Waiting for a miracle in the noir classic Laura

I will close this series on film noir with Laura, because it’s altogether more beautiful and it has something of a happy ending. In being the most beautiful noir, it also involves the most sophisticated reflection on beauty in its relation to American society and to tragedy. Continue Reading...

Soylent Green takes place in 2022, which is nice

According to an old Hollywood commonplace, nothing can beat the plot of a good sci-fi film when it comes to predicting the future. Many of the promotional taglines that accompany these features assure us that, should we invest in a ticket, we’ll be “entertained” and “educated,” or even “enlightened,” by a product that “presciently signifies the all-but-inescapable fate of our planet” (2012), that warns of a future that “looks, feels, and almost tastes and smells like a nightmare vision of our times” (1984), or that offers a “harsh but searingly urgent” glimpse of the overall prospects for mankind (Blade Runner). Continue Reading...

Leo Strauss, Spinoza, and an enlightened faith

Love him or hate him, it’s almost impossible to ignore the philosopher Leo Strauss (1899­–1973). Few individuals have drawn out so thoroughly some of the implications of philosophy for a range of political positions while simultaneously exploring perennial issues such as the meaning of the Enlightenment and its relationship to classical and religious thought. Continue Reading...

Masculine despair in The Killers

My first film noir essay was on The Maltese Falcon, whose ambitious protagonist, private detective Sam Spade, chooses justice over an uncertain promise of happiness, the love of a dangerous woman. Continue Reading...

Film noir and the movie-made American male

Recently I spoke at Hillsdale College on film noir as part of a program that introduced audiences to four of the most impressive movies in the genre that defined the tough detective in America and the less popular type of doomed romantic. Continue Reading...

Volodymyr Zelensky is the Servant of the People

Three Ukrainian oligarchs, a shadow Triumvirate as it were, stand on a balcony overlooking a gorgeous town square. An election for president is imminent and they’re tired of wasting millions on backing their own candidates and then millions more on ruining those candidates’ rivals. Continue Reading...