Rand Richards Cooper
Rand Richards Cooper, one of Commonweal's film critics, is the author of two works of fiction, The Last To Go and Big as Life.
By this author
I am mesmerized by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the ex-professional wrestler cum action-film hero. Did you know he is 6’ 5” and 262 pounds, wears size 14 shoes—and has a 34-inch waist? Watching his mammoth, sculpted body and boulder-like bald head dominate the screen feels like standing below Rushmore; there’s something distinctly geological about him.
A recent article in the Washington Post profiled a photographer with the pleasingly gangsterish name of Babycakes Romero, who photographed couples and friends in public places immersed in their separate handheld devices—together, but alone.
Does any cinematic product deliver as much bang for the buck as the indie horror film? The Blair Witch Project (1999) was shot on a budget of $30,000, while last year’s critically acclaimed The Babadook cost just $2 million.
Rudy Giuliani went on an Obama-bashing tear in February. Speaking in Manhattan to an audience of business executives meeting with Republican presidential hopeful Scott Walker, the former New York mayor charged bluntly that “I do not believe that the president loves America...
My pleasure in being scared silly by movies dates to age eight, when I shrieked in my seat as a murderous Alan Arkin, kitchen knife flashing, hunted Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. Ever since, I have taken guilty pleasure in horror movies, terror movies, thrillers, suspense, and all films whose goal is to make you feel temporarily unsafe in the world. You either crave this kind of thing or (like my wife) you detest and avoid it, finding real life already unsettling enough on its own.
Imagine a writer who would be the perfect antithesis to today’s literary culture, where confessional narratives of family dysfunction and personal struggle, conveyed in prose styles edgy, blunt or angry, reiterate the eternal theme of the Tormented Artist. Our Un-Tormented Artist would be an Ivy League–educated WASP, groomed for success by his family. His precocious career would have proceeded from triumph to triumph; his prose would combine effortless eloquence with an easy comfort in its own leisurely peregrinations.
Sometimes rave reviews of dreadful movies seem like a conspiracy to lure you into the theater and force you to endure the same misery the reviewers did. How else to explain the enthusiasm for Listen Up Philip?
As Hollywood knows perhaps all too well, road movies and buddy movies churn out powerful cinematic pheromones long proved to lure men into the theater.
Writer-director Richard Linklater made a name for himself with a pair of cult films in the early 1990s. Slacker captured the rants and rambles of coffeehouse anarchists, conspiracy theorists, punks, and other emblematic college-town figures culled from Linklater’s hometown of Austin, Texas. Dazed and Confused—a coming-of-age ensemble comedy that followed a bunch of teenagers on the last day of school in 1976—offered a less glossy, de-romanticized American Graffiti.
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