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J.A.A. Purves

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About J.A.A. Purves

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    Lex clavatatoris designati rescindenda est.
  • Birthday 02/12/1980

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    https://underlyingassumptions.org/
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    Santa Barbara, CA

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  1. J.A.A. Purves

    Creed II (2018)

    (A&F links to Rocky Balboa (2006) and Creed (2015).) I've always loved these films because of their continually going back to the themes of family, history, and heritage. I don't think Stallone could have done better than by picking Michael B. Jordan as the hero to pass the torch to in order to keep carrying the story, and it looks like this next film is as much about torch bearing as ever. Todd Gilchrist, Moviefone: “After six “Rocky” films, “Creed” was a remarkable triumph -- what seemed superfluous at best became essential. The first "Creed" movie is not just a great entertainment, but it is also a catharsis for one character and a vivid introduction for another. Consequently, “Creed II” only needed to be a well-deserved victory lap for Michael B. Jordan, who rocketed to stardom as Adonis “Donnie” Creed, not to mention Sylvester Stallone, whose signature series passed to more than capable shepherds. But like its predecessor, this kinda-sorta double sequel (both to its immediate predecessor and to “Rocky IV”) wrestles with powerful issues, deepens the first film’s characterizations, and resolves lingering details in the franchise’s timelines with humanity and grace. "Creed II" elevates the literal and metaphorical challenges of following up improbable success to something meaningful and eventually transcendent of the formulas that it relies upon ... Even as the film falls into the sometimes predictable rhythms of the series -- triumphant victories giving way to devastating defeats, and vice versa -- writers Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor showcase what seems like a very real feeling for competitors at the top of their game, and Donnie feels unfocused and perhaps appropriately decentralized in his own story. He is less a person than a character in a narrative that the world is determined to control -- a narrative that loves nothing more than perfect parallel lines between generations as one yields for the next to secure its own legacy. In the first half of Donnie’s journey, he seems to be doing what he thinks he’s supposed to, or is afraid not to -- a realistic and understandable course of action for a kid who, by the end of the first film, had only begun to discover himself, much less his febrile talents. But abject losses have a way of forcing reflection upon people who pursue excellence, and director Steven Caple Jr. harnesses these necessary, almost predetermined story beats and turns them into moments of searing introspection -- and, eventually, powerful self-actualization. Jordan, proving again he has more than enough charisma and talent to be both a movie star and bona fide actor, returns to a character facing questions that undoubtedly hit close to home as he plots his next career move: Once you’ve earned success, how much is enough? And more vitally, what drives that pursuit? The young actor’s physical commitment to the role is readily visible, but it’s the overall sharpness of his performance, including moments of heartbreaking vulnerability, that elevate his journey from the son of Apollo Creed to his own man ... Because “Creed II” works wonderfully as a follow-up to the first “Creed” and the fourth “Rocky,” but the similarities to those earlier films are quite frankly the least of its charms. And like Adonis, what proves most remarkable is how successfully what could easily be dismissed as a lesser copy or pale imitation combats a suffocating legacy to prove it can, and should, stand on its own.” Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist: "There’s a Confucius-style tenant written somewhere in the annals of screenplay writing 101—presumably written by a giant like William Goldman (R.I.P.)—that goes a little something like this: if you truly and deeply care about the characters everything else is gravy. To augment that somewhat, if you deeply empathize with a superhero, his fate and everyone they care about, all their epic battles and obstacles are that much more gripping—you are invested emotionally in what happens because the movie has successfully captured your heart. This very basic, but often forgotten, story fundamental is thankfully not forgotten in the ongoing superhero genre of boxing movies. And in “Creed II,” director Steven Caple Jr.,as well as writers Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone, understand emotional investment and stakes which make every blow in the film land that much harder.” Sam C. Mac, Slant Magazine: “There’s one substantial deviation from this predetermined path: a section in the middle of Creed II in which Adonis, recuperating from broken ribs and a ruptured spleen, settles down with his girlfriend, R&B singer-songwriter Bianca (Tessa Thompson). Jordan and Thompson are excellent in a lovely and anxious scene in which Adonis proposes to Bianca; the actors make their characters’ progression into married life, and eventually their role as parents, believable and moving. And while this emphasis on familial bonds may not be new to the series—in Rocky IV, Apollo and Rocky behave like brothers, and Rocky’s relationship to Adrian was given its own space to develop—there’s something uniquely special about the portrayal of family in Creed II, namely the way Adonis, Bianca, and their baby girl, Amara, come to represent perhaps the first dynastic black family in a major studio franchise. (That’s a development that may well have come from Coogler, a credited producer here, given that his Black Panther is similarly invested in a sense of lineage.)”
  2. J.A.A. Purves

    Leave No Trace

    Thanks for the review, Joel. This looks like a good Veterans' Day film. I'll try to watch it this weekend.
  3. J.A.A. Purves

    Suggest a Film to be Featured

    I like this idea very much. FYI, if you want to post a thread for a film for which there is already a thread, I believe there is a way of moving it to the "Featured Film Discussions" section of the board. Email me if you can use any help figuring that out. Perhaps we could discuss a film or two for Advent: something like Whistle Down the Wind, Gosford Park, or The Night of the Hunter.
  4. J.A.A. Purves

    Widows (2018)

    This is not normally the plot of an awards winning film, but it sounds like it has been turned into a story that is much more powerful than most other directors would have made it. I’m looking forward to this. Chris Feil, Film Experience, September 16, 2018: “Widows takes its seemingly straightforward crime narrative and weaves in character details and sociopolitical context to reflect a world where the personal and the political are inextricable, where institutional corruption and old boy loyalties create impossible consequences for the innocent average citizen. The personal and the political are inextricable here, with McQueen and Gillian Flynn’s screenplay sometimes allowing murkiness over definitiveness for the sake of effectively showing a world where reliable alliance is impossible. Manning’s political intentions appear just and honorable, undercut by his menace and willingness to enact the violence of his brother Jatemme, played with Chigurhian brilliance by Daniel Kaluuya. His rival, Colin Farrell’s Jack Mulligan, represents the status quo politicking that does nothing for the people, and has his own degrees of alternating virtue and nefariousness. While this rich contextual fabric lends the film an immediacy, its McQueen’s take-no-prisoners approach to building tension that makes the film as invigorating and stressfully evocative as it is. Seldom does a scene occur that some small detail or character beat doesn’t intensify the moment, like the omnipresence of Veronica’s dog and the less than friendly atmosphere shared between the new partners in crime. It’s a constant stream of microtensions that turn Widows into a macro powder keg, leaving our nerves into a frayed tangle. Nailbiters beware. Its massive cast (no seriously, even the bit players are recognizable faces) is all given opportunities to shine and given the space to complicate the texture of the film - though Jackie Weaver and Robert DuVall are perhaps given too much space. Along with Kaluuya’s terrifying villain, Debicki is the standout, even if her larger screentime provides repetitive beats that stick out against the film’s steady ability to surprise us with new ideas. Cynthia Erivo stealthily sneaks late into the film, ready to steal the multiplex as swiftly as she took the Broadway stage - her coarse interplay with Davis makes for one perfect wordless scene late in the film." Christopher Machell, Cinevue, September 17, 2018: “At the centre of the film is Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings, the recently widowed wife of professional robber Harry (Liam Neeson). It’s a stunning performance, all at once strong, vulnerable and brave. Genre film or not, Davis’ depiction of profound grief is tremendously effective, elicited by McQueen’s audacious direction. The opening sequence cross cuts between a night-time heist gone violently wrong, with Harry and his colleagues dying in hailstorm of bullets and fire, and Veronica tenderly embracing her husband in between their crisp white bed sheets. McQueen consistently deploys such devices throughout the film, using the reflections in windows and musical cues to conjure Veronica’s bereaved memories. The second of this year’s second women-led heist flicks, Widows is as thrilling – and as relevant – as it gets. Although Veronica is at the centre of the film, her co-stars Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez as the wives of Harry’s associates, are given more than sufficient depth for us to empathise when they enter the frame. Crucially, the women share a common goal and experience, yet have wildly different backgrounds, thrown together under tragic circumstances. ... McQueen elevates it with the political element that Manning – who is running for District Alderman – brings with him. Opposing Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the anointed son of incumbent Alderman Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall), it’s here that McQueen capitalises on the David Simon-esque racial politics. In one astonishing shot, Mulligan the younger bickers with his aide about the city’s black people ‘killing each other.’ As they enter Mulligan’s car, the camera stays outside, sitting at the front of the vehicle. As they move down the street, the camera pans from the dilapidated projects and across the windshield, briefly revealing that Mulligan’s driver is black, before completed its maneuver to settle at the left side of the car, revealing Mulligan’s enormous family home. In a single shot, McQueen distills the essence of the film’s political underpinnings, a thesis that culminates in the brief, thrilling heist sequence and a rousing conclusion.” Ella Kemp, Culture Whisper, September 18, 2018: “It would be easy to dismiss Widows as providing box-checking awards bait with big names and a reliable story. But despite the anticipation and support that lifts the project, what allows every word to ring true is the brutal violence that manages to surprise every sceptical thought and punish the assumptions ever stacked against a woman who has dared to love someone. The film never loses credibility, as McQueen manages to mesh explosive entertainment with realistic politics of gender and societal injustice. The women at war remain engaging because the mission stems from something bigger than an impulsive loyalty or an obligatory reaction of fear. It digs into reclaiming what they need and, finally, what they deserve. Love and loyalty motivate the heist, but these emotions work against the players. This allows for more moments of comedy than the premise entails, with jabs at gun culture, stereotypical female weaknesses and the economy of online intimacy. There's a difference between the ease in stealing and killing, and the force it takes to save yourself in order to be happy. Widows is a critique of everyday evils and betrayal; a searing lesson on how revenge and redemption go hand in hand. As topical as it may be, it's important to remember the film as more than ‘a moment’. The reaping of this harvest is only just beginning.”
  5. J.A.A. Purves

