Oh John Carroll

Tag: film (page 1 of 4)

Genevieve Koski and Nathan Rabin talk about the conclusion of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy at The Dissolve. It’s a great discussion about a great series of films.

I thought seeing The Great Gatsby as a 3D summer blockbuster would be the weirdest literary experience I’d have in a theater this year.  But then I saw that James Franco had adapted As I Lay Dying for the screen.

Valley of Ashes →

If you saw The Great Gatsby this weekend (or, hey, read the book it’s based on!), you’ll probably be interested in this piece by Devin Faraci on the history of The Valley of Ashes.

The Critics Agree!

This morning, I launched a new blog with my good friend Nick Klinger.  The site is called The Critics Agree!, and you can visit it here:


Each day, Nick and I will scour reviews across the Internet to bring you the *best* that film has to offer, whether it’s in theaters or on home video.  For launch day, we have six new summaries for you to enjoy. Our top in-theater pick for the weekend (The Great Gatsby), plus five white hot selections from the archives: Jack and Jill, Couples Retreat, The Happening, New Year’s Eve and Scary Movie 5.

We hope you like it, and that you’ll follow along.  We’ll have up one new post per day, Monday to Friday. You can subscribe to us on Tumblr, via RSS, or on Twitter.

The World’s End →

Click above for the preview for Edgar Wright’s new film The World’s End, which reunites him with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to finish off their “Cornetto Trilogy” (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End).

Printing the Legend →

Howard Bryant wrote about the new film 42 for ESPN:

For the past week, the concepts of how a story is told and who gets to tell it have resonated as I thought about Boston and listened to complex conversation about war and terrorism devolve along the simplistic lines of “heroes” and “cowards” and “resilience.” That simplification is a template borrowed from the tattered handbook of how there is generally one way to write about race in America: to make the majority of the mainstream feel good about itself without depth, without substance, without respect or appreciation for grievances that can successfully change society but that don’t always have happy endings.

I saw the film yesterday, and was incredibly disappointed by it.  The above excerpt alludes to why: I didn’t get the sense that the film was interested in portraying hardship, and that made it an incredibly low-stakes affair.  But Bryant finds some teaching moments in the film’s failures, and I’m glad to see it.

MacGruber 2 →


Roger Ebert →

Very sad news today: Roger Ebert is dead at the age of 70.  I greatly admired him: for a high schooler who fancied himself a film critic, Ebert was an all-star.  More recently, he reinvented himself through social media as one of our great bloggers in addition to our very best film critic.

Here’s Ebert, from 2009:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

Close Readers


Thanks to living in the future — and in spite of living in Kansas — I was able to rent Room 237 this weekend.  My anticipation for this film speaks to my maturity, I guess — I longed for this like a teenager does for a blockbuster.  Room 237 does not disappoint.

The film makes headlines for some of the weird and off-the-wall theories offered by its guests.  But the filmmakers never stake out a position, or show favor to one particular interviewee or theory.  The star of the film, then, is not any one idea but the conversation that the film builds.  Some of my favorite moments occurred when guests began unknowingly speaking to one another — the guest talking about propaganda films and the guest theorizing about a faked moon landing didn’t know it at the time, but they were driving to similar ideas from different directions.  They don’t hear each other, but we do.

Room 237 is many things.  It’s certainly a testament to one of the greatest film directors of all-time, and to one of his most important and unusual films.  In addition, the film’s structure alone — never filming its guests, and instead laying their audio over film clips, mostly from Kubrick’s films — makes its worth viewing.  But most importantly, the film is a call for and defense of close reading — or close viewing, I suppose.  The filmmakers don’t laugh at any one particular theory because they’re more interested in hearing out a carefully detailed reading from an involved viewer, no matter how outlandish it may seem on paper.

Room 237 is playing in several major cities.  It is also available to rent through iTunes.  I highly recommend it.  You may also want to have a copy of The Shining handy too — you’ll likely be reaching for it soon after.

How To Succeed In Office Design Without Really Trying

I recently stumbled onto an interesting discovery while watching How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for the first time, while also re-watching some Mad Men episodes in anticipation of its new season.  The film and the show both feature Robert Morse.  In How to Succeed…, Morse plays the fast-rising window-washer-turned-executive J. Pierpont Finch, while in Mad Men Morse is senior partner Bertram Cooper.

How to Succeed… has not aged well.  Its gender politics make it a bit of a slog to get through, but its worth watching for Morse alone.  He’s delightfully eccentric here, having brought the role from Broadway to the big screen.  If you’re a Mad Men fan, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for the odd stylings of Bert Cooper after watching.

But what really caught my eye were the similar tastes of Finch and Cooper.  In How to Succeed…, Finch hits a road block when a Vice President figures out his quick rise to the top and decides to fire him.  Finch gets the axe in the VP’s office:

Pre Finch

Finch, though, is much too smart to be outplayed at this point in his meteoric rise.  He sets up the VP, sees him fired, and becomes the company’s newest vice president.  As with everything having to do with Finch, change comes quickly.  By the following day, the office has been entirely re-designed for VP Finch:




By now, you probably see where I’m going.  Finch shares an appreciation for Asian art and culture with one Bertram Cooper of Sterling Cooper, right down to each office prominently featuring a painted screen. 





That’s some great linking you’re doing, Mad Men.

And yes, I had my doubts about this, skeptical reader.  It could be a coincidence.  But if the Robert Morse link isn’t enough, and if Finch’s rise to the head of the company (which sells the top-selling-if-vague wickets, in case you’re wondering), how about this final piece of evidence: Finch fills a number of roles in How to Succeed…, but his title in the office photographed at the top? 

Vice President of Advertising.

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