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Everything posted by kenmorefield

  1. i saw some people tweeting about this. I've got no problem with it; in fact, more content choices, so I'm good. As long as there are people who want to go to movies, I think movie theaters will survive, but there may be particular chains or indie theaters that don't.
  2. P.S. Those expenses don't include the money paid to Jeremy for YouTube trailer. If you liked his work there (I did) and would be interested in maybe seeing other such videos for subsequent Top25s or lists, that would be another reason to chip in.
  3. Hi Everyone, I've turned the donation sidebar on for a week or so in case anyone wishes to contribute to expenses. The cost for the board was about $600 this year. That includes: 1/3 or dharge for Virtual Private Server hosting. (I pay 1/3 since my blog is hosted on the VPS and another organization pays 1/3 since it shares the VPS.) Licensing fees to Invision to use the forum software Domain Registration to GoDaddy Licensing for cpanel (which is used for site maintenance). Donations/honorariium to tech/IT personnel who does stuff like scrub the site when it had malware, design the app for the film lists, upload files when invision gives a new release that might mess up with theme changes we''ve made etc. (Believe me when I say that this is an essential service and we are fortunate to get very steep discounts off market rate). If you would like to contribute, the sidebar is set up to send to my Paypal. I can also sent you a Venmo number if you private message me. Thanks. Ken
  4. James Erskine’s Billie is a little gem of a documentary, more oral history than biography. That is arrives streaming this week with little fanfare is mildly surprising but entirely shocking. Even in non-pandemic years, the vagaries of awards campaigns are many. In the documentary field, it is hard for even a well-financed and distributed film to get much attention. But that’s not the whole story. Billie had a festival run, as many documentaries do. Early responses that I read were muted, with some chiding the film for integrating the story of journalist Linda Lipnak Kuehl, whose taped interviews for a Holiday biography comprise the substance of the documentary’s new information. I found the explanation of how the tapes surfaced to be neither distracting nor superfluous. It is the nature of archival troves that they have not yet been edited and curated, and since Kuehl died before she could finish her project the tapes aren’t necessarily organized is the most linear fashion. But if you’ve ever read one of Studs Terkel’s oral histories, you understand that what is lost in precision is more than compensated for in breadth and immediacy. There is commentary here from Tony Bennett, Count Basie, Jo Jones, Detroit Red…the mere existence of these previously unheard interviews is enough to justify a documentary. I suppose the other possible knock against the Billie is that it is less focused on Holiday herself than some fans might wish. As is the case with oral histories, the film is as much a chronicle of the spaces and places as it is a portrait of any one indvidual. It is full of authenticating details and all the jagged edges of history. Was Holiday fired by John Hammond or did she quit? Was she really pressured to wear blackface because her skin tone was too light? How different were after hours clubs from the more famously chronicled Cotton Club? Did Holiday really carry a hamburger in her purse because she was used to being denied service in segregated areas? For those who aren’t already fans of Holiday, there are a number of performance pieces, highlighted by her peerless rendition of “Strange Fruit.” It is slightly disorienting that some of these are colorized — but in an odd way, even that decision pays dividends. It makes the performances feel less distant, more recent, which in turn underlines how little the emotional effects of racism have changed. View the full article
  5. Starting today, you should notice that there is now a "blog" button on the header-bar. This has duo functionality: 1) Members can create their own blogs that allow them to make longer entries here. My thinking is this is good for people who want to write reviews or longer pieces that may not fit on a thread or who may not want to post in a particular thread. To do this you must first "create" a blog using button in upper right and then "add content." 2) Members can import the feed of their pre-existing blogs. The Arts & Faith feature will stack them by entry, so this is a convenient way of seeing who has created new content at their blogs. Think of it as a blog roll which also provides features. To do this, you must first create a blog and then select "manage blog" and enter the feed for your blog.
  6. kenmorefield


    I saw it at Filmfest 919 (played at a drive-in). But screeners went out to critics' groups last week. If you want to PM me, I can sent you a contact person.
