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Sarahjane Blum

Sarahjane Blum knows Green is the New Red.

Anthrax: Fearsome, Ridiculous, and Charming

On the corner of Forty-Fourth and Broadway, below two facing marquees uneasily promoting “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Anthrax,” are visitors checking carefully to ensure they know exactly where their line begins and the other ends.

I'm So Bored

I don’t like the truths posited in The Future is Unwritten: they’re all banal, off base or painfully disillusioning. 1. Joe Strummer’s friends have many nice things to say about him. 2. Age mellows people. 3. Quiet defeat often passes for wisdom.

Angrier Every Night

In one of his most straightforward magazine articles, “True Love: Groping for the Holy Grail,” science fiction legend Harlan Ellison signs up with a dating service—Great Expectations—which in the 1970s, was both technically cutting edge, and a cultural throwback. Utilizing five-minute video interviews, people were able to anonymously size up potential lovers and safely set up dates.

Cyd Charisse: 1921-2008

The final discovery of the Arthur Freed MGM Musical Factory, Cyd Charisse forestalled the end of an era with her hypnotic, sinuous, acrobatically improbable routines.

Stockholm Syndrome

Like the unbroken snowscapes that set the stage for the entrancing Swedish film Let the Right One In, eternal does not equal unchanging for Eli, the forever pre-pubescent asexual vampire at the center of this harrowing film. Based on the novel of the same name, which in turn borrows its title from a breezy (for him) Morrissey song, Let the Right One In manages to weave a classically formal coming of age story into the iciest, yet most heartfelt, vampire film in some time.

Be True to Your School

It’s been too long since a timeless high school movie came out that doesn’t insult the kids or bore the adults.

It’s People. District 9 is People!

It’s a South African Alien Nation, using aliens as a vehicle to transfer cultural anxieties about the Other onto the ultimate bugbear.

DVD Culture


Capturing the paradoxical isolation and panoptic loss of privacy of prison life, Hunger rejuvenates the historical biopic.


If you somehow have never seen Doctor Who since it debuted on November 23, 1963 (the day after the Kennedy assassination), now is a good time to start.


If there were stages of grief for our dying culture, they would have to move from hedonistic to scandalized to weary. The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, Vikram Jayanti’s new documentary about the revolutionary pop and rock producer who defined sound as we know it, showcases all those many moods of the American public.

Raw Footage, Raw Knuckles

[UPDATED] Watch Picture Me in a forgiving mood, and Sara Ziff’s documentary about her and her friend’s experiences as working models in the pre-recession fashion industry has a freshness to recommend it.

Revolutionary Homicide

Night Catches Us, Tanya Hamilton’s directorial debut, tells the story of Marcus (Anthony Mackie), a former Black Panther, returning to his old neighborhood four years after the disintegration of the movement and his personal life.

Rooting For The Buzzards

Wes Craven, creator and director of 1977’s pioneering The Hills Have Eyes, deemed Alex Andre Aja the future of horror, then handed the director creative control over the current remake.

Another Dead Broad in the World of Men

Black Dahlia opens by announcing the logic governing its universe. In the midst of the notorious Zoot Suit riots (conveniently repositioned into the late 1940s), two Anglo Los Angeles police officers beat the shit out of some Mexicans and become allies. They then beat the shit out of each other and become friends.

Classy Class War, Debonair Existentialism: The Holiday Musicals of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals have the appeal of light reflected from a December snowflake that has fallen precisely half the distance from the streetlamp to the curb. In my mind, that curb is on the north side of the Met with a peripheral view of the Egyptian wing.

Reap What You Sow, or Get Eaten By a Mutant

Everyone’s awesomely unrepressed in The Host, the masterful Korean monster movie by Joon-ho Bong. As soon as the mutant salamander villain slithers out from the river Han (beginning what will be his quick trip to gooey amphibian movie hall of fame), he takes great glee in chasing, swallowing, regurgitating, and licking the residents of Seoul.

Becoming Women

With heroines navigating between their own interests and those of their kin, three prominent offerings betray a cultural anxiety about how to be a responsible adult woman in love.

The Decade After The Decade Before: Merrily We Go to Hell

One of the most famous misnomers in American cultural history, “pre-code” has the same romantic character as pre-dawn. When sound revolutionized the film industry in 1929, the pro-censorship forces that had been working ad-hoc on state-by-state bases recognized that their jobs were about to get much harder.

When He Moved, It Mattered: PATRICK SWAYZE

Even before his death on September 14th, a mood of tribute surrounded Patrick Swayze. He sat with Barbara Walters and talked about dying with as much charm as he’d ever done anything, and all of a sudden there wasn’t a dog in Hollywood mean enough to bite him. I shan’t be the first.

