Tag Archives: movies to make middlebrow people feel good about themselves

Films I Wished I’d Remembered or Seen for My Top 10 of 2012 list (AKA: Two McConaugheys, Two Soderberghs, Three Films). And Also There’s Silver Linings Playbook.

Killer Joe
KillerJoe_2010.12.13_Day23of28_MG_8655.jpgWilliam Friedkin’s deliciously fleshy, brazen black comedy Killer Joe is a whole lot more meaningful than its word-on-the-street cred as another film in a long list of newfound career-redefining roles for Matthew McConaughey might suggest, but his performance speaks more than anything to the tone and effect of the movie. He re-reads the laid-back seductive charm he built his career on to play a crawling-king-snake of a Southern devil here, a police detective moonlighting as an assassin as convincingly nasty as he is ruthlessly in-human and clever. He’s the backbone of not only a number of fine performances dancing around his pointedly superficially cool-as-can-be anti-hero (the veterans Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon in particular giving us two commandingly lived-in performances as a husband and wife struggling to get-by), but a damn fine film. Continue reading

Review: Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris feels like it was released forty years ago, when Woody Allen was still finding his way and knew what themes he wanted to address in his films, but hadn’t found a compelling way to address them. Released in 2011, it’s unfortunately more of a reminder that Allen has lost his touch for humanism. This is a guy, for all his nervousness and cynicism, who has made several of the most endearing, empowering humanist visions of the cinema, someone who seems to put on the airs of mockery to satirize a world he’s truly in love with. Or maybe, it’s the other way around. Maybe he is truly cynical and hopeless but remains in love with the idea of humanity and romanticism, feeling the need to put them in all his films even when he finds them dishonest. After all, many of his films are subtle fantasies about love and longing that match bitter, insightful truth with genuine pathos and effervescence pointed strictly at the human race. This is a man who understands the joys and sorrows of life and society, and puts them at work in his films like they are his playthings, all the while feigning a cute passivity and weakness, like he’s both confused and amused at the world and doesn’t want to get away. Perhaps in his old age he’s just given up on society and enjoys the act of getting together with actors in a nice vacation-land for a few months and ordering fine food and wine with a film, his in the making, on the side. Continue reading

Essay: The (Color)Blind Side

Note: This is an essay I submitted for a class entitled “Conceptualizing White Identity in the United States” in the fall of 2011. It is somewhat altered and extended but still mostly a product of three years ago. Because it was written for a sociology, and not a film, course, it primarily focuses on broader racial themes rather than explicit filmic analysis of the film’s storytelling methods and visual composition. Put another way, the film’s story lacks nuance, mostly boiling down to it’s attempt to be cringe-inducingly cutesy and fuzzy, and it is told un-originally and with little film-making investment or passion to boot, and it is thus a badly made film. But this essay is less interested in exploring the “how” of the way the film tells it story, the staple of most film reviews, than in the literal morality of the “what” of the story it is telling. Thus, this is less a film review than a piece on the implications of the film. And it is less interested in exploring how this is a bad film, which it is, than in how it is also a vile and contemptible one. Continue reading

Review: Argo

Edited

Argo is the second of 2012’s late year films arriving in theaters with heavy loads of Oscar buzz attempting to bring home the hearts of film-goers, and more specifically, the Academy come February.  Following  The Master, the five year toil of the director whose previous film was perhaps the most critically acclaimed of the last decade, hype for Argo was comparatively restrained. With two stellar efforts behind him, director Ben Affleck is well-liked in Hollywood circles but still likely hoped this film would shake off some of the vestiges of the ever-persistent fan-boy hate factory criticisms aimed at his acting (some of which was admittedly deserved). While Affleck has certainly proven he doesn’t need to take these accusations seriously by this point, the real question for many is still simply: How’s the film? Continue reading