Film Review http://culturecatch.com/film en A Fossil Goulash of Terrible Lizards http://culturecatch.com/node/3724 <span>A Fossil Goulash of Terrible Lizards</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 22, 2018 - 15:00</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3724" data-a2a-title="A Fossil Goulash of Terrible Lizards"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/446" hreflang="en">film</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/216" hreflang="en">Brandon Judell</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1FJD7jZqZEk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Victorian naturalist Sir Richard Owen, back in 1841, coined one of Stephen Spielberg's favorite words, "dinosaur," which is derived from the Greek for "terrible lizard."  Jump ahead 84 years to when Willis O'Brien directed what many consider to be the first film featuring these reptiles on steroids, <i><a href="https://archive.org/details/TheLostWorld1925FantasyAdventureFullFilmHighQuality" target="_blank">The Lost World</a></i> <i>. </i>Brontosauruses have never been allowed to be reclusive creatures again.</p> <p>Not long after came Michael Crichton with his 1990 blockbuster novel, <i>Jurassic Park</i>, which has now spawned five films of varying quality, the current <i>Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom</i> being possibly one of the more forgettable.</p> <p><i>Fallen Kingdom </i>is a sequel to<i> </i>record-breaking<i> Jurassic World </i>and a prequel to whatever's down the pike. The plot: Three years have passed when a soon-to-erupt volcano threatens the existence of Isla Nubar and all the DNA-engineered dinosaurs that roam upon its terrain. Should humans try to save these creatures or let God decide their fate?  At a congressional panel, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) slumberously addresses the issue, noting man has proven unable to contro this technology. Our government sides with God and Ian, but not our heroine Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) who runs a dino-rights organization in sensible heels.* But what can she do with her group's lack of funds and political connections?</p> <p>Enter Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), who's employed by the bedridden Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), who was the wealthy co-partner in the creation of Jurassic Park. Mills tells Claire he will supply the cash and manpower to rescue the raptors, pterodactyls, and tyrannosauruses and then transfer the whole gaggle onto a deserted island his company owns with her help. Sounds good, and even Owen (Chris Pratt), who's living a solitary man's life in the woods, is convinced to join the venture so he can reunite with Blue, his favorite raptor. The chance to snuggle with Claire now and then is also a draw.</p> <p>Don't be fooled, heroes. One should never trust a poorly acted, one-dimension villain making believe he's a good guy. Yes, Eli Mills has other plans up sleeve. He's going to utilize the dinos for  . . . . My lips are sealed or maybe I just don't remember.</p> <p>What follows is the standard "good humans vs. bad humans" trope with a healthy dash of 'unrestrained capitalism is evil" for seasoning. Sadly, director J.A. Bayona, who proved his worth with <i>The Orphanage </i>(2007) and <i>The Impossible </i>(2012), telegraphs many of his thrill moments here. You're going to jump now and then because you've been trained to jump at these moments. Clearly, screenwriters Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, who together also scribed the prequel, suffer from a momentary lack of febrile imagination here, a fear possibly of pushing the envelope.</p> <p>However, if you hunger for umpteen dinosaurs, you get that. If you need an adorable little girl (an engaging Isabella Sermon) to identify with, check. And if you desire an arm of a nasty being bitten off, check again. There are the thrills, but a lack of real <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuatWL_s-Hk" target="_blank">surprise</a>. Also, a bit more of that Pratt charm would have been appreciated. Still, I know I'll be queuing up for the follow-up. How many of us can resist the chance to watch the past pummel the present in order to control the future? It's the odd deliciousness of rooting for one's own demise. - <em>Brandon Judell</em></p> <p>*Claire wore Melania pumps in the prequel, which is not the best footwear choice when trying to escape from an allosaurus or its ilk.</p> <p><em>Mr. Judell is a lecturer at The City College of New York and has written for </em>The Village Voice, indieWire, Soho Style, Flair, New York Daily News<em>, and </em>The Advocate<em>.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3724&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="icldaMqkaGj78Mg7OELFLKb9vUnZf-v0RhzIwtNrwDM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 22 Jun 2018 19:00:40 +0000 Brandon Judell 3724 at http://culturecatch.com Kleenex Not Included http://culturecatch.com/node/3708 <span>Kleenex Not Included</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/mark-weston" lang="" about="/users/mark-weston" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Mark Weston</a></span> <span>June 11, 2018 - 10:00</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3708" data-a2a-title="Kleenex Not Included"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/296" hreflang="en">Fred Rogers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/297" hreflang="en">Won&#039;t You Be My Neighbor</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/298" hreflang="en">Focus Features</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/299" hreflang="en">Mr. Rogers Neighborhood</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FhwktRDG_aQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><em>Won't You Be My Neighbor </em>(Focus Features)</p> <p>We're used to seeing Fred Rogers on a small, blurry TV screen -- mainly in black and white -- from the '60s and '70s. In the new documentary we see this earnest, driven man's face differently, on a big screen, in sharp hi def. We see the eyes twinkle and the mouth curl into a knowing smile. We see the virtues of compassion and goodness writ large. It is almost a religious experience -- religious in the purest sense, in the sense of what the best of us are capable of, of what we can aspire to, of what can inspire us.</p> <p><em>Won't You Be My Neighbor</em> is so saturated in genuine emotion and love it is difficult, a day later, to think of it analytically. Which is high praise. The craft of the doc is such that it is tremendously effective while its moving parts are virtually invisible. </p> <p>The film portrays Rogers as a tele-evangelist -- but not that kind.  He is an evangelist for decency and kindness and television is his medium.  