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  1. Yesterday
  2. Dear Justin, my name is Miss Beth. I co- wrote & sang “The Hanvey Song” with Larry & Pearl Brick for your dad’s marriage to Gina. My thirty years of experience giving music lessons started when your dad asked me if I would teach one of his students to play the piano. That student later named his first kid after me. I am just today learning of your dad’s book & plan to order it if I can find it. I hope you get this & write back.
  3. That makes sense, Darren. I know some films have gone through edits following their premieres at festivals, and wondered if Atlantics had been one of them (the title seems to have changed a few times). I enjoyed the film more than it sounds like you or Andrew did, but wasn't ready to hail it as a masterpiece like some critics did at Cannes. It's a bold first feature, but I agree with your observation of the the scattered aesthetic—some of the images from the opening scenes are remarkable, from the ocean waves to the giant otherworldly skyscraper, but the film's ending felt strangely conventional to me, as if the visual ideas had run out so we better wrap this narrative up and call it done.
  4. Last week
  5. Hello. First, welcome to the Arts & Faith forum. Not a requirement, but you are welcome to post in the Introductions thread of the About You forum. Some members prefer to lurk for awhile or retain anonymity, but most people who stick around for awhile will usually give an idea of where they are coming form. Anyway, though... Is art supposed to be subjective? I would say that art is subjective but art criticism or art interpretation should be grounded in some sort of formal or objective observation of the artifact...in something other than the viewer's (or reader's for literature) response. I am a reader-response critic at heart, but I don't believe that means the reader creates meaning ex nihilo, he (or she) is limited by the limits of the text. (See e.g. Wayne Booth's "Pluralism and It's Rivals" in which he argues that there are multiple possible interpretations of most art works but that plausible interpretations aren't infinite.) When I was in school (HS 81-84, undergrad 84-88), New Criticism was still the standard and it was common for me to be given Wimsatt & Beardsley's "The Intentional Fallacy" as a guiding principle. A work is autonomous and its meaning is not the same as what the author intended. Got it. It was less common for me to be given their companion piece, "The Affective Fallacy." The meaning of a work is something other than how it makes you feel or how it affects you. I think at its core, reader-response wants (or wanted) to be democratic, feeling too often that opinions *of those in authority* were treated as facts that did not have to be justified and arguing that the "mob" gets a say too. But as with politics, the mob can become its own justification and feel itself above having to justify its response with formal analysis. More recently in film someone like Matt Seitz (Rogerebert.com) lamented the paucity of *any* formal analysis in film criticism. I agree. Not because personal responses are uninteresting or wrong, but because what makes them interesting is the writer's ability to be reflective about that response and to attempt to understand and communicate how the artifact elicited it.
  6. No. Sorry to have implied that in my earlier post. Diop's short films are all quite unconventional--experimental, even. They're also very small productions. Financing is so hard to come by these days, and public funding organizations typically require completed scripts before lending their support, so there's a push for convention in the process itself. This is all speculation on my part, but I feel like there's a tension in Atlantics between the storytelling and Diop's interest in formal invention (a series of beautiful, washed-out shots of the ocean are the only parts of the film that look like her other work).
  7. I am well aware this is a topic touched upon quite frequently, and for that I apologize, but I feel as though I must expand the pool of opinion. I have had this stewing for a while, as a disclaimer. Essentially it boils down to my sneaking suspicions that criticism of most forms of media is being occupied (for lack of a better word) by this invasive attitude of faux objectivity. I think it was most evident to me roughly a week ago while discussing a film with a friend, when partway through an individual bluntly inserted himself into the conversation, plighting about how much he hated the item in question, how badly certain decisions affected the quality of the film, and many other diatribes about the composition and characters etc., etc. I was not angry that he was trashing the film (that my friend and I both enjoyed), I try not to engage in clearly fruitless arguments as a general practice, so I instead asked him why he thought (x) character was badly written. He thought for a moment and reverted to a lengthy response that essentially said: "Because it is bad." Not "Because I didn't like it" or "Because it was actively detrimental to the story being told", but "Because it is bad". The more I mull it over, the more I become discouraged. I realize I've been hearing that phrase for years, disguised by flowery language and aggregate reviews, and it now frustrates me to no end when someone touts their views like a flag on the moon. Has this attitude of mob criticism and treating opinion as fact been around longer than I realize? Isn't art supposed to be subjective, or am I just an idiot? This issue probably has a lot of grey area and I absolutely cannot say that I'm an expert, but I am very willing to be swayed. Just tired of negative, scolding criticism in general, I suppose.
