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Everything posted by SDG

  1. SDG

    Emanuel (2019)

    Interesting, Ken. I had a much more positive response to the film, which I thought did a decent job of establishing its priors and offering sufficient perspective for the target audience, or at least for the portion of the target audience I’m most in tune with, i.e., reasonably open-minded white American Christians who either know there’s a lot about the black American experience they don’t know or are at least open to that insight. But it doesn’t surprise me that you had a different take. On topics relating to deadly violence and ways of reacting to, depicting, or framing it, your perspective is obviously different from mine, and in one way more authoritative. I don’t know, but it’s possible my experience of the film might be more common. My review.
  2. I’m sorry to see that no one has seconded my nomination for this remarkable film. De Oliveira was 92 years old when he made it, and knew a thing or two about aging. (He continued directing films until 2013, at the age of 104, and died in 2015 at 106.) I guess very few people besides me have seen it, which means it would have little chance even if I got a second. For what it’s worth, it’s streaming on Amazon, but unfortunately you need a Fandor subscription (or a free 7-day trial).
  3. Title: I’m Going Home Director: Manoel de Oliveira Year: 2001 Language: French/English IMDB Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0283422/ YouTube Link: I can’t find a YouTube link. There’s video from the film in this video essay by Richard Brody: https://video.newyorker.com/watch/im-going-home
  4. I wasn’t a fan, but I will say a word for it more than this: It didn’t make me want to close my eyes, especially when Rami Malek was onstage.
  5. I second Lean on Pete and Let the Sunshine In. I nominate Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (see especially Walter Chaw’s brilliant review).
  6. I find the animation style to be revolutionary and amazing. I saw it in 2D and can’t wait to see it in 3D as soon as possible. I know Jeff Overstreet and others feel similarly. There are tons of defenses and raves about the visual style. Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central (in a brilliant review the filmmakers singled out for high praise) very perceptively links the film’s visual style to its sci-fi premise, emotional themes, and moral outlook:
  7. Love and Mercy is the obvious point of comparison to which I kept returning — and which I kept wishing I was watching. Another musical biopic about the inspired visionary in a pop band and the recording of their most artistically ambitious album, with subplots about the controlling, Svengali-like figure under whose sway the visionary falls until he is liberated by the intervention of the woman who loves him. But Love and Mercy was itself inspired and visionary, where Bohemian Rhapsody was dull, rote, and by the numbers.
  8. It’s certainly true that a bad film, or bad things in one film, can highlight or make one more appreciative of a good film, or of good things in another film.
  9. My latest review … in Seussian rhyming anapestic tetrameter.
  10. So, I liked it better than you did, Ken. Caveat: I confess I don’t have quite the same attachment as you to the original story, although I certainly remember my parents reading it to me and I have certainly read it to my own kids. You’re right, of course, that this Grinch isn’t nearly as villainous as the Seuss character or the Chuck Jones version. That did occur to me as a potential problem while I was watching it. In the end, though, I decided I’m okay with it. I kind of like the little hints of conflict we see throughout as he struggles with his attraction to the thing he wants to hate. I’m reminded, too, of G.K. Chesterton’s revisionist take on Scrooge, whom Chesterton maintains was never such a scrooge as he purported to be. I especially appreciate the fact that when the Grinch comes riding back into Who-ville on Christmas morning, he doesn’t arrive expecting a hero’s welcome just for undoing the damage he did. He’s apologetic, expecting nothing. He goes back to his lair on Mount Crumpet. He doesn’t presume to join in the Who-celebration: He’s invited, against all expectations, out of the charity and goodness of the Whos, especially Cindy-Lou Who and her mom. In this election week, confronted with the unavoidable evidence that so many Americans are kind of okay with racism and misogyny and hostility to immigrants, it would be easy to feel that the welcoming, accommodating world of Who-ville — here depicted as a multiracial utopia in which everyone is accepted, even the creepy green outsider up on the mountain — lets us off the hook too easily. (MZS on Twitter the other day: “Hot take: everybody in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE would’ve voted for Trump, except for Mary and Clarence. Even George is a tossup.”) But of course that raises the specter of the Ron Howard version, which subjected Who-ville to another gleeful Hollywood send-up of The Hell That Is American Suburbia, a world of enforced conformity, materialism, bullying, and even sexual decadence (the key-party game). But this Who-ville shows us not what we are but what we ought to be. What’s wrong with that?
  11. I have some thoughts I will post in a couple of hours when I am no longer under embargo.
  12. Practically everything I think of fails to meet one of your criteria. Some chapters of The Decalogue would qualify, but that’s not exactly popular cinema. The Truman Show is parable-like, but not realistic in the way I think you want. How about Calvary? Is that popular enough?
  13. After the first half, I said to Suz, “If the second half is that good, this might be my favorite film of the year.” It wasn’t, unfortunately, but it’s still an amazing film that I can’t wait to see again.
  14. This year's Jack-o-lantern, "Jack O'rlock"
  15. I will do one blurb for any of the following: Spirited Away Arrival This is Martin Bonner The Truman Show
  16. Somewhat belatedly, my top films list (there are 10 runners-up and 10 honorable mentions): Paterson Cameraperson Silence The Red Turtle O.J.: Made in America Love & Friendship April and the Extraordinary World The Witch Arrival Queen of Katwe I also did my usual round-up of top 10s from Christian cinephile friends and peers… and the top picks look strangely familiar…
  17. SDG

