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Christian

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  1. I couldn't find a thread on this documentary about nonverbal autistic kids, which was one of my favorite films of last year. I sought it out after reading a rave review from Joe Morgenstern during the six months last year that I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal. While the film is lovely to look at - it's visually quite beautiful in ways I wouldn't have expected considering the subject matter - I was very much taken with the film's main content: a demonstration of methods depicted to show how these kids "verbalize" their thoughts. I'm no expert, and while I know the main method highlighted is viewed skeptically by some researchers/scientists, this is a rare instance where my excitement at what I was seeing made my journalistic skepticism take a back seat to hope and joy.

    Why am I launching a thread about this movie now? Sorry for the possible digression, but my wife and I became foster parents a couple of years ago and, having sent our one-and-only (so far) placement to her "forever home" earlier this month, we've just been contacted about possibly fostering a 4-year-old autistic boy who's noncommunicative. I immediately thought of this film. While we have very basic questions at the moment that will influence whether or not we take the boy into our home - he's a biter who, we're told, would benefit from older kids in the home who could "self protect" (uh oh! although as I told my wife, "Better to deal with a 4-year-old who manifests such behavior than a teenager!")  - part of me wants to foster the boy in the hopes that we can help him become more communicative. Whether or not that looks like the communication we see in the documentary or he actually starts to speak (he hums for now), it would be interesting to learn about how to care for kids like him - even if he never becomes more communicative while with us. (Part of the reason we were contacted is because our previous placement was noncommunicative when she came to us, then blossomed through time in our home and public-school programs for kids on the spectrum - a program this boy would also be part of.) 

    I don't really have a question. This is a thread about a film, and I'd love to hear what others thought of The Reason I Jump. But I also wouldn't mind hearing about any experience readers have had with noncommunicative autistic kids, even if that means this thread gets moved to another area of the board.

  2. On 5/15/2021 at 1:02 AM, Andrew said:

    Please watch it!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, and it really is SOOO good.

    I think I was less impressed by this film than you were - but I liked it well enough. I didn't realize we were getting a multi-story, episodic collection here, so the first transition threw me off. Were these the same characters? What's going on? And that second story - it was too didactic, with each character spelling out the moral dilemma/significance of the pending act and of the governmental/military consequences of resistance. (Also, that section of the film felt like a filmed play. I tend to like a lot of films that get dinged as "filmed plays," but the staging here felt unimaginative, even given the constraints on the filmmakers. That said, what felt like a play isn't, as far as a I know, based on a play at all, so maybe this is an unfair criticism.) Then the nondiegetic music kicked in - was the film now a thriller? (Later, one of the songs seemed to be both nondiegetic and diegetic - with characters singing along to it. Not a failing - I enjoyed the sing-along - but I admit to being somewhat confused in the moment.)  

    The film did indeed grow more lovely to look at in the later sequences, and the performances are uniformly good. I just wish the moral dilemmas hadn't been double/triple underlined in that second story in particular. 

  3. Again, my appreciation to you both for highlighting upcoming films from major directors, or films that are worth my time regardless of who directed them. As I've said before, I've simply stopped tracking a lot of stuff that I used to track rather closely, or at least closer than the average Joe. A new Ozon film is a significant event, and if I'd heard about this one, it's since slipped my mind. I'll keep an eye out for Summer of 85 (and will again suggest, without pleading, for information about how/where to watch these recommended films; sure, I can google and figure it out - and I will - but I'm reminded again that films in our pandemic age might be streaming or releasing theatrically, presumably in select cities - if such release patterns are even still a thing).

    Anyway - sorry for that digression - the question I wanted to ask Ken is, Have you seen Ozon's Double Lover? Ozon's IMDB listing puts DL squarely within the director's last five films. I ask because that film is stylistically, well, kinda awesome, but also indebted to De Palma (as Ozon indicates in supplemental interviews I watched on the DVD). I remember thinking it was quite distinct visually from the other Ozon films I'd seen, many of which I'd liked, although if you asked me to define his visual style, I'm no longer sure what characterizes it. I just remember being very impressed with the guy and the performances he gets from his actors. But then Double Lover just blew me away. It's an uncomfortable thing for me to admit because that film, like a lot of De Palma's work, is very sexual in its content (sorry to be so blunt, but if you've seen the film, you understand). And that sexuality, while mostly hetero, isn't exclusively so in DL. But the filmmaking is, I thought, pretty breathtaking.

