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Andrew

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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. I certainly get where you're coming from, Ken. I still check in here each morning as part of my breakfast-and-tea routine, but it feels like everyone has moved on, whatever the reasons.
  2. I'm intrigued and will certainly watch it, but the creator of that trailer could benefit from some Ritalin. Whew, that exhausted me!
  3. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

    Oh yeah - I totally viewed those two stories in that fashion.
  4. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

    I can see where the second story would've left a negative impression; I'm not a fan of the 'filmed play' feeling either (why I wasn't over the moon about Ma Rainey last year). It was my least favorite episode, but I loved how it then became something more expansive, with a French New Wave sort of energy.
  5. Andrew

    Changing the Game

    I think the Connecticut coach - in a plainspoken but sophisticated way - elevates the discussion of fairness from a question of individual winning or losing to a matter of societal fairness and equal opportunity for all, whether cis or trans. His reasoning corresponds to a higher level of Kohlbergian moral development. As the scenes at the TX wrestling match and the CT track and field stands show, many fans are too immature to grasp this. I think the coach's argument also collides head-on with the pathological degree to which middle-aged (and older) Americans depend on high school and college athletics for their own misplaced vicarious satisfaction.
  6. Andrew

    Changing the Game

    I can see why this film has been an award-winner at festivals over the past 1-2 years; it really is engaging and well-crafted storytelling. By following three trans high school athletes, it avoids preachiness in favor of letting the protagonists' lives and lived values predominate. As a humanist who believes part of my mandate is to encourage equality and advocate for society's disadvantaged, I applaud the film's approach to these themes. Folks of a more conservative bent and those identifying a Christian may appreciate the parental figures who see their compassion towards the trans kids in their lives as an outcropping of their faith and politics. I'll be writing a full review this weekend, but I know Hulu is offering screeners to critics and wanted to encourage folks to check it out.
  7. Andrew

    Summer of 85

    Jessica and I saw this during the online Chicago Film Fest last year and liked it quite a bit, too.
  8. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

    Please watch it! I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, and it really is SOOO good.
  9. Andrew

    There Is No Evil

    It's a good day when I can reference Ikiru in a review. Highly recommended: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/05/there-is-no-evil-showcases-courageous-iranian-filmmaking/
  10. Andrew

    The Disciple

    This one almost sneaked past me, since Netflix has been focusing the energy on promoting their latest animated film instead. But this is so good, and so artful, that it needs a wide viewership. I'm pretty sure it's the first film of 2021 where I've said to Jessica afterwards that I would've loved to see it at a festival, to soak in the energy of a good Q&A and hear the director's thoughts afterwards. So it wasn't totally surprising, as I did my pre-review research, to learn that it was an award winner at TIFF and Venice last year. It's only the director's second film, but his stylistic and thematic choices are impressively assured and right for a guy in his 30s. He trusted his audience enough, that they would be on board for a story of Sharad, a north Indian classical music vocalist - his quest to become spiritually/psychologically grounded, to be authentic, to honor his father and his guru - that the standard film notes of romance and his mentors' passings are handled by way of ellipses. Likewise, Sharad's tug of war between idealism/asceticism and worldliness is handled in such a moving, sophisticated manner. Although the religious context is Hindu rather than Christian, this is a film that certainly deserves end-of-year Ecumenical Jury consideration, and who knows, maybe even consideration for our next Top 100. In my review below, I gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, but as Jessica and I talked it over, even the things for which I deducted a half-star make sense thematically. This is a film that I could see growing in my esteem on a second viewing. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/05/the-disciple-is-a-wonder-filled-dive-into-indian-classical-music/
  11. I presumed the original query was a springboard from the most recent wave of transphobia generated by the conservative/evangelical outrage machine, and the comment on the 13th pretty much confirms it. I was going to refrain from commenting, but the recent back-and-forth in my subculture between Richard Dawkins and the American Humanist Association on transphobia has me thinking about it more. No matter one's belief system or lack thereof, I think one's worldview whether Christian or secular humanist should favor defense of the marginalized over proof texts. (Matthew 25, the Gospel of Luke, and the entire ministry of Jesus, anyone?) And given that trans individuals disproportionately suffer violence (including murder) compared to the general population, they certainly qualify as marginalized. There is a tendency in Western culture (and arguably, especially among Christians) to contend that trans people are fake or inauthentic. Any time we argue that a group is less human than other groups - in a century following the Holocaust - this should give us immense pause. I would think, too, as American churches are hemorrhaging members, those churches might want to ask why. I have no doubt that the way in which so many evangelicals blindly followed Donald Trump, who famously declared that humans south of our border are 'animals,' has much to do with this. In a more connected world where atheism and secular humanism are less stigmatized, Christianity simply looks a whole lot less appealing these days. (The largest religious group in my state of Washington is the 'nones.') All this to say, I think it behooves everyone to inform themselves about transhood and the social/biological reality of gender dysphoria, and to challenge their unconscious transphobia. I'm lucky enough to have one or two trans friends, and as a physician I've treated numerous trans individuals - both of these things have deepened my empathy for their existence and expanded my hate for the stigma they endure. Anyway, here's a column I wrote this morning that points to five recent empathy-generating documentaries on transhood: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/04/dont-be-a-dawkins-five-films-towards-being-a-better-trans-ally/
  12. Ah, I should've added an update. It's been available through some arthouse cinema sites in the US for a good week or so now. Reviews thus far have been underwhelming, so I've not been in a hurry to see it...
  13. Andrew

    Brewmance

    Thanks for the feedback, Christian. In my first lockdown column last year, I committed to sharing viewing links in all of my reviews till it was safe to return to cinemas, and I think I've done a good job of holding to that. I agree with you that it can be a challenge to find out how to watch films at home. JustWatch is my go-to for this, but they're far from complete. I supplement that with regular check-ins at a handful of arthouse cinema websites, to see what they're offering: though I'm now on the west coast, I still check what the Grail and Fine Arts Theatre in Asheville are playing, but now I've added the Lincoln Theatre (it's in easy walking distance from my home!) and the Pickford Film Center in the Mount Vernon/Bellingham area. As far as teas, my favorites are purchased online from Red Blossom in San Francisco's Chinatown and High Climate Tea in Asheville. I chanced across Red Blossom when vacationing in 2018; their in-store staff are super-friendly and knowledgeable, and their teas are consistently superb. Hunter, the owner/manager of High Climate was mentored by a chap at Red Blossom before opening his business in 2019 (I think); pre-pandemic, I would routinely spend 30-45 min geeking out with him over tea, and talking Japanese cinema and literature. He taught me the best way to prepare a good cup of tea and introduced me to the joys of pu'er. Good times. Dobra Tea is also a mostly reliable tea source, though the personal touch found at the other two locales isn't as consistent.
  14. Andrew

    Brewmance

    And how was 10 Mile beer? The father and son look like they know what they're doing. And yes, I'm a kid in a candy shop right now. There's an embarrassment of choices here, and I limit myself to one beer a day, so I'll be in the discovery phase for a long time yet. I was actually at a fabulous bottle shop in Bellingham on Friday and went a little overboard; I used a random number generator on Saturday to choose among the 11 IPAs in my fridge!
  15. Andrew

    Brewmance

    It's not groundbreaking stylistically or anything, but this is a fun documentary for anyone with at least a passing interest in craft brewing. Folks here might find it of more than usual interest, since one of the two microbrew startups profiled sees their business as a form of Christian ministry. My review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/04/brewmance-serves-a-tasty-look-at-american-craft-brewing/
  16. Andrew

    Kuessipan

    Usually the IndieWire "New Movies" column and NYTimes' film coverage are comprehensive, but this one slipped under their radar. Luckily a nearby arthouse cinema is selling virtual tickets to this, or I probably would've missed it, too. As of now, it's my favorite new film of 2021: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2021/04/coming-of-age-story-kuessipan-stands-apart-for-its-beauty-and-unique-setting/
  17. Better Days recently became available to rent thru streaming services in the US. No such luck with The Man Who Sold His Skin, alas.
  18. Hey, does anyone know how to score access to The Man Who Sold His Skin? I like to be a completist in watching Oscar-nominated international features, and this is the only one I'm not finding a way to watch.
  19. ...or The Green Book beating every other nominee that year.
  20. Yes, this. Thank you for expressing this more clearly and graciously than I was able to.
  21. You're probably going to have to develop a better critical vocabulary than "that was stupid" to receive any serious engagement in these parts. Paul Schrader considers Lebowski one of the 60 greatest films ever made, FWIW.
  22. I know there are critics who don't dig the Coen style, but I verge on thinking that if a person doesn't love (or at a minimum, appreciate) the Coen Brothers' oeuvre, they don't love cinema. At their best (and even when middling), their work is such a splendid amalgamation of crackling dialogue, philosophical musings, visual artistry, characterization, and music. As the eight pages of discussion of No Country for Old Men would attest to, there is plenty to be said about this film. And though opinions were polarized on this film, I don't recall that it was labeled as dull. It subverts an audience's expectations of a tidy ending and a satisfying showdown between the protagonist and main baddie, but that speaks to the film's strength and courage, not weakness. Sometimes a Coen film needs to percolate in one's mind in a while to appreciate it; I was underwhelmed by Lebowski on first viewing, but now it's one of my favorite films, period. I first saw No Country in a full screening room with a crowd that laughed during the violent sequences; a quieter rewatch without a gaggle of desensitized goofballs in attendance allowed me to appreciate the film far more deeply. I've probably watched it 6-10 times in total, and for me, it only improves with time. The dried-out Texas landscape; subtle film score; the characters played by Breslin, Bardem, Jones, and Harrelson; the potent image of blood money as symbolic of greed in general; the thrilling pursuit of Breslin, followed by Bardem and Jones; an ending that hearkens back to Ford's The Searchers - great stuff all around.
  23. Andrew

    Classical Music

    Wow, the Ninth - it's either my favorite or second favorite of his symphonies. Mahler certainly achieves transcendence in wrestling with his mortality and (I think) ultimately achieving some degree of musical acceptance of it. How fascinating that he would set him own irregular heartbeat to music! And that is a great story about Gilbert; I would've been applauding his decision along with the rest of the audience (minus one), had I been there...
  24. Andrew

    Classical Music

    Well, we're 4/5ths of the way across the country, which means I just listened to Mahler 8. Greenberg's course and Josh Weilerstein's Sticky Notes on Mahler 6 have done a lot to enhance my appreciation. Since Mahler's symphonies are so often expressionistic psychodramas, it really helps to have a roadmap. And wow, it's now so clear the debt that Shostakovich owed Mahler, his favorite composer. Their creative orchestration, bizarre twists, and love of the grotesque really parallel one another, though it could be argued that Mahler aimed for the transcendent more frequently (and certainly more self-consciously) than DS. My favorites so far: #1 (who can resist Frere Jacques recast as a funeral march?), #5 (its Kubler-Ross-esque passage through grief is splendid), and #7 (for its less ostentatious formal beauty, a nice break from the GM's overwrought tendencies). I only wish my box set had included the Song of the Earth...
  25. Andrew

    Classical Music

    Nice - I'll keep that in mind, Michael. My classical music highlights of 2020 would have to be my listen-throughs of Sibelius' and Beethoven's orchestral works, as well as discovering how fascinating and listenable Schoenberg's music is. My musical adventurism has hit a pause as my family prepares for our move from Tennessee to Washington, but I already have my Mahler symphonic cycle (Kubelik, a Christmas gift from my dad) packed in my car. I plan to listen chronologically as I also listen to the relevant sections of Robert Greenberg's 'Great Course' on Mahler's life and work.
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