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  1. Andrew

    The Card Counter

    So, it's nowhere near as gripping or profound as First Reformed, but it's the 9/11 film America deserves. Schrader remains fixed on the US-Iraq War as a symbol of American moral bankruptcy. And the names of his protagonists remain just as significant: from the "earnest toller" of First Reformed, to Will Tell of his latest. My review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/09/the-card-counter-continues-paul-schraders-expose-of-american-moral-poverty/
  2. Good on you, Christian - it takes a special kind of person to be a devoted foster parent, and I commend you and your wife for it. As for this film, I loved it as well - along with Life, Animated and Temple Grandin, it's one of my three go-to films to put you in the shoes of someone with autism. I ranked it 7 or 8 on my Best of 2020 list, and was very touched when the director singled my review out as someone who got his film. I'm pretty sure communication boards are regarded as legit in the treatment world, as I seem to recall my wife and I having this conversation (she's a speech language pathologist and also adored this film). Just curious, Christian, did you make use of applied behavior analysis with your previous foster kid? ABAs are true heroes and wonder workers, in my estimation. I guess I'll link to my review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2020/10/diy-virtual-film-fest-part-9-the-reason-i-jump/
  3. Andrew


    And this only improved with a second viewing. The opening song foreshadows nicely what is to come, which is only amplified by the echo line of "True Love Always Finds a Way." "We Love Each Other So Much" is intentionally shallow, underscoring the peril of heedless infatuation. And the closing song is quite the gutpunch after all that's come before. By including his own daughter in the opening studio scene, Carax is clearly stating that we need to do better with our female roles in entertainment, that it's no longer ok to depend on the feminine martyr trope. It's analogous in my mind to so many horror movies, where you can guarantee that the Black supporting actor will offer themselves up as a sacrifice for the white leading actors. (As I understand it, one of the major horror releases this year appallingly did this yet again.) Thanks to the evil overlord Jeff Bezos, it's possible to watch and rewatch the joyous opening minutes of this film on repeat on Amazon Prime. Which I've been doing. And will continue to do. It's my favorite film opening in recent memory.
  4. Andrew


    So, this is fabulous, audacious, with terrific music and a particularly impressive performance by Adam Driver. After reading Evan's review, I'm kicking myself for not giving it 5 out of 5 stars. My main ding against it was that, for a film concerning itself with female representation in the arts, it focused overmuch on Adam Driver's character. But his comments about Carax's major stylistic choice and female agency really lifted this film in my estimation. Since Edgar Wright's Sparks documentary earlier this year, I've been immersing myself in the music of the Mael brothers. They're quite capable of witty, rapid-fire wordplay (to wit, wordy odes to the missionary position, a song about onomatopeoia, and another tune that manages to rhyme hippopotamus, Hieronymous (Bosch), Volkswagen autobus, and Titus Andronicus), but they focus on instrumental complexity here instead. They meld rock, hip-hop, Broadway musical, and various classical styles effectively (including Romantic, post-Romantic, Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and John Adams' Nixon in China). Carax's Holy Motors would probably make my Top 50. I'm not sure yet if I love this one quite as much, but I can't see a Best of 2021 list where this doesn't make my Top 3, in a year with several very impressive films. My full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/08/annette-a-musical-most-wonderful-and-strange/
  5. Andrew

    Pray Away

    Thanks, Evan. Your openness about it has arrived about two decades sooner than mine, so there's that at least. I've really only started talking about it over the last couple of years, in part to help a pair of younger relatives feel more at ease and less stigmatized over their LGBT identities.
  6. Andrew

    Pray Away

    I appreciate your comments, Evan, and posted a response on Letterbox. This was a tough watch for me as well, given my homophobic Lutheran indoctrination as a child, and repressing my own same-sex attraction for decades in a splendid act of self-loathing. I'm now comfortable in my skin as a bisexual, but it took a long time to get there, and I probably will never come out to many of my family members; what's the point of such masochism? Anywho, here's what I wrote on the film: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/08/pray-away-the-rise-fall-and-rise-of-faith-based-homophobia/
  7. I certainly get where you're coming from, Ken. I still check in here each morning as part of my breakfast-and-tea routine, but it feels like everyone has moved on, whatever the reasons.
  8. I'm intrigued and will certainly watch it, but the creator of that trailer could benefit from some Ritalin. Whew, that exhausted me!
  9. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

    Oh yeah - I totally viewed those two stories in that fashion.
  10. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

    I can see where the second story would've left a negative impression; I'm not a fan of the 'filmed play' feeling either (why I wasn't over the moon about Ma Rainey last year). It was my least favorite episode, but I loved how it then became something more expansive, with a French New Wave sort of energy.
  11. Andrew

    Changing the Game

    I think the Connecticut coach - in a plainspoken but sophisticated way - elevates the discussion of fairness from a question of individual winning or losing to a matter of societal fairness and equal opportunity for all, whether cis or trans. His reasoning corresponds to a higher level of Kohlbergian moral development. As the scenes at the TX wrestling match and the CT track and field stands show, many fans are too immature to grasp this. I think the coach's argument also collides head-on with the pathological degree to which middle-aged (and older) Americans depend on high school and college athletics for their own misplaced vicarious satisfaction.
  12. Andrew

    Changing the Game

    I can see why this film has been an award-winner at festivals over the past 1-2 years; it really is engaging and well-crafted storytelling. By following three trans high school athletes, it avoids preachiness in favor of letting the protagonists' lives and lived values predominate. As a humanist who believes part of my mandate is to encourage equality and advocate for society's disadvantaged, I applaud the film's approach to these themes. Folks of a more conservative bent and those identifying a Christian may appreciate the parental figures who see their compassion towards the trans kids in their lives as an outcropping of their faith and politics. I'll be writing a full review this weekend, but I know Hulu is offering screeners to critics and wanted to encourage folks to check it out.
  13. Andrew

    Summer of 85

    Jessica and I saw this during the online Chicago Film Fest last year and liked it quite a bit, too.
  14. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

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

    There Is No Evil

    It's a good day when I can reference Ikiru in a review. Highly recommended: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/05/there-is-no-evil-showcases-courageous-iranian-filmmaking/
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