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Mary Pickford: The Archetypal (Canadian) Actress

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 21: The Blank Screen

The history of Canadian actors is unlike the history of Canadians in any other medium. Canadian novelists are celebrated at home and barely noticed abroad. Canadian musicians are oddities and curiosities with hardcore fanbases. Canadian directors are singular visionaries who engage (or refuse to engage) with the meaning of life itself.

But Canadians have been such an integral part of Hollywood that you have to remind people that a famous actor is, or was Canadian. And so, as I introduce the archetypal Canadian actress – Gladys Smith, aka Mary Pickford – I really have to squint to pick out what makes her Canadian.

Shamed Writer-Director James Gunn Is Back For ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ Are We Groot?

Disney reinstating James Gunn as the writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 ignited a controversy reaching beyond the tarnishing of Disney’s brand. It sparks a question, to which the answer is a social-political barometer. Do we really want to trade redemption for social assassination? 

The Reitman Family’s Blissful Ignorance

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 20: Space to Laugh an Easy Laugh

Meatballs. Space Jam. Kindergarten Cop. Animal House. And above all, Ghostbusters.

These are just a few of the easy, breezy, morally loose and lighthearted comedy classics either directed by or produced by Canadian film legend Ivan Reitman. I don’t have to introduce or analyze them, because you know them all. You can quote lines from them. These films were memeworthy before memes were a thing.

Everything about the guy just screams likeability. Reitman was happy to lend some of his middle-to-low-brow cred to more artistically-minded Canadians – he produced Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, and helped David Cronenberg with a couple of his early projects in the ’70s. Kids can – and probably should, these days – watch his films and delight in them. Actors like Bill Murray, Danny DeVito and Sigourney Weaver loved working with him, and years later he helped give birth to the “Frat Pack” comedy explosion with 2003’s Old School. Even SJWs have to build around or subvert the structures he creates rather than trying to tear them down – that’s how you got “Lady Ghostbusters.”

David Cronenberg’s Silent Hell

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 16: The Awkward Quiet

The scariest thing in a David Cronenberg film isn’t the chilling body-horror practical effects or the strangely stilted performances. It’s the long, awkward stretches of quiet.

Watch Naked Lunch, Scanners, or The Dead Zone and pay attention to the background music or lack thereof. A Cronenberg film doesn’t need to rely on creepy strings or jump-scare stings. More so than anyone in our series so far – yes, even Jordan Peterson – Cronenberg’s films are distillations of the nihilistic, the amoral, and the meaningless, presented (for the most part) without ornamentation.

There is blood, and there is gore, and there are transformations into fly-men, and all of these are great selling points for a film trailer. But these concessions to traditional horror are never the point of a Cronenberg film. The point is that the characters were already monsters, and the only thing that has changed is that now they look like monsters.

Why Wall-E Is a Cute Post-Apocalyptic Movie No Matter How It Goes

“Wall-E” is arguably the cutest post-apocalyptic movie ever. It is clear that the environmental disaster forced humanity to flee the Earth. We don’t see billions dead, though they’re likely under the trash, because there is no way humanity could build more than a modest armada. We don’t see an armada. We only see the Axiom. One ship with a few thousand people is the remnant of the human ra

The Greatest Conservative Films: Magnum Force (1973)

Editor’s Note: In April of 2017 writer Eric M. Blake began a series at Western Free Press naming the “Greatest Conservative Films.” The introduction explaining the rules and indexing all films included in the series can be found here. Liberty Island will feature cross-posts of select essays from the series with the aim of encouraging discussion at this cross-roads of cinematic art with political ideology. (Click here to see the original essay. Check out the previously cross-posted entries on Jackie Brown, Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil WarUnforgivenHail, Caesar!, Apocalypse Now, Fight Club, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice ULTIMATE EDITION, Wonder Woman, Kill BillGran Torino The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight RisesBlazing Saddles, The Magnificent Seven, Shaft, and Dirty Harry.) If you would like join this dialogue please contact us at submissions [@] libertyislandmag.com.

Frankenstein’s Monster, Mr. Hyde, and the Horrors of Science

For the past month, I have been diving into some of the Golden Age Horror films from the 1930s. Like most people, these are movies that have always been in the background of my cultural knowledge, but ones that I have never actually seen. I decided to change that this October, so I watched Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Like a lot of older films, they can be slow and somewhat hokey at times. Since these were some of the first sound films ever produced, most of the actors came right from the stage to the screen, and it shows. As anyone who has been in acting knows, you have to overact on a stage production in a way that comes off as silly in a film, but since many of these actors were not used to the transition, a lot of the performances come off as overdone.

But none of that can suppress the genuinely great scenes in these films; indeed, they deserve the bone-chilling reputation that they have garnered over the decades. No one can ever forget Lugosi’s haunting performance as the title character of Dracula, Fredric March’s leering grin as Mr. Hyde, or Colin Clive’s electrifying screams of “It’s alive! It’s alive!” as the horrifying creature comes to life.

The Greatest Conservative Films: Rio Bravo (1959)

Bonus: Why Not High Noon?

Editor’s Note: In April of 2017 writer Eric M. Blake began a series at Western Free Press naming the “Greatest Conservative Films.” The introduction explaining the rules and indexing all films included in the series can be found here. Liberty Island will feature cross-posts of select essays from the series with the aim of encouraging discussion at this cross-roads of cinematic art with political ideology. (Click here to see the original essay. Check out the previously cross-posted entries on Jackie Brown, Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil WarUnforgivenHail, Caesar!, Apocalypse Now, Fight Club, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice ULTIMATE EDITION, Wonder Woman, Kill BillGran Torino The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight Rises, and Blazing Saddles.) If you would like join this dialogue please contact us at submissions [@] libertyislandmag.com.

Netflix’s ‘Narcos’: Subtle Yet Deadly Anti-Americanism

As a writer, I’ve kept a close watch of Netflix dramas, keeping an eye on plot and dialogue while imagining what the script might look like on my own iPad. I’m doing this because I have the burning hope that Liberty Island and Taliesen Nexus arise like Netflix to become a cultural/entertainment colossus on the side of freedom and the American experiment of government serving the people.

I’ve greatly enjoyed watching Narcos, and thought the PC in the story was less nauseating than most… Until the other night, watching the close of season 3.

The Greatest Conservative Films: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Editor’s Note: In April of 2017 writer Eric M. Blake began a series at Western Free Press naming the “Greatest Conservative Films.” The introduction explaining the rules and indexing all films included in the series can be found here. Liberty Island will feature cross-posts of select essays from the series with the aim of encouraging discussion at this cross-roads of cinematic art with political ideology. (Click here to see the original essay. Check out the previously cross-posted entries on Jackie Brown, Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil WarUnforgivenHail, Caesar!, Apocalypse Now, Fight Club, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice ULTIMATE EDITION, Wonder Woman, Kill BillGran Torino, and The Dark Knight.) If you would like join this dialogue please contact us at submissions [@] libertyislandmag.com.

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