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  • Flight to Fury

    Flight to Fury

    Now we’re cooking with gas. This was Hellman’s third feature, but I mistakenly watched it second. It’s clearly the best of his first three apprentice films, but I don’t want to discount the Hellmanisms on display in Back Door to Hell or to minimize how much this film rules. Written by Jack Nicholson, Flight to Fury is a nonstop adventure film that seamlessly mutates from set piece to set piece. It’s genre-blending metabolism felt similar to the thrill of Attack…

  • Beast from Haunted Cave

    Beast from Haunted Cave

    I started a chronological viewing project of Monte Hellman's films (although the titles that he worked on piece meal may fall out of this chronology). Anyway, here are my thoughts on his feature debut. I'll try to keep pace with posting thoughts here as I work through his catalogue.

    ***

    It begins with a great opening shot: a medium close up of hands holding a polaroid camera and snapping off a picture. The process is mechanical, efficient. We see neither…

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  • HyperNormalisation

    HyperNormalisation

    Ultimately, Curtis’ argument is that the oversimplification of complex problems breeds oversimplified solutions, and when these overly simple solutions are implemented—often violently—they produce unintended consequences that further complicate the calculus. I would like to keep this front and center, because while Curtis has many aesthetic and methodological weaknesses, the framing of his thesis remains sound, even if he himself is not fully beholden to it. The case for complexity is a flexible position, one that does not divide political and…

  • Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

    'Fake realism is the escapist literature of our time' - Ursula Le Guin

    It is the things that are most despised in the prequel trilogy that are its revelations—deliberate signaling of intent—that mark the prequels as different films and unique works of the American cinema. Among the most essential of the many infamous failures of The Phantom Menace is the “taxation of trade routes”—that single phrase that moves a franchise from the realm of fantasy into a cosmos of political…