February 27, 2017

The first time I saw Moonlight, I thought it was exceptional.

Then, a question from a student in my Media Theory and Criticism class made me clarify my assessment.

I had been talking that day about how I liked certain things about La La Land, wished Loving had also been nominated for Best Picture, and — yet — sort of wanted Arrival to win the Best Picture Award because of its craft and geopolitical message, a message of  unity we sorely need in these trouble times.  On the other hand, I continued, Moonlight is unprecedented and speaks to gender, sexuality, and culture in other ways that are critically important.


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The Un-Oscars

February 27, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, I led a discussion of the 1999 TV movie Tuesdays With Morrie at a Triad funeral home for the kickoff of “It’s About Life — A Death-Defying Film Series.”

Sponsored by the Café Mortal and Death Café groups in Greensboro, this was the first of six movies chosen “to provoke comfortable discussions of death and dying.”

I didn’t inject a great deal of media criticism into the conversation (when asked at one point what my students would think of this movie, I admitted they would probably find it “cheesy”).

Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria

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Josh Canzona on Wings of Desire

January 27, 2017

Saturday, January 28 at 9:30 a.m. you can catch a special screening of Wings of Desire at a/perture and engage in conversation about the film with Joshua Canzona afterward.  He is an adjunct professor in the Divinity School at Wake Forest and a doctoral candidate in theology and religious studies at Georgetown.  I have encountered Josh in professional circles and am looking forward to hearing his insights tomorrow.  Before that, I asked him a few questions about a/perture’s Looking at Art Cinema program and about Wings of Desire.

Mary:  How did you get involved in the Looking at Art Cinema program, and what is special about this series of films and talks?

Joshua:  I attended a/perture screenings of Day for Night (François Truffaut) and Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami) when Wake alum and local filmmaker Cagney Gentry hosted the program. I really like French New Wave and the Truffaut selection drew me in but I especially enjoyed the friendly and open conversation after the screening. You do not need to be a film expert to participate in a Looking at Art Cinema event. I ended up having a conversation with Cagney about my interest concerning religion in film and Lawren Desai, the owner of Aperture, thought it would be a good theme to explore in the program.

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Out of Pottersville

December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannakuh and Happy Holidays!

This past year has been one of book writing and editing for me. I’ve also done some new (and I hope exciting!) things with my classes.

And, I’ve despaired over the political scene — first in North Carolina then in parts far beyond.

Through all of that, my blog has suffered, but it feels like the time to come back to it.

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HOMELESS at a/perture

August 22, 2016

Tomorrow night – Tuesday, August 23 at 7:30 p.m. – brings the August selection of the Made in the Triad series to a/perture cinema.

I had heard about Clay Hassler’s film HOMELESS for quite some time but never had an opportunity to screen it until now. So glad that I did, and you won’t want to miss this chance (one night only) to see it for yourself.

Gosh close-up

By way of preview, here’s a little interview with Clay Hassler.

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Teachers on TV

July 15, 2016

Two of my current book projects are drawing to a close, the fourth edition of The Hollywood Curriculum:  Teachers in the Movies and an anthology I’ve co-edited, Screen Lessons:  What We’ve Learned from Teachers on Television and in the Movies.

I spend a lot of time thinking about representations of teachers in popular culture and am disheartened by recent trends that undermine the professionalization of teachers.

It used to be that good teachers were idealized and bad teachers were presented as a contrast to them to reinforce the idealization.  Increasingly, as I noted in a recent interview with a journalist from The Washington Post, representations in mainstream media, especially television, have begun to depict educators as incompetent, corrupt, disengaged, crude, and worse.

The latest example is the HBO comedy Vice Principals.  Public education is undermined by the ubiquity of these narratives, and we as a culture suffer for it.

Vice Principals

I don’t long for a return to the most formulaic of the sappy stories but to something that celebrates humanity and gives us a path forward to something better.

Catching Up…

July 6, 2016

I’ve had tunnel vision the last few months to focus on book indexing, editing, and revisions on three projects and have not been posting much.  My viewing and blogging have suffered, but I’m about to catch a breath and start catching up.

While I’ve not been out to the movies as much as I would like, I am indulging in some TV on lunch breaks and before I go to bed — one recent series that dropped a new season and three to catch up on!

Following, find brief takes on Season Four of Orange is the New Black, one of my favorite recent series, and my belated attraction to JustifiedThe Americans, and Bosch.


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