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Everything posted by Overstreet

  1. Overstreet


    I thought this tree/foliage motif became a bit heavy-handed — particularly in the character of the professor who is only academically interested in researching the disease in the plane trees, but not interested in committing herself to finding a cure. She is happy to let Mona ride around in her car and live off of her handouts. She even says Mona has "taken root" in her car. But she's not committed to her. She doesn't love her. She's fascinated by her as an observer (much as Varda seems to be, by the way, with the dread-locked street youth in Gleaners, so maybe this is a self-critique). Also, the disease that is killing the plane trees is loudly identified as coming from America, which underlines the film's other indications that people are valuing Mona according to her productivity, her ability to get work done or earn them money, either as a potato farmer or as a prostitute. By the way, I always love a good opportunity to join a conversation that hasn't moved in... eight years! This has been on my must-see list for a long time, particularly since filmmaker Paul Harrill raved about it for a long time over dinner one night in Grand Rapids. If I recall correctly, it's his favorite Varda, and a pivotal film for him in becoming a filmmaker.
  2. They still post a lot of reviews of new releases, but not as many. I suspect they're a smaller operation these days. I should check in with Thom.
  3. If it's at all useful, here's the 2011 list in its current — and more aesthetically pleasing — incarnation on the Image site: https://imagejournal.org/top-100-films/ And here is SDG's intro there as well: https://imagejournal.org/2011/02/14/reading-the-eternities-the-2011-arts-faith-top-100-films/ And if it helps you think of other films to consider, here is the index of our other lists there: https://imagejournal.org/arts-and-faith-films/
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. Actually, I was just reading this thread as I sipped my morning coffee, didn't see him participating in the thread, had this thought occur to me, and posted the question. Yes, I do still interact with him. And I will ask him.
  7. I was stunned to discover a video review by SDG for this film. I was even more surprised to see him give it a 'B.' I'd long been under the impression that he avoided Tarantino altogether on the sense that this was someone he wouldn't be able to stomach. Now I'm curious to hear his reviews of Jackie Brown, Inglorious Basterds, and the Kill Bill films. Did I just make his Tarantino abstinence up? Or is it some other filmmaker he purposefully avoids, and I've accidentally overwritten one name with another? (Maybe it was Von Trier?)
  8. This is one of the most highly praised films of the year. SDG gave it an 'A' in his video review. Evan has shared his great admiration for it in a chat with me on Facebook. I'm curious: Was anyone else underwhelmed? It's hard not to feel hard-hearted for being unmoved by this movie. It's so well-intentioned, so respectful, so gracious. If I rated movies for their good-heartedness, this would certainly earn an 'A.' "Understated" is a word likely to come up in many reviews. It's appropriate. But understatement is not necessarily a virtue. I'll be frank: I was bored. I feel like the film gave me very little that wasn't in the trailer. I can't think of a single image that is likely to stick with me. I can't think of a single scene in which I was surprised. I'm assuming you know the premise: A family determines to hide the truth of an elder's illness from her, acting to shoulder the burden of her decline and allow her to live in blissful ignorance. But the primary problem, for me, is this: The family is so obviously hiding the truth from her that she must certainly guess what's up right away. I could never figure out if the movie wanted us to understand that the grandmother — Nai Nai, as they call her — is in on the charade from the beginning, and accepts their fakery as a gesture of love, or not. Okay, Awkwafina is fine in a dramatic role. The family dilemma is portrayed with some nuance, and there's some interesting (if slight) attention to differences between the East and the West. But I just kept waiting for things to get interesting. After the introduction of the family's decision to hide the severity of Nai Nai's illness from her, the film is just, well, a bunch of scenes in which they decide to go on hiding the illness from her. The cast is fine. The adherence to the reality of ordinary Chinese family life is fine. The prominence of a Leonard Cohen song is surprising, generally applicable, but really just... fine. The surprising lunge for a poetic final moment is... fine, but out of character with the rest of the film that offered very little visual poetry. This is one of those films in which I'm just watching one thing happen after another, and those happenings aren't particularly compelling. Billie, the main character, isn't very interesting because almost everything we get to know about her is her emotional distress over the news about her grandmother. She never really came to life for me as a character with a life of her own. (One of the scenes meant to bring dimension to her character — her emotional release while playing the piano — was one of the most unconvincing piano-playing pantomime bits I've ever seen. Try harder, filmmakers.) When it comes to contemplations of Chinese culture, the pending passing of a matriarch, and the complexities of family dynamics in that context, I give Edward Yang's Yi-Yi an A+ and The Farewell a 'B' at best... probably a B-. Change my mind. Help me see what I was missing.
  9. The trailer for this was so bad that it looked like an SNL spoof. I'd be hard-pressed to think of prosthetics that made me laugh out loud the way Branagh's new dome did when I first saw it.
  10. Let's strive for greater specificity, shall we? There are, after all, quite a few educators in this community — educators who care deeply, who work hard, and who are devoted to making the time and effort count.
  11. I've already posted my deep dismay about this elsewhere, and I don't want it to appear I'm not acknowledging it here. Yes, this is a grievous loss to Christians, to seekers, to readers. The whole sequence of events leading up to her death seems maddening, avoidable, a complete nightmare. I cannot fathom the challenges now and in the future for her husband and two very young children. We are witnessing, though, just how deeply this is rocking a whole world of struggling believers who have found a lifeline in her honesty, her courage, her authenticity, her desire to know the truth and to be set free. May her example inspire a great host of new voices and similarly generous hearts.
  12. Must I preface this note with a SPOILER WARNING or are we past that now? TIME TRAVEL RUINS STORYTELLING. Almost all of the time. As I exited the theater from Infinity War, I turned to my friend Danny and said, "Welp, Ant-Man will save the day. Quantum Realm makes anything possible. And so the next one will be all about time travel to fix things." I was not excited by this prospect. And sure enough, this made for a suspense-free experience for me... and a long, long three hours. Oh well. These movies have never been for me. I have three or four I enjoy, but I'm ready to move on. And besides, Spider-Verse spoiled the MCU for me by showing me how everything could be 100 times better.
  13. Another thing I love about A-List is I can go see something twice in quick succession, which is extremely helpful with reviews. I saw Amazing Grace twice, which never would have happened if I was paying full price. I'm also finding that I much prefer to see movies with a typical audience at a typical screening than my old press-screening routine, which was either a nearly-empty theater (if it was press only) or a theater 3/4 full of an audience of screening-chasers who tend to be loud, obnoxious, and enthusiastic about anything they see. That particular crowd of free-pass-enthusiasts has a reputation in Seattle — there was a cover story in the Seattle Weekly once, branding them "The Passholes." Anyway, I get a better sense of how a movie plays with a typical audience by seeing it with — gasp! — a typical audience.
  14. AMC A-list is awesome. I'm seeing movies in theaters — and good movies, too — once a week at least these days. I was a happy Moviepass user for a while, but wow — that service fell apart spectacularly.
  15. (Sigh.) Due to the number of classes I'm teaching this quarter, and the two conferences I'm attending in the next two weeks, I'm not going to have time to prioritize seeing more titles Ibefore the final vote deadline — and I've only seen 18 of these finalists. So I'm doing a lot of spitballing if I vote in Round 2. I almost wonder if it would be better for me to bow out of voting at this point.
  16. I'd be up for any of these, but I should probably write no more than three. 1. Faces Places (since Gleaners is already take, and I've already written so much about that one) 2. 35 Shots of Rum 3. Another Year I'd also be willing to write about 35 Up, if necessary.
  17. Overstreet