He is a Seminarian who somehow missed the class called "What's In It For Me" that seems to be the favorite course of all the other tele-evangelists.  His course-work at Seminary were the nostalgic ones, the antiquated ones, you know, the ones about "there but for the grace of God go I" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  As a man, Fred Rogers certainly was flawed.  But his calling -- to save an entire generation of children -- was not.</p> <p>The film is about the good we can be and the craven nastiness we too often are. Right wing headlines decrying Fred Rogers as a devil for suggesting that all children have inherent value worthy of love just by being their unique selves. Insane protesters at Fred Rogers' funeral forcing their children to hold placards declaring Rogers an instrument of evil.  Implicit in these attacks is the moral conflict embodied in Christ and the Pharisees.  </p> <h4>I cried throughout. </h4> <p>Yes, for the wide-eyed children that heard an adult say that he loves them for exactly who they are - for their fears and flaws and the ways they are different from the others.  But I also cried for the possibility embodied in Fred Rogers, the promise of love that may be simple but is never simplistic.  I cried for the morals of virtue and decency and kindness and -- yes -- wholesomeness.  I looked up that word, wholesome.  I found kindred words like innocent and honest and ethical and pure and good and virtuous.  Old-fashioned ideals that seem always to be out-of-fashion -- and now more than ever.  Unless there's a Fred Rogers around when we're young to bring out our better angels.</p> <p>See this movie, friends. Bring kleenex.  - <em>Mark Weston</em></p> <p><em>Mr. Weston is a cultural gadfly and world famous purveyor of happiness. He lives in New York with his family and dog and occasionally dallies in writing plays.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3708&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="0JOZPQJcQcRepqUw_Iazsj-3n0KotErecaSIYw9vOSE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 11 Jun 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Mark Weston 3708 at http://culturecatch.com "I Don’t Need to Watch Gay Porn to Be Disgusted by Men.” http://culturecatch.com/node/3707 <span>&quot;I Don’t Need to Watch Gay Porn to Be Disgusted by Men.”</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 9, 2018 - 11:00</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/node/3707" data-a2a-title="&quot;I Don’t Need to Watch Gay Porn to Be Disgusted by Men.”"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/213" hreflang="en">The Misandrists</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/214" hreflang="en">Bruce LaBruce</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/215" hreflang="en">Susanne Sachsse</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/216" hreflang="en">Brandon Judell</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/217" hreflang="en">Hustler White</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/218" hreflang="en">cinema</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BXuoTe8ma1s?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>If John Waters and Karl Marx co-directed a remake of <i>The Beguiled</i>, the resulting feature would be very much like Bruce LaBruce’s <i>The Misandrists</i>.</p> <p>(A <i>misandrist</i>, by the way, is “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against men.”)</p> <p>Mr. LaBruce, for the uninitiated, <i>is</i> a man . . .  and a highly subversive one at that with a cult following. Yes, for over two decades, this queer underground filmmaker has shocked and entertained with his tongue-in-cheek-and-elsewhere oeuvre. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZsZTZh981Q" target="_blank"><i>Hustler White</i></a> (1996) starred an ex-beau of Madonna’s in an ode to L.A. male prostitution that includes a white, very blond boytoy being gangbanged by a very long line of African American hunks. Think of Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon. <i>Gerontophilia</i> (2013) focuses on a young man discovering he has the hots for the male geriatric clientele of a nursing home. Then <i>Otto; or, Up with Dead People</i> (2008) chronicles with a gory finesse the plight of a carnivorous, neo-Goth gay zombie.</p> <p>All of LaBruce’s screenplays are slathered with his punk, dystopian, Wildean wit.  For example, the ultra-anarchic <i>The Raspberry Reich</i> (2004) includes the pithy exchange:</p> <blockquote> <p>“Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses.”</p> <p>“I thought opiates were the opiate of the masses.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Now in his latest deliriously silly, although politically astute, offering, LaBruce pushes the Me Too movement to a mental landscape that will have the Weinsteins of the world quaking in their Guccis.</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-06/misandrists_emma_goldman.jpg?itok=4Ag0GcIW" width="1200" height="526" alt="Thumbnail" title="misandrists_emma_goldman.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>The year is 1999, and on an isolated country estate in Ger(wo)many the Female Liberation Army (FLA) resides. Founded by the didactic and campily sadistic Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse), the FLA is ragtag collection of young women she’s collected off the streets. Some were prostitutes, some were homeless, and others petty criminals. Then there are four older women, oft dressed as nuns, who serve as instructors to the lasses, and state such inspirational mantras as: “We must tell the world to wake up and smell the estrogen” and “Remember, girls, the closest way to a man’s heart is through his chest.”</p> <p>As for the group’s dinner chant: “Blessed is the goddess of all worlds that has made me a woman.”</p> <p>The film begins, not unlike the Clint Eastwood classic, with a wounded soldier, Volker (Til Schindler), being come upon by the somber Isolde (Kita Updike) and the horny Hilda (Olivia Kundisch). This is after he’s been running through the woods, chased by dogs, for quite a while, stopping only to pee on several trees. Collapsing, Volker asks for shelter. Hilda, who has an unrequited crush on Isolde, knows it’s against the rules to bring a male home. Isolde, who loves her back only as a “comrade,” convinces her pal to help hide this stranger in the FLA’s basement. They do so, knowing if discovered their punishment will be relentless and possibly fatal. Oh, no!</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-06/the_misandrists_gagged_photo.png?itok=rhR-6rD0" width="1200" height="614" alt="Thumbnail" title="the_misandrists_gagged_photo.png" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Meanwhile, upstairs, several ladyfolk are viewing extremely explicit gay male porn in order to master cinematic techniques for their forthcoming <i>Pornutopia—A World without Men</i>, a lesbian sex extravaganza that will radicalize all women who watch it, causing them to eventually overthrow the male patriarchal society.