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Everything posted by kenmorefield

  1. They are *usually* quotes. If it is a thought or note to myself or a comment, I'll *usually* put a box around it, and none of these had that.
  2. I have created a free March Madness pick'em bracket at Yahoo! for A&F. One entry (bracket) per person. It's free. Winner gets, oh, I don't know...let's say a free Blu-ray copy of Liam Neeson's TAKEN: 2 disc extended cut, because you will have demonstrated a very special set of skills. https://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/group/122849/invitation?key=3af77d70542a48ba&soc_trk=lnk
  3. I have a stack of $1 notebooks from Target that I keep on my bookshelf and I use to take notes for DVDs or screenings. Most of the time I will come home from a screening, write a review (from my notes) and then destroy the notes. Occasionally, I will keep the notes because I haven't reviewed the film yet (there's an embargo) or I am on the fence about reviewing, etc. Then, when looking for a clean notebook, I'll find a bunch of notes and wonder, "Have I reviewed this yet, or did I decide not to?" So, here are my notes...can anyone tell me what movie I was watching? "I guess you call your lustful action love." "I hope you're proud." "I know both these young people." "We're still not married. Neither of us cares what that means." "You gotta say grace." Edit: I will sometime scour my Letterboxd log for help, but I have no idea: https://letterboxd.com/kenmorefield/films/diary/
  4. Our recent iteration of the A&F Top 25 has got be looking at how other lists were made and (especially the Top 100) posted. While several of these were announced at other places, like the IMAGE good letters, the primary lists and blurbs were/are housed here (often times on separately created pages). This is slightly different than the Ecumenical Jury which has been discussed here but written up elsewhere (IMAGE, Transpositions). That process in conjunction with board software upgrades (which are often beyond my technical capabilities to find and about which I've just been paying someone to do) has gotten me thinking about being intentional as far as creating backups or archives for parts of A&F content we want to preserve. I haven't gotten into details with anyone yet, but we came very close to losing all of the past A&F content when I bought the site from IMAGE. It was nobody's fault, but the web hosting expired and reminders that content was about to be deleted was going to e-mails that were no longer actively used as IMAGE staff had left or moved on. I bring that up because were something to happen to me, I could see the same thing happening as far nobody else having access to the board's control panel or having access to the various passwords for software license, hosting, domain registration, etc., all of which are with different companies. Right now J.A.A. Purves has been left as Administrator (carried over from IMAGE) for that very reason. He said that was okay for a stopgap, but he's not regularly here. Eventually, I'll probably ask Joel or Andrew to go from Moderator to Admin so they can take care of the board issues if I have some sort of short term absence. But that's a longer context to say that we may want to think about creating archives or backups that are separate from me in case this board/web site ever goes away...at least for parts of it...the various Top 100 lists and Top 25 lists and discussions surrounding them are probably things worth preserving. Are there other threads or forums? And what would be the best way of simply and easily creating backups of that content?
  5. Ditto Running From Crazy which I've already pushed here and in its own thread. FWIW, I have made an effort to screen a couple nominated films that I hadn't seen already (What They Had, The Shootist, though I haven't tracked down I'm Going Home or Smashed yet. Also, I am probably going to invite some laughter with this comment, but has anyone seen the Halloween reboot? I am so not a horror fan, so I have been unable to make myself watch it, but I've been told by one or two people that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is older and that in some ways the movie is allegedly about the effects of growing up in a horror franchise.
  6. kenmorefield

    Greta (2019)