    High Life (2018)

    Time to re-title this thread. Saw it last night, and I am impressed, perplexed, and strangely unmoved... all at once. I suspect this will be a second-timer for me... or maybe a third, if I can muster the will to stick with it. It tried my patience, as I had difficulty tracing lines through these bizarre outer-space circumstances that led to any kind of insight. From her opening shot onward, Denis is clearly keeping both Stalker and Solaris in view — Pattinson's fuzzy dome and shots of a train running through wilderness are just a couple of the obvious reference points — and there's also a heavy dose of Lynch, with long shots of pipes and industrial equipment that emanate a vaguely sinister influence. But the relentlessness of the focus on sexual cruelty was somehow extreme without ever becoming... I don't know... interesting. The big leap forward in time at the end complicates matters by burdening my suspension of disbelief and generating a ton of questions about "Wait, but... how...? Are you telling me that, in the interim, all of this has happened?" I'm hoping to read something insightful soon that will help me say, "Okay, I'm glad I sat through this." I admit it — I'm disappointed. I love some of Denis' films, and others have left me puzzled, but this one frustrates me.
  18. FWIW, I loved the original Gloria — enough so that I'm really reluctant to see it done again. (Here's my original review, which was part of a series of reviews I did in 2014 about movies focused on complex, nuanced female leads.)
  19. Wow, Joel — congratulations! I can't wait to read your coverage. You've been writing some wonderful stuff lately. I'm thinking about including Silence in my Faith & Film class so that I can share your new essay about it.
  20. My 40 freshman this quarter agree: Star Wars movies are "dad movies." Nevertheless, they gasped — and a couple of them applauded — when I played this teaser for them and they realized what it was. If I knew Rian Johnson was in charge, I'd be intrigued. But it's Abrams, so I wouldn't call my perspective "a new hope."
  21. Overstreet

    Roma (2018)

    It's a crowded dark side. I shared similar experiences of detachment back on December 8 on Letterboxd. But then, I haven't found Cuaron compelling since Children of Men.
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