In Defense of Intelligent Responses to Film


When I watch a movie for the first time, I try to experience it. I allow the colors and sounds to guide my thoughts. I set my brain to autopilot and repress the part of my mind that prides itself on analysis and critical thought. I forget about financial woes, annoying friends, and other daily stresses and immerse myself in whatever world is on the screen. My goal is to create memories, not brain wrinkles.

But that is the first time. If I watch the movie again, the gloves are off. My brain cracks its knuckles and prepares to pick apart the film. No scene, motif, or character escapes my analysis. My mind becomes a warrior of intellect, attacking ignorance and feeding on subtlety and nuance.

Some friends have told me that they don’t appreciate casual film analysis. Chicago is not a social commentary.” “I don’t like to think of Aslan as Jesus.” “I don’t care if WALL-E wants me to save the planet.” But these friends are missing a crucial element of movie-watching. There is nothing wrong with intelligent responses to film.


Many films offer viewers guided tours through various philosophical musings and sociopolitical statements, and those messages demand critical thought. Like literature, music, and other forms of art, the burden of interpretation falls to the viewer. Films cannot easily be divided into groups based on the existence of a moral or social statement—those with messages and those without—and moviegoers who are only willing to analyze films that advertise as social commentaries (like FernGully: The Last Rainforest and Sicko) hide themselves from deeper understandings of their favorite movies. Analyzing film does not somehow ruin the simple pleasures of movie-watching, and thinking about the more profound aspects of a specific movie does not lessen the movie’s initial impact. Instead, injecting critical thought into the movie-watching experience enhances the adventure. The Lord of the Rings is better when considering Tolkien’s background. 30 Rock is funnier with an understanding of the show’s social commentary. And appreciating Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical as social satire brings the music to life.

So, the next time a friends tells you to stop analyzing movies, just remember that critical thought is film’s best friend. Feel free to tell your friend something like, “I’ll stop analyzing movies when you start paying for my movie tickets. Until then, I pay for these experiences, and I’m going to make the most of them.”

Review: Flashbacks of a Fool (2008)


Flashbacks of a Fool is a coming-of-age tale about forbidden romance, teenage innocence, and the dangers of old sea mines. More importantly, it is evidence that brilliance can exist without coherence or flow.

The movie is about a struggling Hollywood star and his bizarre past. The star, played by Daniel Craig, is a promiscuous, emotionally immature has-been who discovers that a childhood friend has passed away. Instead of casually reminiscing about his childhood while relaxing on his couch or listening to Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” over and over (which is a great way to relax, by the way), Joe Scot (Craig) decides to go for a semi-drunk swim. This, of course, brings about a rather long flashback, a flashback that lasts for nearly half of the movie and includes impromptu dancing, intergenerational intercourse, and unexploded mines.

Baillie Walsh, the writer/director, guides the audience through a beautiful cacophony of settings, camera angles, and storylines without regard for context or flow. This is Walsh’s first and only feature film, but that fact didn’t seem to stop the novice director from peppering the occasionally cliché film with some beautifully absurd scenes. The film is a constant war between art and kitsch, and Walsh doesn’t seem to care which side wins. Using the flashback gimmick as a weak invisibility cloak for randomness, Walsh embraces the kitsch of his protagonist’s childhood, and that willingness to flaunt cinematic spontaneity allows Walsh to blur the lines between gaudiness and beauty. The movie’s flashback scenes, as a whole, are like the contents of a particularly unique party mix—both delicious and unnerving—and their weirdness helps explain the protagonist’s reluctance to relive his past.

Flashbacks of a Fool encourages paradoxical descriptors. It is both fascinating and dull, gaudy and beautiful, kitschy and artsy, ignorant and self-aware, easy and confusing, complicated and simple. The video below (featuring the lovely Felicity Jones) is beauty without context. When the scene first appears in the film, it seems random and spontaneous, yet it is crucial to the film’s ending. Enjoy its beauty. Embrace its absurdity.

Baillie Walsh: Director

Baille Walsh: Writer

Daniel Craig, Harry Eden, and Felicity Jones: Stars

We’re Back! Back with Falcon Fan Fiction

Big B and Mo’ Money

After a long sabbatical, Big B and Mo’ Money are back, and we are pumped to talk about movies. And we will talk about movies. Eventually. But instead of talking about specific movies right now, we’d like to discuss something else.

Fan Fiction

Ladies and gentleman, fan fiction is powerful. It allows devout followers to keep their favorite shows and movies alive. It encourages unpaid writers to continue their trade. And it creates communities of like-minded individuals, lost souls who cannot quench their thirst for scenes simply by watching television. The world of fan fiction is an ever-changing world, a malleable universe that sits atop layers and layers of fabricated content.

Big B has written some fan fiction.

That’s right. Big B has created his own unique fan fiction. You have seen fan fiction for everything from RENT to Charlie Brown, from Ace Ventura to Happy Feet, from Scrubs to Green Lantern.  But you have perhaps never seen fan fiction for this State Farm commercial:

The Vengeful and Well-Insured Falcon

Gregory, the man with the falcon, and his wife, Liz, return home. Liz is obviously displeased with her husband’s purchase, but Gregory doesn’t seem to notice. As Liz washes the dishes, Gregory attempts to teach his falcon how to play foosball. Gregory’s loud attempts to high-five his falcon irritate Liz. After a few minutes, she walks to the living room to confront Gregory.


Are you going to help me with these dishes?


Let me just finish this game. I can’t believe he’s beating me!


(Lauging) It sounds like you love that falcon more than me.



That’s it. We’re getting rid of the falcon. We’re going to take him to an animal shelter tomorrow. I don’t care if we get our money back.


(Turning quickly to Liz) Maybe I should get my money back from marrying you!



Gregory picks up his falcon and runs to the door. Liz, shocked, places one hand over her mouth and lets the other fall to her side. Gregory grabs his coat from the coat rack. Liz mumbles something as Gregory, maneuvering the bird from hand to hand, quickly puts on his coat.


You know what really kills me, Liz? We could have been happy together. The three of us. We could have been happy.




(Standing in the doorway) That’s fine. You don’t need to say anything. You just haven’t found your falcon yet.

Gregory stands in the doorway holding his falcon and looking at Liz for nearly a minute. Just before Gregory turns to leave, Liz’s expression changes. As the door closes, Liz speaks.


…it looked at me. It looked right at me.


~Big B