Reconsidering Vanilla Sky

Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky

Some thoughts on rewatching Vanilla Sky twenty years after its release

Normally I disapprove of Hollywood remakes, especially when the original film was (a) not a direct adaptation of a novel, (b) released only a few years earlier, and (c) a well-regarded foreign language movie. However, having never seen Alejandro Amenábar’s 1997 Spanish film Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes), I feel entitled to review Cameron Crowe’s 2001 version starring Tom Cruise (who also produced) on its own terms. In fact I had seen it before, around the time of its release, but had only the vaguest recollections of the movie, and not wholly positive ones. Continue reading

Censorship and authoritarianism

Book censorship in Fahrenheit 451

Ideas for a class about censorship and authoritarianism based around clips from Fahrenheit 451 and Cinema Paradiso

I am on a bit of a Truffaut tip at the moment having also recently seen and enjoyed his historical dramas Jules et Jim (1962) and The Last Metro (1981). Fahrenheit 451 (1966) is altogether a different beast, and I have included my Letterboxd review here below. I have also sketched a few ideas about how the clip might inspire discussion about censorship and authoritarianism in the ELT classroom. Continue reading

“The mutations were subtle at first”

Entering “The Shimmer”

 

Some thoughts on Alex Garland’s horror sci-fi movie of 2018: Annihilation

I have got a backlog of Letterboxd reviews of varying depth and quality that I haven’t shared anywhere else. The last one I did, below, is of Alex Garland’s horror sci-fi movie of 2018: Annihilation. Continue reading

Chocolat

Giulia Boschi as Aimée and Isaach de Bankolé as Protée

A review of Claire Denis’s 1988 directorial debut Chocolat

I’ve recently acquired an Artificial Eye Collection of Claire Denis movies. By no means an exhaustive anthology of her work – there are just four films (Chocolat, Nénette et Boni, Beau Travail and White Material) – it provides the introduction to her oeuvre I was hoping for. Having read a lot about Denis’s films, and long harbouring the suspicion that I have long overlooked her, I decided to have a binge. I should add that I have seen 2009’s White Material before and that, while I found it unsettling and beautifully photographed, I don’t think I quite gave it the attention it deserved. Continue reading

Dreamchild

Review of the 1985 fantasy film Dreamchild, written by Dennis Potter

This post heralds a change in tack for this blog. I initially wanted to channel all my critical energies through the prism of ESL/EFL lesson plans but have begun to feel I had imposed unsustainable limits on myself. Henceforth there will be no such constraints: English language-specific content will be filed under the category ‘Lesson Plans’, as well as any other pertinent categories (Cinema, Music etc.). But from this point on I also hope to use the blog to sketch out ideas I may decide to explore in more detail in my research or simply to post reflections on things of interest to me culturally, notably cinema. This will begin with the following post on Dennis Potter’s 1985 film drama Dreamchild.

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