Moonlight

May 3, 2017

The Best of Armond White: (A Retrospective) Part One

Who doesn’t like a great troll? Well, I guess the people being trolled, and in a day and age of knee-jerk reactions and people triggered at the slightest comment made against something that they love and hold dear, it’s both an art and game to keep trolling at a high level.

Me, of course, can care less. I’ve always said “don’t feed the trolls” and I’m usually someone that jumps into the fray to try and burn the bridge where that troll is hiding, or I just knock on their mom’s door, head down to their basement and unplug their Ethernet cable while they try to run after me, but they can’t get out of their chair because their legs have atrophied and all the Sun Chips crumbs are weighing them down.

But one “troll” stands alone when it comes to Film Twitter and just film in general, and that master troll is Armond White.

Personally, I think White is hilarious, he knows how to get under people’s skin and create a conversation, and his points, even though most of them are ridiculous, are at times interesting and break up the constant love of things. He’s The Joker of Film Reviews, he wants to see the world burn.

This got me thinking. Why don’t we take a look back at some of his reviews in a Four-Part series. The basic premise of this series will be to look at his more infamous reviews where he either reviles a beloved film, praises a film that was universally hated on, and in those special moments in time, a film that was loved by White and the rest of the community and hated by White and the Community. Keep in mind, this series will be based on the Tomato-Meter and his reviews on RottenTomatoes.com 

In Part One, let’s take a look at some of Mr. White’s take on some of cinema’s most beloved films.


Up (2009) 98% Approval on RT 

Armond Says: All this deflated cinema and Pixarism mischaracterizes what good animation can be (as in Coraline, Monster House, Chicken Little, Teacher’s Pet, The Iron Giant). Up’s aesthetic failure stems from its emotional letdown.


Matt Says: I understand his point when it comes to alt-animation that isn’t Pixar, which can also pack an emotional punch. But there isn’t much wrong with “Up.”



Gone Baby Gone 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: So far this year, no other movie has more risible dialogue.

Matt Says: Maybe he’s referring to the accents, because yes, people from Boston do talk funny. Maybe I need to revisit this one because he might have a point on this one.




The Wrestler (2008) 98% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Aronofsky inflicts as much pain on the audience as self-flagellating Ram Jam does when brutalizing/mutilating himself in and outside the ring.

Matt Says: As a wresting fan, especially throughout the 1990s, maybe White just doesn’t understand life inside and outside of the wrestling ring. I mean, I don’t either, but I can see how well acted and great this film is, and yes, seeing he pain of Ram Jam is important to the story, and necessary.



In the Loop (2009) 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Instead of inspiring geniuses, Iraq war backlash has only resulted in snarky self-righteousness that — from Charlie Wilson’s War and now British import In the Loop — has demonstrated the low ebb of modern comedy.

Matt Says: I’m sure my cohort, DJ, would have reservations about this opinion, and to a degree I do as well. The banter is genius, and Peter Capaldi’s linguistic gymnastics are great. However, I do agree with using the Iraq War as comedy can be grating and just overall dull. 




Get Out 99% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Get Out is an attenuated comedy sketch in which serious concerns are debased.

Matt Says: While I can agree that this film could be suited for an actual sketch on “Key and Peele,” that doesn’t take away that “Get Out” works on a lot of levels and rightfully makes it awkward for white people. Could you call it divisive and perpetuate the paranoia that African Americans have for white people? Absolutely, but someone had to do it.



Moonlight 98% Approval on RT

Armond Says: Moonlight’s best moments come in Little’s reaction to Juan’s affection, but later scenes of Chiron’s erotic confusion and Black’s maudlin self-pity (he wears muscular drag yet succumbs to weakness) insist that viewers feel sorry for black gay males.

Matt Says: I’m pretty sure the point to “Moonlight” wasn’t to make people feel sorry for black gay males, it was to raise awareness that these people exists, and they are in fact…people. Sure, I feel like the third act of the film might be it’s “weakest” I’m not seeing the correlation that viewers are supposed to be bad for Chiron, they are supposed to understand that other people exist in this world and to be uncomfortable getting out of their safe little bubble and small-mindedness.



The Dark Knight (2008) 94% Approval on RT

Armond Says: The generation of consumers who swallow this pessimistic sentiment can’t see past the product to its debased morality. Instead, their excitement about The Dark Knight’s dread (that teenage thrall with subversion) inspires their fealty to product.

Matt Says: My response; It’s a comic book movie, relax sir.


Come back next week folks, and we’ll try and get an understanding of why Dirty Grandpa deserves to be higher than it’s 11% RT Score.

February 27, 2017

2017 Academy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Biggest Night in Hollywood! The Night The Stars Shine! The Night People Wear Suits and Dresses! The Night White People Dance Awkwardly! The Night That Never Ends! The Night Trump Thinks Is Overrated! The Night, The Night, The Night!

