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  1. I'm sorry to read this, Joel. I hope you can still find a way to get there.
  2. Andrew

    Free Solo

    Absolutely. Being a bunghole is diagnosis-independent. Though, I do find that oftimes speech or behavior that is labeled as obnoxious, rude, etc., is often a part of a person's undertreated or untreated psychopathology. Examples: a hypomanic or undertreated individual with ADHD who is hypertalkative, interrupts frequently, and behaves brusquely. It is a fine line between accepting, excusing, or working with someone's manifestations of psychiatric illness. Joel, your point about the ethical implications of filming this doc is a fascinating one that finally sank in. What a different story it would've been, had Alex plunged to his death as he was being filmed...
  3. Andrew

    Free Solo

    I think you can hardly be faulted for 'missing' something that is not made overt in the film. But I'd say that highly suggestive signs of an Asperger's diagnosis are present, which clinicians, as well as individuals with Aspergers and their families, would pick up on: 1) a father on the spectrum, since this is a highly heritable condition; 2) his food aversions; 3) his touch aversion and particular difficulties with intimacy; and 4) probably even his climbing obsession.
  4. Andrew


    That is curious. I know in Quebecois French that liturgical language gives them their strongest curse words - e.g., tabernak is even stronger than putain, the F-bomb equivalent in French. I guess French elsewhere does similar things, too.
  5. Andrew


    A couple of things keep me engaged in films like this: - I'm assuming that as an American viewer, I'm not the original target audience for a film like Capernaum. I'm going to guess this is far harder hitting for a Lebanese audience, the Beirut bourgeois who drive past the slums on highways during their commute, and are complicit in the country's health care, educational, and prison systems, who don't speak up for immigrant rights. - I'm reminded that poverty is poverty, but looks somewhat different in each country and culture. At least once a day at work, I have to spray Lysol in my office after a patient leaves - not because folks don't want to take care of themselves, but because they're homeless, or if they have a home, they're too broke to run a washing machine regularly. In East Tennessee, addicts try to score Subutex or a Xanax totem pole; on the streets of Beirut apparently, they're drinking Tramadol juice. In its own way, films like these help me from getting more jaded than I already am about the poverty I witness daily, deepening my empathy for the local poor folks. But that's just me... By the way, Ken, at your screening, did you hear anything about the significance of the film's title? It's a curious choice - as I recall, it was the name of Jesus' hometown before he started his ministry. It left me wondering if they're was a Christian underpinning to this film, especially since the only folks who brought joy into the prison depicted were a team of Christian minstrels (per the credits, an actual Benedictine group).
  6. Andrew


    I would've liked to write a full review of this film, but I chose to ride the zeitgeist and write about Leaving Neverland instead. But, after a slow opening 20 minutes (I nearly fell asleep, actually), this film turns into a gut punch. Its depiction of a childhood in poverty in urban Lebanon is devastating, with an incredible performance by its young lead. It's an indictment of toxic parents, but an even broader, searing condemnation of industrial societies that lack a safety net at every level for their most vulnerable (children and refugees both).
  7. Andrew

    Leaving Neverland

    Since this documentary seems to be the cultural event of the moment, I figured it was thread-worthy. Dan Reed's directing technique is workmanlike at best, though he does a commendable job of eliciting a coherent, powerful narrative from two of Michael Jackson's abuse victims. I found James Safechuck and Wade Robson's narratives completely convincing; I suspect the fallout from this doc will continue for quite a while. Here's the link to my review; it's far more personal than usual: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/03/leaving-neverland-honoring-the-effects-of-trauma/
  8. Huh. I felt almost the complete opposite, and said as much in my review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/03/despite-its-hype-arctic-left-me-mostly-cold/
  9. Ikiru strikes me as far less about growing older and far more about waking up. Its theme really seems age-independent, except for its protagonist having plenty of time for unfulfilling life experiences at work and with his son. Without strong persuasion, if nominated, I'd be giving it a 2 at best.
  10. Andrew

    Never Look Away

    My first five star review since First Reformed: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/02/never-look-away-a-masterpiece-of-artistry-and-survival-through-nazism-and-communism/ Here's a link to the A&F discussion of the director's earlier work, The Lives of Others: And here's a link to a very interesting discussion of the film, the director, and its subject at The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/21/an-artists-life-refracted-in-film?irclickid=wSL3Jq1Ni10%3Axg01KJSVUSBmUkgSr5zFzXNIRA0&irgwc=1&source=affiliate_impactpmx_12f6tote_desktop_Viglink Primary&mbid=affiliate_impactpmx_12f6tote_desktop_Viglink Primary
  11. Very nicely done, folks - well-written, persuasive, and presented in an aesthetically pleasing form. Lots of overlaps between our lists, showing that some of the language may change (pastoral vs. humanistic), but much doesn't (compassion), and that great art is often simply great art. Just one suggestion: you may want to put a link to the Honorable Mention list in Part One.
  12. Andrew

    Roma (2018)

    That is too bad. Klansman certainly carries plenty of social significance, but it's too pat ending kept it off my Best of 2018 list. Roma's long run time was felt by my tuchus, sitting in a Toronto cinema, but other than that I can find no fault with it. I found its focus on Mexico's serving class, as well as the dissolution of Cuaron's family - all set against the social turmoil of the era - quite moving. By spending so much time with members of an overlooked socioeconomic strata, I thought it was deeply humanistic (or spiritually significant if you prefer). I wonder if the frequent complaints here of detachment have something to do with the stoicism/fatalism of the film's protagonist?
  13. I'm good with the proposed dates, only I would give Round 2 an extra week. Of the possibilities Ken mentioned, I would stick with Eligibility Option A, without any of the embellishments suggested. 35% sounds like a good cutoff to me.
  14. I think Sentence #1 remains essential and is indisputable for an honest list ("Citizen Kane is supposed to be the greatest film ever, so I guess I'd better vote for it" should never guide list-making.) I'm far more open to discussion on the cutoff for a film's eligibility mentioned in Sentence #2. I'd be OK with slightly under 50% personally, to give room for great works that don't have a wide audience. My own ranking is similar: 5 is essential, 4 is near-essential, 3 is an ok fit but I'm rather meh about it, 2 is no, 1 is absolutely hell no. I don't think it's a bad idea to request 50% viewership of the list as a qualifier for voting, as long as we leave 6-8 weeks between the formation of the voting list and the close of voting. So far anyway, the list of seconded films is a nice mix of the popular, classic, and esoteric, which would make this requirement doable for any serious film lover.
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