    Sorry to hijack the thread a bit. I promise to share thoughts here on Summer of 85 once I've seen it.  

     

  4. Thanks - and nice timing! I was just earlier today talking with infrequent A&F participant Victor Morton about the FilmFest DC selections for this year - I recognized only one name (Holland) among the directors - and he highlighted this film, noting it had won the Golden Bear. I might buy an advance ticket this weekend, when the festival is promoting an early/purchase discount - of $1 per ticket. A bargain! (FYI for others who may be interested: The screening is geo-blocked for the DMV region.)

  5. Andrew, I appreciate the link to the various platforms at the end of your review. Around the time I stopped writing reviews, I stopped reading them - or many of them. I'll still go to friend's links when I come across them or, more often, click through to certain critics' reviews when scrolling a film's Metacritic or RT rating. Indeed, I use those platforms not so much for the overall ratings (although those interest me), but to see who reviewed the film at each outlet, sending my clicks to critics I enjoy reading.

    A couple of years ago, we bought a Roku TV and (finally) a smartphone, and suddenly a small but soon-to-grow world of platforms became available to me. Yet I've found that figuring out where/how to see a movie still often requires some googling after I've read a review.

    Slight digression: You mention your drink-snobbishness and demand for loose-leaf tea. Which brand of tea do you drink? (I'm afraid we have mostly sachets in our home, with a couple of loose leaf teas - and even some single tea bags, which seem to be going the way of the dodo.) We're Harney & Sons fans over here, although I get the sense that whatever cachet that brand once had has diminished as the brand has become more ubiquitous (available for sale at Barnes & Noble, etc.).

  6. For posterity, here's my list, which took me until March 9 to feel comfortable enough sharing. 

    1.       Da 5 Bloods

    2.       Nomadland

    3.       Dear Comrades!

    4.       Hamilton

    5.       Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

    6.       Small Axe: Red, White and Blue

    7.       Kajillionaire

    8.       Vitalina Varela

    9.       Minari

    10.   Relic

    11.   Beanpole

    12.   La Llorona

    13.   Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

    14.   Yalda: A Night for Forgiveness

    15.   First Cow

    16.   Another Round

    17.   Young Ahmed

    18.   Sound of Metal

    19.   The Reason I Jump

    20.   The Whistlers

  7. Oh. Didn't notice. I'll delete, although when I searched, I pulled up some album-specific threads that weren't titled "Derek Webb." 

  8. Thanks for posting, Anders. I watched I'm Thinking of Ending Things a second time last night, after telling folks on one of the A&F calls a couple of months ago that the film, which lost me in its home stretch if not earlier, had stuck with me for reasons that eluded me. I had hoped a second viewing would clarify the film's lingering impact.

    I'm afraid the film still loses me, not only in its final stretch, but about at its halfway mark, if not sooner. I had speculated earlier that the reason for the film's dropoff may have to do with the disappearance, or close to it, of the Collette and Thewlis characters, who had interested me greatly on first viewing. Their roles still strike me as important enough to feel their loss in the film's second half, but I'm not sure that explains my reaction. 

    I'd read up on the film after my first viewing. There's an interview with Kaufmann out there, published right around the time the movie debuted on Netflix, where he explains what he was doing in terms of adapting the source material, and in which he, or maybe it was the body of the full article and not specifically Kaufmann's quotes, explains the story - whose perspective it's being told from, etc. At the time, I thought that would be helpful when I watched the film again, but I found that, like a Lynch movie, some things are better left unexplained. I'd rather watch the film as a mind-warping fugue of characters and timelines rather than as a puzzle to be solved (which, to be clear, is what I think that article was doing - solving the narrative puzzle, possibly because Netflix anticipated viewer reaction and was trying to nip-in-the-bud anticipated bad word of mouth). 

