Author: Tyler Heberle

Short Term 12: The Importance of Openness

In the banter-heavy cold open of 2012’s Short Term 12, Brie Larson’s Grace puts a disclaimer on the humorous anecdote her boyfriend and co-worker is about to engage in so newcomer Nate (Rami Malek) can keep his expectations in check. As Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) presumably embellishes a tall tale about tacos destroying his bowels at a bus stop, first time viewers might not realize they’re watching a drama about a troubled youth facility. But before he can finish the story, a young boy named Sammy runs screaming from the titular youth center toward the street. Grace and her colleagues...

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American Gods: The Road Your Senses Show You

Though raised Catholic to the bone, I stopped going to church shortly after my 18th birthday, and ushered in adulthood with utter contempt for the concept of any God, one which I associated with political corruption and the right-wing bigotry I’d recently started to understand. I broke away from many of the friends I knew through my Catholicism, since I’d not yet learned to distinguish babies from their bath water. I was no more capable of differentiating atheism from cynicism, and it would take a few years into my college education for me to open up to many of...

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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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