</p> <p>Before the girls get that far, there will be orgies with numerous hardboiled eggs and one strawberry, a castration, a pillow fight, loads of gender fluidity, jitterbugging, and a pummeling with a sock filled with apples. The affable acting for the most part, with several exceptions, is apropos of what you’d expect from an Ed Wood offering such as <i><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taoDcurT738" target="_blank">Glen or Glenda</a></i>. Some of the sets, though, are visually startling, and the makeup is inspirational. But more important is the film’s message that Sister Dagmar so succinctly voices: “A woman is a fever that never subsides.” Or does Big Mother have the last word: “No one fucks with a nun!” Now who would argue with that? - <em>Brandon Judell</em></p> <p><em><em><em>Mr. Judell has written on film for </em></em></em>The Village Voice<em><em><em>, </em></em></em>indieWire.com<em><em><em>, the </em></em></em>New York Daily News<em><em>,<em> </em></em></em>Soho Style<em><em><em>, and </em></em></em>The Advocate<em><em><em>, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's </em></em></em>Spike Lee Interviews<em><em><em> (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's </em></em></em>A Member of the Family <em><em><em>(Dutton). He is also a member of the performance/writing group </em></em></em>FlashPoint<em><em><em>.</em></em></em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3707&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="ZlVhbxrOC7R5AVq1dcIaYY64Evu6V50Rgzj_CkA3roo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 09 Jun 2018 15:00:00 +0000 Brandon Judell 3707 at http://culturecatch.com A Colourful Noir http://culturecatch.com/film/three-billboards-outside-of-ebbing-missouri <span>A Colourful Noir</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>March 10, 2018 - 10:45</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/three-billboards-outside-of-ebbing-missouri" data-a2a-title="A Colourful Noir"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/155" hreflang="en">Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/156" hreflang="en">Frances McDormand</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/157" hreflang="en">Coen Brothers</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jit3YhGx5pU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><em>Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing Missouri</em></p> <p>Bleak, haunting, yet profoundly moving <em>Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing Missouri</em> begins with a premise that seems to promise the viewer precious little. It is a symphony of damaged souls. An elegy to small-town dysfunction, yet there is an elegance and an honesty afoot. The script is so pared down it could have been chiseled by the pen of Samuel Beckett, it certainly is possessed in part by his economy of style, leaving space for the characters to say very little, but to reveal a tremendous amount about themselves, and their tragedy laden scenarios.</p> <!--break--> <p>It does, and is about what the title suggests. Frances McDormand brings a wry intensity to Mildred, a woman whose daughter has been the victim of a sickening rape that ended in a grisly murder. It transpires that they didn't have a "Waltons-like" familial bond. Her husband having deserted her for a pretty, yet pretty dumb nineteen-year old, who has problems understanding the difference between polo from polio, and her daughter, a free-spirited teen who didn't always agree with her mother, embodies a relationship imbued with remorse and regret. This is America in the backwoods. Grim, a rule unto itself and inherently dysfunctional. She rents the three billboards on a little-used road, as an act to provoke and blackmail the police into investigating her daughter's horrific murder, appropriately and properly. McDormand is a masterclass in economy. She barely moves a muscle, her face like a female Mount Rushmore, but when she does, it matters, and the audience doesn't miss her intensity of range and rage.</p> <p>The local sheriff, embodied with damaged humanity by Woody Harrelson, isn't the most capable of law enforcement officers, and is dying of cancer. His eclectic gang of law breaking law-makers are better at making up rules and ignoring them, than actually doing what they should. Sam Rockwell does a brilliant job as the resident, racist, law-breaking cop who usually makes the law that isn't into his own, and since no one steps on his madness, he gets away with near murder, whilst trying to conceal his pretty poorly hidden, latent homosexual tendencies. He lives with his beer swilling, controlling mother, and routinely gets away with contorting the law to suit himself. It is a sympathetic rendering of a wounded, rage-fueled personality, warts and all, and explains him in part, without ever justifying his baleful nature. He is mostly, a human failure.</p> <p>The whole affair is deeply problematic, a tinderbox that could immolate them all. The taut nature of the film is akin to a violin string, so tightly wound it could snap at any unforgiven moment. It has aspects of genuine pathos, enhances profound sadness, and yet the proceedings grip the viewer. There are elements of Terrence Malick's <em>Badlands </em>but without the inherent glamour, although it does possess an equally exquisite soundtrack, even The Left Banke get a much deserved, yet appropriate airing. But this is a film about resolution, redemption and in many ways, a hymn to forgiveness for the unforgivable.</p> <p>Had Hollywood not have been beset by the recent, heavily publicized problems, I doubt that this graceful exercise would have been fairly considered for due care and attention. It is little short of masterly, shot through by moments of profoundly dark humor that never winds here one expects, and has a gritty grace, and a stilted eloquence. There has been criticism of the character studiously realized by Peter Dinklage as the "town dwarf." It has a truckload of hurtful realism, portraying his reality in the world in which he finds himself, and not as a many would care to have it represented. You cannot create a film about flaws by routinely airbrushing them into a facet of social perfectionism. Life is cruel, and to represent otherwise would be a lie, an act of blinded kindness. For me the film has an uncomfortable credibility. It is life as it is, not how we'd like it to be, and has the balls to use language as it exists, not how it is preferred.