    It's hard for me to articulate how deeply I loathed this movie. It didn't provoke the white-hot anger that one gets when one is offended by laziness, crassness, or incompetence. It was just a listless, hopeless sort of loathing that what I was watching was never going to have any sort of pay off, any sort of compensation for experiencing another drip in the drip-drip-drip accumulation of movies (and shows) built around nothing and about nothing but terrorizing (usually) women. It didn't help that I generally like these performers. That just adds to my depression that there is nothing better out there for Moretz and Huppert (and presumably Jordan?) to do. There's a place at the end where--well, no I guess I won't give away "spoilers" (though, honestly whoever watches the first half of this movie and doesn't know how certain scenes in the second half are going to go is not someone I would have an otherwise deep conversation with)...let's just say it's the kind of movie, especially in the end, where we are supposed to root for cruelty and pain and suffering, allegedly as some sort of catharsis, I guess. The basic formula of these sort of movies is, I guess, let's subject a character to a lot of crap so that we can feel justified when the tables are turned. This is not a movie that is particularly worse than a lot of other terror-schlock, that's the worse part of it. If it were exceptionally bad, there would at least be comfort in that. Instead, it is just depressingly normal, and that makes you realize just how bad so many movies are.
  7. kenmorefield

    Ordet (1955)

    I will confess that it still kind of rankles me the way that Anne is "given" by Peter as some sort of reward/compensation for Inger's loss. I understand and think it is important that Anne and Anders are genuinely in love. I also understand that this sort of complementarianism is typical of the time and place, but Dreyer and Munk are capable of depicting other practices/ideas, even ones that were orthodox for time and place, and criticizing them. There are even parts of Inger's character and interactions with Morten that are more progressive, that go beyond the woman on a pedestal or woman as symbol of virtue that is typical in some complementarian societies. I get all that. But I do admit to finding the treatment of Anne (and to a lesser extent, Anders) at the end to be celebrated rather than interrogated. I'm also not a huge fan of the slow pans, I'll be honest. Based on production photos from Crterion, I *suspect* (but don't know) that this has to do with the size of the camera, the interior setting, and the desire not to do multiple takes. Sometimes these are pans back and forth within a room, sometimes slow adjustments to center image or create a more balanced mise-en-scene for a scene. Again, I suspect, but don't know, that this contributes to the tendency of the characters (Johannes and Mikkel especially to shuffle (walk very slowly) indoors so that they don't outrun the camera. I don't mind a deliberate pace for theme's sake, but this struck me more as a technical problem, and for the first time last time, I found myself distracted at times by camera movement rather than being unaware or appreciative of it. I was actually somewhat impressed by the exchange where Morten says something to the effect that Anders *let* Peter kick him out and Andres replies that he wouldn't have done so except that he loves Anne. This actually shows a certain amount of maturity and insight, whether I parse it as him not wanting to further antagonize Peter, make things worse for Anne, or recognizes his own Christian duty to try to honor her father even when he is being a jackass. ******* On a different note, I ordered the play but haven't read it yet. I saw a note in Wikipedia (who knows?) that the play contains a reference to a backstory of Johannes being driven mad by a failed love affair. If this is so, I think the change to him being driven mad by Kierkegaard is even more important, though I'll hold off on saying more until I confirm that detail from the play. I had an interesting conversation this week with a professor of New Testament studies on the Gospel of John, and Ordet appears to invoke Johannine themes more than those of other gospels. (Johannes's name, the title of the play/film, the gospel verse he leaves, and the emphasis on "signs" or "miracles.") I was not aware of the debate within theology about "sign faith" (faith in response to miracles or signs rather than in response to...testimony, hearing the word, etc.) In the context of that theme, I see nothing in the film that suggests Mikkel's faith (at the end) is inferior to that of those who believe without signs (i.e. Maren). In fact, iirc, he says to Inger that he has finally found "your faith," suggesting that the faith that they share at the end is no different despite the different ways they arrived at it.
  8. kenmorefield

