Our most recent pieces about film.
Sony’s 2018 film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (dirs. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman), is quite well aware of its comic-book origins and place within the milieu of superhero films.
The heart of the John Wick franchise (2014- ), The Continential is a mercurial hotel chain, catering to the world of hired killers that populate the series. Expanding and shifting with each film, New York City’s Continential is an intriguing example of tower-ing fiction.
Evan R. Ash reads the supposed educational Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Make Mine Freedom” (1948) as presenting a variety of rhetorical devices that deployed its anti-communist propaganda, offering a vague antagonistic collectivist vision that very carefully attacked communism without ever uttering its name.
Allan W. Austin argues that post-9/11 superhero films—particularly the Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, and the many Iron Man and Captain America appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—stand as cultural signposts directing us to deeper understandings of the ways in which Americans understood and responded to 9/11, revealing both conflicting and shared attitudes that continue to shape the ways in which Americans interact with the world.
The amazing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (dirs. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, 2018) contains two classic string walls, and reveals that the Spider-Verse is a cosmic web.
In the final (for now) entry in his Digital Ghosts series, Ryan Sherwood argues that in the “Mechanic/Realtor” episode of Nathan for You, the chimera of infinite filmability meshes fruitfully with a bold performance style—a gelid numbness that suggests itself as the only suitable response to the apprehension of the otherworldly via digital technology.
The Glass Tower is the site of the titular inferno in The Towering Inferno (dir. John Guillerman, 1974) and serves as both the site of the film’s blockbuster narrative and as one of the foundational towers of cinema. Constructed as an elaborate nearly 100’ tall model, the Tower is integrated into the film itself, establishing disaster tropes and their visual representations.
Ryan Sherwood argues that Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000) and Steven Soderberg’s K Street (HBO, 2003) work in tandem, both obliquely associate celluloid’s acquiescence to video with some sort of filial betrayal, warranting visits from beyond the grave.
Kelly Williams argues that elements of the original Dark Phoenix Saga in its comic-book form—namely the presence of Jason Wyngarde/Mastermind and the illusions he casts to control Jean Grey—continue to be missing from film adaptions, such as the upcoming Dark Phoenix (dir. Simon Kinberg, 2019), suggesting that women cannot handle cosmic abilities and that once they gain power, corruption is inevitable.
The so-called “Monster Building,” a popular tourist attraction and recent filming location, is really five high-rise apartment buildings tightly packed together on the western side of Quarry Bay (鰂魚涌) in the Eastern District of Hong Kong, appearing in Western film and television as a metonymic singifier of the dense, chaotic East, while also providing a controlled visual space and shooting location.
In this first entry in his Digital Ghosts series, Ryan Sherwood examines the ways in which the slippery essence of the 21st-century still image—not technically “photographic” and only ever temporarily immune to some animating force—serves as the Twin Peaks: The Return’s foundational aesthetic principle.
In the final (for now) entry of his Astronoetic Cinema series, Michael Uhall argues that Alien: Covenant (dir. Ridley Scott, 2017) presents a radical rejection of the human, via its commitment to radically speculative alternatives to the human – or, in other words, to posing and, possibly, answering the posthuman question in substantive terms.
In this penultimate entry of his Astronoetic Cinema series, Michael Uhall argues that Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott, 2012) presents a fully-realized version of astronoetic pessimism, denying the human-centered search for meaning, ultimately contructing a world in which humans exist as an afterthought, a byproduct barely worth acknowledging.
Interestingly, LexCorp Tower and Wayne Financial are used to the retcon the logic of Man of Steel (dir. Zack Snyder, 2013) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (dir. Zack Snyder, 2016), serving as the location for only a few scenes, but acting a bridge between the two films and providing a window into the narrative tension and the latter film’s ultimately the revisionist narrative.
In this entry of his Astronoetic Cinema series, Michael Uhall argues that Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2014) enlarges the anthropocentric vision of Contact (1997) into a full-blown anthropological myth of human dominion over nature that founds itself upon the primal self-creation of the human.
In this entry of his Astronoetic Cinema series, Michael Uhall argues that Gravity (2013) complicates the invocation of astronoetics, instead presenting space as an inhumane, terrifying place, totally indifferent to human concerns or scales.
The Pearl, the fictional skyscraper and world’s tallest building, is not just the setting of much of the action—and light drama—of the film Skyscraper (dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2018). Importantly, it is a construction that directly relies on the film’s genre forebearers, a symbolic edifice, making architectural and visual the pastiche that is the film itself.
In this entry of his Astronoetic Cinema series, Michael Uhall argues that Contact (1997) is structured around a desire or need to direct one’s earthly senses toward the skies – indeed, toward the cosmos as a whole and one’s place in it – in order to achieve both emotional resolution and scientific assurance.
In this entry of his Astronoetic Cinema series, Michael Uhall argues that the relationship between the human and technics is often at the heart of both 2001 and astronoetic cinema in general, as seen throughout the film and its contemporaries.
A theoretical introduction to Michael Uhall’s series, “Astronoetic Cinema,” in which he explores how representations of the human encounter with outer space embody, propose, and work through various submerged claims about specifically human agency, identity, and purpose, across a range of films.
The second half of the heist thriller Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999) uses what were at the time the tallest towers in the world, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, to stage its climax, a mash-up of and Mission: Impossible (dir. Brian De Palma, 1996) and The Thomas Crown Affair (dir. John McTiernan, 1999).
With its distinct glass exterior and accessible plaza, 101 Park Avenue has been featured in a number of films and television series, as outlined on its filming page. This is likely aided by its proximity to Grand Central Terminal (just a block away) and the Criysler Building a couple of blocks north-east.
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