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  1. Today
  2. I have been neglectful in writing my blurbs due to a near-obsession with finishing an academic article I'm writing on Malick's A Hidden Life. Hopefully I can get those done this week.
  3. Good luck, Joel! Didn't know about that Weezer project, which sounds fascinating. Though there's no way to tell, I'm curious as to whether the current global situation will affect the final number of submissions.
  4. I ended up submitting one on Weezer's lost/unreleased second album Songs from the Black Hole since they asked for no re-submitted pitches. I'm happy with what I wrote, regardless of the long odds...
  5. Yesterday
  6. On to his 6th, and penultimate, symphony. The composer himself conducted its first performance in 1923, four years after he'd completed his final revision of the 5th. What a contrast between the two works; the Sixth seems a happier piece but with a coolness to it. I love the murmuring string effect that plays through much of the first two movements. His scherzo has a jaunty, frolicking quality to it in places, reminding me a bit of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream; though even when this movement has a galloping pace, it's a chilled-out gallop. And the final movement of his 6th, like his 1st, ends softly. Few options on YouTube, so I'll go again with the ever-reliable Salonen:
  7. Andrew

    Classical Music

    This is a gut punch of a choral piece. Today's NYT had an article about/interview with the composer, a black Jamaican-American who's now a student at the Yale School of Music. He wrote this piece in 2014, but for obvious reasons it's garnering more attention in 2020. It's interesting but not surprising to read how polarizing this piece was for the first audiences who heard it; the saying about art comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable comes to mind. And I guess audiences used to a restricted diet of classical chestnuts forget how political and polarizing compositions often were in the moment of their creation (Beethoven's "Napoleon" Symphony and his opera Fidelio, the Rite of Spring, pretty much everything by Shostakovich, etc.).
  8. AFI offered Do the Right Thing as a free rental in late June (it's July 1 as I write this, so that offer has expired) and then hosted a Q&A with Spike Lee. The whole thing's worth watching, but I want to especially commend the final 10-or-so minutes, which veer into discussion of Da 5 Bloods and the broader political situation and political moment in the United States right now. You don't have to agree with everything Spike says (although I don't find much, if anything, to disagree with), but Lee really brings the heat in those closing minutes.
  9. Last week
  10. Just posted my write-up on Blade Runner. I went even longer on this one than usual -- writing or discussing Blade Runner is always a labor of love for me.
  11. All right, you've persuaded me to give this a try. I wasn't feeling hopeful, after the letdowns of Anchorman 2, Holmes and Watson, and the Between 2 Ferns movie. But it's not like I've got anywhere to be after work...
  12. link to the 2004 thread on Anchorman, for some wayback yet still relevant commentary on Will Farrell's comedic acting Having had mixed experiences with Will Farrell comedies over the years, I enjoyed Eurovision...Fire Saga (Netflix) much more than I expected: laughed out loud several times (mostly at scenes not primarily focused on WF). Rachel McAdams and the rest of the supporting cast really put their hearts into it. I have only watched a few evenings of Eurovision (including a performance by Conchita Wurst, who won that year) and have seen mixed reviews from Eurovision fans, but at least one, The Atlantic's David Sims, thinks the movie gets the mix of satire and sweetness right. Actually, though, Dan Stevens gives the funniest performance in the movie.
  13. Andrew

    Da 5 Bloods

    Yes, that's the one. I'm remembering it as a single monologue, but they may have cut away from him to a scene with the other characters in between. The lack of de-aging was a plus in my book, fitting thematically with the notion that trauma memories stay evergreen as our bodies age. And the temporal transitions didn't throw me here, as they did in Little Women. And I'm with you on those plotting elements - and the imminent land mine peril was too clearly telegraphed for my liking - together, they led me to give this 4.5 instead of 5 stars.
  14. Christian

