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  #61  
Old 09-10-2022, 11:54 AM
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48. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (Sam Raimi); grade: F

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness expands the Fascist dimensions of the MCU and the recent fascination with the concept of a multiverse. The metaphysic is one of randomness conquered by Will (dictatorial social planning). Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness hooks audiences with sentimentality (Strange's romantic regret and Wanda's maternal pain). As with Lennon imagining a sky with no significance in the fascist anthem "Imagine" and Everything Everywhere All at Once conceiving of a creation with no meaning--no creator--DSATMM offers the salve of images lacking emotional resonance. It completes the dulling—the cleansing from Difference—of pop culture.
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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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  #62  
Old 09-10-2022, 12:03 PM
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49.Peter Von Kant (Francois Ozon); grade: A

Ozon remakes Rainer Werner Fassbinder's lesbian melodrama Bitter Tears of Petra Van Kant as a fictionalized biography of Fassbinder. The layers of mise-en-abyme intoxicate like a vertiginy of movie love (made palpable by Manuel Dacosse's liberated camera and rich complementary color scheme). First, in 70 minutes, Ozon tightens and personalizes the Brechtian theatricality of Fassbinder's 2-hour-plus dirge (that climaxes with genuine revelation--a Brechtian coup de grace). Because the film is now about a middle-aged gay filmmaker obsessed with a male ingenue in the '70s, it hones in on the sex politics of today's #MeToo moment. Ozon deepens the topicality by revealing the complexity of sexual and capitalistic exploitation, the willing participation on both sides and the way an artist's desires manifest themselves personally and artistically. So, yes, Ozon finds within Fassbinder's dialectic materialist-then-spiritual tract, the essence of gay sensibility that Fassbinder revealed in his last--and greatest--film Querelle. Hence, the film's diegetic soundtrack includes a rendition of that film's theme song as sung here by Isabelle Adjani. Another layer, Ozon's inspired casting of Isabelle Adjani as Peter Von Kant's muse allows him to investigates her significance as a female expression of gay men's deepest longings: a wall-paper sized photograph of her face looms over many of the scenes, just like the Renaissance artworks portraying the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. So, Ozon continues his own personal investigation of melodrama--distinct form Fassbinder's. Furthermore, Ozon's casting of flirty-eyed Khalil Ben Gharbia suggests his own affinities more than Fassbinder's--and expands to surprising classical and pop ideas of male beauty. (Adjani devastates with her response to Peter’s demand to know if she slept with Gharbia.) Put simply: through creative non-fiction and disguised autobiography and intertextuality, Ozon creates through the characterization of Denis Menochet as Peter Von Kant an emotional catalogue of gay sexual life--the profound need at the center of it all. Menochet gives the performance of the year because his eyes capture the way a lover begs for every morsel of reassurance. Ozon discovers the genesis of that need in a profound scene featuring Hanna Schygulla, Fassbinder's young ingenue now playing "his" mother. However, Von Kant the filmmaker only finds an outlet in movie-making for his capacity for feeling. That makes this top-tier Ozon. But still not great. The Fassbinder structure contains an ellipsis in which the power dynamic shifts between the two characters--deconstructing and critiquing the role of power in human relations. Therein resides the lost opportunity for Ozon to explore the specifics of sexual experience--intimacy--that seems to reside in the memory of the filmmaker's eyes that open and close the film. Ozon's Querelle remains pending.
__________________
"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; 09-10-2022 at 01:54 PM..
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  #63  
Old 09-11-2022, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by TrueFaith77 View Post

As with Lennon imagining a sky with no significance in the fascist anthem "Imagine"
What? Fascist anthem??? Where did you pull that one from???
Get outta here
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  #64  
Old 09-23-2022, 02:59 PM
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50.I Came By (Babak Avari); grade: D-

The Brits jumping on the race-based horror genre bandwagon (think Get Out and all its white-guilt indulging progeny) only demonstrates that they have slightly more wit than their American counterparts. In I Came By, the cleverness manifests itself in a few identity-politics genre twists. First, the white supremacist, homophobic, imperialist serial killer played by Hugh Bonneville at first appears to be a gay offing his exotic tricks. Nope. He's just British! (He barks into a black female detective's face: "I thought you were one of the smart ones!") Then, director Avari sneakily makes it seem as though middle-class graffiti terrorist George MacKay and, then, his mother Kelly Macdonald will take down the villain. It's a double-down on the gimmick that Hitchcock (and De Palma) would raise into profound art in Psycho and Dressed to Kill. Because those two actors were so memorable in, respectively, The True History of the Kelly Gang and Gosford Park, the spectator may not have guessed that it is unknown Zimbabwean actor Percelle Ascott who must avenge them. I was hoping his baby mama and then his child would have to carry the mantel to extend the joke. Instead, it's just more wish-fulfillment fantasy.
__________________
"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; 09-23-2022 at 03:06 PM..
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  #65  
Old 09-23-2022, 03:06 PM
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51.Athena (Romain Gavras); grade: F

