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Cinematheque

Beyond the Hills (2012)

Of all the criticisms leveled against Christian religion, the aesthetic critique is the most potentially compelling. Not convincing (God forbid), but worthy of consideration. David Bentley Hart has explained how Nietzsche's assault on Christianity was fundamentally aesthetic in nature, and for that reason operated on a deeper plane than the mere logician or empiricist can reach, and can even function as a sort of wake-up call for complacent or compromised Christians. It's somewhat counterintuiti

Action Movies, Patriarchy, & Dragons: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (2018)

Spoilers, obviously. The horror story is driven by an intersection of heroism and victimhood; roles alternate, and the characters find themselves either perpetual victims or hopeless heroes facing the supernatural or at least the scientifically fantastical. Most of the science fiction films of the 1980s and 1990s follow this pattern—it was rather neatly summed up, in fact, in Jurassic World (2015) by the amoral Asian genius who runs the genetic labs—“to a canary, a cat is a monster; we’re just u

In "The Student," The Russian Film Industry Admits What It Fears Most

I want to like the Russian film industry, I really do. Often they have the goods: talented direction, great cinematography, and music, even decent acting. But the "artsy Russian film" has one key problem: over there, the good guys are winning the culture war. That means the only way to be counter-cultural and edgy in Russia is to join the Pussy Riot faction and make movies that critique tradition, religion, and morals. The Student (2016), a recent prizewinning art-house film directed by Kirill

Unsubtle Propaganda: Reviewing "Mother!" and "The Shape of Water"

While Hollywood has fed America a steady diet of liberal and anti-Christian messages for many decades now, as its stranglehold on the popular imagination lessens, and as the nation becomes more polarized—with half of it becoming more self-consciously anti-Hollywood and seeking out niche alternatives for entertainment—its propaganda has in turn become more aggressive and explicit. Two almost comically incandescent examples came this past year in the form of Darren Aronofsky's Mother! and Guillerm

California Dreaming: Light and Dark

“And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special”: President Reagan’s Farewell Address (1989) “Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know if you rip the fronts off houses you'd find swine? The world's a hell. What does it matter what happens in it?”: Joseph Cotton, Shadow of a Doubt, Universal (1943) Few countries have identified themselves so thoroughly

The Narrative of Heartbreak and “Big” (1988)

In a flash Amy was able to transform our hetero-normative experience back into something she was more comfortable with, her own safe space of gender neutrality, with the magic words: "get this shit off me." Tossing her the tissue box, I chastised her for breaking the narrative, something usually reserved for slightly longer than fifteen seconds after sex. Amy may have rolled her eyes, but the fact of the matter remains: sex is the narrative of attraction. For the red-hot 20 minutes I spent with

Authenticity and “The Cable Guy”

There was a gleam in her eye when “Ghostbusters” (2016) came up in the group’s discussion. She corrected the speaker, a male, who didn’t make an elaborate point to reference the movie’s notorious gender component- “the new Ghostbusters” he offhandedly called it, but this was “girl Ghostbusters,” she said with pride. After all, she was a high school Science teacher and this was a victory with which she could attach herself. This attachment was the point, existing independently of the movie. She m

Dunkirk: Can the English Get Home?

The Enemy has the English and French armies surrounded at Dunkirk. We never see the faces of the Enemy. The score of Dunkirk is incessant and driving. The film is a masterpiece. I was skeptical that this military disaster could be rendered as something heroic. Christopher Nolan has captured a change in the zeitgeist. This may be first patriotic movie of the 21st Century. “When 400,000 men couldn’t get home, home came for them.” The Enemy had bombed the British fleet and the main port facilities