    Da 5 Bloods

    I loved those three sequences, too, Andrew. The Lindo monologue is the one where he's walking through the jungle, toward the camera, eventually (or maybe throughout) directly addressing it, right? I have that image, or those images, in my mind, but I already feel like I should watch the film to make sure I haven't seared into my brain images that I haven't somehow distorted in my memory. Also, was there a second Lindo monologue? Maybe I'm thinking of him singing just before ... well, that would be a spoiler, assuming, again, that I haven't misremembered the scene in question. That Apocalypse Now nightclub scene is really something special - the movie/bar logo in the background while the four friends walk and dance, side by side. But I admit to spending a good amount of the first hour thinking the cinematography, while serviceable (I'd clearly underrated it), wasn't Dickerson-level work (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X). And yet, by the end of that hour, those long shots of mountains/terrain, which I found undistinguished, gave way to closer shots of the men and their circumstances. Maybe the setting simply had to be established before the camera could draw closer. Seems obvious in retrospect; I just wanted more memorable vistas, with stronger focal points, in some of those shots. What didn't I like in Da 5 Bloods? There were one or two things, lest you think my enthusiasm means I was completely blinded to certain flaws. The lack of de-aging in the earlier sequences might have thrown me off more had I not read about it before seeing the film, so that wasn't a big hang-up. It was clear from the shifted aspect ratio when we were in the "past" in the film. Indeed, I found the transitions much easier to follow in Da 5 Bloods than the transitions in the beloved Little Women remake, but that's just me. And I liked Little Women in any case. More irritating were a couple of plotting elements - things I don't notice unless they're screamingly absurd. So, when a man walks alone down a hillside and just happens to see some gold half-buried in the hillside - that's a little too easy, no? And when he steps on a mine that will detonate as soon as he lifts his foot, and the bomb defusers he met earlier just happen to be passing by at that exact moment - ridiculous! But aren't those great scenes - especially the latter? I loved the suspense, got very caught up in the character's fate. And by then I was hooked by the film. Those moments didn't derail me, although I recognize they might be bigger hang-ups for others.
  15. Andrew

    Da 5 Bloods

    Is this as great as Do the Right Thing or When the Levees Broke? Not in my book, at least. But second-tier Spike Lee is still damn splendid, and I'm with you, Christian, this is my favorite film of the year so far. And there are three sequences that are absolutely GREAT in this film, that I will happily re-watch over and over: the joyous dance entry into "Apocalypse Now," Lindo's monologue, and the double dolly shot.
  16. My feeling is that perhaps the "purest" option for these slots would be short, unedited clips from the films, unspoiled by trailer conventions. This clip from the beginning of Andrei Rublev is a good example. Alternatively, an option that would require a little more work could be something similar to the Criterion Channel's "Three Reasons" edits. I've always found those understated and brilliant, the way they wet your appetite for the film.
  17. I am sorry to say that I know his work only from last year's Shoplifters, which I adored, especially with the theme of how you can -- and sometimes should -- choose your own family. It was one of my favorite films of the year. I thought The Truth (La Verite) was a different take on Family --about how many people whose parents have mistreated them have to learn to divorce themselves from their parents-- or love them--and if they decide to love them then they have to accept that hate is also involved in that love. And with such mixed messages, Memory is the unreliable narrator of both their life stories. I also think that it is a story that would resonate with women more than men..
  18. Marci, how do you take Koreeda in general? I ask to try to contextualize your response, not challenge it.
  19. We're doing a lot of Money Heist (in season 2 of 4) and Broadmore (also season 2).
  20. Wow, interesting replies. Except for the unbelievable, too forgiving, ending, I found this film quite absorbing... perhaps because the relationship between mothers and daughters is often so fraught with tension [and is definitely different from the relationship between mothers and fathers and also that between sons and their parents]--this film might have more relevance, and thus more impact, with femme viewers.
  21. No, there isn't a bigger Kore-Eda guy than you on the forum, and no, you're not wrong to have been underwhelmed by this film. I saw it last December and was puzzled by how inconsequential and inert it was. I mean, it's not distasteful or offensively bad, but just...inconsequential. Nobody's going to blame the acting given this cast, and his directing seems to bring life to a varied type of stories, so I have to pin it on the writing. Is it fair to wonder how much the film's failure was attributable to Kore-Eda just being overly cautious because he was working out of his cultural milieu? I remember recalling before seeing the film a critic noting that Binoche was like a good luck charm for Hou and Kiarostami as non-English speakers successfully directing English films for the first time, so I half-expected her to carry this one, but alas. The narrative-within-the-narrative seemed so clunky, too.
  22. Not sure if there is a bigger Koreeda man than me on this forum, but I found this one less endearing when I saw it at Filmfest 919 last fall. Perhaps it was the film festival format that forced an early morning screening. (I remember Koreeda personally thanking everyone as they left the Scotiabank one year at TIFF for coming to a 9 am weekday screening). Perhaps a second viewing under better circumstances will help. It does feel to me like post After the Storm that he has moved in a more....commercial direction? I guess a lot of people felt Shoplifters was classic Koreeda, but The Third Murder and The Truth both try to bring in elements of genre or commercial cinema (A-list stars) in ways that felt a bit forced. Still, he's a treasure, and I'm glad this film is finding its way out into the world.
  23. Christian