  7. kenmorefield


    Could have sworn i made a thread for this but it looks like I posted in Movie Going During a Pandemic. http://1morefilmblog.com/2020/10/27/nomadland-zhao-2020/ Zhao was given a screenwriting award at Filmfest 919, so I felt bad that the pandemic kept her from enjoying that honor in person.
  8. I'll add my voice to Andrew's in saying I liked it just fine. Never saw the musical on stage, but I have seen quite a few filmed staged productions -- Bandstand, Kinky Boots, etc. The cutting doesn't bug me so long as I can see the dancing when they dance, which I felt I could.
  9. kenmorefield

    Soul (2020)

    Nothing quite says these boards are in a post-PTC era than seeing there is no thread for a forthcoming Pixar movie. But I digress... I was delighted after five minutes, worried after 10, really worried after 40 and gradually moved in a second half of the film that seemed to work to me much better than it had any business doing so. It seems to be not content to hit just the standard Pixar beats, and there is emotional (and dare I say moral?) complexity here. I was happy for a lot of things they *didn't* do, though I guess my sadness is the "real" world was always more interesting to me than the metaphysical one and I kept wishing for a movie that was about that in a more straightforward matter. Still a big step up from Onward (in my opinion). As an aside, this movie got me thinking about Wall-e a bit. Not in terms of plot but just because that film always seemed tonally jarring to me (frist half and second half). There are some similar broad scale structural shifts here, from heavy material to slapstick/farce. It didn't bother me as much as it did in Wall-e. Not sure why.
  10. kenmorefield


    I am not saying the movie was dreadful, but...my movie-going experience was...even though I managed to time this (by eyeing Fandango) so that I was literally the only person in the theater... https://letterboxd.com/kenmorefield/film/tenet/ I saw on Letterboxd that Anders liked it a good bit, and his review is probably fairer than mine. It was a reminder to me that we all have different tastes around here and...that's okay.
  11. The Croods: A New Age unfolds like an American football game where a perennial 5-11 team (I’m looking at you, Washington) grabs a first quarter lead. For a short while, fans hold out hope that the familiar patterns will be avoided. By the end, things revert to normal, and one finds oneself thinking of what might have been rather than celebrating what one actually saw. The sorta fresh twist is that the Croods meet the Bettermans, a more…evolved…family that sleep in separate rooms, practice personal hygiene, and have windows in their tree cave. It turns out the Bettermans were are/were Guy’s adoptive family before he met the Croods, so his reunion with them threatens to drive him away from Eep and her Crood-ish family. The Bettemans have their own daughter that they’d like to see Guy hook up with — and she’s thinner, prettier, and everything-er than Eep. It’s a thin premise, but this is an animated family movie, and I’ve seen thoughtful entertainment crafted from less. The problem is that the culture clash is a red herring. Sure, prejudices exist in both crude and refined cultures, but do we really want to send kids the message that bathing and sleeping in separate beds is only just for snobs? For Grug (Nicholas Cage) there is an empty nest fable. He doesn’t like the Betterman patriarch, but he fears losing Eep to Guy. Consequently, he goes along with plans to break up the young love birds and pair Guy with — dare I say it? — one of his own kind. Perhaps the most depressing thing about The Croods: A New Age is that its mediocrity is not liable to matter much. If my neck of the woods (North Carolina) is any indication, it’s impossible to underestimate just how badly people want to go back to the movie theaters. Chains renting private sessions are pushing family entertainment (bring your own birthday cake!) and the social media page of the new drive-in was peppered with parents lamenting that they had to show arthouse flicks when everyone should just be thinking about the kids. It may turn out that it is the animated family movie, not the summer blockbuster, that starts pushing pandemic-shy viewers back to the theaters. But maybe I underestimate the film? I was a bit taken aback while researching that the original film scored a North Carolina Film Critics Association nomination for Best Animated Film in 2013. (It lost to the slightly less underwhelming Monsters University.) I don’t think The Croods: A New Age is going to muscle aside Wolfwalkers for any awards in the animated category, but it’s one hundred minutes of passable entertainment. For those starved for new content, that ain’t nothing. View the full article
  12. Just this middle ages setting where everything is so pressed and dry cleaned. I'm not talking about tone so much as look.
