Somewhere between the speed boats, standard-issue supercars, and deep cover meet-ups, Miami Vice demands an increasing threshold of incredulity. By no means is this a flaw except while on the one hand you have to contest with suspension of disbelief to a point, you also end up struggling to keep up. Lost in the curt retorts and snappish dialog—mostly Sonny’s murmurs—is half the spoken lines in Mann’s script, notorious as ever for dropping pronouns and use of jargon-heavy dialog. Couple that with a possibly botched boom job and inaudible lines and it’s a jumble too difficult to follow without subtitles. And that’s the way most cinema was intended to be consumed. Vice fails there. And yet somewhere in the mess is film to be salvaged. So it either demanded boundless reserves of toleration or an outright reinterpretation of the shifting stakes throughout its duration. I prefer the latter, although the two are not mutually exclusive. Continue reading


While accurate, to dismiss Jonathan Glazer’s unorthodox alien sci-fi as enigmatic is a simplistic exercise in reductionism, but also the easiest. Though tangential, comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey were inevitable, they would prove only insofar as creative intent. What Kubrick sought to ask would ultimately eclipse what his epic attempted to answer. Glazer’s film toys with similar obscurities, except two arguments could be made for and against his effort adapting Under the Skin to the screen. Stacked against the Starchild’s trajectory, for one, said ambiguity is backloaded. Put another way, and notwithstanding source material, Scarlett Johansson’s alien has no backstory to glean any moral or emotional reference from. And, two, the very same obtusity could be misconstrued here as a deliberate narrative cop-out, and it was largely behind the film’s lack of mainstream appeal. It was a colossal commercial failure, although that is another topic. But just as easily this charge could be overlooked as another among the plethora of misinterpreted reactions the film has spawned, not in the least because the similarities to Kubrick’s Space Odyssey are, um, (rising Valley girl tone) tangential? The two films are narrative contrasts to even remotely qualify as kin. Continue reading

Maniac (2012) — a POV Look

Starring Elijah Wood

Fitting quite a few notable criteria the American Psychiatric Association would deem typical in many a serial killer — male, loner, targets females, same race — Maniac the reboot does well by avoiding trappings of the genre. Effectively, this contains it firmly within the slasher sub-genre, a considerable distance outside of the pure serial killer. This makes for easy pigeonholing. By no means was any statement above an indictment of an original I have not seen. Continue reading

Metaphors & Symbols in Oculus

In the public bathroom where I work are four mirrors and washing sinks below three. The nearest mirror hangs over what remains of the removed sink, the grouting and makeshift piping. Standing in front of that mirror is more convenient. The reflection off it just seemed more spacious because it extended further below the other three, with the basins beneath. Yesterday I went to understand why. They were all identical. The unobstructed path to it gives a wider angle, creating the perception that it was bigger. Continue reading