SPARTACUS Is there No purpose beyond the blood?

I’ve often imagined what Angelina Jolie films would be like if they starred Lucy Lawless. Tomb Raider was in a manner envisioned for the Kiwi television icon—it’s a film based on a video game character, who was in turn inspired and made possible by the groundbreaking heroine Lawless created the year before in the syndicated television epic Xena: Warrior Princess.

WANNA TALK MORE ABOUT FEUERBACH? A Near Century of Vampire Films

The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s ongoing retrospective of vampire films “Bela Lugosi’s Dead, Vampires Live Forever” resists defining the immortal amoral creature.

The Resistant Bettie Page

For 50 years, Bettie Page has resisted colonization within the American imagination.

What Passes for Booklearning

Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst’s directorial debut The Education of Charlie Banks took a long time to find release after its festival showings in 2007. Having Durst’s name attached might not have helped its case.

When Men Were Thin

With little question, the screwball comedies of the 1930s represent the zenith of madcap filmmaking in America. A full 14 of the 40 films shown in the Film Forum’s current “Madcap Manhattan” series date to the decade. These films created so many of the conventions of romantic comedy and so much of the mythology of New York that it’s surprising how lively and new they remain.

Outgrowing Promise

Much like the girls it chronicles, seven episodes in, Gossip Girl continues to hold promise, teasingly. The CW television series—closely based upon the young adult novels created by Cecily von Ziegler—was promoted for teenagers but positioned to be a guilty pleasure for an older demographic.

…If two of them are dead

Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park is triumphant throughout. Every shot is a masterpiece. The screenplay improves on an already tremendous book. The casting is phenomenal. The sound design is haunting, humorous, and never cute. Any of these is cause enough to see the film (especially the cinematography and editing), but there’s more. The film manages to dissociate words from meaning, truth, and beauty without naively asserting that images conjure these abstractions.

New Social Mov(i)ements

There is a new wave in agitprop, but it’s familiar to the old timers. Referencing, conjuring, sentimentalizing, and recreating the passion of the New Left and eco-warriors, performance artists and marquis actors are engaged in a frenzied effort to get viewers to aim higher.

Take Any Heart, Take Mine

You can thank me for Pirates of Penzance. Thank me for the long-awaited DVD release of 1983 feature film adaptation of the Joseph Papp produced revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s finest work. I signed the online petition twice; played my Betamax dub of the original television airing until the tape warped and I couldn’t even transfer it to a new one.

The Lamentable, the Laughable and the Lovable: Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, Last Holiday, Something New, and Madea’s Family Reunion

In 1943, American men were off fighting, and women were off working. These experiences, by definition, changed their points of view. All but the dimmest individuals began to see a disconnect between the rhetoric of equality used to sell the war, and the racial realities of American life.

Girls on Film

In The Descent, British director Neil Marshall (who also made the amazing Dog Soldiers) creates a seductive and terrifying universe of Jungian archetypes, traditional horror stereotypes, and bald, disarming, and haunting metaphoric struggles.

DVD Culture

WASSUP ROCKERS (First Look Studios)

Larry Clark’s Wassup Rockers is more finger pointing than his other sympathetic, provocative, and exploitive portrayals of the insulated and often sociopathic worlds of teenagers.

Close Your Eyes and Think of England

Teeth might have been a barren intellectual exercise.

Not Like Ours

All taste is indefensible. When we feel guilty about our pleasures we start trying to turn fiction into philosophy, usually to the detriment of both. So I’m always wary of making pop culture academic because it feels apologetic.

Childhood has consequences

Dismissed as a kingdom where no one dies, childhood more often can be prison where no one may grieve, or even feel. An epoch where fears are dismissed as phantoms and needs as whims. It proves near impossible to tell a story wherein the uncontrollable drives and inexpressible pains of youth get treated as real. The narrative must be broad enough to be understood by those children who have only the first inkling of the existence of the questions being addressed; the subtext must be intricate enough to help walk the audience through the answers. The story needs to work itself out in self-similar, increasingly complex, almost fractal-like ways.

The Old Insincerity

Nancy Drew has always been better in concept than reality. Young girls read into her all sorts of characteristics she only winks at having: sage wisdom beyond her years, an even temper when harassed, a smart mind and a faultless tongue, and above all, overwhelming freedom and independence.

Fortune and Gory, Kid. Fortune and Gory

Dead Snow is neither as groundbreaking or as heady you’ve been led to believe. But it’s big, and it’s bloody, and all in all, pretty awesome.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues