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Absurdistan is a modern adaptation of a classical Greek comedy, inspired by a Turkish news story from 2001, featuring a Czech leading lady and an East German leading man, both speaking Russian in an Azeri village with Georgian supporting actors and extras. Given that the story of Absurdistan all takes place in the same small village of fourteen families in…

I first watched this film in 2009 when I was taking Russian language classes at Rhode Island College. It was, in fact, the second Sergei Bodrov film I ever watched, after the beautiful yet hammy Kóshpendiler. I also watched the bootstrap-budget crime-thriller Brat in the same class, though despite the two films featuring the same actor – the late Sergei…

The next film on my docket of Kazakh movies was actually a joint venture between Estonian, Finnish, Belorussian, Russian and Kazakhstani studios: the 2014 drama Ya ne vernus’ (Я не вернусь, I Won’t Come Back) directed by Ilmar Raag. The film itself is somewhat hard to classify: there are elements in it of both Thelma & Louise and Bridge to…

The first Sergei Bodrov film I ever saw was his delightfully-hammy and gloriously-terrible 2005 historical epic Kóshpendiler, a highly-fictionalized account of the early life and career of the military and diplomatic genius Kazakh prince Abylaı Han, which I absolutely will revisit sometime in the near future. Later, as part of the Russian language class I took at Rhode Island College,…

The Godfather, by Mario Puzo, was the best-selling book when it was first published and the film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola is rightly considered a masterpiece. The drama of The Godfather is an epic; it is an epic because it deals with the quintessential themes that all epics deal with: family, love, and time. It is a drama that wrestles…

In 2006, the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum conducted a survey to measure Americans’ knowledge of their First Amendment constitutional freedoms (the freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition), comparing it to Americans’ knowledge of popular culture, particularly their knowledge of the well-known television series, The Simpsons, shortly before the release of The Simpsons Movie. The results, perhaps unsurprisingly, revealed…

The United States Constitution in Film: Part of Our National Culture. Eric T. Kasper and Quentin D. Vieregge. Lanham, MD. Lexington Books, 2018.
 
In his opinion in the case of United States v. Syufy Enterprises, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kozinski worked into his text some 200 movie references.  Yet it would be hard to say all that movie…

The Politics of Depoliticization
Motion pictures do more than just reflect our political life. If we take seri­ously the cultural construction of human identity—how social life forges the performative features of gender and sex, race and ethnicity—then American movies of the twentieth century were more than a mirror onto a culture. They were dreams that made that culture. They were mass-produced…

As a popular genre, the western makes myths for politics in America and beyond. These symbolic stories of characters and communities help shape and explain our government, our society, and ourselves. They tell who and where we are, as individuals and as peoples. They also show what time it is for responding to our situations, and why. Thus western icons…

Cowboy Politics: Myths and Discourses in Popular Westerns form The Virginian to Unforgiven and Deadwood. John S. Nelson.  Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018.
 
What do Westerns - books, films, serial television – teach us about the emerging political order in America? What can political theory add to more popular critical encounters with this material, and what can the material illuminate about…