awards-season heavyweights like Michael Mann and Terrence Malick, all sorts of filmmakers have seen their work downplayed with this label. The phrase is a reductive one that presumes imagery and atmosphere are less significant to a movie’s staying power than verbosity and screenwriting intricacy. And yet, many creative voices from multiple decades have been dismissed as prioritizing style and downplaying substance. Even an Oscar-winning...

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In ‘Prometheus’ Space, No One Cares If You Scream

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus ends with the same perspective from which it begins—the last survivor of a species on a desolate planet. Both the nameless Engineer and Elizabeth Shaw were brought to their respective places by ships landing like gods from the heavens, and these simple spiritual overtones remain essential from start to finish. Where the Engineer died accepting his sole purpose (to create life), Shaw’s shipmates lost their lives accepting one they committed themselves to: finding their creators. They sought answers, and Shaw still seeks them with the more intellectually content android David. This is as close to closure...

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Shyamalan’s Split and Cycles of Suffering

M. Night Shyamalan is having, for lack of a better term, a comeback. But contrary to popular consensus, this doesn’t mean he ever left. A string of critical failures was an undeniable setback, but the Sixth Sense and Unbreakable auteur has always had a singular eye for telling visual stories. Breaking into the public eye in 1999 with his tightly written, small-scale ghost story that effortlessly sets up and pays off its personal conflicts, Shyamalan began playing in a much more ambitious storytelling sandbox as the new millennium began. Better viewed as a cinematic analyst of people’s attempts to...

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