Film Commentary Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
13Feb/180

Phantom Thread (2018)

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Reynolds Woodcock is a man of particular taste and undeniable talent.  He attracts women with his beautiful dress designs just as sure as he drives them away with the tight control he keeps on his surroundings.  When he meets Alma, there stands the chance that he found the woman able to put up with his dominating life force.  What he doesn't realize is that Alma is just as capable as he, and he is about to find out what life with her leads to.  P.T. Anderson writes the screenplay for and directs Phantom Thread, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville.

Back when P.T. Anderson's films were a high-wire act of tension and pastiche pulled from his favorite artists, he blended a keen sense of humor to his often bleak surroundings.  His films are so saturated in loneliness that his humor kept things from spiraling into despair.  Even as he's moved on to more self-assured productions the humor, sometimes light and often dark, remained.  His last film, Inherent Vice was funny and melancholic in equal measure, and he punctuates the driving darkness of There Will Be Blood with bleak hilarity that - in retrospect - sounds positively Trumpian.

Phantom Thread is nowhere near as elegant and restrained as its advertising might suggest.  Yes, there are several visions of elegance in the dresses Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) creates.  But the elegance shifts away quickly to make room for the throbbing hostilities between Reynolds and whoever occupies his affections at the time.  His childishness also betrays the stiff surroundings, scoffing that he wants, "no more smudgy things" when his soon to be dispatched lover offers him a sweet treat.  It's in this way Anderson plays up the space between the rigid lines of architecture and carefully tailored dresses, he's conditioning us to look for any discrepancy - be it positive or negative - that emerges from the stoic surroundings.

17Aug/160

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Sicario (2015)

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Sicario

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").

If you enjoy my writing or podcast work, please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution! Every bit helps keep Can't Stop the Movies running and moving toward making it my day job.

13Jul/160

Denis Villeneuve Podcast: Prisoners (2013)

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Prisoners

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").

If you enjoy my writing or podcast work, please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution! Every bit helps keep Can't Stop the Movies running and moving toward making it my day job.

6Jun/160

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

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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").

If you enjoy my writing or podcast work, please consider becoming a monthly Patron or sending a one-time contribution! Every bit helps keep Can't Stop the Movies running and moving toward making it my day job.

11Mar/160

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.