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  #31  
Old 04-13-2022, 06:14 AM
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24.Ambulance (Michael Bay); grade: C

Better the social allegory of Larry Cohen’s THE Ambulance (1990) than the overt political analogy of Michael Bay’s Ambulance. Bay turns the current, real urban post-apocalyptic hellhole of L.A. into a car-chase morality tale about U.S. exploitation of disposable Vets of its Middle East misadventures and, as played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, the veterans’ misplaced loyalty and subsequent moral desperation and degradation. Being explicitly political, Bay’s populist cinema condescends to, dismisses, and misrepresents American pain. Still, the non-stop chase allows Bay to demonstrate his considerable kinetics that shame movies like The Batman and Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s decadence that impresses. He’s a greater filmmaker than B-movie master Cohen, but on the big screen Cohen’s THE Ambulance movie is richer and more fun. Cohen starts with Eric Roberts as a comic book artist engaging in romantic flirtation that draws out moral action—flipping his love story and vividly imagining late 80s/early 90s NYC. The Ambulance transforms Cohen’s comic paranoia into poetry. (Bay should use his influence to adapt one of Cohen’s unproduced scripts.) Abdul-Mateen II’s obscene dishonesty to his wife in the Bay film contrasts with Roberts’ spiritual fidelity in the Cohen film—the quest to save one woman leads to a deeper connection with another. The culture is in critical condition.
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Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

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Last edited by TrueFaith77; 04-13-2022 at 07:04 PM..
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  #32  
Old 04-16-2022, 11:45 AM
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25.Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh); grade: F

Branagh turns the spiritual nihilism of Agatha Christie novels into White Elephant abominations. The metaphysical gimmick proposing universal guilt in Murder on the Orient Express--they all did it!--here reduces romantic love to a mere cog in a mousetrap or, in mystery terms, to motive. That's bad enough, but Branagh imbues this ugly world view with overblown filmmaking. In the opening sequence, his cgi black-and-white tracking shot moves through WWI trenches like a wannabe Stanley Kubrick directing Paths of Glory (recalling Branagh's blaspheming Hitchcock and Welles in the forgotten but eternally embarrassing Dead Again). Doing so, Branagh attempts to conflate Poirot's romantic treason with Kubrick's exactingly achieved cynicism. Branagh's c-list cast of actors lacks gravitas and expressiveness. Suggesting celebrity, they signify the film's perspective on social climbing as the aim of love through the lens of woke politics. Poirot's investigation exposes privileged Marxists, down-low lesbians, and doomed interracial lovers (as if checking Oscar bait boxes). Significantly, the film imparts these political labels with virtue as if castigating the very socio-economic system celebrated by--and that makes possible--the movie's faux luxe. Alternatively, Alan Rudolph's detective movies like Ray Meets Helen, Trixie, and Love at Large explore the mystery of individuality through the poetry of romantic love. Branagh's political labels and decadent filmmaking commit spiritual murder.
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"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.
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  #33  
Old 04-16-2022, 11:46 AM
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26.Father Stu (Rosalind Ross); grade: A

Rosalind Ross's Father Stu (2022) is a spiritual sequel to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004). The Passion's radically vivid pop visualizations of spiritual warfare and the infinitely extending spiritual love between Father and Son influenced the burnished--sepia-toned--style of lesser "faith-based" Catholic entertainments. Now, Ross introduces spiritual realities into the language (mise en scene) of Hollywood Realism and the religious bio-pic. Ross's script for Father Stu continues the elemental familial dynamics in Gibson's The Man Without a Face, The Passion, Apocalypto, and Hacksaw Ridge. Ross epitomizes this semiotic progression in three scenes of "conversion" in Father Stu. Stu's encounter with a guardian angel and Marian vision--a distinctly cinematic, rather than pictorial, pieta--at a moment of spiritual-physical crisis conveys cosmic love in intimate terms that also expresses universal need. At the center of Father Stu is a family broken apart by elemental tragedy (recalling Hacksaw Ridge). Evincing a dialectic intelligence and moral rigor honed by vulgar--down and dirty--debates between Mark Wahlberg's Stu and his atheist father played by Gibson (both magnificent), Stu's faithful humility in response to physical degradation engenders healing from family, friends, and community that itself heals. Masterpieces like Bertolucci's Me and You and Chereau's Son Frere convey this social-spiritual truth in secular terms, but Father Stu dramatizes Stu's uniting of his suffering to that of Christ. Hence, Ross achieves cinematic immanence through Stu's homily that articulates his suffering as a blessing in the terms of a son reaching out to and connecting with his father. Through montage and staging--collapsing distance like Mary cradling broken Stu--Ross makes a conversion felt. (As performed by Wahlberg and Gibson, it is awesome.) Transcendental family and earthly family dynamics get distilled to a kernel of truth in the film's final conversion. A priest, played as delicately proud by Cody Fern, admits to Father Stu in confession his unbelief and his vocation as a product his own father-wound. The icon of Stu's suffering elicits the recognition of idolatry as the essence of sin and testifies to the transformative reality of compassion.
__________________
"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.