    Da 5 Bloods

    Oh, it's clearly a major Lee film, although I've gotten some of the same sense you have that some consider it minor. Maybe because Netflix produced it? I, too, wish I'd heard the first half-hour of last week's call. I hadn't seen the film at that time. I now have. I flipped for it in a way I haven't flipped for a film in a very long time. I'm not sure if it's familiarity with Lee's directorial emphases/signatures, but this film felt like, if not a summation, a vehicle in which those things worked together in a way they haven't in other of his films. (I was, to put it mildly, not a fan of BlackKklansman.) Even the multiple endings and of-the-moment political tie-in felt, well, organic here - or simply less forced than it sometimes has in Lee's earlier films. There's a lot to dig into in this film, but I'm rather reluctant to do so, knowing discussion of the film's merits can result in only one outcome for me: to lessen the film's impact and appeal. I was completely knocked out by Da 5 Bloods, to the point where, although I keep telling myself not to do this, I'll regret it, I ended the film thinking there's no way another 2020 release is going to touch this one. For those who haven't seen it, here's my tweet storm, written right after the film concluded. I'm bad with pasting these things, so forgive the formatting. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 3h Back from the pool. Kid's in bed. It's time for DA 5 BLOODS. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 29m Stunning. STUNNING. This is top-tier Spike Lee, which means DA 5 BLOODS is an All-Timer. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 27m I knew I loved this movie before the first hour was up. So I held my breath, waiting for it to fall off. It never did. I'm sure that, with time, the parts I deeply love will separate themselves from the parts I merely love, but for now, I'm going to enjoy this huge movie high. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 22m I was in the tank even before the beautiful prayer, the forcefully recited Psalm 23, the big moment of forgiveness (I was moved in the moment but knew I wasn't going to cry; two seconds later, waterfalls). I've never been so surprised by Lee's spiritual content as I was here. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 20m I'm even amazed at the lead character's political affiliation (which I don't share). Sure, he takes some heat, but Lee allows him much more dignity than I was expecting. The film is better for that. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 18m I love Spike Lee's movie-a-year (or thereabouts) output, but it's resulted in a lot of undercooked films. This is one of his masterpieces. Didn't expect it. I'm ecstatic!
  24. I'm binge watching Better Things, seasons 2 thru 4!
  25. I hope you don't mind my trying to resurrect a rather old post, but here goes. In relation to the original post: "Dynamic" seems to be the catchphrase for the neoliberal (I don't use this as a pejorative, just as a signifier). Everything today is packaged and presented as dynamic--the economy, public policy, education, etc. We don't quite know or want to know what ppl mean when they say it. Those who mean well, those without an overt neoliberal agenda, seem to simply mean "innovation," "non-reactionary" when they say "dynamic." Specifically, as far as 21st cent. education is concerned, it seems to mean tech-based solutions, which unwittingly or otherwise prevent education from being universally accessible. Low-cost tech and free tech are solutions, but only insofar as tech is considered the only solution. Education in this century seems driven by the "pay and access" logic. Same with healthcare. Public education is on the wane, unless you consider elite higher education spaces, which push merticoracy to unbelievably competitive standards. This state of affairs is also related to what is valorized and what is marginalized. For instance, we're doing a module on research methodology, and we get readings mailed to us every Friday. It's a three-week module, quite lengthy, but doesn't concern itself with the qualitative/interpretive aspect at all. We've been doing two weeks on the z-score formula (this is an example of the readings we're mailed). Some professors even dismiss interpretive sociological/anthropological approaches as hogwash. Similarly, those on the other side are quick to dismiss quantitative and stats-based empirical approaches as one-dimensional. To me, this is one of the essential aspects of 21st cent. education--this enforced distance between what ppl have taken to calling the soft and hard approaches respectively. Interdisciplinary approaches are at the margins of education today.
