Joel Mayward

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Everything posted by Joel Mayward

  1. My apologies for the delay in posting a discussion thread. For April 2017, I'm choosing Agnes Varda's 1962 film Cleo from 5 to 7. Inspired partly by the current Varda marathon happening on the Filmspotting podcast, as well as my recent discovery of Varda's The Gleaners and I on Amazon Prime, this is a film often cited as one of her best. Playing out in real time, with chapters and sequences tracked by titles every few minutes, the film follows a beautiful young singer, Cleo, as she wanders about Paris awaiting the results from a biopsy, which will tell her if she has cancer or not. The opening title sequence using tarot cards and the only colorized moments in the film set the tone for an unique, intriguing journey alongside Cleo as she navigates her own emotions about the impending news. I loved it. It's a bit languid at times, but it's also quite exciting, even as it simply follows a young woman around as she talks with various friends about her life and future. It's a beautiful contribution to the French New Wave, and has fascinating formal elements as well as interesting themes to discuss ranging from art, to the nature of romance, to spirituality vs. medicine. I believe it's streaming on Fandor, and perhaps on Filmstruck. I watched it via the Criterion DVD rented through the library. Roger Ebert's review. Josh Larsen's review. Molly Haskell essay. A recent interview with Varda at Criterion, "I'm Still Here." Our woefully sparse A&F thread.
  2. Reading Brett's review and reading some of the interviews with Kogonada have really piqued my interest. But Columbus doesn't seem to be playing anywhere near me, so I may have to wait for a streaming option.
  3. Greg, I'd review it for either my own website or (possibly) my university/institute's blog, Transpositions. I'll also message you with my details.
  4. Here's the trailer for the new film from director Sean Baker (Tangerine). The Florida Project had its world premiere at Cannes earlier this year: Tangerine is a remarkable film, but it appears we don't have a thread on it yet.
  5. Adele Haenel is the lead in the Dardennes brothers' next film. The synopsis from the article:
  6. My wife reminded me of two more films my children have seen: Mary Poppins and White Christmas. The former certainly fits this thread's topic. I enjoyed the film well enough as a child, then didn't see it for decades. Watching it again with my own children about a year ago, especially after having gone through my own Mr. Banks-esque experience of being overworked and burned out, was like seeing it anew, with a totally different perspective.
  7. I know. It's remarkable, and my wife and I can't pinpoint the reasoning behind it--we're very open to them watching movies, and I invite them often to join me, but they are really set against it and would rather play outside or read books (which I can't argue with). I count it as a blessing, though I would *love* to introduce them to more films when they're willing. They love watching TV shows and nature documentaries, but I can count on one hand the number of movies they've been willing to see all the way to the end: Singin' in the Rain, The Sound of Music, The Music Man, Winnie the Pooh, and The Peanuts Movie.
  8. I'm in the PhD programme at the University of St Andrews in the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts. It's a three-year programme, so that's my goal--get the PhD in three years, then come back to the US to teach. You can read a longer version of our family's story here.
  9. This is a great topic. The first film that comes to mind is Singin' in the Rain. I already loved the film, so I wanted to show it to my two movie-hating children. At ages 5 and 8, they remain adamantly anti-movie in all forms, but my wife and I persuaded them to give Singin' a try, just for 15 minutes. They were captivated by the entire film, and still burst out singing "Make 'Em Laugh" every so often. It was a moment of conversion for them--they became open to the possibility that some movies are genuinely good and worth viewing.
  10. The US trailer is finally here. The film *finally* releases on September 8, only a few days after I leave the US to move to St Andrews to study the films of the Dardennes. Initially I found that frustrating, but the film has been available on Blu-ray in Europe for quite a while now, so I'll just have to watch it in that format. Darren, is your interview still going to be published to coincide with the release?
  11. Here's a new essay on Cleo from Image Journal.
  12. The trailer: "Director of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan." There's a Rosemary's Baby vibe with this. Also listed in the cast credits at IMDB: Domhnall Gleeson and Kristin Wiig.
  13. I wonder if FilmStruck has it, though I don't have a subscription, so I can't seem to find its library. Another service I've been hearing a lot about lately is Kanopy, which is a streaming service through libraries and universities. Cleo is streaming there.
