Jump to content

Recommended Posts


Okay, I saw this intensely moving, elegantly crafted movie in the final days of 2023, but I have bonus thoughts about The Iron Claw right now. There's a surface layer about family, masculinity, bodies, and sports that is rather obvious, but then there's the deeper layer that finds much more eloquent things to say about those same things, often expressed solely through meticulous cinematography and resourceful editing. There's something Shakespearean in this telling, which might explain why, two hours after leaving the theater, I was still feeling wrecked.

Semi-spoiler: There seems to be growing consensus that the ending would be stronger if Kevin Von Erich (Zac Efron) didn't directly communicate his thoughts about being a brother and if his children didn't expressly endorse his need for catharsis. Basically, the complaint is an argument in favor of more subtlety. That's an argument I'll usually champion, too, but The Iron Claw complicates the attendant assumptions.

Assumption #1: Subtle is always better. But why should subtlety automatically confer special value? Even Welles and Hitchcock understood that sometimes direct pronouncement can carry its own value; many of the most iconic moments in cinema history are iconic precisely because they aim for straightforward impact. Ironically, there's nothing "sophisticated" about a knee-jerk demand for subtlety without exception.


Assumption #2: The ending scene is about Von Erich's sense of loss, which has already been effectively conveyed. My view is that Efron does indeed deliver terrific, subtle work throughout the entire film, but the power of the ending scene is rooted in how Efron injects another unexpected nuance that, ironically, requires direct verbal expression. It's important that Von Erich is speaking to children in that scene. He is striving to articulate complexity in a knowable way, a task that actually requires appreciable sophistication. He is struggling to convert his labyrinthine emotions--the ones making him cry--into something digestible that his children can grasp. As a teacher, I immediately recognized how the scene gets that mental burden right. As a father, though, my heart skipped a beat when the movie got another thing right: What Von Erich says in that scene closely echoes the words I once used to tell my own children about my brother's death. The key takeaway, I think, is that the ending scene isn't primarily about Von Erich's loss and need for catharsis. The main subject of that scene is Von Erich's evolving identity. It's about being a father rather than a brother, and that adds rather than subtracts subtlety.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Watched the Holdovers -- very enjoyable. All three of the main actors (Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa) were great. Great characters and story.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/3/2024 at 10:12 AM, calvino said:

Watched the Holdovers -- very enjoyable. All three of the main actors (Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa) were great. Great characters and story.

 

 

My daughter was an extra in the movie.  Her shoulder is prominently featured in one scene.  :)

But I agree - really enjoyable movie.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Oil Can Boyd said:

My daughter was an extra in the movie.  Her shoulder is prominently featured in one scene.  :)

But I agree - really enjoyable movie.  

 

That may have been my favorite part - kidding - that's cool, though. Did she get to meet Giamatti, Randolph, or Sessa?   

 

I  got the 1970 feel while watching the film. 

 

Also, I definitely will watch the Iron Claw movie at some point -- the Von Erich's were pretty popular and  in my middle school in the early 80's ----- I remember writing 'Kerry Von Erich is a wimp' in my friend's yearbook --- she in turn --- taking up a whole page --- wrote "have a great summer and REMEMBER KERRY VON ERICH IS NOT A WIMP"  in mine. I guess I remembered...

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, calvino said:

 

That may have been my favorite part - kidding - that's cool, though. Did she get to meet Giamatti, Randolph, or Sessa? 

I  got the 1970 feel while watching the film. 

 

She did not get to meet them though she was near them. 

She was also an extra in Little Women a few years ago and met most of the stars on that one.   

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

I guess this is technically violative of the topic, but Monday night I sent out my annual ten best list prior to the Oscar nominations announcement the next morning. Here it is, if anyone is interested:

 

Oscar nominations will be announced tomorrow morning, which means it’s time me to share the list of my ten favorite films of 2023. Of course, only films released in theaters during the 2023 calendar year were eligible for inclusion on this list (and all were actually seen in theaters during 2023). For whatever reason, there is going to be more overlap between my list and the Oscar nominees for Best Picture than in any previous year. There is a very good chance that seven of my top ten will earn Best Picture nominations. [EDITOR'S NOTE: In fact, seven did earn Best Picture nominations, and my top Honorable Mention was an eighth Best Picture nominee.] Last year, only two of my top ten received Best Picture nominations. For 2021, four of my top ten ended up as Best Picture nominees.

 

There was an especially high number of single-word-titled eponymous biopics in 2023, including Rustin, Priscilla, Nyad, Golda, Ferrari and Barbie, but only two such films made my top ten: the one about Leonard Bernstein and the one about J. Robert Oppenheimer. (The title of the latter film escapes me.)

 

*******************************************

 

1. Past Lives

 

2. Oppenheimer

 

3. American Fiction

 

4. The Holdovers

 

5. Anatomy of a Fall

 

6. Poor Things

 

7. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

 

8. Maestro

 

9. All of Us Strangers

 

10. May December

 

Honorable Mentions: The Zone of Interest; The Color Purple.

