They tried to cut a bad trailer but couldn't find any material by mattsteinglass
June 10, 2010, 4:34 am
Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: I’m fairly certain that any movie that’s put out two completely distinct excellent trailers has to be good.

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And 'Margot at the Wedding' was great, too by mattsteinglass
March 19, 2010, 5:49 am
Filed under: Movies

Until I see “Greenberg”, I’m going to assume that the lukewarmness of Dana Stevens’s review and the moderate negativity of some other reviews stems from people’s inability to handle the bitter genius of Noah Baumbach. You can’t handle the truth!

When you make an excellent movie about an obese incest survivor… by mattsteinglass
March 8, 2010, 8:42 am
Filed under: Movies

…then, yes ma’am, you’re qualified to say you did “forgo doing what’s popular in order to do what’s right.” Did Andrew Sullivan see the movie?

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Portrayal of mousy Jewish social worker is artistic triumph by mattsteinglass
March 1, 2010, 7:12 am
Filed under: Movies

Incidentally, I saw “Precious” the night before last, and man, was I glad I’d forgotten Mariah Carey was in it. What a wonderful experience to have her name come up in the credits and suddenly realize what I’d just seen. That was a really deep performance.

The movie as a whole was much better than I’d expected, going on the reviews. Really a pretty bold thing to make; in comparison to the size of the undertaking, the mistakes are rather trivial.

There might have been two or three Vietnamese folks in the seats at Cinematheque; everybody else was an expat. Oh well.

The Dude in Winter by mattsteinglass
March 1, 2010, 7:04 am
Filed under: Movies

Nice piece by Manohla Dargis on Jeff Bridges’s long strange journey into artistry inexplicably fails to mention “The Door in the Floor”.

Why District 9 was better than Avatar by mattsteinglass
January 7, 2010, 5:03 am
Filed under: Movies

This is a pretty nice piece on Avatar by Annalee Newitz (“When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like ‘Avatar’?”), but I think its moderate praise for “District 9” (as an exception to the general pattern of movies in which white guys assimilate as natives or aliens and then lead them in battle) is insufficient to the true excellence and out-of-boxness of that movie. Newitz notes correctly that one revolutionary difference is that in “District 9″ the guy who assimilates as an oppressed alien discovers that being a member of the oppressed and stigmatized group isn’t awesome and liberating; it’s horrible, since members of oppressed and stigmatized groups are constantly being, well, oppressed and stigmatized.

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And this was indeed one great thing about “District 9”. But what was really fantastic about “District 9” was its vicious, hard-eyed vision of the confrontation between dominant ethnicities and organizations and oppressed/managed populations at the control points of refugee camps and ghettoes. The alien “prawns” in the District 9 shantytown are repulsive, brutal, and savage. That’s what people in concentration camps are like. The police officers enforcing control over them mix formulaic adherence to rules designed to maintain a fiction of legality and autonomy with a nervous recourse to organized violence when their control is threatened. Those interactions look absolutely like the contact point between security forces, humanitarian aid workers and refugee populations at the gates of a particularly bad camp. I lived in Africa for two and half years; the shock of recognition I felt in the first sections of that movie was intense, and it never let up.

District 9 takes a huge risk in its opening 15 minutes: its stigmatized controlled population is repulsive; its controllers are paper-pushing hypocrites or violent psychos. Who are we going to sympathize with? By default, at first, we sympathize with the “Office”-style loser, but we’re conscious that we are sympathizing with deceitful scum.

The movie’s only moment of cowardice, I thought, was in making the aliens possessors of ultimately superior technologies, if only these can be activated somehow. That’s a recourse to the Deep Earth Magic theme in most native-revenge fantasies, and it’s a bit of a cop-out. But realistically it’s hard to envision an alternative way to invoke the plot in the first place, or to move it forward. For the most part I thought the movie did at least as good a job of getting across the realities of refugee/apartheid/genocide dynamics as did nominally realist movies like “Hotel Rwanda” — better, because it was less sentimental. It’s a fantastic piece of work, and by the end of it I felt turned inside out.