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Can't Stop the Movies
17Jul/170

The Salesman (2016)

Late night destruction throws Emad and Rana from their home.  Emad grows distracted from Rana as he has to help find a new place to live, continue his job teaching, and star in a production of The Death of a Salesman.  After Rana is attacked, Emad's scattered focus becomes more violently intense, and creates a rift between him and his wife.  Asghar Farhadi wrote the screenplay for and directs The Salesman, and stars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti.

The Salesman embarks on a series of firsts for Iranian master writer/director Asghar Farhadi.  It's the first of his movies I've seen where the complex sprawl of characters with their own ethical spaces pared down to primarily focus on one.  That one, Emad (Shahab Hosseini), works hard as a teacher and lead performer in a production of Death of a Salesman.  This leads to another first where the pressures of life on Emad, and his wife Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), have a tidy in-universe parallel between Farhadi's look at Emad's anxiety and Emad's role as the titular salesman.

A bit too tidy for my taste.  Farhadi's earlier movies have a unique propulsion as we get fly on the wall glimpses into the lives of each player on his board and watch as their private impulses staggered out into unavoidable conflict.  Grounding The Salesman so thoroughly into Emad's internal ethical conflict does make things a bit "easier" to follow compared to Farhadi's other work.  It also means that the universal conflicts of faith, culture, and class winnowed to a parallel with one of the most overused fictional works of all time.

13Jul/170

Changing Reels Episode 22 – Step Up 3D and Take the Lead

Time to put on your best footwear as we hit the floor, and the streets, with a dance filled doubled feature. Skipping the short film segment this week, don’t worry it will return in our next episode, we dive into the worlds of Step Up 3D and Take the Lead. While both films did not receive love from the critics, their choreography and diverse casting connected with audiences. We explore the pros and cons of each film and discuss why critics should not be so quick to dismiss modern dance films.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes!  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!

Filed under: 2000's, 2010, Podcasts No Comments
11Jul/170

Goodbye Grandma, Thank You For The Lessons

Note: the following appeared as a personal post on Facebook.  I wanted to repost it here to explain why Can't Stop the Movies has been quiet recently.  My grandmother's celebration of life is this Friday and I will be returning to my full update schedule the following Monday.

One of my favorite reactions to a sudden realization about how/why I'm the way I am came from my friend Paul back in Ohio. He was asking me some questions about my family and I launched into my usual rambling spiel about mom 'n pops. A solid two beats of silence followed the end of my spiel while he stared at me, blankly, and eventually said with a surprising amount of purpose, "So much about you makes sense now."

If I were to transfer that spiel into text, and will have to someday, it should be annotated heavily with footnotes and asides about my grandma. She cultivated my reading habit with weekend trips to the bookstore and sleepover visits where we'd read Beatrix Potter stories aloud. While I played with toys or listened to the Rubber Ducky record from Sesame Street, she'd be doing crossword puzzles in-between whatever book she was reading at the moment, stopping to make sure I wasn't doing anything I wasn't supposed to be doing and more often than not being surprised I would be reading or drawing. One of our favorite memories was when I was over on a weekend sleepover and she asked if I wanted to go read with her. I hurried to the bookshelf, picked out The Tale of Benjamin Bunny from the hardcover slipcase, and started reading to her. Cue a huge smile bordering on teary from my grandma, and instead of interrupting or congratulating me she just smiled in silence as I continued to read out loud to her.

She liked packaging little lessons in her gifts. When my family went to her house in Hartwell, GA for Christmas, there were only two gifts under the Christmas tree for me, neither of which were wrapped, both with a bow and name cards written with "To: Andrew, Love: Grandma and Grandpa." The first was a Gameboy, the second was a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. I was immediately thrilled but before I could get too excited she bent over, got on her knees, and as she put her arm around me asked me, "Do you know about the difference between quality and quantity?" Not quite the purview of many 10-year olds, but I explained the difference in a hurry, and as I rushed through my words she had the same smile on her face then as she did when I was reading Benjamin Bunny to her.

