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Hollywood films have long depicted Arabs in a negative light. Pictured is the movie poster from 1921’s The Sheik. Wikimedia Commons

American Sniper perpetuates Hollywood’s typical Arab stereotypes

The first Iraqis to appear in Clint Eastwood’s Iraq War drama, American Sniper, are a young mother and boy of maybe 12. They are seen from the point of view of the man who will kill them: Chris Kyle, the…
In The Gambler, Mark Wahlberg portrays Jim Bennet, a bored literature professor whose gambling debts spiral out of control. POPSUGAR

In The Gambler, an anti-hero story is retold

“Life is a losing proposition,” explains Mark Wahlberg’s literature professor/compulsive gambler Jim Bennett. “You might as well get it over with.” Intent on doing just that, Bennett runs up massive debts…
Is it ever okay to depict the assassination of living person? KCNA/Reuters

The Interview, Hollywood and the politics of ridicule

Sony’s decision to cancel the Christmas Day release of its film The Interview is drawing harsh criticism from Hollywood’s elite. George Clooney is asking everyone to stand up against the cancellation…
In Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston’s Moses is presented straightforwardly as a man certain of his mission. Wikimedia Commons

Rebooting the history of the world

The term “reboot” means something particular in the movies. The metaphor is drawn from computers: a “reboot” restarts a machine whose software has malfunctioned. But in cinematic terms a reboot refers…
Ridley Scott’s casting choices for Exodus: Gods and Kings are emblematic of a larger, systemic problem in the entertainment industry. Movie Pilot

Ridley Scott’s casting of white actors is symptomatic of larger problems

Director Ridley Scott recently set off a firestorm when he dismissed those who criticized him for casting white actors as every major character in the recently released Exodus: Gods and Kings, while reserving…
The Guardians of the Galaxy – whose protagonists are a morally-gray motley crew – could be seen as a satire of the classic hero tradition. BagoGames/Flickr

Guardians of the Galaxy and the fall of the classic hero

A beautiful assassin. A superstrong thug. A star-lost child of the ‘80s. A sentient tree. A gun-toting raccoon. Meet the morally gray protagonists of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the film that raked…
Movie theaters have seen declining box office revenues over the past two years. Michael Gabler/Wikimedia Commons

Event cinema could save the movie theater

If Dumber and Dumber To, Interstellar and Big Hero 6 didn’t get you to the movies last week, you weren’t alone: just before Thanksgiving, Box Office Mojo put year-to-date gross receipts at almost $9 billion…
In Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey plays the protagonist, Cooper, who wears many hats: everyman farmer, laconic space hero, grieving father. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Interstellar: Nolan’s flawed masterpiece

At about the midway point of Interstellar, a spacecraft descends into the atmosphere of a pristine white planet. Gliding downwards, the tip of the craft brushes against a cloud, and the cloud shatters…

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