Summer Movies

Should I say films? I can’t say films, don’t make me say films.

Summer movies.

Well, reader(s), I’m happy to report that I’ve seen some! Below is a quick and dirty roundup of my thoughts on them.

The Conjuring

  • Terrifying, delightful, great costumes. Actors felt identifiable and genuine, the period seemed both specific and accessible. Shot with a kind of intimacy and fondness for the charming characters that served to amp up the terror and the stakes of it. Everything you want it to be.

Fruitvale Station

  • I don’t have the capacity to evaluate any of the aesthetics of this piece beyond the visceral impact I experienced while watching it. It felt like watching a Greek tragedy unfold in which the protagonist’s tragic flaw was his race– which is hard to dispute in this country, both historically and currently. But unlike in Greek tragedy there was no satisfying catharsis, there was no sense of release, there was no purging, no greater insight. Instead, all I was left feeling was rage at the injustice, sorrow for the character’s family, and helplessness and confusion at the thought that this was where our society still is.  How could this have happened, and how does this feel part of a larger phenomenon that remains pervasive in our society? How does our justice system repeatedly fail on these issues? The kind of important movie you avoid seeing because it is too painful to really take in. But what is the cost of not truly “taking in” stories such as these?

Blue Jasmine

  • Loved it. Cate Blanchett was stunning, tremendous, hilarious. Memories of her Blanche Dubois and Streetcar pervade the whole thing, but the update—the Madoff spin—makes it feel really relevant and original. Makes the themes transcend at the same time as they are timely. I enjoyed teasing out the story told in flashbacks, as well as watching the present-moment forward progression of a woman inching ever closer to becoming that crazy lady talking to herself on the street. Read a review in the New York Times which argued that the “Stanley” characters had been “feminized,” which I thought was sort of interesting. This does make me wonder what the Times considers “feminized,” but the point was that the “Stanley’s” were in touch with their emotions, vulnerable, and able to act out their dislike of Jasmine in less hostile/violent and more articulate ways. Is this truly feminized, or is it a changing paradigm of masculinity? In any case, this was certainly the best Woody Allen I’ve seen in a while. And my god can that woman act.
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