  13. Invision is letting me demo the blog feature to promote it. If you want to see what it would look like or add feedback, let me know, and I will add you to the temporary demo site.
  14. Alex Gibney is the rare documentarian who usually ends up convincing me regardless of whether or not I start on the same side of his arguments. Taxi to the Dark Side and Going Clear are powerful indictments of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and the Church of Scientology, but one hardly needs to be a latter-day Clarence Darrow to earn my assent about such subjects. In Zero Days, he argues that the Obama administration and Israel were the ultimate authors of the Stuxnet virus — a form of undeclared cyber warfare against Iran that may have had consequences far beyond what was originally intended. I don’t (or didn’t) have a side when it comes to the topic of multiple personalities, so that may be why I approached Gibney’s newest film with some diffidence. It turns out, however, that Crazy, Not Insane has some interesting points to make about how we arrive at our convictions even if it can’t answer the ultimate question of whether those convictions are true. The first half of the film is mostly a profile of Dr. Dorothy Lewis. She has interviewed over twenty serial killers and has formulated a theory that serial killers often have brain injuries, a history of abuse, and other mental disorders. She admits that she was trained to be skeptical of multiple personalities and that many of her colleagues disagree with her research. What was strange to me about the film is how much I found myself swayed by Dr. Lewis’s affect. She giggles like a schoolgirl frequently, and I often had a hard time reconciling her tone with her words. In one segment where she is testifying in court, she asks for a resource because she is flustered by being misinformed by the defense team about what their strategy was and needs time to process what her ethical and legal duties are to her client and to the truth. I don’t mean to imply that the film is an attack piece on Dr. Lewis, it isn’t. What I realized when watching it is that we make the same sort of superficial judgments in the courtroom as we do in the court of public opinion. Someone is truthful or not, persuasive or not, qualified or not because of what they say and not because of their comfort in front of a judge or a camera lens. It’s also true that in the second half of the film, we see that her detractors often have an agenda as well. Often, it seems, in legal proceedings, psychiatrists may start with the result they want to prompt and provide a diagnosis that will support that result. In capital cases, that means arguing against insanity if one wants to see the convicted criminal executed. Dr. Lewis, in contrast, appears to want to argue that these men shouldn’t be executed. Does that make her more susceptible to the ambiguous evidence that they are insane? I certainly didn’t get the impression that Dr. Lewis induced false memories or unconsciously instructed killers on what to say to make them appear insane. Her attitudes towards the death penalty appear to be a consequence of her research and not the driving force of it. In that sense, she comes across as principled, one of those medical professionals who follow the data rather than pander to the forces of the moment. Normally, such principles are enough to prompt praises for profiles in courage. Why then does that giggle put me off so much? Could it be that we are all more swayed by superficial and emotional factors more than logic — and more than we realize? Crazy, Not Insane premieres on HBO November 18, 2020. View the full article
  15. Like its protagonists, Han Van Meegeren and Joseph Piller, The Last Vermeer is unassuming. Its subject — the looting of European art by the Nazis — was covered more dramatically in Monuments Men and Woman in Gold. Add to that the fact that Van Meegeren was a historical figure, and the outcome of its mystery will be known to many of the viewers from the outset. Was Van Meegeren (Guy Pearce) a collaborator who helped Nazis plunder Dutch cultural treasures, or was he a subversive forger who tricked them into overspending for clever forgeries while keeping the original treasures safe? The film takes a long time to get around to asking that question since the first thirty minutes or follows Piller (Claes Bang) tracking down war criminals and puzzling over the eccentric artist’s cavalier demeanor after seemingly being called to account for his national betrayal. In many ways, the film is a structural copy of Barbet Schroeder’s Reversal of Fortune. There is a cryptic, amoral protagonist accused of a horrible crime, an idealistic lawyer convinced of his innocence, and a strange tension between bourgeois American idealism and aloof aristocratic pragmatism. I liked The Last Vermeer, albeit marginally. Most who do will probably focus their praise on Pearce who perfectly nails that aloof European quality one normally associates with royalty or the uber-rich. It would not surprise me if he, like Jeremy Irons in Reversal, generates serious awards consideration. Irons won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1990 for playing Von Bulow. What I found more interesting about the film was the way it showed how forgers and conmen prey on the certainty of experts. We are all more certain than we ought to be about the impossibility of our preconceptions being wrong. Earlier this summer, I reviewed the documentary Driven to Abstraction. That film showed art critics and experts dead certain — and dead wrong — that abstract expressionist paintings could not be forged because of their unique style. Here we see jurors and experts alike convinced that Vermeer absolutely could not be forged because….of his unique style. There’s a larger point to be made here about when we should and should not depend on experts. On the one hand, we sometimes need help understanding subjects beyond our knowledge. On the other hand, we make ourselves vulnerable if we never stop to consider that experts become dogmatic after they have made a pronouncement because they must protect their professional reputations. I don’t see The Last Vermeer driving a lot of people in the middle of a pandemic to the movie theaters, but for those starved for new content, it plays well enough on the small screen to order on demand. View the full article
  16. I was about 30 seconds into the screener and was like, oh...this is a sequel to that other film, isn't it? Honestly, I think Monty Python and the Holy Grail has ruined that aesthetic for me. But a lot of people in these parts liked Jeannette, so I suspect some of you all will be happy for more... http://1morefilmblog.com/2020/11/17/joan-of-arc-dumont-2019/
  17. Joan of Arc is titled Jeanne in its French release, and for the first thirty seconds or so, I thought I had popped in a screener for Dumont’s 2017 (I-don’t-know-what-else-to-call-it-except-maybe-a-cult-classic) Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. It has the same sandy patch of land serving as a location, the same dry cleaned and pressed banners and blue nun’s robes that look so very, very, 15th century, and, of course, the same jarringly anachronistic soundtrack. Joan is a couple years older now, and she isn’t the one singing. Instead she stares broodingly into the camera as musical narration chronicles the defeat that she hasn’t yet had. Then there’s some drum beating and some dressage, and…some more teenaged scowling into the camera. I know people — actual human beings — that loved Jeannette. It was #8 in the Arts and Faith Ecumenical Jury awards for 2018. Like many films that are more conceptual than plot-driven, I found it enchanting for about fifteen minutes and a slog thereafter. Then again, I have the same response to most Malick films, so that response says as much about me as it does about the film. When I don’t understand or appreciate a film (or director) that is widely praised, I do feel some compunction to try to educate myself. Dumont’s interview in the press notes for Joan of Arc were great. I enjoyed his comments far more than the film. He speaks in poetic terms which I don’t necessarily understand much better but which I am at least more experienced in parsing than I am when dealing with non-narrative films: I really dislike writing negative reviews these days. There is so little new content, it feels miserly to dash hopes that a new project will be exciting and fresh. But I take solace in the fact that Joan of Arc is hardly the sort of film anyone seeks out permission to like. If you wanted to see Dumont’s latest, you probably knew it already, and you absolutely shouldn’t let my bourgeois taste influence you. View the full article
  18. I don't know that there is much new here, although plenty of it was new to me. The main thing, though, is that Friedkin is so engaging that i was more than happy to listen to him riff for 100 minutes about the film's production history. Lots that might be of interest to an A&F crowd including his acknowledged debt to Ordet, his discussion of "grace notes" in film, and his conviction that every choice he made about the film ended up being a fortuitous one -- leading him to believe there was something more influencing him than simply luck. http://1morefilmblog.com/2020/11/16/leap-of-faith-william-friedkin-on-the-exorcist-phillipe-2019/