    Lego Batman Movie

    I admit I don't know anything about Lego Batman outside these two movies, but is Lego Batman a rocker / recording artist anywhere else? My impression was that this was introduced in The Lego Movie and taken up here. If that's true, that's a pretty notable connection. Also, all the cross-franchise villains — Sauron, Daleks, King Kong, etc. — certainly resonated with the first film putting Star Wars characters and DC superheroes in the same story, etc.
  18. SDG

    Lego Batman Movie

    Eek. If I'm reading this correctly, that strikes me as a harsh thing to say. I hope I'm misreading. Toward the DC Extended Universe movies to date, I certainly have animus, yes. And while that's not entirely irrelevant to this review, I don't think it's relevant in the direct way this seems to suggest. I have no animus regarding DC characters per se. If anything, my animus toward the DC Extended Universe movies to date inclines me favorably to a project like The Lego Batman Movie. The tack taken by a number of reviewers that Lego Batman Movie is "one of the best Batman movies ever" or "the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight" appeals to me, in part precisely because of my DC EU animus. I would love to write something like that; going in, I was hoping to. Also, while I did mention my disappointment that LBM missed an opportunity to make a joke about the discrepancy between Zod's fate in the two movies, this was a mere parenthesis compared to my larger, systemic disappointment that the film passes on making fun of "superhero movie culture" and the audience thereof — which most emphatically includes, indeed is predominantly defined by, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (of which I am somewhat passive-aggressively a fan, and of whose characters I am more straightforwardly a fan). IOW, what I most wanted to see "trashed" here, if that's the right word, was not superhero-universe specific. I wanted to see the nervy wit of TLM making fun of itself and its own corporate culture and its own audience turned on superhero-movie culture generally. I wanted LBM to make fun of its own superfluity, of the inevitability of sequels, of the dominance of superheroes in contemporary culture. Instead, we got a little bit of making fun of the whole concept of lawless vigilantes and some pointed questions about Batman's effectiveness as well as his emotional maturity, which is great as far as it goes, but I wish it went further. By the same token, I think Jeffrey is barking up the wrong tree when he suggests that perhaps my more negative reaction is due to my being more "invested in the Batman legacy" than he. On the contrary, the things I most appreciate about LBM — as I think is pretty clear from my review — is precisely that it makes fun of the character who more than other embodies superhero cool, whose aura of invincibility far surpasses Superman's in spite of the almost archetypal power gap between them, whose very name is practically an explanation for invincibility ("Because He's Batman"). I'm a Batman fan, but again, in the passive-aggressive sense that I think Batman is too cool, too iconic, his invincibility played up too much out of fan service to the Batman cult. I want to see Batman taken down a few pegs, and that LBM does this is, again, what I like about it. Another factor that favorably disposed me to LBM is that it's a superhero movie that is family-friendly. The default hard-edged PG-13 milieu of all superhero movies has long been a bugaboo of mine; I've ranted about it on Twitter repeatedly. Plus, it's a sequel to TLM, which I pretty much loved, and who doesn't want to love the sequel to a movie they loved? P.S. Reminder that my Man of Steel rating is C+. I have issues with the film, but I don't advocate "trashing" it.
  19. SDG

    Silence (2016)

    My follow-up piece on "Apostasy, ambiguity and Silence":
  20. SDG

    Lego Batman Movie

    I was entertained but not thrilled. The Lego Batman Movie is about par for what I was expecting from The Lego Movie. It's frenetic, it's pretty funny, lots of jokes, very silly. What it doesn't have, pretty much at all, is The Lego Movie's subversive, daring humor. To wit:
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