</p> <p>Welcome to the lives of the cheated. By viewing the unlovable, you may just learn an understanding of them. With that they too might merit a modicum of affection, even if they don't always deserve it. Behind such honesty there resides an uneasy wisdom, for this is the world of the flawed, the terrain of the emotionally unadorned. - <i>Robert Cochrane</i></p> <p><i>Mr. Cochrane is a poet and writer living in Manchester, England. His work has appeared in </i>Mojo<i>, </i>Attitude<i>, and </i>Dazed &amp; Confused<i>. He has published numerous collections of poems and </i>Gone Tomorrow<i>.</i></p> </div> <section> </section> Sat, 10 Mar 2018 15:45:06 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3683 at http://culturecatch.com Lady Bird, Don't Fly Away! http://culturecatch.com/film/lady-bird <span>Lady Bird, Don&#039;t Fly Away!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>February 19, 2018 - 10:22</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/lady-bird" data-a2a-title="Lady Bird, Don&#039;t Fly Away!"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/183" hreflang="en">Lady Birdy</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/184" hreflang="en">Laurie Metcalf</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/185" hreflang="en">Saoirse Ronan</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/161" hreflang="en">Oscars</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4vhPeNOHxsc?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>For those of you who've navigated the slippery slope of micro-managing, or trying to micro-manage a teenage girl's life, <em>Lady Bird</em> will thoroughly resonate with you. If you haven't, maybe not so much, even if you've raised teenagers in your household, especially for any mother who wanted more for her daughter than her own life. For me, it resonated on many levels -- from my memories of Catholic school to awkward hormonal expressions to trying to fit in when you don't feel like you fit in with anyone. Or the pressure of applying for college -- the cost, the admittance to top tier schools, the distance... oh, the humanity of it all. This film deals with all of that existential angst when your brain is trying to make sense of your adulthood looming in the near horizon.</p> <!--break--> <p>Oscar nominations for Saoirse Ronan (Best Actress) and Laurie Metcalf (Best Supporting Actress) and for writer-director Greta Gerwig (Best Director, Best Picture. Original Screenplay) are all justified for this heartfelt coming-of-age comedy-drama. Set in Sacremento in 2002, beyond the music and fashion of that decade, we are reminded of our country's ethos after the horrific events of 9/11. Regardless, this is a movie to take any 16-year old to and see; it may even help open up a healthy dialog about life.</p> <p>peace, <em>Dusty</em></p> <p><em>Mr. Wright is a content creator and cultural curator. He was a contributor to the </em>Huffington Post, <em>former DJ at David Lynch's Transcendental Music Radio, the former editor of</em> Creem <em>and </em>Prince's New Power Generation <em>magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and television. He's also a <a href="http://dustywright.bandcamp.com" target="_blank">singer-songwriter</a> who recently released his sixth album <a href="https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/us/?at=11l4R8">Caterwauling Towards the Light</a></em>.</p> </div> <section> </section> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:22:48 +0000 Dusty Wright 3675 at http://culturecatch.com Re-Animate Me, Part 2! http://culturecatch.com/film/19th-annual-animation-show-of-shows <span>Re-Animate Me, Part 2!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/ian-alterman" lang="" about="/users/ian-alterman" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Ian Alterman</a></span> <span>January 20, 2018 - 10:39</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/19th-annual-animation-show-of-shows" data-a2a-title="Re-Animate Me, Part 2!"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/186" hreflang="en">Animation Show of Shows</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/187" hreflang="en">animation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/98" hreflang="en">cartoons</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pQH9zrb6V9Q?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><em><a href="https://www.animationshowofshows.com" target="_blank">The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows</a> </em></p> <p>The history of my personal love for animation (and the history of the Annual Animation Show of Shows) is laid out in my review for the <em><a href="/film/18th-annual-animation-show-of-shows" target="_blank">18th Annual Animation Show of Shows</a></em>.</p> <p>The newest collection of animated shorts had its initial premiere screening in Fall 2017. It was then shown at the Quad Cinema in January 2018. Unlike last year -- when there was only a single showing of the collection, at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia on the Upper West Side -- this year the show ran for two weeks, with two to four screenings per day.</p> <p><!--break--></p> <p>As noted in my earlier review, in watching these series' one is immediately struck by just how wide a variety of animation types and styles there are: from "traditional" to watercolor, from stop-motion to claymation, from collage to puppetry, and beyond. Also interesting is the sheer number of countries from which the animators hail: the current grouping includes France, Belgium, U.S., U.K., Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden.</p> <p><em>The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows</em> opens with "Can You Do It" (set to the song of the same name by Charles X), which features a horse race through the streets of a large city. Using mostly black, blues and whites, with the figures drawn in a quasi-geometric art deco style, the metaphor of a drag race (replacing the cars with horses) is clever and well-handled. This is my second favorite film of this grouping. Following this is "Tiny Big," a delightful series of related (?) vignettes using simple line drawings. With no narrative, the only sound one hears is the ambient sounds of each vignette. Lack of narrative -- or using only music or ambient sound -- seems to be one of the themes of this collection of shorts.</p> <p>Next up is the hilarious "Next Door." Using vibrant, mostly primary colors, it relates the story of a rigid, grumpy businessman and his next door neighbor, a very loud and imaginative young girl. (He and his house and possessions are drawn in a block-y fashion, while she and her house and possessions are all rounds and curves.) As he tries to settle in quietly after work, she is across the street playing imaginative games, making lots of noise. I do not want to give away the ending, which is as sweet as it can possibly be.