  19. Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist is an engaging and interesting film even if you are not a horror aficionado. I’m not a horror fan, but The Exorcist is one of those rare films that transcends its genre. Participating in one distinct thread of the Gothic horror tradition, the film presents supernatural evil as a part of our real world. It doesn’t explain away the supernatural at the end, rather it argues that the world is full of unexplained phenomena. Only in recent centuries have we hubristically begun to think that we can explain everything. Friedkin has said previously that he tried to approach the film straight — to shoot it in the style of realism. For that reason, the documentary isn’t a new argument, but you may have more fun listening to the director talk about these issues than reading about them in a printed review or interview. Documentaries that use this much conversation — particularly from one particular source — rely heavily on editing to keep the tempo moving and the visuals interesting. Leap of Faith reminds me in many ways of the Zizek showcase Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. It contains one informed but enthusiastic participant (in this case Friedkin) analyzing and explaining movies. While Leap of Faith is more focused than the Zizek film, it does contain a generous amount of insight about other films, especially when Friedkin talks about his influences or makes thematic comparisons. It is also a “making of” style documentary with stories that are both entertaining and sobering. Mercedes McCambridge, a Catholic alcoholic felt she had to drink and smoke to get the voice of the demon and made Friedkin pay two priests to be on the movie set with her. Jason Miller paid to fly to his own screen test because the Father Karras part had already been cast. Max von Sydow struggled to give a forceful reading of a key exorcism line because, he confessed to Friedkin, he just didn’t believe in God. If these anecdotes have a through thread, it is that they illustrate (as the title suggests) Friedkin’s belief that there was a serendipity surrounding the production of the film. The director’s discussion of “grace notes,” both in his own film and in those that influenced him, reinforce my belief that The Exorcist is “spiritually significant” (to use a term from the Arts & Faith website) not just because of its manifest content because of the latent themes of nihilism wrestling with despair. I’m not entirely sure that stories of serendipity are evidence of broader spiritual forces. They could just be remnants of large sampling. So many movies are made, it is not surprising that occasionally one of them comes together in ways that obscure the already thin line between providential and random. But those stories are always fun to hear, whether you take them as signs of something more mysterious or not. Leap of Faith is going to play on Shudder, which is a subscription service. While I wish the film had a streaming rental option, Shudder plans start as low as $4.75 a month and include a one week free trial period, so one could get a monthly plan for roughly the same cost as a streaming rental. The film premieres on that service on November 19, 2020. View the full article
  20. Thanks, Evan. Typically in November or December I turn on the Donation bar for a few days along with a post documenting expenses. This probably won't happen until December just because of the COVID scheduling for school (no break, ending around Thanksgiving).
  21. I've long toyed with the idea of adding a blog subdirectory for those who want to post full reviews, something like http://artsandfaith/reviews. Could be as well to archive stuff like list introductions since we aren't associated with Image any longer. That said, most people have their own outlets for posting reviews, so I don't know whether such an experiment would be worth attempting.
  22. La Notte, Destry Rides Again, Silence of the Lambs Christ Stopped at Eboli
  23. I don't think it did because of the election and not much happening film wise; seems like we're getting an uptick of new releases so it might be nice to chat again soon. (I just got a screening link for Dumont's Joan of Arc, but, you know a Zoom call about The Croods 2 is what we've been waiting months for.
  24. Popping back into this thread to say that I have some deadlines coming up for domain registration, software license and other $$ outlays. I've interpreted waning participation since end of Top 100 as being mostly COVID and election driven. Not necessarily ready to pull the plug, but by the same token, I don't really want to be dumping money into a site that has 2-3 posts a month. Then again, there hasn't been much to talk about film-wise. That could change. At a minimum, I'm open to going another six months or so to see if early 2021 sees the development of a Top 25 list of some sort or some renewed interest in talking about movies. Any thoughts?
  25. I didn't care for it: http://1morefilmblog.com/2020/11/11/hillbilly-elegy-howard-2020/
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