Joel Mayward

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About Joel Mayward

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    Portland, OR

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    Pastor, Writer

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  1. I'll have to think about it more before I give a full review--it's been haunting my thoughts all day, like a ghost--but I really found it to be rather prescient in its exploration of technology, globalized culture, the Internet, and even formal filmic elements, such as the very subtle slowing down of time to linger in particular scenes and frames. I simply wrote the word "visionary" for my Letterboxd review. I did find the ending to be rather abrupt, and expected more backstory to Major, which seems like it'll be explored further in this live-action version. I haven't read the manga, so I don't know how faithful the animated film is to the source material, but I was impressed with the characterizations and ideas presented. And why didn't this film make our A&F list about memory?!
  2. I just rented the original from the library, and hope to watch it this week before seeing the new version. I posted this question on social media, but I'll do it here too: should I go with subtitled or dubbed?
  3. I think the suggestion that this is "the end of movie criticism" is akin to the various thinkpieces which arrive each year suggesting we're nearing "the end of cinema," usually because of the new era of television, streaming platforms, etc. Film writing continues to evolve and branch out into new territory, with interdisciplinary academic writing, long-form essays, podcasts, and various independent websites and magazines exploring new ways to engage with the form (my current favorite is Bright Wall/Dark Room, which is publishing some of the best criticism I've seen from a wide variety of authors and perspectives). Film criticism might be changing with different mediums and ways of propagating the writing, but unless we enter into an apocalyptic dystopia, I imagine writing about art and its impact is not going away any time soon. Maybe this is why Darren doesn't follow me on Letterboxd . My ratings average tend to peak at 4-stars, mainly because I've learned to discern which films I probably wouldn't like, and I don't have a publication or press responsibilities forcing me to watch and review films I assume I wouldn't enjoy.
  4. I rather didn't like it, or at least had very mixed feelings, mostly due to its constant throwbacks to earlier, better films:
  5. I thought films about waking up could just be this:
  6. If they're really that close, I'm open to this, but I would also be very happy exploring films on "waking up." Really, all of the options are quite unique, intriguing, and timely.
  7. *Sigh.* Perhaps "Coming of Age" will pull through, as I still believe it's a rich subject worth considering and discussing in this community, and it's so much more than simply bildungsroman or "films about childhood"--in fact, "waking up" and "coming of age" have a lot of overlap, IMO, with the latter having a bit clearer definition in terms of genre and scope. Perhaps "Coming of Age" will win the electoral college, if not the popular vote. I do hope that more A&F folks take the time to vote this week, as having less than 20 votes at the moment feels like we could be missing some key voices or perspectives.
  8. I'm a fan and defender of Malick, including his most recent work, but I can certainly empathize with those who find his films frustrating, even boring. This statement about language and grammar is really well-stated and helpful, not only in the Malick conversation, but for any high-praised auteur with enigmatic, difficult films to find wholly satisfying. I agree with Anders above: Ken, I appreciate your views, not just on Malick but on a variety of films/directors, because I see your intentionality behind trying to understand and articulate why Malick, et al, doesn't quite work for you, while still appreciating that he somehow does resonate with others (like me). FWIW, for me, the auteur I can appreciate but can't really get on board with is Apichatpong Weerasethakul. And I'm looking forward to seeing Lawless Weightless Song to Song.
  9. Yeah, Chiron--or "Black" in the third act--is almost certainly in his late 20s, though I've yet to find a definitive age for him in any reviews, interviews, or comments from the filmmakers (Trevante Rhodes is currently 27 years old). IMDB lists the character of Kevin as 9 and 16 in the first two acts, but doesn't give an age for Andre Holland's version of Kevin in the final act (Holland is currently 37 years old). On the surface, Boyhood and Moonlight appear very different in their respective approaches to coming-of-age stories, but I think the deliberate and overt formal structures--the real-time growth of Boyhood and the three-act structure of Moonlight--elicit some worth comparisons for me, especially as both of their central characters are, perhaps, less interesting than the supporting cast surrounding them. Case in point: both films were nominated and won Best Supporting awards, while not being nominated for Best Actor. They also are highly aware of their contexts, and make the environment itself a supporting character in the formation of these boys becoming men. And yeah, while Boyhood never leaves...well, boyhood, and Moonlight expands its adolescent scope to incorporate emerging adulthood, I think many of the themes are congruent: these are films about a young man's identity formation as he tries to discern between the various external voices he's receiving, as well as the internal intuition and passions he's feeling, especially regarding his sexuality and his place within society.