Athena throws a Molotov cocktail into a combustibly divided culture. Background: Director Romain Gavras is the son of politically-sophisticated and aesthetically-gifted Costa-Gavras (Z, State of Siege, Capital, and the great The Confession). Romain's previous film The World Is Yours references both Scarface and Tarantino to address immigration culture-shock and ethnic criminal underworlds in France (featuring greatest-living actress Isabelle Adjani in a Cesar-nominated performance). So one enters Athena with more than the requisite open mind. The extended long-take that opens the film introduces the emotional-political terrain: 3 Muslim brothers' differing responses to the murder of their 4th and youngest brother by, it is believed, the police. It could also be read as a De Palma-esque media critique. A Molotov cocktail thrown by militant now-youngest brother Karim (Sami Slimane) explodes a press conference meant to encourage peaceful protest featuring the French military-garbed brother Abdel (Dali Benssalah). Shortly after, Karim choreographs the dropping of debris by utilizing his cell phone screen of live news coverage outside the Athena living projects that he and his marauding gang has barricaded. Ultimately, the technique, with its rousing music score and fluid snaking camera movements, celebrates cultural chaos. (The oldest brother Karim (Sami Slimane) has his own socially destructive and degenerate motivation during the tenement's collapse.) With their opposing approaches, handsome Slimane and Benssalah perfectly represent propagandistic semiotics--in balance. As Gavras perversely turns fate, the film and the two brothers choose a side and their equal appeal sentimentalizes privileged filmmaker Gavras's projection of revolutionary politics onto an oppressed minority. Too much a literalist, Gavras takes the barrio name of "Athena" to infuse the story with elements of Greek Tragedy. *SPOILERS*: Topping even Oedipus Rex, all 4 brothers ultimately die (including 1 by fratricide!). Then, Gavras reveals the previously withheld twist: that youngest brother was not killed by the police, after all, but by radical white supremacists posing as police. Their successfully achieved aims: the sparking civil unrest and the destruction of the Athena projects and the undermining of confidence in the police. The imagined power of a fringe political movement to manipulate social distrust actually exposes the irresponsible employment of technique by Gavras. Fortunately, nobody cares about this movie.
__________________
"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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  #66  
Old 09-25-2022, 09:51 AM
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52.Gigi & Nate (Nick Hamm); grade: B-
53.Confess, Fletch (Greg Mottola); grade: C+
54.After Ever Happy (Castille Landon); grade: B-


In Greg Mottola's aptly titled reboot Confess, Fletch, Fletch (as played by John Hamm) is guilty as hell... guilty of being white. That ends up being the subterranean theme in a comedy about the good fortune of bumbling investigative reporter turned private investigator. "White privilege" also explain the mystery of comic actor Hamm's career--as in his ludicrously acclaimed psychotic cypher Don Draper in the pseudo-dramatic Mad Men (recalled here by the presence of John Slattery). Confess, Fletch brings this concern to the surface when police detectives played by black actor Ron Wood Jr. and Iranian actress Ayden Mayeri solve the case no thanks to Fletch's detective skills but with assist from Fletch's ability to infiltrate a yachting club. This is how Mottola (who directed the terrific comedies Adventureland and Paul) brings Fletch into the modern world--afflicted by pandemics of all sorts (the villain is a germaphobe, Fletch bemoans the state of journalism and the presidency). Fletch/Hamm attempts to expiate his white guilt with the spectacle of gifting various supporting characters with the film's loot of Mussolini-purloined art masterpieces. Face it, though, this sometimes-funny movie wouldn't have gotten made without white affirmative action. "Privilege" significantly provides the invisible safety net for the lead characters who deal with the repercussions of physical and psychological traumas, respectively, in the B-movies Gigi & Nate and After Ever Happy. (Notably, Marcia Gay Harden is in both Confess, Fletch and Gigi & Nate--she's never been better frankly; Josphine Langford is in both After Ever Happy and Gigi & Nate--showing a versatility and a sexiness more distinctive than the bland white affirmative action beneficiary and current "it girl" Florence Pugh.) The cgi "service animal" monkey in Gigi & Nate and the revolving, almost-surreal interchangeable cast of supporting actors in the After series (After Ever Happy is the 4th in the ongoing saga) orbit the perceptual reality of the whiteness of lead actors Charlie Rowe (Gigi & Nate)--so memorable in TV's Red Band Society and the stage's Judas Kiss--and Hero Fiennes Tiffin (After Ever Happy). The benefits--the options--their characters enjoy and even the privilege of the genres they inhabit (inspirational, extreme Romanticism) provide the context for the universal feeling that their stories engender. As New Order titled a song: Guilt is a useless emotion.
__________________
"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; 09-25-2022 at 01:53 PM..
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  #67  
Old Yesterday, 03:06 PM
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54-1/2. Dos entre muchos (Julian Hernandez); grade: A+

