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  • The Bodyguard

    The Bodyguard

    My friend Nathan Smith has this story about being so high during the livestream of The Life of Pablo premiering at MSG that he thought Kanye was going to be assassinated onstage. It strikes me that such a fear must be a relatively modern development—that sometime after the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald was broadcast live on national TV, the idea of death consumed on a mass cultural level became a distinct possibility within the popular imaginary. By the 80s,…

  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

    Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

    ★★★★★

    Forget all the backhanded compliments, all the "despite its flaws," "say what you will about the dialogue," etc etc.... Just on a surface level, this is an incredibly enjoyable and effective (and affective) Hollywood blockbuster—I don't think a better one has been made since, Speed Racer excepted. Like the other prequels, this has a really precise three act structure, but Lucas perfects the pacing in this one: the momentum of the initial action on Coruscant is carried into the middle…

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  • Black Panther

    Black Panther

    I think it would be interesting to write a longer essay on the way the black radical is almost always positioned in mainstream Hollywood films as the villain (or, at most, the foil to the protagonist) whose outrage we are made to understand and empathize with but who we are ultimately able to disavow because of the existence of a hero who mitigates that rage in an attempt to affect change through existing systems and institutions. You see it in…

  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    I was thinking about the climax of this movie, mostly reminiscing about how hard it was for me to contain my laughter at old shriveled-up Palpatine hooked up to the mainframe or whatever's going on there, but I was also thinking about how many recent franchise films end with these inevitable battles between good personified and evil personified where the battle is carried out through these transfers of light and energy (the last Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, probably some others…