An invitation to evil, with a Texas accent

Sometimes the difference between being accepted or shunned, a member of a group or an outsider, depends on your fluency with a dialect. Sometimes, before you are fluent, the words you hear aren’t the words that are meant. Sometimes you only understand them decades later, realizing you were led wildly astray.

When I was eleven, I was excluded from an entire cultural tradition because of a failure to translate. I was lucky.

My family moved from Boston to Texas when I was six, and we noticed the language barrier right away. Days after we arrived, my mother asked a waitress…

How did it get so far off the track?

If there can be said to be conventional wisdom about a cult Broadway musical, then the conventional wisdom is that Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along is a diamond in the rough.

Its original production, scripted by George Furth and directed by Harold Prince, was (the wisdom goes) woefully misconceived and became a legendary flop in November of 1981.

But then, after being rewritten by James Lapine a few years later, it has returned a classic. The Roundabout will mount a revival this season, following a Boston remount of a London production that dominated the UK awards. That’s a few…

Let’s act like it’s just a regular movie for one minute and analyze it

This post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi.

One reason we Star Wars fans are the way we are is that, for 30 years, we could hold those three movies in our minds as a canon. We had a closed set of sacred texts. (Wildly overrating the third one in order to feel good about it, but anyway.)

That’s also why the prequels hurt us so deeply: they broke that seal, and just colossally soiled the contents.

So we are not naive, or we shouldn’t be. We know not to let ourselves get too hurt. Especially since this third trilogy-in-progress…

Disney’s on a quest to dismantle its own myths. Will we follow?

This post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi.

“It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

So says a silhouetted Luke Skywalker in the trailer for The Last Jedi. The line shocked Star Wars fans, and helped sell more tickets to the movie’s opening weekend than any movie in history — at least since its immediate predecessor, The Force Awakens.

And while the Jedi don’t exactly end in The Last Jedi, the line is not a tease. The entire movie is contained in it, and in that image.

Writer/director Rian Johnson has brought the Star Wars story to a threshold. He looks backward into a narrow past, questioning…

Why Hidden Figures need to Get Out more

One of the most memorable sequences in this winter’s hit movie Hidden Figures is about going to the bathroom.

In a climactic speech, the mathematician Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson, explains to her white colleagues that the reason she has not finished calculating the trajectory of John Glenn’s capsule is that she has to walk a half a mile every time she has to use the “colored only” bathrooms at NASA.

“I work like a dog day and night, living on coffee from a pot none of you want to touch,” she shouts. …

What two pairs of filmmakers have done with their gifts

[UPDATED on February 27 to reflect the Academy Awards outcome]

Among this year’s leading Oscar nominees are two wonderful films called La La Land and Moonlight. One is a dazzling musical, the other an earthy memoir. But each also represents an extraordinary collaboration between two men, who drew from their shared life experiences to put personal visions on screen.

Their contrasting journeys to the Academy Award ceremony, put side by side, tell yet another story — one that puts the dreams of success in the Hollywood Hills and the Miami projects into stark relief.

Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz

La La Land: “Being really, really good at what we do”

La La Land’s writer/director, Damien Chazelle…

Colin Stokes

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