  10. I've heard Moonlight compared to Boyhood and Chiron compared to Mason, as both can seem more like observers or ciphers than participants in their own coming-of-age stories, and both films have strong, distinct formal elements. I love and appreciate both of these films, partly for their similarities in being coming-of-age stories told in unique and well-crafted ways (which reminds me, shouldn't we have a Top 25 Coming of Age Films for A&F? ), but mostly because they explore a particular character's adolescent experience in a specific context/community, i.e. a white straight male in Texas vs. a black gay male in Miami. And the three actors portraying Chiron--especially Trevante Rhodes--give *far* more compelling performances than Ellar Coltrane. I think the critique of a central character being one-dimensional or a cipher for suffering can be better leveled at this year's Manchester by the Sea, but I also found The Fits to be the better well-lit coming-of-age tale of a young black person trying to find his/her place of belonging and sexual maturation. All this to say, I found Jeff's review and consideration of Moonlight quite defensible, even if I had a different experience in viewing the film. Suggesting that Jeff (or others) lack empathy with suffering characters is unnecessary.
  11. Some initial observations upon re-viewing this, with SPOILERS: Woo's style is completely unique with his operatic dissolves, zooms, and use of color. This is like a Michael Mann remake of Chaplin's City Lights. With its '80s aesthetic and excessive stylings, it can feel pretty campy, though it never feels anywhere near as quirky or outrageous as Seijun Suzuki's films. This is so primal at times, and certainly romantic as it explores character's obsessive fascinations with each other--Au Jong with Jenny, Li with Au Jong, Fung Sei with Au Jong, etc. Woo takes it all very seriously, which somehow really works here, and *really* doesn't in Mission: Impossible II. Are there different names used in different version of the subtitles? On Netflix, Chow Yun Fat's character is named "Au Jong," but I recall seeing a DVD where he was named "Jeff." This is a very strange, very detailed observation: In some scenes, Danny Lee (Li) has a really long hair growing out of his neck, like he forgot to shave there for 10 years. It's long enough to be noticeable. If you see it, you can't unsee it. The Christian imagery of the church and crucifixes is comes close to being heavy-handed. As MZS writes in the review linked above, Au Jong is a remorseful devil reshaping himself into a Christ figure who protects innocents. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, whether Woo is trying to make an explicit connection with Christian themes of redemption and salvation, or whether it just looks cool to have a bloody shootout in a church with doves and candles. Man, is that ending bleak. The shot of Au Jong and Jenny groping around on the ground, covered in blood, both blinded by bullets and unable to reach each other--that's a depressing image.
  12. Rob, it's a relatively new practice, resurrected from an older practice. We're trying to do it every month, though the past two have been difficult due to busyness in many people's schedules. Typically, a designated person picks a film and is the curator for that month of discussion--they offer interesting reviews or essays, ask a few questions, something to get the conversation going. Then people view the film and post their reflections. I think we've tried to aim for films many/most have not viewed yet, as a way of introducing people to a new film or filmmaker. For instance, Ryan Holt's suggestion of Tokyo Drifter a few months piqued my interest in Seijun Suzuki, a filmmaker I had never heard of before, and likely never would have bothered seeking out. Glad to have you here, Rob!
  13. Let's go with Woo. I've admittedly not seen the other two, but The Killer, as well as Woo's entire oeuvre, are worth examining and discussing.
  14. The Killer is peak Woo. I'd be happy to volunteer to host a film discussion in April.
  15. The 2017 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner and directorial debut of Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, Green Room) is now streaming on Netflix. It's a solid little crime/thriller comedy, with a strong 1990s American independent cinema vibe. I'd describe it as Blood Simple meets Napoleon Dynamite.