Foundational Essays

Recent Essays

  • Godzilla Minus One
    I’m not a Godzilla fan though I’ll admit to a soft-spot for Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla. So I came to GMO with mixed expectations. The reviews were sterling. The franchise not so much. And when all was said and done and Tokyo was saved, I leaned toward the reviews. The best parts of Godzilla Minus… Read more: Godzilla Minus One
  • Bob Marley: One Love
    When it comes to Bob Marley, I’m of that typical class of loose fan who know next to nothing about someone except their most famous work. From that perspective, One Love will both reward and frustrate you. Kingsley Ben-Adir (impossibly handsome and showing none of the real-world mileage of Marley) is damn good: charismatic, funny,… Read more: Bob Marley: One Love
  • Remembering Lives: Blueberry Bushes and Guava Pastries
    We tend to memorialize two kinds of lives: big public lives and the lives that are closest to us. Both make perfect sense. Most big lives matter a little bit to a lot of people. The people we know matter a lot, but only to us. No one would think it wrong to memorialize the… Read more: Remembering Lives: Blueberry Bushes and Guava Pastries
  • The Blue Angels
    Can a documentary that is exactly what you expected ever be good? The Blue Angels is here to answer that question – at least if you love spectacular flying and wildly gung-ho fliers. All that’s missing is the Top Gun Anthem and Take My Breath Away. But hey, you do get “The Blue Angel Creed”… Read more: The Blue Angels
  • Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
    Nobody seems to give a damn about politeness. Until, that is, they are treated rudely, ignored, made to feel ignorant or displaced, or pushed aside in a queue. Then, suddenly, we see all too clearly how much we appreciate polite society. Those moments do not translate into the world of ideas, where “polite society” is a… Read more: Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
  • American Fiction
    It would be hard to imagine a more convincing send-up of modern leftist attitudes on race than American Fiction. Every moment of the plot that focuses on My Pafology (or Fuck as it comes to be called) is laugh out loud funny and spot on. Cutting without being cruel and only occasionally a bit broad,… Read more: American Fiction
  • Is Love a Virtue?
    Virtue theories are the only strand of modern ethical thinking that makes much sense in light of cognitive science. Utilitarian calculus becomes a funhouse of infinite regress in a world where experience changes both who we are and what we value. It didn’t take cognitive science to cast doubt on Kant’s strange metaphysics of freedom… Read more: Is Love a Virtue?
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
    “Saigon. Shit. I’m only still in Saigon.” There was a time when I knew almost every line of dialogue in Apocalypse Now but it’s been a few years since I last watched it. The director’s cut currently on Max is NOT the best version. It’s larded down with two extended scenes that were mercifully cut… Read more: Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • How to Think…About the Gaza Protests
    In the aftermath of the Hamas attack on Israel, I wrote a “How to think…” piece about the conflict there. It was not hopeful, but it was prescient: For now, Israel will go into Gaza and attempt to destroy Hamas. They’ll do this because they must. Israeli’s will expect retribution, and no country with sufficient… Read more: How to Think…About the Gaza Protests
  • Utopia: Its the People You’re With
    People are the essence of what makes a community and it’s hard to imagine anything could be more important. If we don’t like the people, we won’t like the community. If we do, we will. It really is that simple. But deciding what kind of people you’d want in your utopia turns out to be trickier than you might think.

Asides

  • Godzilla Minus One
    I’m not a Godzilla fan though I’ll admit to a soft-spot for Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla. So I came to GMO with mixed expectations. The reviews were sterling. The franchise not so much. And when all was said and done and Tokyo was saved, I leaned toward the reviews. The… Read more: Godzilla Minus One
  • Bob Marley: One Love
    When it comes to Bob Marley, I’m of that typical class of loose fan who know next to nothing about someone except their most famous work. From that perspective, One Love will both reward and frustrate you. Kingsley Ben-Adir (impossibly handsome and showing none of the real-world mileage of Marley)… Read more: Bob Marley: One Love
  • The Blue Angels
    Can a documentary that is exactly what you expected ever be good? The Blue Angels is here to answer that question – at least if you love spectacular flying and wildly gung-ho fliers. All that’s missing is the Top Gun Anthem and Take My Breath Away. But hey, you do… Read more: The Blue Angels
  • Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
    Nobody seems to give a damn about politeness. Until, that is, they are treated rudely, ignored, made to feel ignorant or displaced, or pushed aside in a queue. Then, suddenly, we see all too clearly how much we appreciate polite society. Those moments do not translate into the world of ideas,… Read more: Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
  • American Fiction
    It would be hard to imagine a more convincing send-up of modern leftist attitudes on race than American Fiction. Every moment of the plot that focuses on My Pafology (or Fuck as it comes to be called) is laugh out loud funny and spot on. Cutting without being cruel and… Read more: American Fiction
  • Is Love a Virtue?
    Virtue theories are the only strand of modern ethical thinking that makes much sense in light of cognitive science. Utilitarian calculus becomes a funhouse of infinite regress in a world where experience changes both who we are and what we value. It didn’t take cognitive science to cast doubt on… Read more: Is Love a Virtue?
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
    “Saigon. Shit. I’m only still in Saigon.” There was a time when I knew almost every line of dialogue in Apocalypse Now but it’s been a few years since I last watched it. The director’s cut currently on Max is NOT the best version. It’s larded down with two extended… Read more: Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Anselm
    It was Wim Wenders not Anselm Kiefer that drew me to watch the documentary Anselm. I knew next to nothing about his work and, if I had known, probably wouldn’t have been that big a fan. But Wenders’ uses the camera to get inside Anselm’s work and make you experience… Read more: Anselm
  • The Three Body Problem
    My (fairly stupid) rule of thumb when it comes to a TV miniseries is that I will only watch it if I have read and enjoyed the book it’s based on. Three Body Problem qualifies, though it’s probably the only trilogy I’ve read where the first book is my least… Read more: The Three Body Problem
  • Harakiri
    A meditation on honor that captures its essence and its danger. Though wrapped in the form of a vengeance movie, the suspense is genuine and you never quite know exactly how it’s going to come out. Nor does the ending disappoint – though in some respects it definitely DOES disappoint.… Read more: Harakiri

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