From the Archive: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

This was written for The Pointer, the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Other headlines in the same issue, published in November of 1992, include “Videos produced on Point’s award winning recycling,” “Freeze tuition costs!” and “Do you know where your deer tags are?” With lush imagery and stunning special effects, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is unlike any other horror film you’re likely to see. The blockbuster hit flaunts the fact that it’s the most faithful adaptation of the 1897 Bram Stoker novel, but the story itself seems secondary to the grandiose staging and the swirling, dizzying … Continue reading From the Archive: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Top Fifty Films of the 70s — Number Five

#5 — The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) Through this process, I’ve already confessed to being out of step with the critical consensus on Francis Ford Coppola. While The Godfather showed up in this tally, other likely contenders–including its sequel and Apocalypse Now, which jumped past the mafia epics to become Coppola’s highest ranking film in the most recent Sight & Sound poll–were bypassed. The clearest statement I can give about my overall view of the director’s films is that The Conversation is far and away my favorite film to bear his cinematic signature. It is everything that Coppola’s more … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 70s — Number Five

Top Fifty Films of the 70s — Number Sixteen

#16 — The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) One of the risks in indulging in this ongoing exercise in counting backwards is that all my various cineaste heresies will eventually be revealed. Certainly filmmakers will be underrepresented and specific titles that have earned consensus admiration among learned film viewers (or at least the cool kids among them) will be utterly absent. I think I ultimately have fairly conventional, time-tested tastes when it comes to my tallies, which makes the aberrations stand out all the more. Tracking through the seventies, for example, illustrates that I’m completely out of step with the … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 70s — Number Sixteen

Allen, Coppola, Cukor, Gunn, Mills, Scorsese, Winterbottom

New York Stories (Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen, 1989). I remember reading Roger Ebert’s review of this anthology film and thinking he cheated by giving individual star ratings to each of its three segments. After all, no one going to movie theater had the option of just paying for a third of a ticket to see the one part of the film he recommended. Now that I’ve seen it, however, I completely get why he chose to take that approach: one part of the film is significantly better than the others. Woody Allen’s segment is amusing but … Continue reading Allen, Coppola, Cukor, Gunn, Mills, Scorsese, Winterbottom

Arnold, Coppola, Nadel, Smight, Wallace

Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009). At it’s strongest, Arnold’s film is as scrappy as its protagonist, a teenage girl in lower class Britain who pushes against what little disinterested authority exists in her life. The film expertly gets at the way passion burns to the surface so quickly at that age, while also considering how simple, inelegant endeavors like hip hop dancing can fuel dreams of escape. As an observant, uncompromising character study, the film is sharp and sensational. As it gets more plot driven, especially in a misguided third act, it falters terribly. The one thing that’s consistent throughout … Continue reading Arnold, Coppola, Nadel, Smight, Wallace