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Christian

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  • Interests
    Film, religion, jazz.

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  • Favorite movies
    Dardennes brothers, Tarkovsky, Dreyer, Coens, De Palma, some Kubrick
  • Favorite music
    Hard-bop jazz.
  • Favorite creative writing
    Junot Diaz, Matt Labash, Marilynne Robinson

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  1. Christian

    There Is No Evil

    I think I was less impressed by this film than you were - but I liked it well enough. I didn't realize we were getting a multi-story, episodic collection here, so the first transition threw me off. Were these the same characters? What's going on? And that second story - it was too didactic, with each character spelling out the moral dilemma/significance of the pending act and of the governmental/military consequences of resistance. (Also, that section of the film felt like a filmed play. I tend to like a lot of films that get dinged as "filmed plays," but the staging here felt unimaginative, even given the constraints on the filmmakers. That said, what felt like a play isn't, as far as a I know, based on a play at all, so maybe this is an unfair criticism.) Then the nondiegetic music kicked in - was the film now a thriller? (Later, one of the songs seemed to be both nondiegetic and diegetic - with characters singing along to it. Not a failing - I enjoyed the sing-along - but I admit to being somewhat confused in the moment.) The film did indeed grow more lovely to look at in the later sequences, and the performances are uniformly good. I just wish the moral dilemmas hadn't been double/triple underlined in that second story in particular.
  2. Again, my appreciation to you both for highlighting upcoming films from major directors, or films that are worth my time regardless of who directed them. As I've said before, I've simply stopped tracking a lot of stuff that I used to track rather closely, or at least closer than the average Joe. A new Ozon film is a significant event, and if I'd heard about this one, it's since slipped my mind. I'll keep an eye out for Summer of 85 (and will again suggest, without pleading, for information about how/where to watch these recommended films; sure, I can google and figure it out - and I will - but I'm reminded again that films in our pandemic age might be streaming or releasing theatrically, presumably in select cities - if such release patterns are even still a thing). Anyway - sorry for that digression - the question I wanted to ask Ken is, Have you seen Ozon's Double Lover? Ozon's IMDB listing puts DL squarely within the director's last five films. I ask because that film is stylistically, well, kinda awesome, but also indebted to De Palma (as Ozon indicates in supplemental interviews I watched on the DVD). I remember thinking it was quite distinct visually from the other Ozon films I'd seen, many of which I'd liked, although if you asked me to define his visual style, I'm no longer sure what characterizes it. I just remember being very impressed with the guy and the performances he gets from his actors. But then Double Lover just blew me away. It's an uncomfortable thing for me to admit because that film, like a lot of De Palma's work, is very sexual in its content (sorry to be so blunt, but if you've seen the film, you understand). And that sexuality, while mostly hetero, isn't exclusively so in DL. But the filmmaking is, I thought, pretty breathtaking. Sorry to hijack the thread a bit. I promise to share thoughts here on Summer of 85 once I've seen it.
  3. Christian

    There Is No Evil

    Thanks - and nice timing! I was just earlier today talking with infrequent A&F participant Victor Morton about the FilmFest DC selections for this year - I recognized only one name (Holland) among the directors - and he highlighted this film, noting it had won the Golden Bear. I might buy an advance ticket this weekend, when the festival is promoting an early/purchase discount - of $1 per ticket. A bargain! (FYI for others who may be interested: The screening is geo-blocked for the DMV region.)
  4. Did anyone else catch up with this film? I'm curious to know if I misread it (I watched it only once) as a fundamentally religious story.
  5. Christian

    Brewmance

    Andrew, I appreciate the link to the various platforms at the end of your review. Around the time I stopped writing reviews, I stopped reading them - or many of them. I'll still go to friend's links when I come across them or, more often, click through to certain critics' reviews when scrolling a film's Metacritic or RT rating. Indeed, I use those platforms not so much for the overall ratings (although those interest me), but to see who reviewed the film at each outlet, sending my clicks to critics I enjoy reading. A couple of years ago, we bought a Roku TV and (finally) a smartphone, and suddenly a small but soon-to-grow world of platforms became available to me. Yet I've found that figuring out where/how to see a movie still often requires some googling after I've read a review. Slight digression: You mention your drink-snobbishness and demand for loose-leaf tea. Which brand of tea do you drink? (I'm afraid we have mostly sachets in our home, with a couple of loose leaf teas - and even some single tea bags, which seem to be going the way of the dodo.) We're Harney & Sons fans over here, although I get the sense that whatever cachet that brand once had has diminished as the brand has become more ubiquitous (available for sale at Barnes & Noble, etc.).
  6. For posterity, here's my list, which took me until March 9 to feel comfortable enough sharing. 1. Da 5 Bloods 2. Nomadland 3. Dear Comrades! 4. Hamilton 5. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets 6. Small Axe: Red, White and Blue 7. Kajillionaire 8. Vitalina Varela 9. Minari 10. Relic 11. Beanpole 12. La Llorona 13. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 14. Yalda: A Night for Forgiveness 15. First Cow 16. Another Round 17. Young Ahmed 18. Sound of Metal 19. The Reason I Jump 20. The Whistlers
  7. Christian

    Derek Webb

    Oh. Didn't notice. I'll delete, although when I searched, I pulled up some album-specific threads that weren't titled "Derek Webb."
  8. Thanks for posting, Anders. I watched I'm Thinking of Ending Things a second time last night, after telling folks on one of the A&F calls a couple of months ago that the film, which lost me in its home stretch if not earlier, had stuck with me for reasons that eluded me. I had hoped a second viewing would clarify the film's lingering impact. I'm afraid the film still loses me, not only in its final stretch, but about at its halfway mark, if not sooner. I had speculated earlier that the reason for the film's dropoff may have to do with the disappearance, or close to it, of the Collette and Thewlis characters, who had interested me greatly on first viewing. Their roles still strike me as important enough to feel their loss in the film's second half, but I'm not sure that explains my reaction. I'd read up on the film after my first viewing. There's an interview with Kaufmann out there, published right around the time the movie debuted on Netflix, where he explains what he was doing in terms of adapting the source material, and in which he, or maybe it was the body of the full article and not specifically Kaufmann's quotes, explains the story - whose perspective it's being told from, etc. At the time, I thought that would be helpful when I watched the film again, but I found that, like a Lynch movie, some things are better left unexplained. I'd rather watch the film as a mind-warping fugue of characters and timelines rather than as a puzzle to be solved (which, to be clear, is what I think that article was doing - solving the narrative puzzle, possibly because Netflix anticipated viewer reaction and was trying to nip-in-the-bud anticipated bad word of mouth). So, if it isn't the narrative puzzle that interests me about this film, what is it? A recent tweet from Kris Tapley might explain my interest. I'm surprised I hadn't thought of this before: Could it be the cinematography? I watched with that in mind the second time, and I think there's something there, although this isn't the kind of film that shouts its cinematography as you watch it. I'm not sure what's compelling about how the film looks, but some of the imagery does stay with me.
  9. Christian

    Dear Comrades!

    It's been a long time since I've launched a thread at A&F, but I've just watched Dear Comrades! and feel compelled to do just that. You may know that this is Russia's official entry for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards, and that its director, Andrei Konchalovskiy, directed The Inner Circle and Runaway Train. (Oh, and Tango & Cash, which I never bothered to see.) His anti-communist bonafides are well established, and I expected I'd like the film mainly because such films are in my wheelhouse. What I didn't expect is that the film would be so religious. This element emerges rather slowly, and the first time it came up I thought the angle would be limited to a certain side character. I'm the type of viewer who's so hungry for religious depictions in film that I knew I'd be crediting the film for that character portrait alone. What I didn't see coming is how that element would become integral to the central character's motivations during the film's second half. I don't want to say too much about the movie, but I do, of course, encourage everyone to see it. The first half is quite good, but also very talky. I found the talk interesting, if not quite fascinating. The framing (the film is shot in Academy ratio) and black-and-white cinematography are striking and are enough to recommend the film, but it's really the second-half turn, if I can call it that, that elevated the story. I'm tempted to call Dear Comrades! a masterpiece, but for now I just know that I'm excited that the film took me on a journey I did not expect. I'm a little overwhelmed. (Finally, I see this film's title listed almost everywhere with a exclamation point at its end, but IMDB does not use the exclamation point, FWIW.)
  10. You’re bumming me out! My daughter’s up to Season 3 - Sarah and I are five episodes into Season 1 and are enjoying it immensely - but I keep hearing Season 3 is a letdown. I wish knowing that didn’t lessen my current enthusiasm for the show; we all know that great shows don’t stay great beyond a couple (or few) seasons. I was hoping “Cobra Kai” would be a rare exception.
  11. Christian

    Kajillionaire

    During a recent A&F monthly call, I mentioned my admiration of Miranda July. I had the DVD of her second feature, The Future, in hand that week, and I held it up during the call as an example of a filmmaker who ... well, I don't remember what the question on the table was at that moment during our Zoom discussion, but I know I ran to where we store our DVDs and brought my copy of The Future back to the laptop, where I displayed it for those on the call. As I explained then, I'm fan of July's, but my memory of her work, at that point, was a bit hazy. I'd seen Me, You and Everyone We Know, but it had been years. I think I'd just watched The Future ahead of the monthly call, and while the second half of that story went in some directions that disappointed me, I still stood in admiration of July's "voice" as a filmmaker and writer. (She's published a few books; I haven't read her novels but have read some of her short stories, particularly during the years when I was a New Yorker subscriber.) After the call, I rewatched Me, You and Everyone We Know - the Criterion edition, which I'd not seen. The movie didn't hold up to my vague but positive memories of it, but a supplemental interview with July was informative. More recently, I had an opportunity to see July's latest film, Kajillionaire, at a local theater, but while it was one of the few 2020 films I had a keen interest in - especially after Richard Brody raved about the film - I shied away from seeing it theatrically because of the pandemic. Instead, last night I used a free Redbox rental to check out Kajillionaire at home. It was worth the wait. I'd be very curious to hear from other A&F folks what they think of the film. It has some of that ... twee? ... July sensibility that distinguishes her earlier work (and which irritates others), but this story, about a daughter who participates in her parents' criminal schemes, struck me as much more profound and meaningful than July's earlier work. I'm not sure how others will react to the trajectory of the daughter (played by Evan Rachel Wood), but I found myself rooting rather desperately for her character and for her emotional growth. The film has something to say about parenting and how love between children and those who care for them is expressed (or not). Of particular note to this community: Richard Jenkins is in this, excellent as always. Oh, and not having paid attention to the credits, I spent the entire film thinking the woman playing the mother was Katherine Waterston, who looked ... older than I remembered her being? When the final credits rolled and I saw that the role was played by Debra Winger, well, that was a forehead-slapping moment. Has anyone here seen Kajillionaire?
  12. Christian

    The Game

    I watched my Criterion Blu-ray last night with the audio commentary turned on, and felt pleasantly affirmed when one of the screenwriters referred to the Christian imagery "all the way through" the film. I tweeted about how the film has always struck me as redemptive, but that my Christian critic friends never really talk about it. I should've checked this board first! I even participated in this thread.
  13. Ken: I don’t know if an A&F Zoom call happened this month - dates proposed have now passed, and it’s possible I never received final word of a call because I never confirmed my participation - but the future of the board might be a good subject for discussion during such a call. I realize the call is a small sample size, but I imagine the feedback might be useful.
  14. Christian

    Classical Music

    By “previous book,” I meant Ross’ “The Rest Is Noise” - he released another book before the Wagner volume - and while I didn’t engage much with it, I struck today when I saw that the ebook is just $2.99 (for Nook - haven’t checked Kindle). I don’t re-read often, but seeing the kind comments here about “Noise” made me think it’s worth at least one more shot.
  15. Christian

    Classical Music

    To my surprise, while at Barnes & Noble tonight scarfing up Blu-rays with birthday money, I saw this book and bought a copy! It’s expensive, but I had just enough money to get it (after returning two Blu-rays to the shelf; both were upgrades of Chaplin films I love but already own on laserdisc). That Dirda review really had me thinking I might enjoy this book, even though Ross’ previous book, which was widely acclaimed, was a swing-and-a-miss for me. Still, about every 10 years, I decide that it’s time to Give Classical Music Another Try and see if it takes. I’m at that point now, and I’m thinking this book might lead to deeper interest. This thread has been fueling the rethinking as well, so thanks to all of you for the good discussion here.
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