by Walter Chaw I love Fantasia Festival. More than love it, I think it's an important showcase that has provided at least a couple of titles that end up on my Best of the Year list every time I've covered it. Its programming is consistently on point, its courage to wade into deep and hostile waters laudable. This year, I'm most excited to catch Oh Dae-hwan and Jang Dong-yoon in Kim Jae-hoon's Face/Off-inspired debut, Devils, and Jimmy Laporal-Trésor's rise-of-fascism period piece, Rascals. Quarxx has a new flick inspired by Milton and Dante called Pandemonium, and there's a new '80s Satanic Panic documentary called Satan Wants You that dates me, I'll admit. A small part of me still believes I'll start speaking in Aramaic and crawling up the wall every time I spin an Iron Maiden vinyl. I feel a similar mix of nostalgia and dread about A Disturbance in the Force, which dives deep into what exactly was going through everyone's heads while making the "Star Wars Holiday Special".
A Walter Hill Film, Walter Chaw's critical biography of filmmaker Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48Hrs., Streets of Fire), is now available in paperback from MZS Press. Featuring photos from Hill's personal archives, introductions by James Ellroy and Larry Gross, an afterword by Edgar Wright, and cover art from the acclaimed Ganzeer, it's A Walter Hill Film: Tragedy and Masculinity in the films of Walter Hill. Get your copy here.
My mom died this year, but I lost her decades ago. Our relationship was radioactive, and I had neither the courage nor the resolve to even begin to repair it--or to investigate whether there was anything left to repair. I lost a mentor this year, too, because I wasn't interesting enough to maintain as an apprentice. I turn 50 in 2023. It's an age that seemed absurd to me as recently as a few years ago. If I live to 54, I'll be how old my dad was when he died. My mom's death brings an end to this season of death for us, my wife and me. We're both orphans now, because everything worked out the way it was supposed to. It's how parents hope it works out. I guess we're lucky that way. Maybe it's just me, yet it felt like there were many films in 2022 dealing with childhood and lost parents, biological or otherwise. Lots of films about ghosts.
by Walter Chaw If I concentrate really hard--I mean, if I shut down as much external stimuli as possible, a dark room away from everyone--I can visit the tiny, rent-assisted apartment where my mom spent the final decade of her life. There's a low couch, a small coffee table I remember from when I was a kid, an old fold-out dining-room table with wings that made it hard to get your legs underneath it. A hutch, a cramped kitchen cluttered with gadgets like the air fryer that's currently on my counter and a rice cooker, of course. There are closets and drawers stuffed to overflowing with artifacts, some of which I would recognize and others I would not. I didn't spend a lot of time there. A handful of visits over the course of a decade--thousands of missed opportunities to heal a relationship I didn't believe could be healed and, moreover, didn't have the strength to heal. I wish I were different. I think there's a terrible irony embedded in how the pain I took on along the way made it impossible for me to redress the pain at the end.
by Walter Chaw The plan was to drop my kid off at school this morning and then do the six-and-a-half-hour drive to Telluride, where, per tradition, I'd hide in the company of dear friends and try to refill tanks that have gotten dangerously low in the interim year. It's an excellent place to do it: Telluride is not only geographically remote, set in a valley after what seems like endless ribbons of winding mountain roads, but emotionally as well--a diving bell in the midnight zone of my depression. I wasn't sure I was going to make it this year--not to Telluride, but at all. My experience of depression is it's a thing I can manage most of the time. Then sometimes and often for no proximate reason at all...I can't.
by Bill Chambers Heads-up, current and future Patreons: We recently launched SlipStreams, a weekly column in which Walter Chaw and I take turns recommending four titles currently streaming in either the U.S., Canada, or both. In the current "volume" (#3), which went up this afternoon, I pay tribute to the late, great Ray Liotta in choosing three semi-forgotten films that are among his late-career highlights. Meanwhile, the latest edition (#27) of Walter's regular feature Life During Wartime finds him screening Don't Look Now with his daughter; it might be my personal favourite of this long-running series. These pieces are available to any and all subscribers of our Patreon. We don't do "tiers," since the primary purpose of our Patreon is to support this, the mothersite, but we did feel we owed a few bonus goodies to those generous souls keeping FILM FREAK CENTRAL afloat.
by Bill Chambers It's hard for me to remember the BW (Before Walter) times now, but this site was already four years old when Walter Chaw joined it in 2001. In 1997, I was writing reviews for one of my hometown newspapers and living in the only dorm on the campus of York University that offered free broadband in every suite. So I taught myself basic HTML and established a GeoCities page in order to "syndicate" my print reviews. My time at the paper ended pretty much when I graduated from film school; I kept the site going because I needed something to take my mind off the crickets that had suddenly replaced my social life. I convinced myself that FILM FREAK CENTRAL--known, in those first few months, as FILM GEEK CENTRAL, to my everlasting shame--was only temporary and that screenplays, which I'd been writing in my spare time for a decade, were how I was really going to unlock the door to fortune and glory.
Now live for our Patreons, Walter Chaw chooses the 50 best witch movies. Lots of great streaming ideas in there if you want to throw your own mini-festival of witch classics. (Why? Why not?) And as you may or may not know, Walter's regular "Life During Wartime" column was also recently updated with entries on The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. We don't post a lot of subscriber-exclusive content--our Patreon is there mainly to subsidize this, the mothersite--but when we do it's available to read at whatever dollar amount you've chosen to pledge. Happy reading!
by Walter Chaw Writing these annual wrap-ups feels to me a little like this passage from Anne Sexton's "45 Mercy Street":
I walk, I walk
I hold matches at street signs
for it is dark,
as dark as the leathery dead
The annual best-of ritual is frustrating because one can never see all the great films in a year--but it's the kind of frustration that feels aspirational for a change in this, our time of social and environmental apocalypse. I'm thrilled to talk about things that are good for a change and the movies in 2021 were very good indeed. So good that while I feel like I could have made a list 100 strong, I know there are still more gems from this year left to see.
by Bill Chambers It was a pretty strong year for Blu-ray and another bad one for civilization, which is probably why an unusually high number of discs (Donnie Darko 4K, The Road Warrior, and Criterion's Citizen Kane, to name a few) fell victim to human error in 2021. I'm not dissuaded by this, I'm touched by the format's resilience in the face of adversity. One thing is for certain: the pandemic has not been kind to the hoarder of physical media--this hoarder, at least. It's led to short-stocked titles, import levies, fewer offers of review copies, and me not making one of these lists in 2020 because there was so much I missed. I don't think I expected to be back in the same boat 12 months later--or maybe, to paraphrase the world's greatest detective, I knew I would be, but I hoped I wouldn't be. I'm ignoring any pangs of FOMO this time around, though, because I did see at least 10 titles worth singling out, even if collectively they don't tell the whole story of the year in home video. Besides, any excuse to proselytize for physical media as the oil slick of streaming continues to submerge preexisting content delivery systems.
Heads up! This past Monday Netflix launched "Voir", a new 6-part series produced in collaboration with David Fincher. Featuring visual essays on film from a variety of Internet-based critics, "Voir" wraps up its first season with an episode written, produced, and narrated by none other than our own Walter Chaw. In "Profane and Profound," Walter takes a close look at Walter Hill's 48Hrs., which launched the movie career of Eddie Murphy and cemented the "buddy-cop genre" as a staple of '80s cinema--even though, as Walter points out, "buddies" hardly describes what Murphy's and Nick Nolte's characters are to each other. Directed and edited with gusto by Julie Ng and Keith Clark, Walter's essay is an astonishingly fleet, funny, occasionally goosebumps-inducing treatise on race in America, much like 48Hrs. itself. (It's also the perfect teaser for Walter's upcoming book A Walter Hill Film, due out in 2022.) I can't review "Voir" proper, obviously, but "Profane and Profound" left me buzzing with pride, and plentyofcritics have singled it out as a series highlight. I hope you'll get a chance to watch it over the holidays if you haven't already.-Ed.
Photo courtesy of Karen Frazer
"At some point during the free-for-all brawl that climaxes The Swinging Cheerleaders, I remember thinking to myself, "This has got to be one of the most American movies ever made." I was reacting in part to the iconography--cheerleaders fighting policeman fighting college footballers, almost in the manner of a silent comedy, as Scott Joplin plays on the soundtrack--but also to the mood of the film, in which converging themes of corruption and cynicism lead to an eruption of chaotic, comic violence, and open-hearted jocks make way for joyous optimism to prevail."
-Bryant Frazer on The Swinging Cheerleaders
FILM FREAK CENTRAL's own Bryant Frazer passed away unexpectedly on October 22, 2021.
by Walter Chaw Brian Hu and his ace staff, including programmer Christina Ree, walk the walk. Their work with the Pacific Arts Movement in San Diego is consistently rewarding, revealing the deficiencies in not just the distribution of Asian films in North American theatres but also the paucity of such fare in our mainstream festivals as well. Without the kind of careful curation provided by the San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF), these titles have a tendency to fall through the cracks. What Brian and his team do year upon year is vital for the visibility of Asian film in the United States and, not incidentally, for the cause of Asian-American filmmakers of the diaspora. It's at this festival that Kogonada, then E. Joong-Eun Park, premiered his underseen debut, Late Summer. (He returned five years later with his breakout, Columbus.) It was one of the first fests to feature Better Luck Tomorrow, I Was a Simple Man, and Minari. It engaged in the discourse while I was still avoiding the discourse. Even as I joined the movement late, I was welcomed as if I'd hopped the train at the first station.
by Walter Chaw I use these trips to the Telluride Film Festival as year-markers: summaries and confessions sometimes filled with hope for the new year, although I find I live almost entirely in the past, in fear of the future, neglecting the present. I don't think this is an unusual malady (indeed, it might be the common malady), and shaking loose of it may be the pestilence that finally ends us and not any other. This year, I took a different route to Telluride, not through the canyon, but straight across the I-70 to Grand Junction, then south to the sheltered valley where Telluride sits. Partly I did this for the novelty of it (I haven't driven over Vail Pass since an accident I had there...can it be a decade ago already?), and partly out of wanting to pick up my friend Katrina from the Grand Junction airport to drive her down to meet her husband at the festival. Every time I go through the Eisenhower Tunnel, I remember that particular passage from The Stand and how, several years ago, I listened to its audiobook on the way up to a different Telluride. It was the first time I'd made it to the end of the novel. A die-hard fan of King's, I nevertheless find his fantasies difficult water to tread. Colorado is a beautiful state, though I worry that the lakes and rivers are looking as low as they're looking right now. I doubt I've ever seen them quite so dry.
FILM FREAK CENTRAL turns 24 this month and I became curious what our 24 most-read reviews might be. Unfortunately, we didn't sign up for Analytics until 2014, and any record of our traffic before then has evaporated from the Internet. So, uh, here's a countdown of our 24 most-read reviews since, um, 2014. Few surprises on here (longtime visitors to the site can probably guess what took the #1 spot, with 147,457 reads), but definitely a head-scratcher (#6) or two (#20). Perhaps the biggest takeaway? No Marvel. DC is another matter entirely, though. Thanks again for reading and supporting us!-Ed.
by Walter Chaw I think there are so many film festivals now that it's never not festival season. As a consequence, no one festival is more important than any other festival. They're each a different tentacle of the distribution/exhibition octopus, an appendage of chthonic horror. If any distributor happens to show some apparent innovation, call it a novel mutation: temporary and vestigial on the body impolitic. Celebrate A24 and NEON, in other words--but I have an idea that everyone is connected to the same profit motive. Meanwhile, the festival clockwork churns on unimpeded.
There will be libraries written about the fallout from 2020: memoirs and sociological studies and an entire generation of art forever coded to this collective flashpoint. If the trauma from an event like 9/11 can reshape the discourse for the next decade, how long will the afterimage of the pandemic--of probably 500,000 known dead when all's said and done from wilful mishandling and a lack of financial, medical, and institutional support--linger in the minds of the survivors? How will we, together, come to terms with our current status as a banana republic, vanquished in a non-shooting war by foreign dictators, and on the verge of witnessing the pathetic, ignoble death of our brief experiment? It will go, and we won't even fight.
Fantasia Festival runs from August 20 to September 2, 2020. For more details, visit their website.
by Walter Chaw I don't have a lot to add about how exceptional Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival is or what a shame it is not to be able to have it in person this year. I don't know that there's a lot I can add to any conversation right now. I do have something to say, I guess, about how much film festivals have meant to me over the last few years as I deal with sometimes-crippling depression--about how just being in rarefied air among friends and colleagues who only know me as a film critic means...something. It represents a possible present where I don't have regrets and resentments, though, in fairness, I don't have either of those things much anymore. Time has worn me out and down, grooves in me where the needle skips.
With everything going on in the world right now, it's difficult to find the mental bandwidth to think and write about movies. Nevertheless, they're still coming out--on various platforms and streaming services and on Blu-ray and DVD--and I want to assure our readers and patrons that while our coverage has slowed, we have no plans to abandon the site, which turned 23 (!) in May. Partly in celebration of that and partly just to brighten your day, we recently made the first five entries in Walter Chaw's Patreon column "Life During Wartime" available to all. (See links below.) In each instalment of this wonderful feature, Walter introduces his kids to a new classic film and discusses it with them in depth; I've personally learned a lot so far.
Walter also wrote about the Bruce Lee documentary that's making waves (no pun intended), Be Water, but because it was part of his Sundance coverage, I fear his review of that might have gotten lost in the shuffle.
Lastly, the ActBlue Bail Funds divides donations between 11 charitable organizations providing financial assistance to low-income people, protestors, and bystanders expected to post high cash bails after being arrested at #BlackLivesMatter protests across the United States, and I'd be remiss if I didn't include a link. Please consider giving whatever you can. To all who have marched: bless you.
Bill Chambers, Ed.
2019 will be defined for me by two things--one is interesting, the other is not. The "not" is that my friend Sam killed himself. He used a gun. Sam and I disagreed about guns. He had been in various levels of law enforcement, retired to be a 9-1-1 operator, found himself traumatized after his service, and moved across the country to be closer to his young daughter and ex-wife. To be a dad, you know. Sam owned a lot of guns, but in the last couple of years, he began to ask me about statistics and troubling trends. Mass shooting events devastated him--as they devastated all of us, before we got used to them--and the doctrine and culture in which he was raised started to show its limitations as a strategy for species survival.
by Bill Chambers I learned to appreciate the benefits of streaming this past October when I became so fatigued from illness that getting up to load a disc may as well have been trekking across the Sahara. (It really put the "physical" in physical media.) Then Disney+ launched, and "Maclunkey" happened--a startling reminder that streaming content can change at the drop of a hat depending on corporate or creator whim. It remains a struggle to fight complacency, though, given that a) the screener pool is drying up and b) even the cheapest disc will probably set you back as much as a month's subscription to a streaming service. In short, I wouldn't call this a definitive or comprehensive list of the year's best discs by any stretch, merely the best among those I had an opportunity to audit. But FILM FREAK CENTRAL will never stop championing physical media, for a variety of "because"s:
by Walter Chaw I'm statistically past the midway point, alive for more years than I will be alive for again, and I've spent most of my time denying, being embarrassed by, often hating, who I am. I was born in Colorado in 1973, raised in downtown Golden in a Norman Rockwell postcard of an existence. I walked to school, walked to the little silversmith store my dad owned when it was over, earned pennies at the barbershop on the corner where the mayor, Frank, operated the first chair. I got my money shining shoes and catching flies in the little plastic bags my dad used to put little gems in for his customers.
For those who don't follow me on Twitter, some health issues have been keeping me away from my obligations to the site, editorial and otherwise. Updates will (continue to) be sporadic until further notice. In the meantime, check out our festival reviews of current releases, including Parasite, Pain and Glory, Joker, and Judy, and keep refreshing because new content will appear whenever it is humanly possible.
by Walter Chaw There's a scoop in the mountain face on the way back from Telluride, like a bite has been taken from the rock. Below is a clear, blue lake fed by snowmelt, so the water is bitterly cold. I found it by accident. I stop there every year to break up my drive. This year I sat on the beach for a while, stood up a few bleached wood branches into something like a cairn, took my shoes off, dug my toes into the sand, and soaked them for a minute in the water as shoals of fry darted around. I sucked air in through my teeth. I nodded off to the sound of the water lapping and the wind in the grass by the road, and I thought of this passage from The Sound and the Fury:
And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.
Attention classic-film buffs and TCM junkies:
Since FILM FREAK CENTRAL is technically a Canadian website, based in southern Ontario, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about the 27th annual Port Hope Vintage Film Festival. Running from September 27-29, it's a rare opportunity to see classic films--such as Top Hat, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and La Belle et La Bête (the theme for 2019 is, you guessed it, Famous Cinematic Duos)--on the big screen, at Port Hope's gorgeous Capitol Theatre (pictured above). Proceeds go to the Marie Dressler Foundation, which is raising money this year to provide bursaries for local high-school students. There's even going to be a silent auction where you can bid on movie memorabilia and other ephemera--including some DVDs that may or may not have been donated by yours truly. Further details here!-Ed.
by Walter Chaw About 16 months ago, my mom received an 18-month diagnosis--meaning she has maybe two months to live. We'll see. When I broke it to my parents that I was dropping out of the engineering track at college to pursue a degree in English, there was a lot of silence and then my mom said: "Don't write about us." I don't think I honoured her request for even a second. This is the first time I've written about her directly, but I don't believe it's possible to not write your shit. I mean, if you're doing it right. I think if you read my stuff, for whatever reason, with the right eye and the right experience, it wouldn't be difficult to nail what my issues are. They're florid and manifold: beware when hunting monsters and all that.
