Cathode Ray Zone

–Arts and Letters for the Modern Age–

Culture

Music Docs Set Record Straight

Music Docs Set Record Straight

Documentaries are a strange genre of movies. The presentation of facts and myth can often be twisted to suit an agenda, yet at the same time the barrage of imagery transports the viewer to another reality in a satisfying manner that narrative films can’t always match....

Themes from Philip K. Dick

Themes from Philip K. Dick

The Man in the High Castle (1962) The novel is set in an alternative history in which the Axis powers were victorious in the Second World War, and the United States has been divided up between German and Japanese empires, the Germans controlling the East Coast, the...

Air scores a triple double

Air scores a triple double

Air, the new film from Ben Affleck, is a slam dunk. The movie chronicles the origins of the Air Jordan sports shoe by Nike in 1984. Affleck himself scores a triple double as a producer, director, and actor. A basketball film that’s not really about basketball might...

One Fine Morning Finds Hope in Despair

One Fine Morning Finds Hope in Despair

A wry look at a single mother raising a daughter, One Fine Morning frames the story in a dramatic context yet constantly finds humor and good nature in the story. It's a kind of Gallic kitchen-sink realism that pays attention to the thoughts and feelings of Léa...

Zombies Doc Gets “Hung Up On A Dream”

Zombies Doc Gets “Hung Up On A Dream”

The Zombies occupy a respectable place below The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, and maybe one or two other influential British rock groups of the 1960’s. Yet The Zombies are known on a level a notch above other influential groups of that era like The...

Dafoe Delivers Acting Perfection in “Inside”

Dafoe Delivers Acting Perfection in “Inside”

Inside centers on the ever dependable Willem Dafoe as an art thief who breaks into a multi-million dollar high-rise condo with a time limit of seven minutes to steal valuable paintings. The passcode doesn't let him out, and he's trapped in the empty luxury unit. The...

A Disturbance in the Force

A Disturbance in the Force

The most quaint example of catering to corporate groveling resulted in one of the best cult phenomena of the recent past. In 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special melded a brand new hit movie, in its nascent period before its ascent to cultural significance, with the...

Scream VI is a self-inflicted wound

Scream VI is a self-inflicted wound

Has there ever been a movie franchise that knew when to retire? Of course, the whole concept of a franchise suggests dragging a hit concept to its withered end. Despite polished production values Scream VI tediously tugs a dying notion through the celluloid, but not...

SXSW Film Festival and Conference Curtain Raiser

SXSW Film Festival and Conference Curtain Raiser

Hot picks for 2023 SXSW film festival When the pandemic put the squeeze on group gatherings in 2020, the largest convention in the world adapted by going virtual. The South By Southwest Festival [SXSW] offers conferences geared to music, interactive media, and film...

Love, Memory, and Children’s Classics

Love, Memory, and Children’s Classics

All history was palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and...

Apex predator gets high on cocaine

Apex predator gets high on cocaine

Here’s a cinematic legend that I find it hard to wrap my head around. Not because I don’t believe it but rather because I do believe it, and it strokes my desire to understand the underlying meaning inherent in the tale. Orson Welles states in an interview that while...

30 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Quit Social Media

30 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Quit Social Media

[1] My days have become between three and four hours longer. [2] I no longer see multiple polls, every day, in which people designate Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or Rush the greatest band of all time.  [3] No one talks about who should or shouldn’t be...

Befriending Enemies

Befriending Enemies

Say everyone’s talking ’bout chicken Chicken’s a popular word But anywhere you go, you’re bound to find A chicken ain’t nothin’ but a bird -- Emmett Wallace, as performed by Cab Calloway A couple months ago, I found a copy of the DVD Sitting Ducks, a collection of a...

Party Like it’s 1929

Party Like it’s 1929

Studio Executive: This studio will never make a film with an animal defecating followed by a scantily clad woman giving a naked, fat, and prone man a golden shower. Damian Chazelle: Hold my beer. Chazelle starts Babylon at 100 m.p.h. before accelerating into...

Docs About Movies

Docs About Movies

Documentaries about movies abound in the form of film essays that use various genres to express their argument. Viewers are bound to recognize favorite films they’ve seen as well as discover films for a future watchlist. Here are some of the best examples of this kind...

Getting in Trouble

Getting in Trouble

I don’t know whether kids “get in trouble” anymore. The talk surrounding young people has become so dark and bleak that the concept seems almost quaint. My daughter was never “in trouble” growing up in the 2000’s and 2010’s, and it seemed that those among her peers...

Cameron’s Way

Cameron’s Way

“Avatar: The Way of Water” felt like it lasted an hour. Such is the pure visionary touch that writer/director James Cameron brings to the action. In 3D, the process is complete immersion into the frame. So whether you say the new Avatar is...

Genre and Illusion

Genre and Illusion

A well-established principle in the world of video gaming is that stylized graphics age better than “realistic” ones. Consider two games, released in 2012: Max Payne 3 and Borderlands 2. MP3 sought a more realistic aesthetic, while Borderlands employed a highly...

The Heaviest Albatross

The Heaviest Albatross

On more than one occasion during The Whale, I nearly closed my eyes. But that would be a violation of the compact of cinema. Each time I walk into a theater, I commit to that experience. The filmmakers have labored over every frame. Films take years, even lifetimes,...