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Cinema is the church of the future. New film analysis essays every Sunday.

Total Recall is a space fantasy movie from director Paul Verhoeven, made in 1990 at the peak of the practical effects era of Hollywood with a script adapted from a story by Phillip K. Dick, about a man who makes use of a tech company who promises to send him on a vacation in virtual reality by implanting memories of an exotic holiday in his brain. …


When a critic uses the word “best” often, the word begins to lose meaning for the audience, and if the purpose of my film criticism was to review whatever movie was playing in theaters this week, then overuse of the word “best” would devalue it, but this is not why I write. I use often use words like “best” or “greatest” because the movies which I feel represent an artistic ideal are the ones which most interest me. I write about these movies to explore which artistic ideals make a great movie great. Usually, this involves identifying what people love…


There’s a category of art which has yet to be given a name, so for now I will call it “doomsayer art.” Doomsayer art is satirical criticism of contemporary society with a tendency for dystopian and apocalyptic imagery and a cynical, paranoid attitude. If you’ve ever seen a cartoonist’s drawing on Facebook of sheeplike masses staring into their cellphones in the middle of a barren wasteland while a conveyor belt pushes them off a cliff and into a graveyard, then you’re familiar with doomsayer art. This kind of art is usually bad.

Yet in every piece of doomsayer art, we…


If Jaws was the beginning of the Spielberg era, Jurassic Park was the end of it. Writing about Jaws, I wrote about the film as a window into the artistic conventions that would define the twenty years that followed it; Jurassic Park is also a window into new artistic conventions which would change the direction of mainstream filmmaking. Yes, we are still living in the world Jaws created, but our journey into that world has taken us down a dark path, and Jurassic Park marks the moment of that wrong turn. …


I am not a fan of Jaws. By this I mean that what Jaws is “about” as a movie — its “killer shark” concept, its characters, and the journey it takes us on — does not move me or interest me anywhere near as much as the stories of many other classic movies do. But even if Jaws’ greatness is eclipsed by better movies that came after it, it is still the movie that allowed those other movies to be made. …


Mulholland Drive is a surreal mystery film directed by David Lynch and released in 2001; it is famous for its story structure, which by showing us a stream of seemingly unrelated and sometimes contradictory events, seems to challenge the expectation that a movie must have a story. Of course, it is not the only movie to abandon story structure in favor of surrealism; examples of this can be found as early as 1929 with Dali’s An Andalusian Dog. …


I first discussed what is arguably the Coen Brothers’ greatest film, The Big Lebowski, on my channel several years ago. While my opinion of the film is mostly the same, there is one small change worth discussing: earlier I said the film was an examination of masculinity through the lens of postmodernism; I now see the film as an examination of postmodernism through the lens of masculinity. When I first watched The Big Lebowski, I thought I was a man, and since the film was introduced to me by my male friends as an examination of modern manhood, that was…


Earlier I described Fight Club as the best movie of the 1990s; this reveals something about my personal taste, and more of my personal taste will be revealed when I list what I believe its closest contenders are: Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, all four of Kieslowski’s 90s films, Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Starship Troopers, and — perhaps the clearest choice for runner-up — Paul Thomas Anderson’s magnum opus Magnolia.


Some of the films I write about are films I have already discussed on the YouTube channel I ran in the past; while it is strange for me to retread old ground, especially for one of the movies I was most known for discussing, doing so will be helpful for those who want to see how my film criticism has evolved since the height of my channel five years ago. …


Warning: This review contains spoilers.

When I first saw David Fincher’s 1999 satire Fight Club as a teenager, I wanted to believe it was the best movie ever made; one of the first film criticism essays I ever wrote was in defense of this opinion and I thank God no trace of it survives. Today, while I wouldn’t say this is a better film than, say, Blade Runner or The Night of the Hunter, it is among their ranks and I feel comfortable considering it perhaps the finest film to emerge from the twentieth century’s final decade. …

Julia Rhodes

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