Bright Wall/Dark Room

Bright Wall/Dark Room

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A different lens on film. No hot takes, lots of long reads. (And now a podcast, too.)

Stories

Recent reviews

"I am not clever but I do love Pirates of the Caribbean. I know these splaying, heaving films won’t rescue us from this most current apocalypse, but I do think they indicate something aching and almost unsayable about the way we live and move and die in this world. I think take what you can/give nothing back is a necessary rephrasing of all for one/one for all. I think it’s how we get out beyond the end."

-Frank Falisi, Over The Edge, Over Again

"In Todd Haynes’ idiosyncratic Bob Dylan biopic, I’m Not There, six different actors—Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Marcus Carl Franklin—portray the folk legend under various aliases through divergent phases of his career and persona. While the film features several inspired leaps, few other than Blanchett are as audacious as reimagining Dylan as a young African American kid.

Dylan bought into the artistic temptation for rock artists to create new identities—an alter ego guided by…

"There might not be any identity in modern pop culture more disdained or pitied than the one-hit wonder. A paradox, the one-hit wonder is talented enough to produce a hit song that shoots to prominence, but doomed enough never to reproduce that initial success. Often, this is because the initial, successful song totally overshadows everything else they do. In other words, a monkey’s paw—the curse of a song being too good.

The designation of a one-hit wonder doesn’t fall upon…

"And yet, in spite of the Total Request Live and low-cut bootleg pants of it all, Josie and the Pussycats captures—and then eviscerates—the bizarre contours of early-2020s culture with more clarity than any piece of contemporary media to date."

- Kellie Herson, Josie and the Pussycats is the Most Prescient Movie Ever

"Maybe you never really leave the wormhole. Maybe trauma is something to learn to live with, side by side, and not to overcome. Iron Man 3, for all its silliness and strangeness and morally questionable underpinnings, offers less a manual on how to do that than a rough and complicated picture of what that might look like. It offers the possibility that the unwise things you did to keep going can be worth the fact that they sustained you long…

"Most films with a twist ending beg to be started up again immediately, rewatched with a vigilant eye. Vertigo, somehow, doesn’t. It invites repeat viewings, to be sure. Martin Scorsese has described “being drawn and drawn to the picture, like being drawn into […] a very beautiful, comfortable, almost nightmarish obsession.” But we don’t rewatch Vertigo for clues; we watch to fall into its pull all over again. Most of the iconic, hypnotic images of Vertigo are images of Kim…

"It’s an interesting time for Hamaguchi to examine status. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is one of two movies the director released in 2021. The other, Drive My Car, is enjoying meteoric praise: it topped countless critics’ best-of-year lists (even Obama placed it at the top of his annual, suspiciously hip dispatch) and received four Oscar noms—no small feat for a three-hour foreign-language slow-burn about grief and Anton Chekov. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy was well reviewed, but it’s destined…

"I’d argue that we remain in thrall to Crawford’s performances because of what she did in the confines of the close-up. It’s something slightly unrecognizable, particularly to the modern viewer. It’s not acting as we’re trained to perceive it, but something uncannily like acting. We’re aware that this is Joan Crawford, she who conquered the Hollywood system, in her armor of shoulder pads and less-than-scrupulous morals. But that awareness doesn’t make her performances less genuine; rather, it makes them multi-dimensional,…