Author Archives: David C. Ryan

25 Years After: Die Hard, A Degenerative Retrospective

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

John McTiernan’s Die Hard opened twenty-five years ago to a mixed reception, receiving both popular praise and critical loathing.

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Prometheus and the Complexities of Interpretivism

Prometheus film poster

The critical reception for Prometheus has stimulated an interesting and extended discussions regarding the film’s synthesis of religion, science, and society.

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Listening to The Conversation

The Conversation movie poster

Critics have missed some thematic points that are worth exploring to further illustrate the worthiness of Coppola’s still-undervalued character study.

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Film Essay: The Natural Supernaturalism of the 13 Assassins

13 Assassins

At a fundamental level, 13 Assassins dramatically illustrates the deadly nature of conflicting political loyalties.

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The Psychology of a Narrative: The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

Recent discussions about The Hurt Locker illustrate the audience’s varying and conflicting needs regarding works of fiction.

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Mythologizing Identity: The Lightning Thief

by David RyanPercy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is based on Rick Riordan’s first Percy Jackson novel, one of my ten-year old son’s favorites. Because this series is aimed primarily at boys (Perseus is 12 years old in the first book), Riordan places aspects of classical mythology rather than philosophy at the thematic […]

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DVD Reviews: Afghan Muscles and Bigger, Stronger, Faster

George Butler and Robert Fiore’s Pumping Iron debuted 33 years ago, focusing on a number of bodybuilders, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because so few documentaries give us insight into an improbable kind of hyper-masculinized identity, briefly contextualizing two recent efforts with Butler and Fiore’s film seems useful.Afghan Muscles and Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects of […]

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Context and Re-Context: Star Wars in Concert

star-wars-in-concert

What is central to Lucas’s vision is the argument that boundaries (even ones set by tyrants) can be transcended if one has talent, nerve and higher aspirations.

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The Phenomenology of Conspiracies: X-Files: I Want to Believe

Mulder and Scully in X Files

At its most compelling, the series The X-Files problematized the nature of objectivity and reason.

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DVD Review: Frontrunner: The Afghan Woman who Surprised the World

Frontrunner illustrates how a force of people are trying to change long-established cultural norms by altering social practices, and such changes begin with the freedom to act on one’s personal beliefs.

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DVD Review: Tangier Treehouse

Tangier Treehouse (2007) offers a brief sketch of some Arab boys attending a vocational school in the second most famous city in Morocco. The kids from the Darna Youth Center must overcome linguistic barriers as well as generational differences when three middle-aged westerners arrive to help supervise the building of a tree house.Most interestingly, this […]

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DVD Review: The Happening: The Birth of an Unwitting Mock Parable

The Happening was one of the worst reviewed films from a major director this year, for critics engaged in a spirited pugilism of M. Night Shyamalan for his muddled script, poor direction, and general incompetence. The most scathing attack came from Christopher Orr of The New Republic, whose severe trampling mocked the film in unusual […]

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Liberation Aesthetics: Sinning and Surviving in Meirelles’ City of God

City of God

As one of its major themes, City of God painfully illustrates poverty’s numerous privations: the few choices, the slim chances, the narrow and vicious minds.

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Paying Dearly for Masculinity in 3:10 to Yuma

Dan Evans (Christian Bale, left) takes Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the 3:10 to Yuma. At a critical moment in 3:10 to Yuma, the hero, Dan Evans (Christian Bale), is overpowered, pinned to the floor, and struggling to stay alive. Nearly breathless from a vicious choking given by the outlaw, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), he […]

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