Author: Olivia Rutigliano

Film Review: The Old Man and the Gun

The Old Man and the Gun, a winsome, sometimes-sepia-tinted fable about a kindly, elderly bank robber, is apparently based on a true story, but it’s also an homage to the cinematic career of its star, Robert Redford. Like Forrest Tucker (the film’s eponymous Old Man, a serial prison-escapee who keeps returning to a life of politely-executed hold-ups), Redford has been deep in his own racket for a long time. The film enjoys reminding you of these parallels between the character and the actor. In one charming, archival-ish montage, the not-bored-anymore detective on Forrest’s trail, John Hunt (a groggy Casey...

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Film Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and available to stream on Netflix, is an anthology of six vignettes about life in the Old West. Each story stands alone—the only apparent link between them is that they are presented as the different parts of an antique compendium of the same name: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and Other Tales of the American Frontier, with Color Plates. The film’s first shot is this worn volume, and each tale begins and ends with the camera’s fading back to the book, whose pages have been...

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Film Review: Mary, Queen of Scots

I saw the film Mary, Queen of Scots at a screening accompanied by a short panel discussion in which various scholars specializing in sixteenth-century political and feminist history discussed the film’s representation of its period and characters, namely the two famous women at its helm: Mary, Queen of Scots,and Queen Elizabeth I. Our crowd had a lot of questions, mostly concerning how/whether the cinematic renderings did justice to their real-life counterparts. I’m guessing they asked so much within this theme because they, too, were put off or perplexed by the obvious and gauche liberties the film takes. What’s interesting...

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Film Review: The Favourite

The thesis of The Favourite, the new film by Yorgos Lanthimos, is that it really sucked to be a woman in early eighteenth-century England. This thesis, at its most developed, argues that, in that period, women had to accept that they’d need to do whatever it took in order to acquire and keep power, since their social positions were very precarious in a political system with limited social mobility, an absent middle class, and the dominating cultural belief/legal practice that women were property, even despite a precedent of female national rule. But the film expands on this rather formal...

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Film Review: The Wife

Björn Runge’s The Wife, based on the 2003 novel by Meg Wolitzer, is one of this year’s many thoughtful cinevisual works that explicitly represent the oppression of women at the hands of powerful men. (So if you are a woman, and haven’t dealt with this enough in your personal and professional lives, you can now go experience it as entertainment as many more times as you want.) But it’s actually fortuitous that The Wife is thematically matched this season by so many works. My own aggregate of quotidian, life-in-2018-related despairs notwithstanding—after having watched many of these movies recently, I...

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