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About Christian

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Fairfax, VA
  • Interests
    Film, religion, jazz.

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  • Occupation
    Publications Manager
  • Favorite movies
    Dardennes brothers, Tarkovsky, Dreyer, Coens, De Palma, some Kubrick
  • Favorite music
    Hard-bop jazz.
  • Favorite creative writing
    Junot Diaz, Matt Labash, Marilynne Robinson

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  1. Christian

    The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018)

    I took my boys to see this at the second-run theater tonight - they were interested in it, my older girls weren't - and had a much better time than I'd anticipated. Ken's review had interested me, but not enough to take a chance on a first-run 3D presentation during a screenings lull at the Virginia Film Festival last month. I now regret that choice. The film's production design is one of its stronger points, but it's the supporting actors who bring the film to vivid life. From my just-posted comment on Facebook: "The main actress isn't great, but the supporting characters are often lively. And Keira Knightley slays in this. I'm admittedly a fan of hers, but she was on-screen for 10 minutes before I even recognized her! I was thinking she'd turn up as another character who kept being mentioned, and then I realized, no, *that's* her! Lots of visually impressive moments. I hesitate to even utter great films in the same breath, but I thought of Powell and Pressburger more than once, and 'Fantasia' and ... well, I'm overselling the movie now. Plenty of stuff to criticize, but I'm inclined to praise what I liked. So few films offer anything in that regard. I regret not seeing this in 3D; I had a chance, but reviews convinced me not to take the risk. Oh well. Glad I got to it on the big screen."
  2. Christian

    What do you subscribe to?

    Popping back in to observe today's official demise of the Weekly Standard. As noted above, I subscribed from sometime in the 1990s to around 2010, if memory serves. I read the online site for years, and endured endless come-ons to get me to sign up again, both through the U.S. mail and online offers that seemed to think a free flag pin was the key to getting me to re-up. Nope. I just found the magazine, which I'd liked for its good humor as well as some of its positions, had grown dour during the second Bush term (for obvious reasons) and the early Obama administration, and I didn't need to keep reading stuff that fed my disdain/anger. The magazine was known for its neocon orientation, which means a lot more than pro-war, although that's what came to define the term during the Bush administration. But nearly all my links on A&F (I just searched "Weekly Standard" in this forum and saw a number of hits across various threads in which I linked to WS articls) were to the magazine's culture writing. I was inevitably positive. Nathanael often pushed back and mocked some of the essays, if memory serves. I wish the magazine was still around so its pieces could continue to be read and debated, but alas, that's no longer the case. I've been touched by the outpouring on Twitter observing the magazine's demise, even from people who, in the words of one writer, "revile" the magazine's politics but still see its demise as a bad thing. Of course, some people are dancing on the magazine's grave, and that's to be expected. But I feel like its shuttering marks the end of something that I cared about, and that there's no sign that it'll be replaced. If you're looking for me, you know where to find me: In the ashbin of history, right next to this magazine.
  3. Christian

    Destroyer (2018)

    I wasn't much of a fan - didn't hate it, didn't love it - but I did wonder what was going on with a co-worker inviting the lead character to a Bible study (did anything come of that? I thought it was dropped), a character who's a pastor (though compromised, as is everyone else, it seemed), a visit to his church, and, ummm, what's up with the title of this movie? I'd by lying if I didn't say that John 10:10 popped to mind while considering, but that's, uh, probably a reach, right? And the film comes out on ... Christmas Day. It's almost like the entire movie is one giant troll. But again, I'm not sure there's anything intentional behind those disparate story and release-date elements. Neither of the screenwriters nor the director have faith-informed backgrounds, as far as I know.
  4. Just finished it up this morning. Seconded! Also a big second for the mighty November and the lovely, ultimately moving (and, dare I say, kind of gentle?) The Sisters Brothers.
  5. I'll go ahead and second Gareth's nomination of Blindspotting, which I had indicated earlier I was on the fence about nominating myself. I'm still wrestling with its application for the A&F list, but I'll be honest: It's one of my favorite movies of the year, and I'd love for more people to see it. So, on that selfish score, I'm seconding it. I hope others embrace it - as part of this list, or for any other reason. It's so alive as you watch it. Just great.
  6. Christian

    Roma (2018)