  14. Evan, that's a wonderful, personal review. Y'all might convert me.
  15. So, I wrote a review. I'm mostly positive on this film, just not 4-star positive. Also, I think the title of this thread should NOT be changed. Just keep it "Luc Besson Sci-Fi Project" because that's exactly what this is.
  16. The first half of 2017 edition of "A Better Film About..." For films about grief and the afterlife, Personal Shopper is a better version of A Ghost Story, which are both much better than The Discovery. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a better sci-fi CGI spectacle than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
  17. A second poster is here: Indiewire has an interesting article about "easter eggs" found within the posters, which may give hints about Aronofsky's enigmatic film: It's all a bit speculative, but "most subversively Biblical movie to date" has piqued my interest.
  18. The first teaser:
  19. I can only think of one, and it happens on the boat regarding a question asked by Cillian Murphy's character. What's the other one? (Come to think of it, the "noble lie" in Inception is regarding Cillian Murphy's character too.)
  20. The Wikipedia entry for the comic series may shed some light on the characterizations and gender portrayals in the film, if Besson stuck with the source material's themes: Also, apparently time travel is a big thing for Valerian in the comic--Laureline is originally a peasant girl from 11th-century France. Imagine if time travel had been added to the narrative of this film somehow (it is already, sorta).
  21. I've not read the whitewashing critiques, so I can't speak to that necessarily, but I did notice at least one black soldier in the ranks awaiting a boat during a scene on the beach.
  22. Regarding DeHaan, all I can imagine him in is the same aloof, brooding, dorky character he played in Chronicle...which is essentially the same character he played in The Place Beyond the Pines. The performance is like watching a young, tired Leonardo DiCaprio channel Keanu Reeves. I suppose where y'all see "interesting" and "cool" I see "miscast." Still, DeHaan aside, the whole spectacle is a visual smorgasbord.
  23. I watched this (in 3D), and have some scattered thoughts: Laureline (Cara Delevingne) is *much* more interesting than Valerian. Delevingne's performance holds their entire partnership together. I kept thinking how much better this would have been if Dane DeHaan's Valerian were portrayed by any of the Chris's: Pine, Evans, Pratt, or Hemsworth. Maybe Alden Ehrenreich or Tye Sheridan? Someone with an ounce of charm. The use of CGI and 3D is phenomenal here, better than nearly anything I've seen before (maybe Avatar could challenge it). There are scenes accomplished in this film which simply aren't possible without CGI, and it genuinely looks good. Ryan pointed out one above; others include the two thrilling chase sequences (one in Big Market, the other on Alpha), which felt like Valerian running through various dimensions channeling the Mos Eisley cantina...only weirder and more wonderful. I've seen criticisms of the narrative, that it doesn't make sense or it's simply not very strong or interesting. I don't see that. It's a fairly straight forward crime procedural--government agents searching for a Macguffin, a conspiracy behind it all, all set up in thrilling action sequences--only set in a wacky outer space context. Rihanna's Bubble is wonderful, and while it feels strange to praise a somewhat tangential pole-dancing scene, Bubble's character and motivations feel unique and interesting within this world. In final sequence, with Valerian's "I'm a soldier" speech and Laureline talking about love being risky and breaking all the rules--that whole bit of dialogue and performance was downright awful, like something totally out of left field for these characters. Absolutely nothing about Valerian says "I'm a rule-follower," and very little about Laureline says "I'm a hopeless romantic." The opening sequence will likely be in my "Favorite Scenes from 2017" end-of-year list. There's a very strange and confusing blend of conservative gender roles and marital expectations mixed in with progressive sexual ethics. The whole marriage proposal thing, the "playlist," Bubble's characterization, etc. It felt like Besson was attempting to critique sexism while nonetheless creating a fairly sexist film. Maybe that's a reflection of the source material? Eight hundred years into the future, and we apparently still haven't figured much out regarding romantic love and marriage.
  24. Well, I loved it. The entire film is its emotional center--it's about mise-en-scene more than about particular characters or moments of dialogue. My review. For having such little dialogue or backstory, their performances are simply remarkable, and quite affecting.
  25. I'm quite excited about this film.