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Everything posted by Christian

  1. Oh boy. The pressure! As with most of my posts on A&F, I ... I ... don't have much to say? Sarah and I finished Season 4 last night, and although we both cried through much of the final episode, my wife claimed that the show grew "more boring" during its final season. I, on the other hand, thought Season 4 coasted for a few episodes before getting more interesting. I've tried across all four seasons to track with the show on its own premises (with which I largely disagree, but I knew I would going in). The characters' outcomes, and how the show accomplished them, was read by my wife as a metaphor for a certain controversial social issue, and that soured her on the show (which had, as mentioned earlier, already been "boring" her during Season 4). I, on the other hand, respected that Schur tried to create an endgame for the characters. But enough about what I and/or Sarah didn't care for, or were, at best, ambivalent about. How 'bout that D'Arcy Carden, huh?? She was great in Season 4. I noticed recently that most of the cast has been Emmy-nominated this year. (Poor Kristen Bell was overlooked, and while she's probably my least favorite character, she gets a lot more interesting in the final couple of episodes, or so I thought. And as I've argued elsewhere during earlier seasons, Danson is the MVP of the show overall.) I hope they, and the show, and Schur, all win in their respective categories. This isn't quite on the level of the landmark comedies I most admire, but it's so much better than other TV shows - network or cable (admittedly, I don't see nearly as many shows as most folks do) - that I don't feel like knocking it for the few things I didn't care for or that underwhelmed me.
  2. I'll be watching an Image Journal-sponsored screening of Boys State tonight (along with a discussion with the directors). I also have, umm, Hustlers on DVD. It's due back to the library tomorrow. I was going to watch it tonight before the Boys State screening opportunity presented itself. Probably just as well.
  3. I've said it before, but I think - I think - that Three Colors trilogy is the crown jewel of my DVD/Blu-ray collection, although I wonder how much of that ranking is just my subjective response to the films themselves (and not so much the Criterion presentation, which is, to my eyes, exceptional - although again, that reaction may be colored by my deep love of Blue and Red). I'll be curious to hear if you have a similar reaction. In the Criterion trilogy department, I'll add that I used the final Saturday of the sale to buy the Antonioni "alienation" trilogy that so affected me when I watched the standard-def Criterion DVDs in the run-up to the 2020 A&F Top 100 vote. I've yet to watch the Blus, but am looking forward to doing so soon.
  4. Thanks, Beth! Sarah and I are wrapping up the final season of The Good Place (on DVD) tonight, so we'll be ready for another show. I'll sound her out about watching Rectify.
  5. I've never attended the festival as press, but I talked a couple of times in my early years of attending with festival director Jody Kielbasa, who seemed interested in my feedback on the festival. There's a bus that goes around the campus and can get you to each venue, but that takes a good amount of coordination and planning to ensure you arrive to your screenings in time. In the past, I've parked near the downtown mall and have left my car there all day to avoid in-and-out parking fees, but last year I drove to different venues and discovered the parking garages nearby are free on the weekends. As for the selection, the festival really stepped it up last year. I think it's competing with Middleburg (also in Virginia) and therefore ended up booking several of the same big titles that festival had landed. Someone told me that had been the case for a few years, but I hadn't noticed.
  6. Of the two Virginia-based festivals I've attended, the Virginia Film Festival, October 21-25, has said it'll be virtual this year. The Middleburg Film Festival, October 15-18, hasn't yet announced a change, but I'll be surprised if the event doesn't go all-digital.
  7. Where/How can I watch Rectify? I did some digging and it seems Netflix has it (I'm not a subscriber). Prime has it, but for a fee. I'd consider blind-buying a Blu-ray, but it looks as though there are no Region 1 Blus, at least not for all seasons? I don't have access to Kanopy. If I'm missing other opportunities, let me know.
  8. Now that I have a library copy of Criterion's La Notte - I considered blind-buying the Blu during the current B&N Criterion sale, but my DVD hold came through just as the sale was starting; so I bought the Antonioni Red Desert Blu instead - I plan to prioritize it. Also, I turned off Ready or Not a couple of nights ago halfway through. I then read the spoilers in Alissa Wilkinson's review and considered watching the back half, but I just don't care about anything or anyone in the movie. I wonder why some horror movies with admittedly thin premises are enjoyable, while many more seem pointless and, well, lazy (especially the screenplay(s)).
  9. Christian

