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Showing posts from 2016

Castro: El Comandante, El Comediante -- a VIDEO ESSAY on American mainstream media's depiction of a revolutionary

Fidel Castro passed away over Thanksgiving break. Castro, without question one of the towering figures of the 20th century, was a politician, a revolutionary, a prime minister and the president of Cuba. His story, his influence, his polarizing presence and his impact on history is--as the kids would say--"epic." And yet, when I finally learned of his passing over this past weekend, an unnerving realization hit me: American mainstream media didn't really do him justice.

Normally, when such an impressive person from the political or pop culture stratosphere passes away, I tend to seek out richer writings on the person and in most cases, a thorough film or biopic exploring his or her legacy. Strangely, in Castro's case, outside of some documentaries, the American cinema never bothered making a film solely about Castro; his most memorable silver screen portrayals were in the really awful Che! from 1969 and in the exceptional and stirring Che from 2008. But look at those …

VIDEO ESSAY: Superman vs. Man of Steel

In my latest visual essay, concerning Superman II and Man of Steel, I decided to incorporate the text portion into the video itself, to create an assault of sensory processing, between dissolving sentences and foiled panels of the moving image. My hope is that it creates a dynamic reading and viewing experience.

Please watch the video below and then refer to some supplemental photo examples.


Superman II: Our hero separates the destruction from the innocent bystanders
Man of Steel: Our hero destroys Metropolis, killing innocent bystanders

9/11 destruction
Man of Steel destruction



VIDEO ESSAY: GHOSTBUSTERS: Busting the Genre’s Gender Roles

VIDEO ESSAY: Film Fidelity: Beyoncé's "Lemonade"

Beyoncé knocked the wind out of the Internet when she dropped her nearly hour-long visual album Lemonade on HBO this past Saturday night, April 23rd. The inspired film is a remarkable piece to be sure--even for the Queen Bee herself. And while everything from the sound design to the collective creative direction from the team of filmmakers, editors and art department is exceptional, much of the receptive chatter online has instead circled around the implied infidelity that spurs the narrative of Lemonade; the idea that hubby Jay Z did Beyoncé wrong with a certain "Becky with the good hair." Which is too bad; that's the kind of fodder for tabloids and it marginalizes how much great film art is packed into this thing.
So, as a reactionary cinephile, I thought I'd redirect the public's attention to the striking images that Lemonade presents, the ideas behind them and, more pointedly, where these vignettes drew inspiration from. In contrast to the possible off-screen…

VIDEO ESSAY: Wake Up: Spike Lee's Vital "Chi-Raq"

Normally, I don’t do voiceovers for my video essays. I tend to let the audio samples and images speak for themselves; I suppose this habit traces back to high school English, where I was taught to use the text itself as the primary source for an argument in an essay. So, it made sense for my visual essays to rely solely on the audio-visual assets—a sort of moving image text, if you will. But for this particular video essay, because of my close connection to the city that birthed me, I felt having my narration, as a guiding narrative force, would be acceptable.
Video Essay Transcript:
When I was 22 years old I had a loaded gun pressed against the back of my head. It happened during an armed robbery in downtown Chicago. I was born and raised in Chicago and to be honest gun violence here is nothing new. When I was a child my aunt’s husband was shot several times up on the northwest side of the city. I’ve also had close family friends killed by gun shootings on the streets. However, in the…

VIDEO ESSAY: Los Ojos de Iñárritu/The Eyes of Iñárritu

Alejandro González Iñárritu made history this past weekend by becoming the first filmmaker to win the DGA Award for Best Director two years in a row, for his work in The Revenant. Last year Iñárritu became only the second Hispanic filmmaker to win the coveted Best Director Oscar for his work in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a year after Alfonso Cuarón became the first ever Hispanic Best Director Academy Award winner (for Gravity). I mention these significant cinephile facts because Iñárritu sometimes gets bombarded by certain hater-film-critics who are quick to harp on the calamity found in most of his films and not celebrate how special and nakedly emotional this filmmaker is. Yes, Iñárritu tells stories of fur-trappers who fight bears in the wilderness or sickly men who accidentally poison a room of immigrant sweatshop workers whilst juggling a plethora of other scandals. But these silver screen narratives have all been Oscar nominees and for the most part, critic…

VIDEO: Honorable Mentions and the 20 #BestFilmsOf2015

[Scroll to the bottom for the video]

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): Jurassic World, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, The Night Before, Tangerine, Amy, The End of the Tour, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, The Wolfpack, The Visit, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Trainwreck, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Time Out of Mind, Danny Collins, El Club, Inside Out, Phoenix, Crimson Peak, Beasts of No Nation, By The Sea, It Follows, Youth, The Walk, The Hateful Eight, The, Nightmare, Ex Machina, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Creep, The Overnight and While We’re Young.
Best Actor: Tom Hardy, Legend Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro, Sicario Best Supporting Actress: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, Sicario Best Original Screenplay: Damián Szifrón, Wild Tales
Best Adapted Screenplay: Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq Best Film Editing: Hank Corwin, The Big Short Best Original Score: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sic…