The Fractured Mirror

Created by Nathan Rabin

Nathan Rabin's Happy Place's Definitive Guide to American Movies about the Film Industry

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Today marks the launch of my next epic project, where I'll watch all ONE THOUSAND EPISODES of Saturday Night Live in order to Write a Series of Books About Them
30 days ago – Tue, Jan 23, 2024 at 10:16:46 AM

I am putting the finishing touches on The Fractured Mirror but I wanted to announce the launch of the crowd-funding campaign for my next SEVERAL books. 

It was inspired by a series of articles on my website about famously disastrous episodes of Saturday Night Live through the ages. It got a good response and was fun to do, so I thought it would be worthwhile to do a whole book about the worst of SNL. Then I realized that we are only a year and a half away from the venerable sketch comedy institution's 50 Anniversary. 

I then decided to shamelessly exploit this milestone and put out not one but two books: We've Got a TERRIBLE Show For You Tonight and We've Got a GREAT Show For You Tonight. 

But then I figured that if I was going to watch 1000 episodes of Saturday Night Live I might as well write about each episode for an online project called EveryEpisodeEver at Buttondown

It'll be an incredible challenge but y'all know better than anyone that I am not afraid of a little hard work. Also, getting a nice burst of support and money/money and support now would make it easier for me to finish The Fractured Mirror and fulfill its Kickstarter campaign.

The Fractured Mirror entry: Movie 43 (2013)
about 1 month ago – Thu, Jan 11, 2024 at 08:49:03 AM

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The Fractured Mirror entry: Redbelt (2008)
2 months ago – Sat, Dec 16, 2023 at 12:30:01 PM

Redbelt (2008)

David Mamet meets MMA in the 2008 morality tale Redbelt. The moody action drama revolves around Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor whose strict code of ethics and morality make him an anachronism and an anomaly in a world without much regard for adorably outdated notions like honor.

Mike just wants to teach and evolve as a martial artist and a man. He wants to practice and perfect his art form without worrying about the corrupting, confining influences of money and power but living in a capitalistic society makes that difficult, if not impossible.

The problems begin when troubled lawyer Laura Black (Emily Mortimer) accidentally ends up shooting out the window of Mike’s studio with the gun of a cop who trains there.

When Mike gets a valuable watch from hard-drinking movie star Chet Frank (Tim Allen, wrestling manfully if shakily with Mamet’s staccato rhythms) as thanks for bailing him out of a jam he gives it to his police officer friend without realizing it’s hot.

Chet is so impressed by the charismatic young fighter with the far-out ideas about purity that he offers him a job on his latest film as a producer. What Mike doesn’t realize is that he’s really just a pawn in a much larger game involving wealthy parasites who want to steal Mike’s ideas and force him to betray his ideals and fight.

Mike seems shocked, yes, shocked, to discover that Mixed Martial Arts tournaments are dirty and rigged, even though he previously refused to be a part of them for precisely those reasons. Mike similarly should not be surprised when the world of show-business proves sketchy as hell as well.

Ejiofor does wonders with the stock character of the man of peace pushed into becoming a man of violence but his character is distractingly naive, particularly for a protagonist in a David Mamet film. The same is true of the film itself. The playwright turned filmmaker sure picked a strange time to get idealistic and that utterly out of place idealism is just one of this engaging but facile drama’s many unconvincing elements.

The Fractured Mirror entry: Ten Items or Less (2006)
2 months ago – Tue, Dec 12, 2023 at 10:49:14 AM

Ten Items or Less (2006) FM

Morgan Freeman is cast against type, oddly enough, as a Morgan Freeman-like movie star in Brad Siberling’s slight but engaging 2006 character study 10 Items or Less. Freeman has played so many golden-voiced, regal authority figures that it’s strange and wonderful to see him play a role much closer to his actual self. The change has liberated Freeman, who also executive produced. He’s seldom, if ever, been so playful and silly.

In a delightful bit of self-parody, Freeman plays a famous movie star known for working with Ashley Judd. He’s been out of the game for four years but is contemplating making a low-key comeback in a low-budget independent film. To help him decide whether or not to take the role he decides to do some research at a grocery store.

There he meets Scarlet (Paz Vega), a beautiful twenty-five year old cashier at the 10 Items or Less lane who fascinates the movie star with her earthy beauty but also her will, spunk and strength of character.

When Freeman’s movie star is unable to secure a ride home he ends up spending a blissful afternoon with the gorgeous much younger woman. Scarlet’s world fascinates Freeman’s protagonist because it is so wildly different from his own charmed life.

Freeman’s affable thespian is dazzled by a visit to Target and other everyday wonders of a world much less glamorous and exclusive than the one that he inhabits. Vega has great chemistry with her legendary costar but this is the Morgan Freeman Show all the way. Freeman is clearly having tremendous fun letting go of all of that grace and gravitas for something much lighter and more fun. His enthusiasm is both palpable and infectious.

The Fractured Mirror entry: The Death Kiss (1933)
2 months ago – Sat, Dec 09, 2023 at 11:35:12 AM

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