Berfrois

Way Back When

Way Back When

Despite the fantastic silliness of the in-game time-travel logistics, the promise of historical accuracy has been a major selling point of Assassin’s Creed since the eponymous first installment in 2007...

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Peggy Nelson: The Tragic Speed of Modern Life

Peggy Nelson: The Tragic Speed of Modern Life

Early vaudeville photo from the collection of Bob Bragman, as featured in the San Francisco Chronicle by Peggy Nelson Short attention span theater is hardly the new kid on the block. In the vaudeville era, an act was viable if it could manage to keep the audience’s attention for...

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Daniel Bosch: Wily Ants

Daniel Bosch: Wily Ants

He had started the series from inside Plato’s cave, so when William Kentridge launched his sixth and final Charles Eliot Norton Lecture with a retelling of the story of Perseus, he gave familiar things back to his audience—the myth itself, and art’s gesture of circling toward origin at closure.

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It’s a Royale Hunger Battle Game

It’s a Royale Hunger Battle Game

Battle Royale and The Hunger Games are young adult novels in which governments force teenagers to kill each other. Comparing these books to classic works by William Golding and Robert Sheckley suggests that, while becoming more skeptical about governments, we've become more trusting about our own nature.

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Theresa Runstedtler on Jack Johnson

Theresa Runstedtler on Jack Johnson

by Theresa Runstedtler In a recent post on SBNation, Bomani Jones compared Money May (Floyd Mayweather) to Jack Johnson: Mayweather has basically taken the persona of a great counterpuncher from a century ago, Jack Johnson, and modernized it. He’s impenetrable in the ring and insufferably flashy outside of it....

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Daniel Roberts: Bright Boys

Daniel Roberts: Bright Boys

By now, the 1946 noir classic The Killers, available on Criterion Collection DVD (currently our best indication that a movie is held in high regard), is likely better known than the 1927 Hemingway short story of the same name that inspired it. That being said, both pieces of art...

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(You Gotta)

(You Gotta)

The Beastie Boys, New York City, 1986. Photograph by Lynn Goldsmith From The Smart Set: There’s a straight lineage from Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper” to the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey” on License to Ill. In fact, the Beastie Boys sampled directly from “Peter Piper” on another song from License to...

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We Hear the Sound of Splashing

We Hear the Sound of Splashing

From Trainspotting, Miramax, 1996 by Julian Hanich In this essay I try to categorize the range of artistic options that filmmakers currently have at hand to evoke bodily disgust. Or, to reframe this approach in a slightly different manner: If we examine the variety of disgusting scenes...

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David Beer: Music Genres Unhitched

David Beer: Music Genres Unhitched

I’ve just spent a few minutes trying to understand a new music genre called seapunk. I’m baffled. Then again music genre is baffling. It would seem that where we once had relative simplicity, we now have something much more vital and chaotic. So what is happening with music genre?...

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Throw Your Blows

Throw Your Blows

Those personal catastrophes that we can’t reconcile with ourselves despite the anguish they cause are the subject of much of serious modern art. Art returns over and over to the personal tragedies that remain with you, to the lacerations of the past that never heal, but with a resignation...

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Robyn Ferrell: Aboriginal Art

Robyn Ferrell: Aboriginal Art

Paintings are the moon and stars in a dark sky for Australian Aboriginal communities. The economic success of this art holds out an almost utopic prospect of a cultural renaissance. Yet poverty, violence and third-world living standards in its remote communities remain the present reality.

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Human Finitude as Plot Device

Human Finitude as Plot Device

The Revenger’s Tragedy, Royal Shakespeare Company, Pitlochry Festival Theatre 1965 production. by Attila Kiss “What brother, am I far enough from myself?” (The Revenger’s Tragedy, Vindice, 1.3.1) The persistent employment of excessive violence on the early modern English stage was studied by Renaissance scholarship for centuries in diverse...

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What has happened to bring about the sad demise of the Western?

What has happened to bring about the sad demise of the Western?

The only recent Westerns that have managed to arouse my enthusiasm have been those made for TV: Walter Hill’s Broken Trail, and Deadwood, whose third and final season no one has even bothered to bring out on DVD in Spain, which gives you some idea of how unsuccessful the...

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Seduce Police Virgins

Seduce Police Virgins

by Justin E. H. Smith Amateur neo-Kremlinologists will by now have heard of Pussy Riot, a league of masked anarchist feminist punks who, until recently, could be spotted around Moscow performing their music, uninvited, in public spaces. Their career was cut short when two of their members were detained...

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Meaghan Emery on The Artist

Meaghan Emery on The Artist

Every once in a while a film comes out that breaks through conventional wisdom. The idea that a black and white silent film in 2011 could be such a resounding critical and commercial success, in addition to its prominence in international film festivals, six Césars, and now five Academy...

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‘Pop songs are deeply monological’

‘Pop songs are deeply monological’

The Human League by Enrique Lima Although this seems self-evident it’s worth explaining. As Bakhtin long ago observed, novels are heteroglossic. That is, although one consciousness or voice may dominate narration, the novel is compelled by its own philosophical-formal orientation to include other voices. I’ll mention just a couple...

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Horror films have never been all that friendly to women…

Horror films have never been all that friendly to women…

A Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line Cinema, 1984 From The Believer: Horror franchises’ relationship to violence doesn’t always outwardly have something to teach us. Throw gender into the works—specifically, the female gender—and the results seem less than thought-provoking. Indeed, you might begin to question why you watch these...

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