Amadeus

What does this 1984 film, a largely fictional account of the relationship between Mozart and fellow composer Antonio Salieri, tell us about the mix of jealousy disgust and admiration that motivates Salieri as he deals with the profane Mozart? How does the movie portray Salieri’s conflicted love/hate relationship with God, and use the contrast between […]

Godzilla Minus One

How does this 2023 film, which is set in post-WWII Japan, explore the complex emotions of its main character, Koichi, as he deals with survivor’s guilt? How does he compound the shame he has for having been too afraid to undertake his kamikaze mission in the late days of the war? When he and his […]

Network

What does this 1976 film, which tells the story of a failing television network, and the psychological breakdown of its primary news anchorman, Howard Beale, tell us about market forces in media and the import of ratings in generating income? Why does the programming director, Dianne Christinsen, have no problem with exploiting Beale’s mental breakdown? […]

Planet of the Apes

How does this film make use of relativistic time dilation to set up its twist ending, where Taylor discovers he is on Earth in the distant future, after humanity suffered some great catastrophe (probably a world-wide nuclear war)? How much does Dr. Zaius, the ‘defender of the faith,’ know about Taylor, human history on Earth, […]

The Zone of Interest

What does this 2024 film, portraying the family life of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolph Hoss, teach us about that family’s ability to compartmentalize the horrors from which they directly benefit, and what lessons does this hold for us? How does the film make use of the aural atmosphere laying over the mundane activities of the family […]

American Fiction

How does this 2023 film satirize the market forces in the publishing world? How does the market encourage those indulge and pander to liberal white guilt and traffic in stereotypes concerning black Americans? What, if any significant difference is there between the motivations and justifications Thelonius ‘Monk’ Ellision and fellow author, Sintara Golden, both upper […]

Signs

How does this 2002 film, about an unfolding alien invasion of Earth, use the premise to explore faith, the problem of evil and the differences between fundamental world views with regard to meaningful coincidences? How does the film’s pivotal conversation between Merrill and his brother Graham, a former Reverend who had lost his faith, illustrate […]

To Live

What does this 1994 epic tell us about the tumultuous period in Chinese history (the civil war of the late 1940s and the first decades of Maoist rule) that is its setting? How does the character arc of its protagonist, Fugui, convey his maturation, his growth as a husband and father, and the effect of […]

Dr. Strangelove

What does this 1964 black comedy about a nuclear doomsday scenario tell us about the strategic thought surrounding potential nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the early years of the 1960s? How does the film play with the concept of a ‘doomsday machine’ as described in the strategic literature of the day? […]

Life is Beautiful

What does this 1997 film, set in fascist Italy during WWII, tell us about the gathering threat in Northern Italy for its Jewish citizens, and how the main character, Guido and his family cope with it? Why does the film explore the Holocaust in the guise of one half of the film being a romantic […]