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NBooth

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  1. NBooth

    Rocketman

    On another note, here's Matt Zoller Seitz:
  2. NBooth

    Rocketman

    Yeah, this touches on a number of points that have (afaik) been going around in LGBTQ discourse since the '90s, at least--the problem of how, exactly, to define the "gay" or "queer" experience. Or, in another phrase, "How queer is queer?" It can get pretty divisive; I've seen people accuse Call Me By Your Name (!) of being "a gay movie for straight people" or suggest that it isn't "queer enough." An odd claim, from my perspective, but suggestive--the question is, is a movie "gay" just because it features two people of the same gender-identity falling in love? Does In & Out count as a "gay" movie? Does Rope? Certainly if I were to create a queer film canon I would include Rope and exclude In & Out, even though the latter has a character who openly says he's gay and the former does not, but what are the grounds of this distinction? Etc. [EDIT: I'm sure you've encountered this book, but let me quickly plug In a Queer Time and Place, which runs through the above questions w/r/t the trans experience] Put another way, Adams isn't talking about BR and "other gay movies"--he's suggesting that BR isn't a gay movie at all. I think Adams' critique is precisely the opposite to the issue you allude to in your second 'graph. The problem for Adams isn't that Freddie isn't "incidentally gay" but that he isn't gay enough. If I understand Adams' objection to Bohemian Rhapsody, it's that Freddie's queerness is pretty much incidental--so incidental that, when they brought the movie to China, it was possible to remove all of it with the excision of a couple of minutes--and that whatever queerness is shown is seen as a source of anxiety and depression (this is Adams' critique, not mine, since I've not seen BR, which I should have noted above). Which, when you're dealing with a character so obviously and deeply queer as Freddie Mercury, seems kind of an odd choice. The thing about having the "right gay voice" is that (again, by Adams' estimation) it allows Rocketman to get at some realities of gay life that might seem obvious from within but are often not obvious from without. This argument raises the specter of "authenticity," which I think is a red herring, but it also suggests one of the ways that having (for instance) a diverse writing-room can make a piece of art stronger or more interesting. Now, as far as the larger scope of issues you bring up--yes, there's broad similarities between Christian film and LGBTQ film (up to and including the fact that most examples of both forms are, first, produced by members of the in-group and, second, pretty terrible). I do think we could make some important distinctions regarding why filmmakers from each group (insofar as they're separate groups; I'm uncomfortable with the implicit line between "Christian" and "gay" but I'm accepting it as a generic distinction as far as film goes) make their films. There is, as you note, a hunger for representation from each group, and the respective genres fill those needs. What I'm not sure of is the extent to which the question of evangelism comes up. Christian movies have a weird thing where they're kind-of-sort-of trying to "win souls" or whatever while at the same time "preaching to the choir" because, let's face it, it's mostly Christians watching these things. Meanwhile, a gay flick like John Apple Jack seems pretty uninterested in even pretending that straight audiences exist (I imagine the same could be said for the Eating Out series, but I've never seen them). [EDIT: There's also a question of audience-expectations. The audiences for God's Not Dead, based on my Facebook feed, seem to take a tremendous amount of pleasure in being told they're right, while the audiences for most gay movies--again, based on the discourse I see online--are happy to settle for being told they're valid. I wouldn't want to insist on this latter point too strongly, though, because my personal experience is limited and idiosyncratic.] In fact, the only time a movie with queer themes starts considering a straight audience is when it's pitched to go big like Call Me By Your Name or Bohemian Rhapsody. There may be parallels here, too, in the way (for instance) Christian themes got rinsed out of the Narnia franchise, etc. Anyway, sorry for the wall-o-text. Your comments just got me thinking.
  3. NBooth

    Rocketman

    Saw this last night and--ok, yeah. I'm not an Elton John fan, even--I know the "greatest hits" and "Your Song" has a certain emotional weight for me--but I'm not really all that familiar with his deeper discography or with his life-story. So I'm not coming at this as a hardcore fan, but more as a casual observer. As far as the movie goes, pretty much every narrative beat is straight from the music biopic playbook. Patrick H. Willems did a video on this around the time Bohemian Rhapsody came out that dissects the formula pretty neatly: All of that granted. But I really liked this one. I liked the way it tweaked the formula just a bit by centering around the support-group meeting. I liked the way the songs were staged as part of the action. I liked the imagery. Rocketman manages to avoid feeling too trite by leaning into a kind of low surrealism. It's a solid, sometimes exceptional, take on the genre. On another note, Jason Adams, who hated Bohemian Rhapsody, points out an important difference between the two movies:
  4. Yeah, it's no Into the Spider-Verse, and it certainly isn't Spider-Man 2, but I enjoyed this one for what it is. As in Homecoming, the relationship between Peter and the antagonist is developed more by shorthand than anything else--we know Peter gets into these kinds of relationships and so the filmmakers don't feel the need to actually show them developing all that much--and that hurts the movie a bit. Still, good performances all around. And it's kind of nice to have a Spider-Man movie where the primary characters actually feel like they're in high school. The final confrontation is so-so, but I liked the earlier one at about the midpoint (?) of the film--there's some really fun imagery going on there. So.... As with the previous Spider-Man movie, I can't help but feel like the best part of this one was literally lifted from the Sam Raimi movies. No spoilers, but stay through the end-credits scenes.
  5. I'm going to resurrect this ancient thread because--well. I read Angels in America years ago for a graduate-level class and it's stuck with me, in various ways, since. I've often, for instance, pulled up clips of the miniseries and watched them, recalled particular plot-threads and lines, and generally had the thing kicking around in my brain. But I've never made it through the miniseries--it's been in some way too much, to huge, and I just wore out emotionally before I could finish it. I finally watched the whole thing this week. The miniseries? I mean, it's wonderful, isn't it? The performances are universally excellent (Al Pacino as Roy Cohn and Jeffrey Wright, returning to the role of Belize after having played it on stage, are stand-outs, but I mean everyone is so good....). The effects are ropey, but who cares? It's an old HBO joint. Speaking more broadly--both more subjectively and more seeming-objectively--this thing wrecked me. The scene where they say the Kaddish for Roy Cohn is a particularly complicated moment of grace, and the concluding blessing of "more life" is moving and empowering. I really can't think of a late-20th C work that feels as enormous and eternal as the play of which this miniseries is an adaptation. It's Melville-big. It's Whitman-big. The Great American Stage Play. Anyway, I'm reading The World Only Spins Forward now and finding it very helpful in terms of contextualizing the play (the messiness of Perestroika, for instance, is no doubt down to the fact that it was literally the size of a phone book in its first draft). I may post more as that book brings thoughts to mind.
  6. So if you’ve never seen a movie before you might avoid guessing the entire plot within the first five minutes. The flick goes down smoothly enough; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun. But it’s kind of rubbish and mostly just made me miss The Middleman.
  7. Meanwhile, here’s Walter Chaw.
  8. It’s better than The Last Stand, at least. But I found myself wholly unengaged, even by things that happen to characters that have been around since the beginning of the franchise. And Jean—well, it’s just not a terribly compelling performance, in spite of Jason Adams’ insistence that the whole thing is a queer romp. I did like some things—the action (the above-posted review to the contrary) is generally fine and at least didn’t bore me the way most action in most superhero flicks does. And, um—the costumes look neat? (Btw, this is the second superhero movie I’ve seen this year that opens with a traumatic car crash. I don’t know that that means anything, but it caught my attention) Anyway, with the X-Men back in the Marvel fold, it’s looking like this is the last hurrah of the franchise as it currently sits (New Mutants would be a kind of coda). And I’m kind of sad about that, because the X-Men have been, not the most consistently good, but the most consistently interesting superhero movies of the past couple of decades. I regret seeing them pass. EDIT: Ok, here's something I don't know--did Apocalypse (which I've not seen) introduce a fundamental divergence between our political history and that of the X-universe? Or is that implied in DoFP? I ask because the president here (in 1992) is definitely not George H.W. Bush. That pushes the franchise away from the occult history that makes First Class and DoFP so interesting. Those movies are a lot of things, but one thing they are is a pop-political meditation on American power during the 1960s and '70s (and, in the case of DoFP, on drone warfare and the dangers of authoritarianism implicit in the American security state). This movie is fundamentally not political, at least in that way. The occult history falls away the minute someone who isn't G.H.W.Bush isn't president onscreen. If Adams is right in reading it as a queer text, it's one about how minority groups (including but not limited to LGBTQ folk) are only "one bad day" away from having all their tentative gains stripped from them. Now, this in itself is an interesting direction to follow, in some ways. Apocalypse came out only one year after marriage equality was established in the U.S. a scant four years ago. If the X-Men movies have been pursuing a queer subtext this whole time, that makes this the first movie in the franchise to be entirely conceived and produced both in the wake of massive advancements for LGBT rights in the U.S. and in the face of massive encroachments on those newly-won rights. So the tenuous nature of the past four years' worth of progress seems to be a very live subtext in this movie (barely a subtext, since Xavier gets a couple of speeches on this very theme). That would theoretically make a worthy capper to the franchise, given its origins. A better movie would have done this whole thing better, but I think it's there anyway.
  9. His review is what convinced me that I needed to see the movie, and I’m glad I did.
  10. This is a lot of fun. It doesn’t have the same perversity as the previous movie, but it evokes such a sense of wonder. It’s—and this risks sounding pretentious—but it’s a blockbuster with a genuine sense of transcendence. That’s rare.
  11. The Riverdale vibe is strong with this one. Which, I mean, I’m one of the pro-Riverdale faction, so more neon-tinted trash is exactly what the doctor ordered. Still, one could wish that they had gone for something a bit more unique.
  12. I just learned of the existence of a ten-episode podcast about Gore Vidal. The first episode, “Gore and the Gay Novel” is disappointingly shallow, but the episode on the Vidal-Buckley debates is a good supplement to the movie. The podcast is called Vidalotry. Here’s the first episode.
  13. The Gore Vidal podcast Vidalotry episode on these debates is quite good and provides some context the documentary leaves out, such as the fact that Buckley was apparently in quite a bit of physical pain during the Chicago debates—a fact that doesn’t excuse his outburst but does help to contextualize it.
  14. I made the same point upthread.
  15. Loki is apparently getting a Disney+ show.
  16. Here’s Alissa Wilkinson making the LEFTOVERS connection.
  17. This is a good point; my own thoughts in the opening moments (and those of my viewing companion) turned to The Leftovers, which might do a better job than Left Behind. A difference would be that The Leftovers isn't really meant to be a realistic look at a post-Rapture world; it's a meditation on grief and loss. And Endgame isn't, really; I've seen people saying it's "about" grief, but it's really "about" reversing a shock ending. Some of the characters grieve, but that has to get moved past pretty quickly. This seems accurate to me.
  18. So I complain about these movies all the time and then I go and see them all the same. Did that for Endgame and--y'know, it's fine. Better than fine, in places. I would be lying if I said I wasn't moved in spots and I think that the movie does a fair enough job juggling its mandate (which is, bring back all those people dusted in the last movie) without seeming too cheap about it (there's cost and there's people who--because they weren't dusted--can't be brought back). There's some nice nods to the MCU's development--Jon Favreau gets a particularly lovely bit, considering he created the whole dang thing with Iron Man--and there's the requisite amount of fan-pleasing stuff of both the stupid and the smart variety. I certainly liked it better than Infinity War. EDIT: Does no one think of the fact that de-dusting all those dusted people would be at least as catastrophic for the world as dusting them in the first place?
  19. Nothing about this thing looks good.
  20. NBooth