    63 Up

    I almost made a trip into D.C. to catch it - I've seen the entire series, although I didn't start the series until five or six years ago - but it came and went pretty quickly. Plus, I figured the library, which carried all the other titles (that's how I'd seen the Up series), would get this one. And then everything shut down. Now that the library's reopened, I'll go give a look and see if this title is available. [looks] Nope. And it's not available on Prime either. Sigh.
  10. Christian


    I've just finished watching Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets. It's a film that I can already tell gets more intriguing the more you learn about it - and I'm basing that mostly on the post-feature interviews that come with the stream/rental. Simply listening to the actors be clear that they were giving performances and that the film isn't a documentary was interesting, although you may come to the film with that knowlege already if you've read reviews of it. Still, what sells the extras - which despite a few good insights aren't exactly gripping - is the finale, which, for me, came out of nowhere.There's a connection to the Ross brothers' Contemporary Color and to our own A&F Top 100 for 2020. That might give it away, but I hope it spurs some folks to see the film. While I'm not sure it's one I'd comfortably recommend (for a variety of reasons), it's one I admired and even enjoyed at different moments. But that closing extra put the whole thing in another light - a broader light - that has me already reassessing what I saw and what the filmmakers might have been wanting to convey. I realize I could be reaching in the moments right after concluding the film (and its bonus materials), but I'm genuinely moved.
  11. Great! I’m hoping to watch it tonight unless Sarah has other plans.
  12. A few weeks ago the cheap-audiobook site Chirp sent me its daily-deals email, and I was surprised to see on it Ron Hansen's The Kid - a book I'd not heard of. As some of this thread documents, I'd lost my fervor for Hansen's books around the time of Exiles, and I was content to remain a fan of his earlier works and to move on to other writers. But this recent book, about Billy the Kid, sounded intriguing enough (I've been increasingly drawn to Westerns in my 40s, though I've not read nearly as many as I've watched) that I figured it'd be worth the $1.99 the site was charging. I'm only about 10% of the way through The Kid, and without a daily commute, I'm progressing even more slowly than usual. But ... it's pretty great, I must say! I'm not sure why I find it so much more engaging than Hansen's other recent work. Is it the Western setting I'm drawn to? Maybe I'll sour on it as it goes. Maybe the credit goes to audiobook narrator Mark Bramhall, who did such a fine job on Stranger in the Woods and Dissident Gardens, among other audiobooks I've heard. I'm cautious about my reaction because the reader reviews of The Kid on the various sites I frequent are more measured than my own reaction so far. But that's OK. Even if things cool off, I feel like I've "rediscovered" a favorite author who had, I thought, entered into a period of inevitable decline. That my reaction may have been premature gives me hope.
  13. Yeah, I followed the link to participating theaters at the end of Alissa's review, but haven't followed through. Elsewhere I'd read that Film at Lincoln Ceter was playing it in its virtual cinema, which looks like it might be exclusive?
  14. Were you on last month's A&F Zoom call when we talked about Shirley, Andrew? I wasn't much of a fan, but have tried to keep an open mind about the movie. Jeffrey's review, which I read only after seeing the movie, got me thinking I might give Shirley another look - an effect that, say, Richard Brody's rave didn't have on me. We talked about the film again during this past week's A&F Zoom call. Also on that call, I brought up the movie I'm hoping to get to this weekend, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, by the Ross brothers. Alissa Wilkinson raved about the film last week, but my link is to Victor Morton's review. He reminded me, when I asked him if he'd seen the film, that he'd covered it way back at Sundance. As I told the few folks who were on the Zoom call this past week, I'm a big fan of some of the Ross brothers' earlier work, particularly Tchoupitoulas. I was less enamored of Contemporary Color (I think a David Byrne mention, or a Stop Making Sense mention, during the call was what brought CC to mind; I'm thinking of revisiting CC now that I've finally seen Stop Making Sense), but I like how each of their films differ from the others. And I see now that the brothers are credited cinematographers on I Am Not Your Negro, which I know you loved, as did I. I didn't intend to turn this post into an ad for the Ross Brothers' movies, but if it stimulates further viewing, I'd like to think that's a good thing.
  15. But that's what people want, right? More Liz! I did see a clip of her, in character, fighting with a man on the sidewalk, and I laughed. (This bit apparently opened last night's show.) But oof, I just came across this Slate review of the reunion, and it's even more damning than the Washington Post review. Part of my interest in the reunion is that 30 Rock was one of the last shows I watched regularly. Today I linked to an article via an Alissa Wilkinson tweet about something called The Bold Life - I see now that that's how I ended up on Slate, where I then saw the 30 Rock review - and was surprised, or really not so surprised - not any longer - to see an article about a show that's been on for four seasons and that I'd never heard of until today. Truly, life is passing me by. At least on the pop-culture front.
  16. Maybe I didn't miss much? Hank Stuever was not a fan.
  17. There's a 30 Rock live reunion show airing tonight on NBC. My younger daughter turned 16 today, so there's a movie planned tonight during the broadcast. The NBC site tells me the show will be available on the Peacock app, but I'm app-resistant. Plus, my experience with free broadcast networks is that anytime you want to watch one of their programs online, you're required to enter your paid-TV provider. I still don't have one of those, so I lose.
  18. Christian


