Genre Blast: Into the Looking Glass – Using Fiction to Illuminate Fact

This is a tricky one. Some would call it, rightly so, revisionist history – a term that has been given a bad rap. Yes, real characters are interpretations and are sometimes combined into a single character for the sake of efficiency. Dialog must be invented – except for the odd quotable lines, and events most […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Sports – Win or Lose, It’s All in the Game

A majority of us have never effectively played more than two or three sports and likely never go out of our way to watch them other than passively accepting what we are fed over the television. So how do films about sports accomplish the unusual task of entertaining audiences who may never have played or […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Who’s Playing Whom? – The Biopic

For this exercise, I’m choosing films where the tone, pace and look are intended to enhance the spirit to the person being portrayed. They have the feel of a time or place as well as convey the essence the subject, be it crazy, pathetic, heroic, or creative. Based on artistic merit of the film and NOT the person portrayed –or doing the portraying, although most of these performances are career highs – here are ten biopics worthy of acclaim. Five for him and five for her. And filmmakers – please take a chance and give us another classic biopic of a woman. 1928 was oh-so-long ago. And make certain a woman will direct it, as well. Thanks

Read More

Genre Blast: Not the Funny Pages Anymore – Comics Onscreen

Films based on comic books and their younger, slightly more pretentious sibling, the graphic novel, have enjoyed an immense popularity that only seems to increase as cinema technology begins to catch up with the imaginations of their creators as well as the expectations of fans. Once relegated to Saturday afternoon matinees in serialized format with hysterically low production values, this genre is now home to some of the most expensive and successful films ever made.

Read More

Genre Blast: The Play’s the Thing – From Stage to Screen

When a powerful play is adapted to incorporate some of the technical features possible with film, the end result can be transporting. A savvy director and crew will mine the dramatic work for opportunities to maneuver the camera in such a way as to take the audience out of their seats and place them in the middle of the action (just as one would with any other film genre). The playwright’s words should not be treated as a wall that defines the boundaries of the film, but as a door that opens into another medium of expression.

Read More

Genre Blast: When Sh*t Gets Real – Science Fiction Onscreen

Here is where I get into trouble. My idea of Sci-Fi is that it’s fictionalized science (duh) that’s plausible, references existing innovation and research, and is somewhat rooted in reality, as we know it. It is not the same thing as fantasy. Films like Star Wars or Transformers are not science fiction; they are fantasy. If you truly believe they are based upon science, you need to find a cool place to sit down and drink plenty of fluids until visions of Ewoks and Wookies leave you in peace.

Read More

Genre Blast: Gangs & Gangsters – If You Can’t Join ‘Em, Beat ‘Em

Sometimes the trigger is poverty, other times ethnic alienation. Even boredom can play a factor is causing the coagulation of a gang. If a group of people find they cant fit into society, human nature takes over and they create a societal structure for themselves. The Italians, the Irish, and most non-white ethnic groups have […]

Read More

Genre Blast: The Road Narrows; Aging in Cinema

[Author’s Note: I’ll preface with a half-hearted apology for my absence for the past couple of weeks: catching me indoors, typing away in a stuffy corner during high summer, is as unlikely than trying to talk sense to a climate-change denier. So as I write this, sprawled on a sandy log, I invite you to […]

Read More

Genre Blast: On a Grand Scale – The Epic

Let’s start with the brash statement that cinema, as we know it exists because of this genre. It’s the genre that draws crowds (or used to), that quite literally creates worlds, demanding the best from every tech guild. This is one genre that no other medium can do justice – the epic. They cost millions […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Dear Old Dad – Fathers on Film

Fathers’ Day calls for recognition of fatherhood as it is portrayed in the cinema, and that is as varied as the number of film writers and their respective relationships with “dear old Dad.” Relationships with the old man are directly influenced by the type of man the father happens to be. Nurturing or combative, empowering […]

Read More

Genre Blast: A Murder, a Mystery & the “Who-Done-It” Game

What is it about murder mysteries that captures our imaginations, not just in cinema, but books, television – even the evening news? Is it the abominable act of killing another person that seizes our attention or is it the challenge of unraveling multiple details in search of the perpetrator. It’s a hot soup of motivation, […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Adventure – “We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat!”

It will probably happen one of two ways at some point in your life: you will search out adventure on your own, or, in some cases, it will hunt you down unexpectedly. The former takes a certain kind of individual who, unsatisfied with the regular routine, sets out to explore the unknown, often risking life […]

Read More

Genre Blast: The Complications of Friendship – the Buddy Film

Let’s start this installment with a question: who is more forgiving than a spouse, knows you more intimately than a sibling, is more protective than a parent and always has your back, even in the most bizarre circumstances? Of course the banner is a dead give-away. The answer is a true blue friend, and while […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Man, Nature & Wonder in the Wild

Most of us take our survival – even our mere presence on the planet we share – for granted, rarely considering it. We have programmed ourselves to react to the non-human environment with a sense of intellectual superiority, that we are in control of our surroundings – the Great Tamer of Nature. We seek natural […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Oh, Mother! Or, the Mommy Genre

Since it’s Mother’s Day I thought I would search out some memorable film mothers. You know, the sort of characters that warm our hearts and remind us all of how lucky we are to have that devoted and comforting character watching over us.  Then I thought, well, the hell with that and decided to list […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Genre of the Philosophical; aka: Mindf**k Cinema

I’m not prefacing this batch with “not my preferred genre”, that’s for certain. It is my “go-to” genre when I have an appetite for pure, non-narrative cinema. The films in this category are unashamedly divisive, as generally about 70% of the audience not only doesn’t care for them; they even love to badmouth them. Those […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Bursting into Song – The Musical

Yes, they can be cloying, unrealistic and just plain tacky, but if they are handled with some inventiveness and originality, musicals can be transporting. No genre – other than sci-fi, perhaps – requires you to suspend your disbelief more than the musical. It’s a genre that has evolved since the first film to incorporate sound […]

Read More

Genre Blast: Satire, or: Sticking It to the Man

This genre is comedy with a poisonous bite. Delivered with a lethal wink or a prominent middle finger, it’s the genre of storytelling that says, “I’m onto you, and I don’t like what I see.” Obviously the 70s was a good era for it and I expect the genre to make a full-blooded rebound in the […]

Read More

Genre Blast: All For Love – Romance on Film

 We all love to be in love. It can make the world go ’round or bring life’s routines to a screeching halt. We hunger during the chase, revel in the ecstasy of the moment, and then writhe in agony when the whole thing goes sideways. Sometimes the connection lasts for years, evolving with age; other times it […]

Read More

Genre Blast : Coming-of-Age Films

It’s that bridge you cross when you leave innocence behind and learn to face the harsh and confusing realities of adulthood. It can be a smooth transition or come as a jolt; however it occurs, something is lost, perspective changes and we learn to make our own decisions, accept consequences and take care of ourselves. […]

Read More