• Showing the Dirty Stuff in Movies

    Sexual content and sexual addiction are the latest to undergo a transformation in movies, and Nymphomaniac is proof that the subject is becoming less taboo in mainstream commercial venues.

  • Group as Character in Steinbeck’s 'In Dubious Battle'

    As many of you know, I’ve been performing in a Broadway production of one of John Steinbeck’s best-known works, Of Mice and Men, which is why I'm writing about one of his lesser-read works, In Dubious Battle, a novel that is part of Steinbeck's migrant-worker tr…

  • If I Directed 'Othello'

    It is time for a shift in perception about Shakespeare’s Othello. Since its first performance in the early 1600s, the production has gone different permutations.

  • Broadway, Baby

    So you want to know what it’s like to put up a play on Broadway? I’ll tell ya. But, I should note, the way a classic play is put on (specifically John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, in which I am currently starring) is much different from the way a new one is produced…

  • Hart Crane’s Poetry on Screen

    In honor of the fact that I'm living in Brooklyn while I perform in my Broadway debut, Of Mice and Men, I thought I would share an old letter about Hart Crane that I wrote to Alan Williamson, my former poetry teacher at Warren Wilson College.

  • True Characters in 'True Detective'

    Alright, alright, alright, as of last Sunday True Detective is over. It has been a great eight weeks of watching these two swinging dicks mix it up against a sweaty backdrop of Louisiana, faith, and murder.

  • The Blurring of Fact and Imagination in 'Sway'

    Sway, by Zachary Lazar, is a swirling and episodic novel that incorporates the Rolling Stones circa 1969, the avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and Manson Family associate Bobby Beausoleil in a dizzying but effective exploration of the rise and fall of 1960s mysticism.

  • Revisiting 'Twin Peaks'

    Recently, I’ve been hearing a whole lot about David Lynch, and not from the Lynch camp or concerning any new projects. Rather, I’ve been hearing about Lynch from people who have been re-watching Lynch’s work, especially Twin Peaks.

  • 'Hollywood and God' Reveals the Dark Side of Tinsel Town

    Robert Polito's Hollywood and God explores the spiritual state of the country by examining its most popular medium of entertainment through poetry, the country's most underappreciated form of artistic expression.

  • The Capote Character

    Truman Capote's In Cold Blood was the first of its kind—a true crime story written as beautifully as a novel. In contrast to his previous novels, Capote allowed his own character to slip into the background, to focus on murderer Perry Smith. But was Perry just another alte…

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman's Light Touch

    Philip, like Marlon Brando, had innate power. Year after year, he hit us with constant magic—veiling a hurricane of emotion and humanity underneath a soft-spoken exterior.

  • Werner Herzog Writes Poetry with Film

    I just worked on the film Queen of the Desert with Werner Herzog and I was enthralled by his process, which is rich, self-taught, and both new and old school.

  • What of the Ottava Rima in Byron’s 'Don Juan'?

    Regardless of how or why Byron decided on ottava rima for Don Juan, the form undoubtedly influenced the poem's content through tone, pace, and lineation.

  • The Wolves of Hollywood

    Marty and Leo wanted to work together again, of course; they have a great track record stretching back to Gangs of New York. By the time the duo got to Wolf I’m sure they were as in sync as the ATL Twins as far as how they worked and the kind of material they wanted…

  • The Dark Appeal of ‘Blackfish’

    Blackfish could’ve easily been yet another monotonous “save the whales” documentary. Instead of preaching, the film relies on visceral violence in the context of the age-old battle of man versus Mother Nature.

  • Who Is 'Her'?

    In the age of digital technology we define our collective nature as humans apropos to the computer, or at the very least technology in general. And while this existential metamorphosis is still ongoing, Spike Jonze's Her shows us where we might end up.

  • A Brief Guide Inside 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

    Inside Llewyn Davis is structured like a folk song, with verses and choruses that we return to and build upon. The first go around I liked the music, the actors, the setting, and the lighting, but I didn’t quite grasp what it was all about. So, I watched it again and then…

  • The Monster in 'Mysterious Skin'

    Greg Araki’s film Mysterious Skin (2006) is an adaptation Scott Heim's novel about two eight-year-old boys in Kansas who are molested by their baseball coach.

  • "Song of Myself": Why Walt Whitman Was the Original Kanye West

    In this age of social media, self-promotion is the name of the game. We all have our little avatars, our little pictures and texts that we put out into the electronic world, that we hope get “liked.” Walt Whitman too was a self promoter, a performer, a purveyor of self.

  • Ambigu-Gus Van Sant

    Gus Van Sant’s first film to be released in theaters was Mala Noche (1985), based on the memoir of the same title by Portland poet Walt Curtis. It depicts Walt as a gay convenience-store employee attracted to a Mexican migrant worker. His film, Milk (2008), portrays…

  • Universalizing Art: 'The Disaster Artist' and 'The Room'

    The Disaster Artist is a book about the making of a film called The Room, which came out in 2003 and has since achieved a glorified cult status as possibly one of the worst movies ever made; its director/lead actor/writer, Tommy Wiseau has been called the Orson Well…

  • How to Structure Your Life: A Review of Corey Feldman's Biography, 'Coreyography'

    I think I can learn a lot from Corey Feldman’s autobiography, Coreyography. At the age of three, he became the family’s breadwinner; with that came a host of unfair responsibilities for the young Corey. Does that explain how he turned into the guy who throws the most depre…

  • Richard Prince, Roland Barthes, & Remythologizing the Myth of the Cowboy

    Richard Prince came to the attention of the art world in the 1980s for appropriating the Marlboro Man advertisements into his own photographs. Eventually one of his Cowboy photographs would become the first photo sold for more than $1 million, but is his art just stealing?

  • Fassy B. Heats Up 'Twelve Years a Slave'

    Twelve Years a Slave is a real account, written in 1853, by a man named Solomon Northup, a freeborn black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The book and the movie detail many of slavery’s horrors, as experienced by Northup; he just set them down as…

  • Revelation in ‘Mystic River’

    In books like A Drink Before the War, Shutter Island, and Mystic River, the murder mysteries give the story movement, while the hidden traumas of the characters bubble up to the surface.

  • Spring Break: A Fever Dream

    What is spring break today? In Spring Breakers, it is not the literal MTV-sponsored parties that take over and infect various beach locations across the American continent, although that version of spring break is certainly evoked for its imagery. In this film spring break…

  • J. D. Salinger's War

    The Catcher in the Rye is Salinger’s war book. Although it’s masked as a coming-of-age novel, it is about a character dealing with PTSD. Holden is J. D. Salinger, working through his loss of faith in humanity and all of the atrocities he witnessed in WWII.

  • Jake Gyllenhaal Is the Perfect Gumshoe in ‘Prisoners’

    Prisoners is awesome. I loved, loved, loved it. The atmosphere, the pacing, the framing, the acting, and the subject matter are all so good. I love that my man Jake Gyllenhaal is back as a hard-hitting actor. His detective Loki is mysterious, empathetic, tough, and believa…

  • Writing to Live in Hollywood

    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Pat Hobby Stories and the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink are twisted, nightmarish takes on what happens when writers come to Hollywood—they're often crushed by the bureaucratic machinations of the small-minded participants that make up the film bu…

  • Cormac McCarthy’s 'Child of God'

    It is Cormac McCarthy’s m.o. to uncover the underbelly of American history and explore some of the most violent and immoral acts swept under the façade of progress and civilization. Child of God, a book which I adapted into a film, is no different. It's disturbing, but tha…