So we close the book on another culmination of cinema, and all the bitching and moaning, and whining and complaining that goes along with it. The 2017 Academy Awards was a decent enough event this year with buffoonery, self-indulgent jokes, a run-time that just wouldn’t quit, and, oh yeah, some pretty nice moments as well. Here are just some of the Blondie, Angle Eyes, and Tuco moments from last night’s BIG EVENT!

  
A good amount of movies got some love last night. While “La La Land” took home six awards (I mean they were up for 14), films like “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Manchester by the Sea,” shoot, even “Suicide Squad,” yes, “SUICIDE SQUAD,” took home an Oscar! Leonardo Dicaprio and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Martin Scorsese and “Suicide Squad” now have the same amount of Oscars. Al Pacino…well, you get it…

305 Standup! It was a big night for “Moonlight.” Mahersala Ali took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney took home the Adapted Screenplay Award and after one of the most awkward moment’s in Oscar history, took home the award for Best Picture (more on that later).

The Supporting Actor categories in this year’s show were some of the best in years, and I wouldn’t have been mad about anyone winning, but seeing Ali, and afterwards, Viola Davis winning, it was a sight. This is the first time that I can say I was with the choices 100%. However, there is an argument to be made whether Davis should have been in the Best Actress hunt. She dominated the screen-time in “Fences.” But at that point, who do you bump out of Best Actress. My pick would have been Meryl Streep, who already stole a spot that should have been Amy Adams’. Oh well, either way, I’m okay with the decision.

  
I’m over this notion that an award show has to be an extension of another show. This horrible trend started with Ellen DeGeneres and her selfies, and giving food to celebrities, and just this idea that we have to cater to celebrities who are already being catered to at an awards show. Enough! But this year brought things to a new level where we brought in people off the street with their selfie sticks and just general weirdness. It’s not bad enough that most celebrities don’t know how to act around people who are normal, ie, the general population, and say what you will, but Denzel Washington looked relatively bored and had of the face of “are you fucking kidding me?!” But that’s just me. Stupid skits tack on time to an already over-bloated show.

It’s embarrassing that people who win awards can’t be there to accept an award because of the “President of the United States.” Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Foreign Language Film but wasn’t attending the Oscars because of what people don’t like to call the “Muslim Ban,” even though it actually is, let’s call it what it really is people. While Roman Polanski can’t attend because he’s a pedophile, Farhadi couldn’t attend because he wasn’t allowed by Donald Trump….YOUR President, America! There were also some shades of 1973’s Ceremony as well.

Me, personally, it’s pretty ugly to keep beating a dead horse. Yes, Hollywood, we know, you don’t like Donald Trump, but it gets to a point where, yes, we get it. The fact that big award shows keep giving this guy, Trump, a platform, and keep bringing him up, over and over again, BY NAME, is just stupid at this point. Tweeting him in the middle of the show with #merylsayshi is just dumb. How about this; concentrate on the actual show, and don’t give this narcissist a platform. The people who accepted the awards did a good enough job bringing up substantive content without our “fearless” host having to stop the show dead in it’s tracks to tweet an idiot. Sheesh!

The bungle that was Best Picture was an ugly clusterfuck of epic proportions. Sure, at the end of the day it made both “La La Land” and “Moonlight” look great, but everyone involved looked stupid, and at the end of the day it looks like it wasn’t Bulworth’s fault. But man, how do you mess that up, especially with tensions already at a boiling point. The knee-jerk reaction was, “oh Warren Beatty is a racist.” No, just no. Other people thought it was a sick joke, and laughed and wrung their hands in the air over Beatty’s screwy excuse (I was one of those people). It was just awkward and ugly, but a few handled it with grace under fire, and at the end of the day, winners emerged, but Jesus, how do you mess that up?!

Overall, still a fun show with some great people winning, and it’s always fun to see people argue about who should have won, and “La La Land” is overrated; stop people, just stop. Being edgy to be edgy is so 2016. 

February 8, 2017

SR and The LAMB Devour The Oscars: Best Director

Check out more posts over at The LAMB as we DEVOUR the Academy Awards!

It’s that time of the year again when every movie blog, podcast, expert, and everything, and one, that falls in between pontificates over who should win and bitches and moans when their favorite art-house film is snubbed or a specific movie just goes in and steamrolls the competition.

In this edition, we take a look at the nominees for Best Director. Unlike previous Oscar seasons, this year’s crop features a wide assortment of talent and comebacks. From Canadians to up-start wunderkinds and throw in a few grizzled veterans, this is one category that is sure to divide as well as surprise when the winner is announced February 26th.