 

Very Special Honorable Mention Because I Don’t Know How to Compare This to Anything Else: Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour (seen on a Thursday afternoon in a 500-seat theater in which I was the only patron; had I died and gone to heaven?)

 

Dishonorable Mention: Saltburn.

 

Best Director: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer; also considered: Celine Song, Past Lives; Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things; Alexander Payne, The Holdovers.

 

Best Actress: Greta Lee, Past Lives; also considered: Carey Mulligan, Maestro; Emma Stone, Poor Things; Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall.

 

Best Actor: Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers; also considered: Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction; Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer; Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers.

 

Best Supporting Actress: Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple; also considered: Rachel McAdams, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret; Erika Alexander, American Fiction’ Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers.

 

Best Supporting Actor: Charles Melton, May December; also considered: Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things; John Magaro, Past Lives; Ryan Gosling, Barbie.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

A simple yet incredibly emotional and beautifull film. I love a movie that makes me feel. This one certainly does that.s-l960.jpg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Throughout The Zone of Interest a woman sitting near me eagerly chomped through a bucket of popcorn, and I wanted to lean over and ask, "You were making out during Schindler's List?"
 

My 15-year-old son came along, and our subsequent conversation during the 35-minute car ride home was one of our best movie conversations ever. (And he had the moral wherewithal to intentionally finish his nachos during the trailers!)

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Matthew Vaughn's Argylle starts with a ridiculous sequence that's excusable because it's pitched as an easy yet winking satire of clunky spy movie cliches ("We're not so different, you and I"). The idea, seemingly, is that Elly Conway is a very bad writer with a devoted following of very bad readers. But then the movie switches to a "real" story that becomes precisely the thing that Vaughn opened by mocking, and it disorients the entire enterprise. Is he taunting his own viewers? Is he interrogating his own showmanship instincts? There's nothing in the movie, however, that suggests any level of self-awareness or self-reflection. It just moves forward, with the cartoonish energy of overly excited sixth graders: "And then wouldn't it be cool if...!"

 

I have a high tolerance for lightweight absurdities that strive only to entertain--I feel unreasonable loyalty to, say, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Knight and Day and even Undercover Blues, which my wife and I have regularly quoted since 1993--but Argylle's sloppiness really grates. It doesn't take long for it to feel like Vaughn is just making it up as he goes, connective tissue be damned.

 

The use and abuse of the Beatles' "Now and Then" is cynical, desperate, unforgivable. The mid-credits stinger is also self-serving rubbish. You know what might have been fun, though? If Stanley Tucci had been sitting in that pub and Dennis Quaid showed up looking for "Morty!"

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Some viewers will find İlker Çatak's The Teachers' Lounge too far-fetched, too gripping to be believable. After all, this idealistic teacher will navigate an ordinary situation that spirals, with domino logic, into the interrogation of critical pedagogy, deep-seated workplace tension, toxic office politics, weaponized parent groups, accusations of xenophobia and privacy violations, student civil disobedience, physical altercations, district staffing and legal woes, the censorship of student journalism and even a broken copy machine. But as a teacher who has been in the public school trenches--and advised the student newspaper--for more than 25 years, I can vouch for this movie's authenticity. I've witnessed every single thing that happens in this story and then some. Most of all I connected to how Çatak conveys the job's relentless psychological pressure and untallied emotional labor, and also each day's supersonic velocity of micro decisions, each one carrying a new and perhaps unforeseen hazard.

 

The Teachers' Lounge gets everything right, except, perhaps, the teachers' lounge. These instructors in Germany seem to have downtime during the school day--they are exceptionally available for digressions--while my minute-by-minute reality is so prescribed and breakneck that downtime exists only as a mythical creature. I haven't stepped inside the teachers' lounge in 15 years. What American teacher has time for that?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Albert Tatlock said:

Is there a second series now (maybe not here in the UK yet - or BBC anyway where I saw it so far)? I really enjoyed the first.

Second season started this week on MAX in the US. First 2 episodes released.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight my 16-year-old son and I paired David Lowery's The Old Man & the Gun (2018) with Michael Mann's Heat (1995) to create an idiosyncratic double feature about career American thieves. It's both bonkers and edifying to perceive Lowery's microscopic rural charmer--a personal favorite--as a bizarro version of Mann's large-canvas urban thriller. For starters, there's a common theme of how this line of work impacts someone's private life. To imagine further, there's Robert Redford as De Niro, Casey Affleck as Pacino, and Sissy Spacek as Ashley Judd; there's the restroom meeting that echoes the iconic coffee shop scene; and there are cherished sparks between acting legends. There's even tucked-in subtext about Redford's late career that recalls how Heat included subtext about the careers of De Niro and Pacino intersecting at long last.
 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...