Come Downstairs Now

The Last Picture Show
March 18, 2012, 10:38 pm
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The Last Picture Show = What a wonderful ode to a dying age, and the decaying beacons of yesteryear, and the flailing bursts of nostalgic delight, and the half-formed awakenings, and the dullness of youth, and the search for the superficial (truly cheap) thrill, and the listlessness. Down to its title, this film is perfectly formed. No more to say.


February 29, 2012, 12:32 am
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Boy = I absolutely enjoyed this film! Such a wonderful testament to the power of telling unseen stories with a lightness and a flair. Waititi endows these people with the kind of complex humanity derived only from personal experience. He achieves so much humanity that the topic inherently moves away from, “here is a film about indigenous people,” or, “here is a film that paints a picture of indigenous people that white people can relate to,” and towards, “here is a film about people (and if you can’t relate to it, then that’s your fucking crutch).” I thought the brother relationship was tenderly poignant. Such a great dynamic between a cast of flawed characters. Well-written, well-cast, well-designed, well-directed. And, unlike Eagle vs. Shark, this film soars high above the flat Napolean Dynamite-esque gimmicks often indicative of this genre. A lovely film. Go see it!

Hannah and Her Sisters
February 29, 2012, 12:17 am
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Hannah and Her Sisters = I enjoyed Woody Allen’s journey of despair, but I found this film simply horrid. It’s a well-made film, but I could never shake the over-arching male perspective of this story about sisterhood. These sisters are defined by the men they date, and their stories are told through said men (even their old mother is a shameless flirt). Wouldn’t pass the (arguably reductive) Bechdel Test, and mostly just made me want to make a film about sisters. Annie Hall excluded, I have never seen a Woody Allen film that warrants the epithet of cinematic master. Let’s call a schtick a schtick.

Knife in the Water
February 21, 2012, 2:50 am
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Knife in the Water = Nice, tempered film with inspired framing and a nice use of extended time. Sensual images (wonderful use of sound) keep us watching as the drama takes its time unraveling. I was more than happy to sit and watch it, but quite disappointment that the “thriller” happened about 15 minutes before the end. Good, but a little forgettable.

Peeping Tom
February 19, 2012, 9:36 pm
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Peeping Tom = I’m eternally interested in scopophilia and its evolution into a perverse attraction to mutation, authenticity, and anti-exhibitionism (i.e. death & photography). So I applaud this film for taking the topic of scopophilia beyond that of voyeurism. However, I didn’t enjoy the fact that it simply enacted theory. The characters were characters, the situations were situations, the dialogue was dialogue simply because of ideas written up before the film was ever made. The dramatization of this story adds nothing to the body of thought. What I wanted to experience via atmosphere (tone, mood, pacing), I had to know via dialogue (albeit sometimes inspired: Everything I photograph, I lose). My enjoyment took the tone of smirking when I got the references, rather than pushing my full self into the suspense/tension/perverse feeling of the film. I did ultimately revel in it!

Prince of Broadway
February 18, 2012, 3:06 pm
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Prince of Broadway = I absolutely loved this film! And I’m still in awe. I loved the performances, which felt heightened but real (I’m over-thinking it, but: they played to the qualities that arise from immigrant desire and subsequent psychology, which built performances that were specific, unique, and held social pressure and a will-to-live in tandem). I especially loved the directing (camera, pacing, juxtaposition, POV). Yes, it’s your now-typical shaky doc-style camera, but something felt so unassuming, so un-self-aware (self-unaware?), so real, about this film. I was in it.This seemingly ambling and haphazard film is incredibly precise. And its ability to bring expressible life—a full, complex life freed from moral arrogance or self-righteousness—to the type of person both you and I have walked by … awe-inspiring. I’m now completely obsessed with Sean Baker. Everybody watch this and let’s discuss!

Paris Is Burning
February 18, 2012, 2:54 pm
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Paris Is Burning = An enthralling and uplifting doc mostly because it acts as a platform for an especially voiceless—actively robbed of voice, as evidenced in the lack of police investigation into a tragic event in the film—demographic. Heck, it strips off the label demographic and helps paint a full, joyful picture. A nice document of the late 80s, an especially nice document of American obsession with celebrity, a nice documentary that refreshingly shies from the over-laden pathos and hypocritical ethics discussions of its kind.

We Need To Talk About Kevin
February 18, 2012, 2:42 pm
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We Need To Talk About Kevin = After 10 long years, Lynne Ramsay finally (finally!) punches back. I really admired the film’s commitment to Eva’s point-of-view (strictly treating Kevin as an object). Its images are amazingly sophisticated: with amazing use of colour, perspective, and visual effect to create one of the best portrayals of motherhood I have ever seen. To see Eva struggle with the fact that her very DNA—her very blood and bile, something that came from her—is so alienated from her … pure inspiration. I wish the film focused on this far more than on the visual and temporal disjuncture indicative of its genre (psychological thriller). It was scariest—and most emotionally-captivating—when Eva had to deal with her anti-maternal (amaternal?) feelings, less so when Kevin was shooting students and terrorizing his family. Ultimately, the film is well-acted and well-composed, but a little unfocused. It has many (many) kernels of unmatched talent, but gives in to its genre a little too much.

Most discussion on the film tends to centre around the question, “are kids born evil?” Which might feel like the smart thing to discuss about this film but, to me, completely misses the point. No, this film is asking questions like, “is our vision of motherhood natural or constructed? how can we reconcile that vision with the task of mothering, or even possibly mothering, a criminal?” All the shoulda-woulda-couldas, all the guilt and repression that disintegrates this film’s form stem from that central question. A tad unfocused, yes, but truly wonderful.

Far From Heaven
February 14, 2012, 3:13 am
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Far From Heaven = A refreshing film! Not quite melodramatic, but painstakingly painful and filled with longing. From the ultra-controlled palette to the restricted society it mimics, I loved seeing perversion (obviously, the kind of thing we don’t call perversion today) rendered in Haynes’ static, minimally mobile, theatrically lit shots. I loved seeing it rendered within the pastiche of this period (piece). Wonderful to get caught in the internal heart pangs of the protagonists—the controlled performances, allowed to burst only at intervals!—and revel in the fact that all the desire I could put into this film would not make its inhabitants less racist, less homophobic. Wonderful to use cinematic desire, pure longing to help a modern day audience understand this world (this, to me, is where Mad Men fails). Also, the subtle tension of looking hungrily and fearing what if somebody sees them. Purely cinematic and subtly so. Love. Todd. Haynes.

Edward Scissorhands
February 13, 2012, 1:47 am
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Edward Scissorhands = I wish it were a more decrepit, macabre depiction of the same story … but oh well. I’m a sucker for pains-of-assimilation stories, especially when they involve freaks of nature. This particular one had the trademark hope-cum-disappointment of most Tim Burton films.