    Horse Money

    This film is screening on MUBI for the next 30 days.
  9. kenmorefield

    Free Solo

    Did the film "show that he's *not* autistic" or did it simply not say directly that he was? If the former, then you might say that the film was being misleading...at least if others are right. If the latter, I think what you are trying to say is that you are taking the film (and Alex) on its/his own terms rather than presuming a diagnosis that isn't specifically stated. I have something I want to say about this broader subject, outside the film itself, but I figure I'll probably muck it up, so perhaps Andrew can help if I say anything too ignorant. Can people with Autism (or Asperger's, or other conditions) also be a--holes? The implication of some of the discussion around Free Solo and the seeming inference of your correspondent is that if you recognized the diagnosis (or had it confirmed), Alex should get a pass for everything he says and does in the film. There is a balance to be drawn between empathy/compassion and accountability. I'm certainly not always great at keeping that balance, but I also feel like we as a culture prefer either/or to both/and, and this desire for one or the other seems more prevalent in dealing with certain types of mental illness. We recognize some people are alcoholics yet AA advocates as part of their "treatment" accountability for actions taken, even under the influence of an addiction that those in 12-step programs claim to be "powerless" over. We may alter our expectations or approach to dealing with kids with ADD or ADHD but does that mean we can never correct them or call them on it when they are being impatient or lazy? If someone is in a manic stage of bipolar disorder, does that mean he/she can't also be a jerk, or is every negative thing they do a direct product or byproduct of their illness? I recently had a taxing and unfun social interaction with three other people, one of whom was being a boor. I'll spare the details. After 2-3 hours of what should have been a fun 1 hour but was drawn out through negative behavior, we were done and packing up when there was one more interaction. Without raising my voice or getting angry, I pointed out how the person's last demand was socially unacceptable but he kept doubling down to the point where I finally said, okay, I prefer not to interact with you further at this social event. At that point, he grabbed my arm, demanded that I should not get "upset" (even though he was the one who was upset) and declared, "it's just my OCD." I thought, but didn't say, "I've met and interacted with people with OCD before, and not all of them are a--holes." Is "narcissistic" a diagnosis? I ask because you state repeatedly that you don't want to diagnose, and that is admirable. By the same token, all sorts of diagnoses enter into the popular vocabulary, and some come to mean something more or less than the clinical definitions. I wonder if something like this is happening or could happen with things like Asperberger's? I would think the more pronounced the medical condition, the less likely it would be to become a general descriptor, but when we were kids growing up, we'd say things like "he's retarded" or "that's retarded" all the time. Now we know that is offensive (some find the label offensive even in a technical sense). But my point is we probably even knew as kids that there was an actual condition and not everyone whose behavior was labeled as such was being diagnosed. Although not a perfect solution (nor one I follow perfectly), it probably helps to separate labels of people (diagnoses) from labels of behavior. It is interesting to me that you say Alex "comes across as" rather than Alex "does things that are..." I don't mean that as a correction. Just an observation that the line between someone who does things that are robotic and a robot or someone who does things that are narcissistic and a narcissist is pretty thin.
  10. kenmorefield


    I saw this at a film festival and thought about the piece I wrote after Beasts of No Nation at TIFF regarding compassion fatigue and first-world guilt. I don't dispute that the film is harrowing, but for me it was to the point where I wasn't drawn in, keeping my sadness, anger, compassion, all emotions, really, at a safe arm's length. I felt like I had seen this story before and would again, perhaps with different names and faces but the same message. Perhaps I was numb and the film would play better outside of a now...this festival setting.
  11. I would be interested (though not interested enough to do the work myself) of the 38 negative reviews (currently) at RT of Captain Marvel and the 28 negative reviews of Wonder Woman, how many are by the same critic? Percentage seems like a big thing, and maybe that will go down as more people hop on, but it seems equally plausible to me that the early reviews could be from more demanding audience and later add ons are higher. We'll see. Doesn't seem that great a difference to me. But what would interest me more than the numbers is anyone articulating a substantive difference between the two films that makes them go fresh for one and rotten for the other. From where I sit, all superhero movies are pretty much the same.
  12. Nicholas Cage played Ghost Rider.
  13. I was actually thinking about posting a comment wondering how to reconcile that generally positive reviews with negative buzz. I see Peter has anticipated and answered it. I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about what makes a good comic book movie, but I do think that "buzz" sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling thing or a separate thing from responses to the movie. Hardly the hill I want to die on, but I enjoyed the film, and some of the hyperbole in reviews (positive or negative) is why I read other people's reviews so very, very infrequently.
  14. I did say "winner," but perhaps I should have said "major character" in the MCU. I'll give you Douglas and maybe Nyong'o. Part of what prompts that is wondering if it says anything about the nature and number of roles available for women at all.
  15. I liked it, which is with the crowd but slightly against my past history. I do see some of the complaints -- female themes forced in places (after being handled really well in first half) and fan-servicey 90s stuff. But it avoids the origin story format blahs by making her origin a mystery that is doled out. Also, the action scenes while still kinda boring are not quite as bloated as in recent Marvel films. Larson is fine (is she the only Oscar winner besides Halle Berry in the MCU?). She is smart enough to not over-emote when the script is being more on-the-nose than it has to be. Much like with Wonder Woman, the addition of a male sidekick (in this case Fury) who is not a total wastoid shows there is no reason why females must be so in movies with male heroes. I saw it on IMAX FWIW. I hate 3D and have never recommended a film in 3D, but this was in 2D and the IMAX did suit the scope of the story.
  16. kenmorefield

    Ordet (1955)

    Was watching this today for the first time in several years, preparing for a class. Not much new to add--I have a deeper appreciation for Borgen's assertion that study is what drove Johannes mad. Perhaps because of other things I've been watching lately, I was struck by how much camera movement there was, how Dreyer often prefers panning to cutting. I assume this is primarily a financial consideration (the produciton stills in Criterion DVD show size of camera, so set up and moving it must have been a bear).
  17. You may see some temporary changes as I experiment with the "donate" box and the ad settings. For right now this is to see what they look like. RAW set up the donate box along with doing the latest software upgrades, but I haven't decided when (or for how long) to make them "visible."
  18. FWIW (and, no, I haven't read the book), the practice of intentionally using psychedelics or hallucinogenics to "unlock" the mind is hardly new. Granted, I'm thinking more along the lines of a 19th-Century embrace of the imagination, but I think it not surprising that this movement developed in response to Enlightenment rationalism and the tendency to see the world always and only in materialist terms. There is much to praise in rationalism. But my studies of literature, particularly in the 19th and 20th century, suggest to me that when belief in any sort of transcendent reality is denied, it's absence leaves a vacuum that cannot be filled by hedonism, however pleasurable, or philosophy, however humanistic. Of course, that observation is as old as Ecclesiastes (at least), but I do think such vacuums are particularly suffocating in the airtight materialism of Enlightenment materialism and its descendants. Heck, even the madness of some postmodernism is just an extreme form of hyper-rationalism not being able to live with itself...in my opinion.
  19. I nominated The Queen. Yeah, let's just make this the Stephen Frears list I guess. First, I will get the quibbles out of the way. The screenplay is a bit on the nose, using the device of having secondary characters explain the actions of the protagonist, which is one step above expository dialogue but still can be a bit on-the-nose. Also the "let's leave God out of it" remark from Tony Blair does sort of undercut the spiritual significance, maybe. On the other hand, this is, I think, the film I hoped Unforgiven would be on a re-watch--something about an aging protagonist wrestling with a changing world and unsure whether conforming to it is: a) a tragic concession; b) a tragic capitulation; c) an heroic capitulation; d) something to be avoid, i.e. an heroic retention of past value while the world leaves them behind. On rewatching it, too, I note that Tony Blair's character fits the theme as well since he transitions from young adulthood, representing unalloyed ideological certainty, into a more pragmatic and empathetic middle-age. (His smugness at first meeting queen, followed by comment to his wife about not liking the way people are bullying her, followed by his mini-explosion explaining her actions, followed by his comments watching her address.)
  20. Title: The Queen Director: Stephen Frears Year: 2006 Language: English IMDB Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436697/?ref_=nv_sr_4 YouTube: A&F Thread:
  21. I've been teaching Lit & Film this semester, and my students are required to do a short essay articulating the "ideology" of a film. This exercise has turned out to be harder than I anticipated, and I've found myself repeating umpteen times to undergraduates that the ideology of the film and the ideology of the culture the film depicts are two different things. I say that to frame my own comments and not because I don't think anyone here doesn't realize this. But realizing it and being confronted with how tricky it can be to untangle those things for even well-informed, articulate critics (as opposed to sophomores) has underscored for me how much reviewing or film criticism is in the form of pronouncements. I get that, and I don't mean it as a knock on Brody (or anyone for whom his argument resonates). But as has been frequently pointed out