    Should A&F posts have a "Like" Button?

    In my experience, a "like" button does discourage conversation. Just being able to click to "affirm" what someone says is an easy alternative to responding with even a single sentence of affirmation. If the A&F board is to have a resurgence of conversation again, there are a number of alternatives to this that I think could encourage more conversation instead.
  6. J.A.A. Purves

    Examples of "Cinematic Parables"?

    The Adjustment Bureau Ruby Sparks Dogville Certified Copy Children of Men Hail, Caesar! Éric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales
  7. J.A.A. Purves

    Top 25 or 100 for 2018-19

    I'm still here and am checking in every week. If enough participants desire to update the Top 100 list, I'd recommend: 1) First and foremost, re-establishing Arts & Faith's contact with Image: Assuming Image is still going to publish what we produce here, we'll need a contact person there who can familiarize him- or herself with how Arts & Faith's lists, voting, polls, and film & voter ranking calculations all work. 2) Selecting someone with the ability to lead and organize the process: I can personally testify that this would be a significant time commitment. While I can actively participate, I know I would not have the time right now to lead and organize it. 3) Obtaining a satisfactory minimum number of participants who would commit to working on this: I second Andrew and Christian on that. 4) Creating a reasonable timeline: I'd give an update to the Top 100 list more time to put together than we've given the Top 25 lists, and I know the only way many of us could participate in this is if we place goals and dates on the calendar that we can plan and allocate time for. See also our December 2016 discussion.
  8. J.A.A. Purves

    Ready Player One

    If you read anything else about Ready Player One, read this essay - From Palmer Rampell at The Los Angeles Review of Books, May 3, 2018: “The New Yorker critic Pauline Kael wondered rhetorically while being interviewed in 1985. ‘One hates to say it comes down to the success of Steven Spielberg, but…’ She left a pregnant pause. For critics like Kael, Spielberg, along with George Lucas and others, shifted the production model in Hollywood away from introspective low-budget pictures helmed by auteurs — like Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider (the so-called Hollywood Renaissance) — to blockbuster productions with ever-proliferating sequels and extensive advertising campaigns. Spielberg’s critics insist that his blockbusters are ‘infantilizing’ or even ‘totalitarian’ in their unreflectiveness and focus on spectacle. At the same time, the popularity of the blockbuster has enabled Spielberg to become the highest grossing director of all time, personally worth $3.6 billion. And while Spielberg began as a countercultural auteur, or so the legend goes, there is also good evidence to suggest that he was sanguine about corporate production from early in his career. Like Halliday and, one day, Wade, his obvious doubles, Spielberg is a multibillion-dollar creator of artworks for the masses, and the battle in the film between Wade and Sorrento is a battle over the legacy of the cultural meaning of the 1980s, the nature of corporate productions, and by extension Spielberg’s oeuvre. Was the culture of the ’80s all just for profit and in bad taste, with Sorrento as its true heir, or, following Wade, can we find something redemptive underneath the shoulder pads, hoop earrings, and acid-washed jeans? ... Once we see that Spielberg is pointing to the intertwined visions of director and corporation, Ready Player One looks like a celebration of one corporation in particular — Warners — and of the corporate vision — the vertically integrated multimedia conglomerate — that has underpinned it for the past 50 years. The media conglomerates of the 1970s and ’80s could underwrite the Hollywood blockbuster’s high risk and high reward because they had diversified their holdings by investing in a number of different industries: film, television, video games, et cetera ... What would it mean to read the film as celebrating not just Spielberg but also Warners’ culture, to think of the film not only as Spielberg’s creation but also as Warners’ advancement of a particular agenda at this moment in time? One obvious answer is that Ready Player One promotes virtual reality as a medium for the masses, a potential boon to both Time Warner and Spielberg, who have invested in virtual reality technologies as the next multimedia frontier ... But ironically, in its frequent allusions to Warners’ productions, Ready Player One cannot help but reveal the gap between its celebration of the free and open distribution of content and the studios’ actual practice of covetously guarding their intellectual property. To paraphrase Henry Ford a bit, users of the OASIS can explore any IP that they want — so long as it belongs to Warners. Users can generate their own content, but perhaps the most notable example of user-generated content is Wade’s friend Aech’s massive recreation of the Iron Giant. Her creative imagination has been thoroughly colonized by Warners’ IP, which AT&T plans to release to its consumers in similarly customizable experiences. The OASIS is thus exactly what many reasonably fear AT&T envisions as the future of the internet: a putatively free internet that is dominated by Time Warner’s content. While, to Spielberg, the Golden Egg may refer to the quality of the art produced under corporate supervision, to Time Warner and AT&T, a golden egg refers to the monetary value of the associated goose. In fact, AT&T has described its premium satellite and cable subscribers as precisely that: ‘a golden goose,’ by which they mean a reliable source of revenue.”
  9. J.A.A. Purves

