Film Commentary Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Sicario (2015)


Courtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew in this final (for now) discussion about the movies of Denis Villeneuve with 2015's tremendous examination of sexism, race, and hegemonic white American power in Sicario.

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").


Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Prisoners (2013)


Courtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew for a conversation on the moral complexity and gorgeous photography of Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners.

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").


Denis Villeneuve Podcast: REW-FFWD (1994) and Next Floor (2008)

REW-FFWD and Next FloorCourtney Small of Cinema Axis joins Andrew in the first of an ongoing series discussing the movies of Denis Villeneuve.  Today, they'll talk about Villeneuve's 1994 short REW-FFWD and 2008's Next FloorREW-FFWD is available via Youtube and Next Floor from Vimeo.

Please check out Courtney's writing at Cinema Axis along with their ongoing coverage of the Inside Out festival.

Both the introduction and outro on the podcast come from composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario ("The Beast") and Prisoners ("Through Falling Snow").


Cinema is a Political Art, and it Has Plenty to Say About Trump

The Vice PresidentThink of businessmen in cinema.

I first picture the villain of front-runner for my favorite Akira Kurosawa film, The Bad Sleep Well.  In a flurry of exposition of hurried reporting voices, we hear about the suicide of a businessman under Vice President Iwabuchi.  The company doesn't matter, as most companies fail to matter in cinema, because they exist at the cost of human suffering.  So when we first see him, he's holding court over a collection of terrified businessmen, all afraid that the slightest movement against him will result in their untimely demise.

I jump back to the debate this week in Florida.  Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich each try and push Donald Trump to lash out.  The minutes roll into hours and no matter how hard they try, he's keeping his composure.  Not unlike the visage of Vice President Iwabuchi, he knows he is working from a position of power.  No matter what these fleas may say, or scheme, he's going to plunge ahead with his agenda to make America great again.  Then I think of how Vice President Iwabuchi took an oath to protect the company and his superiors above all others, and the result of instilling the same fervor of that oath in others came in the form of the suicide of that poor man.

The man driven to death because of his need to protect greatness.

Then a cake is delivered with a single black rose poking ominously out of a window.  It was the window where the man leapt to his death, and a warning that his actions are being watched and judged.  Undeterred, Vice President Iwabuchi continues to preside over his daughter's wedding.  The image of a man lording over his daughter's wedding while he continues to do and receive direct warnings of the evil he's planted will be revisited in The Godfather, and, if we read his words as they are spoken, by Donald Trump with his daughter.

Donald Trump presides over his own evil while telling people he'd happily date his daughter (if she weren't his daughter).  This is the same man who recently said his supporters should attack a protestor if he's swinging his arms around.  One specific problem with this statement, outside of the obvious, he was happily walking out when a cowardly white man in a hat decided to punch the smiling black man who was escorted out just fine.  Then the security, police, or whatever the hell you want to call them, decided it would be more appropriate to immediately shove the victim to the ground instead of detaining the assailant.


Clenching the Nomination – Room

Andrew discusses the scene in Lenny Abrahamson's Room that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2016 here.

Clenching RoomWith all due credit to the technical mastery of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, neither of those films is my favorite of the Best Picture nominees.  That honor goes to Room, which is not only my favorite, but the only one which I love from top to bottom.  Room convinced me director Lenny Abrahamson is some kind of whimsical genius.  He goes into a realm of fantasy Tim Burton used to specialize in, but Abrahamson's films defy easy labels like Burton's suburban gothic aesthetic.  In both Room and Frank, catharsis doesn't come easy, and there are no spirits who can be stirred to help the protagonists.

The only way out is in.  With Frank, that means letting the titular musician reclaim his spot as the leader of his crew of misfits.  For Room, that means telling the truth as another fable.  Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) has been telling stories to her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) ever since he was born.  The television, faucet, stove, window - all aspects of the room they live in have a history.  Joy creates an origin fable which explains how she and Jack came to be in Room, how the angel came through the window and put Jack in mommy's tummy, and we see that these tales she spun for Jack are how she kept her sanity in this prison.