</p> <p>"The Alan Dimension" unfolds like a comedic episode of the Twilight Zone. Drawn in what looks like (but is not) "standard" animation, we are introduced to Alan and his wife, who live what seems to be a normal post-retirement life -- except that Alan gets "visions" of the future (which he draws while in a trance), but only a minute or two before the event. His wife is eventually driven to leave him out of neglect, at which point he has a vision that is a true realization for him. The denouement is both amusing and touching.</p> <p>Opening with grainy black-and-white footage of a car careening off a cliff, and then using a truly wide variety of animation styles, "Beautiful Like Elsewhere" seems to be a meditation on the aftermath of the crash, both temporal (e.g., grieving family) and spiritual. The images evoke an equally wide variety of feelings, which are given even greater force by the slow and mostly melancholy music to which the film is set. This is one of two films that I felt were too short: I loved what it did, and simply wanted more.</p> <p>"Hangman" is one of many such films that used to be shown in classrooms in the 50s and 60s to foment discussion on various topics. Done in traditional style, the film is a series of animated stills, with Herschel Bernardi narrating Maurice Ogden's famous poem. It is a wonderful treat to see this newly restored version in all its glory. "The Battle of San Romano" takes the Uffizi portion of Paolo Uccello's masterpiece and "animates" it -- both literally and figuratively, as the painting comes alive and figures morph and re-morph, in a cycle of violence, death…and life.</p> <p>"Gokurosama" is positively my favorite film of this group. As a Japanese mall prepares to open for the day, an old woman in one of the shops throws out her back and cannot move. Her daughter rings up the chiropractor's office in the mall. What ensues as they try to get to the office is hilarious. Done in a palette of gorgeous colors, this is a funny, charming and wonderful film.</p> <p>"Dear Basketball" is Kobe Bryant's encomium to basketball, written and narrated by him. Using intensive pencil sketch animation, it tells of his lifelong love of basketball, and his mixed emotions upon retiring. "Island" is a too-short trip to an island with unusual flora and fauna. Another film without narration of any type, this one uses the sounds on the island to create a sonic stew of melody and rhythm. Its finale is unexpected and hysterical. "Unsatisfying" is another way-too-short film that takes a look at situations that frustrate people (e.g., a soda that does not make it out of a vending machine, a dart that just misses the center of the dartboard, etc.). As one of the two people who joined me at the screening noted, this film could have gone on nearly forever and remained hysterical at all times.</p> <p>Each screening has a "big" film, one that is the "centerpiece" of the group. "The Burden" is this year's entry. And it is truly extraordinary. Using stop motion animation with stick puppets, this mini-musical gives the inhabitants of a small town an opportunity to present their various "burdens" to the audience. Oh, did I mention that the inhabitants are anthropomorphic fish, monkeys, dogs and other animals -- and that they are singing in Swedish? The effect of this film is unlike that of any other film I have seen in the past four years (with the possible exception of last year's "Manoman"): a strange combination of humor, melancholy, and (at least for me) even a bit of discomfort. But utterly brilliant.</p> <p>"Les Abeilles Domestiques" is yet another too-short film featuring a series of vignettes that are interconnected via "cells," with actions often occurring between the cells. Using colorful line and simple figure drawing, it adds cells one or two at a time, creating a hive-like structure of circular -- and increasingly funny -- scenarios.</p> <p>"Our Wonderful Nature -- The Common Chameleon" is unquestionably the funniest film of the group. Done in hyper-real computer animation, the narrator gives us some background on the chameleon, including its insatiable and uncontrollable appetite. It is this appetite that gets our friendly lizard into serious trouble.</p> <p>"Casino" is a fast-moving montage of quasi-impressionistic casino-related images, set to Oscar Peterson's "Something's Coming." Using primary and other bright colors, the sheer kinetic energy of the film brings you in and does not let you go.</p> <p>"Everything" is a perfect ending to this group. Narrated using the (multi-cultural, ecumenical, playful) philosophy of Alan Watts, the film explains the interconnectedness of everything in the universe, from atoms to galaxies, using bright images of hundreds of different things (including some somersaulting lions and bears). Informative, fun, and absolutely charming.</p> <p>As I noted in my previous review, for me any good animation is worth watching. But it is particularly worth watching when it is of the consistent caliber of these groupings. Look for screenings of <em>The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows</em> throughout the country for the next couple of months. If it is coming to your area, go see it. You won't be disappointed! - <em>Ian Alterman</em></p> <p><i>Mr. Alterman is a founding moderator of <a href="http://www.progarchives.com/" target="_blank">Progarchives.com</a>, the number one progressive rock website in the world. He writes there under the name Maani. (Don't ask.)</i></p> </div> <section> </section> Sat, 20 Jan 2018 15:39:23 +0000 Ian Alterman 3661 at http://culturecatch.com Don't Read Those Billboards http://culturecatch.com/film/three-billboards-review <span>Don&#039;t Read Those Billboards</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/mark-weston" lang="" about="/users/mark-weston" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Mark Weston</a></span> <span>December 5, 2017 - 12:30</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/three-billboards-review" data-a2a-title="Don&#039;t Read Those Billboards"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/156" hreflang="en">Frances McDormand</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/158" hreflang="en">Coen</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/159" hreflang="en">Sam Rockwell</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/160" hreflang="en">Academy Awards</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/161" hreflang="en">Oscars</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jit3YhGx5pU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>If I could, I would rent three billboards and they would read:</p> <p>Billboard One: <em>This movie is frustrating</em></p> <p>Billboard Two: <i>Because its story is badly flawed</i></p> <p>Billboard Three: <em>But the performances are great</em></p> <p><em>Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri </em>goes rogue after the first act/first third of the movie.