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Posted inFilm/TV

Review: ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ short on dinosaurs, entertainment

Reading Time: 2 minutes The original Jurassic Park had fewer than 100 visual effects shots. That they still look good decades later is a testament to that film’s talented production team, which included Stan Winston, whose life-sized animatronics gave Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) animators plenty of on set reference material for how the creatures were supposed to look […]

Posted inFilm/TV

Can any civilization ‘Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach’?

Reading Time: 9 minutes There are many useful narrative structures for humanist stories, and all tend to get airtime in classic Star Trek series. Some involve a juxtaposition of multiple storylines, to hold different crises and outlooks in tension. Others present the full problem early on, allowing different perspectives and conflicts to emerge as characters struggle to find a […]

Posted inBooks

So, you’re a boastfully bookish book hoarder

Reading Time: 3 minutes I’ve heard you all—in personal conversations and in radio and TV interviews—boasting about how many books you own. “You wouldn’t believe how many books I have piled up in my home.” Isn’t this a self-congratulatory semaphore-flag-waving announcement that you are smart?  I’m bookish too, but I was taught that it’s inelegant for bookish people to plume themselves […]

Posted inFilm/TV

Review: In the age of streaming, ‘Satantango’ remains as captivating as ever

Reading Time: 3 minutes Sátántangó’s opening shot follows a herd of cows wandering a desolate town. The shot is nearly eight minutes long and free of human dialogue, an act of provocation in its deliberate simplicity and harbinger of things to come. Eight minutes down, about 430 to go—Béla Tarr’s 1994 masterpiece has a daunting runtime of over seven […]

Posted inFilm/TV

‘Spock Amok’: Walk a mile in my ears

Reading Time: 9 minutes One of the most important facets of Star Trek: The Original Series was its spirit of play. In some ways, this was necessary. The series would often be filmed haphazardly, scripts written and handed off to actors last-minute, the late-60s wing-and-a-prayer production flying by the seat of its pants to make it all work on […]

Posted inFilm/TV

Review: ‘Prehistoric Planet’ takes nature-as-spectacle filmmaking to new heights

Reading Time: 2 minutes In the opening moments of Prehistoric Planet, the BBC’s splashy, heavily computer-generated nature documentary narrated by David Attenborough, we’re shown a tyrannosaurus rex swimming in open water with young offspring in tow. It’s an uncharacteristically vulnerable look for one of popular culture’s most enduring symbols of brute, primordial strength, and functions as a mission statement […]