Sixty years later, George Stevens’s intimate epic Giant still seems like a wondrous anomaly: sweeping saga of American prosperity that reveals its racist underbelly; glorious star vehicle that upends rigid gender roles; modern Western that questions the validity of frontier land ownership.
Casablanca is a sharply political movie, displaying overt admiration for anti-fascist activists and sympathy for refugees while subtly probing the corrosiveness of appeasement. Against the current rise of nationalism and xenophobia, the political climate that generations have taken as a backdrop for the romance of Ilsa Lund and Rick Blaine crashes to the forefront.
Katie Holmes’ directorial debut, All We Had, could be called It’s Going to Be Okay, the mantra of its downtrodden but resilient characters. Screenwriters Jill Killington and Josh Boone extract a hopeful, we’re-all-in-this-together storyline from Annie Weatherwax’s first novel.
Cinematographer Alex Lehmann expresses the wholehearted romanticism of Blue Jay, his directorial debut, primarily through the nonverbal communication between Amanda (Sarah Paulson) and Jim (Mark Duplass), small-town high school sweethearts whose unexpected encounter triggers memories sweet and bitter.
Americans tend to view professional sports as egalitarian meritocracies, but equestrian competitions still have the air of elitism, a rarefied realm of bloodlines and blue bloods. That’s why scrappy underdog narratives resonate.