<!--break-->The screenplay evidently attracted some spectacular actors led by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, and my guess is that the script by Martin McDonagh -- who is a terrific playwright -- was much different than what eventually made it to the screen. That's the only way I can imagine that such great actors would sign on to this Indie film. In my fantasy, the film as originally intended didn't test well and sat on a shelf until it was radically re-cut and then released. [NOTE: I have no idea whether this happened, it is my fantasy.]</p> <p>The plot, such as it is, revolves around McDormand seeking justice for her daughter who was raped and murdered. The perp was never caught and so she announces to the world the incompetence of the local Sheriff (a meaty Woody Harrelson) by renting three billboards outside her home.</p> <p>But the movie isn't about solving the crime. It's about how to get McDormand to take down those billboards. And it also seems to be about the corruption of the local law enforcement and the stoic way in which McDormand copes with her family strife which (along with dealing with her daughter's murder), includes raising a son -- the always good Lucas Hedges -- and dealing with an ex-husband (John Hawkes) who likes to beat her up and is now shacking up with a ridiculously dumb 19-year old.</p> <p>It's also about a strange, sadistic and dim-witted policeman (Sam Rockwell) who lives with his racist chain-smoking mother and has a penchant for menace and cruelty.</p> <p>The film becomes unmoored fairly early on and then just seems to drift aimlessly and arbitrarily with no interest in any kind of credible reality. And yet the film is not a fantastical comedy a la the Coen brothers where these flights from real life can be a thrilling and funny ride. No, this film's style is more prosaic and serious than that. It just rumbles along not caring whether any of it actually makes any sense.</p> <p>Some of the things that happen include: someone sets fire to the billboards - a scene in which McDormand apparently keeps a small fire extinguisher in her station wagon and tries to put out the fires with it. The billboards are massive and at least 50 yards apart and she comically runs like a cartoon character from one to the other. Problem is it's not intended to be funny. Harrelson has cancer and commits suicide after an afternoon fucking his wife (Abbie Cornish). Cornish's accent switches between American and Welsh. She and Harrelson are a total mismatch, he looks like he could be her father or her creepy uncle. Before he goes off to eat his gun she says to him: "I love your really big cock."</p> <p>Rockwell -- upset that his boss committed suicide -- feels compelled to beat the living shit out of the kid who rented the billboards to McDormand and then throw him out the 2nd story window onto the street. This happens in full view of the new black sheriff (Clarke Peters) who just watches. He doesn't move a muscle to help the kid writhing in the street or to arrest or in any other way discipline Rockwell. He just fires him and sends him on his way. McDormand, having somehow acquired molotov cocktails, throws them at the closed police precinct turning the street into a blazing inferno. The police station was closed, but Rockwell let himself in to return his keys and gets badly burned in the fire. Let me repeat that -- the police station was closed for the night. This incident results in no police investigation and no arrests. Life seemingly goes on undisturbed despite smoking remnants of the charred former police station.</p> <p>Two things we learn from these incidents (among others) is that there are no attorneys in Ebbing, not a single one (LAWYERS ALERT -- go to Ebbing, there's a lot of business for you there and no competition) and the police station isn't open 24 hours, it closes at night (CRIMINAL ALERT -- go to Ebbing where there's a lot of late night crime opportunity and no chance of being caught).</p> <p>What saves the movie, at least somewhat, is the brilliant performances of the cast, especially McDormand and Rockwell. Frances McDormand's eyes are so expressive, her face so beautifully worn, that she imbues her grieving, stoic and at times violent character with courage and humor. She is especially winning when the corners of her mouth crinkle into an ironic, world-weary smile. Sam Rockwell steals the movie. From his mutton head to his drunken gait to the deep menace in his otherwise dull eyes, he is a man-child ill-equipped to control the violence within him. And yet he also has moments of dumb compassion and innocent grace.</p> <p>I kept thinking of <em>Wind River</em>, Taylor Sheridan's taut thriller, and <em>Manchester-By-The-Sea</em>, Kenneth Lonergan's brilliant portrayal of family tragedy. These three films share similar themes and even similar protagonists. But whereas Sheridan and Lonergan understand how to create a credible world of sorrow and feeling (as Lonergan does in the equally brilliant <em>You Can Count On Me)</em>, McDonagh (or at least this version of McDonagh) needs to find his way back to story-telling 101. - <em>Mark Weston</em></p> <p><em>Mr. Weston is a cultural gadfly and world famous purveyor of happiness. He lives in New York with his family and dog and occasionally dallies in writing plays.</em></p> </div> <section> </section> Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:30:02 +0000 Mark Weston 3651 at http://culturecatch.com Shaped By Water http://culturecatch.com/film/the-shape-of-water <span>Shaped By Water</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>November 29, 2017 - 22:03</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/the-shape-of-water" data-a2a-title="Shaped By Water"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/119" hreflang="en">The Shape of Water</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/121" hreflang="en">Guillermo del Toro</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2018/2018-05/shape-of-water.jpg?itok=yH-sxKPN" width="1200" height="624" alt="Thumbnail" title="shape-of-water.