    This thread never got much traction, but I wanted to pull it back up after mentioning during tonight's A&F Zoom call that I'm interested in the new film from the Ross Brothers, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets. The few folks on the call weren't familiar with the film, or with the earlier Ross Brothers movies. (I asked if anyone had seen Contemporary Color, which I struggled to finish a few years ago and now think I might enjoy more, having seen Stop Making Sense; but maybe that's an unwise connection to make). These guys also made Western, which I've not seen but have heard good things about, and which I figure I might enjoy if only because the first IMDB user review on the film's page at that site is titled, "A Boring Slice of Life on the Texas Border." Bring it on! Back to Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, which is now streaming. It sounds like a curious hybrid of fiction and nonfiction. From Alissa Wilkinson's review: "Is the movie fiction? Yes, technically. Is it nonfiction? Not exactly. Is it 'real'? Absolutely." One caution: The only negative thing I've heard about the movie was from Anne Thompson, who said on an Indiewire podcast that she (I think I heard this correctly) walked out of her screening because she grew up with alcoholic parents, or alcoholics in her family, and she simply couldn't enjoy a portrait of bar culture. Fair enough. Me, on the other hand - I've never been anything close to a "regular" at a bar; in fact, I've been to so few bars that, when I walk into one, I'm still unsure of where to go, where to sit, what/when to order. It's basically foreign to me. However, in my 40s I read, or purchased via cheap e-editions, two or three books about drinking and the pleasures of being a barfly (if not a drunk, exactly). I'm curious to know if this movie lands on the side of the bar experience being pleasurable or toxic - or, more likely, something in-between. But I'm mostly interested in tracking the Ross Brothers. If anyone's up for watching Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, let me know. We can discuss it here, of course, or maybe - as I suggested earlier tonight, very tentatively - we can talk about it during our next monthly Zoom call.
  19. Pulling this thread up to highlight today's new release, which I had no idea was coming.
  20. A Criterion fan I follow on Twitter has retweeted a follower of his claiming the Barnes and Noble Criterion sale starts July 10. I don’t see confirmation on bn.com yet, but I’m hoping this report is confirmed soon. It’ll be the first such sale under the chain’s new owner. I wasn’t sure he’d continue with the Criterion sales, so I’m encouraged.
  21. AFI offered Do the Right Thing as a free rental in late June (it's July 1 as I write this, so that offer has expired) and then hosted a Q&A with Spike Lee. The whole thing's worth watching, but I want to especially commend the final 10-or-so minutes, which veer into discussion of Da 5 Bloods and the broader political situation and political moment in the United States right now. You don't have to agree with everything Spike says (although I don't find much, if anything, to disagree with), but Lee really brings the heat in those closing minutes.
  22. Christian

