On Thursday, January 28th, 2021, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida traveled to Cheyenne, Wyoming. It would be Gaetz’s first-ever visit to the Cowboy State, and in only about an hour of his arrival he would find himself speaking on the steps of the state’s capitol building.
“I love Wyoming!” announced Gaetz, his first words to a crowd of roughly 700 spectators. It would seem, then, that even for his short time being there, Big Wyoming had made one heck of an impression on the 38-year-old lawmaker.
Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman is the story of Cassandra Thomas (Carey Mulligan), a coffee shop worker and medical school-dropout who goes out at night pretending to be drunk and vulnerable so that she may lure predators into taking advantage of her, only to later confront them on their bad behavior. When she becomes romantically involved with her old classmate Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham), she begins a quest of vengeance against those who she holds responsible for the rape, alienation, and suicide of her best friend. It’s a fun, fresh take on a genre that is just inundated with toxic masculinity, but it is not without a few of its own artistic hiccups. Spoilers below:
“Let me get there,” come some of the first totally intelligible words of Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal. It is an expression that carries a sense of some yearning, of some search for something that is not yet had. Where “there” exactly is, and what happiness it can give to those who find it, is the fundamental question of this film, one of the most beautifully composed in recent history. Spoilers below:
Some of the most persistent images that we have of famous historical figures are due, in part, to their even more famous representations in fictional media. Shakespeare comes to mind, who has immortalized, among others, Richard III (in reality a man of a for-the-most-part average build and typically ambivalent ideas of governance) as a drastically deformed, vile, scheming political manipulator. One Night in Miami offers no such radical departures from the truth, however. Though based in a pretend set-up, the film is a highly entertaining, highly informative piece of art not in spite of its adherence to the reality and true nature of its characters, but because of them.
I love realist cinema. I was very impressed some weeks ago by Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and if I ever get around to immortalizing my own list of the “greatest” films ever made, I know I will no doubt mention the works of Jia Zhangke, like Xiao Wu and Unknown Pleasures. These works of art and others like it, though based in reality, are nonetheless exemplars of human imagination. They show us that real, true human lives can be compelling and even exciting without the need of magic, special effects, or a subject’s highly adventurous choice in occupation. The writer-director team of romantic partners Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber provide audiences with another entry in the genre by way of Pieces of a Woman, a film based on their own tragic experiences. The film has a lot going for it, but unfortunately it cannot separate what is real from what is, at times, kind of boring. Spoilers below:
Have you ever read George Orwell’s 1984? It’s the story of a young go-getter politician, Winston Smith, whose ties to a private company are severed after he legitimizes the discrediting of democratic processes and expresses solidarity with the mob that seeks to cement the power of a would-be autocrat.
I first traveled abroad in the winter of 2018-19. My time away from home was not just some weekend-trip across the Atlantic, however. It was an exodus, an international trek of self-discovery that began in Ireland and took me as far east as Ukraine, with several stops in other countries along the way. Gone, as I was, from any system of support or regular source of income that I had ever known, my journey was budgeted with cheap, overnight stays in hostels.
These establishments were hardly anything like an Eli Roth movie, and in most instances I would describe them as “dormitory hotels,” but every now and then I was lucky enough to stumble upon one with a very distinct personality and communal energy. Though fleeting, the relationships I made abroad were very impactful to my character, but hardly ever could an international friendship begin without somebody asking: “Where are you from?” When my answer of “America” didn’t suffice for specifics, I would usually say “Minnesota.” Though not my state of birth and upbringing, it was where I had just completed college and had lived for about three years.
Here in the US, we often deride Minnesota among several others as “fly-over” states. They’re no big deal, and have nothing of renown. But, when I was introducing myself to foreigners far away from home, I cannot tell you how many of them beamed at the mention of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes, this supposedly insignificant little patch of earth. This excitement of theirs at the word “Minnesota” was usually followed by one more additional question:
Period pieces are often lauded for the “relevance” of their content and themes, and when these films concern themselves with racial relations and identity, such commendations are but a sad testament to America’s short-term memory of its own history. In spite of this somewhat oblivious irony, it no doubt holds true for the wonderfully produced Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Spoilers below: Continue reading “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: a fantastic stage-to-screen adaptation”→