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><a href="http:// https://theshapeofwaterthemovie.com" target="_blank"><em>The Shape of Water</em></a> (Fox Searchlight)</p> <p>After the credits rolled, I wrote in my notes: "an epic and magical adult fairytale drama for the ages." This beauty and the beast fable is set in Maryland in 1963 during the height of the Cold War as well as culture wars against civil, homosexual and women's rights, and reinforces what we already know about that time period. Director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro is not afraid to let us peer backwards to see the world today, to see the world through his lens and view the real monsters that roam our planet. He paints his world in a by-gone era patina that is both warm and familiar -- the spot-on period sets with the cars, and clothes and shabby apartments, the films and TV shows -- as well as the dark and paranoid. It was a time in America's history just before the barriers of the man vs "monster" ethos would to be confronted, whether it was the threat of the Soviet Union's communism and global domination, or the fear of African-Americans, the handicap, gays or women wielding a voice in our society; sadly these issues exist today. Even the creature's design is reminiscent of the original <em>Creature From the Black Lagoon</em> (Universal, 1954). But, having said all of that, it is more than just an homage to a bygone era.</p> <!--break--> <p>His "Amazon Creature" aka "<em>Asset</em>" (Doug Jones) is befriended by the mute cleaning woman Elisa (Sally Hawkins). Neither sees a monster in each other, only the true monster of the God-fearing and bully CIA operative psychopath (Michael Shannon). Mr. Shannon plays it pitch perfect. His dead-eyed interactions with his family underscore his disdain for that side of his "normal" life even if it means he can afford a new Cadillac and a piece of his American pie. He prefers torturing enemies of the state and making sure no Commie bastards gain any more advantages over the US of A. The movie also stars Octavia Spencer as Elisa's empathetic co-worker/silent language interpreter/friend, Richard Jenkins as her lonely artist/neighbor/friend, and Michael Stuhlbarg as the empathetic scientist/Soviet double agent. All three are excellent in their supporting roles.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XFYWazblaUA?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Make no mistake, Mr. del Toro knows his way around fables that make you think. His <em>Hellboy</em> films perfectly captured comic book artist Mike Mignola's apocalyptic universe and those two films continue to dazzle a new subset of fans who may have missed them the first time around. (A reboot is in the making.) It's no coincidence that Mr. Jones played the telepathic "Mer-Man" Abe Sapien in those films. He also wrote and directed the wildly entertaining <em>Pacific Rim</em>, an homage to Japanese monster movies of the '60s and '70s that is more than just the good guys vs. monsters movie. </p> <p><em>The Shape of Water</em> won The Golden Lion Winner for Best Picture at the Venice International Film Festival, and it's easy to see why. And I will not be surprised to see a "best film" nomination for Mr. del Toro and "best actress" nomination for Ms. Hawkins at the 2018 Oscars. Rare that a movie can suspend the natural order of the adult universe to allow one to peer into our past and wallow in our once child-like innocence and/or terror, something we all need to tap into from time to time. It helps to look back so we/humanity can hopefully move forward. - <em>Dusty Wright</em></p> <p><img alt="dusty5a" src="/sites/default/files/images/dusty5a.jpg" style="width:75px; height:75px; float:right" /><i>Mr. Wright is a content creator and cultural curator. He was a contributor to the </i>Huffington Post, <em>former DJ at David Lynch's Transcendental Music Radio, the former editor of</em> Creem <i>and </i>Prince's New Power Generation <em>magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and television. He's also a <a href="http://dustywright.bandcamp.com" target="_blank">singer-songwriter</a> who recently released his sixth album <a href="https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/us/?at=11l4R8">Caterwauling Towards the Light</a></em>.</p> </div> <section> </section> Thu, 30 Nov 2017 03:03:18 +0000 Dusty Wright 3649 at http://culturecatch.com Frat-Ricide http://culturecatch.com/film/haze <span>Frat-Ricide</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>November 5, 2017 - 21:55</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/haze" data-a2a-title="Frat-Ricide"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/188" hreflang="en">Haze</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/120" hreflang="en">film review</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/189" hreflang="en">movie review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/suV0T9dPGFA?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Who doesn’t enjoy a little Euripides with their breakfast cereal or, in this case, with their unrelenting celluloid exploration of sadistic, on-campus initiations? Of course, hazing has been ceaselessly explored in the news each time there’s a new frat and in previous efforts such as Todd Phillips and Andrew Gurland’s documentary <em>Frat House</em> (1998) and John Landis’ comedy <em>Animal House</em> (1978). Even the Lifetime channel (<em>The Haunting of Sorority Row</em> (2007)) and one of this year’s best movies (<em>Prof. Marston and the Wonder Women</em>) have taken out their paddles, exploring the female side of these rituals. However, seldom has Dionysus and the Bacchae been incorporated into the subject matter.<!--break--></p> <p>(Please note that Tennessee Williams was inspired by the same source material for <em>Suddenly Last Summer</em>, a tale of lobotomies, cannibalism, and repressed homosexuality. Sounds very much like a fraternity initiation in the end, doesn’t it?) Indeed, few films, if any, have gone where writer/director David Burkman has fearlessly ventured with his game cast. Urination, defecation, paddling, scavenger hunts, branding, and mistreatment of a canine are just the bonuses. There’s also nonstop alcohol guzzling, heterosexual orgies, whip-cream hats, cellophane bondage, countless bare male butts, and most frightening of all, virile young men forced to scream out, “I’m a pretty, little princess.” All this is autobiographical, by the way.</p> <p>The praiseworthy Burkman avows in the film’s press notes, “ <em>Haze</em> is based on my own experience pledging a fraternity in college. I knew that the late-night lineups and forced alcohol consumption, the blindfolds and secrets, the physical endurance tests, being submerged in industrial-sized trash cans filled with ice water, vomit and human refuse, being spit on, force fed undrinkable concoctions of who knows what, the psychological mind games and abuse, and my own willingness to endure it all would serve to tell a very powerful story.” Sort of sounds a bit like auditioning for Miramax.