    So, if it isn't the narrative puzzle that interests me about this film, what is it? A recent tweet from Kris Tapley might explain my interest. I'm surprised I hadn't thought of this before:

     

    Could it be the cinematography? I watched with that in mind the second time, and I think there's something there, although this isn't the kind of film that shouts its cinematography as you watch it. I'm not sure what's compelling about how the film looks, but some of the imagery does stay with me.

  9. It's been a long time since I've launched a thread at A&F, but I've just watched Dear Comrades! and feel compelled to do just that.

    You may know that this is Russia's official entry for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, and that its director, Andrei Konchalovskiy, directed The Inner Circle and Runaway Train. (Oh, and Tango & Cash, which I never bothered to see.) His anti-communist bonafides are well established, and I expected I'd like the film mainly because such films are in my wheelhouse.

    What I didn't expect is that the film would be so religious. This element emerges rather slowly, and the first time it came up I thought the angle would be limited to a certain side character. I'm the type of viewer who's so hungry for religious depictions in film that I knew I'd be crediting the film for that character portrait alone. What I didn't see coming is how that element would become integral to the central character's motivations during the film's second half. 

    I don't want to say too much about the movie, but I do, of course, encourage everyone to see it. The first half is quite good, but also very talky. I found the talk interesting, if not quite fascinating. The framing (the film is shot in Academy ratio) and black-and-white cinematography are striking and are enough to recommend the film, but it's really the second-half turn, if I can call it that, that elevated the story. 

    I'm tempted to call Dear Comrades! a masterpiece, but for now I just know that I'm excited that the film took me on a journey I did not expect. I'm a little overwhelmed.

    (Finally, I see this film's title listed almost everywhere with a exclamation point at its end, but IMDB does not use the exclamation point, FWIW.)

     

  10. You’re bumming me out! My daughter’s up to Season 3 - Sarah and I are five episodes into Season 1 and are enjoying it immensely - but I keep hearing Season 3 is a letdown. I wish knowing that didn’t lessen my current enthusiasm for the show; we all know that great shows don’t stay great beyond a couple (or few) seasons. I was hoping “Cobra Kai” would be a rare exception.

  11. During a recent A&F monthly call, I mentioned my admiration of Miranda July. I had the DVD of her second feature, The Future, in hand that week, and I held it up during the call as an example of a filmmaker who ... well, I don't remember what the question on the table was at that moment during our Zoom discussion, but I know I ran to where we store our DVDs and brought my copy of The Future back to the laptop, where I displayed it for those on the call. 

    As I explained then, I'm fan of July's, but my memory of her work, at that point, was a bit hazy. I'd seen Me, You and Everyone We Know, but it had been years. I think I'd just watched The Future ahead of the monthly call, and while the second half of that story went in some directions that disappointed me, I still stood in admiration of July's "voice" as a filmmaker and writer. (She's published a few books; I haven't read her novels but have read some of her short stories, particularly during the years when I was a New Yorker subscriber.)

    After the call, I rewatched Me, You and Everyone We Know - the Criterion edition, which I'd not seen. The movie didn't hold up to my vague but positive memories of it, but a supplemental interview with July was informative. 

    More recently, I had an opportunity to see July's latest film, Kajillionaire, at a local theater, but while it was one of the few 2020 films I had a keen interest in - especially after Richard Brody raved about the film - I shied away from seeing it theatrically because of the pandemic. Instead, last night I used a free Redbox rental to check out Kajillionaire at home. It was worth the wait.

    I'd be very curious to hear from other A&F folks what they think of the film. It has some of that ... twee? ... July sensibility that distinguishes her earlier work (and which irritates others), but this story, about a daughter who participates in her parents' criminal schemes, struck me as much more profound and meaningful than July's earlier work. I'm not sure how others will react to the trajectory of the daughter (played by Evan Rachel Wood), but I found myself rooting rather desperately for her character and for her emotional growth. 

    The film has something to say about parenting and how love between children and those who care for them is expressed (or not). Of particular note to this community: Richard Jenkins is in this, excellent as always. Oh, and not having paid attention to the credits, I spent the entire film thinking the woman playing the mother was Katherine Waterston, who looked ... older than I remembered her being? When the final credits rolled and I saw that the role was played by Debra Winger, well, that was a forehead-slapping moment.

