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Everything posted by SDG

  1. Chef absolutely should have made the list. That was a miss.
  2. SDG

    Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

    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.
  3. 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).
  4. SDG

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    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:
  5. SDG

    Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

    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.
  6. I loved Lean on Pete. It will definitely be on my top 10.
  7. SDG

    Family games

    A search of the games forum finds only two posts by me, including this one from 5 years ago in the "Favorite Board Games" thread: Since I wrote that, our family took up poker, which we played assiduously for quite awhile. We bought a nice set of 500 chips and everything. We've played all kinds of poker, most often 7-card stud and Texas Hold 'Em, but also Ohama Hi-Lo and a truly odd variant called Oxford Stud. We even had a match against another poker-playing family whom we totally dominated. (We divided into teams, and the final championship round was all Greydanuses.) So I like poker a lot. Lately, though, one or two of the kids has soured a bit on the game, and I'm in the market for something new. So, I'm not necessarily just interested in board games, although I'd be open to suggestions. As always, I'm interested in games for large number of players accessible to younger kids (potentially including kids too young to read) but also interesting to older kids, and preferably games that don't take forever to play. Thoughts/Suggestions?
  8. SDG

    Dr Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

    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. SDG

    Dr Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

    My latest review … in Seussian rhyming anapestic tetrameter.
  10. SDG

    Dr Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

    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. SDG

    Dr Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

    I have some thoughts I will post in a couple of hours when I am no longer under embargo.
  12. SDG

    Examples of "Cinematic Parables"?

    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. SDG

    Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc

    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. Okay, it's a little pretentious to put this under "Visual Art," but FWIW here's this year's jack o'lantern: an homage to the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia. It was taken with an iPhone, which is not the greatest camera for close-ups in the dark. I'll try to get a better picture tonight. I carved Chernobog at the moment that the church bells start ringing, signaling the coming dawn and the start of the "Ave Maria." Chernobog is half-cringing from the holy sound of the bell and the white light that flashes when the bell rings. FWIW, here's the image I used for reference. I learned a lot doing this year's jack o'lantern, and I think I could do it a lot better given a second shot. Last year I did Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service, but I can't find an image from that one right now. I'll see if I can find it later. Below is a design I did about 11 years ago. It is not actually a photo of my jack o'lantern, but a down-and-dirty Photoshop mockup made after the fact (since I can't find the photos of this one either). You will have to take my word for it that this is a pretty fair representation of what I actually carved. This one is called "The Hierarchy of Hell." It depicts four heads devouring one another, representing the depiction of infernal order of things depicted in The Screwtape Letters and similar sources. After carving "The Hierarchy of Hell," I discovered that my jack o'lantern had an unexpected but eerily fitting "performance art" aspect: As the pumpkin began to shrivel and decompose, the #2 head slowly began to withdraw into the maw of the largest head, while the mouth of the largest head slowly began to "close" on the other heads! By the time I finally went to throw the thing away, it had collapsed into a mouldering heap -- and when I went to pick it up, it fell apart completely -- and there on the ground where the base of the pumpkin had been was the clearly recognizable ruins of the three inner faces, long since fallen back against the floor of the pumpkin, grimacing up at me. I felt I had come a lot closer to portraying the reality of hell than I ever meant to! Finally, here's a jack o'lantern I decorated (as opposed to carving) five years ago for a company picnic. (Media notes: The horns and nose are hand-carved carrots, stuck on with toothpicks. Eyes are grapes, stuck on with pins (the pinheads are the irises). Facepaint by Sharpie & Wite-Out. Arms by Mr. Potato Head. Lightsaber by Tinker Toys.
  15. This year's Jack-o-lantern, "Jack O'rlock"
  16. I will do one blurb for any of the following: Spirited Away Arrival This is Martin Bonner The Truman Show
  17. SDG

    Best of 2016?

    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…
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. SDG

    Silence (2016)

    My follow-up piece on "Apostasy, ambiguity and Silence":
  21. 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:
  22. SDG

    Paterson (2016)

    This is my no. 1 film of 2016. (My 2016 year-end write-up, with 10 runners-up and 10 honorable mentions.) Apparently I am a sucker for films that fit this pattern: My review talks about the "Ecstatic Quotidian" (which is related, though I don't say this, to Thomas Howard's "Bravo the Humdrum"), and why Golshifteh Farahani's character is not a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl, and how Paterson offers a welcome alternative screen image of masculinity — with the capacity of rising to physical heroism if needed. "Taxi Driver reimagined by Fred Rogers," in the memorable phrase of Jeffrey Overstreet, in his final (sniff) Viewer Discussion Advised column for CT on the film. Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield: MVPs of 2016.