    Shazam!

    I mean, my recollection is that superhero movies are a tougher sell for you than they are for me. So YMMV. But Shazam! has a lot going for it, including a level of thematic consistency that’s often lacking in these kinds of movies and a finale that is actually pretty satisfying. My impression from FB is that Peter isn’t as positive on the movie, so again YMMV.
  21. NBooth

    Shazam!

    Saw this tonight. It’s really good. Between this and Aquaman, the DC movies have gone from simply being more interesting than MCU flicks to actively being better than them.
  22. Yeah, Chaw’s way over the top on this. It isn’t a great film, but it’s a Marvel movie. None of them are great. CAPTAIN MARVEL is perfectly passable entertainment. Like THOR: THE DARK WORLD, it’s at its best when it’s aping crappy 90s sci-fi film and television (in this case, SUBURBAN COMMANDO). It’s less good when it’s a superhero movie.
  23. NBooth

    Tolkien (2019)

    TOLKIEN: “Yeah, so I’ve been working on a novel. It’s kind of complicated, but....”
  24. NBooth

    The Favourite

    I spent most of awards season chafing against the fact that The Favourite wasn't really available in my area, and then once it became available I still put it off until after Green Book got best picture. Based on everything I had heard and seen, I expected this one to become my automatic top film of 2018 and--yeah, it went right to the top and into the ol' personal canon. This is a gorgeous movie, for one thing, and the three leads are all solid. Funnily enough, the relational dynamics reminded me of Phantom Thread, in that both films portray subtly (or, in the case of Weisz's ridin' and shootin' getup, not-so) sado-masochistic relationships, where the interest and frisson derive from the ways in which characters manipulate each other and themselves. This is a kinky movie, and no mistake, but it feels less leering than, for instance, The Handmaiden (a movie which, to be clear, I love). It's more detached, more interested in the internal dynamics of the central relationship than in the external forces bearing down on them. So, yeah. I've not seen Green Book, but I have a hard time imagining it's more satisfying than The Favourite.
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