Overture, curtains, lights,
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, you'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it
Tonight what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it
Fantasia International Film Festival runs from July 11th to August 1st in Montreal, Quebec.
Just in time for the first photographic evidence of a black hole, Claire Denis's High Life opens in Canada this week alongside Max Minghella's directorial debut, Teen Spirit. We--that is, Angelo Muredda and yours truly, respectively--covered them at last year's TIFF. Also hitting an unspecified number of screens this weekend in advance of its VOD debut is David Robert Mitchell's Under the Silver Lake, which made Walter Chaw's Top 50 of 2018 back when we thought a leaked rip was as official a release as we were going to get.
Lots more to come post-Easter.-Ed.
by Bill Chambers Recently cited as one of the "100 Podcasts Worth Listening to" at VULTURE, Australian Blake Howard's "One Heat Minute" has seen Howard and a panoply of guests doing the lord's work of dissecting Michael Mann's Heat one minute at a time since August, 2017. It was my honour to join him for minute #139, in which the police check Chris Shiherlis's fake ID after his wife Charlene signals him that the coast isn't clear--although Blake isn't a stickler and our conversation turned out to be far more wide-ranging than that. Just a heads-up if you want to hear me ramble on about Michael Mann, a pet topic of mine. (Or if you ever wanted to hear someone compare Heat to Love Actually.) Our own Walter Chaw will also be appearing on an upcoming episode, and I can't wait to listen; stay tuned.
2018 was a traumatic year for me that should turn out to be a good year in hindsight. I read something by a career counsellor who told clients thinking about a change to stop thinking and quit their job. He said you can't know what you can do until you stop doing what you're doing. I've spent the past six months doing things I would never have had the time or headspace for had I not walked off a ledge. It's not good for the heart but it's good for the soul. I've finished a couple of large writing projects and positioned myself to be available for a handful of genuinely interesting opportunities. I'm evolving. It's a daily thing. It's a work of a lifetime. This year, I have watched my friends achieve extraordinary things with their art and it's filled me with joy, not to mention inspiration. I don't know what they see in me in return, but I hope to justify their faith in 2019. I wouldn't have been able to be rash without the strength of my family and the support of my friends. A couple--you guys know who you are--somehow knew when to reach out and did with the right encouragement in what felt like the nick of time.
Quick links to our reviews of current releases for those playing catch-up over the holidays. Thanks for reading us, folks.
Opening this week are a few films we covered at festivals earlier in the year. Walter Chaw reviewed Jason Reitman's The Front Runner at Telluride, while I wrote about Boy Erased, Transit, and Bodied--all three of which were released in Toronto today--during TIFF (TIFF '17, in the case of Bodied). And be sure to check out our reviews of some other recent releases that may have escaped your attention, including The Old Man & the Gun, Monrovia, Indiana, and the great Burning.-Ed.
by Walter Chaw Summer seems to be lasting longer, the weather in general is more severe. If the '80s were about apocalyptic fears around the proliferation of atomic weapons and an unstable President, the '10s are about those same fears multiplied by the corporatized destruction of the planet and, in a stealthy sort of way, the rise of the genuinely ignorant as the arbiters of culture and government. When George W. was President, I was interested in the defense that he seemed like the drunk uncle you'd have at a backyard BBQ. He didn't read much, trumpeted his "C" average in school, made up words, started a war because someone was mean to his daddy. Idiots found him relatable and non-threatening; "Conservative Party" developed a more literal definition. I liked to suggest the President be someone who read more than you, did things you couldn't do, was actually smart and not Fredo-smaht!. The only thing this thirtysomething percent of Americans who still think Trump is great--either cynically and opportunistically, or because they're really just stupider than fuck--were ever right about is that their elected leader is the ultimate "trigger" for people who are their betters. Like psychopathic juvies tormenting their unit nurse, they think it's worth it to distress them. It feels good and new, and as the fires grow higher, so, too, does their ardour for their golden calf.
by Walter Chaw After a decade's absence, give or take, I started coming up to the Telluride Film Festival again six years ago at the urging of good friends whom I otherwise hardly see. I was in a bad place and they knew it. They didn't offer platitudes, they offered a challenge, and so one year I accepted it. The hardest thing to do for someone who's depressed sometimes is to accept help. I have come to find that the best gift you can give your friends who worry about you is to ask for help. The problem with depression is it tells you that you are a burden. It's exhausting.
