“[Tarantino’s] recent work has so thoroughly absorbed the unrefined pleasure, the roughness, of the cheap, fast, and unpretentious films he loves so dearly. […] Tarantino’s brazen lack of good taste, and what you could also deem his urge to side with the marginalised (filmically and racially), will forever be the counterpoint to junk like Zero Dark Thirty, which shares his indelicacy but lacks his chutzpah.”
— An essay for Newcastle Free Press pitting Django Unchained against Zero Dark Thirty, to the latter film’s detriment.
“Swift’s dialectic becomes much more multi-faceted with Red; the album is complex, contradictory and spinning several plates at once. I think Swift is aware of the various binds she gets into (it is that recognition of complexity that is so crucial to the album) and yet it is so frequently and hastily pointed out that Red represents a pushback against certain figures in Swift’s life, though in the act of actually listening to the album it is more obvious, as least to me, that what is truly on her mind is the act of piecing together; she’s rearranging something broken to get a clearer picture of how it all fits in.”
— From a few quick observations on the critical and cultural reaction to Taylor Swift’s Red.
“The canvas of movies is figurative, and McTiernan knows that building a rhythm does not constitute a succession of antsy music cues or pumped-up whirligig editing. He understands that there needs to be rhythm within the frame for there to be any escalation of mood or understanding, or, for that matter, pleasure.”
— Excerpt of a short piece I wrote for Mission: McTiernan last year regarding The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). I rarely contribute my own material to this site, but edit and translate essays and texts that critics have submitted. Writers for this publication include Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (the co-host of Ebert Presents At The Movies and essayist for MUBI’s Notebook) and Daniel Gorman (who writes for In Review).
“One presents a homogenised vision of India, French colonialism and spirituality; a film unlike anything that has ever come before it, where pristine, sterilised, ugly, glistening machine-images preach to us about the world and about humanity—one that we stare at through 3D goggles, in awe at the story of a saucer-eyed vegetarian boy cast out at sea aboard a lifeboat avec “Richard Parker” the tiger. The other—a small-scale silent (aesthetically “silent”, but with a dense sound mix) charting a trip among friends from New York to Pittsburgh carefully constructed as a string of tiny moments.”
“My question is simply this: is Tony’s really an oeuvre divided? The films credited to “Tony Scott”—the unquestioned elder-god of the vulgar auteurists—and those “written and directed by Anthony Scott” reveal their similarities/differences in an interesting push-pull of both conflicting and converging images and ideas. Starting at the early films, one sees that the most consistent line that can be drawn through all of his vast body of work is the almost obsessive impulse to complicate on a frame-by-frame basis: constantly “adding” in order to emphasise artifice and to fracture space and time, and simultaneously—through this very “mixing pot” style of shooting and editing—to flatten broad gestures and overarching structure and design into spectacular glass panoramas, in which the characters actually become their own psychologies.”
“For me, the McTiernan paradigm—one I like—is held in a certain lucidity of authorship, a discernible source of brilliance in, for the most part, totally conventional movies. It is through the forcefulness and originality of his vision that passable multi-writer action screenplays can bloom into great thrillers. Rollerball would be a trifle in the hands of a lesser director: it’s his steady, guiding hand that brings to life the arias of the stadiums, hallways, clubs, and instills urgency in the subfusc night-time car chases.
— Excerpt from my essay on John McTiernan’s Rollerball (2002)