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The Big Sick: The American Coma, by David Bax

22 Jun

Specificity is key to what makes Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick such an unqualified success and easily the best romantic comedy since Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child. This isn’t (or at least isn’t primarily) an issue-driven movie in which a Muslim Pakistani American dates a white girl, even though our president’s anti-Muslim stances and attempted policies have made the film more poignant than was likely intended. No, this is a movie about a man who is Muslim and Pakistani and also a stand-up comic who loves cult horror movies like The Abominable Dr. Phibes and who starts to date a white girl who is also a college student who hopes to become a therapist. It’s also incredibly sweet and funny as hell.

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Rohmerathon: Pauline at the Beach, by Scott Nye

22 Jun


Rohmer departs from his convention in two significant ways with 1983’s Pauline at the Beach. It is his first film featuring a teenage protagonist, and, not coincidentally, it is his first with a passive one as well. Most films about teenagers posit them in the dreaded “coming-of-age” genre, which ensures they will make a lot of the stupid mistakes kids make but also remain, disproportionate to their familial status, captains of their own destiny. Pauline (Amanda Langlet) isn’t even nominally beholden to her parents – her older cousin Marion (Arielle Dombasle) is her guardian for a trip to the northern coast in the waning weeks of summer. But teenagers, famous though they may be for their misbehaving and their loud music, are often quite withdrawn people, more content with their own thoughts and fleeting obsessions than engaging in a conversation with adults, even those they like.
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LA Film Fest 2017: The Big Sick, by David Bax

21 Jun

Specificity is key to what makes Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick such an unqualified success and easily the best romantic comedy since Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child. This isn’t (or at least isn’t primarily) an issue-driven movie in which a Muslim Pakistani American dates a white girl, even though our president’s anti-Muslim stances and attempted policies have made the film more poignant than was likely intended. No, this is a movie about a man who is Muslim and Pakistani and also a stand-up comic who loves cult horror movies like The Abominable Dr. Phibes and who starts to date a white girl who is also a college student who hopes to become a therapist. It’s also incredibly sweet and funny as hell.

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LA Film Fest 2017: Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town, by David Bax

21 Jun

Introducing itself with a song by Corin Tucker’s pre-Sleater-Kinney band, Heavens to Betsy, Christian Papierniak’s Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town kicks off with energetic, punk rock promise. Soon, though, what Papierniak seems to be positioning as a quintessential Los Angeles movie devolves into a series of unexamined stereotypes about the city as a background to a lazy wisp of a plot.

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LA Film Fest 2017: The Female Brain, by David Bax

21 Jun

During a resurgence of feminism and an increased social awareness of the plights of the marginalized, a movie called The Female Brain, directed by a woman, ought to be a milestone, a rallying point. Yet, despite eventually arriving at a positive message (traditionally feminine behavioral and psychological traits should not be categorized as weaker than masculine ones), Whitney Cummings’ directorial debut is content to hit on a variety of well-worn tropes, both romantic—Toby Kebbell as the stalker with a heart of gold!—and comedic—Sofia Vergara and Deon Cole as middle aged people who try drugs!—on its way to ultimately upholding, rather than destroying, outdated stereotypes.

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Sequelcast 2: Batman Commentary

21 Jun

In this episode, Mat records a commentary for Batman (1966) to celebrate the late Adam West.

I Do Movies Badly: Dead Man

21 Jun

In this episode, Jim is shooting buffalo and talking about Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man.

Criterion Prediction #94: Funeral Parade of Roses, by Alexander Miller

21 Jun

Title: Funeral Parade of Roses (Bara no Soretsu)

Year: 1969

Director: Toshio Matsumoto

Cast: Pîtâ, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Osamu Ogasawara,  Emiko Azuma

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The Bad Batch: Comfort Zone, by Josh Long

21 Jun

Ana Lily Amirpour’s first feature, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, was a revelation in the 2015 film scene. Sleek, edgy, cool, with an inescapable socio-political message, it stood out from the crowd in a way that made many of us excited to see what the filmmaker would do next. No one could say it would be easy to top her first film, but Amirpour is definitely up for the challenge. Her new film, The Bad Batch, is longer, bigger budget, and has a much broader scope.

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LA Film Fest 2017: And Then I Go, by David Bax

20 Jun

In one of the very first scenes of Vincent Grashaw’s And Then I Go, fourteen-year-old protagonist Edwin (Arman Darbo) struggles to open an uncooperative locker in a middle school hallway during the brief, cacophonous rush between periods. The intimate and tangible attention to detail in this moment brings the viewer immediately back to that time and place in their own lives. The immersive feeling continues, too; only a few minutes later, we see a schoolyard fight unfold in exactly the blunt but specific way in which such things have always happened to kids like Edwin and continue to happen to them today, with bullies who are dumb enough to express themselves with their fists but observant enough to know just how to get you to lash out first. Grashaw so expertly pulls the viewer into that feeling of misfit teenagedom–where you’re old enough to be enraged by your place in the world but helpless, not yet granted the agency to do anything about it–that the identification with Edwin is already sealed long before you realize he’s on the path to possibly opening fire on his classmates with his friend’s father’s rifle.

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