</p> <p>The plot of <em>Haze</em> that accompanies all of these body fluids is basically simple. There are two brothers. Nick Forest (the highly cute Kirk Curran) wants to join a fraternity. His sibling, Pete (the equally attractive Mike Blejer), is anti-frat, and is helming a documentary about the evils of pledge life. Those interviewed for the doc act as sort of a Greek chorus, warning Nick and his peers of what they are going to get into if they would only bother to listen. Taylor (the rather charismatic Jeremy O’Shea) is the head of the frat, Epsilon, and acts as the Dionysus figure here, egging on all sorts of debaucheries plus about 30 minutes of binge drinking and 40 more of demeaning women. One young lass (Kristin Rogers), after a night of sexual humiliation, is told by a sorority sister that she heard “your pussy looks like a pile of roast beef.”</p> <p>The built-in problem with films such as <em>Haze</em> is that although its audience is being warned against the inhumane atrocities inherent to the pledge system, the same audience is only watching the film to get off on the abuses. The highly edited finale with its sudden shocks, to the pitch of awe and terror, definitely carry home one classic professor’s warning that can be learned from the Bacchae: “Don’t fuck with the Gods.” - <em>Brandon Judell</em></p> <p><em>Haze</em> has just become obtainable on DVD + BLU-RAY. It’s also available on Video On Demand (e.g. Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu) and Cable on Demand (DirecTV, Dish Network, Cox).</p> <p><em><em><img alt="brandon.jpg" src="/sites/default/files/images/Brandon-Photo.jpg" style="width:96px; height:100px; float:right" /></em></em></p> <p><em><em><em>Mr. <span data-scayt_word="Judell" data-scaytid="9">Judell</span> has written on film for </em></em></em>The Village Voice<em><em><em>, </em></em></em>indieWire.com<em><em><em>, the </em></em></em>New York Daily News<em><em>,<em> </em></em></em>Soho Style<em><em><em>, and </em></em></em>The Advocate<em><em><em>, and is anthologized in Cynthia <span data-scayt_word="Fuchs's" data-scaytid="10">Fuchs's</span> </em></em></em>Spike Lee Interviews<em><em><em> (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's </em></em></em>A Member of the Family <em><em><em>(Dutton). He is also a member of the performance/writing group </em></em></em><span data-scayt_word="FlashPoint" data-scaytid="11">FlashPoint</span><em><em><em>.</em></em></em></p> </div> <section> </section> Mon, 06 Nov 2017 02:55:20 +0000 Brandon Judell 3645 at http://culturecatch.com A Majestic Sequel http://culturecatch.com/film/blade-runner-2049 <span>A Majestic Sequel</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>October 31, 2017 - 01:25</span> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="http://culturecatch.com/film/blade-runner-2049" data-a2a-title="A Majestic Sequel"><a class="a2a_button_whatsapp"></a><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_email"></a></span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/190" hreflang="en">Blade Runner</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/191" hreflang="en">Ridley Scott</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/192" hreflang="en">Blade Runner 2049</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/193" hreflang="en">Harrison Ford</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/194" hreflang="en">Ryan Gosling</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UgsS3nhRRzQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>To be completely transparent, I purposely didn't read any reviews of <em>Blade Runner 2049</em>. I didn't want to be influenced by another critic's opinion.</p> <p>Smart movies don't always catch fire; may not be box office blockbusters nor receive the universal critical acclaim they so deserve. Ridley Scott's <em>Blade Runner</em> sequel may not have caught the collective raves or boffo box office receipts that others movies can boast, but that doesn't diminish the fact that it is an incredible sequel and in some ways better than the original. In today's 90 minute "super hero" hyper-edited, 3D cinematic experience a movie like <em>Blade Runner 2049</em> crawls along at a snail's pace, allowing the dystopian landscape to infect the movie audience's collective consciousness and to create a visual backdrop that affords the narrative its forward thrust.<!--break-->Kudos to director Denis Villeneuve and his design team. The future is not so bright. It's rather bleak and depressing. Mr. Villeneuve's previous movie, another scifi epic, <em>Arrival</em> was also deserving of high praise and its Oscar nomination. The man knows how to construct a mystery narrative, one full of clues and surprises without smash cut edits, gratuitous violence or mind-numbing action sequences.</p> <p>Without spoiling the plot of <em>BR49</em>, which at this late stage is probably impossible, thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), literally unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. Their first meeting in the dusty and abandoned Las Vegas is a real acting and visual treat.</p> <p>Moreover, we discover that the Wallace Corporation acquired the remnants of Tyrell Corporation, thus giving it control of the replicant technology and the business records of Tyrell, yet it is missing one key element that becomes central to the plot of Ridley's sequel.</p> <p>"Nexus Dawn," the video short above, does not appear in the movie, but it does introduce Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), owner of the Wallace Corporation and is set in 2036. In this scene he reintroduces a new line of "perfected" Replicants -- the Nexus-9. He believes he's created the perfect bio-engineered replicant "slave" race of workers that our future planet will need to colonize the stars and handle most of the dangerous jobs at hand.</p> <p>And kudos to writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green for constructing a terrific script. While the glib Officer K may not be the most talkative leading man, his somewhat deadpan delivery style perfectly frames his character's expected behavior. <em>Blade Runner 2049</em> is a must-see movie and very much deserving of an Oscar nomination for best film and best actor for Ryan Gosling and Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks as Officer K's nemesis simply know as Luv.</p> <p>peace, <em>Dusty</em></p> <p><img alt="dusty5a" src="/sites/default/files/images/dusty5a.jpg" style="width:75px; height:75px; float:right" /><i>Mr. Wright is a content creator and curator. He was a contributor to the </i>Huffington Post, <em>former DJ at David Lynch's Transcendental Music Radio, the former editor of</em> Creem <i>and </i>Prince's New Power Generation <em>magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and television. He's also a <a href="http://dustywright.bandcamp.com" target="_blank">singer-songwriter</a> who released his 5th solo album </em><a href="https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/us/?at=11l4R8">Caterwauling Towards the Light</a>.</p> </div> <section> </section> Tue, 31 Oct 2017 05:25:15 +0000 Dusty Wright 3642 at http://culturecatch.com