Damien Chazelle – La La Land (WINNER)

Barry Jenkins – Moonlight

Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea

Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge

This could be a lot tighter than most people think, but I think the smart money is still on Chazelle to win. Again, “La La Land” is about Hollywood and the Hollywood Dream, and I think sentimentality will play a key role in the win. Plus, it takes a lot of coordination and “direction” to make those dance numbers happen and look as perfect as they are.

The one thing that could play in some of the other nominees favor, namely Barry Jenkins, who could steal this one away, is the over saturation of “Land” and the high that “Moonlight” is riding. Would the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dare make a statement so huge as to award Jenkins, who would be the first African-American to win the award, and the first African-American to be nominated since 2013, and only the 4th since 1991, the Oscar for Best Director? For one, it would be well deserved as “Moonlight” is possibly the greatest film of the year, it just so happened to be released the same year there happened to be revival musical that captured the imagination of millions.

I might also be a little impartial to Jenkins just because of the fact that he’s local to Miami, my hometown, and he created a film about what he experienced growing up in inner-city Miami. Much like John Singleton with “Boyz in the Hood,” Jenkins is covering what the mainstream media likely don’t care to cover and make light of even though it affects thousands in similar situations. It’s master class work.

As for Gibson, Lonergan, and Villeneuve, it’s pretty much better luck next time, but I would like to bring up Gibson’s return to the grand stage. This is Gibson’s first nomination since 1995’s “Braveheart,” which he won for, but also his first nomination since becoming a pariah to the human race, and hey, I’m not excusing anti-Semitic remarks, drunken rants, and just overall disgusting behavior, but hey, those things just might make you the next POTUS. I don’t think there’s ever been an issue with Gibson’s eye for direction. “The Passion of the Christ” might be painful to watch, but it’s still artfully directed. And say what you will about “Apocolypto,” but it’s an exciting and interesting look into a culture that we know so little about. Much like “We Were Soldiers” Gibson takes what he learned from that film, I feel, and injected heart, grit, and soul into a true story that is often looked over.

With all this being said, look for Chazelle to take home the gold, but don’t be surprised if Jenkins is able to strip it away at the last minute.

February 1, 2017

SR and The LAMB Devour The Oscars: Best Supporting Actor

Check out more posts over at The LAMB as we DEVOUR the Academy Awards!

It’s that time of the year again when every movie blog, podcast, expert, and everything, and one, that falls in between pontificates over who should win and bitches and moans when their favorite art-house film is snubbed or a specific movie just goes in and steamrolls the competition.

While some categories are easier to pin down than most, it’s pretty consistent that some of the best wins in recent years have come out of the Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories. The nominees are usually comprised of character actors or up-and-comers who are on their way to stardom, and this year’s crop of Best Supporting Actors are no exception:

The nominees are:

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight (WINNER)
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Dev Patel – Lion
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

In all honesty, I would be pleased as punch to see any of these actors win. Three of the five nominees being first-timers will make the win even more exciting.

My dark horse in this field is going to be Michael Shannon. If you look at his filmography for 2016 it’s pretty ridiculous. He’s played everything from a man on the run with a super-powered kid, to Elvis, to his role of Detective Bobby Andes in “Nocturnal Animals.” Shannon is just one of those actors that puts everything into any role he’s in and even in bad movies he’s usually singled out as the lone “good thing.” Considering his body of work and busy 2016, it was almost a slam dunk to reward his varied filmography of the past year.

The two long-shots are likely Jeff Bridges and Lucas Hedges. I’m not taking anything away from their performances, namely Hedges’ which is heartbreaking, but Bridges’ turn as a “seen it all” Texas sheriff is just that…seen it all.

That narrows the field down to Dev Patel in “Lion” and Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight.” The smart money is on Ali right now after his recent win at the SAG Awards coupled with his heartfelt speech while accepting the award. Patel could easily steal the win though with his breakthrough performance that tells an all too real, and remarkable, story.

However, I’m going all in on Ali to win this one. Despite the fact that he possibly has the least amount of screen time compared to the rest of the field, his performance as Juan, an Afro-Cuban in “War on Drugs” Miami, Florida, is something we’ve never seen before. He plays the villain and the hero and his chemistry with Janelle Monea and the young Chiron, is authentic and heart-wrenching. “Moonlight” breaks the mold for masculinity in the African-American community which is often depicted as violent, braggadocios, and protective of their sexuality, Ali should be rewarded for creating a character that is lacking in Hollywood and is as relevant today as its ever been.

Last year’s winner, Mark Rylance, might have been a little bit of a shock for some, and his win was likely based more on the field, which was a little weak, but with this year’s crop of nominees, and the nature of Ali’s performance, this would go down as a legitimate win that is more then deserved.

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