Released at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the eerily timely comedy Palm Springs may seem like a fun-but-fleeting hour and a half of cinema, but in Joe Levin’s reading, the Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti-led “time-loop” picture belongs to a genre of storytelling as old as the tale of Sisyphus. Levin demonstrates the mise-en-scene and storytelling techniques that Palm Springs uses to locate itself within the “time-loop” genre, and how it treats that genre as a site to explore the nature of actions and consequences.
For Emma Hoffman, two 2019 films borrow from techniques utilized in the horror genre to advance important social concerns: economic inequality (Bong-Joon Ho’s Parasite) and sexual harassment in the workplace (Kitty Green’s The Assistant). Hoffman cites both films’ use of color and suspense as instances where they employ the vernacular of horror as a means of commenting on the injustices depicted in those narratives.
Spike Lee’s Vietnam War drama Da Five Bloods contains many hallmarks of its auteur’s signature style, shot details that can be traced all the way back to Lee’s 1989 breakthrough Do the Right Thing. Mackenzie Graham’s video essay focuses on one unique decision of Lee’s with Da Five Bloods, namely his use of varying aspect ratios to convey shifts in the present to the past, and to highlight the particular dynamics between individual characters.
Can the cinema help us better understand our own processes of remembering, and how we create narratives for our own lives? Morgan Jeitler asks these questions in her video essay that studies Pedro Almodóvar‘s Pain and Glory and Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, two films where memory plays a central role.
In his consideration of the “DC Extended Universe” title Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), Marshall Comeaux discusses the challenges inherent to building a robust and unique cinematic narrative for a character like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who in her initial DC film appearances (2016’s Suicide Squad) was relegated to an underdeveloped tertiary role. Comeaux’s analysis raises valuable questions for those interested in the growing “cinematic universes” of the Marvel and DC properties.