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Photo: “Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell, 2020.

Trigger warning: sexual assault. Also, spoilers ahead.

Promising Young Woman is a good film. Like, really good. Like, holy shit. I acknowledge that for some, this is actually a pretty bold statement, and I know I am throwing myself into the ring of a pretty egregious controversy just by stating this opinion. But I can’t help it. The film simply rocks.

Despite this, I have heard a lot, and I mean a lot, of opinions to the contrary. Mostly by men. I have a group chat on Twitter that I frequent on the regular, and many of the men in…


Photo: “Boys Don’t Cry,” Kimberly Peirce, 1999.

Trigger warning: sexual assault, transphobia.

It brings me no pleasure to report that 1999's Boys Don’t Cry is actually pretty bad. Like, horrifically so. Its portrayal of Brandon Teena is inept and often tone-deaf, portraying his rape and murder in graphic detail, focusing almost entirely on other people failing to accept his identity rather than Brandon’s own feelings. Casting Hilary Swank to portray Teena was an obvious misstep, and the film goes to great lengths to emphasize femininity in Brandon’s appearance in an incredibly fetishistic and demeaning way.

But that’s only partially what I’m here to talk about. I want…


Photo: “Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days,” Square Enix.

Medium-bending in fiction is not a new idea. People experiment with it all the time, whether that be Black Mirror adopting a choose-your-own-adventure game format, or television miniseries being treated more as films than as serials. Right now, at this very moment, someone on this planet is holding on to the belief that Twin Peaks: The Return is really just an eighteen hour-long movie, and that’s not unfounded. The lines between storytelling mediums are only as defined as we make them out to be, and any story could ultimately be told in any medium with the proper treatment. So, why…


Photo: “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” Charlie Kaufman, 2020.

Trigger Warning: panic attacks, suicide, self-harm.

This review was adapted from its original publication on Letterboxd on September 4th, 2020.

On March 26th, 2020, I went out for a jog. I was alone. I jogged from my childhood house all the way up to my childhood middle school and back — about a mile both ways. The day before, I had moved out of my dorm forcibly as a result of the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. Am I using that word right? “Burgeoning?” I just looked it up, and it seems right. It seems appropriate. “Burgeoning.” It sounds like a mix…


Photo: “Total Recall,” Paul Verhoeven, 1990.

A particularly annoying film controversy of late stems from the Wachowski sisters’ incredible 1999 film The Matrix. Since the film’s release, both directors have come out as trans, and have given significant credence to the idea that The Matrix is actually an allegory for discovering oneself as being trans. Many, many (mostly cis) people got mad at this, because trans people aren’t allowed to have authority over their own art, nor are we allowed to have nice things.

So, in order to continue to make those same people mad, I’m going to do something even more egregious than extrapolate trans…


Photo: “The Boys in the Band,” William Friedkin, 1970.

Artifice. That is the word that’s been stuck in my mind for a week or so now. “Artifice.” I have not really allowed myself to think too critically about anything in that time. I have been in and out of school and family responsibilities, and I have hardly had any time to myself. And those times that I do have to myself, my thoughts always circle back to that word. “Artifice.”

It’s hardly an unconventional word. “Artifice, noun: a clever or cunning device or expedient, especially as used to trick or deceive others.” That’s what Google says. Seems right, if…


Photo: “The Prom,” Netflix

EDIT: This article has been amended to clarify that The Prom (2020) is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.

In Ryan Murphy’s 2020 film The Prom, there is a line that goes something like this:

“If they don’t have gay people here, why is my Scruff going crazy right now?”

A little context is in order. This scene comes directly after Meryl Streep’s character, Dee Dee, and her squad of Broadway misfits James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells, interrupt a school board meeting in support of Emma, a young lesbian who wants to take her…


Photo: Sundance Film Festival

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

This is not an essay. This is an allegory.

In Jane Schoenbrun’s film We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, a young teenager inducts herself into an internet ritual — a creepypasta MMORPG that revolves around the idea of the World’s Fair. Essentially, you say the phrase “I want to go to the World’s Fair” three times, you prick your finger and rub the blood on your computer screen, and you watch a short video of flashing lights. This inducts you into the World’s Fair, and will cause your body to change in strange ways. …

Mel Turnage

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