    Has anyone here seen Kajillionaire?

  12. I watched my Criterion Blu-ray last night with the audio commentary turned on, and felt pleasantly affirmed when one of the screenwriters referred to the Christian imagery "all the way through" the film. 

    I tweeted about how the film has always struck me as redemptive, but that my Christian critic friends never really talk about it. I should've checked this board first! I even participated in this thread. 

  13. Ken: I don’t know if an A&F Zoom call happened this month - dates proposed have now passed, and it’s possible I never received final word of a call because I never confirmed my participation - but the future of the board might be a good subject for discussion during such a call. I realize the call is a small sample size, but I imagine the feedback might be useful.

  14. On 11/6/2020 at 9:27 PM, Christian said:Ross’ previous book, which was widely acclaimed, was a swing-and-a-miss for me

    By “previous book,” I meant Ross’ “The Rest Is Noise” - he released another book before the Wagner volume - and while I didn’t engage much with it, I struck today when I saw that the ebook is just $2.99 (for Nook - haven’t checked Kindle). I don’t re-read often, but seeing the kind comments here about “Noise” made me think it’s worth at least one more shot.

  15. To my surprise, while at Barnes & Noble tonight scarfing up Blu-rays with birthday money, I saw this book and bought a copy! It’s expensive, but I had just enough money to get it (after returning two Blu-rays to the shelf; both were upgrades of Chaplin films I love but already own on laserdisc). That Dirda review really had me thinking I might enjoy this book, even though Ross’ previous book, which was widely acclaimed, was a swing-and-a-miss for me. Still, about every 10 years, I decide that it’s time to Give Classical Music Another Try and see if it takes. I’m at that point now, and I’m thinking this book might lead to deeper interest. This thread has been fueling the rethinking as well, so thanks to all of you for the good discussion here.

  16. I don’t know much about Wagner beyond a couple of his best known compositions, but I’m aware of how divisive a figure he is. Now Alex Ross has published a book about Wagner, and Michael Dirda gives it a rave review in today’s Washington Post. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/if-ever-there-was-a-moment-for-richard-wagner-it-is-2020/2020/11/03/0ecd5664-1d23-11eb-ba21-f2f001f0554b_story.html%3foutputType=amp

  17. On 9/3/2007 at 2:33 PM, Christian said:

    The Richard Jewell incident is what turned me into a skeptic when it comes to law enforcement. Before Jewell's life was utterly ruined by the government, I used to (foolishly) back the police anytime a story broke about a suspect claiming he was wrongly accused.

    I mentioned during the most recent A&F Zoom call that I'd started watching Eastwood's Richard Jewell. I've now finished it. I suppose it should have made me angry on this weekend of protests against overzealous law enforcement, but I confess that I didn't think primarily of my skepticism toward law enforcement while watching this film. Instead, I marveled at - no, that's too strong of a word - was impressed by the performances, and found myself wondering why Eastwood can be so good - not all the time, but far from rarely - across different genres.

    I've read about Eastwood's working methods as a director and find them rather mystifying, so I've been content to let his output be very hit-and-miss, especially as he's aged. Nothing really unifies his best films - Unforgiven, The Bridges of Madison County, Letters From Iwo Jima, Changeling and this one (I haven't seen The Mule but have heard some good things) - other than Eastwood himself, so I've got to hand it to the guy. I don't know how he does it, but every time I'm ready to write him off, he delivers a movie of exceptional quality. Richard Jewell is one of those.

    I had speculated on Twitter that, because I have a weakness for cinematography, it may be the DP who makes the difference in the Eastwood films I've most admired. Of course, that rationale doesn't stand up to scrutiny: The Eastwood films I've most admired each have different DPs, with the exception of Tom Stern, who's been the cinematographer for a couple of them. I had thought Stern also was DP on Richard Jewell, but he's not. Instead, Eastwood's latest DP is Yves Belanger, whose work I thought was unfamiliar to me until I looked up his credits and discovered he'd been DP on the great Laurence Anyways. He also worked with Eastwood on The Mule, which I guess I really need to see. 

