Table of contents

State & Main

He, as I guess, had gazed on nature’s naked loveliness…

Here’s a story that reassures folks, the people who make movies are heartless jobbers like the rest of you! There’s the soon-to-be-over-the-hill star who is everywhere corrupted, to say nothing worse, by bright young things. There’s the sooner-yet-to-be-over-the-hill starlet who has finally decided she […]

Rocky 4

Citizen & men

Sylvester Stallone shows us America in Rocky & the many sequels he made. He seems to flatter Americans, but the struggle of this boxer by itself belies this facile image. War evokes one half of fame, its beauty, or immortality. Rocky shows the other half, which is more obviously connected with […]

Rocky 3

The ugliness of the democracy

The city we are shown separates the poor & the rich. We see the poor. They are somewhat vicious, but not hateful. We might hold them in contempt, wondering whether they do not deserve their fate. The poet’s bashfulness allows us to pity them & to hope their situation […]

Rocky 2

Manly men & public opinion

Rocky is not for those who have never thrown or caught a punch. They cannot understand why the poet is bashful about this man & his actions. But we know: without such restraint, Rocky would come to a tragic end. The poet shows us ugly, badly spoken, poor Rocky […]

Rocky 1

The curse of individualism

Rocky is first of all a movie for men. But it shows their neediness. Men need to be free, famous, & gentled. Thus are they made; or broken. Freedom is citizenship. Fame is the prize of those who benefit their city. Of course, men hate showing neediness. They are therefore […]

Rambo 4


A time comes for serious men to get God or get a tragedy. Tragedy is consummated with Rambo’s death. His attack on the city is the moment of reversal. The moment of recognition follows closely, when he refuses to kill the sheriff. The warrior who made Rambo a warrior appears to him, to […]

Rambo 3

The good life

Humiliated, Rambo can no longer tolerate the laws of men. He remembers Vietnam & can no longer tell the difference between Americans & the Vietnamese. The city has disappeared; war is everywhere, war is all. He reduces his captors & removes to the forest, climbing up the rocks and mountain. His […]

Rambo 2

The noble death

We see Rambo’s agony & we admire his endurance & prowess alike, even as we fear what he is about to do. The story splits in five parts, roughly equal. 1 – The particular circumstances of this conflict, apparently as insoluble as it was avoidable: Rambo is a man of war […]

Rambo 1

The city & the man of war

Rambo is walking through the Pacific Northwest. Without the city, he asks a woman about a man, her son, his fellow soldier. He shows her a picture from Vietnam. The man died of cancer, without glory, relief, or consolation. His country used him & abandoned him. From […]