My Film Festival by Ashley R. Pickett

Perfect Blue (Rex Entertainment, 1998)

  • Perfect Blue (1998)
  • Black Swan (2010)
  • Split (2017)

Sometimes a film’s protagonist and antagonist can be one in the same. I find this idea very interesting so my film festival theme would center around the idea of exploring identity. Each of the three films that I have chosen look at personal identity in some manner. Perfect Blue is a 1998 animated Japanese film by director Satoshi Kon. The film tells the story of a singing idol making the move to acting, much to the dismay of her fans. Mima soon starts to lose touch with reality as she discovers something sinister stalking her from the shadows. As her life continues to spin out of control, she soon finds herself face to face with her mirror image that is committing terrible acts in her name. In the conclusion of the film, we learn that Mima hasn’t lost her mind, but instead someone else has taken up the persona of Mima the idol to live out their own delusions. Continue reading

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The Rendition and Representation of Romantic Realism on the Reel. My Film Festival by Lily C. Frame

Splendor in the Grass (National Broadcasting Company, 1961)

Roused by truthfulness to depict reality as it prevails offscreen, directors, although very few, affiliate their films with romantic realism as a way to unveil the gentility of love to their viewers. As a young girl who was nurtured by the idyllic fantasy of Disney princess films, I was brought up into adulthood with the preconceived notion that all loves have the same head-in-the-clouds, happy endings that typically unfold with two characters who meet in a chance encounter, fall in love, overcome external forces driving them apart, kiss, and, before a roll of the credits, stating, “The End.” Unlike these conventional Hollywood romance films, Splendor in the Grass (1961), La La Land (2016), and Call Me by Your Name (2017), interpreted by means of romantic realism, unfold with two characters who meet in a chance encounter, fall in love, but don’t overcome the external forces driving them apart; thus the viewer is introduced to an authentic resolution that brings to light, transparently, the particular truths of finding and losing love. The directors for these three films are responsible for not only entertaining their viewers, but also for exposing the painful reality off the reel and deciphering it through empathy and truth. Continue reading

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Laugh by Laugh West. My Film Festival by Ryan Wentz

The Darjeeling Limited (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2007)

What dictates my perfect film festival? My love for intelligent comedies knows no bounds, spanning decades, language, and style. The three films I chose for my film festival are connected, not by how they present a punchline or construct a narrative, but rather by how they subvert the audience’s expectations. Each of the films in my festival finds comedy in the drama and excitement in the mundane. Please enjoy your trip to Laugh by Laugh West, my very own film festival. Continue reading

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Simple Plane Love. My Film Festival by Felix Carlson

Miyazaki, Hayao, director. The Wind Rises. Studio Ghibli, 2013.

Film festivals are fun.  When I attend them, I appreciate the “festive” aspect; some feel like weekend holidays for filmmakers and film lovers.  Films are also one of the most effective tools in generating wonderment and flights of fancy.  For me, one of the few things that come close in that regard is the power of flight.  Aviation and space exploration bring me wonder beyond belief and are stark visual examples of the human ability to reach new heights that we can’t see.  When you mix the two together, the effect is tenfold. Continue reading

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The Disaster Artist (2017). Reviewed by Jason Husak

The Disaster Artist (New Line Cinema, 2017)

When James Franco brought Tommy Wiseau up on stage to accept the Golden Globe for best actor in a musical or comedy, the circle for the cult film The Room had finally been completed. A cultural phenomenon since its initial release in 2003, The Room, directed, produced, and entirely funded by Wiseau, had finally been given the mass recognition Wiseau dreamed of. Deemed the Citizen Kane (1941) of bad movies, The Room has garnered a cult following (rivaled only by The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jim Sharman, 1975) with quote-a-long midnight showings, spoon-tossing audience participation, and random screening appearances by Wiseau himself. Even after its release, Wiseau kept The Room in theaters for two weeks so it could qualify for the Academy Awards. In Wiseau’s mind, The Room had always been destined for greatness, regardless of the film’s critical impact. Simply put, The Room, is a symbol of accomplishing one’s dream through friendship, experience, and passion for one’s work. Ultimately, it is not the reception of the art that matters, but the journey and memories that the art creates. Nearly fifteen years later, The Disaster Artist (2017), a film based on the book of the same name written by The Room costar Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell, explores these concepts by following the apparent true story of the making of The Room. Unlike The Room, The Disaster Artist is a truly great piece of cinema that is incredibly funny, honest, and that serves as a ballad for independent artists everywhere. Continue reading

