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About Beltmann

  • Rank
    More Like the Moon
  • Birthday 06/19/1974

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    Southeast Wisconsin
  • Interests
    Movies, literature, history, sports

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  1. There’s a whiff of exploitation about Hounds of Love, which uses as its suspense template the true crime story of a Western Australia couple who kidnapped and tortured a series of girls in the ‘80s, but director Ben Young’s artful staging and emphasis on psychology go a long way in mitigating those concerns. I found the movie gripping, thoughtful, and, by the end, rather moving. It’s also anchored by three female performances of unusual depth. It's October, so I was in the mood for an off-beat horror movie and this fit the bill quite nicely.
  2. There’s plenty of scary stuff in The Last Duel, even if it functions as a Rashomon-style drama about sexual assault in medieval France rather than horror. I didn’t care for Ridley Scott’s decision to iron everything into a smooth, gray/blue haze--it feels like an affectation for a story already muddied by its competing versions of truth--but otherwise the movie is one of his stronger exercises in narrative. I found it curious how the screenplay makes its biggest, obvious points with a battle-axe but then presents deeper ideas in subtle, easy-to-miss ways. This is especially true in its final t
  3. That VU doc was such a wonderful, woozy experience. Loved it.
  4. Thanks to the Criterion Channel, I was finally able to catch Ann Hui’s Boat People (1982), a Hong Kong classic that I’ve been hankering to see for several decades. Mixing sharp social criticism with broad melodrama, Hui follows a Japanese photojournalist as he tries to circumvent the propaganda ministry of North Vietnam and pull back the green curtain obscuring the nation’s hidden horrors.
  5. Update: She wore it again today. When I asked whether it was going to be part of her regular rotation, she said that it might be her favorite shirt. "It's obviously your best shirt," I said.
  6. Hoping to surprise me, one of my students wore this shirt to class today. I actually didn't notice until halfway through my presentation on allegory in The Crucible, and then I had to power through the rest of the lesson without acknowledging the shirt. Not easy! When we ended up with a few free moments at the end of the period, I said, "Any questions about your task? No? Okay. So, we have a minute here. We have to talk about the shirt." The entire class was momentarily perplexed, but this girl immediately beamed and stood up. I only needed five minutes to deliver an impromptu lecture on
  7. Even though I could have watched Cry Macho for free on HBO Max, I still went out to the theater for it. Why? Because Clint Eastwood, even now when his age is definitely showing, deserves to be seen on the big screen. The movie is at best minor Eastwood (both as actor and director). It has considerable limitations and more than a few awkward moments. But it also has unusual grace in certain passages and, given the current cinema climate, it scans as refreshingly mature storytelling. That's to be celebrated. Plus, it's Eastwood doing Eastwood-y things, which is to be savored!
  8. Fantastic! At the show, I ran into a former work colleague and we ended up standing together. Despite being obsessed with Wilco, he is a recent convert (for which I'm claiming credit!) and Friday was his first time seeing Wilco live. He, too, was knocked out by the "Via Chicago" presentation. "Do they always play it that way live,?" he asked, with a thrill in his voice. "This is epic."
  9. As always, it was a pleasure to see you, too! Perhaps worth noting is how the crowd seemed to have a relatively even mix of Wilco diehards and Trampled by Turtles devotees, unlike the Sleater-Kinney/Wilco shows, which were heavily lopsided in Wilco's favor. Both fanbases, though, seemed ready to groove equally along with both bands (if only American life were always so harmonious and generous of spirit). The weather was a gift. Earlier forecasts predicted afternoon thunderstorms and scattered rain into the evening, but the climate gods waved away all the storms, perhaps because "Via Chicago" a
  10. I'm a huge fan of Paul Schrader and I wish I could report that his new film The Card Counter, in which Oscar Isaac deals with the psychological aftermath of his stint as an interrogator at Abu Ghraib, ranked among his best movies. It's an ambitious and interesting work, yes, but it also feels unfocused and rather airless.
  11. "White Wooden Cross" means a lot to me. First, I think it's one of the best Wilco tunes among the last few albums. But the lyrics also carry personal voltage: After my brother was killed in a car crash (a long time ago), a roadside memorial was erected and I can't hear this song and see its imagery without internalizing its meanings in very specific, raw-nerve ways.
  12. Set in Senegal and shot in Wolof, the local language, Ousmane Sembene's Mandabi (1968) tells a simple story freighted with a powerful attack on colonialism: When an unemployed man receives a money order from a helpful nephew laboring in Paris, he is thrown into a roundelay of bureaucracy that makes it impossible for him to cash the order. The real frustration, though, lies in how those with power manipulate his illiteracy, lack of proper identification, and financial ignorance for personal gain. Sembene, often cited as the “father of African cinema,” presents a Senegalese culture brutalized by
  13. I've seen Da 5 Bloods three times now, and I still haven't been able to reconcile all of my conflicting thoughts about its pinballing ideas. I suppose that's entirely to its credit. The movie doesn't strive for realism; with the different aspect ratios and the reconfiguration of familiar genre cliches, the style and tone reminds me a little of Godard. Sometimes it even feels like satire. Lee also throws everything at the wall to signal a large thesis involving how many social ills past and present are connected skirmishes in the same neverending umbrella war. Delroy Lindo is magnificent. As a
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