    Da 5 Bloods

    I loved those three sequences, too, Andrew. The Lindo monologue is the one where he's walking through the jungle, toward the camera, eventually (or maybe throughout) directly addressing it, right? I have that image, or those images, in my mind, but I already feel like I should watch the film to make sure I haven't seared into my brain images that I haven't somehow distorted in my memory. Also, was there a second Lindo monologue? Maybe I'm thinking of him singing just before ... well, that would be a spoiler, assuming, again, that I haven't misremembered the scene in question. That Apocalypse Now nightclub scene is really something special - the movie/bar logo in the background while the four friends walk and dance, side by side. But I admit to spending a good amount of the first hour thinking the cinematography, while serviceable (I'd clearly underrated it), wasn't Dickerson-level work (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X). And yet, by the end of that hour, those long shots of mountains/terrain, which I found undistinguished, gave way to closer shots of the men and their circumstances. Maybe the setting simply had to be established before the camera could draw closer. Seems obvious in retrospect; I just wanted more memorable vistas, with stronger focal points, in some of those shots. What didn't I like in Da 5 Bloods? There were one or two things, lest you think my enthusiasm means I was completely blinded to certain flaws. The lack of de-aging in the earlier sequences might have thrown me off more had I not read about it before seeing the film, so that wasn't a big hang-up. It was clear from the shifted aspect ratio when we were in the "past" in the film. Indeed, I found the transitions much easier to follow in Da 5 Bloods than the transitions in the beloved Little Women remake, but that's just me. And I liked Little Women in any case. More irritating were a couple of plotting elements - things I don't notice unless they're screamingly absurd. So, when a man walks alone down a hillside and just happens to see some gold half-buried in the hillside - that's a little too easy, no? And when he steps on a mine that will detonate as soon as he lifts his foot, and the bomb defusers he met earlier just happen to be passing by at that exact moment - ridiculous! But aren't those great scenes - especially the latter? I loved the suspense, got very caught up in the character's fate. And by then I was hooked by the film. Those moments didn't derail me, although I recognize they might be bigger hang-ups for others.
  23. Christian

    Da 5 Bloods

    Oh, it's clearly a major Lee film, although I've gotten some of the same sense you have that some consider it minor. Maybe because Netflix produced it? I, too, wish I'd heard the first half-hour of last week's call. I hadn't seen the film at that time. I now have. I flipped for it in a way I haven't flipped for a film in a very long time. I'm not sure if it's familiarity with Lee's directorial emphases/signatures, but this film felt like, if not a summation, a vehicle in which those things worked together in a way they haven't in other of his films. (I was, to put it mildly, not a fan of BlackKklansman.) Even the multiple endings and of-the-moment political tie-in felt, well, organic here - or simply less forced than it sometimes has in Lee's earlier films. There's a lot to dig into in this film, but I'm rather reluctant to do so, knowing discussion of the film's merits can result in only one outcome for me: to lessen the film's impact and appeal. I was completely knocked out by Da 5 Bloods, to the point where, although I keep telling myself not to do this, I'll regret it, I ended the film thinking there's no way another 2020 release is going to touch this one. For those who haven't seen it, here's my tweet storm, written right after the film concluded. I'm bad with pasting these things, so forgive the formatting. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 3h Back from the pool. Kid's in bed. It's time for DA 5 BLOODS. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 29m Stunning. STUNNING. This is top-tier Spike Lee, which means DA 5 BLOODS is an All-Timer. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 27m I knew I loved this movie before the first hour was up. So I held my breath, waiting for it to fall off. It never did. I'm sure that, with time, the parts I deeply love will separate themselves from the parts I merely love, but for now, I'm going to enjoy this huge movie high. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 22m I was in the tank even before the beautiful prayer, the forcefully recited Psalm 23, the big moment of forgiveness (I was moved in the moment but knew I wasn't going to cry; two seconds later, waterfalls). I've never been so surprised by Lee's spiritual content as I was here. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 20m I'm even amazed at the lead character's political affiliation (which I don't share). Sure, he takes some heat, but Lee allows him much more dignity than I was expecting. The film is better for that. Christian Hamaker @christian_ham · 18m I love Spike Lee's movie-a-year (or thereabouts) output, but it's resulted in a lot of undercooked films. This is one of his masterpieces. Didn't expect it. I'm ecstatic!
  24. This film opened in AFI Silver's Virtual Screening Room this past Friday. I'm intrigued. I'd not heard anything about the film and was surprised to find a mention of it here at A&F. Has anyone seen it? Worth the $9.99 rental fee? I have four kids who have enjoyed GKIDS films, but this one, according to AFI Silver's Silver Streams podcast, has been compared to early Terrence Malick (by Matt Zoller Seitz, they said on the podcast), and that might be too much for the youngsters. If you've watched it with children, let me know how they fared.
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