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Announcing Open Call for Papers 10.3

Film Matters is officially announcing our open call for papers for consideration in issue 10.3 (2019) — the deadline is September 1, 2018.

Film Matters has officially adopted MLA 8th edition style (and is moving away from 7th edition guidelines) — so please prepare your submissions accordingly.  Purdue OWL’s MLA Formatting and Style Guide ( is an excellent resource to consult, in this regard.

For more information about this call for papers, please download the official document (PDF):

Submissions and questions should be directed to:

  • futurefilmscholars AT

Please note that Film Matters does not accept submissions that are currently under review by other journals or magazines.

Undergraduates and recent graduates, please submit your film-related research papers today!  We look forward to receiving your papers!

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The Makings of a Salesman’s Death: The Salesman (2016). Reviewed by Elham Shabani


The Salesman (Filmiran/Memento Films Distribution, 2016)

The Salesman is the story of a play that outplays a play. Asghar Farhadi’s postmodern version of Death of a Salesman portrays the true face of a developing society, in which tradition and modernity encounter in chaotic patterns. The play within a play is the story of Arthur Miller’s modern drama, but it is also the story of many Iranians, who fall in the schism of a changing society. Filming began in 2015 in Tehran, and the movie was released initially on May 21, 2017, at the 69th Cannes Festival. It stars Shahab Hosseini (Emad Etesami) and Taraneh Alidoosti (Rana Etesami) as a married couple, who are also the actors of Miller’s characters, Willy and Linda. The Salesman is not only an adaptation of the important scenes in Death of a Salesman but also a realistic problem drama, which voices the cultural challenges in Iran today. The film could have taken Farhadi to the Oscars for a second time, after his 2012 A Separation. However, Farhadi boycotted the ceremony, refusing to receive his award due to political differences triggered by Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13769, believing that such measurements against Iranians are unjust and therefore objectionable. Similarly, in his movies, he tries to implicitly show the real ambience of Iranians’ lives, when going through national and international changes, caused and influenced by global issues and policies. Continue reading

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The Dreamers (2003). Reviewed by Jake Dyson

The Dreamers (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2003)

One of the most undervalued films of the last twenty years is Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003), a masterfully wrought picture that serves, in equal parts, as a panegyric on the power of cinema and a warning to those who abandon that power in pursuit of pure aesthetics. The film, set amidst the popular riots that swept through Paris in 1968, follows the hedonistic sojourn of three young cinéastes: Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American studying in France, and Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green), a set of Parisian twins whom Matthew meets and befriends at the Cinémathèque Française. Despite the turbulent, historic backdrop of the film, however, Bertolucci largely ignores the rioters; instead, the camera’s gaze is directed toward the three characters who, despite professing an ostensible solidarity with the ideals of the revolution, increasingly withdraw into a sequestered and sybaritic world of their own creation. And it is in this dissonance–between the power of ideas and the sterile, indulgent lives of those who hold them–that the true beauty of the film shines through. Continue reading

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Calling All Instructors: Judges Needed

Film Matters is searching for three judges to determine the winner of the 2018 Masoud Yazdani Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Scholarship. For more information about this award, please see the initial announcement (

If you are a current instructor of film (graduate student, tenured/tenure-track professor, adjunct, etc.) at an institution of higher education, then please think about providing this valuable service to Film Matters and recognizing the dedicated work of an emerging film scholar, as well as his/her mentor and academic department.