    Monsters and Men (2018)

    From Richard Lawson at Vanity Fair: “This is not an intense annals-of-power thriller, though. It’s instead a quiet look at a personal moral quandary that has no easy answers, a conflict Green illustrates with sensitivity. Though all three sections of the film have didactic bits when big ideas are plainly stated, the bulk of Monsters and Men renders huge issues with a fluid understatement. But that disarming pensiveness and interiority doesn’t forget the anger and sadness of the story—instead, it somehow heightens it, affording these characters a grounded texture that casts their struggles in a piercingly humane light ... The film is gorgeously staged, cinematographer Patrick Scola’s camera gliding and reeling, Kris Bowers’s dreamy score playing as both plaint and prayer. The performances are uniformly gripping, with Ramos, Washington, and Harrison Jr. the standouts, if only because they have the most to do. (Beharie remains as welcome here—sharp, natural, incisive—as she is in everything. Please put her in everything?) There’s an argument to be made that Monsters and Men is too tasteful for such seismically important, infuriating topics; perhaps the film dulls its stakes with all its lilting aesthetics. As I see it, though, Green’s melancholy reserve articulates something vital and heartbreaking. Alongside all the clamor and fury of this necessary outrage, there is also the everyday ache of these lives, infected and shaped by racism and its destructive ends, yet still possessed of precious everyday joys, hard won and tenuous as they might be.”
  10. J.A.A. Purves

    The Yellow Birds

  11. J.A.A. Purves

    A Quiet Place

    Bishop Robert Barron, “The Most Unexpectedly Religious Film of the Year,” April 10, 2018: “We flash-forward several months later, and we watch the Abbots (can the name have possibly been accidental?) going about their lives in what could only be characterized as a monastic manner: no conversations above a whisper, elaborate sign language, quiet work at books and in the fields, silent but obviously fervent prayer before the evening meal, etc. (I will confess that this last gesture, so thoroughly absent from movies and television today, startled me.) Given the awful demands of the moment, any gadgets, machines, electronic entertainment, or noisy implements are out of the question. Their farming is by hand; their fishing is done with pre-modern equipment; even their walking about is done barefoot. And what is most marvelous to behold is that, in this prayerful, quiet, pre-modern atmosphere, even with the threat of imminent death constantly looming, a generous and mutually self-sacrificing family flourishes. The parents care for and protect their children, and the remaining brother and sister are solicitous toward one another and toward their parents ... The central drama of 'A Quiet Place' is that Mrs. Abbott is expecting a child. The entire family realizes, of course, that a wailing infant would, given the circumstances, mean almost certain death for all of them. And yet, they decide not to kill the child at his birth but to hide him and mute his cries in various ways. When so many in our culture are willing to murder their children for the flimsiest of reasons, when the law gives full protection even to partial-birth abortion, when people blithely say that they would never bring a baby into such a terrible world, the monastic family in this film welcomes life, even into the worst of worlds, and even when such an act is of supreme danger to them. As the baby is coming into the light, the mother finds herself alone (watch the film for the details) and in the most vulnerable situation, for one of the beasts has made its way into their house. As she labors to give birth, the devouring animal lurks. I was put immediately in mind of the scene in the book of Revelation, where Mary is in the throes of child birth as the dragon patiently waits to consume the child ...”
  12. J.A.A. Purves

    Thy Kingdom Come (2018)

    (A&F threads for Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005), The Tree of Life (2011), To the Wonder (2012), Knight of Cups (2015), Voyage of Time (2016), Song to Song (2017), and Radegund.)
  13. J.A.A. Purves

    First Reformed

    As Kenneth notes below, Spoilers are in the trailer:
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