Our FrightFest 2018 coverage launched today in conjunction with the start of the festival and will be updated frequently with reviews and interviews over the next several days. In the meantime, a handful of titles screening there we covered previously, and those reviews are linked below.
by Walter Chaw One of the major misconceptions about film critics and scholars is that they aren't fans of film first, and if they are, then surely they wouldn't be fans of a genre as disreputable as horror. But I've long held that horror is an indicator species in our socio-political quagmire. That often with only limited studio oversight, and because they're entirely possible to execute with a small budget in a short amount of time, horror films, by talking about what a society fears, can tap into the collective unconscious more quickly and effectively than any number of "prestige" presentations. There's a reason most myths and fairy tales have strong horror elements. Get Out is a lot of things, for example, but its closest analogue is George Romero's landmark civil rights masterpiece Night of the Living Dead. I wonder if the horror movie's primal simplicity has anything to do with the disdain with which even its creators sometimes approach it. In any case, horror is important, essential, vital. When it's right, there's not much else righter.
by Bill Chambers While I was composing this "curtain-raiser," a fellow critic tweeted that she'd been offered press credentials for an upcoming film festival but didn't see the point of accepting them, since travel and lodging would inevitably cost more than she would make reporting on the festival. Montreal's venerable genre-film festival Fantasia, now in its 22nd year, has attempted to solve this kind of dilemma and broaden awareness of its brand by inviting online outlets to view the majority of its slate remotely via streaming links. Obviously "screeners" are not a new concept and have for the last few years helped sites like ours round out our coverage of various festivals, but nothing has ever been attempted on this scale, with most of the films accessible via a centralized hub. We're proud to have been invited to participate in this experiment, because with Telluride and TIFF hitting so soon after, and with travel being a challenge even for those of us who live relatively close to Montreal, it's improbable that we'll ever get the chance to attend Fantasia in person. It's something that had always given me, personally, a bigger case of FOMO than Cannes, because if we have a niche, Fantasia fulfills it.
by Alice Stoehr "I can't imagine what you must think of me!" laughed Cecelia Condit. The audience had just seen her groundbreaking shorts Beneath the Skin (1981) and Possibly in Michigan (1983 (left)), plus a swath of her 21st-century work, and she seemed a bit sheepish about her own films' morbid sense of humour. Between the murders, masks, and nursery rhymes, a streak of dark whimsy runs through them, orienting her as a woman in the world. Condit's a garrulous storyteller in life as in her art and was forthright about the layers of autobiography in her work. Annie Lloyd (2008) shows her mother pressing leaves between pages at the end of her life. Within a Stone's Throw (2012) has Condit herself hiking Irish hills in the aftermath of her mother's death. Images of carrying and collecting recur across these films, a motif that suggests both affection and the assertion of control. These are rough-hewn fables that plumb the possibilities of video.
by Bill Chambers In the interest of full disclosure, I've yet to see three of the major Academy Award™ contenders, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, or Phantom Thread. Fortunately, they've all been discussed on Twitter with the fanatical zeal of that machine that stuffs corn down a duck's gullet to make foie gras, so I felt I could bluff my way through this year's scorecard. I for one look forward to enjoying Michael Stuhlbarg's Call Me By Your Name monologue once I've forgotten how good it's supposed to be.
There's one good thing that came out of the first year of the Trump presidency, just one: this realization that what we had always indulged in terms of masculine misbehaviour is dangerous and vile. The entertainment industry, the lowest arm of which gave us Trump, took the brunt of the new "wokeness," almost as though it were taking responsibility for birthing something like Trump by enacting a purge. It's not over. One can only hope the enablers are next--the ones who looked the other way or silently helped normalize a flesh tax for entrance into the realm. Change has to be more than lip-service and the now-familiar tone-deaf apology for narcissism and incomprehension. I could go deeper here about my personal dismay, sense of betrayal, rage, disgust...and I want to--but men have been talking over women about their experiences for long enough.
Opening this Thanksgiving weekend in select cities is Joe Wright's Winston Churchill drama Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman and a Costco tub of latex. And don't miss Greta Gerwig's solo directorial debut Lady Bird, which has been quietly expanding into more theatres. Our own Walter Chaw covered both films at this year's Telluride.