• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by kenmorefield

  1. The first season is fairly strong. Not as good as The Good Wife at its peak, but better than it was at the end. There's a pretty great illustration of the mechanisms of fake news, reminding us of what the show is good at -- illustrating complex modern ideas through narrative. Also, I'll cop to thinking Diane is a more interesting character than Alicia was. "Life has a way of reminding you who you are." Indeed. The best thing, though, is getting away from Lockhart-Gardner, where the in-house politics became a distracting self-parody. The new firm has some politicking, of course, but the racial wrinkle is interesting and it the office politics becomes more about self-definition than the Machiavellian maneuvers themselves. Rose Leslie's thread feels dull. Maybe that's because she's new and we know DIane, but she just feels like she's in a Damages retread. Her character's incidental lesbianism is perhaps relevant in a social/cultural context but doesn't really add much to the story. I'd be happy to stick with S2, but only to the extent they keep Christine Baranski around.
  2. Last week I was screening Last Vegas, a middling comedy about aging and male friendship, and I had that experience where, somewhat bored by the film, I thought, "You know what was a better film about [whatever the subject of the film was about]?" So instead of going home and writing a review of Last Vegas, I wrote a review of Shepard & Dark, which I thought also about male friendship but done better. Today Ender's Game opened, and I didn't hate it, but I thought about how much I really liked Searching for Bobby Fischer, another film about a child genius in a hyper-competitive environment. I put a tag for such films on my blog, and started my own list on Letterbox'd, but I thought I might mention it here if people come up with one. The (unenforceable) parameters) are: 1) A (somewhat) new film... 2) that reminds you (thematically or, heck, even formally) of another film... 3) that you liked/appreciated/esteemed better than the new film. If you have/have had that experience, feel free to share your recommendations here.
  3. There's nothing quite like revisiting a movie from your teen years and saying, "wow, how did I miss that?"
  4. I've done a 10 Years Later piece on No Country, which debuted (is that a word) at Cannes in 2007.
  5. I will be surprised if 1/2 the reviews of Song to Song don't have a "glass houses" reference and the other half don't include something about "beside still waters."
  6. This surprised in a couple ways. Under embargo for another day or two, and I want to pair it with another film at SXSW depicting atheism, so no time for a full review right now, but I will say it struck me as somewhat cynical about O'Hair and thus wasn't entirely the pro-atheism, anti-Christianity screed I expected. There are some stereotypes to be sure, but it isn't all one sided.
  7. Yeah, they actually told us he was going to be at that panel, but they scheduled it the same time as the American Gods premiere. Sigh. Such is life at a festival. I was talking to a friend yesterday and I said that Malick doesn't seem to me like he conceives of narratives in terms of scenes, so it's like we have the same vocabulary but a different grammar. For me, watching a Malick film is a bit like listening to someone used to speaking another language trying to explain his ideas in English. I can get the gist of it, but it's hard to stay engaged.
  8. So, yeah, that scene with Bilquis is definitely in the pilot. Is it just me or do HBO, Starz, and Cinemax have their own NC-17 style? There's a lot to like here. Gaiman gave a a video message to SXSW saying he loved the adaptation, and Fuller and Greene said they've messed with timeline a little and tried to bulk up female presences. Pablo Schrieber and Betty Gilpin kinda steal the pilot, and I'm wondering if Shadow is going to become overshadowed by the huge cast of more colorful supporting characters. Still thinking about: they moved the funeral home scene to a (I think Roman Catholic) Church. I suppose it is understandable for a TV audience to underline themes, but it seemed wrong for the characters and was the one place the first episode made me scratchy.
  9. Actually the clause as written says Paul Thomas Anderson, but it was amended a few years ago to make the punishment, while still on the books, slightly less severe.
  10. I have done my Christian cinephile duty. Not sure what all to tell you. I'm the least reliable judge of Malick I know. I felt like I at least understood what was going on, plot wise, and I've made some progress in articulating to myself why I'm so not on Team Terence. Fassbender said at intro that it was hard to learn his lines because Malick was constantly rewriting. That surprised me. (He said Malick let him "read" his lines, least that's what I thought he said.) I looked at my watch a dozen times, but I never felt the desperation for it to be over that I did in Tree of Life. I think any random 15 seconds in a TM film is most likely the most beautiful thing you ever saw....and any random 30 minutes feels 20 minutes too long. Still, I made a concentrated effort to not care about plot...or, rather about words...about dialogue as the primary means to advance the plot. It's gorgeous to look at and Portman and Gosling acquit themselves quite well. (I think Mara is great, but I was never convinced she was who the film says she was.) I think fans will probably love least I hope so for their sake.
  11. I found it...numbing. Not in a particularly good way. It's not a bad movie, I suppose, but it just all becomes about action special effects and there is no emotional weight. But I guess that's what people want in the movies. Sort of like Jurassic World only with even less plot, less emotion, less stakes. Brie Larson sure looks pretty, though.
  12. Given that SXSW is doing a retro screening of Alien with Scott, Fassbender, and McBride in attendance, I'm wondering if this will be the advertised "Secret Screening"? P.S. Hmmm...and they just added Franco's Disaster Artist to the Midnigher's Screening, so
  13. Hi Rob, thanks for de-lurking and sharing your thoughts.
  14. Link to 2015 Jury Thread Link to 2014 Jury Thread Greetings colleague. Subsequent to our discussion on the exploratory thread and via e-mail, I am creating a nominations thread for this year's jury. If you haven't already done so, please reply to the poll. Once I have results, I will edit this initial thread to indicate dates and deadlines. As in years past, the second message in this thread will keep a running tally of nominated films. Colin unfortunately had to drop out this year, as did Alissa and Lauren. If anyone wants to take point on dealing with publicists for possible screeners, let me know. If not, I'll probably send an e-mail in a week or two asking you to confirm e-mail or mailing address if you opt-in to screener requests. (Alternately, we can put it on individual critics who are having a hard time getting access to a particular film to message me or one of the other members who gets screeners and request contact information for publicist.) Also, please let me know if you would like your primary affiliation to be other than what is listed below. 2016 Jury Kenneth R. Morefield -- 1More Film Blog Evan Cogswell -- Catholic Cinephile Christian Hamaker -- Crosswalk Josh Hamm -- Cut Print Film Joel Mayward -- Cinemayward M. Leary -- Filmwell Gareth Higgins -- God is Not Elswhere Steven D. Greydanus -- Decent Films Peter T. Chattaway -- FilmChat Noel T. Manning II -- WGWG Jeffrey Overstreet -- Christianity Today Anders Bergstrom -- 3 Brothers Film Jessica Gibson -- Freelance/Christ & Pop Culture
  15. You might try following Trump Regrets on Twitter ( ). The retweets are pretty scattershot, but you may see patterns of things that (some) Trump voters recognize as a problem. The most consistent complaints I've heard are about temperament/demeanor (and ironically his use of Twitter). I find the threads depressing in a "what did you think was going to happen?" mode, and I don't interact with it at all, but it is anecdotally helpful at getting a lens into what people think is a problem. Of course there are also the "why isn't Hillary in jail yet?" complaints and the "you should not have accepted Flynn's resignation" complaints that he's not conservative enough....
  16. There are some scene adaptations in The Learning Chanel's GREAT BOOKS series. These are pretty hokey, but the interviews with academics are quite helpful. The series claims that that Wright was offered (20K? 30K?) for the rights in 1930s but only on condition that Bigger be changed to a white protagonist.
  17. On second viewing the film's tendency to underline its points is a bit more noticeable. (As Evan points out, the prayer is said twice, not once.) That means it doesn't benefit from repeat viewings as much as some films typically in my Top 10, but it still packs a lot of emotional punch. I find something a little unsatisfying about the denouement. Erwin's introducing her to friends and pulling her into circle seems to harken back to the party and could appear to be saying that Nadine is still dependent on guy/friend, just substituted one for the other. But the film is really smart about grief and depression, so big points for that. And I continue to think the of the scene in the Mercury as an answer to prayer even though I can't find anything overtly in the film that announces it as such...
  18. I wouldn't. But maybe that's just me. I think you are trying, seemingly in vain, to convince yourself that if you do it right, say it right, whatever that the interactions will be more effective. I think the nature of social media means you need only a small but committed group of trolls to derail any conversation or exhaust any sincere efforts at dialogue. In the wake of the election I've been thinking a lot about the interview I did at SXSW last year with Daryl Davis. As a reminder, he was the subject of Accidental Courtesy, a documentary about how he "befriended" many Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists, and how dozens of people he had interacted with had eventually left the Klan. I kept circling back to two questions: 1) Can anyone do what you do? 2) Were there people who were non-responsive, and how did you separate them from those who were worth a huge investment of time and energy? In my mind, the film was a sideways look at what many Christians think about when they refer to "friendship evangelism" as opposed to proclamation or contact evangelism. It's hard to condense a three hour interview into one or two bullet points and then apply it to a parallel track, but I would say, based on lessons I learned, that success has less to do with framing the issues or persuasion than it does about: being informed. (Davis said he often knew more about the Klan, its history, and practices than did the white supremacists with whom he talked.) being emotionally diffident. (My word, not his.) Persuasion doesn't work with some people, because persuasion, by its nature is a *rational* appeal, and some positions are not rational nor borne of reason. That's not to say no Trump supporter (or white supremacist in Davis's example) is capable of reason. Just that the origins of their behavior are more often rooted in emotions than rational pragmatism. In my experience, it's usually borne of fear and/or anger. Those emotions trigger lizard brain (amygdala?) and rational persuasion gets drowned by the neural pathways that have been trained to be afraid, constantly afraid. loving and serving people even when they are hateful (or full of hate). That's admittedly hard. And some people try to do it but for tactical reasons ... hey, I'll earn the right to tell you the truth by loving you. Again, this is my observation rather than Davis's, but I think if one is motivated by tactical reasons, one's patience will eventually wear out. Loving people can't be the strategic prelude to a "gotcha" end game. Anyone changing his/her heart or mind about anything is a miracle, and I believe God usually (always?) has a hand in it. For my part, my response to Trump presidency is to try to be more loving. I haven't done as much of this, but I've also been helped by reading about transition of South Africa from Apartheid to post-Apartheid...what were the purposes of truth and reconciliation? How did that work? What new grievances were created? (White liberals who felt they were anti-Apartheid but were not distinguished from more racist counterparts once they became minority...?) Documentaries like The Ruins of Lifta and Peacemaker (violence in Northern Ireland) help me learn about other times in world history where governments/nations have had to deal with entrenched, implacable ideological conflicts that had led to schisms. These admittedly have not helped me tactically (just emulated so-and-so's-policy) but they have helped me better understand that emotions that feed into the people involved in such deeply-rooted conflicts, particularly those who have been exposed to them over time and have, perhaps, become emotionally or psychologically crippled. I guess what I'm saying, summarily, is that I *don't* think we are in a realm right now where our primary problems are rational ones and the way out of them is being being persuasive. I think our (i.e. America's) bigger problems right now are emotional and spiritual, and solving going to involve something different from how we've approached ideological or social conflicts in the pre-social media days.
  19. Per Steven's comment above, I think he's more concerned with trashing Man of Steel than reviewing Lego Batman Movie. Nothing wrong with that, but I certainly sense that he might have entered the theater with some pre-existing animus towards DC that you don't have.
