Archive | Essays

‘Hateship Loveship,’ a Study in Earnestness

Hateship Loveship, starring Kristen Wiig, is far less blasé than the Alice Munro story on which it’s based. An excerpt from my Word and Film review :

We get the sense Munroe as narrator skims over the details of how a love match is made not out of prudery so much as a distaste for the obviousness of the whole business. “A woman not to be deterred, a man who’s lost his way? Eh, you do the math,” she seems to be saying, airily waving a rough-knuckled hand. In contrast, the film “Hateship Loveship” is a study in earnestness. To some degree this is a function of our times. The story has been updated to the contemporary Midwest from mid-20th century Canada, when stricter social codes were bound to engender subversiveness. 

Six Reasons Why It Had To Be Kevin Bacon

It’s been twenty years this spring since three Albright College students invented “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” and the game is still going strong. And why not? Its premise — that anyone in the movie business could be linked to Bacon in six or less steps — is brilliant in its snarky simplicity. And with the advent of such websites as, it’s only become simpler. But why Kevin Bacon? Sure, in 1994 he declared to the now-defunct Premiere magazine that he’d “worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.” But even if he hadn’t made that claim, it’s hard to imagine this game built around any other ubiquitous actor. “Six Degrees of Toni Collette?” Ho hum. “Six Degrees of James Franco?” Way too meta. “Six Degrees of Woody Harrelson?” Yikes. No, it had to be Bacon, a man as appealing and accessible as the foodstuff that shares his name.  For Word and Film, I outline six reasons why We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Aronofsky’s Own Private Apocalypse

Ever since the approach of 2012, the once-predicted date of the Rapture, we’ve been deluged with apocalypse movies. But only writer-director Darren Aronofsky, that famously big-scale thinker, has displayed the temerity to tackle the mother lode of apocalypse stories. I wrote about his Noah in my latest Word and Film essay. An excerpt:

Really, “Noah” works so well because it is such a personal take on this biblical story. All of Aronofsky’s favorite themes — the fine line between soothsaying and madness; the intersection of spirit and science; the wretched state of humanity; the potential meaninglessness of our existences — are writ large here. And to project our trepidations and obsessions upon the fate of the entire world is the ultimate Hollywood endeavor, which explains the proliferation of all these apocalypse movies. (That, and the satisfaction we secretly feel when our fears are realized.) “Noah” is the origin apocalypse movie, and in making it Aronofsky has called all of our bluffs.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy