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DownOnRodeo 05-19-2022 05:55 PM

Saw "Reminscence" (2021). Visually pleasing but everything else was weak and cringe. Should have been called "Exposition."

Fascinating to hear that its screenplay had been on the Black List of top unproduced screenplays. They probably needed to further 'adapt' the screenplay into a movie.

TrueFaith77 05-20-2022 09:44 PM

32.Firestarter (Keith Thomas); grade: C+
33.Memory (Martin Campbell); grade: C
34.Montana Story (Scott McGehee, David Siegel); grade: F

Two B-movies and an American Indie film deal in different ways with child abuse. None do so sufficiently, even as they tap into subterranean political fears. From best to worst (essentially in order of cinematically satisfying catharsis): 1) Firestarter streamlines typically overpacked Stephen King material. A secret government agency tortures two young adults in experiments that transform them into psychic human weapons. They parent a messianic child with nuclear-potential powers. Zac Efron’s perfect physique makes him an impressive Daddy and a Zaddy. When he unleashes his and his daughter’s rage—in refreshingly low-fi practical effects—it conveys something resonant about parental authority compared to all-too-believable government treachery (Gloria Reuben resonates as the villain). 2) Meanwhile, Campbell’s overlong Memory is the best directed of the 3. It emphasizes the determinism of trauma in Liam Neeson’s amorality as a hitman who finds his moral center: “I don’t hurt children.” His quest to destroy those that do takes him to the realm of the rich and powerful, those above the law and moral law. “My son was weak. You are not my son,” threatens Monica Bellucci. 3) Finally, McGehee-Siegel tie child abuse to abuse of the environment in an aesthetically constipated film. Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague play estranged activist sister and gay brother with clenched expressions. They replace family obligation and forgiveness with murder, justified by their respective self-righteousness and guilt. The movie’s final shot could have given release after the dour resolution, but the directors euthanize the cinematic potential.

TrueFaith77 05-22-2022 10:31 AM

35.Downton Abbey: A New Era (Simon Curtis); grade: F

Downton Abbey is anti-cinema. The latest installment in the franchise is directed by the abominable Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn, The Woman in Gold), but Julian Fellowes is the real show-runner here. Fellowes learned nothing from working with master auteur Robert Altman on the surprise hit Godford Park that made Downton Abbey possible—and unacceptable. As in Gosford Park, the invasion into an Upstairs-Downstairs world by movie celebrities rings Fellowes’ bells. In Gosford, Altman explored the sources of devastating fantasy while Fellowes now indulges it (but without offending his audience of aristocracy queens). A filmmaker cites Abel Gance’s titanic (now hard-to-find) Napoleon as the impetus for filming a silent movie on location at Downton abbey. Then, Fellowes ripping off Singin’ in the Rain, the filmmaker ludicrously makes the transition to sound without filming in a studio. Like the MCU, the Downton Abbey franchise is television that makes no room for artists or narrative fulfillment. There’s not an expressive edit or shot in the film (two characters exclaim over a French Riviera beach view, and Curtis cuts to a reverse shot in which the actors’ heads are in focus but the view is not). Like serialized TV, it’s all anti-climaxes (Will Mary cheat on her husband? Does Cora have cancer? Is Robert illegitimate? Will Thomas get laid? No, no, no, and who knows?). It completes the transformation from movie fantasy to TV’s total commodification.


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