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M. Leary

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Everything posted by M. Leary

  1. M. Leary

    And Also Introducing...

    We had our gender scan last night and discovered that among other things (scans these days are amazing: arteries, kidneys, bladders, ventricles, each bone in measurable relief) - Its a boy! (Due Feb 14.) For a long time I have had William Columbus way at the top of the list of future boy's names, so little Wilco he may be.
  2. M. Leary

    Still Life

    Thanks so much for posting, this Rob. It is great confirmation of my experience of the film, which still haunts me. And you used the phrase "bearing witness," which is a helpful way to process Jia. We just have to learn how to look, long and deep.
  3. M. Leary

    Top 25 or 100 for 2018-19

    I would love to participate. I have not really been part of any cinema conversation for a while, but have kept current and am gearing back up for some writing this coming year. There were some really spectacular films from the last few years which went under the radar but would look great on this list. Looking forward to feeling the old flicker of life at A&F. I second or fourth the notion about communicating with Image to defining our relationship at the moment.
  4. M. Leary

    Avengers: Infinity War Part I

    Relentlessly okay, thirded. A lot of really inert dialogue. The critical problem for me is that Thanos is not a compelling character, and the relationships intended to imbue his prodigious chin with pathos are not well scripted. A similar thing happens with the Iron Man/Spiderman relationship, which doesn't quite connect the emotional dots. There just aren't any stakes present. A telling flaw is the first Guardians of the Galaxy sequence, which lacks the crackle and pop of their film installments. This makes me think that had Gunn directed this entire film, it would have been more coherent and incisive. He is a much better director.
  5. We once had such a group (Faith and Film Critics Circle), which is now defunct. We had a rudimentary voting system that resulted in a few years of "awards" (2009). I think I bowed out at one point, due to time concerns and disagreement with some of the basics of the award (including the name and separating "Best Film" categories from a "Spiritually Significant" category IIRC). But I want to gauge interest on starting this again in a very simple way (e.g. Skandies). A few potential stipulations: We would vote on three or four categories and call it a day (Film, Director, Documentary, Animated). We would set some basic requirements for membership (such as # of reviews published). We would have a very basic mission statement. We would use A&F for voting/discussion and find a central location to post results... We would vote with space offered for argument prior to voting. But this would be similar to any local critic society in that it would be a straight vote from among options. If this approach is taken, the polling system at A&F could be utilized. We would broadcast via the mechanism used for the Top 100 (should Image be interested). What do we think? Poll above and add comments below.
  6. M. Leary

    Stan Brakhage

    This is great. Hope it sticks. I am training this year for a long race in July - so I will join you as you journey through these discs.
  7. Ah, must have looked at the wrong list for Hunter Gatherer. Such a shame, as this one really fell through the distribution cracks. And I think Aquarius did have a run in 2016, but am not sure. Again, feel free to pull whatever you think best.
  8. Yeah, it does look like it had some sort of very limited release in 2016 (Box Office Mojo has zero recorded stats for this release) - though D'Angelo has it on his NYC release list for 2017. I follow the latter but I don't see why that has to be the standard for this jury. Feel free to pull it from the nominations if you think that advisable.
  9. Rescind Nomination: 20th Century Women Nomination: Behemoth
  10. And a really wild score to push the whole thing along. Andre Royo here is one of my favorite performances of the year. Glad you also caught this one.
  11. Want to make a plug for the documentary For Ahkeem. This was particularly affecting for me, being from St. Louis, but is worth taking some time to see it. The documentary follows a young girl in a special joint program of the public school district and juvenile courts. While in production, the Ferguson riots transpire. The splicing of footage from the event into this girl's story is masterful. And then the whole thing is superintended by her voiceover. I know, I know. Documentary voiceover. But this one is so plaintive and prayerful. It turns out that she had been writing a diary and the filmmakers helped her turn these thoughts into a beautiful oral performance of young motherhood in urban St. Louis. Contact them here and they will surely provide a screener link: http://forahkeemfilm.com/contact/ There is an email address for press if you hover over the button on that page.
  12. Well, I am not going to try too hard. I think this film becomes a bit too overt about the career vs. family thing the entire series has toyed with - but I just love watching these guys talk. There are few good films like this about friendship out there. More germane to the award,
  13. A few nominations: Trip to Spain For Akheem Strong Island Aquarius Hunter Gatherer 20th Century Women Second: Marjorie Prime
  14. Happy to do 2-3 of the following: Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001) The Insider (Mann, 1999) Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda, 1962) Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir, 1975)
  15. M. Leary

    A Ghost Story

    A good contrast to the minimalism here may be Tsai's Stray Dogs, which features similar, but even more challenging minimalist shots. A few of these are a test even for Tsai fans, yet they are so utterly captivating, even overwhelming given the context. But the primary narrative anchors for the minimalism here are the Will Oldham soliloquy and the really nifty chronological shift toward the end. While I liked both of these elements, and the technical adventure of the latter, it still kind of falls apart (get it?) for me at the end. I am a big fan of using cinema to depict the unspeakable elements of grief and loss, which Lowery does a fine job of articulating around the various cuts of the first half of the film. This idea that both living and dead are still bound together by the same experience is something I guess we see more in Asian cinema than we do in the West. Something just didn't connect here for me. Very similar reaction to Upstream Color.
  16. M. Leary