Last edited by TrueFaith77; 04-16-2022 at 12:35 PM..
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  #34  
Old 04-23-2022, 03:34 PM
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27.The Northman (Robert Eggers); grade: F

Eggers appropriates and, then, perverts the significance of Shakespeare's Hamlet--probably the greatest play ever. (He similarly deranged the spiritual significance of "the lighthouse" in painting with The Lighthouse.) If Shakespeare updated for his time the ur tale of Danish tribalism within a Catholic metaphysic, Eggers creates a fantasy of this 21st century era's paganism through the faux authenticity of historical depravities. Instead of Hamlet's spiritual dilemma, Eggers gives contemporary moviegoers Amleth's subservience to a fate incited by betrayed father (Hawke), warlock (Willem Dafoe), Demi-god (Bjork). Alexander Skarsgard's Amleth's single-minded focus on revenge cancels out his humanity (his involvement in mass infanticide cannot be excused by moral relativism!) and overtakes his "love" for his mother and his half-brothers. This faux conflict results in the only entertaining scenes in the otherwise dully literal movie. Eggers achieves a hilarious composition of Ameth's youngest brother triumphantly stealing a ball from his slaves during a brutal sports game before he is pummeled by a giant--both the boy's hilarious comeuppance and Amleth's outsized response exposed the exaggerated Oedipal revenge story. Then, Eggers takes what that moment exposed and makes it explicit when Amleth's mother--Nicole Kidman in the film's only fun performance--attempts to seduce Amleth before she reveals the depth of her treachery. Though technically capable (especially close up shots of logs), Eggers' imagery lacks even the piquant lighting of the early scenes of David Lowery's The Green Knight. Later, its volcanic final battle looks as opaque as The Batman compared to visionary sequences in Kurzel's Macbeth, Boorman's Excalibur, and Hill's Bullet to the Head. Those film's hellish climaxes promised rebirth and ultimate redemption, while Eggers presents a digital flight to Valhalla--the mythical domain of cannon fodder for the coming apocalypse. Don't bother. It's here.
__________________
"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.

Last edited by TrueFaith77; 04-23-2022 at 03:44 PM..
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  #35  
Old 04-23-2022, 03:35 PM
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29.Petite Maman (Celine Sciamma); grade: A

Imagine an entire film extending the mother-child sci-fi rhapsody that climaxes the radical coda to Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence--that's Sciamma's Petite Maman. Except in A.I., it was about the specifics of a mother and son (as acted out by a robot child). In Petite Mama, it is about three generations of mothers and daughters as dramatized by time travel. The time travel in Petite Mama requires no sci-fi explanation; instead, time travel is achieved through feeling (the autumnal season and color palette feel like a collective memory of childhood). This is as imaginative as the spiritual propositions in A.I. An awesome sense of childhood longing (abandonment) and regret (the finality of death) animates the encounter and friendship formed between an 8 year-old girl and the 8-year-old version of her mother. Played respectively by twins Josephine and Gabrielle Sanz (structuralists, have at it!), they live primal scenes (making crepes, playacting, outdoor adventures). Doing so, they discover each other's essences--one's aptitude for math compares to another's interest in language-- and explore each other's mysteries--"You were not the cause of my pain," child-mother explains. The time travel concept reaches a genre pinnacle when the mother asks to hear "the music of the future" which kicks off a boat trip of symbolic power. (As with A.I., the universal experiences mythologized here ultimately express a filmmaker's *personal* sexual-spiritual desire.) The doubled resolutions to Petite Maman attest to the accumulated power of the film's gentle approach. The purity Sciamma achieves here (like her script for the perfect animated film My Life as a Zucchini) establishes her in the legacy of Borzage, Clarence Brown, Renoir, Spielberg, but she can look them in the eyes with this film's farewell that resolves existential regret and reunion that answers desire's longing.
__________________
"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.

