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Everything posted by Beltmann

  1. I'm still in disbelief. I never met Dave in person, but his presence here and elsewhere on social media made him, to me at least, a larger-than-life member of our community. His absence leaves a gaping hole.
  2. Has film discourse really devolved to, you must think "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is a perfect masterpiece or you hate art? Only slightly less exhausting than reading online reactions to the sci-fi black comedy is the experience of watching the movie, which I found simultaneously exhilarating and deflating. There’s no question that this fiercely original movie should be widely celebrated, but set aside for a moment the wild comic invention, the philosophical musings, the rich romanticism, and Michelle Yeoh’s shaded, career-defining performance as a Chinese-American who harnesses the ab
  3. On a basic story level, both VFW and Old Henry present variations on the action convention of a small band of men defending against siege that John Carpenter (and Howard Hawks) efficiently perfected. In the case of VFW, that means an aging squadron of Vietnam veterans protecting a ramshackle bar against marauding mutant junkies and dealers. The movie doesn’t pretend to have any aspirations beyond generic exploitation, but at least it has a capable cast that includes Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Martin Kove, Fred Williamson, and George Wendt. Much better is Old Henry, a Western abo
  4. Benedetta has been received (and marketed) as “Paul Verhoeven’s nunsploitation movie,” and it’s hard to deny its willful embrace of iconoclasm, sacrilege, and, at times, a pervy male gaze. Still, by pulling viewers into a 17th-century Italian convent aiming to keep both the devil and the plague at bay, Verhoeven seems most interested in exploring power hierarchies and the intermingling of religion, corruption, and delusion. He also asks sincere questions about what it means to be a person of faith. It’s a showy, unruly melding of the sensational and the intellectual, and I kind of loved it.
  5. Seen rather than heard. Fun sidebar in the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly.
  6. Did you like it, Boss_Tweedy? I know many top critics, including those with whom I'm usually in sync, are hive-dumping on Belfast. But I've seen it twice now and am eager to stand up for it. It's not a deep movie (if you're looking for a historical, analytical look at the Troubles, you won't find it), but it has plenty of other virtues, including a generous catalog of impressionistic, bittersweet vibes from a child's point-of-view that are, cumulatively, very moving. Personal anecdote: In December I took my 13-year-old son to see Belfast, unsure about whether he would enjoy it
  7. The uproar around the Spidey snubbing seems misguided, I think. First, it's silly to complain about the Oscars, which have never been a reliable barometer of artistic merit. It's all a fool's errand. Second, the griping is predicated on the specious notion that box-office hits should automatically be considered artistic triumphs and the false premise that the Oscars aren't populist enough (a stronger case could be made that the Oscars are too middle-brow, routinely overlooking the best, most artistically rewarding fare). Third, it presumes that awards ceremonies ought to cater to populism, to
  8. There’s nothing especially wrong with HBO's new techno-thriller Kimi except that it confirms my nagging suspicion that Steven Soderbergh has given himself over to making watchable yet overly modest, undercooked home movies. He’s stopped making great movies in favor of “neat!” movies. This is a depressing development.
  9. Recently I watched two very tense dramas that use real-time to their advantage. First, the nerve-racking, single-take drama "Boiling Point" stars Stephen Graham as the chef at a posh British restaurant who is dealing with professional and personal woes. Even more breathtaking, though, is “The Killing Kenneth Chamberlain,” which chronicles, detail by detail, the real-life story of an elderly black man who was killed by police performing a welfare check. I’m not sure how this riveting, real-time suspense drama fraught with hot-button topicality was so criminally overlooked, especially since it c
  10. Followup: I guess at one time I had set YouTube TV to record the movie if it ever aired, because the TCM broadcast was saved to my DVR list! Sweet.
  11. This weekend I caught two theatrical releases. Parallel Mothers, which stars Penélope Cruz as a middle-aged single mother who forms a close bond with an adolescent single mother while also grappling with the legacy of the Spanish Civil War, offers many of the usual pleasures of a Pedro Almodóvar movie. I think it's one of his best. Meanwhile, the lazy Rifkin's Festival is one of Woody Allen's worst. (And I say that as someone who has liked his late-career output more than most.)
  12. Ugh, wish I had seen your post in time! I've been trying to see that movie for a long time.
  13. In terms of narrative, pacing, performances, and editing, it clunks again and again. (Did you notice that it doesn't have scenes? It only presents sketches for scenes.) I'm baffled by the vigor of its defenders. It's almost as if the mere fact that Don't Look Up has well-meaning satirical intentions means it's automatically a good movie. But well-meaning is not synonymous with well-made.
  14. Read more novels, watch fewer movies. (C'mon! Stop rolling your eyes!)
  15. Maggie Gyllenhaal's directorial debut provides plum roles for Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, and Jessie Buckley, but the best thing about The Lost Daughter is how it examines, with genuine honesty and dexterity, the kind of emotional currents that accompany parenthood and middle age that are rarely acknowledged on screen.
  16. I actually listened to this for the first time earlier today, and then came here and found it at the top of your list! Nice. Looking forward to checking out many of your other favorites... thanks for the long list!
  17. Santa gave me two shirts for Christmas:
  18. No idea. I suspect she had them custom-made. I'll ask once classes resume after holiday break.
  19. My students spoil me. Today one of them surprised me with these:
  20. Here's a thread to post gifts you received or gave for the holidays this year that are Wilco-related or Wilco-adjacent. Flex away! I'll start. Today one of my students gifted me a sealed box of Wilco-themed memo books, a set which I did not even know existed. From the Field Notes website: "This set was truly collaborative; we paired each member of Wilco with an exceptional artist, handed them all the same limited palette of colors, and let them improvise. This 'Wilco × Field Notes' Box Set is the result. The box contains six Memo Books reflecting the craft and talent of the artists and th
  21. I haven't seen all of the buzzy titles (living in flyover country means waiting for some key films, like Drive My Car), but of the many 2021 titles I've managed to catch so far, The Power of the Dog is my favorite. It's really four stories of four couples (brother/brother; man/wife; mother/son; bully/target), and each one, through amazing alchemy, deepens the others. Campion's directing choices also telegraph so many subtle, rich ideas that my movie sensors went haywire. Loved it!
  22. I haven't drawn up a list yet, but I'm eager to see everyone else's picks. I always look forward to this year-end thread! This is one of my favorite places to find new discoveries. Thanks for getting it going, Chez!
  23. For the first time, our family of four observed Thanksgiving alone at home. (A last-minute positive case in the extended family torpedoed the plan to have visitors.) It was different and strangely subdued, but by day's end each one of us decided it was, maybe, the best Thanksgiving ever.
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