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Laura Shamas, Ph.D.
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Laura Shamas, Ph.D., writes about aspects of myth, folklore, and film.

Entries by Laura Shamas, Ph.D.

Hit and Myth: Belle

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 3:16 PM

What does it mean in a young woman's life to be constantly stared at and treated as "the Other?" Belle, directed by Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay, has a lush, gorgeous look from the costumes to the landscape, and throughout this new film we, too, are invited to...

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Hit and Myth: 'Hateship Loveship'

(1) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 1:13 PM

The motif of the "magical nanny" is turned on its head before the credits roll in Hateship Loveship, written by Mark Jude Poirier, based on a short story by Alice Munro, and directed by Liza Johnson.

The story begins in Plainfield, Iowa, caregiver Johanna Parry (Kristen Wiig, in a...

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Hit and Myth: Inside Llewyn Davis

(8) Comments | Posted December 22, 2013 | 8:59 AM

What happens to a musician when desperation overshadows inspiration? The atmospheric new film Inside Llewyn Davis, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, tracks a grieving folk singer-songwriter in search of his Muse -- or any Muse. Set in the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961, the story...

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Hit and Myth: Nebraska

(3) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 1:20 PM

In the opening of Nebraska, written by Bob Nelson and directed by Alexander Payne, aging Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) limps with surly determination along the shoulder of a snow-framed Montana highway. Woody hopes to walk to Nebraska with a million dollar claim for a magazine sweepstakes that he received in...

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Hit and Myth: All is Lost

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 4:12 PM

On my way in to the cinema to see All is Lost in Santa Monica, I passed a building on Second Street with a plaque that read "The Robert Redford Building" -- a reminder of the tremendous stature of the star and sole cast member of J.C. Chandor's new film...

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Hit and Myth: Gravity

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 2:08 PM

Creation myth is a key focus of Gravity, a beautiful new film written by Alfonso Cuarón and Jonas Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. A creation myth is a story that explains the genesis of a world, a beginning, a birth. The Cosmic Egg, which explains the shape of...

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Hit and Myth: Mother of George

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2013 | 7:50 PM

Infertility and its spiraling marital repercussions are the central focus of Mother of George, a riveting new film written by Darci Picoult, and directed by Andrew Dosunmu.

The film begins in contemporary Brooklyn as Nigerian immigrant Adenike Balogun (beautifully played by Danai Gurira, who's also an award-winning playwright) celebrates...

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Hit and Myth: Enough Said

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2013 | 1:09 PM

Does peer pressure still influence us in adulthood? Is gossip or rumor powerful enough to ruin a budding middle-age romance? Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, writer and director of Enough Said, cleverly depicts the slippery slope of how a divorced masseuse named Eva (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) allows her new romance with...

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Hit and Myth: Austenland

(2) Comments | Posted August 23, 2013 | 5:02 PM

Disclaimer: I am not a Janeite. I mean, yes, I did read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. And yes, I've also read some of Jane Austen's Juvenilia. And okay, yes: I've seen all sorts of film and television based on her work,...

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Hit and Myth: Touchy Feely

(2) Comments | Posted August 14, 2013 | 2:59 PM

The psychic toll of healing others is explored in Touchy Feely, written and directed by Lynn Shelton. Two leading characters in the film embody aspects of "the Wounded Healer." Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Shelton's latest Seattle-based film features Abby (Rosemary DeWitt), a...

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Hit and Myth: Blue Jasmine

(5) Comments | Posted July 31, 2013 | 12:33 PM

Being blue, a blue moon, with nods to A Streetcar Named Desire: Woody Allen's new film Blue Jasmine delivers an anatomy of a breakdown.

Written and directed by Woody Allen, it stars the extraordinary Cate Blanchett as Jasmine French -- the wife of a Bernie Madoff type named Hal (expertly...

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Hit and Myth: Girl Most Likely and Frances Ha

(0) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 1:39 PM

Two recent films about creative females in New York, Girl Most Likely and Frances Ha, depict events that eventually lead each artist towards achievement, authenticity, and individuation. Aspects of the puella archetype, a female who refuses to grow up, resonate with both of their stories.

In Girl Most Likely,...

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Hit and Myth: The Heat

(12) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 10:35 AM

Angry and funny female avengers, enacting aspects of the infernal Roman Goddesses known as The Furies, inhabit the new hit female buddy film The Heat. As soon as Shannon Mullins, the undercover Boston policewoman brilliantly played by Melissa McCarthy, appears onscreen, three things are clear: Mullins is furious, seeking justice,...

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Hit and Myth: The Bling Ring and Free Samples

(2) Comments | Posted June 18, 2013 | 10:40 AM

Two new films comment on issues of youth, identity and a mythological Los Angeles, where hopes and dreams are sorted, destroyed, or sometimes ironically realized by those who are infamous, photogenic, and troubled.

The Bling Ring, written and directed by Sofia Coppola, is based on a true story about...

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Hit and Myth: The East

(3) Comments | Posted June 5, 2013 | 2:34 PM

The direction of east is linked to light. The sun rises from the east, ex oriente lux, a sign of dawn. The East, a new eco-terrorism thriller, written by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, and directed by Batmanglij, taps into this "rising" motif. Thematically, the film explores illegal activism efforts...

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Hit and Myth

(4) Comments | Posted April 24, 2013 | 11:43 AM

Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful is one of the biggest blockbusters of the year to date. I can't claim to be an Oz expert, although as a child I did read ten L. Frank Baum novels in his Oz series, and have been to the Oz Museum in...

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