  26. If anybody's interested, here's David F Wallace's Rabbit Resurrected--whether this amounts to homage, cheap imitation, or noble attempt is a matter of taste of course https://harpers.org/wp-content/uploads/HarpersMagazine-1992-08-0072766.pdf
  27. There are many reasons to see The Truth (or La Verite). It takes place in Paris. It’s the newest tale from Japanese film master, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, who made last year’s charming Shoplifters (but it’s not in Japanese—it’s in French and English). It’s one of those delightful films that has another film story embedded in it. The cinematography is discreet and serviceable with not an unnecessary show-off shot. Most importantly, it’s a rare chance to see two French femme stars sharing screen time. Watching Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche interact with one another has got to be one of the cinematic highlights of the year. Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve), the still radiant French cinema legend, has just published her long-awaited memoir. Arriving at Fabienne’s Parisian mini-estate from New York to congratulate her is her estranged daughter, screenwriter Lumir (Juliette Binoche), with her B-list actor husband (Ethan Hawke ) and their adorable daughter (Clementine Grenier). Lumir is appalled to realize from the memoir that her mother has brazenly fantasized their relationship to impress her adoring public. The truth is that Fabienne was neglectful, distant and abusive. For motherly kindness, Lumir turned to Sarah, her mother’s friend and rival, who killed herself after Fabienne stole a role from her. Lumir is devastated to discover that Fabienne doesn’t even mention Sarah. Showing up at the house also is Lumir’s father – who is amused to discover that Fabienne claims he has died! While Fabienne is blithely lying to the world about everything, she’s playing an eeriely similar role in a sci-fi movie. A young woman (Manon Clavel), who is deathly ill, goes into outer space where she never ages. She comes back to Earth every several years, where both her daughter and her mother are aging in Earth years. While Fabienne plays the challenging role of the story’s mother, she deals with her jealousy of the younger actress and Lumir’s growing fury at her. Since both Fabienne and Lumir are civilized, fireworks don’t fly, but the hidden tensions between them are smoldering hot enough to make you squirm. Hirokazu Kore-Eda gives the story his all--he directs, writes and edits the film, which is why every scene is exquisite. While you marvel at Fabienne’s ability to enchant everyone, like the magic creature in her famous film The Witch of the Vincennes, you also witness the agony of everyone caught in her web. I personally did not believe the sorta-happy ending, but I hope everyone who sees The Truth will decide for themselves if families can ever truly heal. Rated PG for thematic and suggestive elements, and for smoking and brief language. Languages: French and English. Length: 106 min. Opens in select theatres and most digital and cable platforms on July 3, 2020.
  28. I like the idea of the film as an act of protest. To Ken's question above, it is the only film I can think of that accomplishes what it does - which is to get this fundamental conflict and experience in front of us, so that we can see and hear it with vicious clarity. The language of race becomes a liturgy for Lee. Like Ed said above, the film somehow captures all the voices, which itself is a feat of spiritual craft and reflection. I have occasion to talk and preach in regional prisons, one of which is a supermax facility. I will often queue up parts of Do the Right Thing to get me into the head space of spiritual and moral conflict, and how it is entirely possible to feel both unbridled rage and a desire to "do the right thing" at the same time - and even feel justified with flipping the coin in the moment. Another angle here is that one element of white privilege (or however you want to describe the social reality of being a white person) is that answers to many moral questions feel routine. There is just not much at stake with adhering to general consensus and maintaining the social contract. But for so many fellow Americans, these kinds of questions and decisions are deadly minefields. Lee's narratives tend to leap along with these unpredictable consequences of various choices.
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