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Can't Stop the Movies

Revenge (2018)

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Richard is looking forward to his annual hunting trip with friends Dimitri and Stan. He's also anticipating debauched times with his mistress Jen.  These are men who will have their way by whatever means necessary, and they're about to learn Jen will respond to their sins in kind.  Coralie Fargeat wrote the screenplay for and directs Revenge, which stars Matilda Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, and Guillaume Bouchède.

Upfront, let's dispense with the idea that Revenge subverts the exploitation film - something I've read too many times in relation to this and other films.  Every new flavor of the month piece of cinema with a bit of self-awareness in style seems to get the subversion label slapped on without a second thought.  Revenge is exploitative.  Richard (Kevin Janssens) indulges Jen's (Matilda Lutz) fantasies of being in control while stringing her along as a bright toy.  After Richard's friend Stan (Vincent Colombe) rapes Jen, Richard chastises Stan like Stan smudged his favorite action figure.

What creates the wide gulf of quality between a film like Quentin Tarantino's exploitative low-point Death Proof and Revenge writer/director Coralie Fargeat's powerfully successful approach is a matter of emphasis.  Exploitation film comes with a bit of nudging to the audience, a whisper of, "You bastards are enjoying this - aren't you?"  Tarantino would linger on enjoyment. Fargeat lingers on bastard.


Changing Reels Season 2 Episode 11 – Eve’s Bayou (1997)

Hailed by Roger Ebert as the best film of 1997, Eve’s Bayou is an astonishing work. We dive into Kasi Lemmons’ directorial debut and discuss the theme of memory, the lies adults tell children, and so much more. We also spend time with our short film pick 1982 by Jeremy Breslau.

Show notes:

  • 1:09 – 1982 by Jeremy Breslau.
  • 7:47 – Eve’s Bayou by Kasi Lemmons

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes or Google Play! If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com). You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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Kitten and Kitty Care Alert

Good day everyone.  Things will be quiet on my end for the next few days as the stray kittens we're raising need to be fixed / vaccinated / given de-worming medications and such.

Any help is greatly appreciated as freelance opportunities are not as plentiful as I'd hoped.

You can check in on the kitties and kittens by clicking here, or please help by clicking here or the image below.

Thank you and I'll be back to my usual writing by Friday.

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Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)

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Hannah Gadsby's Nanette is a stand-up routine aimed straight at what we take for granted, providing the laughs before interrogating the cost and ending on a demand to be seen.

Nanette is currently available on Netflix.

There's blood in the water, won't you please cut me down.

Aside from Annihilation, the best films I've seen this year probably wouldn't qualify as films to the average viewer.  Antoinette Nwandu's Pass Over received a cinematic adaptation from Spike Lee but Nwandu's theatrical intimacy with the audience still shined through.  Hari Kondabolu's passionate call, "we need John Brown white people," is the peak of Warn Your Relatives even if the bit about mangoes is primarily what makes the rounds on social media.

Now comes Hannah Gadsby: Nanette, a standup routine that - if this world is still capable of valuing merit over ticking the right boxes - redefines what standup means, who it is for, and the toll it takes on the performers.  Hannah Gadsby's standup has already received a load of, "You have to see this" comments.  Even if I bought into the hype 100%, which I rarely do for anything, Nanette still would have caught me off guard.  In just over an hour, she provides "the goods" then subverts "the goods" only to strip away the layers of self-effacing she presents her comedy with before ending on the most raw and open rage to be heard, to be seen, and to know self-loathing can be transformed.


TSPDT 45-54: Rio Bravo (1959)

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I'm going through the list of all the films I have not seen on They Shoot Pictures Don't They.  It is arguably the most comprehensive and varied "best ever" list assembled.  If I have seen a film on the list previously, I will write short thoughts followed by a full review of the unseen film alternating between the top and bottom of the list.  Today's film is from the top of the pile, Howard Hawks' 1959 western Rio Bravo.

45. In the Mood For Love (Like) - The space, the red, the slow motion - all tantalizing and agonizing at once. This is the only film of Wong Kar-wai's I've seen aside from The Grandmaster, and based on the intense yearning of In the Mood For Love I'm looking forward to it.  It's a romance that never culminates, living entirely in that electric space between partners who feel the mutual attraction on their skin.

46. The Third Man (Like) - Disorienting and playful to a disarming degree.  By the time Orson Welles shows up to deliver the famous cuckoo clock monologue we've watched Americans make a mess of things time and again.  Then, on reflection, the charm masks an argument advocating for continued war.  Such a sweet coating for a bitter pill, and arguably the height of Carol Reed taking the piss out of American do-goodery.

47. Playtime (Like) - At some point in the future, I will purchase the Criterion Collection's assembly of Jacques Tati's finest.  Playtime is my favorite, a grand collage of ultramodernist business practices and architecture where every corner is an opportunity to tell a joke.  Chaos comes in degrees and Tati, still charming in his M. Hulot guise, delights in teasing out the cracks in the sleek façade.

48. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (Like) - Discussed at this link.

49. Chinatown (Like) - Not the best daytime noir (I'd rank Brick, L.A. Confidential, and After Dark, My Sweet ahead of this), but with water being reframed as a luxury instead of necessity it's arguably the most prescient.  Aside from plot shenanigans, Jack Nicholson is the standout playing a man out of time so straight his desperation to get to the truth overwhelms the rest of the film.

50. Ugetsu Monogatari (Like) - I owe Ugetsu a rewatch. I remember a gentler, and just as perceptive, tale of ghosts and tragedy like Kuroneko. Kenji Mizoguchi's Sansho the Bailiff left deep marks in me while Ugetsu is a whisper.  No matter, the whisper is a humanistic lift all the same.

51. Barry Lyndon (Like) - Discussed at this link.

52. The Apartment (Like) - Discussed at this link.

53. M (Like) - The moral implications of M are something I continue to wrestle with.  I do not believe, under any circumstances, that anyone has the authority to decide who lives or dies. Lang's gradual turn into the killer's perspective shows sympathy for uncontrollable bloodlust.  He doesn't make it easy to wish death on the killer, nor extend sympathy to the point of empathy.  What Lang does is regard, distort, and leave it to the audience to decide what's "right".

54. Rio Bravo -

There is not a millimeter of fat on Rio Bravo. This film works at such a steady pace that even the seemingly out-of-place musical interlude works wonders amid the tough guys going through a depressive spell.  Above all, Howard Hawks direction exemplifies just how flexible a genre the American Western is.  About forty minutes or so in I realized Rio Bravo worked just as well as any classic thriller as it does a piece of Americana.

It's weathered Americana, but Americana all the same. The kind of film I'd expect from someone who's been around the block a time or two knowing things don't always work out well.  Hawks was in a bad place when he came out of a somewhat self-imposed retirement to direct Rio Bravo and he doesn't pull out a self-reflective "one last job" kind of story.  Instead he sees these archetypes with pain and clarity, opening on a low only to end on a marginally better high.

And oh my goodness what an opening.  There's a nice wide shot of horses and riders coming in on a dusty trail, typical cowboy stuff.  Soon Hawks is tight on Dude (Dean Martin) looking desperate and pained, pleading with his eyes for some relief, only for career criminal Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) to watch as his lackey tempts Dude with a silver dollar chucked straight into a spittoon.  Sheriff Chance (John Wayne) gets his own solo shot, distant and disgusted, before Dude takes his aggression out on Chance and Joe casually strolls away after murdering a man in cold blood.