  18. The beloved Cinema Arts theater near our home opened yesterday. I asked Sarah if she was interested in seeing The Personal History of David Copperfield. "We could refill our popcorn bucket for $1 -- and maybe get COVID-19!" I told her, conflicted. She said she's not comfortable going to the movies yet, and I quickly agreed. 

  19. I hope you're still reading, Michael, because of all the things I love about L'Eclisse - I've now seen it three times; it came off some on second viewing (from a very high place) but bounced back on third viewing, which was on Blu-ray - the one thing about it that I find, well, inexplicable, is the blackface sequence. (I was reminded of this when reading Ken's post on Showboat.)

    I think I've watched all the extras, and have read the jacket essays. I don't recall discussion of the blackface sequence, although maybe it comes up in the audio commentary, which I've yet to listen to.

    I would like to better understand the context of what I see during that sequence, but frankly, it's rather ghastly to sit through. Not that it ruins the film; L'Eclisse works on me in a way that few other films do. But given where our culture is right now, I can't recommend the film unreservedly. I'd like to, but I can't - even if there's a good explanation for the sequence.

    I'm not demanding such from you, of course, and don't mean to make you defensive. I just thought that, given your familiarity with the film, you might have already wrestled with this very thing or could point me to some analysis of the sequence that might prove helpful. If not, that's OK. 

  20. I loved your review, Michael, and made a point to rent Underwater last night from Redbox. 

    I tracked with your reasoning, and I share some of your childhood love of monster/creature features. I wanted to like this film - I love genre films that tap into fear of the unknown, especially when they do so in a fun spirit (I'm thinking of Tremors), although I wasn't expecting humor here. I'm reluctant to say that I was let down by this film, and I've been trying to figure out why.

    I think what you see as a strength - no backstory, dives right into the action - was a drawback here. Often those character sketches are one-note, and that can feel lazy. But I did find myself thinking about Aliens while watching Underwater. It's been much too long since I've watched Aliens, but my memory is that the crew members are sketched out in that one-dimensional James-Cameron fashion, and while I scoffed at that when Aliens was new, I miss at least the attempt to give me a little something about the characters in a movie like Underwater.

    The execution of the action sequences in Underwater is more than competent, and I repeatedly caught myself noticing how good the film looks. (I often find myself wondering - and admiring - how a filmmaker/cinematographer gets the exact look of a film, especially when special effects are involved.) But by the time the characters set out on a dangerous walk, I was already struggling to pay attention. I wasn't bored, exactly; I just wasn't engaged in the way I need to be to buy into the characters' fates.

    On a more positive note, I watched to the end and found myself pleasantly surprised at the way the film reveals its creature(s). I kept imagining still frames on the cover of the Fangoria of my youth. And all within a PG-13 framework, which is, to my mind, admirable. There's no reason teens under 17 should be restricted from seeing Underwater, but so often studios will add unnecessary gore or other graphic content to get an R rating. Sorry to go all Michael Medved here; I just appreciate films that establish intense moods and situations without falling back on overly explicit/graphic imagery. I only wish more people had seen the film, even if I'm not more than, say, 2 stars on Underwater.

    I did enjoy Stewart's performance, but then again, I've liked her in almost all of her roles.  

  21. Good thread. I've just watched "The Apartment" for the first time (it's on Prime), and after getting over some, well, shock at the premise - how did I not know the premise after all these years?! - I watched with something approaching delight. This is such stellar studio filmmaking. Superb lead performances and strong supporting roles, all making the most of a sterling script. And how 'bout that widescreen B&W cinematography? I was happy to see it, and the lead actors, were all Oscar-nominated, though the film's awards haul didn't include those categories.

    This is the kind of film that makes me wonder why I don't just stick to watching unseen classics rather than chasing after the latest talked-about releases. The whole year, especially post-pandemic and with the run-up to the 2020 A&F Top 100 vote, has been like that. As much as I miss going to theaters, I can't think of a more rewarding stretch of movie-viewing in recent, or even distant, memory.

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