  8. I'm sorry it was a disappointing year at TIFF for you. I half- or three-quarters expect you'll find that wow experience you're craving with Synonyms - it definitely blew Jessica's and my socks off, and the audience seemed fully onboard with the director's project. It only added to our fascination to learn that it is largely autobiographical. I would've loved to see Portrait of a Lady, but I couldn't fit it in our schedule; same with Serra's latest, since I loved Death of Louis XIV.
  9. Was there any indication that the edit you saw at TIFF differed from the film shown at Cannes, especially following its acquisition by Netflix?
  10. Sorry to hear about Jessica's pneumonia. It just occurred to me that, aside from a cold one year and an occasional bout of anxiety/panic (usually brought on by exhaustion and the stress of interviews), I've never dealt with any health issues in all of my years of attending fests. On top of the pain of the sickness, that must've been incredibly frustrating! I saw 25 films/programs during my five days at the fest. Of the 16 TIFFs I've attended, this was the worst lineup yet. It's such a huge program, so I'm always hesitant to make generalizations based on 10% of what screened, but that seemed to be the general consensus among critics too. A few friends had already seen most of the top-line stuff at Berlin, Cannes, and Locarno, so their TIFF was especially bleak. I realized this year how much I crave a "wow" experience at a fest, because I didn't get one this time. Even the Wavelengths shorts program, which is usually the highlight of my film year, only included two or three pieces that really worked for me. I still need to catch up with a couple noteworthy TIFF films -- Synonyms, Parasite, Marriage Story, Uncut Gems, Portrait of a Lady on Fire -- and maybe one of those will give me that "wow" I'm chasing. Or maybe one of the films that didn't play TIFF -- Reichardt, Desplechin, the Dardennes -- will be my film of 2019. As it stands, I didn't give any feature at TIFF a rating higher than a 4. My favorites were I Was at Home, But (Schanelec), Liberte (Serra), The Traitor (Bellocchio), and, the most pleasant surprise to me, A Hidden Life. I thought I was done with Malick, but this one complicates my sense of his spiritual project. I mean, I was even disappointed by Pedro Costa! And Atlantics was a big disappointment too. I love Mati Diop's short films, but the feature just doesn't work. I feel like there might a good film in there somewhere but it was lost in the edit. Most scenes don't work. The shape of the entire film doesn't work. I'd be curious to hear the inside story of what kind of pressures she felt to make it a more conventional, Netflix-friendly film. I wonder, even, if the cut was rushed to meet the Cannes deadline. She spent a decade trying to get a feature made, so I hate that the result feels compromised in some way. The good news (at least for me, as a believer in her talent) is that she won some awards and got distribution from Netflix, so hopefully it'll be easier for her to finance the next project.
  11. So, how was TIFF for you, Darren? And Anders, were you able to catch any films? Aside from Jessica having the gall to come down with walking pneumonia - and thus we got our first taste of Canadian healthcare - we had a splendid festival. We missed Koreeda's latest, due to spending an afternoon in a walk-in clinic, but we still managed to see 21 films in 10 days. My favorite films were Lapid's Synonyms (second 5-star review of the year), The Cave, Zombi Child, Pain and Glory, and La Belle Epoque; but I also highly recommend Hearts and Bones, Les Miserables, and Beanpole. The two disappointments were Wet Season (a big letdown after Ilo Ilo) and Atlantics (which I pretty much hated). Take home lessons after 6 years of TIFF: - no more premieres at Roy Thompson - totally shitty movie venue - cram in more films for the first half, before all the directors and actors go home (I should've figured this out after 2-3 years, but I'm a slow learner) - TIFF membership is totally worth it, for earlier access to tix in general, as well as premiere tickets specifically
  12. Copied from Letterbox'd: Hustlers is currently 88% at Rotten Tomatoes, giving more evidence, if needed, that I am hopelessly out of touch with critical consensus. It's not that this is a bad movie (morally or artistically), but it is a dully predictable one, lacking the character development of Molly's Game or the guts to be judgmental of The Wolf of Wall Street (a movie that similarly underwhelmed me). JLo is fine, but neither Constance nor Destiny is particularly interesting, so there is no payoff emotionally in the deteriorating of their relationship or the choices they make about it. I think, remembering Siskel's famous maxim that a movie needs to be more interesting than a documentary about the people who made it eating lunch, that this sort of movie is more interesting to write about (or to read women's writing about) than it is to actually watch. Despite short scenes and heavy lean on montage elision to hit only the highlights, it draaaaags, reminding me that so much of the pleasure of Molly's Game was in Sorkin's writing. Scafaria also wrote Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I despised, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which I liked much more than most. Looking back over my review of Seeking a Friend, I see part of what I appreciated about it was that it took time to build on its premise and that its characters were self-aware enough to reflect on their situation rather than simply lament it. Hustlers, by contrast, ends with a coda that is as inevitable as it is predictable, one that reduces what we've just seen to a metaphor rather than a symbol. I did like a scene where Destiny listens on the phone to one of her victims. It is in this scene that the film looks down the path of really examining the hustlers' actions and motivations before deciding, screw it, that's just too hard, let's just make that a conflict for this scene and not the whole movie. P.S. Lili Reinhart, so good in Miss Stevens, is wasted here. I see from looking up her filmography that according to RT, Miss Stevens made a whopping four thousand, four hundred dollars at the box office, which is probably less than Reinhart made for each minute her character was on the screen in Hustlers. If it is, at least some good came from this movie.
  13. Just a quick note to say that Hustlers earned $33.2 million over the weekend, which gives it (i) the 2nd-best opening of any R-rated film directed by a woman (behind Fifty Shades of Grey), (ii) the 10th-best opening of any live-action film (co-)directed by a woman, and (iii) the 16th-best opening of any film (co-)directed by a woman, as far as I can tell. (The live-action films are in bold below.) 2019 Captain Marvel (co-directed) $153.4 million 2017 Wonder Woman (dir. Patty Jenkins) $103.3 million 2015 Fifty Shades of Grey (dir. Sam Taylor-Johnson) $85.2 million 2008 Twilight (dir. Catherine Hardwicke) $69.6 million 2012 Pitch Perfect 2 (dir. Elizabeth Banks) $69.2 million 2013 Frozen (co-directed) $67.4 million 2012 Brave (co-directed) $66.3 million 2009 Alvin & the Chipmunks 2 (dir. Betty Thomas) $48.9 million 2011 Kung Fu Panda 2 (dir. Jennifer Yuh Nelson) $47.7 million 2004 Shark Tale (co-directed) $47.4 million 2001 Shrek (co-directed) $42.3 million 2016 Kung Fu Panda 3 (co-directed) $41.3 million 1998 Deep Impact (dir. Mimi Leder) $41.2 million 2009 The Proposal (dir. Anne Fletcher) $33.6 million 2000 What Women Want (dir. Nancy Meyers) $33.6 million 2019 Hustlers (dir. Lorene Scafaria) $33.2 million 2018 A Wrinkle in Time (dir. Ava DuVernay) $33.1 million 2014 Unbroken (dir. Angelina Jolie) $30.6 million 1998 Doctor Dolittle (dir. Betty Thomas) $29.0 million 2008 Mamma Mia! (dir. Phyllida Lloyd) $27.8 million Time will tell if Hustlers ends up joining the $100 million club. Given how it kept surpassing all the estimates before and at the beginning of the weekend, though, I'd say it has the momentum to do so -- for now, at least.
  14. THE DRESSER (1983) At the opening of the movie, the title character polishes a silver plate commemorating a performance of Hamlet, 21st March, 1929
  15. Earlier
  16. Joyce and Hopper's meanderings could stand to be cut a bit, certainly. I guess that could trim off one episode. I'm still not sure there's enough dead wood in the remainder to cut another. (Again, lots of things could have been better, but the better version wouldn't necessarily be shorter.)
  17. FWIW, Audible has been adding lots of Gore Vidal novels lately--mostly from his Narratives of Empire series, but they've also just added Julian, Myra Breckinridge, and Duluth.
  18. When I have time I will provide an episode by episode rebuttal. All those elements could have been addressed in six episodes, or handled in ways that could have been more dramatically engaging in eight. How many episodes were Joyce and Hopper puttering around vs moving forward? (Six).
  19. For Season 2, yes, I don't disagree. For Season 3, I don't think so. Here are some things that Season 3 did: Introduced several hilarious new characters; Made more interesting use of El's powers, as the first time they really advance the drama, not just the plot (if that distinction makes sense): consider the scene where it's revealed that's she's used it rather unethically, though not with premeditated malice; Made more interesting use of Billy, who at first is a textbook ladykiller, i.e. someone whom we want to die, in accordance with horror tropes, and who then becomes more complex (almost, in a way, the replacement for the abused child El in Season 1); Finally brought the El/Mike ship in - this was in preparation since Season 1, of course, but it would be unsatisfying not to see it; Gave Brett Gelman a few more scenes to steal; Developed the odd couple/buddy cop dynamic of Steve and Dustin (consider the single line "If you die, I die," which hits harder than any number of lengthy speeches in war movies); Made Will more interesting than before, as the boy who, for the first time, is aware of his role as the conservative in the group of adolescents, the one who is pained and bewildered by the changes wrought by all these newfangled hormones (Noah Schnapp is a genuinely talented actor, and this is the first chance the show has really given him to show that); Developed the queer themes that were always latent in the show and would have rankled if not addressed, primarily through a candid, drug-assisted conversation in a later episode between two older teen characters, but prepared by an incredibly cutting line from a younger teen character several episodes before; Gave a certain 80s fantasy film genuine dramatic weight, not just nostalgic value, in a brilliant scene reminiscent of Magnolia; Developed a teenage-reporter storyline featuring a girl reporter and a boy photographer, without which a certain artistic integrity would have been lacking. Not everything in Season 3 was successful, of course, but I think it would have been hard pressed to compress all this further than it already was compressed. it could have been better, but I'm not sure that it could have been shorter.
  20. A report from Allocine via One Big Soul: Mark Rylance will play Satan in The Last Planet, with Géza Röhrig as Jesus and Matthias Schoenaerts as the apostle Peter:
  21. kenmorefield

    Indigo Girls

    No thread for Amy and Emily? I guess that surprises me a little. Anyhow, Cindy and I caught their latest concert in Durham last night. I'll leave for more honed music critics to discuss the music. I was struck, not for the first time, by the palpable, powerful positive energy in the center. I would hardly be the first to comment about how the modern rock concert has easily supplanted church (or the evangelical "crusade") as the mass meet-up for a "spiritual" experience. (Nick Hornby includes the sports arena in that equation, and I don't think he's wrong.) The things that are supposed to happen in church but rarely do seem to happen a bit more frequently. People come together with shared purpose and shared experiences to....well, commune. Commune with "what," is a valid question. The answer would take longer than I have at the moment to explore deeply. I just know that when they sang Galileo as part of the encore that the audience cosigned more so than I've ever heard a congregation cosign a hymn. People seemed to come not just to be entertained but because the music expressed something in and about them that wasn't finding expression in other venues. (Emily spoke about this tangentially before introducing a new song for a forthcoming album about growing up gay listening to country radio.) I don't quite have the same emotional pull to the music. For me the IG is a "like" not necessarily "love" relationship. I understand the sentiments of "Closer to Fine" : There's more than one answer to these questions Pointing me in a crooked line And the less I seek my source for some definitive The closer I am to fine, yeah The closer I am to fine, yeah I suppose I've felt something akin to that, though on an emotional level I always *feel* it more authentically when, say, Billy Joel sings "Shades of Grey" Some things were perfectly clear, seen with the vision of youth No doubts and nothing to fear, I claimed the corner on truth These days it's harder to say I know what I'm fighting for My faith is falling away I'm not that sure anymore Shades of grey wherever I go The more I find out the less that I know Black and white is how it should be But shades of grey are the colors I see I suppose on one level, the IG attention to Galileo makes "Closer to Fine" feel more like a repudiation of orthodoxy rather than an embrace of doubt (which is itself a step removed from a reverence for mystery.) There's a difference between saying, "I'm not sure of the truth," and "the truth in unknowable," and "the truth is just a construct created by the church as a social control mechanism." That said, listening to Emily sing about being gay and listening to country radio, a song that felt on-the-nose to me, I couldn't help but observe how many people recognized and felt deeply the emotions she was talking about. They were a deep longing for love and acceptance and a desire to reconcile one's own self to what had been a source of comfort -- spirituality, religion, God. I felt like I understood that *some* bitterness of gays towards Christians wasn't as much about personal rejection (you don't like/approve of me, so I dislike you back) so much as a fierce sense of loss and withholding (you are trying to keep from me something that I need to be whole). There's definitely a sense of envy in the song...I wish I could be like everyone else. But I'm not. Aside from the whole island of misfit toys vibe, there is often something else at such concerts that I too often find missing from church, or really any Christian communion: joy. The joy of musicians playing together, taking pleasure in one another's talents, spurring one-another to do better and go higher. Joy in finally releasing or giving expression to something that has been held in or held in check. Emily mentioned being thankful because the IG had played Durham "not that long ago" and yet "you came back." So it's not just joy in the audience, it was the joy of performing and of being welcome, being wanted. That's a powerful lure, whether you are famous or just a person. Anyhow, it was a delightful show, and I was surprised to find going home that the IG had done a cover of "Romeo & Juliet" from Dire Straits on their fourth album, so I think I need to order that.
  22. Come to think of it, wasn't The Golden Lion another Batman villain in the 60s?
  23. I don't know how the "Way Back" machine works, but in the past when I wanted to access an a Sopranos article I wrote for MHP, Peter found it via that site's archive of past Internet pages.
  24. Just seeing these last few posts, and just... no. I don't care about Rebels, and I don't consider this trilogy "canon," but still, that would be the cheapest storytelling cop-out in any of the films so far.
  25. Scrolling through this thread again, I'm alarmed to rediscover that the old Matthews House Project site is long gone, and I'm wondering: Is there any way to access Stef's review of the live-performance screening that is highlighted in early in this thread?
  26. kenmorefield

    808 (2015)

    I saw this movie four years ago at SXSW and it has kind of grown on me. I did find the last half hour a bit dragging, though I wonder if that is because it corresponds to the time I went to graduate school and stopped being abreast of popular music. Even so, the first hour is crackerjack, and I love the very last scene as well. (The notion of one man having such a profound influence on music and the idea of the accidental reason for the 808's distinctive sound are both examples of small things that have profound ripples.) Mostly though, as someone unfamiliar with music beyond what I like, it was fascinating to see and *hear* the connections between Phil Collins and Marvin Gaye or Usher and the Shannon. I don't think I'll ever be a Hip-hop fan, but this documentary certainly helped me understand and appreciate music, even music that is not my favorite, better.
  27. Matt Zoller Seitz is crowdfunding a book on deadwood, called A Lie Agreed Upon.
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