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Joel Mayward

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Everything posted by Joel Mayward

  1. Joel Mayward

    Free Solo

    I genuinely laughed out loud at this.
  2. Joel Mayward

    Free Solo

    I think this is getting at what I'm trying to say. If the film/filmmakers/Alex had wanted to address the question of Aspergers or autism, they could have appropriately done so at any number of points--Alex's mom's comment about Alex's dad, which you (Ken) initially thought was in reference to Alex himself, the brain scan, the questionnaires, the various interviews with climbing buddies who describe Alex as "unique" or "special". So, it raises the question for me of why the filmmakers didn't go down that path (or maybe they did, and it's been edited out!). But if they (the filmmakers) were to go down that path, or if they have their own beliefs/suspicions about Alex being on the autistic spectrum, does that not raise further ethical questions about making a film about his self-endangering behaviors? Is it ethical to make a documentary about a person on the autism spectrum engaging in dangerous hyper-obsessive activities and presenting it as laudable? Might making such a film heighten that egocentricity and/or social isolation? I think there are important ethical questions about this anyway, and the film does nod at those a few times, although--as I point out in my review--it seems much more interested in presenting an awesome award-winning rock-climbing doc than it does in those documentary ethics queries. That was precisely the implication in this particular instance (and has been in others)--it was suggested that I am being "dipshittish" and unsympathetic in my review because Alex is obviously autistic, and thus his behaviors are a "terrifying" struggle for him, which I've wholly dismissed. But I didn't get much of a sense from Alex that he was struggling, per se, apart from the "struggle" of solving the El Capitan climb itself. Oh, good question, and one I hadn't considered. I'm using it simply as an adjective to point out Alex's egocentricity--he operates as if he is the center of the world--and not as a diagnosis of NPD. And that's a good point about "comes off as..." language versus "does things that are..." language.
  3. Joel Mayward

    Free Solo

    Thanks, Andrew. I noticed some of those signs too, although I'm nowhere near qualified to make any sort of diagnosis, which is why I avoided it in my review: if the film is not going to say it--and there seemed to be numerous opportunities for it to be said (or even speculated about)--then it didn't seem like an interpretation that emerged from within the film, but one placed upon it from the outside. And that's well and good; that just wasn't my experience with the film, nor is it how I interpret Alex's actions without a proper diagnosis. (Full disclosure: my mother abandoned and later divorced my father partly under the pretext that she "diagnosed" my dad as having Asperger's, which meant she could justify leaving him because he didn't meet her emotional needs. So, I'm very speculative about any non-professional and third-hand diagnosis of someone as autistic.) I've found numerous online forums where people have speculated about Alex's personality and possibly being on the spectrum, but those, again, are still audience third-hand speculation based on film footage or interviews--they aren't a professional diagnosis, nor an admission on Alex's part. I did find this interview with Alex where the author writes: "He [Alex] admits to being 'somewhere on the autism spectrum'" but it isn't explored any further, nor is there context or tone given for the statement (Is Alex joking around? Is he totally serious? What question did the author ask that prompted this response?).
  4. Joel Mayward

    Free Solo

    I had an interesting, even fruitful (!) Twitter exchange with someone who called me a dipshit for my "infamous" review of Free Solo, where he said I missed the fact that Alex is dealing with Asperger's syndrome. I pointed out that the film seems to take pains to show that he's *not* autistic, AS, etc., and that my view of the film would be remarkably different had the film shown or said this. My dialogue partner, who identified as having Asperger's, said this: Which makes me want to raise the question again here, as Ken and Andrew did above: is Free Solo suggesting that Alex is autistic or AS, that he's not, or is it intentionally trying to be vague to allow our own interpretations of his actions (a formal choice which seems, to be honest, not the filmmakers' main focus)? Also, apparently my review is infamous.
  5. Captain Marvel had the biggest opening weekend for a female-led film, with $153 million in North America, $455 million worldwide.
  6. FWIW, here's my positive review. I rather enjoyed it, and the more I think about it, the better it becomes in my mind. I must admit, prolonged analysis of Rotten Tomatoes' metrics on these things feels like a literal exercise in missing the point--are the negative reviews actually being read, are they consistent in their negative critiques, what are the strengths/weaknesses being noted throughout reviews, etc.? The content of the reviews would be more interesting data, in my opinion.
  7. Don't forget Jack Nicholson!
  8. This is probably not the thread for this, but if we expand to DC, Christian Bale won his Oscar in 2011 for 2010's The Fighter, two years after The Dark Knight. So, maybe 2-3 years from now, one of the MCU leads wins an Oscar? I'm betting on Benedict Cumberbatch. And now this thread can return to Captain Marvel.
  9. I don't think Halle Berry as Storm is considered in the MCU, despite both being Marvel. But there are lots of Oscar nominees and winners in the MCU: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Don Cheadle, Josh Brolin, Glenn Close, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julie Delpy (she was in Age of Ultron!), Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Djimon Honsou, Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins, Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong'o, Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, Marisa Tomei, Forrest Whitaker, and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson. This post has even more.
  10. Yes, all of this. I would consider Cuarón's approach more of a respectful distance marked by genuine curiosity/empathy rather than Cleo lacking an inner life or expressiveness. The way Brody would have it, it seems, we would invade Cleo's interiority and bring it all out to the surface; I preferred Cuarón's respect of her autonomy and personhood. It's probably because I'm immersed in the Dardennes' cinema right now, but don't they take a similar approach with their characters (albeit without as many slowly panning wide shots)? I saw it as allowing the character to simply be what she is--a fully human person, a mystery, someone rather than something to be explained.
  11. I am aware of Breen due to similar "worst movie" lists. I've been meaning to watch I Am Here...Now, as there are some religious/theological constructs at work. Here's the IMDB plot synopsis: Apparently it is quite bad.
  12. Joel Mayward

    Never Look Away

    I had no idea this film existed until it received the cinematography nomination, and it piqued my interest. Andrew, with that review, I'm looking forward to it even more. But there doesn't seem to be a UK release date yet!
  13. Thanks, Andrew, both for sharing the list on Facebook, and for pointing out the missing link in Part One--I'll get that amended ASAP.
  14. Ken beat me to posting it! Loved reading each critics' honourable mention choices and their reasoning behind it, and I'm glad we took the time to include the write-ups for these films instead of just listing them, although some opted just to list a film...and some folks never got back to me about their pick! Which is totally fine--I just want to know what they liked in 2018. Just for the sake of it, here are all of the films from both the EJ Top 10 and Honourable mentions (alphabetical order): 22 July 24 Frames Annihilation Bad Times at the Hotel Royale BlacKkKlansman The Death of Stalin Eighth Grade First Man First Reformed The House that Jack Built I Am Not a Witch Isle of Dogs Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc Lean on Pete Leave No Trace Let the Sunshine In Lovers of the Night Minding the Gap Paddington 2 A Quiet Place The Rider Shoplifters Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Support the Girls What They Had Won't You Be My Neighbor? That's quite the eclectic 2018 list.
  15. Joel Mayward

    Avatar

    The reemergence of this thread reminds me of this:
  16. My apologies! I nearly picked it myself, but chose Spider-Verse instead.
  17. Guess I'm on the light side of this black-and-white divide? I loved it, and love Cuarón--he's my favourite of the "three amigos." I was moved to tears multiple times over the course of the narrative, so I find it interesting to hear descriptors like "aloof" or "detached" from multiple viewers, both in this thread and beyond. I wonder, what aspect of the film's style was so distancing for some, yet so alluring and affecting for others? The cinematography? Language? Pacing/editing process? One of the biggest surprises of our Ecumenical Jury list this year: Roma is neither in the Top 10 nor an Honourable Mention pick for any of the jury members.
  18. Joel Mayward

    Avatar

    I've been trying to think of counter-examples, but based on the criteria you listed--not an adaptation of pre-existing stuff (apart from the archetypes you mentioned), no big stars (a debatable descriptor for Avatar with Sigourney Weaver, but I see your point), not a comic book or superhero film, and standalone (though not for long)--then I think you have a fair point here. Everything has been turned into franchises, and even the most original action blockbuster to-date--Fury Road--is still part of a series of some sort. However, if one considers Pixar's filmography as blockbuster material, then I'm not sure (although Pixar has lately been prone to churning out sequels rather than truly new material).
  19. Thanks Ken! And thanks to the jury for their ongoing patience and rich contributions in the write-ups. There really isn't any other 2018 top list I've seen that is quite like this one, and I was pleasantly surprised when 24 Frames and Jeanette ended up in our top 10. Plus, our Honourable Mentions picks are pretty out-of-the-box too. Those are coming on Friday.
  20. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Ed--that's helpful, especially regarding Inside Out. I'm still working through the nuances of "growing up" vs. "growing older" in my mind, especially regarding the "second half" theme, which is underlying all of my decisions/nominations for this list. Otherwise, I'd just be nominating adolescent bildungsroman stories left and right.
  21. Here it is: the Top 10 list is live at Transpositions: http://www.transpositions.co.uk/2018-arts-and-faith-ecumenical-jury-part-one-top-10/ Our 2018 Top 10: 10. 24 Frames 9. Support the Girls 8. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc 7. Minding the Gap 6. First Man 5. Shoplifters 4. The Rider 3. Won't You Be My Neighbor? 2. Leave No Trace 1. First Reformed
  22. I think this is a subtle distinction between the narratives of Make Way for Tomorrow and Tokyo Story--I think the former is the story of the elderly couple and their navigation of old age, while the latter is more the story of the adult children trying to figure out what to do with these older folks. In my experience with the films, the emotional catharsis in Make Way comes when Lucy and Barkley kiss (a great breaking of the fourth wall!), and the final tragic shot of the train leaving, whereas the emotional catharsis in Tokyo Story is when the daughter-in-law, Noriko, finally breaks and begins to weep after receiving the watch. Noriko is arguably the central character in Tokyo Story; I don't think that's the case for Make Way. I've noticed quite a few coming-of-age stories being nominated and seconded in the nominations thread. Part of me thinks that's great--I do love me a good coming-of-age story--but part of me is hoping this is a film more about the aging process in adulthood, growing older rather than growing up, if one can make that distinction. I can understand why Minding the Gap would fit here, but it's less clear to me how Boyhood or Inside Out would work, unless we interpret those films as being about the parents growing older.
  23. I like this set of options. Gives plenty of time to nominate films and see the nominees. I'll also be somewhat busy in May, but certainly can vote and write a blurb. I think the Ecumenical Jury format works pretty well, unless we want to lower the percentage of voters who have to see a film. One of this year's EJ Top 10 films just barely made it in because it had been seen by exactly half of voters, and received very high scores from everyone who'd seen it.
  24. Bruno Ganz has died at age 77. RIP.
  25. Strong seconds No Country for Old Men and World of Tomorrow. "Now is the envy of all of the dead."
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