All authors whose articles were published in 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 of Film Matters as the result of an external CFP and peer-review process automatically qualify for consideration. Ten authors from volume 8 are eligible, representing the following institutions:

  • Brown University
  • Durham University
  • The George Washington University
  • Simmons College
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Florida
  • Washington University in St. Louis (2)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University (2)

Please email Liza Palmer (futurefilmscholars AT as soon as possible, indicating your interest in serving as a judge. Materials and policies/procedures will be provided to the judging board once it is populated. And the board, as a group, will decide whether they want to work anonymously or not.

Thanks, in advance, for your support and promotion of this award, which celebrates not only young film scholars, but also Masoud Yazdani of Intellect.

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FM 8.3 (2017) Is Out!

Film Matters is pleased to announce that its last issue of the 2017 volume year is now out.  In this issue, you will find the following peer-reviewed feature articles:

  • A Forced Silence: The Hidden Homonormativity Surrounding Carol by Isabella Luizzi
  • The Revival of Cold War Tensions and Propaganda Filmmaking: Red Dawn and Threads as Films of the “Second World War” by Niko Pajkovic
  • All or Nothing: Representing Masculinity in Jamón Jamón (Bigas Luna, 1992) and Mar adentro (Amenábar, 2004) by Lucy Sabin
  • The Lady Vanishes: Soviet Censorship, Socialist Realism, and the Disappearance of Larisa Shepitko by Anastasia Sorokina

A contemporary science fiction dossier from Fabrizio Cilento and students (Messiah College):

  • Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema Dossier Introduction by Fabrizio Cilento
  • “That lightsaber. It belongs to me.”: Patriarchal Anxiety and the Fragility of White Men’s Masculinity in The Force Awakens by Nicole Veneto
  • Today I’m Going to Test You: Oppositional Cyborgs and Automated Anxiety in Ex Machina by Julia Glick
  • The Zombie Apocalypse as Twenty-First-Century Frontier by Mynt Marsellus
  • Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema review by Natalie Moey
  • Gender in Science Fiction Films, 1964-1979 review by Megan Hess
  • Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction review by Emmanuel Gundran
  • Science Fiction Adapted to Film review by Angeline Leong
  • “Recognize This”: Anderson’s Heart of a Dog review by Perri Chastulik

The latest “Mapping Contemporary Cinema” article:

  • The Heath Is White: Nationhood, Protestant Anxieties, and Nazism in The White Ribbon by Johannes Aschim

A race, gender, and genre in 21st-century cinema dossier from Jennifer O’Meara and students (University of St Andrews):

  • Dossier Introduction: Race, Gender, and Genre in Twenty-First-Century Cinema by Adrienne Pohl
  • A Future of One’s Own?: Gender Through Relationality of Death in World of Tomorrow (2015) by Jaka Lombar
  • Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, and the Regressive Role of Women in Romantic Comedies by Kittsie Klaes
  • Examining Genre Conventions in the Promotion of Marvel Avengers Assemble by Katrina McCorry
  • Alternate Modes of Masculinity in The Gambler review by Murray Ferguson
  • Circumstance and the Representation of Transgression in Contemporary Iran review by Alexandra A. Rego
  • Gender and the Nuclear Family in Twenty-First-Century Horror review by Kathryn Haldane

The following featurettes:

  • Teamwork Makes Film Work by Lydia Plantamura
  • Playing with Shapes and Colors: Synesthesia’s Transition into Mainstream Cinema by Tyler Linden
  • Alfonso Cuarón: The Real Magic Behind Harry Potter by Kelsey Davis

As well as book and film/DVD/Blu-ray reviews by: Kim Carr, Constantine Frangos, Devon Alizabeth Freeman, Jessica P. Jackson, Ty Johnson, Leah Rae Kmosko, Charles Riggs, and Kelli Wofford.

For more information about issue 8.3, please visit Intellect’s website:,id=3468/

With this issue now released, we can officially begin the review process for the 2018 Masoud Yazdani Award — so please watch this space for more updates and information about that.

And, remember, Film Matters is always looking for new authors and guest editors.  Please get in touch with us today!

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