here and elsewhere over the last decade and a half, there is very little formal criticism in what passes for popular film criticism these days. I don't need need to give a midterm study session on the Kuleshov effect to be reminded that one man's "strong, silent, long-enduring, and all-tolerating type" is another man's emblem of unfathomable mystery and another's empty cipher. The key phrase in the paragraph above, for me is "offer working people a chance to speak." It suggests (and yeah, I know Brody is smarter than that and anyone's argument can be word-parsed, but bear with me) that dialogue is the only way to allow character to be revealed and that it's absent always (or at least consistently in the examples cited) means the same thing(s): virtue, resignation, etc. The film(s) that came to my mind, by way of comparison were actually Balthazar and maybe, Mouchette. I've been long enough in the small but real minority who are left cold by the donkey film, perhaps because it is a donkey film. Now there's a symbol of silent, suffering virtue. I make this comparison not to be glib but to defend those who don't like Roma (I was one of them) from the argument that, as Anders says, that the subject matter gives no space for the sorts of expression that Broday wants. I agree with (what I think) Anders (saying) that having her articulate the inner world would be not true to the character or culture. But I also find that defense a bit of a mark against the film. Aren't the great artists supposed to find ways of communicating that interiority even if the subject matter doesn't allow for dialogue? If the best we can say, with Joel, is that we presume it is there, that defends Cuaron on a political/social level but not necessarily on an artistic level. Having now said what I want to say, I'll push this way too far (and regret it) by saying that for its admitted faults, Green Book is a movie that depicts a character (two actually) whose experience doesn't offer the space to express interior complexity, yet also offers (an admittedly hamfisted) example of that character observing the world so that his transformed actions rather than his words point to what is going on inside. It's not my favorite film of 2018, but I'm just a little tired of the Twitter shaming of it and anyone who even marginally enjoyed it/appreciated it, while Roma gets public defenders on all fronts. Roma is a very easy film to defend in certain circles of the world right now, and I get that. Green Book is a very easy film to trash in certain cultural circles, and I get that, too. But I think it is possible that the one is not as good and the other not as awful as its most vocal admirers and critics insist.
  22. I seconded The Shootist, which I re-watched this week. Right now, I kind of have it in the same circle as Interview with a Vampire and, maybe, High Fidelity: movies that fit the theme (as I gloss it) really, really well but which I don't rate as highly as artistic achievements. Some of that is taste/subjective. It's a Don Siegel movie, with Ron Howard being Opie-ish and John Wayne being John Wayne. The stylized gun violence is very dated, and I do prefer the mournfulness of Unforgiven. But... Bacall and Jimmy Stewart and Harry Morgan surround Wayne and help make it clear this film is about death and dying and whether and how that changes someone. That could be an objection, I suppose, in that people may want a list about Growing Older meaning things other than dying. (Is that why nobody has nominated Ikiru?) But surely there is room for people facing mortality on such a list. There is a scene in which Mrs. Rogers tries to get Books to talk to a minister and he responds that death is private and doesn't belong to anyone else, including the minister. I suppose that stoicism is more quintessentially American than spiritually significant, but then again, it is probably spiritually significant in illustrating the attitudes towards death of the period and culture.
  23. kenmorefield

    Never Look Away

    I am looking forward to this as Cindy is a big fan of Gerhard Richter. It hasn't opened in our area yet, though.
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