Julian Hernandez is one of only two great new filmmakers in the 21st century (Zack Snyder is the other, fyi). Hernandez and Snyder share, along with formal innovation and an operatic sense of Myth, the sensuality that evokes spiritual states comparable only to Sternberg and Bertolucci. Covidpocalypse provides the context for Hernandez’s erotic technique to take a radical stance against isolation in a new short film, translated as Two Among Many. Two long-distance lovers (Esteban Caicedo as a musician and Alan Ramirez as a dancer) improvise means of communication and intimacy when separated by Covid strictures (and other disasters). They use modern technology to collaborate on a dance piece and eat dinner together over FaceTime (and feed a pet fish). Hernandez makes palpable their longing in the most powerful love scene since his own Raging Sun, Raging Sky—that was set to Jose Jose’s “Cada Mañana”; this one is the finale of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea—both enrapturing. Cinematographer Chak Perez Pena lets the sunshine in at day-time and aims his keylight at night, both to sculptural effect—it’s the most beautiful movie of the year. Later, when, like the time-jumping tracking camera mise-en-scene Hernandez originated in Broken Sky, Ramirez takes new positions with each camera setup, the filmmakers already illuminated the space with meaning (and expanded the significance of Covid to gay men's AIDS-era confrontation with mortality). The song Caicedo prepares—“Is It Okay if I Call You Mine?” from Fame—provides accompaniment to Ramirez's final rooftop dance. Hernandez infuses the sequence with such heartbreak and hope that it reveals his unique, as-yet-unfulfilled potential to restore the musical form after Fame commenced the genre's 40-year demise.
__________________
"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; Yesterday at 04:28 PM..
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  #68  
Old Yesterday, 03:07 PM
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55.Dead for a Dollar (Walter Hill); grade: A

Finally! A real movie! The great Walter Hill returns cinema to American movies by also returning to its foundational genre, the Western. Doing so, Hill clarifies contemporary socio-political quandaries with concrete forms of morality. Moral action drives the plot, fulfills the characters, burnishes the images, and provides rhythm to the editing. One character quotes Marlowe—“Is this ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’?”—to explain the reason for the rescue mission of a married white woman (Rachel Brosnahan) presumably by a black deserter from the army (Brandon Scott) that goes from New Mexico (and Texas) to Mexico, but it also signifies the mythic nature of the story that leads to an irrevocable confrontation between ancient foes (convict Willem Dafoe and bounty hunter Christoph Waltz). It’s an American myth brimming with American tensions and dynamics, and characters who cross a porous moral border only to be defined by the hard line of truth. When his partner, a black solider (Warren S.L. Burke, conveying conflicting loyalties) asks about his nationality, Waltz answers with a Germanic accent: “I’m an American.” Every character gets the chance to state his or her position—but differences get settled (like a fair and honest election) by persuasion (Brosnahan appealing to Waltz’s essential goodness) or quick-draw contests. When Burke challenges a racist to a bullwhip duel, the whip-snaps crack like gunshots. Lloyd Ahern’s vivid lighting in sepia tone—providing delicate shading across a spectrum of skin tones—provides a sense of place (the harsh sunlight of the desert) and the perceptual reality of America’s collective unconscious like faded photographs (flashbacks are in dreamlike black-and-white). Similarly, the town names that flash on screen provide direction like a spiritual compass (Pueblo de Guadalupe, Ciudad Trinidad Maria). Ideas burst through the screen a la the patented Hill image of a horse careening through a proscenium-like window (it remains as thrilling as ever!). The abstract, cubistic editing of Hill’s Streets of Fire, The Driver, and The Long Riders matures into the metaphysical legibility of Bullet to the Head and, now, Dead for a Dollar. When one character kills someone for the first time, Hill establishes the spatial context and moral necessity by cutting to a distant character’s reaction—yelling, “Dios!”—before cutting back to show the character on the bullet's receiving end dropping dead. The title cards at the end explain the fates of the characters who survive the final shootout—a character-testing “humdinger!” exclaimed one Hill afficionado on Twitter. It appropriates the true-story trope to convey beneficent faith. It’s the best American film of the year. Viva Walter Hill!
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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; Yesterday at 06:37 PM..
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