    I am glad to see your thoughts, Ken. I watched this last week with two other critics who raved about it. I had to sheepishly confess that I felt disconnected to the material nearly for the duration of the film. It's hard not to be affected by the childbirth scene (although I found myself impatient during the run-up to the delivery; "why is this pregnancy scene taking so long?"), and a late sequence at a beach during high tide struck me as a technical marvel. But for most of the film, I found myself wondering why I felt so little about what was happening. I had expected to be captivated by the cinematography alone, but even that didn't strike me as particularly dazzling.
  7. OK, looking over my running list of the year's best films, I nominate these documentaries for the EJ: Hale County This Morning, This Evening: I suppose it's hard to find - I saw it at AFI DOCS - but IMDB confirms that the film had a release date of September 14, 2018. From my AFI DOCS capsule reviews: A largely non-narrative look at an African American community in Alabama, Hale County: This Morning, This Evening follows the lives of Daniel, a college basketball player at Selma University, and Quincy, whose wife is about to deliver twins. But Hale County is also a tapestry, including scenes of a worship service, echoes of Scripture (Daniel paraphrases Matthew 6:34), and people sporting “Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace” t-shirts alongside heartbreaking scenes of mortality. Days after seeing it, Hale County continues to rise in my estimation. If not my favorite documentary of the festival, it may be the best. For the Birds: This one released June 18; I don't think it ever played in the D.C. market. I'm nominating it because of its look at marriage: For the Birds' obsessed protagonist has no scientific background, but she’s surrounded by turkeys, ducks and chickens—and a husband who seems to rate lower than the birds. “To me they’re family,” says the bird obsessive. “You gotta have something you believe in. Something that makes you get up in the morning.” What starts as a look at a quirky, possibly mentally ill animal lover becomes a story about a strained marriage and, ultimately, the strength of bonds that carry over to later decades. I left For the Birds unconvinced by its conclusion but fascinated by how one couple’s strife competed with their need for companionship.
  8. Christian

    Oscars 2019: Best Documentary Feature

    I've seen several of these - not anywhere close to a majority, but more than in recent years - and just wanted to take a second to plug The Road Movie, which Prime members can stream for free at Amazon Prime. It's a blast! Not necessarily award-caliber, or my choice for the year's best documentary, but it appealed to the younger man in me who used to love clips of David Letterman throwing watermelons and such off a 10-story tower. Same kind of effect here, although, to use a road-trip analogy, your mileage may vary.
  9. Thanks, Joel. I kept meaning to come here yesterday and edit my post, removing the counterproductive "let's discuss this before I nominate" stuff. I've done the EJ for a few years and know how the nominations work. I was just trying to rush a "seconding" post before heading out the door, and was contemplating making a few nominations myself. I was trying to express some uncertainty about doing the latter, given my own interpretation from years past of which films best qualify for this list. (I seem to be less expansive than others in determining which films best fit the EJ.) Anyway, a poor choice on my part. Having thought about those potential nominations for a day, I don't think I'll officially nominate any of 'em. I may yet submit some nominations, but I haven't given a lot of thought as to which films I'd nominate (that haven't already been nominated by others), or the dreaded rationale for doing so.
  10. I second Support the Girls, Minding the Gap and, although I'm not sure what it all meant, the amazing Madeline's Madeline. [EDIT: What follows is discussed below by Joel M., with a reply from me on the next page. I was going to delete the paragraphs below, but they were quoted before I could do so. So I'm leaving the post up in full, with this indication that I made a final decision later in this thread.] Now, let me ask about some nominations of my own. I'm unsure whether or not to nominate Blindspottiing, Damsel and Let the Sunshine In. I have to run out the door and don't have time to flesh out reasons, or lack thereof, to nominate them or not. I have distinct ideas about which films should be on our list, and I'm not sure I'm entirely on board with those three films for this list. But they're each quite good in their own way. So I'll leave it at this: Would you nominate any of those three? If so, why? Yes, this is now a discussion of whether or not certain films qualify for our list, and that might open a can of worms. But I'm reluctant to nominate any of those three films without some discussion of whether they "fit" on our list. Ken: If this isn't an appropriate use of this thread, just let me know and I'll delete everything after the first paragraph seconding earlier nominations.
  11. Christian

    The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018)

    Fantastic to hear that, Ken. I'm a Knightley fan, but rarely go see films because of who's starring in them. I wasn't very interested in this Nutcracker. You may have changed that. As for go-for-broke Knightley performances, I've gone back-and-forth about her role in A Dangerous Method. Publicly I've lauded the performance and have tussled with critics less friendly toward it. But I've seen the film three times (I think), and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to moments where I thought, "Maybe this is a bit much."
  12. Melissa: That's the best description I've read of YWNRH, a film that, frankly, I didn't much care for. But you've got me thinking I should give it another look. Thanks.
  13. Christian

    2018 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury

    Thanks, Joel. I'm happy to participate, but my affiliation should be Patheos/Schaeffer's Ghost; Crosswalk cut loose all its freelance reviewers in January. The Washington Area Film Critics Association kept me on its books despite my dropoff in published reviews - at least for this year - so for now I have continued access to screeners, which have started to arrive.
  14. Christian

    A&F Site News -- Please Read

    I'm glad the site will live on under your guidance, Ken. Thank you for taking the initiative to preserve A&F. I still check the board frequently to read new posts.