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Category Archives: film

See me introduce Blade Runner and talk dystopia in San Francisco on November 6th

The second annual San Francisco Urban Film Festival happens this November from the 3rd through the 8th, taking as its theme the idea of going “beyond dystopia.” In line with that, they’re screening Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, whose vision of 2019 Los Angeles has, for nearly 35 years, endured as a vision of the urban future. Its crowded streets and Babel […]

Everything I’ve written about Blade Runner for Open Culture so far

If you interpret the question “What’s your favorite movie?” as “What movie have you seen the greatest number of times?”, then Blade Runner is my favorite movie. (Actually, Sans Soleil remains a contender there — but in any case, my favorite movie surely has something to do with Japan and the early 1980s.) And so I happen to have written […]

Diary: Watching Café Noir (카페 느와르), Marriage Story (결혼 이야기), and the Cinema of Seoul

We hit up a favorite Korean barbecue spot with my cinephile friend Michael, who recently came to Koreatown after five years spent in actual Korea. Naturally, the conversation turned to Korean films we both knew, and big names from the Korean cinema boom of the early 2000s came up: Joint Security Area (110 minutes), Memories of Murder (127 minutes), Oldboy (120 […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)

Los Angeles noirs don’t come much noirer than Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich’s adaptation of a Mickey Spillane bestseller that transplants the story from New York and boils it even harder by turning its private detective protagonist Mike Hammer into a sociopath as thuggish as the criminals around him. An ill-considered pickup of a hitchhiker […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1978)

The 1970s grotesque of John Cassavetes Los Angeles gangster action movie takes place not in the margins of the city, but in a city made up of nothing but margins: mediocre eateries, empty gas stations, parking garages, and the strip club owned by its businessman-turned-hitman protagonist. Tasked with finding and killing the titular “Chinese bookie” […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: “Strange Days” (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995)

Strange Days counts as a Los Angeles movie, a hard-boiled detective movie, a cyberpunk movie, and a “social issues” movie, all of which came out in the shadow of the city’s 1992 riots. In an ideal setting for the subgenre’s mixture of “high tech and low life,” gentleman-loser protagonist Lenny Nero deals in pure neural […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Time Code (Mike Figgis, 2000)

I still remember sitting in the theater when I first saw Timecode, watching the screen divide into four, knowing I was about to see something truly knew. The film’s Hollywood industry satire — replete with glamor, seediness, earthquakes, art, commerce, drugs, adultery, girls, jealousy, aspiration, desperation, a limousine, and a gun — plays out in those […]

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984)

Los Angeles, the City in Cinema, my new series of video essays, examines the variety of Los Angeleses revealed in the films set there, both those new and old, mainstream and obscure, respectable and schlocky, appealing and unappealing — just like the city itself. Its debut pays a visit to the punks, drunks, thugs, loners, feds, […]

The Films of Sangsoo Hong

Say you watch Korean movies. Often, outside the peninsula itself, this means you’ve gotten into the murderous grotesquerie of Chan-wook Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy,” or Joon-ho Bong’s simultaneously goofy and solemn political allegory of a monster mashThe Host, or any amount of Ki-duk Kim’s vast, high-profile (and as some fans admit, uneven) output. But mention the […]

Our Curious Man in Japan: Chris Marker, Sans Soleil, and the Films that Stand for Us

Name your favorite film. Now define favorite. Is it the one you admire the most? The one you watch most often? The one that keeps surfacing in your thoughts with the least prompting? Or simply the one you name when asked, hoping to project an affiliated identity in so doing? Your definition of the term, […]