    A Ghost Story

    Huh. Pretty split on this one. Any ardent fans?
  17. M. Leary

    Marjorie Prime

    This latest from Almereyda is now on a few streaming services for your viewing pleasure. And it is a pleasure. I think I am the resident Almereyda fan at A&F, but Marjorie Prime is well worth a visit for those interested in cinema about marriage, memory, and a little sci-fi. I have really been enjoying Almereyda's recent evolution, as his films are a bit of a grab bag of the habits of some of my favorite directors. There is a lot of Resnais and Godard in this one. There are some beautiful avant garde shots scattered in between the obvious scene breaks imposed on the film by its script (it began as a play). The performances here are really captivating, especially Geena Davis - who apparently is a wonderful dramatic actor. Almereyda is definitely onto something in his recent cinema.
  18. M. Leary

    Princess Cyd

    For those following Stephen Cone's work, I noticed BAM is playing his latest film, Princess Cyd. Seems to veer a bit from the Evangelical setting of the last two, but perhaps not? From this Salon interview:
  19. M. Leary

    Marjorie Prime

    It is relevant to your interests, for sure! The sci-fi elements are fairly muted, but imagine a Resnais chamber drama with a light touch of Philip K. Dick and a few crisp visual interludes.
  20. M. Leary

    2017 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury

    I have been looking forward to it.
  21. M. Leary

    Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)

    Very much so. And there is not too much variation between "secular" and Christian audiences. I have learned the hard way I cannot just drop OT or NT allusions into lectures expecting students to pick up on them - whether in the Christian undergraduate or graduate seminary context. This is in part a matter of sheer content knowledge, but also an issue of the narrative literacy which allows for people to connect referential dots on their own. Lots of well-documented reasons for both of those problems.
  22. M. Leary


    But also... I have enjoyed taking this journey through The Return with you all. This has been a very helpful place of reflection and I learned a lot.
  23. M. Leary


    On 3, Yes!! That is incisive and gets at what I have had trouble articulating. On 9, I guess I did not experience it as unsexy in the sense that sex is a much broader experience than cinema/tv typically conceives. This pairing was so exquisitely framed as the kind of physical pairing which occurs for reasons other than mere physical pleasure, after time and desire have bloomed into something a bit like desperation but more a way to tell someone you both belong to the same story at the same time.
  24. M. Leary


    Right. Except there is always a universe out there with a Wally Brando in it. (And everyone else in the last interior shot of the Twin Peaks police station.)
  25. M. Leary


    SPOILERS BELOW -- Episode 17 is legendary. Canon. Episode 18 was blistering, unpredictable, and not where I thought this was all going. It is the first time I have sensed a willful resistance to closure in Lynch's work. The loose ends always feel so natural, part of the work. I am sure part of this is from everyone wanting answers to lingering questions about different characters and occurrences, but the quantum tack of the narrative here was so quick and pervasive that even Coop was taken by surprise and left confused at the end. We could handle Coop having been sucked into the Black Lodge on his law-abiding quest to rescue Laura. Even in the eventual transition of Coop to Dougie as he found his way out of that dimension, there was always hope that Coop would resurface and get back to business. And he certainly does in Episode 16-17. But then everything begins to slip and shudder in a way Twin Peaks never has before. To herald the emergence of this hazard, Cooper's face resolves across the entire screen like a watermark. He is no longer in the screen, he has somehow become the screen and this unsettling new point of view is beyond the professional ken of both Coop and Cole. He does have Diane by his side as he tumbles into this new lead back at the Great Northern. Cooper travels back in time to save Laura, thus unraveling the sequence of events which has led to Seasons 1-3. The plastic-wrapped blue rose of her body vanishes from the pebbled beach. Coop and Diane then arrive at a precipice, mile marker 430. The narrative mechanics which got us here are really clear; the crumbs scattered as far back as the first encounter between Cooper and The Fireman in this season. But what happens next is so remarkable as an advance in the clarity of Lynch's depiction of the cosmos riddled with gaps, threats, and aggressions - navigated only with bursts of confidence by people of love and wisdom. Even so, this evil is no mere abstraction as it is embodied and personified across time in thieves, conspirators, rapists, the people who make bombs, etc... Just as someone like Cooper incarnates a will to live and thrive, so does Judy instantiate fates worse than death. Cooper and Cole have always had a confidence in the grain of the universe, bent toward justice. What happens when this is proven false? Well, Cooper finds himself in the answer to this question. A world in which Diane love is impossible. Laura is always being awoken to her past. He doesn't even know what year it is. In this season we met bad Coop, Dougie, and were reacquainted with the real Coop. Now all we have left is alternate Coop, who seems an amalgam of all three (fights like bad Coop, moves and walks like Dougie, feels and remembers like real Coop). If the key to survival in Lynch-world is a strong sense of self which resolves in the confidence to love someone else, then this Coop has lost this inner narrative integrity. This is, to our great surprise, a first for Twin Peaks. Call it absurdist, confusing, intentionally ambiguous, whatever... it has always had a center in Cooper. Not anymore.