Category: Cinema Saints

Spike Jonze: A Boy and His Toys

In an unspecific way, it seems, these four movies have always been about me in the way that they are specifically unspecific in being about Spike Jonze. And everyone else. Everyone was mad at me for months after the release of Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Since my early twenties, since before the movie was in production, I have had the image of the wild thing most prominently featured in the artwork of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book tattooed on either side of my collarbone. That character doesn’t have a name in the book, but Spike Jonze named...

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Cinema Saint: Nicole Kidman- A Career’s Worth of Receipts

It turns out Nicole Kidman is the star we took for granted. She’s always been there on the peripherals of our adoring Hollywood gaze, but lately she’s been front and center thanks to her four projects screened recently at Cannes (The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and Top of the Lake) where she won the 70th Anniversary award. But we should have kept her front and center from the start. With the recent Kidman Renaissance seemingly underway, it seemed time to look back at her career and cultivate an appreciation...

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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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Daniel Day-Lewis and the Self-Sacrifice of Dual Citizenship and Method Acting

Shall I be gone long? For ever and a day. To whom there belong? Ask the stone to say. Ask my song. -Epitaph from the tombstone of Cecil Day-Lewis, United Kingdom Poet Laureate from 1968-1972, from his poem Is It Far to Go? There are ways in which Daniel Day-Lewis is discussed that are unique to conversations about his career, things we say about Day-Lewis we do not say about any other actor. First, there’s a quiet regional battle of possession under the conversation, a subtextual tug of war over the biographical reservation of his citizenship and his artistic...

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Jackin’ It: The Mad Masculinity of Jack Nicholson

“Don’t come any closer,” a young man says brandishing a firearm. Not only are those words filled with conviction, but the performance attached to them displays the tortured petulance and the ability to swing from restless calm to mad fury (all with manic ease) that would define a career. The film is 1958’s The Cry Baby Killer, the kind of teenage drive-in fare that could have inspired so many after-school specials yet to come. And the young man brandishing the gun, the titular cry baby killer, is 21-year-old Jack Nicholson. Here, in his screen debut, he’s already hinting at the...

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