My grandma adored animals. I've told some of you the story of Mystery, how I opened the door to my apartment in Normal and saw him sitting there, so I looked at him, he looked at me, and we decided this was a partnership that would work. I owe a lot of that pragmatic compassion to my grandma. She was in her car when she noticed a dog with its legs injured. After calming the dog down and putting it in her car, she stopped at McDonald's to get the dog a cheeseburger and got one for herself. The dog, eventually named Lucky, gobbled them both up immediately and from that point on was both deeply protective of and immensely spoiled by my grandma. When any of my cats follow me around for love it's because I learned how to forge a mutually respectful and adoring relationship with animals thanks to her.

(Side-note: in case anyone I've been close to turned an eyebrow up in quizzical amusement at my stuffed animal collection, you'll note most of them were dalmatians - my grandparent's favorite dog breed - and my grandma would buy me new figurines or plush dalmatians of various sizes every Christmas)

She died last week. Part of the reason it's taken me so long to write about it is I want other people to feel some of the same fierce pride, compassion, and intelligence she instilled in me - but I don't want anyone to be sorry.

So, if you got to this point, please don't be sorry. Just tell me about a pet bonding moment or fun life lesson you got from one of your extended family. Or, hell, if you want to make it more personal tell me about a moment I did the same for you.

How I feel is complicated right now. I'm not doing as badly as I expected, but my total lack of motivation right now is a sure sign I'm not doing as well as I think. So I sat down to write and work my way through both of these things.

It's a weird sort of painful relief. She lived a huge life in multiple states of our republic, was fiercely intelligent and compassionate, and earned her retirement with a wide array of jobs. She also had dementia in the last years of her life, and the complicated emotions I feel now that she's gone pale in comparison to watching what happened in that time.

In the end she was able to go peacefully, at home, with her daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and well taken care of pets in arms reach. And I've got lessons in my head and heart to spare, all thanks to her. I live with the love of those lessons every day of my life, and I'll miss her, but few people are more deserving of the rest she earned.

Filed under: 2017, Site News No Comments
9Jul/170

Stormblood (2017): Yoshi-P Built Raubahn’s Wall and Made Us Pay For It

If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

An unusual roadblock stymied my progress barely a handful of quests into Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood.  Raubahn, the one-armed beast of a man, requested help from the Warrior of Light to ambush an Imperial squad carrying an experimental weapon.  I was hoping it would be a break from the bland design of the zones I'd seen so far whose aesthetic consisted of water, rocks, and a lot of dirt.

What followed was a sociological experiment more honest than anything The Stanford Prison Experiment produced.

Dozens of players swarmed his location in The Fringes, one of the first areas in Stormblood, and could not proceed.  Raubahn refused to budge and scarcely came into existence to grant the start of the quest.  If he did appear and you were lucky enough to start the quest, then you had to hope the pre-fight cutscene would play.  Assuming the cut-scene played and you loaded into the map, you had to then pray nothing would kick you offline and prevent you from finishing the quest.  As my computer caught up with the network I found that the number of players trying to get through Raubahn's quest was in the hundreds, not the dozens, and different pockets of players tried applying a social means of coping with a technical issue.

A few players started shouting for everyone to get in a line so that we could try one at a time to start the quest.  Because of the lag I needed to wait a while to see how far back the line went, and once about forty or so players loaded in I had to see how many swarmed Raubahn's spawn point.  It was impossible to count the mass of players there, and as I stared at the crowd trying to get a headcount my screen suddenly flashed to an error message that kicked me out of the game.  "Gaze not into the abyss," I thought, then reloaded my character to find something else to do because the coping mechanism of both mobs of players was doing nothing to solve the problem and just making everyone angry.

6Jul/170

Patreon Exclusive Preview – 13 Reasons Why

It's happening!  Can't Stop the Podcast is back as a Patreon exclusive.  I'm going to be analyzing the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why week-to-week starting with a review of Jay Asher's 2007 book of the same name.

Please click on the image below to be directed to the Patreon page with the podcast.

This review series was inspired by a suggestion from a Patreon backer so if there's something you want to hear analyzed the best way to amplify the idea is to become a patron.  Thank you all for your support over the years and I'm excited to get this new project underway.

Filed under: Patreon, Podcasts No Comments