“Hit” movies have largely been eradicated from my theater-going diet—a rather cleansing effect. Yet I find myself missing that view from the balcony, the feeling of peering down at those churning, sexless spectacles, and the slightly melancholic indifference of it all.
There is a difference between making a film of sociopolitical and cultural value and making a film about important sociopolitical and cultural matters. In some cases the latter may beget the former, but it is not a given.
Lee has never been any more obsessed with race than the country he has vigorously documented over the course of his multi-decade career. The ideas he explores and the stories he tells about the myriad of black experiences seem excessive only in a canon that all but ignores them.
His movies are about fraught relationships and breakdowns in communication, but without any histrionics; they often fracture time and chronology, but not in a cloying or self-consciously experimental way. They are so emotionally transparent that they run the risk of being mistaken for simple-minded.
At peak attendance, I was averaging three screenings a week, sometimes with a date or with girlfriends, but just as often alone. Unfettered by school, an uncertain future, or the world at large, I would plop myself down fourth row center. Just me, my popcorn, a sketchbook, and my feelings.
This week's pair of writers raise questions about contemporary pedagogy and parenting, sci-fi and fairy tales, isolation and ash, with an R-rated future parable and a trip back to storybook land.
From our archives: writing on films that have been on our minds, featuring Ela Bittencourt, Ashley Clark, Michael Koresky, Joanne Kouyoumjian, Emma Piper-Burket, Jeff Reichert, Genevieve Yue, Farihah Zaman, and more.
There is that split-second of darkness. In the cinema, it comes between the last trailer and the film you came for. In the theater, just after the house lights dim completely. It is a feeling of being on the threshold of something unknowable.