Last edited by TrueFaith77; 04-23-2022 at 04:07 PM..
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  #36  
Old 05-07-2022, 08:18 AM
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30.Everything Went Fine (Francois Ozon); grade: A-

Ozon always queers his “straight” films. That is, even his seemingly well-made melodramas like the new Everything Went Fine evince the formal cleverness and a focus on individual rebels made extravagant and subversive in his other more surreal or Brechtian films. The most prolific filmmaker of the century is astonishingly consistent and versatile. EWF features a homosexual daddy (André Dussollier) of two girls (with wife Charlotte Rampling) who extends his sexual license to end-of-life decisions after suffering a debilitating stroke. Dussollier is simply magnificent salivating over his waiter crush and sole meunière at his last meal—“This is what I wanted!”—and planning his burial site away from his wife’s parent’s as they were hampered by “bourgeois!” norms. His favorite daughter played by Sophie Marceau experiences dreams and memories about her complicated relationship with her gay dad as she goes through the process of securing an assisted suicide in contravention of French law and her own desires. Then, when she walks in on her father saying goodbye to his gigolo lover, Ozon teases shock when the camera pans down from her POV to Dussollier’s lap. Through cathartic resolution, Ozon’s very moving melodrama daringly attests to the radical core of the nuclear family.
__________________
"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.

Last edited by TrueFaith77; 05-07-2022 at 03:12 PM..
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  #37  
Old 05-07-2022, 03:30 PM
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30 movies in, here is my 2022 movie report card (alphabetical):


Grade: A
Bigbug (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)*
Everything Went Fine (Francois Ozon)
Father Stu (Rosalind Ross)
Nitram (Justin Kurzel)
Petite Maman (Celine Sciamma)

Grade: B
The Battle at Lake Changjin II (Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark, Dante Lam)
Don’t Look Down (Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel)
Guermantes (Christophe Honore)
Home Team (Charles Kinnane, Daniel Kinnane)*
The Invisible Thread (Marco Simon Puccioni)*
Morbius (Daniel Espinosa)
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliche (Celeste Bell, Paul Sng)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (9) (David Blue Garcia)*

Grade: C
Ambulance (Michael Bay)
I Want You Back (Jason Orley)*
Redeeming Love (D.J. Caruso)
Souers (Yamina Benguigui)
Through My Window (Marçal Forès)*

Grade: D
7 Days (Roshan Sethi)
Better Nate Than Ever (Tim Federle)*
Panama (Mark Neveldine)
Rifkin’s Festival (Woody Allen)

Grade: F
The Batman (Matt Reeves)
Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh)
Deep Water (Adrian Lynne)*
Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)
Master (Mariama Diallo)
The Northman (Robert Eggers)
Scream (5) (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin; Tyler Gillett)
White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch (Alison Klayman)*

* - streaming release
__________________
"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.

Last edited by TrueFaith77; 05-07-2022 at 03:36 PM..
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  #38  
Old 05-10-2022, 02:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueFaith77 View Post
30 movies in, here is my 2022 movie report card (alphabetical):


Grade: A
Bigbug (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)*
Everything Went Fine (Francois Ozon)
Father Stu (Rosalind Ross)
Nitram (Justin Kurzel)
Petite Maman (Celine Sciamma)

Grade: B
The Battle at Lake Changjin II (Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark, Dante Lam)
Don’t Look Down (Jacques Martineau, Olivier Ducastel)
Guermantes (Christophe Honore)
Home Team (Charles Kinnane, Daniel Kinnane)*
The Invisible Thread (Marco Simon Puccioni)*
Morbius (Daniel Espinosa)
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliche (Celeste Bell, Paul Sng)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (9) (David Blue Garcia)*

Grade: C
Ambulance (Michael Bay)
I Want You Back (Jason Orley)*
Redeeming Love (D.J. Caruso)
Souers (Yamina Benguigui)
Through My Window (Marçal Forès)*

Grade: D
7 Days (Roshan Sethi)
Better Nate Than Ever (Tim Federle)*
Panama (Mark Neveldine)
Rifkin’s Festival (Woody Allen)

Grade: F
The Batman (Matt Reeves)
Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh)
Deep Water (Adrian Lynne)*
Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)
Master (Mariama Diallo)
The Northman (Robert Eggers)
Scream (5) (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin; Tyler Gillett)
White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch (Alison Klayman)*

* - streaming release
Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)

This movie was supposed to be good. I was thinking about seeing it.
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  #39  
Old 05-10-2022, 02:45 AM
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6. Morbius, grade D = This is a bad movie. It's just blah. The director has managed to make a movie about a vampire totally boring and almost unwatchable. I don't know why darker comic books like Morbius and Venom have such problems translating into good movies. There hasn/t been a truly successful Anti-hero movie yet. Skip this one.
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  #40  
Old 05-10-2022, 02:54 AM
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7. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, grade B - = I'm only liked this movie because of the Scarlet Witch. She is one of the best, if not the best, villain Marvel has ever had and Elizabeth Olsens' performance is perfect. However, the plot is flimsy and the film feels disjointed. The movie can't decide if it's a Marvel movie or a Sam Raimi (director) horror movie. The new superhero America Chavez is a complete bore and I didn't really like her character. However, there are some good action scenes and surprises. It's worth seeing but it doesn't feel like a Doctor Strange movie and I was disappointed.
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  #41  
Old 05-10-2022, 06:31 PM
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31.Firebird (Peter Rebane); grade: B

“There is a thin line between bravery and carelessness.” That’s how a character describes flying fighter jets in the Soviet-era set Firebird. This warning also applies to two soldiers’ gay love story. Their daring gets heightened by a society of surveillance (wires, spies, anonymous reports) and flashes hot in tame love scenes. The movie is best when glorying over the actors. Blond, impossibly defined, birdlike Tom Prior (Sergey) and lean, handsome, square-jawed Oleg Zagorodnii (Roman) connect over their artistic interests as photographers and, then, when Roman introduces Sergey to ballet. Director Rebane makes their chemistry palpable whether focusing on their shoulders and clavicles or when heightening their bold sexual adventures with stolen kisses hiding in the forest or when jet engines signify orgasm. Totalitarian suppression and military accoutrement give their desire the frisson of doomed liberation absent from domesticated consumer-capitalist homosexuality. Oleg uses his camera—and acting as an athletic Hamlet—to capture fleeting moments (the birth of a flirtatious smile). Rebane similarly captures an actor’s expression of grief and gratitude. Firebird achieves surprising emotion by providing psychological (individual) background to Sergey and jettisoning the victimization catalogued in Brokeback Mountain.
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"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.
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  #42  
Old 06-04-2022, 08:54 PM
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8. Top Gun 2, grade B+ = what makes this movie good are the flight and combat scenes. They are excellent. However, that's pretty much it. The love interest is pretty much unbelievable and so is the plot. However, I believe this is the best they could of done with this sequel. The movie is a good time, but it's forgettable and I don't have much to say about it. I think Tom Cruise is starting to look old though.
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  #43  
Old 06-09-2022, 07:42 PM
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33.Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski); grade: B

The amazing authenticity of Tom Cruise really makes Top Gun: Maverick soar. The publicity around the movie focuses on Tom Cruise performing his own stunts. He demonstrates this most obviously in his Buster Keaton-esque derring-do in the Mission: Impossible movies, especially the fourth installment Ghost Protocol (directed by Brad Bird). With Top Gun: Maverick, Cruise impresses folks with the realism of actually flying fighter jets. (The CGI is seamless.) The g-force tugs at his facial muscles. But the greatest special effect in the movie is Cruise's face and his physicality (remember the paternal phantom punch in Spielberg's War of the Worlds? It's still Cruise's finest moment--and it's magnificent.) Here, Cruise amazes when emotional recall plays over his countenance when he sees a new generation of pilots singing along to "Great Balls of Fire" like he and his buddy Goose in the original Top Gun, part of that 80s tradition that reduced narrative to commercials and music videos. Now, Cruise imparts emotional weight to the utterly weightless characterization of the first film. Similarly, Cruise affords emotional generosity to his reunion scene with Val Kilmer's Ice Man. Both scenes induce goose bumps. Unfortunately, Cruise's gravitas (earned after 2002's breakthrough Minority Report) grounds the film in his significance but does not apply his significance. There is no frisson to his generation-gap conflict with Goose's son (Miles Teller is like a ripe eunuch) or in his romantic redemption with gorgeous Jennifer Connelly. Commitment-phobe Maverick never links Cruise's emotional authenticity to the audience's need for social-spiritual commitment--as did his characterizations in Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Tropic Thunder, and Lions for Lambs.
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"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.

Last edited by TrueFaith77; 06-09-2022 at 07:46 PM..
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  #44  
Old 06-09-2022, 08:49 PM
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34.Benediction (Terence Davies); grade: A+

Terence Davies, one of the few living giants of cinema, daringly connects man's capacity for cruelty represented by World War I to gay men's cruelty to each other in the Siegfried Sassoon bio-pic Benediction. That makes this the most sophisticated bio-pic since Visconti's Ludwig and the most unsparing and morally insightful gay portraiture since Chereau's Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train--epochal achievements. Epitomizing Davies' formal genius (and frugality), he expresses Sassoon's horror at the devastations of World War I by integrating found footage of the War. Doing so, Davies movingly connects his own personal responses to the men in the footage with Sassoon's political and poetic protest of the war (the footage recall's Pauline Kael's line in Riefenstahl's pre-WWII Olympia: "these young men who were so soon to kill each other"). After the war, which took the life of Sassoon's unconsummated friend, the poet Wilfred Owen (Matthew Tennyson), Sassoon joins England's gay elite and enjoys its hedononism--headed by Ivor Novello (Jeremy Irvine). Broken-hearted, Sassoon breaks hearts. (More to say on the bitter irony of Novello's betrayal of the fame afforded by his common touch and good looks.) Years (decades?) pass, but Davies ingeniously keeps his actors young until applying morphing special effects to visualize youthful beauty's fading and the spiritual-physical ramifications of hard-heartedness (a reunion of lovers dredges up old betrayals and new vindictiveness). By humanizing the generational conflict between Sassoon and his son (an agonizing scene of Sassoon's hissyfit over loud rock-'n-roll music), Davies demonstrates the lingering effects of World War I to achieve a wide-ranging critique of British culture and the legacy of the 20th Century. Sassoon's ineffective objection to World War I and his seduction in the world of fine young cannibals engenders a need for redemption. Sassoon expresses this need in his art, his heterosexual marriage and parentage, and his conversion to Catholicism. Davies expresses this in overwhelming imagery--tableaus come to life--and musical juxtapositions. He answers Sassoon's longings with ravishing rhapsodies (poetic meditations on trees as signs of permanence and natural beauty like Godard's Nouvelle Vague and on rainfalls over empty space charged with remembered bonhomie and overlapping imagery of synchronized swimming with his one true love). Finally, Davies achieves a spiritual epiphany when Sassoon discovers in his desire to redeem his life the necessity for humility. Davies juxtaposes the youthful pairing-off denied Sassoon and the physical ravages of war spared Sassoon in a montage unified by the poetry of a superior artist. Here, the appealing poise of Jack Lowden's Sassoon and the stony inflexibility of Peter Capaldi's older Sassoon finally crumble--a life's pose deconstructed compassionately. It's the best movie of 2022.
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"They love each other so much, they think they hate each other."

Imagine paying $1000 to hear "Don't Dream It's Over" instead of "Go Your Own Way"

Fleetwood Mac helped me through a time of heartbreak. 12 years later, they broke my heart.
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  #45  
Old 06-10-2022, 06:44 AM
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Default Top Cliche starring Tom Cringe

As an unsentimental neophyte who never saw the original (although I did read the screenplay as homework just in case), the new Top Gun was a cringefest of Tom Cruise glorification comprising a succession of cliched dialogue and plot development that is laughable despite taking itself seriously. Much of the film was rehashed from Cruise and Kosinki's earlier, and far superior, film "Oblivion".
Looking forward to the next M:I installments and anything from Kosinksi with a decent script.
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