  20. Gonna be in the Episodic program at SXSW. Look forward to seeing pilot.
  21. Per Greg Wolfe, results will be published at Image Good Letters blog on Feb. 22 and 23rd.
  22. Not to sound like a broken record, but please go see EDGE OF SEVENTEEN if you haven't.
  23. Woody Harrelson's character in Edge of Seventeen would break that stereotype.
  24. Was super fortunate to get to interview Barbara Kopple this week about her latest film. Here's the link over at NCFCA website:
  25. ***Spoilers**** FWIW, I've seen Manchester Three Times now, not because of huge affinity but through a fluke of circumstances. I agree that Kenny's articulation is overwrought, but that's par for the Internet. I also agree that some of his criticisms of the film have germs of truth in them. Still, I dislike the tendency to explode qualifications into disqualifications, and my own viewings have mediated some of those criticisms in my mind. Specifically, there appear to be three charges against the movie: 1) That it is uncinematic. 2) That Lee rejects opportunities to be of genuine service to others in favor of 3) Self-pity. Kenny himself acknowledges that #1 may not be "fair." The reference to montage is one I relate to. I'm not a huge fan of montage, but it is a valid technique in cinema. (A second viewing of La La Land reminded me of just how much montage is there, too.) The use of music in the scene he refers to is heavy-handed, and I agree with Kenny that the writing here is stronger than the visuals. But the use of montage not withstanding, I thought this a skillfully edited film. I've evaluated a lot of student films in the past five years and I can tell you that *any* technique can be done poorly or well. How long he holds certain shots, when he cuts in and out of scenes are all cinematic decisions that serve the film well. Number two is overstated. Lee does serve his brother and nephew. True, he does not do everything they ask, but neither does he simply reject the call to serve them entirely. He struggles to balance service with self-care. I suspect the core of Kenny's aversion (and I think that is what it is, not critique but dislike) stems from #3. Others are more qualified and suited than I am to talk about clinical depression and the dangers of labeling Lee's behaviors as stemming from self-pity. I want to suggest something different: Lee's problem is not that he is too self-pitying, it is that those around him are too forgiving. For me, it is very, very significant that Lee tries to kill himself not in the immediate aftermath of his children's death but after the police excuse him from responsibility. I think he senses the path to healing is some measure of taking responsibility and doing that is being denied to him. There is a suggestion that his ex-wife was cruel in the immediate aftermath, saying there was no hope of forgiveness or redemption. On the other extreme, the police say there is no *need* for forgiveness or redemption, only pity. Most people I know who are addicted to self-pity are that way b/c they don't get it from any other quarter. Lee gets too much. I don't think he is addicted to self-pity, I think he is addicted to self-punishment. And I get that entirely. The soul feels more revulsion at being told the universe is indifferent than that it is hostile. In many ways, Manchester by the Sea was, for me, the mirror image of Edge of Seventeen. Both films were about self-destructive characters who act out because of pain and who respond negatively to those who excuse them because on some level they know they are being a--holes. Yet it is hard for them to stop because on some level they want to be punished, and kind responses to their acting out makes them feel worse than the beatings they think they deserve. The mystery that I've been pondering is whether there is something other than luck or chance that makes one character/person more successful in being self-destructive than another. I disagree with the cops who say what happened to Lee's children was an accident that could have happened to anyone. Anyone could be victim of an accident, but Lee's situation was exacerbated by alcoholism and cocaine, so not everyone would have made the same mistake....and there may have been time to correct it and avoid tragedy if he hadn't been walking instead of driving. What is true, though, is that (almost?) all of us have done stupid things that could just as easily have resulted in tragic consequences. I think it is the awareness of that fact that causes the cops to overstate Lee's absolution from blame, and I think this ultimately messes Lee up more than it helps him. What I find most pitiable about Lee's situation is not that he acted carelessly in a manner that led to the death of his own children (though that is tragic enough) but that he lives in an age and place where steps towards soul healing are sabotaged by a culture that has different concerns than the soul and doesn't understand (or care) how grieving, depression, and spiritual anguish work.