Image Credit: Alessandro Nivola in The Art of Self-Defense (Bleecker Street Media)
In the Dark

Hazardous Do-Overs

Seconds (1966)
Produced by Joel Productions; Directed by John Frankenheimer; Screenplay by Lewis John Carlino, adapted from a novel by David Ely; Distributed by Paramount Pictures

The Art of Self-Defense
Produced by Andrew Kortschak; Directed and written by Riley Stearns; Distributed by Bleecker Street

After Life
Produced, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais; Distributed by Netflix

America was founded on the idea of the second chance. People unhappy with their lives in Europe sailed to the New World, where they hoped they could escape oppression and failure. This gave rise to the peculiarly American idea that it is possible to overcome the weight of the past and reinvent oneself to one’s own specifications. It doesn’t always work out, but hope is a virtue that springs eternal. If your new self disappoints, you could always pick up stakes and move farther west in search of regions more hospitable to your dreams.

In Seconds, John Frankenheimer’s 1966 film adaptation of David Ely’s unsparing satiric novel, the protagonist is Arthur Hamilton, a man who’s achieved what many would think of as American success. He’s a Harvard graduate who’s always played by the rules. He’s gone into banking and now in his early 50s he’s about to become the president of his institution....

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